IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE TO VIOLENCE? An incident on 20th March 2015.

YESTERDAY Adopt-a-Pet went to fetch a cat for sterilisation belonging to a kind person, who lives in a high risk area. After collecting the cat, someone pointed out a dog in a dreadful condition urgently in need of help. There was no owner in sight and as our assistant was putting the dog in our rescue van, a man appeared out of nowhere claiming to be the owner shouting that his dog was being stolen. Our assistant pointed out that his dog was at death's door from starvation and disease and admonished him for not looking after the dog. The man was ready for a fight and shouted that he would only give up the dog if he could get a Pit bull puppy in exchange. After a somewhat heated argument , in which he was asked how his treatment of a pit bull puppy would differ from the neglect of his existing dog, our assistant drove the dog to a veterinary practice where it was treated and is now recovering in a safe foster home. Some purists may say that the man's constitutional rights to property (namely, his dog) were infringed. What do our readers think? The current "cult" status of pit bulls urgently needs to be addressed. In our opinion, all pit bulls should be sterilised so that the breeding of pit bulls will hopefully be phased out in South Africa. The suffering of these dogs is unbearable and the dog fights are adding to the endemic violence which is prevalent in South African society. There is an alarming lack of compassion and kindness in our society, where violence is the norm. It is essential that humane alternatives are presented to young people who know no other way of life apart from gangsterism, drugs and violence not only towards animals but also towards their fellow human beings. What role models are there from whom they can learn? Very few it appears. The conservationists, for example, who are supposed to be the "custodians' of "wild" living creatures, are obsessed with eradicating wild animals and birds that don't fall into their definition of animals worthy of life and will never consider humane alternatives such as sterilisation, contraception or relocation to sanctuaries. Death is the only option. Kill at all cost. Hunting of animals is called an "industry, job creation, sport" it does not take into account bullets penetrating the flesh of an innocent unsuspecting animal, the unbelievable pain, the prime specimens with the best genes being the targets, only to end up at a taxidermist and mounted on a wall overseas to gather dust. Until we learn to respect the lives of other creatures, there will never be compassion in our society. Money is their god as is the lust to kill and maim. What a sad indictment of the human race. In an effort to counter this endemic violence and driven by a gut feel of the need to promote an alternative approach to animal welfare, in March 2011 Adopt-a-Pet embarked on two hands-on humane education programmes with two groups of learners living in high risk areas.These programmes, much to our astonishment are working and the results have exceeded our greatest expectations. From being witness to and even participants in cruelty to animals, these learners have become animal rescuers and are our "eyes and ears" on the ground. Our programmes encourage the learners to respect all life, and to become empowered to do something positive to help an animal or person in trouble. We are immensely proud of these young people with whom we have had the privilege of interacting for the past four years. We have learnt so much from them. We hope that they will become leaders in our society and will promote a gentler society by showing that there is "another way." They have moved away from negative temptations and have set their eyes on becoming veterinarians, social workers, firemen, conservationists etc. These young people need financial help with bursaries to achieve their goals. Undoubtedly our programmes which include interaction with animals, nature, the environment and a multitude of other stimuli, have been the catalysts in the success of our programmes. We feel that the implementation of these programmes could bring down levels of violence in our society. For more details about our programmes, sms us on 074 5199600.