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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Pity-less Lessons

Published 11/05/09
By Susan Trout, Program Assistant

It’s my own fault — nosing around in the latest issue of Trapper & Predator Caller. This stuff pulls you down faster than a 20-point drop in the Dow Jones. It features a column called School Days where children can submit articles and win prizes. This month’s story was written by an 8-year-old boy.

The boy writes: He got interested in trapping the first time his dad took him to check traps. He said he “really liked to see the animals jumping when the truck pulled up.” Imagine that! He really liked to see terrified animals in excruciating pain, frantically trying to pull free from the trap’s merciless jaws! I couldn’t believe what I was reading!

I’ve since drawn this analogy: What if those creatures he got excited about watching “jumping” were domestic pets — someone’s beloved golden retriever or goofy black lab, or a beloved old cat that accidently wandered outside, became lost and ended up viciously snared in an instrument of torture? Would he still have liked to see them “jumping” when the truck pulled up? It frequently happens — people’s pets maimed and killed by these indiscriminate relics from the Dark Ages. Regardless if it’s a pet or wild animal — they both feel pain and suffer, just like we do!

What are we teaching our children and young people? St. Francis of Assisi said, “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” That child had no pity. He liked to see the animals jumping. A glaring lack of empathy at such a young age is disturbing.

While not every child who is exposed to hunting and trapping will grow up to be callous and insensitive, it does raise the question of whether this child cared that those animals were in pain and distress. Could hunting and trapping really blur the sense of reality of children and rob them of their ability to feel another’s pain? Early this year an 11-year-old Pennsylvania boy murdered his father’s pregnant girlfriend — shot her point-blank in the back of the head — left the house and took the bus to school. He and his father enjoyed hunting together. The gun he used he won as a prize in a turkey shooting contest.

None of us comes equipped with a “compassion” switch that allows us to turn it on and off based on whether we’re dealing with a human being or an animal. Either you have compassion, or you don’t.

Thankfully, we know that you, our loyal supporters and caring animal lovers, have compassion in spades. And, the good news is that you can play an important role in helping us to ban cruel and indiscriminate traps on national wildlife refuges. It is a first step, but a significant one. If you’ve not already done so, please contact your elected officials and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors of H.R. 3710.

A refuge should be a place of safety, where wild creatures can live peacefully, and humans and their companion animals can enjoy the beauty of nature without fear of being snared in unforgiving steel!

’Til next time!

Susan

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