I am afraid that a majority among us would vote for the Cadillac man on the strength of his more impressive externals.
I think the trouble lies in the importance we give to appearances at the expense of content. In a world where man is often cruel towards man, it may be too much to expect that he will be caring and gentle towards animals; and yet, in the name of humanity, we cannot let it go at that. Animal cruelty takes many forms. It does not have to be anything dramatic like whipping a dog or tying a rope around its neck and dragging it along the road or maliciously poisoning a neighbour’s pet because it kicks up a racket when the neighbour is not around.
It could be just continually tethering a dog to a stationary object or not giving it its food at the appointed hours. It could be treating ‘factory farm’ animals like chickens and turkeys and cows and pigs with hormones and antibiotics. It could be using animals for activities like cockfighting and circuses. It could be killing animals to turn their skin into shoes or jackets or belts or bags or car seats.
It has been established that not only do animals have rich emotional lives; they also display signs of morality. Chimpanzees, for instance, mentally note favours and repay them; and an elephant’s sense of compassion can extend to creatures beyond their own kind. This gives the question of animal cruelty a new dimension.
Mahatma Gandhi said,
‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’
To ensure that they are treated better, relevant government agencies need to work in tandem with animal welfare organisations to raise awareness on the issue and arm the ordinary citizenry with ways and means of countering instances of animal cruelty that they happen to encounter.