LAST month’s death of Kevin the Kookaburra at a northern suburbs tavern exposed a gap in animal welfare laws that Maylands MP Lisa Baker wants fixed. The swiftness of Kevin’s death (his head was twisted off) may not have met the legal standards to constitute cruelty or suffering. In this week’s Speaker’s Corner Ms Baker urges animal lovers to make a submission to the Animal Welfare Act review, available via agric.wa.gov.au/animalwelfare before November 25.
LIKE so many Australians, I have always had animals in my life and part of my immediate family.
I am grateful my parents believed being responsible for the health and happiness of a sentient life was a valuable lesson for a child.
I learned to get up every morning and see to the health and wellbeing of a friend who relied on me for food, water, cleanliness and exercise. No excuses.
Caring for and working with dogs, cats, chickens, goats, sheep and horses became and remain central to who I am and how I see this world.
So when I see irrevocable evidence of the abuse or torture of animals resulting from contact with humans, I understand why calls for increased penalties for animal abuse are escalating into screams of anger.
Like many, I am sometimes so revolted by what I see that I just want to turn away, not understand and not take action.
American author Ursula Leguin in her 1973 work of fiction The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, depicts a utopian city where the prosperity of all depends on the perpetual misery of one child who is abused and locked away in the dark.
At adolescence, each person in the city is shown the child’s plight and told the city’s prosperity relies on its suffering.
Finally one person decides that’s too high a price and walks away from Omelas.
When we are forced to see suffering, we then have a choice to make.
Do we pretend not to know and reject the truth? Allow this to continue? Or reject the status quo and find a better way?
In the most recent revelations of human cruelty we have seen the unacceptable abuse of horses in the racing industry in the east of this country and then the dispassionate and disgraceful killing of a small kookaburra, named Kevin, by a local at a pub in the Perth hills.
Both of these cases are deplorable, just the scale of the abuse is different. In my view they both reflect a disturbing lack of compassion and humanity.
I feel gravely concerned when a man or woman lacks the self-awareness to understand why animal torture and cruelty is rejection of acceptable and normal behaviour in this culture.
Right now the McGowan government is calling for public submissions to our review of the Animal Welfare Act 2002.
I encourage people in my community to put forward your views on what needs to change in the laws that are meant to protect our animals. Please make your voice heard.