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What Exactly Is an Animal Abuser?

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Guest Essay by: Alan O’Reilly


Here’s an interesting exhortation doing the rounds at the moment. The fact that the image is of a dog gives a clue as to where this is going!


To those who agree with the sentiment expressed, I would ask how exactly they would define an ‘animal abuser’. Is the person who cuts a dog’s throat because they no longer want to give them a home an animal abuser? Is the person who cuts a dog’s throat because they want to eat them an animal abuser? Is the person who cuts a pig’s throat because they want to eat them an animal abuser? Is the person who kills a pig ‘legally’ in a slaughterhouse an animal abuser? It’s a completely subjective term and is of no use whatsoever without some qualification.

So, does legislation (which would impose those ‘tougher penalties’) help at all? Unfortunately, animal welfare legislation is of little use in this respect as it invariably refers to ‘unnecessary suffering’, a term which implies that some (undefined) suffering is necessary and courts are left to decide in individual cases exactly what that means. Defining an ‘animal abuser’ as simply ‘A person whose treatment of an animal is illegal,’ is therefore subjective in itself.

Of course, if there are animal abusers, then there is animal abuse—another term which has no meaningful definition. Do those who object to what is often described as ‘excessive cruelty’ towards animals really believe that the ‘normal’ treatment meted out to billions of animals on a daily basis in the meat, dairy and egg industries could be described, by any stretch of the imagination, as ‘non-abusive’ or ‘humane’? Unfortunately, the dominant paradigm among humans is that some animals are more important than others and speciesism, the root cause, rears its ugly head again.

The simple fact of the matter is that using abuse, treatment (‘humane’ or otherwise) and suffering as parameters for deciding how you feel about the relationship between humans and nonhuman animals is absurd. They are regarded as property and needlessly and ruthlessly exploited for human purposes. What right do humans have to decide on behalf of other sentient beings what forms of treatment are acceptable or unacceptable? None whatsoever; all use is abuse.

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Here is a good place to start: http://www.howdoigovegan.com/

The proceeds for writing this article will be donated towards local TNR projects

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  • G B

    Truth, elegantly stated.

    Ecorazzi, thank you for all you do.

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