"When one works on animal issues, one is working on the first rung of the ladder that leads us up toward a more compassionate, inclusive and humane community"
More than a hundred years ago leaders in San Francisco and New York City, had become concerned about their community's treatment of both children and animals. Their observations of insensitivity and apathy toward the every day suffering of their city's most vulnerable members became the impetus for a nationwide movement to end cruelty and create a humane culture. As Dan Knapp, formally of the Sonoma County SPCA wrote " they realized how a community acts out its values on those most vulnerable would determine the temperament of the future." The end result of this concern was the formation of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Children.
Most people have no idea children’s services started with animal welfare groups seeing the connections between the suffering of children and animals and focusing the nation’s attention on those issues. Unfortunately, that connection lost its significance as government took over more responsibility toward children and animal welfare groups focused just on animals. With that loss of connection was also the loss of the simplest and base definition of what it means to be a community; compassion and understanding.
Within the last decade the importance of this connection has once again taken center stage as researchers from both animal welfare and children’s services have gathered and published definitive data that show the overlapping circles of domestic violence, child abuse and animal cruelty. To work toward a more humane world for animals is to work toward a more humane world for people also. It is just as important to teach kindness and nurturing today as it was 100 years ago.
So it is not a matter of making animals more important than humans, it is creating a secure, healthy and violence free community. Some of us work on the first step in that process; animals.