Towards the Greater Good: Finding Common Ground With Animal Protection Organizations
“Every living thing has an intrinsic value that derives from creation. It exists by reason of a design and order not of human making. Yet humankind has all too often abused or destroyed other life capriciously and wantonly.”
These are the words which begin to define the statement of principles and beliefs of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). It is the primary and motivating concern of The HSUS to prevent cruelty to all living creatures. We believe that humans are responsible for the welfare of those animals which have been domesticated and for those animals upon whose natural environment humans have encroached. We are accountable as a species, for we have neither the right nor the license to exploit or abuse any animal. Therefore, as an animal protection organization, The HSUS endeavors to promote animal welfare and strives to engender a respect for all living things.
As the wildlife veterinarian for The HSUS it is my hope that this is a fundamental common philosophy shared by the wildlife and zoo veterinary community. It is basic to our principles and convictions as veterinarians to be advocates for the animals placed in our care. These principles compel us to seek better animal welfare regulations for wild animals in captivity to minimize stress and to provide behavioral enrichment; to improve federal animal transport regulations; to support the maintenance of such federal policies as the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; and to promote the enforcement of CITES and other international animal protection agreements. It is also our profound responsibility to oppose the traffic of wild animals particularly for the exotic pet trade, and to discourage the public from keeping wild animals as pets.
On many of these issues, the wildlife/zoo veterinary community and animal protection organizations like The HSUS have found common ground. Public education on the needs of wild animals and their roles in ecosystems must be a common goal. If we strive to put the animals’ welfare foremost in our efforts, then, indeed we will be working towards the greater good.