Animal Rights: how to keep going when you feel like you’re getting nowhere

I wish all animals could live such a peaceful life.
I wish all animals could live such a peaceful life.

I am lucky enough at my full-time job to be able to go to various talks with amazing speakers. The other day, the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund sponsored a visiting faculty member to give a talk about animal rights –he used to work for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. This being a lunchtime talk, food was offered, of course, but not just pizza. We had falafel and lots of other vegan and vegetarian friendly foods. Yum yum!

His talk centered on the ridiculousness (my characterization) of some of the anti-cruelty laws, in that they would leave out scenarios that would obviously be considered animal cruelty to any reasonable person. He also talked about the court systems and how far behind they are in advancing animal rights.  He talked about case in which he was involved, where a goat had killed its owner after years of being tortured, and then the question became whether or not to “put down” the goat. (The abuse was confirmed by the deceased’s widow.) He argued that case and the goat was able to live out its natural life on a farm, thankfully. Now, some people may laugh and say that defending a goat is just not worth it, but to animal lovers everywhere, I think they would disagree.  

I you think back, just under 100 years ago, women were not able to vote. Someone had to fight for that right.  African-Americans were treated unequally for many years (and many may say, still are today.)   The fight for animals to be treated as living beings with feelings has to start somewhere, that’s what I am saying.  (As a post-script, I just saw that such a case is being brought in upstate NY with a chimp.  It was also reported in the NY Times.)

Below are some of his memorable statements that made enough of an impact on me to write them down.

  1. “Focus on the wins, not the losses.”
  2. At the end of the day, think back and be able to say this to yourself “I made a difference, and the difference is a good one.”
  3. “If you can reduce the suffering in the world by any amount, that is a move in the right direction.”
  4. “When you hear that little nagging voice telling you something is wrong, don’t do it.”
  5. “Each day, make it a little better.”

My full time job is as a reference librarian, as some of you may know. After the talk was over, I went up to the student who had put the event together and gave her a little note that had my contact details, what my job was, and the fact that I am the proud mother of five cats and a 12 year old chihuahua.  As soon as I did so, she literally hugged me! I’ve never had that kind of reaction from a student before upon meeting me, but I immediately hugged her back. That’s something I might have done! I’m telling you, animal lovers are a different breed! (No pun intended. Ok, maybe just a little one….)  It’s just one more way I want to help accomplish one of my dreams, which is to help animals. If I can use the skills that have cost me so much in a monetary sense for the good of animals, so much the better!

What do you think – should animals have the same rights as humans? I know this is a loaded question, on which there are so many views.