Hey Everyone!! :-)
I thought this quote from Shakespeare was appropriate for today's installment of An Animal Rescuer's Guide To Staying (Relatively) Sane. Working with animals also, usually, means working with the public, to one extent or another. As anyone who has ever worked in retail or food service knows, it's amazing what kinds of personal questions complete strangers feel they have the right to demand answers to. This segment is about the question I've been asked most often as an animal rescuer and how I generally respond.
5. People are going to ask you why you choose to work with animals. There is a common opinion in our society that human animals are more important than non-human animals. You may or may not share this opinion, but, regardless, you are going to be asked this question. People are going to ask why, when there is so much human suffering, you choose to devote your energy animals. You may or may not be comfortable sharing your reasons, and if you are great, go ahead. However if you aren’t you may want to do more than just change the subject or turn the question back on the asker. For the most part, I’m not big on explaining myself. A person’s motivations are generally nobody else’s business. However, when I’m asked this question I look on it as an opportunity to try to get the asker to think. I usually respond by asking the person why they think human suffering is more important than animal suffering. Or if they think animals do not feel pain in the same way humans do. Or if they believe humans bear a responsibility towards domesticated animals, since we have changed them to reflect our desires rather than what would enable them to survive without our help. These questions are not asked to start an argument (and if you aren’t comfortable doing this, don’t), but to provoke thought. If someone becomes belligerent I usually just say something to the effect "Well, if that issue is so important to you, then by all means go ahead and work for it. We all have causes that are near and dear to our hearts and I have chosen mine." This will usually diffuse an argument, if one starts to form. Regardless of what response you choose to make, you will be asked this question and you have no reason to feel guilty for your choice. At least you are working for something. So many people work for nothing at all beyond their own betterment.