Nowadays, Facebook seems to be a platform that only traffics in two types of posts: political arguments and dog memes. Both of which, I’ve grown tired. This might be different from your experience, but, it’s for the most part, all I see. I’m not just trying to be a Grinch either. I get it, we all love our animals, as we should, and I encourage anyone who has space in their home and in their heart, to fill it with the unconditional love that a dog brings. That being said, I can’t help but feel it highlights the inherent irony that we all, to an extent, hold within ourselves; a seemingly boundless compassion that immediately ends where our fellow man is concerned. I can already hear the arguments: “Dogs are innocent and never act out of malice, and people are always responsible for their own actions.” While I won’t argue the basics of that logic, I don’t understand why some people cling to it so tightly. Admittedly, the title of this piece is intentionally meant to grab your attention and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but this is a “Hot Take”, after all, so let’s jump into it.
Before you close out this article in a fit of rage, I’d like to preface by saying, I have a dog whom I love very much. He’s a pit bull mix named Windu that my fellow colleague, Christian Coleman, and I got in a trade from a homeless man in New Orleans for a half-pack of cigarettes and ten dollars. That was about seven or so years ago. He’s very protective, almost annoyingly so, and won’t leave my side. These are endearing qualities, and, fortunately, he’s independent and well-behaved enough that I don’t have to worry about leaving him in the house to his own devices while I work my nine-to-five. Don’t worry, he always has company during the day in my current roommate’s dog, Allie, who is just as sweet and well-behaved.
I view animal cruelty with the same disgust I feel towards all injustice in today’s society. What I take issue with is the tendency of many to dismiss the victimization of entire groups of people, i.e. the sexual harassment/abuse of women or police brutality suffered by Black people, as if they are responsible for what happens to them. That attitude wouldn’t be tolerated if it was about a dog being locked up in a crate for most of the day because it won’t stop chewing on the furniture when unsupervised. The same people who advocate for no-kill shelters might be seen arguing in favor of the death penalty. The same people who post videos about “rescuing” stray dogs might look at the homeless population in their own communities with complete indifference. The same people who say every dog deserves a loving, forever home might feel different when a gay couple wants to adopt a child. No breed of dog is inherently violent, but Black folks must answer for every crime committed in Chicago. Dogs are always products of their environments, but people never are.
Shower your dogs with love. Be patient. Be understanding. Aim to make this world a better place for them, but bring that same energy to your fellow man, and maybe, just maybe, we can collectively build something that lives up the compassion I know exists within us all.