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.
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.
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).
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’.
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.