The exploitation of our non-human companions

How we can make a difference to cruelty to animals

As I perused my Facebook feed this morning, a chilling headline caught my eye: “Man Arrested for Cruelty to Dog Tied to Scooter.” This begs the question: how many more instances of this kind of depravity, or even organized animal cruelty, are happening beyond our awareness? The sad truth is that animal cruelty has been a pervasive issue for ages, from inflicting pain and harm for specific gain, such as entertainment or zoosadism, to neglect and omission. This despicable behaviour has taken on different forms, from malnutrition, beating, transportation, research, and even slaughter. Even though animals were created to serve humans, we have always added to their misery and agony in one way or another. Regrettably, humans have continued to exploit animals for their own gain, indulging in organized cruelty such as dogfighting, cockfighting, and other offences that frequently accompany other crimes. Behold, the Prophet Muhammad (`PBUH) once imparted these words of wisdom: “Verily, a virtuous deed done unto an animal is akin to a virtuous deed done unto a human, while an act of cruelty towards an animal is akin to an act of cruelty towards a human.” With fervent conviction, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) denounced the heinous practices of notching and slitting the ears of animals, as well as the barbaric custom of adorning the necks of camels with grievous rings.

It is no secret that equine creatures hold great significance during the summertime, serving as a primary mode of transportation for tourists in popular destinations such as Sonamarg and Pahalgam. Alas, fate has dealt these majestic beasts a cruel hand.

In the frigid winters of Kashmir, one may often witness the pitiable sight of horses scavenging in the snow, abandoned by their owners who deem them unprofitable during that season. These magnificent beasts are left to languish for months on end, as the fields are shrouded in a blanket of snow. The heartless inhabitants, infuriated by the horses’ presence, resort to pelting them with stones in a misguided attempt to safeguard their crops, plants, and trees.

As the summer season arrives, the owners of these noble steeds scour the land in search of their missing companions, often attributing their disappearance to the horses’ own volition. Yet, one cannot help but question the circumstances that have led to the dire state of these magnificent beasts. It is imperative that those responsible for their mistreatment be held accountable under the full extent of the law.

Moreover, one cannot help but be dismayed by the inhumane practice of transporting animals on two-wheelers, with these hapless creatures dangling precariously in the face of human selfishness, as their proprietors refuse to bear the expense of proper transport. Adding insult to injury, the wanton cruelty meted out to hapless hens who innocently stray into a neighbour’s yard or kitchen garden is nothing short of barbaric, with their legs broken as a punishment for their transgressions. Does the flagrant disregard for the sanctity of life not give one pause, and compel us to contemplate our accountability before the Almighty? Perchance, you have also beheld the appalling sight of chickens being ruthlessly packed into vehicles, left without sustenance or hydration for days on end.

A ghastly truth lurks behind the walls of US laboratories, where over 100 million animals, ranging from mice to monkeys, suffer a dreadful fate each year. These hapless creatures are subjected to grotesque experiments including inhaling toxic fumes, enduring immobilization for hours, having holes drilled into their skulls, or even having their skin burned off and spinal cords crushed. Not only are they tormented during experimentation, but they are stripped of all that is natural and meaningful to them. They languish in sterile cages, are socially isolated and suffer severe psychological trauma. Alas, these sentient beings, capable of emotion and empathy, are treated as nothing more than expendable laboratory tools.

Despite the declining acceptance of animal testing, a significant portion of the population still believes it to be vital for medical advancement. However, the truth is that the majority of animal experiments fail to contribute to improving human health. In fact, the reliability of animal experimentation in medical research is questionable, with numerous studies indicating that findings from animal testing do not often translate to humans. A research article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association highlights the poor replication of even high-quality animal studies, and cautions patients and physicians to be wary of extrapolating findings from animal research to the care of human disease.

Diseases artificially induced in animals in a laboratory are never identical to those that occur naturally in humans. Additionally, the biological differences between animal species further undermine the usefulness of animal experimentation in predicting human outcomes. As Dr Richard Klausner, former National Cancer Institute Director, pointed out, “We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.” Former National Institutes of Health Director, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, admits that animal experimentation in predicting human outcomes. He admits further that animal experimentation has been a boondoggle and urges the adoption of new methodologies to understand human diseases.

The sobering truth is that despite at least 85 successful HIV/AIDS vaccines in nonhuman primate studies, every single one has failed to protect humans. One such vaccine even made humans more susceptible to the disease. Even the National Institutes of Health concedes that the therapeutic development process, which includes animal experimentation, has a failure rate exceeding 95 percent and costs over $1 billion per successful drug. It’s time to stop relying on animal experimentation and invest in innovative and effective alternatives that will truly advance medical progress.

A startling revelation has been uncovered by a research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It exposes that universities often overstate the findings of animal experiments conducted in their labs and frequently promote research that has little to do with human health, all while failing to provide crucial details and recognize important limitations. The media also doesn’t seem to be presenting the complete picture, as one study found that news stories about scientific meetings often leave out essential information, leading to a distorted perception of the science presented. Additionally, scientists rarely share the results of animal experiments that didn’t yield expected results, leaving the public in the dark about the inefficacy of animal experimentation.

Assist those who are struggling to care for their pets. Neglect is not always an indication of a lack of love. In certain circumstances, the animal’s owner may be unable to provide the necessary care due to psychological limitations. In such cases, it is crucial to remove the pet from the neglectful environment and provide it with the care it deserves. Any act of kindness towards an animal has the potential to positively impact a human’s life as well.

Strategies to Combat Animal Cruelty

Assume responsibility as a pet owner. Attend to your pet’s needs and enrich its life with positive experiences. By setting an example of kindness, we can combat animal cruelty. Provide shelter to abandoned animals by fostering them to help them recover and find permanent loving homes. Interfere and report incidents of animal abuse, cruelty or neglect. Take action to stop animal mistreatment and seek help from others if necessary. Teach children to respect animals and demonstrate how to treat them with kindness. Support strict laws for animal welfare and stricter penalties for animal cruelty. Provide shelter to animals in need. You can make a significant difference in the life of an animal that has been mistreated by taking them out of harm’s way.

Recognize that animal neglect can be linked to domestic violence. Often, animal abuse and domestic violence go hand in hand. By reporting suspected incidents, you may be able to help both the animals and the affected family. See “The Link Between Cruelty to Animals and Violence to Humans” for more information Enlighten your peers about the cause. Empower them with knowledge to help combat animal cruelty. It is vital to recognize that animals have the right to live free from fear and suffering. We all have a duty to intervene when these rights are not upheld.

Assist those who are struggling to care for their pets. Neglect is not always an indication of a lack of love. In certain circumstances, the animal’s owner may be unable to provide the necessary care due to psychological limitations. In such cases, it is crucial to remove the pet from the neglectful environment and provide it with the care it deserves. Any act of kindness towards an animal has the potential to positively impact a human’s life as well.

Let us pray that the Almighty guide us towards compassion for animals and helps us become their voice in the face of adversity. May we all work towards making this world a better place for all living beings.

Peer Mohammad Amir Qureshi
Peer Mohammad Amir Qureshi
The writer is pursuing an MSc in zoology . He tweets @peermohdamir and can be reachd at [email protected]


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