Treat animals with kindness and respect | Columns
In our current political climate, I would not go so far as to assume that there is one issue on which all sides of the philosophical spectrum agree. I would, however, suggest a small handful of positions that have the best chance of near-universal acceptance. One of them is opposition to animal cruelty and neglect.
Decades of studies have consistently indicated that a willingness to be cruel to animals correlates with an increased tolerance for cruelty to human beings. Again, this is not a guarantee but one of the few things safe bets can generally be made on.
This is not to say that correlation is the only justification for animal welfare. Inflicting excessive pain on a defenseless life form (or allowing that pain to continue unabated) is de facto depraved.
The good news is that in its last session, the Maryland Legislature passed several new laws just for the protection of animals within the state. Animal rights activists heralded the latest session in Annapolis as a victory. Director of the Maryland branch of the Humane Society of the United States, Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, called the session a “legacy year.”
Perhaps most notable, Maryland became only the second state to ban cat declawing. (Except for serious veterinary needs.) This gruesome practice, which literally disables a feline by removing not just the claws but part of the paw bones, often takes place simply for the pet owner’s convenience – to prevent the pets from tearing up furniture. and other such things. Kudos to Maryland for getting rid of that.
The state pet neutering and neutering fund has been wisely reauthorized. Our cat is neutered. Consider this a friendly reminder for pet owners.
A Bad Weather Bill was also passed. In Maryland, pets will no longer be allowed to spend more than 30 minutes at a time outdoors in hot weather above 90 degrees or below 32 degrees. We tend to assume that animals have some built-in immunity to such conditions. But most pets such as dogs and cats do not. Again, a step towards animal welfare before potential owner convenience.
HB-1062, as it was called during the session, makes it easier for humane societies and police departments to recoup financial losses incurred by rescuing and caring for animals neglected by their owners. As always, the use of public funds caused a bit of a headache for some. However, I support the use of public funds in such situations when “protect and serve” applies to our four-legged friends. (Or those with wings, or fins and so on, of course.)
Nor will it be as easy to sell and trade trophies of 15 different endangered species. (Ivory is still, unfortunately, very popular in stores across the state.)
Of course, all of this legislation contains details too specific to describe fully in this space of this column. And these details are important. I applaud the General Assembly and Governor Larry Hogan for passing them. But perhaps the biggest lesson learned from all of this isn’t in the details. Rather, it is in the broad subject of animal care. It shows the character of individuals when treating animals with kindness and respect, and it also positively reflects that state to do so as well.