Lessons from "The Elephant in the Living Room"

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This week, my critique group looked at chapter 14-15, I polished up chapter 16, and I got mostly through my first pass at chapter 17. Things are trucking along!

Last night, I went to see “The Elephant in the Living Room,” a documentary about the exotic pet industry in the USA. This is a heartbreaking film. You should go see it.

I don’t usually like to watch these kinds of movies – it is always hard to remember that humanity isn’t a lost cause when you see such cruelty. It is hard to have hope and to keep fighting for what is right. When society allows and accepts brutality and cruelty against animals and children, it shows how far we still have to go, and that is a daunting realization.

I am sure that everyone who watches “The Elephant in the Living Room” will come away with a slightly different message. What you think when you come out of the theater will depend on what you thought when you went in. But for me, I saw the tragic consequences of selfishness and pride – consequences that affect humans and animals both.

I have a lot to say on this subject – I have very strong beliefs in this area, it is one of the reasons I work in the field I work in. I could talk about responsible pet ownership – no matter what kind of pet you choose to have, you MUST take care of it properly. I could talk about how if you really love an animal, you will realize that a horse trailer is not an appropriate, healthy habitat for two full grown lions. I could talk environmental impact of releasing unwanted pets, or how disgusting I find the exotic pet “auctions” and “bazaars” the movie showed, when there are thousands upon thousands of pets that are euthanized because no one will care for them.

But you know all that. Instead, I’ll share three lessons that your parents might not have taught you, but this movie will.

#1 – a pet lion is not a good anti-depressant. Even 5 pet lions don’t do the trick. If you treat your depression with a pet lion, side effects might include poverty, physical labor, injury, increased feelings of sadness, and negative interactions with neighbors and law enforcement.

#2 – Tupperware is not an appropriate, safe containment device for a venomous puff adder. “Pet” is not a word that should ever be used in the same sentence as the words “venomous,” “viper,” or “deadly.” One should also avoid using these words in combination with “my four-year-old son.”

#3 – People need to stop concentrating on getting cats a seat at the family dinner table, and start worrying about the out-of-control exotic pet industry in this country. This is not about the “right” to own a deadly animal. This is about public safety, humane treatment of animals, and common sense.

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