Guest editorial | ParkRecord.com

Guest editorial

Erin Brown, Director of Community Advocacy Sage Mountain

First off, the intention behind this letter is to generate conversation. Animal rescue groups work tirelessly for the animals under their care, and go above and beyond to ensure the animals they have taken in are properly rehabbed and rehomed. And fundraising is a vital component of the rescue process. With the medical treatment, food and housing for these animals being extremely costly, a constant inflow of donation dollars is critical. Creating a supportive and generous donor base is integral to the work of all non-profits.

But on the other hand, honoring the vision that lead to the coalescing of said organization, one dedicated to saving the lives of animals, means to me that these groups should be held to a higher standard. They have taken on the very tough task of saving lives, the lives of the voiceless, and living up to higher than normal levels of behavior, action and morals seems essential. So, in turn, why is it that many of the fundraisers hosted by animal rescue organizations, with the goal to raise money to help one animal, serve up others? Isn't it hypocritical to save one animal while eating another? Consuming one animal or the by-products of one animal (dairy or eggs) while donating generously in the hopes of providing a better life for another, just does not sit right with me.

I am not naive to the still current (yet outdated) reality here, the use of animals for food is so deeply ingrained in our society that most people never even consider its morality. It is 'normal' for people to consume animal-based products, so when it comes to fundraising for a dog and cat rescue, selecting an appropriate, meaningful menu might not be top on the to-do list. Yet the items served send a message, consciously or not.

But what is actually happening here is the assigning of differing rights to animals based on their species. The animals at the rescue shelter are loved, cared for and protected, while other animals are killed and eaten to raise money in their name. This means that we are actively choosing which animal's life has value and which animal is simply a product, and this is something that surely needs to be addressed if we want to create a kinder and fairer world. If we would hold issue with hosting a dog roast to raise money for a pig sanctuary, why is it acceptable to do the opposite?

I have said this before and I will say it again (and again): dogs and cats are no different when it comes right down to it then pigs and cows and chickens. Creating these distinctions between humans and 'others' does nothing to make us more compassionate beings, but instead allows us to perpetuate feelings of separateness, or better-ness, which in turn creates that little bit of mental space that allows us to feel comfortable and justify eating some animals and raising money to save others.

If you believe that animal organizations should leave animals off the menu at fundraising events, then raise the issue! Tell them, kindly, your thoughts and reasons why you would like to see them serve delicious plant-based creations instead. These groups need to recognize and understand that animals raised for food are subjected to many forms of cruelty and inhumane treatment, the levels of which we would NEVER stand for if carried out on a dog or cat. It is not just our companion animals that are deserving of respect and compassion, it is ALL beings.

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Plus, plant-based food is so so good! It is not something foreign or weird or non-filling. Non-animal based foods are delicious, hearty, flavorful and healthy. To me it seems as if the trade-offs are all positive. Good food, less suffering, more support for the animals. Win-win-win. Yes please!