Dear people of social media,
Your Instagram story with that puppy was really adorable. However, what I want to know is what happened once the camera was turned off.
Did you show it the same amount of love as you did while sharing it with your plenty followers? Or did you not even bother to look at it again because you’ve got your validation for the day disguised as ‘likes’.
Our social media has taken over our sense of validation so much that we don’t think twice before making something or someone an object in our need for attention.
Animals were not put on this earth to be used as props by us. They’re living beings and in a desperate attempt to appear likable, we exploit them.
Take pet influencers for example. People have been minting money off their pets for a while now by 'selling' them on social media. According to Loni Edwards, owner of a talent management firm, 'The Dog Agency' which works with “the most influential animals in the world", the industry is on a rise. But what does that mean for the pets?
She mentions in an interview how she constantly gets calls from people asking what kind of dog should they buy in order to become famous. Apparently, people also ask questions like if they get a handicapped dog, will it become an influencer?
So, at the end, it's not about the dog at all. People have gotten a fair idea of what sells and are ready to go to any lengths to achieve it. They're ready to exploit every breed, behaviour or disability as long it fills up their pocket.
A pet influencer gets paid as much as $2000 per post and that is reason enough for someone to get into this business. The love for their pet has become a secondary factor to this equation and making money is the number one priority.
The Grumpy Cat was one of the first ones to sensationalise the idea of being a pet influencer. Today, the number of pet influencers is at an all-time high with their owners becoming richer by the second.
This probably doesn't come down very easy on the animal involved as they're made to do things that aren't exactly normal for them. From dressing up to doing tricks, owners go out of their way to make sure their pet gets popular enough for them to make money out of it.
Is that unethical or are they just doing it out of love? It sure does sound like a grey area but then again, no one can deny that the hunger for social media validation makes people lose their sense of right and wrong.
Which brings me to a recent incident that took place in Mumbai. A TV actor invited a stray puppy in her auto rickshaw while travelling from Versova to Khar. She uploaded stories on her Instagram account and was extremely happy with the dog’s presence.
She uploaded stories on her Instagram account and was extremely happy with the dog’s presence. But where she faulted was that when she got to her destination, she apparently left the dog on its own and went away.
She might be an animal lover but what she didn’t realise is that relocating a dog from its territory is a very dangerous thing. Dogs are extremely territorial beings and the young puppy’s life could be in danger since dogs of the new area will probably attack it. The distance from Versova and Khar is a lot and it is next to impossible that the dog could have tracked her way back. Animal activists are on the lookout to find the stray but in vain. In all possibility, the dog might already be dead.
So, now do you understand the magnitude of the problem? The actor might have done this in the spur of the moment and didn’t think twice about the consequences; doesn’t make her a bad person, just an ill-informed one.
Being an animal lover and actually knowing how to deal with animals are completely two different things. You could love animals and not know a single thing about them, and that’s okay. But acting on your lack of knowledge and bringing them in harm’s way isn’t acceptable.
I've personally witnessed people feeding stray dogs milk and biscuits all the time just to show people on their social media how much they 'care'. But does anyone care to address the fact that dairy and sugar are the very two things that should be kept away from a canine’s diet at all times?
However, since those two things are easily available and their social media needs to be 'woke', doing so doesn't seem like a big deal to them.
People might be doing this out of goodwill but what they need to understand that good intentions also need to come from a place of knowledge. Featuring yourself on your social media feeding homeless dogs needs to come after you're well-informed of everything you're doing for them.
The internet is full of facts and information about how to behave with any dog in the world. But instead of using it for the right reasons, we’re more concerned with how lit our social media is.
That 10 seconds long story about you petting a stray puppy doesn’t count if you throw it back in the ditch you picked it up from.
No one is implying that you shouldn't help animals if you don't know a lot. But it is always a good idea to ask for help when you don't know any better.
Coming back to that request; Please educate yourselves and know that animals are as living as we are. Be alert. Be considerate. Your social media can wait. Their life cannot.