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Column:Respect animal welfare

Political+science+senior+Kristina+McDowell+plays+with+two+shelter+dogs+at+Animal+Rescue+New+Orleans.+Clubs+%2Csuch+as+People+for+Animal+Welfare+and+Service%2C+provide+opportunities+for+Loyola+students+to+care+for+animals.
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Column:Respect animal welfare

Political science senior Kristina McDowell plays with two shelter dogs at Animal Rescue New Orleans. Clubs ,such as People for Animal Welfare and Service, provide opportunities for Loyola students to care for animals.

Political science senior Kristina McDowell plays with two shelter dogs at Animal Rescue New Orleans. Clubs ,such as People for Animal Welfare and Service, provide opportunities for Loyola students to care for animals.

Photo courtesy of Aubrey Lynne

Political science senior Kristina McDowell plays with two shelter dogs at Animal Rescue New Orleans. Clubs ,such as People for Animal Welfare and Service, provide opportunities for Loyola students to care for animals.

Photo courtesy of Aubrey Lynne

Photo courtesy of Aubrey Lynne

Political science senior Kristina McDowell plays with two shelter dogs at Animal Rescue New Orleans. Clubs ,such as People for Animal Welfare and Service, provide opportunities for Loyola students to care for animals.

Sydney Barbier

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If you’re at an awkward party and try to break the ice by bringing up an issue regarding human rights and welfare, you will probably start an often repeated and practiced debate on the matter. But if you bring up an issue concerning animal rights and welfare, you may very well be met with exasperated, dismissive looks before any spark of debate. How come concern for the protection of animal welfare is so often cast aside as belonging to the hippies and tree huggers? How come animal welfare is seen as a superfluous subject promoted solely by radical, and sometimes militant, extremists?

The concern for animals and their well-being should belong to all people, and I think it is necessary that issues pertaining to animals become a more prominent part of everyday discussions, extending into the deeper political, philosophical and ethical spheres of debate. Through an amplified dialogue about animal rights and welfare, awareness and education surrounding these issues can first increase, and then action through a multitude of different methods can occur.

Although we live in a person-centered society, animal rights must not be neglected or ignored. The entire world is affected by the lives of animals every day, whether through the lives of pets and service animals or through the use and consumption of animal byproducts. But, despite the enduring interconnectedness and codependence between animal and human life, many people forget about the life of each individual animal. Many see animals as a mere collective, as a means to an end. I’m not saying that everyone should become vegetarian or vegan; that’s a personal decision. I’m just saying that we should become more aware of animals as individuals and of all that they give us, thus generating increased respect and concern for these beings and their welfare.

Once this awareness and respect forms, people should educate themselves on the various controversies that relate to animal rights. Animal testing, factory farming, habitat destruction, species endangerment and extinction, animal baiting, and domestic animal neglect and abuse are just a handful of the issues circulating today. Pick an issue that means something to you, educate yourself on both sides of the argument, and take a stand. Education is the key to becoming a meaningful part of any debate, and college is the primary time to increase education and awareness. College is as much about self-education and growth as it is about going to class and making good grades; perhaps personal growth is even more important. It’s about formulating your beliefs and opinions independently and in a well-informed manner and discovering how you can use these beliefs to change society for the better.

Even though change can be temporary, education and knowledge are not. You can pass on your awareness and education to others. This is a more lasting gift and is what needs to happen with animal welfare awareness.

But being aware and educated about the various issues concerning animal rights is not sufficient; action is also necessary. There are so many different ways for college students to become involved in promoting and protecting animal rights. There are clubs that students can join to help educate and promote awareness among their fellow classmates. Students can donate money, food and toys in various donation drives. Students can also donate their time and volunteer at various shelters and programs, such as the Animal Rescue of New Orleans or even the zoo, both of which are always in need of help.

Concern for animal welfare should be the concern of everyone, not just the hippies and the militant protesters. Everyone is connected with animals somehow, and that means it is their duty to also be connected with the protection and promotion of their rights and dignity. We can accomplish and fulfill this duty by making ourselves aware and educated and by taking action. Stand up for animal rights any way you can. Stand up for your fellow being, so next time you’re face to face with a ravenous tiger or a vengeful moose in your dreams, he might just spare your life.

Sydney Barbier is a psychology junior. She can be reached at [email protected]

Sydney Barbier, In My Opinion (The Maroon)

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