Compassion In Action

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Scotlund's Blog

The Answer is Compassion

When Animal Rescue Corps posts images and videos on social media that document our rescue operations, it creates a strong emotional response. People who are distressed by pictures of suffering animals being rescued from horrible conditions often direct angry, derogatory words toward the individuals responsible, sometimes calling for violence against them, demanding the publication of their names and addresses. We at ARC discourage this behavior. Our work also incites an inflammatory response from the detractors of our work, who believe animals are mere property from which to profit. They claim we are “terrorists” or “vigilantes” who steal animals and people’s livelihood, acting outside of and above the law.

I am frequently asked variations of the question “How do you keep your temper when dealing with animal abusers? How do you refrain from entering the fray when someone makes defamatory claims about you and your team?”

The answer is simple: Compassion. Compassion drives and guides Animal Rescue Corps.  Our mission is not only to save animals but also to inspire compassion in others – compassion is a gift we can all choose to embrace and share.  Addressing violence with violence, or volleying incendiary language back and forth helps no one and solves nothing. Espousing negativity does not end suffering or inspire compassion. It perpetuates negative stereotypes of animal advocates, diminishing us and our movement, and such behavior is the antithesis of everything we claim to stand for. My work—my life—is about compassion, about saving lives.

We are not always in a position to understand the motivations of a person guilty of animal abuse. Certainly in many cases profit is the motivation, in others there is an element of mental illness or incapacitation (and in cases where that appears to be the situation we request those individuals also receive help). Regardless, it is not our job to judge the value of these individuals as human beings. Instead our efforts must focus on saving the animals and seeking justice on behalf of the animals.

Because hand in hand with compassion is my belief in and commitment to justice and direct verbal or physical confrontation of those who do harm is about vengeance, not justice. Vengeance does nothing to change the way people think about animals or further our cause. Our justice system, like any system, may have shortcomings, but the system and our law enforcement partners are the greatest tools we have.  Utilizing the judicial process, coupled with a structured operation and compassion, is the most effective way to directly address animal cruelty and create a lasting solution. This means supporting our law enforcement partners in doing everything within their power to ensure an individual responsible for animal cruelty does not abuse animals in the future. Our justice system’s triumph over vengeance and vigilantism is one of the most vital traits of our civil society.

Unfortunately, our detractors ignore our legal, professional, and measured approach when confronting these difficult issues and Animal Rescue Corps is often on the receiving end of false claims (represented as facts) and even vitriolic threats. While I believe that society as a whole is evolving and becoming more compassionate, aware, and accepting than ever before, we are still very much living in the time of the tabloid, a time when individuals, industries, and fringe elements in the news media thrive by spreading misinformation and inspiring dissension, hate, and ill-will.

Working at the request of law enforcement partners, Animal Rescue Corps is charged with removing and caring for people’s “property” and the evidence we gather frequently leads to criminal charges of animal cruelty. Sadly, some special interest groups and industries that profit from animal suffering attack ARC and other animal protection organizations for violating property rights and even the Constitution, ignoring the fact that we are operating as an agent of the local authorities. They use over-the-top language and, driven by their agenda to discredit us and distract from the real issues, they fabricate stories, launch personal attacks, and tell lies. These entities are simply trying to defend something that has no defense.  Their incendiary words do not excuse cruelty and their assertions that our actions are illegal are unconvincing at best and often so ridiculous as to immediately discredit the source.

You will not see me responding to detractors. Repeating or refuting their ludicrous allegations only serves to perpetuate them. I choose not to stoke that fire. Again, how do I restrain myself? Compassion. By drawing from our foundation of compassion, we do not allow the misguided and derogatory words of others to detract from our work. We are fighting for the truth and for the animals, but we are also fighting for the society we want to see… a compassionate one.

Mahatma Gandhi, one of history’s greatest moral leaders, dedicated his life to inspiring a society of love, compassion, and peace. As a result, he was considered an outcast. Although he faced tremendous opposition, Gandhi was never broken and never wavered from his philosophy and his values. I share Gandhi’s philosophy: “Hatred ever kills, love never dies. Such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.”

Empathetic people who fight for justice carry enough of a burden. We must not allow our compassion for animals to be channeled into hate for people. I even see this happen within our movement – one rescuer or advocate decides that another is not saving or advocating for animals in the “right way” and an enemy is made of an individual who is ultimately striving for the same goal. This is more regrettable than the hate propagated by the individuals and industries profiting from animal suffering. Together, and only together, we can remove the stain on society created by animal abuse by demonstrating that compassion has no boundaries and every living being is deserving of our consideration.

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6 responses to “The Answer is Compassion”

  1. Whomever put this piece together deserves a standing ovation!!

  2. This piece was written so well!!!!! Thank you.

  3. Jim Kieselburg says:

    Yes, you will have detractors. And, certainly, some of those are so, because they might envy you doing what they cannot. I, for one, admire and support what you are doing and it is logical to me that you gain a livelihood from it since you should be able to survive like anyone else. That you maintain your civil and respectful composure is just nothing but remarkable and attests to your dedication and resolve. I salute you and all of the corps!
    KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON !

  4. cherie says:

    Thank you for all you do, your considerate staff not only acknowledge my concerns about my missing dog during the Ashland City dogfighting case. But they were kind enough to share pictures of dogs that matched her description. Wonderful piece and keep up the good fight.
    Again Thank You
    Cherie

  5. Clare Proulx says:

    Very well said Scotlund, though I can understand the anger directed towards those individuals who abuse, and I know it does not solve anything. We are inundated with pictures of abuse towards these innocent creatures, be it dogs, cats, creatures of the seas, caged wild animals, or murdered for their bodily parts (heads, hands, horns, etc), to the point of extinction and usually for entertainment profit or sport, my heart breaks with each story and anger surfaces. I am dumbfounded by the mindset that feels this abuse is okay. I trust that Karma will eventually play out.

  6. Shannon says:

    Scotlund, everything that ARC and yourself stand for and do is an inspiration to me. You guys are amazing and such a blessing to those that you continue to save.

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