Animal rights are not wrong

January 12, 2020

There should be a mechanism in place, to report and recover lost animals

Pets are family, period. — Photo by the author

Have you ever lost a pet? Or been up the whole night, many times over, just to hear your furry animal purr?

Losing your pet is a painful experience, but there are people who would shrug it off, saying things like “But you can always get a new one,” or “it was just an animal!” These comments are not just insensitive but can also hurt those who have lost a pet. Maybe it isn’t a big deal for everyone, but for someone like me, it definitely matters. Pets are family, period.

Every being, whether it’s a cat or a dog, a bird, a cow, or even a horse, that you bring home becomes a part of your family, and deserves to be treated as such — with utmost care, as you would show any other (human) family member. Animals, especially cats and dogs, have the ability to love you back and heal the pained heart, so they deserve equal measure of love and the same right to life and respect.

Like it or not, in Pakistan, life with pets is not easy, because we aren’t an animal-loving people. We’d rebuke a stray dog that we spot in the street, and routinely use the likes of donkeys as beasts of burden to run our households. Every other day, I get to hear about lost or stolen pets, apart from those that were mercilessly beaten or maimed.

Similarly, not everyone who adopts an animal gives them the best care in the world. You need to understand that pets are generally quite inquisitive and will go in all directions and places in your house that you didn’t want them to. They might even try to escape. So if you have an animal, keep your eyes and ears open, as they need constant surveillance. If your pets are silent, or absent from view, this means they are up to something, and require your immediate attention.

If you were to put them in a boarding, you should make sure that the caretaker is reliable and has handled animals before. Pets are like kids, they need to have their owners around them all the time, so it is likely that they will try to escape from the boarding house when they don’t find you. Lack of familiarity can easily drive them to feel anxious or depressed. Some pets are known to start panicking. So the best thing for you to do is leave the animal in a familiar environment, and with ‘trusted’ people. A trick that always works is to let the animals have their favourite toy(s) and — in winters — even a blanket to make them feel cosy and secure.

Stealing animals and then selling them off in the market has become quite common nowadays. Sadly, there is no mechanism in place to report — and recover — the lost animals. For one thing, the police needs to be sensitised about the fact that loss of a pet means real ‘loss’ for the owner; and for another, proper methods should be adopted to rescue the animal.

People crying and praying for their pets to return home is such a painful sight. Equally painful is the fact that they don’t know who to turn to for help. Social media posts are also of little or no help.

A few private individuals are working for the cause of animals, and trying to raise awareness about animal rights. They also engage with concerned authorities to find ways to improve the conditions of animals in Pakistan. Often, these animal rights activists are mocked at, and told that there are more serious issues at hand that they should be talking about.

People need to understand that along with other issues that demand our attention, they must play their part in dealing with animals too. Our children need to be taught to be kind to animals. If we don’t want to have pets, we should at least let their surroundings be safe enough for them to exist peacefully.

The writer is a staff member. She tweets @Umaimablogger

Animal rights are not wrong