It Starts with Us
Updated : 07/29/2012 19:07 GMT + 7
I, like many others have been disgusted by the recent case of obscene animal cruelty involving two douc langur monkeys here in Vietnam. There have been many comments calling for the arrest, and in some cases the execution of the perpetrators. What they have done is senseless and barbaric, but I do hope that the one positive outcome of this horrific act is greater public awareness of animal rights. With this in mind I couldn't help but disagree with Minh Trang's response to the story "Please stop sharing!"
Referencing the posting of these hideous pictures on Facebook, Minh Trang quoted a friend, who said in reaction to the amount of shares the photos have received, “Don’t you understand by sharing these photos, those inhuman men will become more content, and we just become more nauseated by these supposedly human acts”. I couldn't disagree more. If the worse thing that happens is a feeling of nausea for the greater public then luckily for us it still won’t even come near the pain that those monkeys experienced.
Stop sharing? Stop doing!
Only by sharing these photos, are we and no doubt the authorities aware of practices such as these taking place. If one good thing can come out of our obsession with social media, it's to raise awareness to a larger audience when such events as this take place. Thankfully these cruel men are as stupid as they are sociopathic having given local authorities their identity as well as a detailed visual account of what they have done, which will hopefully lead to their arrest.
Alot of anger has been directed towards these men, and justifiably so, but we cannot do anything now to help the poor douc langur monkeys. What we can do is open our eyes, ask questions, learn from this event and hope that in the future more people will intervene before the situation escalates to this point again.
Under our noses
This is an admittedly extreme case of animal cruelty, but you don't have to look too far to see other more casual cases of animal mistreatment going on day in, day out around the city. Next time you drive past a man selling kittens and puppies on Dinh Tien Hoang or Le Hong Phong, have a look at how many kittens are piled into a cage meant to house two, you will probably find upwards of 10, one on top of each other, and baking in the sun. Aquariums selling fish "painted" to look more interesting, suffice it to say, they certainly weren't born that way. Then there is the monkey chained to the inside of a cage not big enough for him to turn around. These aren't isolated cases, they are daily occurrences, and too easy to find.
Open your eyes and you will see dogs wandering the streets almost hairless and scratching themselves bloody, overbred and sickening. None of these animals are being skinned alive, but they deserve much better, and it is only through communication that this can be achieved. It would be a waste to focus all of our anger and horror on these two men, they are certainly not alone in their belief that animals are worth less than the price it takes to feed them.
What can I do?
I don't know the best way to help in this situation, I know that charities like A.R.C Animal Shelter are doing their best as are WAR and WWF, but it starts with people on the streets, maybe someone like me. I know that I would no sooner stand by and watch a man hit his dog as I would watch him hit his child, at home or in Ho Chi Minh City. So why am I not doing more?
Minh Trang opposes the sharing of such images, I disagree, I say we share them, raise awareness and make sure that something positive comes out of this experience. For a long time I have bemoaned the state of some of the animals in the Saigon Zoo, heard the loud music pumping away every weekend right next to animals visibly traumatised. I've heard horror stories of how dogs are treated in preparation for slaughter. I've even made bold statements about how awful it all is. Yet I eat and wear animals, laugh at jokes about dog meat along with everyone else and I melt everytime I see the puppies for sale, wishing I could buy one.
It's a shame that the duoc langur monkey situation had to happen to give me the kick in the behind I needed to start taking responsibility for my concerns. I will keep my eyes open, I will volunteer at an animal welfare charity and I will try and raise awareness in any way I can, starting with this article. Some animals are eaten, some sit on our laps while we watch TV, but all of them deserve to be treated humanely and above all they deserve our respect. It starts with us.