Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Backlash of Posting Your Kill.

In the last few days there have been two social media firestorms following the awful killings of two defenseless animals. While separate incidences and separate killers both have left a trail of disgust, dismay, and disbelief.

I am deeply troubled to be witness to both killings. A deranged thrill seeking, publicity hungry rogue militant desperate to find more social media attention in a yet unchartered and male dominated territory; killing big game. It's pathetic  and desperate and deeply saddening. She has abandoned any sense of morality or compassion and embraced the senseless heartless slaughter of paid for big game hunting. Horrific on more levels than the human psyche can measure, these people who travel to foreign lands to buy a place on a piece of land stocked with immobile captive prey are the saddest primitive forms of inhumanity known to this day. Her defense; the giraffe was old. Why then did she lay down next to it and smile? See the AVMA's Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals here. Euthanasia by gunshot on page 35)

I do think that Ricky Gervais said it best;
"What must've happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal and then lie next to it smiling?" See the Facebook page here. To read more about the backlash from this story read here.

 I am an advocate for animals, all animals, every size, shape and breed. I took an oath to protect them and to serve the public that included "protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering." I am not an advocate to just dogs and cats, I am a veterinarian and I serve those who cannot speak for themselves. To those who love and serve unconditionally, and to the fellow creatures who we share this great planet with, I want to say in a loud boisterous voice that there are people who care and there is a public of consciously aware animal loving people who speak with a collective social media voice demanding that there be a better and more compassionate path forward.

Why are these stories so alarming? Surely they are not the first, nor only pictures of cruelty? I wonder of it is that these villains are young American women? Women  of social stature, or education status.

What could cause a veterinary graduate to believe that the act of harpooning a tomcat with an arrow is justifiable?

We live in a day and age of massive pet overpopulation. It is true. How many tomcats do you think the average veterinarian treats? How many of these cats come to us with a pet parent who cares enough  to find a cure to their ailments? Or wants to surgically alter them so that they can become integrated into the family setting? Yeah, not many.

What is it about the last two killings that struck such a sensitive nerve?

Is it that these villains are women?

Is it that the victims are defenseless kind creatures or domestic pets?

Is there such a definitive sharp line between what women kill? Is it really that this is a veterinarian and a cat? Or an empty woman who kills a giraffe?

Am I ever going to defend the senseless heartless killing of a cat with an arrow? No. Do I think that there is a correlation between the daily conditioning of a veterinarian to euthanize pets? Yes. Do I know that society rarely stands behind the rights and needs of unneutered male cats? They do not. Ask your local shelter what the adoption rate of a Tomcat is? I would argue that they have NEVER adopted out an intact male cat. Especially in light of the abysmal stat of 71% of cats that enter a shelter are euthanized. I could not find data on those that are intact male cats (Tomcats) but  based on 10 years of experience if they are older than about 10 months the chance they will be adopted is almost nil.

Is Kristen Lindsay's act heinous. Yes? Is it worse because this cat was owned by someone who loved him? Should it be? Is it a heinous act to kill an unwanted tomcat? Ask any vet you know. There isn't one of us who hasn't. Boasting about it with an arrow, well, no one is that stupid. Are they? There are guidelines, protocols and deeply thought out practiced methods employed by us vets to do it as humanely and compassionately as possible.

We live in a complicated passionate society. Is killing a pet brutal? Is killing a dog? A horse? A cow?  pig? A chicken? Should every vet try to help every animal? Is there a difference whether this is a pet? An herbivore?  A carnivore? A zoo animal? An over populated "pest" as considered by most city councils across the US?

I have many male veterinary colleagues who kill for sport. Maybe not a dog or a cat, but where does the distinction lie between pet and other? I don't know? For me there is no distinction. For social media there doesn't appear to be a distinction between a giraffe and a Tomcat. These are animals, pets to some, companions to others, and food to the rest. Before you cast stones and pass judgement ask yourself what is the difference, who are those that matter? Getting fuzzier isn't it?

This blog is written for the advancement of animal welfare and is intended to be my opinion only. As a practicing veterinarian my goal is to inspire, educate and assist the care and well-being of people who care about animals. I invite your thoughts and comments.

If you have a pet or animal related question I invite you to join me on Pawbly.com. Pawbly is an open pet centered platform for the free exchange of information.

I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.


  1. Krista-you are right on Doc! I'm horrified by the big game hunted giraffe but I'm deeply saddened by the graduate from Veterinarian School to be so callous as to use a bow and arrow. Did the cat die instantly? Did he struggle when shot? Were the last few minutes of his life painful and scary? And what was the point?

    I'm not opposed to hunters who hunt to provide food for their families. I am hugely opposed to those who hunt just for the sport. Maybe we should have a Hunger Games type situation for them.

    1. Hello!
      Many thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts.
      I agree I have no idea where the concept of killing for sport could have ever arisen. I have absolutely no idea how a vet who worked so hard for so long to get into and out of vet school could have been so stupid and barbaric. There was no point to what she did. It was an act of idiocy. There is no reason.
      Perhaps a tiny ripple in the cosmos to remind the rest of us that there is much yet to do.

  2. What a thoughtful, thought-provoking piece! I, too, don't understand what goes on in the heads of people that would kill animals like this; what role they believe they play on our planet. But, it's great to read such a well thought through post that raises these very important questions. Thank you!

    1. Hello,
      Thank you for reading, I sincerely appreciate that you take the time to share your thoughts. I often feel as if the longer and harder I look the more I just discover more questions. I simply do not know why? I cannot explain why people are so cruel and terrible.

  3. I saw a comment from an 'expert' that said that based on the position of the cat's legs or something, the cat in the photo was still alive. What do you think?

    1. Hello,
      I did not see that report and I can't seem to look at the photo long enough to try to imagine much more than a terrible senseless killing of a pet. I hope he did not suffer and I also hope that this vet will someday realize what a poor decision she made. I fear she will pay for this the rest of her life, and that any goodness or kindness she may have ever done for her former clients will be lost and forgotten. Its a tragedy all the way around.

    2. Krista..Well written article from the heart looking for answers from the mind that there must be a reason for these awful acts of cruelty... and there are none. We are supposed to be the smartest form of life and yet there are many who remind us we are far from it. In my naive opinion, I feel hunting is an act of a person contemptibly lacking in courage. A “sport” ...show me who the competitors are and if they are equipped to defend themselves with the same equipment.

      I believe we all born with “right” and “wrong” and in our life’s beginning; we are nurtured by our surroundings and begin to form who we will eventually become. Along the way we all have choices, some more than others. Here we see two people who seem to have had many choices, and therein lies the difficulty in understanding their acts of cruelty. It is not only the act they have done to these beautiful creatures of life and of an equal existence on this earth as we do, but to smile, and share in such a boastful manner, is unforgivable. What goes through the minds of these two (and others like them) in believing what they have done is anything brave, courageous, or justifiable. And what type of sick individuals are they seeking approval from!

      The only thing we can do is make sure this is seen by all in hopes this will defeat the glorification they were looking for. Be the strong voice for those who have none and by our voices, these types of cruelty will have a chance of being negated