Changing attitudes on animal welfare

Her light blonde, almost orange-tinged hair caught the corner of our eye while driving home the other day. The kids were along for the ride, so we took a minute to back up and give a little lesson on life.

There in the ditch was a beautiful doe, victim of a late night accident of some sort. Without hesitation the twins wondered if there was a way to fix her, or take her home or do something to help. But it was too late.

Obviously the inclination of the girls to help was pleasing to us. Kindness to animals speaks to character and, in the longer run, we hope that kindness extends to other areas of their lives.

Having grown up on the farm and dealt with our fair share of death and life, we find it curious how even the most pragmatic of upbringings can be altered by outside influences, chiefly advocates for the ethical treatment of animals.

Last month one of our columnists noted his destroying of a porcupine in his column, which drew fire from sources who wished to remain anonymous and others who were outraged at such an admission in their community Newspaper. One writer went as far as contacting the Humane Society suggesting a charge be laid. Others threatened similar actions, and yet another wondered where the editor’s head was at, allowing that column to be published in the first place.

Perhaps we give the public too much credit, but we believe in the notion that readers can make up their own minds on issues. We had hoped to stimulate what we will call an overdue conversation on treating animals with respect.

One such discussion we had was with friends about pet rabbits housed in cages at the farm. The girls enjoy them, they are fed and well cared for; never are they treated poorly, but our friends wondered at an animal being cooped up. As domestic animals, they would not survive in the wild, but the topic itself would not have been broached years ago. We find that tell­ing.

As for other livestock kept and grown for consumption, most good operators run a clean, healthy barn and animals are slaughtered as humanely as possible in plants off-site. There are in our midst other operations that need a lot of help. Organizations against the rearing of animals for consumption often highlight those cases as the norm, but we think most farmers do a good job – certainly they try their best with their resources.

In addition to the challenges of rearing livestock humanely and enjoying pets, there is also the trial of nature and animals in the wild. We can marvel at the rugged beauty of hunting species or the magnificent display of birds, but there will, at times, be conflicts. We see that in more urban settings where coyotes and their cousins impact domestic animals, or where birds set up shop in inconvenient locations. There are few birds more majestic than a flock of Canada geese swooshing their wings into the sunset, but tell that to the homeowner or business that has a yard full of dung left in their wake.

We advocate fairness for animals and respect for what they bring to our lives. While we also believe in minding our own business, we think people who respect nature have a duty to reprimand neighbours and friends who are rough with animals.