Waking up in the morning to the sound of a ‘meow’, to a wet nose, to a lick on your face or hand or to any kind of greeting from your non-human friend can be an amazing way to start the day. The relationship between a person and his or her furry friend goes both ways, it is a relationship of mutual benefit and equal bonding. If you ask me, I also consider that human and non-human animals have equal rights on Earth and should be regarded as having an equal status and the same importance as a human being. Nowadays, domesticated non-human animals rely on their human friends for food, water, shelter and welfare. On the other side, people also gain a wide range of benefits from their companion animals, such as lowering blood pressure, alleviating the overpowering feeling of loneliness, reducing stress, raising blood oxytocin levels and sometimes, even reducing direct physical pain.
How far does the connection between people and their furry companions go? To start with, we know for sure that dogs were domesticated twice, once in Europe, about 16 000 years ago and once in Asia, 14 000 years ago, from two distinct wolf lineages. The purpose of domesticating dogs was for hunting and protection purposes. Another interesting fact that showcases the connection between dogs, cats and humans is that as far back as 12 000 years ago, human and non-human animals were burried together. Approximately 8000 years ago, when humans transitioned from nomadic hunters to settled farmers in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, cats became increasingly useful for dealing with rodents and other troublesome pests.
In ancient Greece, dogs were believed to ward off or prevent death and in many cases they were kept around temples and used as co-therapists because of their perceived ability to cure sickness. Pet ownership might go as far back as ancient Egypt, where pharaos were depicted in murals together with their animal companions. Scientific research does not show with certainty when non-human animals started to be kept as pets and became our closest friends and companions.
The truth of the matter is, that non-human animals have always played a significant role in our lives and archaeological findings are proof of that. These days, our furry friends might live in our houses, at farms or gardens, but regardless of their contribution to our society, they mean us no harm and they surround us with love. Thus, we owe them protection and respect.
The most foreward regions of the world to come up with animal protection laws, were Ireland in 1635, that sought to regulate the treatment of sheep, and Massachusetts Bay Colony, which regulated against cruelty towards domestic animals. In 1992, Switzerland becomes the first country that includes the protection of animals in its constitution. Five years later, in 1997, the European Union adds to the European Community Treaty an appendix on the Protocol of Animal Protection. The international law for the treatment and rights of animals has evolved considerably, and even though it varies from country to country, non-human animals have started to be protected against cruel lab experiments, cosmetic testing, direct physical violence, the sale and manufacturing of fur, depriving animals of freedom for shows and touristic purposes, caging and breeding animals, etc. The reality that each and every one of us should acknowledge is that non-human beings are sentient beings that deserve to live amongst us as equal beings, protected and loved.
Now, let’s direct our attention to Romania and to the defective system of animal protection. First of all, the laws are only valid for and refer to abandoned and stray DOGS, without any of mention of other stray animals. Secondly, up until this year, there was no specific authority for the protection of our companions, cases of cruelty and mistreatment of animals being directed to the local police force. Needless to say, fining or punishing the psychopaths or the careless individuals that hurt animals in any way whatsoever, is not a priority or never happens at all. Apparently, a separate Animal Police Force has been officialy established, but until we can rely on them,we should all do our best for the animals on the street and for all the animals that we come in contact with. I mean, how can two veterinarians in the police force manage all cases of animal cruelty and mistreatment in one entire county? That’s if they have the intention of doing their job at all. Meanwhile, stay strong animal lovers! For the others, let’s solve the problem of stray dogs and cats, neuter our furry friends, cooperate with legit NGOs (do your research beforehand), work with fellow animal lovers, be kind to animals and help those in need find a forever home. If you can’t or won’t do any of the above, at least don’t do any harm to non-human animals, who have been our companions for millenia.
Respect and love animals, save animals and in order to decrease the number of stray animals, neuter, neuter, neuter!