Thursday, February 10, 2011

Publicizing companion animal adoption...

The Winnipeg Humane Society has a video posted on YouTube publicizing adoption for cats that is both amusing and somewhat disturbing:

The amusing part is self-evident, the unsettling part is that the video reinforces the societal attitude toward companion animals as being property, just the same as furniture (the human speaker in the video is a furniture store owner) or any other object.

The common acceptance of the commodification of sentient beings is contributory to and supportive of the current ongoing worldwide disaster regarding non-human animals.

While the purpose and intent of the video (adoption of homeless companion animals) is welcomed and desired...the framing of the message is supportive of the very mindset that created the problem in the first place. Viz.: Non-human animals are property and as such are objects that humans can do with what they want.

Frustrating and disheartening...and...admittedly...the damn video is interesting eye and ear candy and rather amusing. When I first saw it I was amused (but bothered), it took me a bit of thinking to fully grasp the messages that were being conveyed.

Propaganda does not have to be overt, and often the most effective propaganda is subtle and not clearly discernable. This video is an excellent example of a background message (non-human animals are property/objects and can be dealt with as such) permeating a foreground message...adopt a homeless cat.

These sorts of cognitive two-step dances are difficult to identify in our environment and if they aren't identified, then they aren't challenged or debated or examined or changed...they simply are accepted as "the way the world is".

Adopting homeless cats (or other companion animals) is a positive and desirable thing...good for the Winnipeg Humane Society for trying to find homes for these cats.

Believing that non-human animals are "property" is a disrespectful, undesirable attitude that supports enslavement, exploitation, abuse and unnecessary death...shame on the Winnipeg Humane Society for reinforcing this destructive notion.


Krissa said...

This is the exact attitude I have run into in most of the shelters I volunteered at (2 of 3) and at the New York Humane Society where I worked briefly. I almost have to wonder if that attitude comes from the fact that a large number of paid employees are just there to get a paycheck. Not all the paid employees, but it has been very clear to me that many are. They could have just as easily been working at any other job in any other industry for as much as their heart was in it. It is horribly stressful on all the furry/feathered/scaled ones who live in shelters as it is. It would be so wonderful if those places were staffed only by vegans because I believe it would be a less stressful place for them. And that 'property' attitude would not exist. And another thing, the word owner needs to go entirely. The appropriate word is guardian. That would be the first step toward subtly changing that mentality. Sigh. Why does it have to be so dang hard for people to get it?

veganelder said...

Thank you Krissa for your comment. We all know when those around us don't care about us but are just "going through the motions"...all of us includes the refugees in the shelters. Yes, the optimum situation would be only those that care work there...

Changing the property/owner viewpoint is going to be a long slow process, partially because it is so pervasive...sometimes being reinforced by folks even without realizing it.

Krissa said...

Just thought of one more thing that pertains to this topic. It's interesting that the term adoption is used considering that the mentality involved is "to buy". Sort of like not wanting to think of meat as once having been a living, thinking, feeling being like ourselves. Humans trying to make themselves feel good about themselves. While many people do feel as though they've adopted and really see their new family member as a family member, many "adopt" property. Strange.

veganelder said...

Thanks for the follow-up thought are quite correct, the term adoption doesn't quite fit with property. I wonder if some human adoption agency would publicize their child offerings by parodying a furniture commercial?

Bea Elliott said...

"When I first saw it I was amused (but bothered)" - Exactly - Me too!
And half way through the video I identified it also that these cats and kittens were presented as objects... As property. :(

I would love for us to shift our focus, if for nothing else but "pet animals" to be in guardianship status. No one can "own" a life - It's just a silly, arrogant notion that unfortunately has been written into bad "law."

On the bright side though... This is changing rapidly. Animal Law is one of the hottest fields for university students. The ground is just beginning to break in regards to their representation in the court rooms. I see this trend only continuing and having more impact in the way we see, and the way we treat nonhumans. Hooray for anyone who chooses a career that helps bring justice to their side. :)