The last week clearly illustrated two opposing views on animals and their rights. Ballinasloe Fair demonstrated the callous and apathetic mindset that lies at the core of animal abuse. It illustrates vividly the people who contribute to animal cruelty and who allow it to continue. Ballinasloe has no problem with hosting people who neglect animals in their own backyard whilst local authorities and officials removed a few token cases of neglect. What about the ones left behind? The ‘given up’ eyes that stared out of crates; the dehydrated and hungry animals that were in public view. What makes these people think it’s OK to stand alongside these animals at an event attended by over 100,000 people? The words are ‘no legal consequences’ and ‘no public shame’.
Luckily there are those amongst us who will stand outside Leinster House and will shout the words: ‘there is no excuse for animal abuse’; there are diverse members of society willing to hold signs that scream the obvious words ‘enforce the law’. And behind the tired pleading voices are the ‘hard to look at’ images of the animals we know of. We have woken to their tragic endings on facebook and we have gone to bed with the ‘if onlys’. The ‘if onlys’ that could have saved them if the law was used as the deterrent to animal neglect and if the relevant legislation was used as the stick to punish those who break the law. After all isn’t the law in place to maintain a civilsed society?
There is nothing civilised about Ballinasloe Fair. What is civilised or normal about emaciated puppies kept in basins that belong in a kitchen sink. Bright orange basins with rusty metal caging keeping them caged within. What is civilised about a clearly distressed foal holding the weight of a young man who has no regard for her underdeveloped frame? Her top line akin to a half moon; her lame legs buckling under his weight; her eyes bulging with fear. She probably knows nothing else. There is a committee that stand over this fair; there is a county council that turn a blind eye; there is a huge sector of the public that are OK with this. And then there is our president: our mindful, poetic, animal loving president opening this fair; a fair that broke many an animal lover’s heart this week. What are we seeing that he failed to see? Surely his PR machine would have done the public relations check on such an event and foresaw from previous fairs that it was an event he should have steered away from or maybe animal lovers’s votes do not carry the same weight as those who tie horses tight and upright unable to bend there heads to pick at the grass or to search for water. Perhaps our President should have used the opportunity to say why he would not attend the fair. And the reasons why he should not have attended were aplenty outside Leinster House on October the 4th at the AFAWI protest calling for the consistent enforcement of the existing Animal Welfare Legislation.
This protest demonstrated that amongst animal lovers and rescuers is an informed and rational voice. The rational voice our society is hungry for. Abuse of the vulnerable amongst us can not be tolerated. The rational voice does not accept legal jargon and token legislation; it calls for enforcement. The rational voice that asks why would the state pay lucrative and secure salaries to officials who aren’t doing their jobs consistently when such blatant breach of their job remit costs the state not just financially but society starts to break down when we allow abuse to continue. Animal abuse is not just about animals; it is a diagnostic criteria for further abuses and crimes. Further abuses and crimes that seriously hurt and kill people.
The health of a nation can be judged by how it treats its animals. It does not say a lot when our President can love and adore his Bernese dogs but he is OK for other dogs to be crammed into crates and to be put up for sale with no access to food or water.
In years to come future generations will ask us ‘how could we let this happen?’ And I will be without guilt when I say, I stood with compassionate and informed people on October the 4th who asked the Minister of Agriculture to stop this animal crisis in Ireland. A crisis that is becoming part of the very fabric of who we now are as a nation.
Brave are the people who take on the battle that is the animal welfare issue. Selfless are the people who take on a cause with no financial or personal gain. Brave and Selfless is what the world needs more of.
With so much gratefulness to Action for Animal Welfare Ireland for bringing many voices together to become one. x