The Truth Is...
The truth is, when I decided to write this article I had no idea what kind of emotions I was opening myself up to. Even just searching the phrase “circus animals” fills your monitor with the horror that is life for the caged and abused. The pit in my stomach was so grave, I couldn’t spend more than a minute or two browsing the images. I don’t think you have to be particularly fond of animals to be disturbed, either.
The truth is, there are more Tigers owned by Americans then left in the wild worldwide. That is truly awful and heartbreaking.
The truth is, tigers, elephants, lions, and any other animal used to entertain a crowd does not jump through hoops, balance on pedestals or perform various other tricks because they want to, they do so because they are afraid of what will happen if they don't. Shocked with electric probes, hit with sharp steel hooks called bullhooks, or whipped, the life of a circus animal, who brings smiles and wonder to the mind of a child, is miserable. Circus animals are even sometimes drugged to make them more manageable, some even have their teeth removed to make them less dangerous while "training."
The truth is, tigers in the wild have territory which they roam spanning anywhere between 7 to 40 square miles depending on gender, food supply and mating availability. Circus cats...well, they are confined to cages, trailers, sometimes even regular trucks with no windows or ventilation for days at a time. Most don't even have access to necessities or basic needs like water, food, and veterinary care. Big cats, like tigers, are imprisoned in cages where they eat, sleep, defecate, urinate and drink within a 35 square foot space. Some might argue that once the circus arrives to its destination, animals are taken out to stretch their legs and get much needed exercise, this is simply a fallacy. Once arriving to a venue animals are kept chained in arena basements or caged in parking lots, there is never any freedom. Never any time or allowance to just be a tiger, or elephant. And lets face it, where do you think they would let a tiger "stretch" it's legs? Through your local grocery store parking lot?
Reality, Shall We...
Lets face another reality; The reality that after years of abuse, neglect and just terrible conditions, it's not uncommon for circus animals to snap putting circus goes, handlers and those in surrounding areas in danger. Elephants go on rampages, tigers and zebras head for the open streets of heavily populated cities when the opportunity presents itself. Take Missouri in 2014 for example when handlers lost control of three circus elephants. After trampling cars and causing destruction to other nearby structures, it took those same handlers 45 minutes to regain control of the animals and situation. The elephants were lucky to not have been brought down in a hail of gunfire and the handlers were lucky to escape without any casualties.
The sad part is many continue to blame the animals. "They should have been better trained", "they knew better", etc. No. They are wild animals. They were not and are not meant to be tamed and trained for our entertainment. We, as humans, a superior breed, are the ones that should know better. Should know that animals like those used in circus acts are not meant to be tamed, not meant to live a life in captivity. Captivity is not and will never be their natural habitat. Please don't live in a delusion that humans have it all figured out and an animal confined to a cage with food and water is better off than it's counterpart roaming free in their natural habitat; the wild. Please don't be that naive.
Banning The Use Of Animals in Circuses...
Thirty-two countries around the world have introduced bans on the use of animals in circuses, including Scotland who most recently introduced legislation to ban the practice of using animals by May 2017. Below is a list of the other countries who already have bans in place.
Notice any countries that you thought might be included that aren't? You know, only the ones who are thought to be leading the way in technological, educational, and humanitarian advances. The top 5 countries in the world are nowhere to be found on this list. Come on Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, United States, and Sweden where's the love and compassion. Now is the time to listen to public outcry and stop forcing magnificent beings to perform ridiculous tricks. It's time to give them respect and some resemblance of a natural life.
For a county that has been called "the world's most dominant player in terms of economic and military might, and has left a significant cultural imprint in the part due to its entertainment industry." by U.S. News and World Report L/P, the US sure is slacking in using that impact to protect some of the worlds most majestic and mistreated animals.
So What Can You Do?
First, and likely the most obvious answer is: STOP ATTENDING CIRCUSES THAT USE ANIMAL ACTS! The circus was recently in my home town and I couldn't believe the number of friends who had purchased tickets without a thought to the safety of their children or the cruelty that goes on behind closed doors and away from the public eye.
Only after the death of 24 elephants in their direct care since 1192 has Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey Circus recognized the shift in public opinion regarding animal acts, and have stopped using elephants in their productions. However, they continue to use other wild animals such as tigers and lions in their shows, and even bears. Tigers that leap through hoops of flames only to sometimes get set on fire, or lions who spend 90% of their time chained in small carts while the other 10% of their time is spent balancing on a small pedestal to please ticket purchasers. Eliminating elephant acts is great step in the right direction, but we are far from ending the disaster that is circus abuse and as long as people purchase tickets, they'll be less inclined to make a change.
For other ways you can help and raise awareness, check out “Steps to Take When the Circus Comes to Town.“ You can also check out groups like Animal Defenders Internationals or ADI. They were created in 1990 and their missions is to "educate, create awareness, and promote the interest of humanity in the cause of justice, and the suppression of all forms of cruelty to animals; whenever possible, to alleviate suffering, and to conserve and protect animals and their environments."
If the images in this article upset you, I'm not sorry. They should. If you wouldn't want it done to yourself, how can you justify doing it to another living, breathing being? Animal abuse is alive and sadly well in today's society. That needs to change and the change can only start if you decided to take a stand. One person may not seem like enough, but it only takes one to turn into 10, 20, 100 and eventually millions. Don't be part of the problem, don't remain silent because silence fixes nothing, and silence can be deadly.
Several times now I have been told my dogs can hear little Shelby's cry and heartbeat while in utero. With four dogs in the house, two who’ve taken to acting a bit differently towards me (which is totally expected) I started wondering if there were any validity to these claims.
I mean it shouldn’t come as any surprise that dogs would be more sensitive to such sounds as they're known to have the ability to sense on-coming heart attacks, seizures or even sniff out cancer. Heck, they can even sense weather changes before they occur, so hearing a baby while in the womb doesn't seem like that far fetched of an idea.
Although puppies are born deaf and don't gain the ability to hear until they are roughly 21 days old, when hearing does develop, they can hear a sound at 4 times the distance compared to humans. Not to mention they have eighteen muscles in their ears that allow them to really hone in on a sound or noise, but hearing a baby in the womb?
So, I did a little research.
Dogs can hear sounds within ultrasound range which equates to sound waves between 50,000 to 65,000 cycles per second. Humans can hear, at maximum, 20,000 cycles per second; considerably less than our furry canine companions. So what does this mean? Well, it's believed babies start to cry in the womb at around 28 weeks, and those cries are in fact loud enough for your dog to hear as they fall between 50,000 to 65,000 cycles per second. However, a fetal heart-beat does NOT fall within that range and therefore it's unlikely your pup will pick up on the sound of babies little ticker, at least not until they're born.
Dogs are smart, so even though they can't hear baby's heart- beat they can smell hormonal changes in mom. They may even pick-up on changes in body language, posture, mannerisms, or certainly mood changes. Simple things like caressing your tummy can be enough to tip your dog off to the idea that something is amiss. These changes in mannerisms may even result in a more protective dog, or a dog who spends more time on the opposite end of the couch.
So while you're preparing your heart and home for your new little bundle, don't forget to prepare your pup, too. A dog who feels forgotten could make a transitional period that much more difficult.
If you're looking for a great at home fetal Doppler that doesn't break the bank, but provides a nice clear sound of your baby's ticker, try this one!
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If you’re a dog lover, you’ve likely heard the expression before, “it’s just a dog.”
Just a dog, aye? Well, I’ve got news for you; dogs are one of the most successful mammals on the planet!
Not only have we come to rely on our furry companions for their unwavering loyalty and devotion, but they've joined the work-force as well. Probably in more ways than most realize. From putting their lives on the line to protect and serve, to finding pesky bedbugs, or detecting cancer, they're very diligent workers and a staple in modern society whether realized or not. Simply put, there are no other candidates like that of our furry friends, the dog.
Dog have not only been integrated into our daily lives as companion pets, but they've also found their place as therapy dogs; serving those who suffer from a wide variety of medical alignments, both physical and mental. What may be viewed as "just a dog" to some is a lifeline to the world for others, a vital and crucial door to living a normal life. For those suffering from disorders like PTSD, extreme anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, the hearing or visually impaired, epilepsy or diabetes a dog means participating in everyday life just like you or I.
Dogs are so amazing, they just couldn't help themselves from finding a new way to help their human companions. They are now being incorporated into routine cancer diagnostics as cancer sniffers using their superior olfactory skills. In fact, research has shown they are just as accurate if not more so, than standard laboratory testing.
Dogs have over 300 million sensors in those little noses of theirs, which is 60 times the number of sensors in the average human nose. They also have a secret weapon called the Jacobson's Organ which allows them to detect chemical stimuli like Alkanes and aromatic compounds which are generated by tumors. The British organization, Medical Detection Dogs, provided 3,000 urine samples from patients with and without cancer, 95% of the time dogs correctly identified samples with cancer cells. Just imagine the number of lives that will be saved just by the single sniff of a dog. Can you do that? I don't think so!
I've always been a little repulsed by the idea of staying in a hotel room. Not really a fan of sprawling out on a comforter that's been soiled by a previous guest. Also not a fan of possibly bringing home creepy crawlers who only want to nest and spawn more creepy crawlers turning my nights rest into an itchy nightmare. No thanks, you can bet your bottom if I have to travel I'm finding a B&B!
But I was pleasantly surprised, recently, to learn at least one of those issues is being eliminated by dogs! Those sniffers are not only amazing at locating lost people, finding bombs, taking down drug dealers, and detecting cancer, but now they are being trained and used to detect bed bugs! That's right, these dogs spend between 800 and 1,000 hours perfecting those little noses to smell out and help eliminate bed bugs, and with a 97% accuracy rate, I'd let a dog sniff my hotel room any day! Especially if it means I don't bring an infestation of the the things nightmares are made of, home with me!
Oh, and I forgot the best part! Most of the dogs trained to sniff out these gross insects are shelter dogs! Saved from death row and given a second chance at life all while helping the very people that put them in that awful situation to begin with. Imagine that.
Dogs have displayed the remarkable ability to evolve and become irreplaceable members of our society. They risk their lives locating bombs, apprehending dangerous suspects, walking through rumble of collapsed buildings looking for survivors, the list goes on and on. They do it all with tail wags and smiles, unwavering love and loyalty. They don't ask for much in return, just food, a warm place to sleep and most importantly, a means to give their life purpose. So the next time you hear someone say "it's just a dog" remind them of all the wonderful things those dogs do for us beyond just emotional support and companionship.
The Working Dog
With over 10 years of experience through ownership and rescue work, I hope to share my knowledge and insight to happier, healthier fur kids. Have a question, feel free to ask!