Imagine spending your entire life confined in a small cage — one without a mattress or a blanket. You’re not given any food or water for days, even weeks, and sometimes visitors toss things at you to hurt you. How would you feel? This is exactly what life is like for many animals around the world due to our cruel and horrible acts of violence against them. Even after they have been rescued, they may be unable to lead a normal life.
The shadow of their past abuse may still haunt them, just like how Blossom took a long time to ‘blossom’ into the dog she is now. She was unfortunately caught in a hoarding situation. Although she was subsequently rescued by an animal shelter, she was initially terrified of many things: constantly hiding in secluded corners, and never wagging her tail. It took three long months under her rescuer’s care for her to finally get over her fears, and the difference between the terrified pup she used to be and the merry dog she became is truly staggering. Blossom was lucky to find rescuers who were willing to look after her — not all 115 million animals in abusive situations worldwide are so fortunate. These vulnerable animals have to face the long-lasting impacts of animal abuse, some of which are so severe that it could permanently ruin their lives! This prevalence of such situations clearly highlights that animal abuse is a pressing issue that should not be taken lightly.
(Find more about Blossom’s story here.)
Why do people choose to hurt animals? You may be surprised to find that many animal abusers do not do it on purpose. Instead, they are simply unaware of how harmful their actions are. For instance, some people may not realise the type of shelter different animals need. They may keep a dog in a cage too small and cramped to move around in, or keep it on a short chain. Others may be purely irresponsible; forgetting to feed their pets for days or simply turning a blind eye to their issues, despite being aware that their actions could bring harm to these animals. This was clearly evident in the case of a dog who was left tied up in the boot of a car on a sweltering June day, where temperatures in the vehicle reached roughly 55 degrees!
The poor dog suffered from hyperthermia because of this. However, when its owner returned, he accepted no responsibility for the situation and was instead more concerned about the fact that the police had smashed his car’s window to rescue his dog. Finally and most horrifyingly, some people abuse animals on purpose. They may be feeling upset or distraught because of some event in their life, and choose to vent their frustrations on these pitiful animals. Many of these abusers view animals as weak and helpless, and enjoy the sense of power and control they get from harming these animals that can’t fight back. 45-year-old Mr Yeo couldn’t handle his dog Yogi’s barking, especially after complaints from his neighbours, so he leashed Yogi and dragged him down 20 flights of stairs. It can be easy to imagine that such horrendous cases of animal abuse happen far from home, but the reality is that the issue is a persisting one in Singapore, with reported cases even being on the rise!
Besides individuals abusing animals, unbeknownst to many, large corporations such as laboratories and fashion industries are also culprits of animal abuse.
Every day, 15 million warm-blooded animals worldwide are tortured in laboratories. Many do not consider animal testing as animal abuse and believe that it is acceptable since it is carried out to benefit humanity. However, I believe that this is also a form of animal abuse as experiments on these animals inevitably cause them to suffer physical and emotional trauma — which may even last a lifetime. Although many companies actually have no need to test their products on animals, since their formularies rely upon ingredients classified as “generally recognized as safe”, animals are still used to assess the safety of cosmetics and personal care products such as lipstick, mascara, shampoo, and cologne. More often than not, pain relief is not provided, causing an estimated 500,000 mice, guinea pigs, rats, and rabbits involved to suffer and die in these tests every year. Animal testing truly is unjustifiable, considering the fact that there are many different alternatives available to animal testing, which may even be more effective. Furthermore, people differ from animals. The results of animal testing might thus be inaccurate. Although animal testing may be more cost-effective, does pursuing lower costs of scientific research justify sacrificing the lives of countless innocent animals and subjecting them to unimaginable torture and suffering?
Fashion industries are similarly to blame, brutally slaughtering billions of animals each year for the mass production of fur and leather items.
Nowadays, we have unlimited choices when it comes to clothing and cosmetics; textures of all sorts are being manufactured and there has certainly been a rise in cruelty-free cosmetics. I believe we can definitely be fashionable without having to wear an animal’s skin. Animals are living things, just like us. They have a consciousness, a soul, and they are just as vulnerable to physical and emotional pain as us. They deserve to be treated with respect, just like how we want to be treated. Therefore, we should advocate for better measures to protect animal rights and discourage animal experimentation. We have the choice to stop this cruelty by purchasing other fabrics instead of leather, wool or fur, and buying cosmetics which have not been tested on animals. It’s not too late to protect their lives.
If you want to play an even more active role in preventing animal cruelty, volunteer at animal shelters! This provides both a fun and effective way to contribute to this cause. You’ll get to experience firsthand the effects of animal abuse, which makes it far easier to put yourself in the shoes of these animals and understand their plight. If you would love an adorable, furry addition to your family, and are willing to provide them with a forever home where it can be truly cared for, you can also adopt a pet! Shelters such as Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Action for Singapore Dogs and Animal Lovers League are a few of the shelters in Singapore that put their animals up for adoption. Besides encouraging the adoption of stray, abandoned and unwanted pets, SPCA, one of the largest animal welfare group in Singapore, is also truly committed to promote kindness to animals through education, advocacy and action by providing various animal welfare services to the community including animal cruelty and welfare investigations, 24-hour emergency animal rescue, veterinary care and education talks.
So, what are you waiting for? Play your part to provide a safe home for all our animal friends because together, we can make our community animal abuse free!
Michelle Nathaniel Tan, 19S311
Photos (in order of appearance)