Thursday, November 10, 2005

Animal cruelty

I seem to be under constant attack by dogs! It all began a couple of weeks back when upon walking down my street en route from home to work. A neighbourhood dog came out barking and lunging aggressively at me. I had to furiously ‘shoo’ it away so it would keep its distance. Then, a pack of dogs near where I work started barking at me and wouldn’t let me pass. A Timorese man threw rocks at them to allow my safe passage (this is how the Timorese deal with all animals; throw something hard at them whether they pose a threat or not). This unwanted attention continued today when one of co-habitants of the dog that previously bit Daniel started barking aggressively and following me as I walked past on my way back from lunch. It is a frequent site outside this house for the main offender (who bit Daniel) to harass other passers-by, especially people on bicycles. The dog does its best to bite the ankles of the rider which they often try to kick the attacker away. All these instances produce a level of fear in me, which I have rarely ever felt when dealing with animals anywhere else in the (Western) world.

Following on with the canine theme, this morning I noticed the most emaciated dog I have seen since arriving in Timor. I was on a “mikrolet” just coming out of my village, when I saw it lying in the sun with its head resting back over its wasted body. I could see every single bone jutting out from under its skin. Many dogs in my neighbourhood are in very poor condition, to the point where I wonder how they are still alive. One lies in the middle of the road, or when it does walk, it looks as though it’s drunk. Its skin is in appalling condition. In fact, many dogs have skin problems. I’m finding it all very depressing at the moment. I really can’t handle living in a country where dogs are treated in such an appalling manner and are clearly in need of medical attention. Nor can I handle how most dogs roam free; free to terrorise people simply passing by on the street. Both are symptoms of the same lack of love, care and attention.

I’ve had to tune my radio dial to the BBC World Service as Radio Australia has been off air for two weeks with no sign as to when it will return. The Beeb are doing a series on Violence called Violence Begins at Home. However, most of their regular programs are also doing stories on violence and one I listened to yesterday was most relevant to my problem with the treatment of animals in Timor. The program was Sports International (not something I would normally listen to) and they looked at the history of sport and its origins in violence. One of the stories concerned bear, bull and badger baiting along with cock fighting in late 18th Century and early 19th Century England. I’ll spare you the details as it was upsetting enough to hear it on the radio. Suffice to say that the academic expert interviewed said that when people live in rural communities before there is a large urban population; people are frequently cruel to animals. Only with growing urbanisation and education do people begin to feel that sports such as cock fighting are cruel to animals. This is the problem with Timor. Its people live like the English did 200 years ago: it’s an overwhelmingly rural, uneducated population who take pleasure in cruelty to animals (the innumerable cock fights that go on here is proof enough). I understand the reasons why the Timorese are like this (and I don’t blame them for it; after all, it’s only been six years since decolonisation and it will take them a long time to reach even a semblance of human development that we in the West take for granted) but as someone who was acculturated into an overwhelmingly urban, well-educated society, and as an advocate for animal rights, I find this quite intolerable and more and more depressing as there is nothing I can do about it.

I think this issue is just one of many that contribute to my sense of despair at living here. Try as I might, there is simply nothing here that I like or take pleasure in.
Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Português/Portuguese Français/French Deutsch/German Italiano/Italian Español/Spanish 日本語/Japanese 한국어/Korean 中文(简体)/Chinese Simplified


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link