Salem, Massachusetts 1692 – Mass hysteria takes over the population and anyone with the slightest deviation from what is considered normal is hunted down and burned at stake accused of being a witch.
Sikeston, Missouri 2012 – Authorities begin rounding up all dogs that “look” like “pit bulls” and impounding them for later euthanization.
Do you see a parallel here? How is it that society can get so irrational? The answer to that is quite simply “hysteria is contagious.” All it takes is one irrational nutbar (enter Barbara Kay of the National Post) and a wild half-baked theory blown out of proportion, and you have mass hysteria!
In the late 1600’s it was witches, now today in 2012 it’s “pit bull” type dogs. If we go back through history we can find a thousand and one examples of mass hysteria created by one or more people who weren’t quite in their right mind.
I could perhaps understand the contagious mass hysteria of the Salem Witch trials. I mean after all man was not so technologically and scientifically advanced back then. It is not unseemly to think that a less educated population could be more prone to flights of fancy such as belief in and need to eradicate witches. A more primitive society would have a strong desire to eradicate that which they can not understand or explain. To the more primitive society of the 1600’s, different meant dangerous.
I can not understand that attitude in today’s society, where we preach tolerance and acceptance, where we say the accused are innocent until proven guilty. How therefore can a society which claims to be so forward thinking condemn thousands of dogs for the actions of a few?
How are the authorities in Sikeston, MO any different from the German army in world war two? (yes I went there!) Hitler had his troops round up all Jewishs people and people who looked like they might be Jewish, many of whom were later marched into gas chambers and murdered for their religious beliefs and their looks. (Hitler was determined to create the perfect blue eyed blonde haired race. Look it up, it’s true.)
Now here we are generations later and now the target is the “pit bull” or anything determined to “look” like a “pit bull.” Have we learned nothing from history?
Okay so by now maybe I have lost some of you, but those of you still with me are starting to see my parallel, aren’t you? You are wondering how we can have come so far in our knowledge and understanding of so many things yet still be draconian in our thinking when it comes to companion animals.
Once again the answer is a simple one. We are human. We do not like to accept new ways of thinking or acting. The ideals of our parents generation that companion animals have no feelings, emotions, or attachments, have been drilled into us since we were barely able to crawl. The phrase “it’s just a dog” is familiar to us all.
However, there are people who think differently, people like me who have learned first hand that animals are far more complex than we give them credit for. People who understand that it’s not “just a dog” it is a living breathing being that has a right to live.
Barbara Kay attacked Cesar Milan for saying that “bans of pit bulls are “prejudicial” and miss the point: “It’s just like an anti-Mexican or an anti-gay law.” She thinks that one can not be prejudiced against a dog because dog’s are just “consumer items.” (her words not mine.)
Therein lies the problem. The BSL supporters out there take offence when you compare them to Hitler, but mass genocide is what they are proposing for “pit bull” type dogs. They act as if they have only to eradicate every “pit bull” type dog on the planet and no one will ever again be victim to a dog bite. Isn’t that kind of like saying if we eradicate every Mexican there will be no more illegal immigrants, or if we eradicate every gay person every human being born after that will be straight?
Ridiculous notions to be sure, but some people actually believe their own fancifully hysterical imaginings. Unfortunately for us and our dogs, sometimes those irrational thinking hysterics are given a public forum. They then use that public forum to create mass hysteria. That mass hysteria results in things like the Sikeston, MO “pit bull” roundup.
The only thing we can do to combat this mass hysteria is stick to our guns and continue to speak up for our dogs. We must make others understand that these types of hysterical reactions are not the answer. Education and understanding are the answer!
If we as a society take responsibility for our decision to keep companion animals then we have a responsibility to see that those animals do no harm. If we are going to claim superior intelligence to the animal kingdom, then we can’t really put all the blame on them when things go wrong now can we?
Here is an update on the situation in Sikeston, MO