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I’ll give a short warning before I dive into this topic, and in particular, this story. The information I am about to relay to you is graphic, but it’s true. There is no hiding from it, there is no avoiding it–it’s real life, and it happens. On AnatolyVanetik.com, I’ll be periodically writing stories about animal welfare and activism. This post, my first, gives a brief look into why these causes shouldn’t fall secondary or tertiary to others. 

In 2008, two Australian men hatched what they thought was a fantastic plan. They stole a puppy, a male fox terrier named Peanut, from a local residence and in the pitch of night, dragged him yelping to an abandoned park. Peanut was helpless when the men propped him up on a picnic table, and Peanut cried as first his skin, then his legs were systematically slashed from his body. When the men ended their devilish surgery by slicing off a tiny nose, a curious and lively nose which only seven months prior had wrinkled, twitching joyously in recognition of its very first smell, Peanut’s screams reached a pitch with which any living, hearing, feeling creature can empathize. As he died at the hands of two bored men, Peanut shrieked the tortured yip of a creature who could know no greater suffering.

Regardless of being its cause, or its recipient, humanity is in no way the only prerequisite for pain. It is an unavoidable tenet of known life that any being capable of dealing or feeling pain will (at some point and to some degree) do both.

The singular advantage we, as humans, possess is that instead of merely acting, we can think out, plan, and preconceive our actions. Self-awareness and preconception, these powers are why we, as a self-interested species, rule this earth, and these are why we, as an empathetic species, are responsible for the consequences of our reign.

Peanut the puppy’s story ended tragically, but not without justice. The men responsible for utilizing their human abilities to preconceive and carry out torturous death were stripped of the imagined superiority they lorded over an innocent creature; they were shamed, shackled and slung off to suffer prison before a court of law. They received the maximum sentence for their crimes, a feat due in no small part to the hundreds of human beings who, in storming court in support of Peanut, balanced the often heart-tearing weight of responsibility for Earth’s helpless species with grace and great strength that day.

It is heartening to see that almost all of us would rather adopt a cat or dog than kill one, and it’s been beautiful to witness the rise of organizations like the Humane Society and SPCA, which dedicate their existence to improving animal welfare; they are a monumental step towards realizing our potential as self-aware, planning, powerful beings by becoming the the careful caretakers of all life. But we can do more, I know we can. In America alone, 7.6 million animals enter shelters every year, due in no small part to human abuse and neglect. We can change that. You can change that. Just be aware, and take care, always and however you can.