There are so many metaphors you could throw at The Puck Fair debate, and there is one complex study waiting to happen as to where we are as a society when it comes to animal welfare. But, let’s ‘talk about the elephant in the room’ whilst tip- toeing around the minefields some ‘lovers of an animal in a cage’, in a heatwave, kept setting for ‘not activists’, (to correct TD Danny Healy Rae), but for People Against Cruelty. This ‘PAC’ includes Pete Wedderburn (vet,writer,broadcaster), Dominic Dyer (internationally acclaimed welfare advocate) and I better duck when I say, Joe Duffy. Included in this empathetic group who believe welfare legislation should be adhered to, were goat keepers, veterinary nurses, and the vast animal loving public. It’s hard to know what else ‘to pull out of the bag’ when logic, empathy, and even the law of the land was doing nothing to win the opposing side over. It’s tradition after all, it’s great craic and we are all killjoys. But hold on a second, didn’t Declan Nerney say, who played at the festival, well, he said and empathetically may I add, Joe, it’s not…. well, I suppose it’s not fair on the poor goat (paraphrasing). Yes, when Joe Duffy applied his intricate ‘Columbo’ ways of getting to the crux of the issue, many people who thought they were for it, actually admitted ‘No, I don’t suppose it’s fair on the goat!’ Phew…. There’s hope!
This week felt like that lorry that got stuck on the Conor Pass, the driver just kept ignoring the signs and ended up bringing traffic to a halt. You see, he was adamant to ‘stick to his guns’ and get that mobile home to its destination one way or the other. Little did he know the harm he could have caused.
The committee of The Puck Fair were adamant to continue their tradition of a wild goat (doesn’t seem very wild to me btw), being put into a cage and hoisted up onto a metal stand in a heatwave. All for tradition, yes some traditions certainly do bring us together, bring us solace, comfort and enjoyment. But I wonder how does that tradition look like if we take a helicopter view! Wait a minute, no need for a helicopter, when there is a nice sturdy cage on a 50ft stand waiting for the flag bearers for tradition to hop onto and have a goat’s eye view! I have to add the committee do a trojan job pulling off this successful, annual, family festival, but is there really a need to pull the horns off a poor goat?
At the end of the day, us good folk ‘who do nothing but are against everything’ according to Danny Healy Ray, are actually very busy living, working, we are voters, volunteers, tax payers;we are collectively good living members of the public who kinda don’t like to see any animal or person locked in a cage even if one expert gives the ‘go ahead!’ I think he mistakes our maximised ‘vocal’ approach for troublemakers when we actually just want the five freedoms of Animal Welfare enforced. Voices are raised when people ‘see no evil’ and he hardly wants us to ignore laws, or turn a blind eye – all in the name of Killorglin Craic! Speaking of ‘crack’… yes, that poor Kerry soul on the radio during the week was a bit upset Joe didn’t focus more on the drug flooded Killorglin streets than the goat.
But the goat in his cage is looking on at the thousands of people below, some drunk, some sober, some having the real ‘crack’ and he must be wondering, ‘what is it about me, they need me up here to witness this? How do I add to it?’ Why do we need to upset animals for the sake of entertainment and what is it within us that we actually get pleasure watching another suffer? I probably say it too many times, but I believe in facts: getting pleasure from another being suffering is a diagnostic criteria for sadism and psychosexual issues. But then there is the whole other issue of ‘just not thinking or just not mindful of another’ and I think the latter reason explains a lot. When we think ‘just a goat!’ we feel and think it’s OK to deny him freedom from stress, fear, and his right to express normal behaviour. Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just outlining the legislation. Thoughts are our emotional fuel, influence our emotions and dictate reactions/behaviours. We need to intervene in that thought process especially if our thoughts are irrational, illogical or could cause ourselves or another harm.
So, whilst a goat sat in a cage in Killorglin in a heatwave, many of us were hosing down stables to reduce roof temperatures, had fans going for animals indoors or feeding frozen veg to bring down body temperatures and Danny Healy Rae said he would hate to be an animal in our care. Emmmm… let me take a moment: so my choice is a committee who are OK with a wild animal hoisted up over a festival crowd in soaring temperatures or someone who keeps me in the shade and makes sure I’m free of heat stress… well now….
At the end of the day, people against cruelty, yes we can feel like a right PAC when you hurt another human being or animal, well, we should not have had to be the ones to scream the loudest, the committee should have known right from wrong, and if they didn’t, the Department should have intervened immediately rather than eventually, it’s their job after all. And I’m sure Joe doesn’t want to hear about a goat for another year. Speaking of next year…. Well Dahlings, I’ve no time for next year’s goat, I mean there is afternoon tea to get ready for, my SUV needs to be polished up, and I need to speak to the staff about those pesky wildflowers on the drive.