What is it that drives us on? In spite of sorrow, loss,
and all the battles of life, how do we keep going no
of us with animals know the answer. It's heart that
keeps us going - passion; love. Isn't that what having
animals is all about? But, as life becomes more political,
with laws and public opinion telling us what we can
and can't do - how we should think, how we should feel
- what else are animals showing us? Let's talk about
how our love for animals, and doing right by them, could
be the very thing taking them away from us. And how
it's not too late to turn the tide.
of us contributed to groups claiming to have great compassion
for animals over the years. We all wanted to do the
right thing and it felt good being told how nice we
were for donating to their "cause." We were
doing something for animals and we all slept well because
of it. The trouble is, it's about twenty years later
now. Those little groups on the lunatic fringe became
organizations, the organizations became publicity mongers
and the whole bunch of them became full-scale corporations
with payrolls, lawyers and presidents. It all morphed
into something totally different from what we wanted
and all of a sudden, their idea of compassion is turning
out to be quite different from ours.
recent days, the Associated Press has been reporting
some interesting - and significant - developments affecting
all of us with animals. At a standing-room-only hearing
in the U.S. Senate, the Center for Consumer Freedom
gave testimony blasting "the most visible animal
rights groups" for hypocrisy and support of national
terrorism. Yes, that's correct: terrorism. And, for
the first time, these familiar organizations are being
forced to defend themselves instead of attacking others.
tide is turning. Besides this Senate hearing, the state
of Florida took action against what we all know as HSUS
(Humane Society of the United States) just a few days
ago. What could the Humane Society do wrong, you ask?
How about stealing an identity for starters? Lots of
us are too busy taking care of our dogs to figure it
out. But, "HSUS" isn't the local "humane
shelter" in town. It isn't a humane shelter at
all. It's a business name. Did you know you can register
the name of a legitimate business in another state and
nobody can stop you? How many of us gave money to "HSUS"
thinking we were giving money to the humane society
in our local county?
lawmakers are just like the rest of us. They were busy
making laws and confused about who this "HSUS"
organization really is. Trying to do a good thing, they
allowed this company to benefit from a lucrative state
program. But, when they realized their mistake - to
the tune of millions - Florida surprised everybody and
fixed it. Of course, Florida is also the state that
let HSUS get constitutional rights for pregnant pigs.
editors think my comments are bitter. I don't think
they are bitter at all. I grew up loving animals and
always will. But, along the way, I figured out something
important, maybe even revolutionary: it's people that
animals depend on. They cannot survive in this culture
without us. They cannot buy their food. They cannot
pay their vet bills (and perish the thought of any animal
ever being able to pay thousands of dollars for the
kind of care mentioned in a recent column of mine).
When an organization pushes for laws that inhibit us
from breeding animals, racing them, showing them, or
having as many as we can care for - they are threatening
the well-being of those animals and their many generations
isn't compassion. It isn't anything close to what animals
stand for or how they inspire us to be. A horse named
Afleet Alex bravely making his way around the far turn,
past the corner pole and into the home stretch is the
sight to behold. Before the eyes of millions, he drives
his way forward - trying, doing his best, giving his
all - and, suddenly, he stumbles. Like you - like me
- out there, working day after day, giving all we've
got to make a life for ourselves and our kids, buying
a car, a house, paying our bills and getting ahead.
And, just when you're getting somewhere, something trips
you up. But that horse never takes his eyes off the
finish line, the goal he's determined to reach - that
horse keeps going. He keeps going and he pulls away
from the pack! He keeps going, and he wins that race
not by a nose, not by a neck. He wins it by four and
three quarter lengths!
anyone watching The Preakness could see that great horse
and not be thrilled by what he showed us with his body,
his heart and his mind, then they don't understand what
animals and people are all about.
the air out of a record crowd of 115,318 and millions
watching on NBC, a horse showed us what no high school,
no Sunday school and no college ever could. That horse
inspired us. He showed us never to give up. And people
governor of Maryland felt it, too. As he presented the
most valuable trophy in American sports to the team
of people that brought the bay colt to glory, his law
makers were dangerously close to losing one of the greatest
sporting events on television. Accused of making "some
kind of political statement" by refusing to approve
measures that would increase the growth of Maryland's
horse racing industry, they risked losing respect around
the world and ripping the hope right out of people.
The governor had seen for himself what animals mean
to us and how we need them in ways that no law should
touch - or ever take away. "We'll work it out,"
he told reporters. "The Preakness will never leave