By Korie Marshall

I heard on CBC radio the other day about some of the debate around giving pets and other animals rights, and whether or not those rights should be the same as humans’. I know my pets are my family, although I am very conscious of the fact they are not the same as kids, no matter how much we sometimes think they are.

I don’t think pets should get exactly the same rights as humans, but to be treated respectfully is one right I think all animals deserve.

A horrible thing happened to a family’s pet this past week in Valemount. I know it is not the first – I’ve heard a lot of disturbing stories of pets being shot or poisoned before, but the fact that it happened in the family’s own yard – I don’t know if that makes it more real, or more shocking. It certainly has to be scary for the family, especially for the children. I can’t imagine feeling safe in my own yard after something like that had happened, and that loss of feeling safe could extend to every home in the valley.

When things like this happen, we humans try to search for a reason. We want to know who did it, and why – did they have some excuse? Was it a mistake or an accident? Could it really be that someone did this horrible thing intentionally? If so, what exactly does that say about that person, walking around among us?

I have always believed the way a person treats animals is a good indicator of how that person will treat people. Someone who has no respect or compassion for an animal’s physical or emotional pain probably has no respect for other people either. I’m not saying it’s not ok to kill animals; there are plenty of good reasons to do so – for food, for protection of yourself or your own animals, maybe even if it is injured and dying. But to injure or kill an animal for no good reason – I just can’t understand that. I often try to imagine what people are thinking when they do something, figure out what circumstances might have lead to a given decision or action, because I generally think humans are similar enough that we should be able to “walk in each other’s shoes.” But for some situations, there is no shoe that fits.

Did someone think the dog did something so wrong as to deserve this punishment, and did this person think it was up to them to mete out that punishment, without addressing the issue with the family or some authority like the police? Was it some random violent act, done with no thought or regard for the consequences? Was it some horrible mistake or accident that the perpetrator cannot admit to and apologize for?

I honestly don’t know which is worse.