Recently on Facebook, a plea was posted on behalf of an abused dog. This animal was found in a dumpster at the bottom of some building’s garbage chute. It was suffering from lack of nourishment and barely alive. The person who had posted this sad story had begun a petition seeking justice for the animal through some action against the abuser, should he be found. Naturally, it was expected that readers sign the petition. The Facebook friend that posted this story was not the originator of the story, but was only passing it along. She says she is an animal activist and expressed her dismay and disgust at the animal’s condition, as well as toward the person responsible.

Then things got a little dicey.

I offered my comment that I could not in good conscience sign the petition. Despite the fact that I oppose animal abuse, I do not believe the perpetrators of such behavior should be treated like they beat the crap out of another human being. Indeed, such behavior, as awful as it is for the animal, should provoke some level of concern, if not compassion, for the abuser. Such a person is obviously in need of help. But the person who started the petition wants revenge on behalf of the dog.

To me that’s sick. It’s just as sick as the person who did the abusing. It’s a twisted and corrupted sense of compassion.

It’s not an uncommon sentiment…it even showed up in a Lethal Weapon movie (I think the third one). Riggs is confronted with a snarling guard dog and is encouraged to shoot it. He won’t, saying in not so many words, “Naw…I love dogs. It’s people I hate.” Funny stuff (sorta), but in reality a terrible attitude even if only mildly held.

The usual scenario: A burning building. You look up and see two windows and in each is a face hoping for rescue. In the left, a sorrowful and desperate puppy with it’s sad, puppy eyes (which it has because it’s a freakin’ puppy) and in the other, homosexual cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, who abused animals in his youth before turning to meatier victims. There’s only time to save one, by golly! Who do you save? The answer is clear and simple: Dahmer. The poor little puppy dies. To let Dahmer burn is unconscionable. In fact, it’s tantamount to murder. Not so if the puppy dies. Not even close.

Later in the conversation, I referred to a public service announcement with Sarah Mc-somebody (I can’t remember how to spell her last name) begging for support for abused and neglected cats and dogs. I indicated my belief that the producers go out of their way to insure the animals look as pathetic as possible. I took a little heat for that, too. But in fact, I believe the same is done when seeking donations for ANY cause, even hungry kids. Here’s the thing: While there are hungry kids, and abused kids, and aborted kids, I couldn’t care less about the plight of animals. I don’t think my God would like it.

Animals are great. I love ’em. Have one myself. Have had animals in my house for the last twenty-five years or more. But they’re animals. Nothing more. Their deaths were sad due to the impact on my wife and kids. It’s easy to get a new one. Do I miss any of ’em? A bit. But no sleep was ever lost. I’m tired right now, in fact.

Animals are a resource. They’re like oil, gold, water. They’re here for our personal use. They’re fun, often a pain, but can be a friend and an emergency meal when things are really bad (except for whippets).

What they aren’t is people. They should not be regarded as such. No. They should not be abused for any reason, except for grilling or making coats. But barring that, they should not be tortured for pleasure or if kept for any reason, neglected. Pets do deserve to be taken care of if one chooses to have one. I do not much care for the idea of getting a pet and then giving it away when one gets tired of having one. (Well, except for maybe the first time—but only once. Then, don’t ever get another.)

But let’s not get carried away. Keep it in perspective. They are, after all, only animals.