Animal Advocates Are Never Alone

Animal Advocates Are Never Alone

Our Numbers Are Growing

Animal Advocates Are Never Alone – It may feel that way some days and it’s easy to become discouraged and to feel that our voices are lost in the wilderness. But the end game remains the same. We must be the voices for those who cannot speak. Dan Richardson, a dediated animal activist, has shared his deeply personal thoughts about animal advocacy very eloquently. He encourages animal advocates to remember that there is always light.  As Leonard Cohen observed so beautifully, “There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in”. Thank you, Dan.

Dan Richardson

Guest Writer


January 24 at 5:29 P.M.

Inside the mind of an animal advocate – and a promise:

I need to get this out, and some of it is dark – but stay with me because there is light.

Compassion and empathy automatically form the basis of my viewpoints and opinions. Whether or not that puts me in a minority, I don’t know. I hope not, but it feels like it does because what I do know for sure is that the people who make the decisions and write the law obviously don’t share my view. If they did I wouldn’t live in a world where humans routinely inflict cruelty on animals for reasons ranging from science to sport, food to entertainment, dominance to profit and naivety to plain enjoyment, all without fear of any consequence. It hurts a lot to know that most of this cruelty and exploitation is considered perfectly acceptable and that there are no laws to prevent it. I’m equally disturbed when atrocities are committed against people, but at least when that happens there’s a general belief that it’s wrong, and there are laws to protect the victims and consequences for the perpetrators. I’m acutely aware of the fact that I’m a member of the species that’s responsible for all the cruelty in the world and I wish that I wasn’t. It’s like being stuck in a nightmare I can’t wake up from. I would never bring a premature end to this gift called life, but I have very spiritual and philosophical views about death anyway and when it comes, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief that I no longer have to share genetic similarities with the people responsible for stealing dolphins from the ocean, trophy hunting, bullfighting, turning animals into circus acts, factory farming, torturing and eating dogs or anything else from the endless list of horrors.

I try to detach myself the best I can. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a genuinely happy person, and I really am, partly because I find balance on a daily basis by surrounding myself with good people who I love and through positive thinking, meditation and various forms of distraction. I have to. If I didn’t I’d go insane through grief and despair. The respite is only ever temporary though. Permanent emotional detachment isn’t an option for me anymore than it would be for someone whose loved one was being held captive and tortured, or whose family members were being picked off one by one by a sniper. That’s how I feel about animals – they ARE my loved ones. Not in place of my human friends and family, as well as, and not because I know them or I’ve spent time forming bonds with them. Simply because. It’s just how I feel about them.

People say animal conservationists are a ‘voice for the voiceless’. Yeah OK, I am that, and proudly so. But I’m not the horse whisperer, I don’t have special powers that enable me to understand what animals are saying any more than anyone else. I don’t speak elephant or rhino, lion, tiger, pangolin, cow, pig, dolphin or whale, but that doesn’t matter because I don’t need to know their language to understand that none of them want to be eaten or taken from their home and their family, and that none of them want to be hit with a fist or a bullet or an arrow or a harpoon. Without any scientific knowledge or special training, without any animal ever having spoken a word of English to me, I can confidently assert that I know exactly what they want. Every single one of them – Freedom. To be left unharmed. Everyone already knows that without the help of my ‘voice for the voiceless’ or anyone else’s. They’ve known it all along. All of mankind knows it. He just chooses to ignore it.

I realise that I chose to put myself in this position and I’m not actually complaining about the pain it causes me. In fact I welcome the pain because it’s the fuel that drives me forward and I’d have major concerns about what was lacking in me if I didn’t feel it. I am however deeply disturbed by the mindset of the people who cause all that pain. The things I’m exposed to often leave me in a state of utter disbelief and despair. I’m relatively well informed in these matters and I need to be because people are constantly looking for ways to trip me up or discredit me. That knowledge, while necessary for me to be taken seriously, is toxic. It poisons my heart, my mind and my soul. Don’t think for a second you’re seeing the worst of it on my Facebook page. I’m cautious about sharing graphic images anyway, but what you see isn’t even scratching the surface. Every time I think I’ve witnessed the lowest lows that humans are capable of sinking to, I see something even more sick, twisted and depraved. At times like that it overwhelms me and I cry for the victims. It can feel like an insurmountable task, futile, hopeless, and those negative feelings are like even more poison in my soul. But it is NOT futile, hopeless or insurmountable. No matter what I see or how much it hurts I will NEVER give up. I will NEVER turn my back on the animals who, in every moment of every day, are experiencing far more fear, pain and suffering than I have ever known, more than any of us could possibly tolerate.

EVERY SINGLE LIFE MATTERS and every one we save or improve is worth all the pain and all the effort. To think any other way would be the same as allowing a hundred people to perish in a burning building because it’s not enough to only save one or two even if you could.

I PROMISE I will never turn my back on a single one of the billions of voiceless victims of human cruelty.

People are the cause of all the cruelty – and people are also the solution. Never before in human history have ALL of us had the opportunity to contribute so easily and so effectively. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, you can be a conservationist too, you can be a voice, all at the touch of a button. In the world of social media, that alone is sometimes enough to make the most enormous difference. Look at the incredible progress that has been made recently. China announced a total ban of their domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017. That’s a decision that absolutely will save elephants lives. Trip Advisor no longer sells animal experience tickets, South Korea’s largest dog meat market has been closed down, 95 countries have banned the trade of wild African Grey Parrots, the world’s largest protected marine area has been created off the coast of Antarctica, all saving lives, all because of petitions that received support through social media. It IS worth it and it IS working.

I know many of you feel as strongly as I do about all this and some of you have shared with me how much pain and anxiety you feel because of it. I guess I wanted to share this partly to remind you that you’re not alone, but also because for my own selfish reasons, acknowledging it and sharing it is like releasing a pressure valve. I’m here for any of you who feel the need to do the same. I love you all and I will stand with you until I take my last breath.

Dan Richardson

There Is Always Light At The End Of The Tunnel