Thursday January 29, 2015

Keep dog vigil in perspective

In response to the heart-wrenching story of a German shepherd that died last week when it was discovered in a Dumpster in Kitsilano, animal lovers were scheduled to hold a vigil — a memorial for the dog — last night.

The two-year-old canine named Captain was found injured in the trash bin when he was rescued and taken to the SPCA. A vet exam showed he had spinal cord damage, air around his lungs and was likely quadriplegic. It later died of a heart attack.

The SPCA is investigating the incident, hoping to find the person responsible for this heartless act. And while one hopes the person will be caught and face prosecution, we mustn’t overreact to the mistreatment of the dog. A vigil, however, is an overreaction.

Indeed, a little perspective is sorely needed.

Another vigil was held earlier this week in Colorado. Specifically, Aurora, the site of the deadly shooting where a gunman mowed down moviegoers at a theatre showing the latest film in the Batman franchise. Twelve people died.

That vigil on Sunday was not an overreaction. It was appropriate and needed for healing and remembrance.

While it may be a stretch to call B.C.’s dog memorial a case of anthropomorphism — giving human traits to animals — the idea of having a vigil for a dog seems a bit much. Humans and animals are not equal, and even in death, no matter how tragic it may be, dogs or other animals don’t deserve the same treatment as people.

Of course, Wednesday’s vigil wasn’t the first one in B.C. In April 2011, several B.C. communities, including Kamloops, held vigils in remembrance of the 100 sled dogs that died in 2010 when a Whistler tour operator’s business dropped off. One organizer wanted April 23 proclaimed Memorial Day for Whistler Sled Dogs. Like the case of Captain, that was a terrible act of animal cruelty, but hardly compares to human tragedies.

In fairness, vigils for animals aren’t just about mourning the animals; they’re about raising awareness of the need to treat animals with kindness and fairness, and of being on guard against cruelty.

It’s important, though, that we don’t lessen the poignancy of such events when held for people, and that we keep it all in perspective.

We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.

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