lemuel butler lion animals cruelty and heartbreak

TW: animal abuse, animal cruelty

A little girl in the street grabbed my hand. She was asking for money and wouldn’t let go. With her tiny hand near mine, I went with my usual phrase when people in the street ask me for money, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

As a child would, she playfully says she isn’t going anywhere until I give her something. I tell her she can tag along, but that I can’t do that.

Her equally young brother is waiting for her to come back from this hopefully-fruitful hand-holding session.

We lock eyes for a second, then she violently lets go of my hand in a display of anger and disappointment. 

When I get to my destination, I think of how the logical thing to do is thoroughly wash my hands “just in case.” But why?

Research shows a lot of people don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom, masturbating, changing diapers, and this is only the tip of the dirty iceberg.

So why care?

People have had a problem with me touching stray animals since forever. For years now, they’ve been so kind as to let me know all the diseases and infections I’m now prone to because I pet that cute dog. Apparently, that’s what I get for being unable to resist the cuteness.

Looking into that dog’s cute eyes though, breaks my heart into a thousand pieces and that’s why for me it stopped being a matter of cuteness a long time ago. 

It all started when I was a kid. My grandparents had a big house and an even bigger garden with all kinds of animals.

animals chickens
Look at these cuties. Photo by Andrea Lightfoot.

We’d named the chickens and they all had distinct features and personalities.

This particular day I’m recalling was special. My uncle was back for the first time since he left for Greece years ago. I was meeting his wife and son, his new family for the first time.

My cousin and I spoke different languages and we were too young to speak English, however, we understood each other completely. In Albanian, we call that gjuha e gjakut, blood language. Isn’t what our brains can accomplish amazing?!

Turning point

We were hanging out, speaking in that language of blood, when my grandma came by and said the one thing you never tell kids, what they shouldn’t do. She said we should NOT go to the other side of the house.

Being the curious, rebellious child that I was, I said fuck that (a placebo is inert, meaning it’s not supposed to do anything, but placebo is a rebel and breaks the rules), took my cousin and went over there.

Over where, Delfina?!! Photo by William Moreland.

I saw my grandfather kill with his bare hands, probably using a knife, my favorite chicken. I started cry-screaming and tried to stop him. My grandma took me out of there and gave me this BS explanation of what was happening.

Throughout the years, I’ve met a lot of people who’ve had a similar experience growing up. Maybe not the slaughter exactly, but they’ve lost animals they’d come to see as friends and part of the family, even though their stays had only lasted for a few days.

Because of this traumatic experience (or not), for as long as I can remember, I’ve felt deeply affected by animals.

I could be feeling happy, and then I see a stray dog in a safe spot, and just looking at them smiling, or patiently waiting for someone to play with them or show them the tiniest bit of attention, I get goosebumps, I feel a lump in my throat, I shiver.

I’ve gotten pretty good at not having an emotional reaction every time, or even most times, but injustice gets me to my fucking core.

Why are some animals bought for hundreds of dollars, taken to loving homes, getting toys, while others are run over, left there, kicked, and a lot of other cruel things that I won’t go over because:

  1. Everyone can think of a thing or two I might be referring to.
  2. I’m in a coffee shop and I don’t want people asking why I’m crying in the club right now, okay?!

Why are corporations, shielded by state laws, making plenty of $$$ in the most sickening ways, but this old lady near my house who comes from miles away each morning to sell her produce in the city, and makes just a few dollars a day, is surrounded by seven cops, asked to pay huge fees and move the fuck out?

What I’m describing is … “just life,” I know, but speaking from a place of privilege, I love life. I love the people and places and possibilities that life has offered me. This isn’t about police brutality, for now, but about animals and what they go through.*

Growing up, animal cruelty was the thing that most got to me because they’re voiceless. Actually, a lot of animal rights advocates consider themselves a voice for the voiceless. As women, we’re frequently silenced for speaking up, but at least we can do that; animals can’t defend or speak for themselves.

All they can do is love us unconditionally, as they so selflessly do. All they can do is hope for the best: that we don’t hurt them, kick them, poke their eyes out, bury them in the ground alive**, but instead love them back.

My heart breaks as I write this. I haven’t even said anything about the animals killed for food and what they go through.

To end on a more positive note, I’ve cuddled all the stray animals, touched all the people, and nothing has ever happened to me.

Germany banned fur farming and more makeup companies than ever are going cruelty-free. Animal products demand has decreased dramatically in developed countries, demand for plant-based products has risen. They’re everywhere now and very delicious too.

This is happening because of the people that got their shit together and their facts right, and chose to DO SOMETHING, be it Meatless Mondays, cruelty-free makeup products, only getting faux-fur, not throwing rocks at cats minding their business. Every little helps. 

Animals all over the world thank you.


*I said “the shit they go through figuratively and literally,” then decided to remove that part. Not to get into details, but a lot of animals live in such tiny spaces before they’re slaughtered, and a lot of cages are on top of one another… Well, you can put 2 + 2 together.
**PETA offered 10,000$ to the person that can tell them who did that *insert an adjective so horrible that it hasn’t been invented yet here* thing

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