Animal abuse has, sadly, always existed. But today, thanks to the internet and social media, we are more aware of cases of animal abandonment and mistreatment than ever before.
Our first reaction when we hear these sad stories is likely to say “poor thing” and feel sorry for the animals in question. But the truth is that these nice sentiments are useless and do not help alleviate the animal’s suffering. A better reaction is to learn how to help abused dogs so they don’t have to suffer anymore. Today we’ll give you some things to think about.
Pity: A useless sentiment
Emotions are involuntary, and we cannot repress them or choose not to feel them. However, since we humans are rational beings, there are things we can do to change the way we think in order to change the way we feel.
It’s perfectly natural and normal to feel sorry for those less fortunate than ourselves, especially when they happen to be animals, because they are defenseless beings who have never done anything to “deserve” whatever bad things might happen to them. Animals are always vulnerable to their circumstances, and human beings can be very cruel.
But we have to acknowledge the fact that such feelings of pity are paralyzing. Simply feeling sorry does nothing to change or prevent animals from suffering. This type of sadness is an emotion that makes us feel bad, but that’s all. From the perspective of those that need support, it is a totally useless feeling.
What’s more, we should be aware that grief can turn into self-pity, which will end up negatively the person or animal exposed to it: in this case, abused dogs.
How to react to abused dogs
Instead of just sorrow, there are many other emotions we can learn to feel. Any feeling that leads us to change the situation of an abused or abandoned animal will be much more useful.
To reformulate our feelings, we first have to change the way we think. For example, instead of thinking “poor thing,” we can think the following: “What can I do to protect animals from being mistreated?”
So let’s exchange pity for conviction. This will put us in a better position to actually do something that will really help the animal in question, or other abused dogs. We’ll go from feeling paralyzed by our emotions to doing something productive for those that need it.
That “something” could include helping out those who are caring for abused dogs, protecting another furry friend to make sure he or she doesn’t turn into a victim, or even stepping in and personally adopting an animal that has been abused.
Compassion versus pity
We can also exchange feelings of pity for feelings of compassion, with similar results: we are more likely to step forward and do something useful and needed. Compassion moves us to alleviate suffering and helps us to take responsibility for changing a bad situation.
If we see a sick animal on the side of the road and just feel sorry for it, we may shake our head in frustration, but we will probably simply drive on by. On the other hand, if we see a sick animal on the side of the road, feelings of compassion will move us to pick him up and take him to the vet. Compassion here will result in an animal being treated.
Together with conviction, compassion will empower and inspire us to change both the present and future of the animal. As for the present, we will be protecting him from immediate danger. Then for the future, compassion will make us not stop until we find a loving family to take care of him for the rest of his life.
Pity can also be transformed into a positive kind of pride. Instead of just talking about what a terrible past a dog had, we can admire his ability to move forward, and be proud of how he has overcome his difficult circumstances. Remember that dogs have an incredible amount of tenacity and remarkable ability to overcome.
That’s why celebrating the victory of dogs who have made it through their abusive past is better than pitying them. They’re not victims; they’re survivors, heroes with the strength to get out of hell and whatever else life may throw at them.
No more mere pity
When we come face-to-face with a dog that’s been abused or abandoned, we usually empathize with him and feel the fear and anxiety that he’s feeling. For an animal in this situation, there are any number of things we can do to help, but the one thing we should always avoid is looking at him with pity.
Looking at abused dogs with pitiful eyes conveys concern and fear, and dogs pick up on it. If we are worried, the dog will be worried too. He will keep feeling afraid. We have to be careful how we deal with them if we want to help them recover.
On the other hand, if we are proud of having a canine survivor in our home, we will appreciate his progress and he’ll get more confident. We’ll be better able to accompany and support him on the path to recovery.
Take action to support abused dogs
When we read a story about animal abuse, we can do many more things than just feel sorry. For example, we might support someone who has picked up an abandoned animal and help them with veterinary bills or food.
Another thing we might do is help search for a safe adoptive family to take care of the dog long-term once he has started to recover. We might also join an animal protection association to prevent such treatment of animals, thus helping to decrease the number of cases of animal abuse in the future.
We need to be actively drawing attention to animal abuse and taking practical steps to care for abused animals. Each volunteer, each pair of helping hands in a shelter, is absolutely essential. It literally saves lives.
But remember that if you only feel pity for abused animals, you won’t be able to do any of these worthy and valuable things. Pity paralyzes us and prevents us from taking action — and action is what abandoned or abused animals really need.