I love almost all animals but find it hard to include reptiles, though of course, I do realize that they too are God's creatures. I would love to ask Him one day- if I am lucky enough to see Him face to face -why He made them because they cause me and probably many other people so much fear.
Basically, I am a dog person, and most people that know me already know that, and may be tired of hearing why. But for those who are not--it is because of my first puppy Peaches who in 1975 made me a convert to seeing God's animal creation through her beautiful and soulful brown eyes.
Maybe the exception was when Peaches saw a rather large harmless garter snake in our yard one summer day. Of course, she and a couple of my cats who were outside at the time -could care less. I was terrified- but smiled when I saw one of the cats "helping" the snake along his lumbering way- gently extending one paw on each side as he tried to slither away.
Up to this point, we had been a dog and cat family until some years ago when Jack, the rabbit came into our lives and joined us in the partially refinished basement which housed some of our rescued cats. It was almost Winter when Monica, a friend of mine, said she was worried about the rabbit who had been feasting in her vegetable garden all summer. Would he survive the winter outdoors? No problem I said -- bring him over. I knew nothing about caring for rabbits, but I was game. In fact, I think my cats were as well, and especially Patrick- a rescued feral. Patrick's stay with us is a story in itself.
Sadly, we did not enjoy Jack's company for long because he was an elderly rabbit. Did I do something wrong in his care? I hope not, because his passing caused me pain. So Jack, this post is in your memory. We will all meet again one day -- it is my fondest wish and belief.
I was reminded of Jack when reading an article in the Summer/Fall edition of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting (C.A.S.H.) titled Rabbit Hunting: A Sickness that is going, going, going---and almost gone, by Joe Miele the president of the organization. His article was clear and succinct; and explained in a few paragraphs why rabbit hunting should become a relic of the past.
One may have to go all the way back to pioneer times to give it some justification, but today it is only a shameful reminder of the little concern and respect we have for rabbits and other wildlife. We basically consider their lives as inconsequential and a means to satisfy this cruel act we call a "sport." In my view and the view of others anything which causes pain and suffering to harmless creatures should not be considered a sport?
Miele reminds us that deer are not the only animals hunters kill. Among their victims are doves, crows, geese, and quail by the millions. Also millions of raccoons, opossums, foxes, and squirrels are hunted as well as rabbits.
While some hunters like to eat rabbits, more just enjoy the killing aspect. And I cringed when I read that for some they say that the best thing about rabbit hunting is that it teaches children the "fun" of killing other species.
This topic also makes me recall a very happy and sad memory of when I was able to visit my parents' homeland in Slovakia in 1972. To tread the same land they once had; and to visit the villages where they had lived. To visit the graveyards where their loved ones rested --all of this will always be a part of my favorite memory bank. However, there was also one sad event, and that was the killing of a rabbit for one of our meals. I don't believe that I was able to partake of that meal which caused me great sadness at the time.
Back to rabbit hunting here in the U.S. As a former teacher, I was appalled to read that some hunting family members feel that teaching youngsters to kill an innocent creature without cause is something which has merit. Aren't these the same children who during the Easter time may have experienced the pleasure and joy of cradling a live chick or bunny rabbit - the symbols of new life and the risen Christ?
It is hypocrisy to then teach children to kill innocent animals. This surely must be confusing to children, who should be learning lessons of compassion from their family -- not the "thrill" and joy in hunting down one of the creatures they had enjoyed during the Easter season.
But happily, Miele is also quick to point out that hunting generally is declining in popularity all across the United States. And for the rabbits and other small game, there is evidence the decline is greatest with them. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service there were 1.5 million rabbit hunters in 2011 where that had been 4 million 1991. This reflects a 62.5 percent decline in the popularity of rabbit hunting in 20 years.
A Michigan statistic is also encouraging. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, only 56,000 Michigan hunters killed rabbits in recent years compared to some 400,000 hunters in the 1970's. Good news of course, but for people like me, the best news will be for this cruelty to stop completely and to remove innocent children from the hunting equation entirely. They should see rabbits as companion animals rather than bloody, hunting trophies.
Miele also writes about the shameful use of beagles to what he tongue-in-cheek describes as a pretty simple and uncomplicated form of hunting: "Just take a quiet walk where you find rabbits and bring a couple of beagles with you......and you'll be sure to unload your gun on a vicious man-eating rabbit, the kind that brings fear to the hearts of every Monty Python fan."
Sadly, exploiting an innocent beagle to engage in the taking of the life of his fellow living creature is yet another bad lesson to teach children. Instead, we should be teaching children the sacredness of all life and the inter-connectedness of all living beings.