My Kind of Song

Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on April 23, 2007

For me, one of the highlights of ALDF’s recent Future of Animal Law conference at Harvard Law School was the presentation by Professor Song Wei, of China. Yes, China; a country that is massive and complex, where human rights are given short shrift and dogs and cats are often treated more like farmed animals or captive wildlife.

Professor Song spoke, in English, about the recent mass slaughter of dogs by the Chinese government, in response to an outbreak of rabies. His talk was accompanied by a slide show of the tragic governmental campaign. As animal activists, we work to stop injustices, to turn the tide so that animals receive greater protections. Sometimes, however, we are faced with an abuse that is so overwhelming, so unstoppable, that all we can do is bear witness and reach out to others in the hope that, by shining a light on this wrongdoing, we can stop it from happening again. That is the message that Professor Song brought to us, with grace and eloquence.

He showed us a society in transition in how it values dogs. We saw photos of many people who love their dogs and view them as members of their families. When the police raided their homes in the middle of the night to seize their dogs, or seized the dogs as they walked down the street with their owners and beat them to death right there, the helplessness of both the dogs and their owners was heartrending. These dog guardians experienced the same horror and outrage that we would in this country. And yet, they live in a land where they face arrest and prosecution for fighting against such brutal injustice to the animals. Professor Song ended his slide show on an optimistic note, expressing hope that there will be a brighter future for companion animals in his country.  

It was a moving and heartfelt presentation, reminding us that empathy and compassion are possible, against great odds, in all sectors of the globe.

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