Abstract Violence against animals is a generalization of animal abuse. Animal abuse refers to the mistreatment of animals by humans (Perdue, Abigail, & Randall, 77). This mistreatment may come in different forms. For instance, inflicting pain and suffering to the victim animal, or generally neglecting the animal in terms of provision of daily needs and protection. The abuse of animals has been rampant in many countries with the governments and citizens alike turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the situation.
Animals have the disadvantage of not having the voice for themselves let alone the intelligence to shield them from the kind of abuse they receive from the humans (El Massih, 169). In this respect, they unfortunately fall prey to malicious individuals who carelessly deprive them of their right to a good life considering they are living creatures just like them.
Lately, Lebanon has been on the spotlight in cases involving animal abuse. Anti animal abuse activists attribute this to the lack of sufficient legislation to deter individuals from carrying such injustices to animals.
Cases of animal abuse in this country range from poaching, animal trafficking to general neglect of domestic animals. Research carried out by Animals Lebanon, an anti-animal abuse organization, show that Lebanon is like a safe haven for animal abusers. Current law for animal welfare in Lebanon dictates maximum fines of less than fifteen dollars. Moreover, the research shows that this law has not been used once within a period of twenty years. With such a weak legislation against animal abuse, what is to stop malicious animal torturers from inflicting pain and suffering to the animals within the Lebanese state?
From this line of thought, therefore, it is conspicuous that the Lebanon as a country needs utmost intervention on cases regarding animal abuse.
Thus, the question that begs to be answered in this instance is; what are the initial causes of this menace against animals in Lebanon? In addition, what should be done to rectify the situation present in the country in question?
One conspicuous cause of animal abuse in Lebanon is poverty. The state of poverty within the country leaves a lot to be desired. Current studies done by the Central administration of Statistics of Lebanon show that, for every four Lebanese citizens, there are at least one or two people living under the poverty line. This therefore goes to show that a large percentage of Lebanese citizens lack proper employment or means for making ends meet. In that line of thought, poverty leads to frustration of human beings and such frustration leads to crime as an alternative to get daily bread. It is therefore no surprise that one may consider taking to animal trafficking as a side job. Undoubtedly, the animal trafficking business in Lebanon is lucrative. People would capture endangered animals and sell them to the highest bidder. A common trend seen in Lebanon is the rearing of lion cubs as domestic pets. These cubs were obviously captured from their natural habitats and torn away from their families. More often than not, the method of capture and caring for the victim animal is never proper. The captured animals are at times left to starve or beaten mercilessly as a means to deter any form of misbehavior on their part.
Considering this, it is inevitable that the animal would be left traumatized and disoriented due to the sudden shift of environment and comfort. One example of such a case in Lebanon was seen in October 2016 when a group of poachers managed to capture a wolf. This news virally hit the social media as the individuals posted a video, which clearly showed them torturing the poor animal. The malicious group posted that they were selling the wolf for a price of 4000 dollars. Fortunately, with the help of anti-animal abuse organizations, the police posed as a potential purchaser of the animal and later on captured the culprits. Currently the wolf is under care of a zoo with its wounds tended to and daily feed given. Had the country’s state of poverty be any better, the living standards of individuals would be enough to sustain their daily needs thus, leaving people without the need of turning to animal trafficking as a source of income.
From a logical perspective, the citizens of Lebanon should also carry a fair share of the blame for the ongoing animal abuse. Most of the Lebanese citizens simply carry a general “don’t care” attitude to what happens to animals around them. The number of stray dogs for instance, has been growing so rampantly that the government has resolved to the mass shooting of the stray dogs (Beirne, Piers, & Caitlin, 97). Citizens more often than not ignore this as the carcasses are left lying on the streets. “Most of these stray dogs usually belong to families as pets but probably due to lack of proper care by their owners they ran away.” Says a zookeeper in an interview by a local newspaper. Most owners of the run-away pets do not even make a considerable effort to try to find their animal thus going to show their lack of care towards the animals. Moreover during the months of June and September , many pet owners tend to go out for vacation leaving their pets outside in the streets or even on their home balconies. Without proper care of these animals, some at times starve to death especially when their owners go away for long periods of time. Other animals find themselves homeless and get exposed to all manner of harm within the streets. This therefore becomes an inhumane act on the part of the citizens thus adding to the abuse of animals within the nation. It is the duty of the pet owner to ensure that the animal is properly taken care of on the eve of their vacations. Perhaps taking the animal to a proper shelter that would accommodate the needs of the pet in the meantime would be appropriate to ensure that the animal is not deprived of its needs.
The citizens ought to remember that the animals are also living things with the right to a proper life just like the humans. If citizens became more considerate of the animals’ welfare, animal abuse would be a thing of the past. Furthermore, impulse buying of wild animals as pets by the Lebanese citizens also contributes to the animals’ abuse in the long run. This is because they purchase the animal without proper knowledge of how to take care of them especially considering the fact that they are trying to assimilate them into a human environment. More often than not, the animals find themselves not receiving a proper diet or daily needs, which bring general discomfort towards the animals. In some way, the owner of the animal is unknowingly abusing the animal as they try to change the animals’ original habitat and moving it out of its comfort zone. A good example is seen with lion cub owners. Once the cub gets big, the lion’s daily needs change. If not met the lion may result to unwanted behaviors, which may also be dangerous to the owners themselves. Furthermore, there is lack of knowledge on how to properly take care of pets within the household. A good instance is seen by the way people in Lebanon handle their dogs. More often than not, most Lebanese dog owners leave their dogs outside the house chained to their kennel the whole day. Moreover, the dogs do not receive regular baths thus are left under attack by animal pests such as fleas and ticks. Without knowing, these dogs are being abused by their owners. The dogs’ health gradually depreciates when exposed to such conditions. These dog owners ought to receive proper training on how to take care of their pets. Knowledge of animal care goes a long way in ensuring the animals comfort within the owners household.
Animals lack the intelligence to determine what is considered wrong or right within the society (El Massih, 169). In this respect, animals find themselves on the receiving end of humans’ rage when they misbehave. Pets usually suffer from this since they are at times beaten up mercilessly by some of their owners as a way to deter misbehavior. Constant beating of these animals contribute to their emotional trauma since they may not understand the reason as to why they are being beaten. What people need to understand is that animals act on instincts and impulsive urges which they have no particular control of. In this respect, a cat for instance, should not be beaten or punished for taking a piece of meat from the table. To the cat the meat was easily accessible food thus it would not miss the chance to feed itself if given. This argument therefore goes hand in hand with that of the stray animals. Animals abused at home tend to ran away thus leaving them loitering in the streets (Beirne, Piers, & Caitlin, 93).
Wild animals being smuggled into Lebanon are more prone to misbehavior considering their lack of training to live within a human environment. In this respect, when malicious zoo keepers sell them as pets, they usually undergo a lot of physical abuse before they are tamed by their owners. This is also a large contributing factor of animal abuse within Lebanon.
Lebanon as a country is unfortunately plagued with both internal and external political conflicts. This is attributed to the volatile relationship between its neighboring nations, Syria and Israel. Most of the countries resources have been channeled to remediate this issue with little priority given to other issues going on in the country. The government’s priority towards animal abuse is minimal considering this situation. This is greatly reflected in the laws against animal abuse. From a general perspective, legislation pertaining to anti-animal abuse issues are greatly insufficient if not, neglected by the state at large (Linzey, 34). The neglect on animal abuse issues has consequently led to the continual violence against animals with perpetrators going scot free. Lack of proper deterrents against animal abuse will just increase the rate of this injustice thus leaving animals within Lebanon without a safe haven. During dark times, there is always a positive aspect to look up to. Lebanon in this case has significant hope in the bid to eradicate violence of animals within the state.
A huge part of this hope is propelled by the existence of anti-animal abuse organizations that have set up campaigns throughout the country to try and raise awareness of the current state of animal abuse within the nation. A good example of such an organization is the Animals Lebanon. This organization is on the forefront in the bid to boost animal welfare through protection and instigation of proper legislation for the cause. Just recently, from 2011 through to 2015, Animals Lebanon has been on the verge of campaigning of an anti-animal abuse draft law. They managed to push the law to be accepted and approved by the council of ministers. The law constitutes of 11 chapters comprising of 30 articles, which define and stipulate conditions for those handling animals as well as establishments that do the same. Moreover, the law underlines penalties for violation of requirements set for different animal handling establishments and individuals. The push for this law was done in co-operation of the country’s ministry of agriculture as well as the ministry of environment. All is left is for the draft law to be passed in the parliament. In an interview with the National Post, Jason Mier, the executive director of Animals Lebanon, explained his pleasure with the co operation of the Ministries. Moreover, he stressed the need to address the problem from the root saying, “That is where the law should step in.” In this respect therefore, with a coherent law put into place, Lebanon stands a great chance in putting a firm grip on the violence against animals.
Other citizens have gone out of their way to come up with institutions and sanctuaries for rescued animals. With the number of stray animals and poached wildlife daily increasing within the Lebanese streets, Hesayne, the vice president of a shelter near Beirut, left her career to take care of endangered animals within Lebanon. Her shelter is home to about 250 animals rescued from different tragedies and given a second chance of a proper life. According to an interview with the Cable News Network, Hesayne explains that her aim is to rescue mistreated and homeless animals.
Hesayne works with Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (BETA) organization. Together, BETA has managed to take care of more than a thousand animals since its commencement in the year 2004. Like Animals Lebanon, BETA has also made significant moves in the bid to instantiate anti-animal abuse laws within the country. Currently it has lobbied the government of Lebanon to sign the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement. Lebanon as a country has not yet signed the agreement though mechanisms are being set to place for adding the nation as a signatory. The CITES agreement would definitely go a long way in ensuring that the smuggling of wild animals into Lebanon would be reduced. Moreover poaching of wildlife would be a heavily penalized crime thus acting as a deterrent to those capturing and trafficking animals within the country. Moreover, BETA has set up an exercise with a local charity for disabled children. The exercise entails the introduction of pets to the disabled children. This action aimed to boost the self-confidence of the young patients. In a way, the organization kills two birds with one stone through caring for the sick and the abused animals.
Both mentioned instances of anti-animal abuse activists trying to change the situation show a glimmer of hope for the current state of Lebanon. Thus, there are several recommendations that the government as well as the citizens ought to consider in countering the menace at hand. First and foremost, the government ought to keep animal abuse as one of the primary priorities within government business. Just as the lives of the human beings are important, so does the lives of animals. Both human beings and animals live in the same ecosystem. This therefore means that both species are co-dependent. In this respect, harm to one of the entities would definitely lead to the suffering of the other. This calls for maintenance of equilibrium within the ecosystem (Urbanik, Julie, & Connie, 101). Animals ought to receive the same concern just as the humans do.
Moreover, the government ought to initiate more employment opportunities in the bid to raise living standards of individuals living under the poverty line. This will go a long way in keeping idle minds busy thus eradicating on the need to turn to animal trafficking as an income source. Similarly, the citizens themselves ought to make an effort in finding employment opportunities. Preferably, they can even start their own enterprises in the bid to raise their living standards.
The government should also accept to look for support from other in the matter of animal abuse. They can best do this through making Lebanon a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Smuggling of animals would therefore reduce thus minimizing the abuse of endangered animals within Lebanon. More penalties ought to be stipulated on animal abusers within the country. This would require induction of more animal protection laws, which would act as significant deterrents to animal abuse. A good step towards this realization would be to pass the draft law pushed by Animals Lebanon organization to parliament. Once this law is passed, animals stand a better chance for a good life within Lebanon.
Citizens also have an obligation to be vigilant on cases that pertain to animal abuse. They should be able to report such cases to relevant authorities. If not, intervene for the benefit of the animal under abuse. The more the vigilance against animal abuse the less rampant the injustice against the animals gets. A good instance of this can be done through setting up hotlines, which people can use to report cases of animal abuse within the society. Moreover, the people themselves can also offer a helping hand to stray animals through provision of food or even shelter before probably taking the animal to a proper home. Such a gesture may very well rescue the life of an endangered animal thus going a long way in preserving its species.
Another recommendation that could help fight animal abuse within Lebanon is that the government ought to assign a new ministry that would solely focus on animal issues within the country. Such a ministry would be responsible in drafting laws that protect animals against animal abuse and enhancing the animals’ general welfare within the country. Such an arm of the government would therefore closely work with anti-animal abuse non governmental organizations within the country in the bid to work up a proper strategy in eradicating cases of violence against the animals (Linzey, 34).
In conclusion, what one must realize is that animals are living things just like human beings. In this respect, therefore, an entity that has the breath of life is entitled to respect and care. Abuse of animals goes well against this since it shows how humans look down upon other living creatures of less intelligence. The Lebanese government as well as the citizens ought to work together to ensure that the lives of the animals are well taken care of since the animals lack the proper intelligence and reasoning to deduce what is right and wrong for them (El Massih, 169). Moreover, people should create awareness on the importance of upholding the welfare of animals in the society. People should understand the essence of an ecosystem and the need to balance this system due to the interdependence of man and animal (Urbanik, Julie, & Connie, 101). Following the above line of thought therefore, it is conspicuous that the root cause of the animal abuse menace is no one else but the people themselves. Lack of interest by the people in trying to save animal lives and ensuring their general welfare, defines the epicenter of the cancer that engulfs the country. Once the people realize that it is their duty to protect the animals against any form of violence or injustice, the current state of animal abuse in our country will undoubtedly change for the better.