To be entirely honest, I don’t think there is anyone who can resist the urge to pet an unfamiliar dog.
We all love looking at exotic creatures, secretly dream of owning a cuddly animal and change the damn channel when images of abused pets pop up.
We are intrigued by the grace of wild animals, we value the companionship of the domesticated ones.
At the same time, many of us oppose the necessity of zoos, animal research, animal breeding and meat consumption. All of it due to our sometimes unhealthy adoration of animals.
This is where animal rights group step in and make a tremendous strategic mistake.
Through their violent and unethical acts of vandalism or other rather aggressive gestures, those advocating animal rights drive people they are eager to influence in exactly the other direction.
For example, militant public stunts and activism only scare away genuine animal lovers with similar views on animal husbandry and treatment. Because who in their right minds would support lunatics who advocate nudity and violence all in the name of animal rights?
By killing animals in shelters, activists automatically lose the support of people who are contemplating a rescue pet rather than one from a breeder.
Animal rights activists even fail to capture the sympathies of people working in animal sanctuaries, zoos or circuses. No matter how well animals are treated, activists always see the nasty side of things.
This is where animal rights activists go wrong. They fail to understand that they have same interests of animal lovers, yet instead of acting hand in hand, they shove them away by being awful.
A great example is how PETA targeted Dr. Christine Lattin, a post-doctoral researcher at Yale University who studies birds in order to better understand the impact of stress on animals and humans.
Before I continue, I should say that Christine believes in openness and transparency, which is why she runs a website where she tries to educate the public on the importance of the work she does.
She is a researcher using taxpayers money, testing on an invasive species and doing her job for the benefit of avian conservation.
The woman is a hard-working professional, an accomplished scientist, a mum and a great role model for young people all around the globe.
What not to like about her?
That’s exactly what makes her a target of PETA animal rights activists who prefer to spend their valuable time going after people who care for animals, rather than abuse them.
By doing what they are doing they in fact make the misplaced activism error- annoying the people that can actually create the change they want to see.
In my opinion that’s not the best way to gain public trust… If that’s what animal rights activists are after.
Again, animal research is a grey area for many people, as they realize its necessity yet are uncomfortable with its reality.
But even then organizations like PETA should really be working in nuanced ways, identifying areas where animal research can be improved for the benefit of animals and people.
In a way it feels strange to provide advice and guidance to hostile groups I don’t agree with.
My hope is that one day animal rights activists will re-evaluate their efforts and actually start helping animals.
But for now, they must stop the repulsive actions that toxify their cause.