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CEO purrspective

March 2008

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

I have spent an enormous amount of time at the General Assembly building in recent weeks working for the advancement of several animal welfare bills. While I believe that important progress for animals will result from this session, the experience has been unsettling to me at times. When these bills have come before various committees, a few of the senators and delegates have made public statements to the effect that animal welfare issues are not worth their time and attention and that human problems and needs are “more important.” These legislators have been in the minority, but they nonetheless have been loud and clear in their demeaning of the value of legislation for the benefit of animals.

This attitude is one that I have confronted in many other settings and it always perplexes me. Usually, the phrasing is that human concerns are “more important” which implies that animal issues are at least somewhat important. But, I believe that the real message from these folks is that they attach no importance whatsoever to animal suffering and are not willing to spend any money or time alleviating it. What the legislators seemed to be really saying is that animal concerns should never consume a moment of their attention or of public dollars.

Where did we ever get the idea that we are the only ones who matter? I am not comparing the value of animal life to the value of human life. That is a fruitless endeavor. We do not need to weigh each of them and determine their relative worth in order to believe that animal lives and suffering do matter and are worthy of our focused concern. While it is unquestionable that there are immense problems of human suffering, want and hardship that warrant our attention, this is not a zero sum game. Every moment of concern we spend on animal welfare issues does not have to be deducted from the human concerns side of the ledger. No one need keep score.

The disparagement of any measure that would protect animals from humans who would fight them or who would subject them to puppy mills or who would otherwise abuse them is premised on the idea that their suffering makes no difference if human desires, comforts and pleasures are being advanced. This is the essence of arrogance. In fact, at the heart of all forms of cruelty is shocking arrogance. As humans, we have great power but we also must have the humility to remember that we are not the ultimate power. These animals that are being treated as mere vehicles for human pleasure, comfort and profit are not of man's own making. They are not machines that we made for our enjoyment and gain; they are sentient beings that were created by the same power who created us.

It is crucial that those of us who care deeply about animals and the alleviation of their suffering make sure to let our elected representatives know that this is most definitely a topic that matters to us. If you have the opportunity to speak with any of your elected representatives at the local, state or federal level, please make them aware that you regard animal lives and animal abuse and suffering as issues meriting their time and attention.


Robin Robertson Starr
CEO

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