Celebrating International Animal Rights Day today! How it came to be and how it relates to wild horses and burros.
by Colette Kaluza, WHE volunteer
The world demanded animals have the right to be treated with respect. Animal mistreatment, cruelty and exploitation has to be exposed and has to end.
The UN passed their historic declaration expanding International Human Rights Day to include animals in 1998. The designated day is shared with Human Rights Day, added to the original UN Declaration of 1948 due to concentration camps by Nazi Germany in WWII. The UN declaration added all beings, because animals have the right to be treated with respect, and all acts of cruelty against all living beings should not be tolerated by any society.
All of us at WHE are in full agreement that cruelty is not acceptable treatment for all beings. Cruelty is defined in the dictionary as “callous indifference to or pleasure in causing pain and suffering.” Under law it is defined as “behavior which causes physical or mental harm to another, especially a spouse, whether intentionally or not.”
Our work at WHE was born out of the fight, over a decade ago, to gain the first humane handling policy for wild horses and burros. Even though the law clearly stated that wild horses and burros were to be managed humanely, no one had even taken the time to craft a policy to guide the agencies to stop abusive conduct.
As the 50th Anniversary of the Act approaches, reflection of the journey to protect wild horses is inevitable.
Velma Johnston was unbelievably tough. “As Wild Horse Annie, she is commander in chief of a crusade to save the last of America’s wild mustangs,” Sports Illustrated. And the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act became law. Her crusade was born in a moment, as are most lifelong quests. After following a truck that had blood dripping from it she found herself at the slaughter yard. A young colt had been horribly trampled to death after being brutally captured. Her quest was to pull this chaotic horror out of local hands and gain federal jurisdiction to set a framework to stop abuse and preserve herds for future generations. The Act was a good beginning.
In spite of the passage of the Act, the wild ones were being abused while being rounded up and removed and stored at facilities.
The fight against abuse begins with opening up to public view. The fight to view and the fight against abuse walk hand in hand on the same path.
The First Amendment right battle and win gave the public the right to view and set precedent. And further, for the first time ever there is now a Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP) to help halt the abuse after further litigation against roundups, that are now opened to daily viewing. This is all attributable to Wild Horse Education. WHE’s work has been meaningful for wild horses and burros and for animal and human right.
This is one of the reasons I volunteer and support WHE. The commitment to the basic premise that cruelty of any kind is simply not acceptable is strong in this organization where I have found like-minded souls. Cruelty on-range, during capture, off-range is still practiced that directly affects both wild horses and advocates alike. Callous indifference to our voices is also a form of cruelty.
On this International Animal Rights Day, it is important to embrace the spirit of the day to reject cruelty, “callous indifference to or pleasure in causing pain and suffering.” Reflect on the statement and take time to find your place where you can make this world a better place. Humans and those we share this finite world with, the finned, furred, feathered, scaled, all should be allowed to face the challenges within their lives without the added burden of cruelty.
Finding community in the many fights against cruelty throughout the world, involving many species, is so important. There are so many of you that we have no pictures of to add to a slideshow. If we did, the slideshow would have thousands of faces. I am honored to have found a community dedicated to this fight that understands the value of each member of the team and the need to, not only fight abuses outside, but to share kindnesses with each other.
I have found my place in this fight to protect our wild horses and with WHE.
Today, honor International Animal Rights Day you can take a moment to appreciate how far we have come, in the many fights against abuses worldwide. As a volunteer of WHE I ask you to take a bit of time to recognize WHE, and consider becoming a little more involved to help keep up the fight to protect and preserve our wild ones and the wild places they share with so many wild species. Thank you for all you do.
Together, we can continue to run for the wild.
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Categories: Wild Horse Education