Just a Little Respect Please-by Jan Fennell

Animals are not cute humans!

It is quite amazing that in our modern, informed world, and despite the best efforts of people like David Attenborough, people will still disregard an animal’s natural instincts and just expect them to conform to our wishes.

I remember a television segment where a presenter was visiting an animal shelter, featuring dogs that were proving difficult to re-home. He, along with a member of the “trained” staff, drew the viewer’s attention to a lovely Staffie cross female who was being hand fed by the member of staff. I say hand fed which is not correct, the dog was being prevented from actually getting to the food as it was being tightly held by the “trained” staff member.

The dog was clearly focused on the food when the presenter walked behind her, knelt down and placed his hands on the back of the pre-occupied dog. The presenter had been looking into the camera lens, extolling the qualities of this dog and how through no fault of her own, was in need of rescuing. As the presenter placed his hands around the hips of the dog, she span around, snapping at him repeatedly. What was amazing was that both the presenter and the “trained” member of staff looked shocked. The presenter’s response to this was to look into the camera lens and say that the dog was obviously camera shy, and all present laughed. Needless to say, I did not find it funny.

The strange thing about the show was that it wasn’t clear what they were actually trying to achieve, as they were there to promote a dog which would probably now be labelled as unpredictable, and possibly dangerous. That poor dog was now set up to fail, instead of being protected from human interference that was almost guaranteed to result in a defensive reaction.

Such dismissive disregard for an animal’s right to not be interfered with, for our entertainment, was once shown by a visitor to Yellowstone National Park who wanted to get a better photograph of a huge bison so, of course, he pulled the animal’s tail to get it to turn around for a better shot. Oh yes, the animal tuned around alright, and charged at his attacker, tossing him into the air. Happily, despite the demands of the photographer’s family, the bison was not held accountable, nor destroyed.

Of course, incidents like these arise from human arrogance and the belief that everything else on the planet is somehow just there for us, or our needs. Similar, and potentially dangerous, situations can easily be avoided, just by taking time out to think about the possible outcome of any action we take with an animal we know nothing about. Honestly, I don’t think that is in the same ballpark as rocket science.

Jan Fennell,

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