Do animals feel pain and suffer like we do?

By: Dave Swartz


        I had an experience recently that answered this question in a very clear yet frightening way.  About three weeks ago I was doing the spring task of cleaning out the garage.  Since the weather was nice I had let the dogs out to supervise my cleaning.  I noticed after about 30 minutes that our smaller dog (Riddly) was no longer in the vicinity of the garage.  Not to worry, a few weeks prior I had purchased a GPS collar that can track the little one’s movements on the property.  She has been wandering a bit recently and at times it has been difficult to track her down.  Now with my cheater GPS app, I can track her down a bit more easily.  This day however, was very different. 

After hearing what sounded like a horrible dog fight coming from a distant ravine, I knew something bad was happening.  Since there are no other dogs/houses in the area, I immediately thought of the coyotes that have been frequenting the area.  I rushed to the truck and drove down to the ravine the quickest I could while checking my GPS app trying to locate her.  As I was driving in the truck, I received a ping that placed her very close to the cattle pond in the ravine.  However, the very next ping said she was back at the house.  This was a minute later and the house was a 1/2 mile away.  I thought the signal was acting up at first because that would have been a huge distance to cover, however I figured that I might as well head back to the house just to make sure. 

As I drove over the hill to the house I noticed an object on the driveway looking similar to a dog but not moving at all.  As I approached I saw that it was Riddly.  At first, I admit that I didn’t think much was wrong with her as she was well enough to run back home.  When she came closer, I knew something wasn’t right.  I could see she was waddling over very slowly and looked very dazed.  As she walked even closer, I could see the pain and terror in her face.  She got beat up as badly as I have ever seen.  There were over 20 puncture wounds on her body with two massive gashes behind her ears that went right to the bone.   I tried to clean some of the blood off of her, but decided it was best to rush her to the vet.  Driving to the vet, I will admit that I didn’t know if she was going to make it with the amount of blood that was lost.

Luckily the vet was able to sew Riddly back to together and she is recovering fine.  However, looking back I was thinking that  was by far the worst suffering I have personally seen in a non-human animal.  The crying, whimpering and terror on Riddly’s face was awful to experience

After things calmed down, I thought how lucky Riddly was that I could take her to a vet to get her the care she needed.  Another thought that crossed my mind was what about all the farmed animals that are abused thousands of times a day or the wild animals that are wounded in a hunting incident.  There are no veterinarians or concerned guardians to help.

It’s unfortunate that many in our society do not realize that the terror and pain on Riddly’s face that day is no different than the pain any human child experiences in a major accident.

It is my firm belief that our purpose in life is to make the world a better place by the time you leave than when you arrived and nothing can help achieve this goal more than reducing the amount of suffering in all beings.   Humans have the power to do this every day and we can do it with our fork.  Simply changing what is on our plates will drastically reduce pain and suffering in billions of animals every year.  You have the power to make a difference.  The Earth and Universe will thank you…. and so will the animals.     


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