Animals Left Behind in Hurricane Florence and Our Emotional Response

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Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Hurricanes absolutely devastate and decimate communities, destroy homes and rob people of their livelihood. Some even lose their lives and loved ones. But every time there is a natural disaster, a spotlight shines on cats and dogs left behind.

I can guarantee that an overwhelming majority of people in this world love animals. Some are cat people, others are dog people, but we can all agree that companionship and affection from a four-legged friend goes unrivaled. This is why seeing footage of exhausted dogs treading water hits you where it hurts. We have flashbacks to the pets of our childhood, or the ones waiting on the couch for us at home. “How could someone leave their pet behind?” we say, holding back anger and often, tears.*

Among the never ending influx of these photos and videos, people often get too wrapped up in “What about the dogs?!” to consider those whose suffering, on a mass scale every day, is either ignored or not thought of at all. Yes, I’m talking about cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and every other creature treated as a commodity.

Am I discounting the suffering of companion animals? No, of course not. Although they’re afforded legal rights and included in most states’ government evacuation plans and farm animals are not.

What I’m saying is all animals deserve to be treated equally.

According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly 9 million pigs live and die in North Carolina alone…that’s only about a million less than the entire human population in the state (10.27 million). And that’s only pigs! Imagine adding every other factory farmed animal into the mix.

Wouldn’t it be nice if just before they evacuate, farmers had enough of a heart to set the animals free? Fat chance. They’re left in cages and crowded barns, only to drown and die in the very captivity they were born into, never getting a fighting chance to see the green grass or the blue sky. They’re simply seen as lost cash, but the farmers will be reimbursed through insurance. And that’s your tax dollars, folks!

How do we break this cognitive dissonance? How to we show people that these videos of struggling puppies represent all of the animals we’ve failed? The truth is, the adorable baby animal videos you see on The Dodo are no different than those on your plate.

If you beat a dog, you’re a criminal. If you torture a cow, you’re a wholesome farmer with an expensive commercial showing smiling cows grazing in the grass.

Why must it take a disaster that claims thousands of human and animal lives for us to realize that we’re doing things the wrong way? If the thought of a drowning piglet turns your stomach and brings tears to your eyes, just think of how they feel when they take their last breath in the slaughterhouse.

 

* (Differently abled and low-income/homeless folks may not have adequate access to resources to help with emergency preparedness and reliable public transportation and shelter, which means there needs to be a government mandated program to assist in natural disaster situations).

 

Author: Amanda Spinosa

Amanda Spinosa is a vegan illustrator, animal rights advocate and mother to two adopted dogs, Ludo and Sasha. She is born and raised in the Hudson Valley of New York where she spends much of her time hiking, foraging, experimenting with plant-based recipes and volunteering at the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. Amanda is also an avid gardener and grows her own food during the summer months.

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