Last night, I came under some criticism for having posted a link on my Facebook page to a film on YouTube that contained scenes of animal cruelty at a research centre hired by Iams, the pet food manufacturer. I was told that I had been “bloody irresponsible” to post the footage, which is technically inaccurate as I only posted a link to it but we shall move on. I clearly annotated the link with the following message - “Look at this film. The abuse of these animals is disgusting. Iams should be shut down for such deplorable acts.” This annotation should have been warning enough about the contents of the footage and will have given the reader the option to move on without watching it.
What I find offensive is the idea that warning people of the cruelty being performed on helpless animals is being “bloody irresponsible”. Now, I know that I am not a professional journalist, merely a reasonably talented amateur, but I have always, in all the magazines I have written for and edited, acted in the best traditions of journalism – to find the truth and report the facts, to uncover injustice and to try to do what is right for the public good. I believe that posting a link that I have been directed to that highlights such a cruel injustice to animals that we, as a race, have domesticated for our benefit, for companionship, is the right thing to do. The irresponsible thing to do would be to ignore the terrible treatment being inflicted on these poor animals for if we ignore historical events and refuse to learn the lessons they teach us, we will be forever doomed to repeat them.
I do not lecture on the cruelty faced by farm animals because I eat meat and therefore benefit from that cruelty, despite the fact that I deplore the cruelty they face as well. I would be the most gigantic hypocrite if damned the cruelty faced by farm animals whilst still continuing to eat meat, wear leather, etc, although I do try, as far as possible to avoid products that have been tested on animals. Domesticated animals such as dog and cats, however, are not food animals and have been domesticated for our selfish need to have companionship and, therefore, we have a duty to them beyond our duty to all animals because we took them out of the food chain and made them our pets.
If cruelty happens, it is the duty of all animal lovers to disseminate the relevant facts and video evidence so that action can be taken against the companies or individuals who perpetrate that cruelty. In the case of the footage I put a link to on my Facebook page, the only action that I, as an individual, can do is to disseminate the link and immediately stop purchasing the Iams products that I buy for my cat. As a group, animal lovers can stop buying Iams and can launch a protest movement but only if they have the information disseminated by individuals like myself.
I do not feel as though I have to defend my actions regarding what I do or do not post on my Facebook page as long as I do what I think is right and what is in the public interest. After all, isn’t doing what we believe to be right what we are supposed to do?