Going To The Dogs
by Jonathon Van Maren
The ever increasing sufferings of our canine friends have been quite prominent in the news cycle of late, from Mitt Romney’s unorthodox methods of transporting them to President Obama’s unorthodox history of eating them. Not to be left out, today Canada has its own big dog story: The CBC breathlessly informs us that in Toronto, a Shetland sheepdog was stabbed. (Gasp.)
Now, I like dogs. We always had dogs around our place when I was growing up. I understand how people have a close affinity with “a man’s best friend” to the point where it can be extremely painful to lose such a pet, although I must admit I've never had one harpooned. But, seriously? With everything going on across Canada and the world, this is worthy enough to make it onto the national news?
Apparently this clearly “first world problem” is of such significance that yes, it does merit a prominent spot on the news cycle. After all, the idea of a 68 year-old man spearing a dog with a broomstick does seem rather unique--anyone else thinking Clint Eastwood? But this is what gets us outraged?
Indeed. Here are a few of the over two hundred comments from the mourning public:
“If you don't believe in harsh penalties for cruelty to animals or wrongfully causing the death of an animal -- then you don't believe in law and order.”
“I’d honestly support the death penalty in cases of animal abuse, I’m sick of the arrogance of humanity.”
“So he was walking in public with a homemade spear and he, allegedly, brutally attacked and killed an animal. He's not being held - not for a psych evaluation - not to protect public safety. Will there be a child next?”
I could point out here that if the man had chosen to spear a child, the government wouldn’t have arrested him for it. As long as he picked the right age range, they would have subsidized it and subcontracted the job out to a “clinic” worker.
I could point out that what I found exceptionally depressing about the hundreds of comments from readers is that with the exception of a few beacons of reason, people showed far more sympathy for a collie than they do for human tragedy. For example, this collie catastrophe more than doubled the number of comments received by the story of an explosion at a sawmill in Prince George, which resulted in the death of one worker and injured dozens more.
But really, I just think we should save our outrage quota for things that matter. The fact that we have the luxury of getting angry over the death of someone else’s pet is one that few societies have ever become pampered enough to attain. Hey, I’m with you. Nobody thinks it's cool to stab Lassie. There should even be ramifications for it. But when it's the screams of children versus the barking of dogs, I just can’t seem to shake this annoying sense of perspective.
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