There is a simple reason why we occasionally see animal advocates reacting in an extreme way to animal abuse. Some might say that they never overreact because animal abuse needs a strong reaction. It needs to be decried loudly and passionately. But when they make death threats against veterinary staff this, in my view, is an overreaction. However, I don’t feel inclined to criticise animal advocates who do this. I understand their anger and revulsion. And importantly, their frustration.
More often than not animal abuse goes unpunished or the punishment is inadequate. Here lies the problem. The internet, social media in particular, provides us with constant updates on animal abuse stories. We are bombarded with it and we know how prevalent it is in the world.
As a consequence we know how often we are left frustrated at a lack of enforcement of animal welfare laws or how the perpetrators get away with it for various reasons one of which is a lack of evidence.
This frustration spills over to anger and the primary way people can express this anger is to verbalise it on social media and other websites. And it is easy to verbalise anger at a distance, on a website, when you are not face to face with the person you are criticising.
This is what happened with the recent story of the cat ‘Kitkat’ whose last moments were passed at Lazy 5 Vets in NC, USA. There was no need, on the face of it and on the basis of the cat owner’s story, for Kitkat to die at this hospital and for his head to be chopped off for rabies testing. It is alleged that a careless or callous mistake was made.
Animal advocates see an injustice. They are preparing for another injustice. They have experienced injustices concerning animal abuse in the past. They see it happening again and consequently become very vocal in their criticism of the veterinary hospital staff.
Death threats cannot be condoned but understood for the reasons stated. However, they are possibly criminal acts in a minor way. They don’t further the cause of animal advocates. In fact overreactions can lead to criticisms from cat haters and sport hunters and the like. They look for a reason to criticise cat lovers. Often cat lovers are also animal advocates.