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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. January's Theme: "Self"
Volume 7 Issue 2 ISSN# 1708-3265

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by Jean Hofve, DVM

Whether animals truly have a sense of self is a much-debated question among psychologists, animal scientists, ethologists, philosophers, and behaviourists. In the past, the issue never even came up; and there are still those who categorically, absolutely deny the possibility. Those people tend to be the ones who exploit animals for financial gain: hunters, trappers, and furriers; purveyors of animal "sports" and "entertainment;" experimental biologists; pharmaceutical and medical researchers; and even some veterinarians.

The reason this latter group has such a hard time is easy to discern, and boils down to one word: responsibility. If animals have a sense of self, they are less disposable, less invaluable, less of a production unit, experimental subject, object of entertainment or victim of sport. It means that the exploiters would have to take more responsibility for humane treatment, and keep animal welfare concerns foremost in mind at all times.

There's a dumb car ad (yeah, even dumber than most) running on U.S. cable TV right now. It starts with a guy standing there with an ecologically-friendly compact fluorescent bulb in his hand, and he says, "Americans are always finding ways to be more responsible," and then goes on to extol the virtues of the product.

Well, that's about the biggest crock I ever heard. Americans don't want to be more responsible at all. In fact, it's just the opposite. I got my education on the subject when I worked in law enforcement; all I ever heard was "It's not my fault." A criminal could be caught in the act, live and on tape, and no matter what the crime, the response was always the antithesis of responsibility, usually falling into these categories:

Yeah, right.

If people were serious about taking more responsibility for the other residents of this planet; if they understood and respected that animals do have a "self" and put the welfare of the animals first when animals must be used, what a wonderful world it would be!

Gone would be:

Since October, I've been helping a group in California establish ordinances that will ban cat declawing. The laws must be in place before January 1, 2010, because the California Veterinary Medical Association, an organization that's become famous for its lack of recognition and respect for animals, got a state law passed to prevent local municipalities passing any more anti-declawing laws like the one in West Hollywood, that was upheld by the California Supreme Court. Declawing is now illegal in 7 more California cities comprising more than 5 million residents: San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Culver City, Burbank, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills.

Declawing is, of course, already banned in most of the civilized world, but the U.S. and Canada still think it's just fine to amputate 1/3 of their cat's paws to protect their sofa.

In 2010 I'll continue to speak up for the animals who, much to their detriment, do not speak English. My sense of self requires it as a way to make the world a better place. What does your self want you to do?

Dr. Jean Hofve recently retired from holistic veterinary practice, but still writes and consults on holistic health and nutrition. She is a Medicine Woman of the Mountain Wind Lodge Nemenhah Band and Native American Traditional Organization (Oklevueha Native American Church of Sanpete). She founded SpiritEssence in 1995, which remains the only line of essence formulas for animals created by a veterinarian. For more information on pet health, nutrition, and behaviour, please visit the free article library at www.littlebigcat.com.

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