animals in society
Comments 20

The animals do not want our medals and statues

November 11, Armistice Day and we remember the many casualties of war. Animals have also been deployed in war times and millions of dogs, horses , donkeys, camels, elephants, pigeons and other animals have lost their lives and are commemerated.

Using animals in war times is not a thing of a distant past. Recently is was reported that ISIS has used hundreds of dogs to detonate bombs. The United States use dolfins to detect mines and even rats are put to service to detect explosives. Dogs and horses are routinely used by police forces in search operations and law enforcement.

Anti-tank honden, ingezet tijdens WOII

Anti-tank dog, deployed during WWII (source: Dogs in History, link via photo)

dolfijn die mijnen opporrt tijdens de Golfoorlog in Irak. Foto via Wikipedia (link)

Dolfin searching for mines during Gulf war Iraq, Photo via Wikipedia (link via photo)

Politie te paard, Bron: animals in Human Society (zie link)

Horses used by police, Source: Animals in Human Society (link via photo)

ezel met gasmasker, Duitse soldaten, 1917 foto via link

Donkey with gasmask, German soldiers, 1917 (photo via link)

Not only animals used as weapons or ‘beast of burden’ have lost their lives. Wild animals also suffer in war times. Millions of animals have seen their habitat destroyed or were exterminated as pests. Lots of animal companions were ‘euthanised’ (killed) during the beginning of WWII to prevent them from dying of hunger. I earlier also wrote about it in this blogpost.

varken, Duitse soldaten, WOI

Pig, german soldiers, WWI

It is nice to see that many people also remember the animal casualties. With sincere feelings of sorrow and appreciation for their efforts. Flowers are laid at monuments for animal victims of war. And even during the year, animals are honoured and remembered with medals for their ‘courage and sacrifice’ (some examples: a medal for dog Lucca, dog Diesel, horse Reckless).

Eerbetoon aan 'paard Reckless', screenshot facebook (klik link)

Honouring ‘horse Reckless’, screenshot facebook (see link)

Animals in War Memorial, foto via link

Animals in War Memorial, London, photo via link

Is the honouring of animals not just a way of easing our conscience? You see, we do respect them, and we give them the same consideration and honours as human soldiers, since they also receive a medal.

But if we honestly care about animals, why do we send them to their deaths? They have not signed up for this, and they certainly have not asked for it. And they also do not realise that they are serving a human made ‘higher purpose’.

Is the honouring of animal war casualties not just a way of easing our conscience? You see, we do respect them, and we give them the same consideration and honours as human soldiers, since we also give them a medal. They even have their own monument! While the core of their existence as a soldier is based on the fact that we see these animal ‘weapons’ als inferior and expendable. They precisely have to execute those missions and jobs that humans will not or cannot perform, because it is too risky for themselves. Because it is more strategic to deploy ‘only animals’ in such situations. Because they can save human lives.

It reminds me of this statue in Russia for mice used in scientific experiments. The ‘lab rats’ have supposedly served a higher purpose. One would almost think that they have signed up themselves to happily serve their life as a ‘laboratory animal’. We are so grateful to them that we even give them a statue. The mice couldn’t care less! If we would truly respect their rights, they would not be sacrified as ‘lab animals’.

Standbeeld voor ratten die gebruikt werden als proefdier, foto via link

Statue for mice used in experiments, Russia, photo via link

The animals have not signed up for this. The training might be a game to them, although this game can be cruel and relentless. Trained to perform tricks, like circus animals are trained to jump through a hoop or perform dances. Until they are sent as easy victims onto the battlefields and fall prone to bullets or explode into pieces. They are not ‘suicide bommers’, they do not commit ‘suicide’. They have no idea they are facing death. Another aspect that is hardly ever mentioned is possible trauma experieced in these combat situations.

Respecting and commemorating the millions of animals fallen on our battlefields is nobel, but it should go hand in hand with a plea to halt the exploitation of animals. Stop the use of animals as weapons or as war machines! They are war victims willy-nilly. The medals, statues and memorial wreaths leave them indifferent. Leave them in peace.

Earlier blogpost: Armistice Day, but not for the animals. November 11, 2014.



  1. Absolutely, you are so right. If people want to do these things, they should do them themselves. I feel the same way about them sending animals into space. They must have been so frightened and helpless, and they didn’t want to go in the first place. It is so terrible and selfish.

  2. Peter Schreiner says

    The atrocities humanity forces upon the helpless, the vulnerable and the defenseless are beyond the capacity of words to convey. But you’ve come close, really close.

    An excellent article that needed saying, and well said it was. Thank you.

  3. Great post. We need to abolish the treatment of animals as things, as our property. And we need to stop using them for any of our purposes. They are their own autonomous, sentient creatures, just like each one of us.

    • Precisely. the core of the issue: they are not objects, but living sentients beings, with their own preferences and desires, capable of suffering, just like humans.

  4. Thank you for this!!! I agree with every word. What we put ani!Al’s through for our own gain makes me sick. Most humans feel that animals just don’t matter as much as humans!

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