Monday, May 19, 2008

Animal Abandonment ≠ Animal Liberation

Today is Vesak Day which is the day Buddha was born and attained enlightenment. A common practice to celebrate this day is to free animals which is also known as Animal Liberation.

Noah's Ark frequently rescues many dogs and cats that are abandoned. Most were rescued from the streets and many others were unceremoniously dumped right at our door step. Many of these abandoned animals are pedigrees.

Sometimes, the owners were traced and of course, we queried the reason behind the abandonment. The usual reasons were either that the animal no longer suited their lifestyle (e.g. too busy, no time, had a new baby, etc.) or behavioural problems (unable to toilet train or constantly barking etc.).

Shouldn't the owner excercise the option of rehoming, one would ask? The truth is most owners don't want to spend the time and effort to rehome their animals and choose to dump their pets out onto the streets, over the other option - Euthanasia.

By sparing the animal from death, many owners who claim that they are buddhists, reckon that it conforms to the Buddhistic practice of Animal Liberation or 放生 (Fang4 Sheng1).

The motivation behind Animal Liberation is to free the animal that is destined for slaughter or imprisonment back to it's native environment where it can lead it's remaining life according to the laws of nature.

However, due to negative publicity of numerous cases of animals being "liberated" into inappropriate or non-native environments, the practice of Animal Liberation has received much undeserved flak.

For example; a rescued turtle should be released back to the sea and not to a pond. Putting a turtle into a pond is a no brainer. You want to save a life, not to administer a slow and painful death.

Similarly, your pet cat or dog is a domesticated animal living under the same roof as you. They have not been taught to hunt for their food and were born / raised to be dependent on the owner for food and shelter.

The streets and jungles are not their native environment. Dumping the animals there is not saving a life, nor is is considered animal liberation.

Animal Liberation with all it's good intentions, must be carried out with wisdom. Abandonment cannot be an excuse for a deed with such noble aspiration.

Please think thrice, before getting a pet if you are uncertain that you can provide a home for the animals for the rest of it's life.

In this post, Noah's Ark seeks to clarify the misconception on Animal Liberation with no intention to criticise anybody.

Rounding off, Noah's Ark would like to wish all our buddhist friends; a very Happy Vesak.

p.s. the contributor to this post is a buddhist and seeks to clarify general misconception on such practice.

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