Compassion….is not the same as sympathy, empathy or altruism, although each plays a part. The compassionate person feels the suffering of another and makes positive steps to alleviate that suffering.
During his talks, the Dalai Lama emphasizes how important it is for children to experience compassion from their parents or caregivers, from birth.
True compassion is being highly attuned to your child’s needs and accepting them for the unique person they are
From birth, compassion is something that can be taught and developed. And the earlier, the better! Model Compassion:
Show compassion towards your child and towards others.
From the start, every child needs to feel loved and secure to thrive. Their needs must be respected, if we expect them to respect others.
Security comes from knowing that they can count on their parents or caregivers. It comes from knowing that they will be listened to, taken seriously and protected.
We must love our children unconditionally and recognize them as the unique beings that they are.
Children must also learn to be responsible for their own actions, as well. However, parents and caregivers are very influential in determining how a child acts. Children watch carefully how their parents and other adults treat each other. By modeling compassion towards others, you are teaching them what you value.
This is also true with how we treat our pets and other animals. Your children have watched you closely from birth, and are so attuned to your feelings, that they can look at your face and know instantly what you are feeling!
Never yell at your pets, call them names or hit them! Now, most people who have pets know this, and love them and treat them as part of the family…which they are.
Your children will learn how to treat your family’s pets with compassion and love, if you model that behavior for them. Show them the correct way to speak to a pet, gently pet them and how to care for their needs. Show them by doing.
All animal lovers know how to treat a pet, most likely because they grew up in a loving home, with parents who modeled compassionate behavior towards animals.
Teaching kindness and respect for animals is the first step in teaching children compassion.
– Marianne DiLorio
Children Helping Animals In Need (C.H.A.I.N.) has ONE MISSION. To help end animal abuse in our lifetime. I started this rescue for my daughter London, when she was seven years old, as a way to help bring awareness of animal neglect and abuse to young children. And then, begin to teach compassion through example, my young daughter and I raise money for other animal rescues through the sale of hand crafted art, birdhouses and feeders, soy candles, paintings and drawings that raise awareness of animal abuse. These are a few of the ways we raise money for rescue. We have both been volunteers at the Bucks County S.P.C.A., for the past two years…since my daughter was eight years old, and have helped find homes for many pets, by participating in their events and on our own. We have, of course, adopted many ourselves! Our goal is to teach compassion for animals to children of all ages, and to someday see a complete end to animal abuse in my daughter’s lifetime.
Whenever I am asked what my passions are, like most women I list two: my family and my career. I am the mother of two young children, my passion project in the truest sense of the term; and I am a conservation biologist – part of a remarkable team who are doing everything we can to save endangered species… and ultimately save ourselves.
We are fortunate enough to live on a game reserve which my husband, through his own work for Wildlands, has helped to establish and repopulate with a number of species including the critically endangered black and white rhino and African wild dogs. As conservationists, we have knowingly and willingly made personal sacrifices to follow our passions, but never could we have predicted the personal toll that our work would take when we entered the industry.
I am one of a legion of wives and partners whose husband / partner is or has been at the front lines of the rhino poaching crisis, and ours is just one of many families whose daily routine, comfort and safety have been regularly disrupted by a phone call or a radio summons to react to a threat.
Our son, at the innocent age of just 5 years old, has grown jaded and suspicious, and comments with real surrender in his voice every time he witnesses the rise of a full moon. “Uh-oh, it’s a poacher’s moon”. His little-boy imagination carries him into a “Cops and Robbers” dimension daily, but his imaginary heroics are always based on how he will defeat the biggest “baddies” he knows: rhino poachers.
It isn’t easy to articulate the feelings you experience when your husband climbs out of bed in the middle of the night, snatches up a torch and his ever-ready grab-bag for emergencies, and tells you to fetch the children to your bed and lock yourselves in the bedroom because there is word that poachers are on their way.
And in recent times the human cost of rhino poaching has climbed – with rhino horn now more valuable than gold, ounce for ounce. Human lives are not being spared in the quest for an average 2-3kg of rhino horn. The similarities with war scenarios are startling.
To counteract the extreme risk we have been facing, a decision was taken to dehorn all of the rhinos on Somkhanda Game Reserve where we live. We have elected to have our son and daughter accompany us on these operations, to show them the dramatic measures being taken, to allow them the opportunity to touch a rhino’s soft lip, hear it breathe, feel the sweat on its skin after a strenuous helicopter chase, and to evoke an empathy they may otherwise never know.
And then to hear the chainsaw firing up, to watch a weapon of destruction being held up to the face of a helpless herbivore, to flinch as chips of horn fly through the air, and to subsequently pick up those chunks of horn, smell the familiar odour of filed fingernails, and contemplate the meaninglessness of it all.
“But Mom, I don’t understand. Why do the poachers want this? Why do they have to kill the rhino? Why do we have to cut off their horns just to protect them?”
Good questions, my girl.
Unlike most other women, my career and my commitment to my children are inexorably linked. I do the work that I do – my calling – to secure my children’s futures (and your children’s, and our grandchildren’s and their great grandchildren’s), because I refuse to give up my hope in humanity and my faith in the idea that natural systems will prevail. And I do my best to raise my children with a determination to create an awareness in the next generation – a conscience and a consciousness of the power that they hold to turn things around, whether the issue is global warming, rhino poaching, deforestation, snaring, over-fishing, pollution or fracking.
Photo by Dave Gilroy
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Retain perspective. Being continuously exposed to societal concerns like Brexit, plunging economies, student loans, mortgages, joblessness, depression, political unrest and the very many other “intraspecific” issues that are unique to humans, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are in fact just another species cohabiting the planet with every other species, doing our best to survive. And we are sabotaging ourselves.
The loss of the rhino or the African wild dog may have no bearing on your daily life and in fact may have very little impact on humans in general. What bearing did the loss of the woolly mammoth or the dodo have on us? One may argue: none.
However, real threats to human survival are climate change, collapse of food chains, dirty air, starvation, disease, running out of clean water… To my mind, if we humans cannot save an iconic species like the rhino, what hope is there of saving the honeybee – a pollinator intrinsic to our agricultural practices and ongoing food security? If we cannot act to stamp out greed and misinformation at the level of demand for rhino horn, what hope is there that we can stamp out the greed and misinformation that drives global climate change and threatens our survival?
Remain aware of your place in the natural order of things. Travel responsibly, consume less, remember the basic requirements for survival of us all: pure air, abundant clean water, untainted food, undeveloped spaces – and then do everything you can to make those attainable for posterity.
– Taryn Gilroy
I was born in Zululand, and although I grew up and was schooled in Durban, I spent the majority of my time on various KZN game reserves with my grandparents, who worked for the Natal Parks Board. When it came to choosing a career I always thought I would be a doctor, and I was even accepted to medical school which I attended for a whole day before I realised with great relief that I was born to work in the bush. I went on to complete a BSc. Hons. in Conservation Biology and in the course of my studies was offered my dream job as an elephant monitor. I worked as a monitor for two years and then went on to fill a couple of different research/monitoring roles in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. I was fortunate enough to interact closely with Wildlife ACT in this time and I always thought it was a company I would love to work for! I took four years off to work part-time as an independent consultant and to focus on rearing my two little bushbabies (aka children), and I am now in the incredibly fortunate position of working full-time for Wildlife ACT, and raising a family in the wilds of Zululand!
“Something’s different about Linda”, an acquaintance mentioned in casual conversation this past week.
“What do you mean?”, I asked.
“Well, I don’t want to sound weird or corny or anything”, this person went on, “but she’s changed – in a good way. She’s been really devoting herself lately to some animal welfare issues”.
“That’s a beautiful thing. Why would that be weird of you to say?” Now I am curious.
Pause. “I think it IS a good thing. But, you know, no-one really talks about stuff like this too much. People might it’s weird because she’s talking about it more. To everyone. What if she turns into an animal hoarder or a crazy cat lady now?’
I got the feeling that this acquaintance was asking my permission to be accepting of Linda’s increased openness about the things she was doing to help make a difference in the lives of animals in need. It’s no secret: You don’t need permission to embrace Animal Advocacy.
Regardless, I had to stop her right there. And initially I stopped her with “You know, you don’t have to be like that”.
“Like what?”, she asked.
Sometimes (sighing here), you really DO need to spell it out to someone else.
Being an animal advocate doesn’t mean you hoard animals.
It doesn’t mean that you will suddenly become “that woman” down the street who takes in every stray cat that comes along.
It doesn’t mean that you will become closed to everyone else or everything else.
Being an Animal Advocate means that:
You care – and you let that show
You know compassion matters – and you give it freely wherever there is a need
You understand the importance of speaking up and speaking out – and you speak up and out even if it’s hard
You get that education and awareness make a difference – so you share what you know
You take initiative when and where you can (and even when you might fail) to better and save the lives of animals – because you can
You JUST DO SOMETHING every day – because it matters
At some point, you may be put in the path of someone whose ignorance about Animal Advocacy has them fooled into stereo-typed thinking (believe it or not, MANY people think like that).
Do them, and us – the Animal Advocates – a favor; start a conversation with “You Don’t Have To Be Like That”.
I have written before about the concept of pets as property and how that can be a good thing in our current social climate as it relates to legal rights. Yes, our animals are precious to us and they are not property in the traditional sense because we consider them priceless. Because my dog is my property, I have legal rights related to him being taken from me by law enforcement authorities, related to him being stolen from me and related to him being destroyed unnecessarily by an animal shelter. Until we change our laws so that I have rights similar to rights related to children, I am fine with him being called my property as long as I can protect him from harm.
The issue of dogs as a commodity, as inventory and as livestock is, however, a completely separate issue for me and it is one which is infuriating. Puppy mills exist today because we created them. The first commercial dog breeding operations came about thanks to a USDA program implemented decades ago to help struggling farmers. Dogs were promoted as a fool proof cash crop. They are easy to produce and the return on the dollar is high compared to other products. Americans love dogs, so what could possibly go wrong? Everything. Dogs began being produced in huge numbers while being housed in conditions we would normally find inadequate for any animal of any species. The commercial dog breeding industry became big business and it still is today, leading to the creation of a number of organizations which focus solely on saving mill dogs and on educating the public about mills. When we talk about puppy mills, that description encompasses a wide range of businesses and places. Some are huge industrial operations managed by the Hunte Corporation, some are more rural operations managed by those in the Amish culture and yet others are simply backyard operations which operate unseen, unheard and out of the public eye. Most of the dogs produced commercially are sold to brokers who then sell them to pet stores. Many dogs are simply marketed through the internet using polished looking websites which present the illusion of proper care and cleanliness. Still others are sold through newspaper ads, on street corners and in the parking lots of large chain stores.
Although I am not a fan of breeding dogs, I fully recognize that there is such a thing as a responsible breeder. There are people who breed and then sell dogs while taking excellent care of the parent dogs and while doing all they can to perpetuate breed standards and have healthy puppies for people to buy as family pets or to use in some service capacity. There is a continental divide between a responsible breeder and a puppy mill, no matter the size of the mill. In a mill, the “breeder stock” is housed in unthinkable conditions, often in small wire cages with no flooring. They receive no veterinary care (or very little veterinary care) leading them to develop a host of conditions and diseases. Many have missing eyes from having been sprayed by power washers or tumors from lack of care or nails which have grown so long as to become ingrown. If you were to stop and try to think of a house of horrors for dogs, that would be a puppy mill.
The sad truth as it relates to the mill industry is that all puppies are cute and that we are blinded by the cuteness that we see. Even if we know it’s possible that the cute puppy in the pet store may have come from horrific conditions, we really don’t think about that much because the dog is there and he or she needs a home. I have known of some people who are well aware of the conditions in mills and yet they have rationalized buying a dog from a pet store in order to “save” it or “rescue” it. I have often though that if the puppies came with accurate labels, or were accompanied by a realistic image of the conditions in which their parents live, we would be so appalled we would know better than to buy one, cute or not.
Here’s the thing. Puppy mills thrive because of us. We make them profitable. We create the demand. And they will continue to dot our landscape across our country, keeping canine prisoners in horrific conditions, until we say “enough” and we stop buying what they are selling.
We created mills. We can stop the mills by speaking out against them, by telling everyone we know about them and by simply refusing to purchase dogs which millers see as nothing more than inventory. It is up to us to say, “no. That is not what our culture is about.” We like to think of our country as being animal friendly. The time has long since passed for us to stop patting ourselves on the back for being dog lovers while allowing such an insidious industry to exist in our country and doing nothing to stop it.
September 18, 2016, is Puppy Mill Awareness Day. Events are scheduled across the country on the third Saturday of September each year to help educate the public about the commercial dog breeding industry. Some events are protests. Other events are meant to be educational and empowering and are family-oriented, with the goal of educating children. I encourage you to do some research to find an event near you so that you can participate and let your voice be heard. If you don’t speak out against this industry, who will?
Paws4Change® is an animal welfare advocacy organization founded by Aubrie Kavanaugh. The organization seeks to help people understand some fundamental issues related to companion animals so they can make better choices which affect themselves and our society. Paws4Change also supports rescue groups across the country through production of multimedia projects to help the people who help animals.
Whether you are advocating on a big or small scale, no good effort is EVER wasted. And, good efforts are needed on every level, at any time.
You can be a complete animal lover but not yet have found your passionate goal to advocate for. That’s okay. You will know it when it grabs hold of you on a level so deep that you cannot turn your back on it.
Click HERE for the Short List of what you can do RIGHT NOW, TODAY!
The possibilities to advocate and support are ENDLESS.
There are always animals in need. No animal advocate will turn away your willingness and offer to help. You may find your passionate cause just by reaching out to see who needs help or what others are doing to make a difference.
Always speak up – Always help! Never, ever turn your back on abuse, injury or neglect. If you see an animal in need or in distress, report it.
Make sure that help arrives before you leave the situation.
You never know when YOU may be the ONLY one to witness an act of cruelty or come to an animal’s aide.
Spread awareness! Start a conversation. EVERY share, post, retweet, and signature matters. Countless lives are saved and changed EVERY DAY because people like you and like me take the time to spread awareness in every form. You never know when YOUR share will be THE share to make a difference in someone’s life.
Networking saves lives! So many animals need homes and rescues, especially in high-kill shelters. If you come across a post regarding an animal in need, jump on Google and help network to save that life! Don’t be shy in reaching out and asking for help!
Let others know you are helping to rescue that life.
Rally your group of contacts and friends to help reach out.
Many times, people will pledge money to have the animal rescued. Pledges should be collected after the animal has been rescued, and after the Freedom Picture is provided.
Reach out to other rescue groups and individuals to see if they can help; this should be local to the area, and then beyond, if needed.
If beyond, you may need transport! A good place to start for that is Kindred Hearts.
If you need transport, you may need someone to pull or board the animal until transport can pick up. Kindred Hearts can answer all of these questions on how to get started.
Continue to call the shelter to let them know you are trying to network.
Share the animal’s picture and information many times a day.
Don’t stop trying, until it is confirmed that the animal has been saved.
Once the animal has been rescued, make sure you provide updates to everyone.
We rescued Eloise by networking. THIS is her story. THIS is her update!
Connect and share! You can join animal advocacy groups and meet other like-minded people/organizations through some common social media platforms (in no specific order) such as:
See something, JUST DO SOMETHING! Many well-meaning pet owners may not be knowledgeable in all aspects of pet care; don’t be afraid to speak up if you see a need.
Keep your eyes open! Look around – do you know of a friend or neighbor whose four-legged friend is left alone too much, or chained up/caged all day? Offer to walk, play or just spend time with a pet who may not be getting the healthy attention or exercise s/he needs.
What’s happening in your local shelter? Check your local shelters to see what their current animal residents might need – plus, shelter staff always welcome help.
Churches and Food Pantries help families with pets! Visit your local churches or food pantries to find out if in-need families also have animals that require food or other attention.
Play on-line to feed animals for free! Click to give away FREE kibble to dogs and cats – right from your computer!
Go to FreeKibble – you can even set up a reminder to play daily!
Who are your local rescue groups? Contact your local rescue groups to see how you can help.
Is your state up to date? Find out what guidelines and laws are missing within your County or State, then start with a call to your legislators to find out what you can do to start the process to evoke change.
States, nation-wide, need Shelter Reform Laws. A great place to get started with this is through the No Kill Advocacy Center.
Click HERE to see how you get can get started specifically on this important issue.
Jump on the Animal Rescue Site! They provide some great opportunities to help animals, right from your own home.
Sign AND share animal support and welfare petitions. Petitions truly make a difference; they can heighten awareness, educate, inspire discussions and action, and evoke change. Signing and sharing MATTER. Some great petition sites (in no specific order):
Get connected on Google+! There are so many great Animal Welfare communities on this social media platform, which means more for you to sign AND share. Just sign up for a gmail account, update your Google + personal profile, and then search on Communities to find related groups.
Start an Animal petition. Maybe you think your petition will not get enough signatures. Think again. There are thousands of concerned people, just like you, who want to make a difference. Petitions are a great way to make a BIG difference, for a little effort. So go ahead, be brave, get your voice out there, and do your part to save and better lives for those that cannot speak for, or defend, themselves.
Click HERE to find out the best way to create a petition.
And remember, it’s difficult sometime to work in Animal Advocacy. We understand that.
Think about getting anAdvocate Buddy!
Still not sure? We will help. Reach out to us, and just-do-something.org will connect with you.
Do you have additional great ideas for what others can do to make a difference?
We’d love to know about it! Tell us, and we’ll share it!
Are you doing something RIGHT NOW to make a difference?
Share it with us as a JUST DO SOMETHING Moment, and we’ll post it!
Please remember, there is always, always, ALWAYS something you can do. Go, go do it. You may just change a life.