When animal lovers should celebrate, not educate - Dr. Marty Becker

When animal lovers should celebrate, not educate

Monday, Nov 10th, 2014 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Sometimes, animal lovers really should let an opportunity to educate others about responsible pet relationships pass by.

Let me tell you why I say this.

If I post a story about a lost cat who is reunited with his family, most of my readers will rejoice, but some will use it as an opportunity to post a mini-lecture about not letting cats outside.

If a dog is injured and saved by a Good Samaritan, again, most of my followers will applaud the rescue, but a few will rant about how the “irresponsible owner” could have avoided the pet getting injured in the first place.

Inspiring story of a shelter that went the extra mile for a pet? Mostly praise, with a dash of condemnation for other, less enlightened shelters.

Moving account of a police officer who rescued a stranded pet from a hazardous roadway? Cue the outrage over police killings of dogs.

Yes, there are irresponsible pet owners, bad shelters, and law enforcement officers who harm animals. But do you ever stop to wonder if souring a sweet moment with those realities does anything to change that?

I believe in positive reinforcement. That’s why I single out individuals and organizations for their heroism, compassion, bravery, and kindness. I want them to feel honored for their acts on behalf of animals, because I believe that will both encourage them to keep doing it, and encourage others to do the same.

I realize there are times when we need to point out cruelty and injustice, as I am doing in supporting the American Humane Association in its fight to ban gas chambers in animal shelters. But when you react to a positive story with negativity, it probably won’t make the irresponsible responsible or the cruel kind.

It will just make animal lovers look like we are never satisfied.

So the next time you read a story about a person or group that did something great for animals, let the praise stand on its own. Try to feel the joy just long enough to let the rest of the people reading it feel it, too.

Thank you, my friends!