Do I ever have the right to decide that it’s time for someone’s life to end?

Philippines has a big problem with stray dogs and cats. You can see them walking around pretty much anywhere you go, mostly malnourished and dirty, sometimes sick or wounded. My empathy for these animals is of course huge, all I wanted to do when seeing them was to take them all in, feed them, bathe them, give them medicine for their problems and somewhere safe to rest. All I wanted to was to give them a loving home, but I couldn’t.

One of the dogs we saw was in worse shape than all the others; I have never before seen an animal that look like it’s suffering that much. The fur was mostly gone and the skin filled with rashes and wounds, he stood for hours in the same spot without moving, and worst of all; someone had put a metal chain so tightly around his neck that it created an infected wound and most likely limited his breathing. Just watching him was painful, imagining the suffering he must go through every day, every moment.

R made a decision to have him euthanized to end his suffering. He called a veterinarian, who after some talking agreed to come for free if we would just pay for the medicine injection. It took some hours before they came, but the dog was still standing in the exact spot where we had left him.

Watching them catch him and give him the first injection to put him to sleep was painful. Already before they caught him, he knew that something was going on, so he got angry and started moving away from them. His scream when he was caught and given the first injection in his thigh was heartbreaking. I had expected a painless death to end his life full of suffering, but he was in such bad condition that this small injection tore his skin and caused him pain. I couldn’t watch, and I couldn’t help crying. I was wondering if this really was the right thing to do, did we really have the right to decide for this poor creature that his life was over and this was the way he was going to die?

In a little while, which felt like an eternity, everything grew quiet. Finally I dared to go closer and look at him. He was sleeping, his chest slowly raising and lowering; peace. The veterinary assistant prepared the injection that would go into the cardiac muscle (the heart), and once it was given the dog’s legs moved for the last time before everything was over.

Death had come. Was it better? I’ve thought about it so many times afterwards, praying that he is now in a better place. A place where he can run around without pain, a place where he never has to be hungry, a place where no one will deliberately cause him pain. Do I have the right to decide when it’s better for someone to die than to go on living, even though this someone is a dog? I don’t really know. I live after the premise that we don’t have the right to take someone’s life, or use someone, for our own purposes. But how about taking someone’s life to end their suffering? Do I have the right to take such a position of power, even if I use this power for what I believe is the best for that living being?

This dog, who lived his whole life without a name, without love, without anyone caring for him even the tiniest bit, has gotten a special place in my mind and in my heart. I don’t think I will ever forget him, and I don’t either think that I want to.

R.I.P.

Cuteness overload

One of the pigs at Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary recently gave birth to eight adorable little miracles. The pictures and videos of these little piglets on the Happily Ever Esther Facebook-page just makes me smile;

Happily Ever Esther piglets

Picture borrowed from the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary Facebook-page

These piglets could have been born into such a different life. They could have been born to a life as products, as pieces on our plates once they had grown large enough. Instead they were born into freedom, into a life where they will be seen for the individuals that they are, into a life that gives them what they deserve.

It’s places like these sanctuaries that recreates my hope in humanity, my hope in the future. My hope that one day we will truly understand. That one day we will get there.

Food for thought podcast

One of my favorite vegan educators is definitely Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Her podcast Food for thought is one of my big inspiration sources. In it she talks about different issues concerning veganism; food, social situations, compassionate language, animals and so on. Colleen has a calm way and voice that makes it easy to listen, and I admire her way of always responding to people and situations compassionately.

I usually download the podcast to my phone and listen to it when I go for walks or while sitting in the bus on my way to work. It’s a great way to learn and get inspired while doing something else at the same time. Some of my favorite episodes are “How to talk to hunters (or anyone with whom you disagree)”, “Disagreement Not Disrespect” and “Life after cheese”.

You can find the podcast episodes for example on Colleen’s Soundcloud page, or through her official webpage (where you can find other information and resources as well). Definitely worth checking out! If you don’t feel like listening to a whole hour episode, there are also shorter soundbites that you can easily listen to and share with others.

A dream about self-sufficiency

One of my big dreams is to one day live on a small farm and grow my own food to the extent it’s possible, not having to go to the supermarket to decide between fruits, veggies and other food-stuffs you actually don’t really know where they come from, what they have been through and what kind of life the workers that handled them are living.

It’s a big dream, because I’m not that good in growing plants, and certainly not in preserving them, and we live in a country with long, cold winters. It would also mean a new way of relating to food, cooking mainly from what you have instead of buying exactly what you want from the store. Still I’m hoping that it will be possible some day.

I have it all in my head; an old small house that we have renovated and made more energy sufficient, a yard with fruit trees and berry bushes, a small greenhouse, vegetable plantations, a small barn and possibly some rescue animals. No sounds except the ones of nature, of the animals, of family and friends. No smell of pollution, just the smell of grass, flowers and home-made bread. Heaven.

In loving memory

Today is World Animal Day, a day to remember all the animals in our world; those we call our friends as well as those who have fallen victim for our use in any form.

In several different cities around Finland, Animalia’s local groups organize events where people can light candles in memory of the four million animals that are killed for their fur here every year. Here in Helsinki the event will be held in Kaisaniemi park between 6 and 8 pm. If you have the possibility, feel free to join.

candle

I will not be able to go to the event, but I have lit a candle here in my home in memory of all the animals that have suffered and died for our sake. They deserve at least that.

I hope that this could be a day when we reconsider our relationship towards animals, not just towards the animals we keep as pets, but towards the animals that spend their lives in captivity – for example on factory farms, fur farms, zoos and in laboratories – as well.

Time for a change: the Living Planet Report

I’ve recently read through the summary of this year’s Living Planet Report – an annual report published by the WWF, which documents the state of our planet. It’s not pleasant reading, mentioning among other things that;

  • the number of animals we share our planet with has fallen by half since 1970
  • to keep our standard of living, we would need the regenerative capacity of 1.5 planets
  • the low-income countries have the smallest ecological footprints, but suffer the biggest losses in biodiversity
  • climate change and the depletion of ecosystems will leave even more people suffering from hunger, living without clean water or a reliable electricity supply

Reports like this one screams for change. To change our way of living is not just an option, it’s mandatory. The situation is not yet hopeless, but demands immediate action, from the leaders of our nations, from companies, and from us as ordinary citizens.

“We need leadership for change. Sitting on the bench waiting for someone else to make the first move doesn’t work. Heads of state need to start thinking globally; businesses and consumers need to stop behaving as if we live in a limitless world.”

– Marco Lambertini, WWF International

Focusing on the wrong things

“The animal welfare act doesn’t question the use of animals, or give any criteria for the use of them. We have more laws concerning animals than ever before, and at the same we use more animals than ever before. As Gary Francione has summarized, we use a huge amount of time and money to come up with the right solutions to wrong deeds. From the animals point of view legislation is going to be inefficient as long as it is focused on the wrong things already from the start.”

Birgitta Wahlberg, Animalia-magazine 3/2014
(freely translated from Finnish)