Last year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) began airing a series of commercials that shine a very unflattering light on one of life’s cruelest realities: the inhumane treatment of animals.
In a matter of nanoseconds, these commercials (with impossibly sad music setting the tone for impossibly sad images of frail, wounded cats and dogs in cages) unfailingly reduce me to a sobbing heap of emotional rubble.
Yet I feel a crushing sense of shame as I frantically scramble for the remote control and change the channel, desperate to escape the gut-wrenching sorrow playing out on my television screen.
Sure, you can chalk it up to a brilliant advertising campaign, but the surge of empathy invoked by such visceral images—images that could thaw the iciest of hearts—is (coincidentally) a reflection of the brighter side of human nature. It is unmistakably human: our instinctive need to rescue these innocent creatures, to end their pain and suffering.
Maybe it’s time to act on that impulse.
The issue of animal cruelty has hit a tipping point in recent years, marked by stiffer laws and harsher penalties, an uptick in rescue, rehabilitation and shelter services, and the (in some cases, very public) condemnation of chronic perpetrators. And thanks to groups like the ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States and other protection agencies, animal cruelty is no longer a silent epidemic. Yet, despite these advances, untold numbers of animals remain in peril in communities across the nation. And Maui is no exception.
But a new animal welfare group intends to change that. In order to “make Maui a better place for our dogs and cats,” SPCA Maui will soon launch a full-scale attack on animal abuse, neglect and abandonment across the Valley Isle. You can learn more about the organization this Friday, Jan. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Maui Beach Hotel’s Elleair Ballroom, when SPCA Maui Board Members Aimee Anderson and Leili McKinley will present information on several topics, including animal cruelty cases in Maui County; the correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence; impacts of overpopulation; and how we can begin to mend broken hearts—for animals and humans alike.