Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Animals versus Humans

One of the most memorable nights I had last November in Africa was visiting with a couple that drilled bore holes (to provide clean drinking water) in Uganda. At the time of my visit, they were packing up to move operations to Sudan.

The couple was originally from South Africa and were very gracious hosts to me and my traveling companions. At their house, they were caring for a litter of newborn puppies, one of whom is featured below.

I remember my hosts complaining that NGO workers and other temporary workers in Northern Uganda who adopted stray animals should have the "decency to kill the dogs when they leave." I understood (though didn't totally agree with) the point she was making: That it's "far worse" to give stray dogs a home and a stable food supply only to then abandon that dog months later and force it to return to a life of disease, starvation and suffering.

Then, on January 1st, I was reading an article published in the Globe & Mail by Lisan Jutras (no longer available free online) which spoke about the problem of stray animals in vacation "hot spots" like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Mexico.

As someone whose heart is split evenly between a passion for international development and animals of all kinds, I often feel a tug-of-war between my passion for animals and my passion for people. How (I often think) could I possibly invest resources in a few stray dogs when people in that same community are starving?

I wonder how other people who have almost equal compassion for animals as they do humans resolve or manage this tension?

here is a story about a rescue dog being flown from Iraq to the USA.

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