I read a great article yesterday on msnbc about the incredible work being done by World Vets under the leadership of one of the most amazing vets I have ever met, Cathy King. Then I read the comments.
Comments on news articles are a funny thing. People who like to comment on news sites are very odd, aren’t they? It’s like they have alienated every human they have come across in the real world so they need to go online in order to find somewhere they can moan and groan. On many blogs and message boards, there is an air of civilized discourse that carries over from our expectations of how one might carry themselves in polite company. But on sites like CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC, there’s no such expectation. It’s internet missile-lobbing at its finest.
Because I have come to expect this, and because any article about pet health or animal welfare published on a general interest website generates a predictable wave of irate people-centric responses, I can’t say I was surprised to see the comments. It’s a phenomenon one can reliably count on.
“Why are these weirdos wasting their time on DOGS when so many people are suffering?”
“ This is an asinine waste of resources that should be used for people in need, not some stupid animal. No wonder the planet is so hosed up.”
“People first. Millions of people sick, staving in desperate need.”
People make this argument as though most people choose between caring about animals or caring about humans. As if you have to pick one or the other. That just isn’t the case. In fact, the opposite tends to be true: people who care about animals tend to care even MORE about humans than those who don’t care about animals. That is because people who care in general, care about lots of things. Compassion is a universal trait.
People who identify as animal lovers are actually more likely to be involved in their children’s schools and in other philanthropic activities. They are probably giving more to charities that help people than those very same people who are criticizing them for helping animals. Funny how that works.
So let’s review a few misconceptions about animal lovers I think we need to work on:
1. We love animals, but we hate people.
Hey, even if it’s true, try not to respond to every dopey news troll with “Well, I love dogs more than any human I’ve ever met, so no wonder I’d rather help them.” Be that as it may, I know you all. I have seen you come together to help a friend in need time and time again, and it’s not just because you feel badly for their pet.
Sure, you get frustrated with stupid people who do stupid things, and horrible people who do horrible things, especially to the defenseless. But that is because you have a huge squishy compassionate heart, and for all your irritation with the bad people in the world, you all are the first to pull off your coat to give to someone who is shivering. You can’t hide that from me. I’ve seen it.
2. We have no sense of humor.
It’s hard for someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about animal welfare issues to understand why people were upset about the Doritos commercial at the Super Bowl. And you know, lots of people thought it was funny and I’m sure they’re not all cat murderers. You know, I liked Pulp Fiction and I’m not a hit man and I don’t condone shooting people in the face.
I think this is a ‘pick your battles’ sort of thing. If we raise a fuss every time someone puts a picture online of a dog in a dumb hat looking dejected, eventually people are going to think we’re missing a funny bone. And I know for a fact this is not the case. Exhibit A:
Yes, I made a Snooki out of Apollo’s fur and a kumquat for National Hairball Awareness Day. 29 other bloggers took on Conan, Lady Gaga, and Ellen, to name a few.
Exhibit B: Everything on Icanhazcheezburger or Reddit. It’s OK to laugh at animals every once in a while. That’s because they are funny. We shouldn’t be afraid to laugh, no more than we should fear to cry. We are the types of people who feel emotions very deeply. It defines us.
So for the record, I’d like to remind the universe that animal lovers are well-socialized, compassionate human beings with some of the most amazing hearts, endless drives to better the world, and an ironic self-awareness that is quite cognizant of the perception that other people may have of them. Which brings me to my last point:
3. We’re creepy, gross, and/or antisocial.
People who are not into animals seem to think that people who are live bizarre lives of antisocial activity in their smelly basements surrounded by cats because those are the only living beings they can tolerate. You know, this lady:
And I just point them to my friend Dorian at Your Daily Cute, who’s a traffic stopper even when she’s not out protesting Loews Hotels treatment of their feral cats.
Or Tamar from I Have Cat, a modern woman with impeccable style, and also cats.
Let me also remind you that Evan the surf instructor likes dogs:
And the list goes on and on. So no, being an animal lover is not a default place that sad and sorry humans regress to when the rest of humanity has rejected them. In fact, animal lovers make some of the best leaders (FDR), advocates (Jane Goodall), and humanists (Gandhi) the world has ever seen.
So to those who read about people helping animals and have the nerve to complain, I pity you. I pity that you do not see these people for what they are and what they have to give. And I feel sorry for you that you will will never be as great as they are.
Any other misconceptions I forgot to mention? I feel like I need a Top 10 List of Why Animal Lovers Rock to come out of this.