Last weekend was a busy one for animal welfare. I did my usual Sunday morning work at the animal shelter, washing and scrubbing kennels and getting to know the dogs even more. Being a cold day, we didn’t wash the outside runs for fear of forming a thin layer of ice which will surely make the dogs slip and slide, and possibly cause injury to them.
It was with great sadness that I learned that Matrix, a pit bull mix and my most recent favorite, had fallen gravely ill in the previous days that he was euthanized for his own benefit. An advanced state of heart worm made him cough up blood and he was no longer his old self. Matrix spent a month with us and that turned out to be the best days of his 10-yr life which was mostly spent chained, exposed, and hungry in the backyard. Matrix’s case is a testament to the harsh realities besetting our animals. He loved his walks, and he was just beginning to enjoy his freedom. Sometimes, help comes too late. Cruelty and suffering are omnipresent. We can equalize but complete victory is unattainable because humankind is inherently evil.
The day before, Saturday, I participated in a demonstration against the deer hunt at Garrett Mountain Reservation in Woodland in Passaic County in New Jersey (formerly West Paterson). This hunt was approved by the Board of Freeholders led by Mayor Pat LePore, a Democrat, who believes that there are approximately 400-600 deer in the park. Those are big numbers, and the estimate sits well with their propaganda that the park has become over populated with deer. Also, the board of freeholders conveniently authorized the hunt without public consent and comment. Aren't they suppose to work with and for the people? Instead, they have resorted to smoke and mirrors.
But the first day of hunting, the 11th, involving eighteen bowhunters, resulted in only five kills. That’s after eight hours of hunting.
This indicated that in reality an over population of deer does not exist, and that the hunters have actually killed five of the few remaining deer in the area. This is no matter to the hunters since life and natural conservation do not interest them. As I have previously argued, there is a blood lust to be satisfied and macho war stories to be told.
Protesters lined a good quarter mile of Rifle Camp Road for two and a half hours, cops and media all there. It was a cold day. If the bright sun didn’t have a warming effect, this display of civic virtue certainly warmed my heart.
Monday was another day of protest but this time in Essex County. The gist of the problem there is identical to the one at Passaic County---politicians, particularly Essex County Executive Joe DiVicenzo, arguing for and approving deer hunts at Hilltop, Eagle Rock, and South Mountain parks. They inflated the figures and insisted that hunting down the deer is the only alternative. GonaCon is a deer contraceptive that works for five years. It was approved by the FDA last year, and it will cost between $7-$10 a shot by some estimates. This is a humane alternative if the deer population, indeed, needs to be culled.
But before heading for the protest, some mundane matters needed attention. It took approximately 10 minutes to apply for a new U.S. passport at the local post office and an hour and a half at the local Subaru dealership to correct a recall item on my Forester. Long faces, deep sighs, foot-tapping at the waiting room, that's always fun. After a last minute stop at the local deli to collect their surplus bagels and buns and feed them to the ducks and geese at the park, I set off for the demo.
Only eight of us, this time, but we had a great spot to hold high our signs and get people’s attention. Northfield Avenue in West Orange, in front of the Codey Arena, with a traffic light that required passersby to stop and inescapably pay attention to us, is demo heaven. A captive audience worked well for us. The demo lasted for nearly two hours; some hot coffee helped us a bit. Lo and behold, the usual hecklers were there too. They rolled down their windows and told us how wonderful meat was, and so on. We are always at the mercy of our inferiors. Our work continues, our love undiminished, and our resolve remains strong.