A few horrible acts of animal cruelty (and here) came to light yesterday that really had a number of folks justifiably enraged. I wholeheartedly agree that these acts were awful and should be condemned in every way possible. What struck me though was how much the first event stirred folks up. Recently a woman was kidnapped and held prisoner for a week of torture, rape and other abuse, yet there was little to nothing on this in my little view of the blogosphere. This poor dog was tortured and killed and it became a call to arms for animal rights. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t evoke this emotion, but what is about the kidnapped woman in WV that doesn’t evoke that emotion?

Perhaps part of the problem is that as a society we’ve become somewhat numb to the “if it bleeds it leads” aspect of traditional media. It is not that we don’t care, it is that we hear about it often enough and we become desensitized – “oh, there was another murder in some bad neighborhood”. Its almost come to the point that its shocking and surprising when we don’t hear about someone being shot or a bad neighborhood making progress towards safer streets. There is also certianly the case that we as humans have more control over our actions. We are capable of rationalizing the consequences of our decisions and therefore get what we deserve when things go wrong. But what did this woman really do wrong? I’m not sure, but it could have been as simple as stopping at the wrong gas station at the wrong time. In this small slice of time was she any less innocent than a kitten that wondered into the wrong yard?

The way we view animals or, I believe, more specifically in this case, the way we view our pets is the critical catalyst for the call to arms. We love our pets, they are a part of our family. I always make a point of stopping by the pet stores to check out the cats for adoption in the hopes that maybe we’ll get one more. Of course my wife is always quick to remind me about the cat to person ratio in any household and crossing the fine line into crazy-cat-persondom, but that is another story. The point is that our pets are in our homes, part of our lives and love us unconditionally because we provide for them and accept them as part of our family, magnifying their perceived innocence. So when some degenerate attacks one of these loved ones it is easy to project that offense to our little dependent house-mates.

The question now is how can we get that sense of outrage back in to the causes of human suffering? This is not to take anything away from how we jump up to defend our pets, but what does it take to evoke that same emotion in local instances of human suffering? What do you think?