Tonawanda News


July 7, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Have respect for animals

Tonawanda News — Recently, my editor reminded me that I write an opinion column and that I should write some articles from the gut. So here is one: I respect animals. 

I hope that over the last year I have expressed that clearly. Whether giving you the most current positive-reinforcement training strategies or providing your critter companions choices in their daily lives through enrichment, I admire pets and all animals.

I have such a high regard for animals that I don’t eat them. That statement almost lost me a high school job at a substandard pet store. Somehow in the interview it came out that I was a vegetarian. The person interviewing me said, “I eat steak everyday and I still like animals as much as you.” I was applying for a reptile and fish keeper job at the store. Three weeks later they offered me a cashier position — I turned them down.

I remember in one instance as a child, a bunch of other children and I were standing around an artificial tidal pool — though where, I don’t remember. Inside the tank were small crustaceans like spider, shore, rock and hermit crabs and lobsters. There were also bivalves like oysters, clams and mussels. Maybe some sea urchins, sea snails and sea stars too. After the presentation the group was allowed to pick up or touch the animals. I went right in and starting picking up the animals to see their primitive features.

I saw eyes moving independently, little pinches moving mechanically up and down and mouth parts blowing bubbles. Some of the kids were not as courageous as me, so the instructor said something to reassure them. She said “They’re more scared of you, then you are of them.”

That did not make any sense to me when I was younger and it still doesn’t make much sense. If a small animal is scared of you, why is it okay to dominate them?

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