I am temporarily adding moderation for comments on the blog in order to promote a fact-based debate on this topic - I will approve all comments that are based on my article (including opposing arguments) unless they contain vulgar or insulting language.
I was deeply saddened while reading the recent comments on this blog post. I feel as if there has been a disconnect between how this post paints me and my true opinions and personality. I will do my best to respond to the comments and to clarify any misunderstandings that have resulted from my review.
To start, I believe there may be some misconceptions on my background. I am a senior in high school and started this blog as an independent project. I have been interested in the environment since a young age and have taken the last few months to immerse myself in the environmental movement, trying to learn as much as possible. I take every situation as one to learn from - including the response to this post - and will work very hard to be more careful about my phrasing and controversial statements in the future. I would like to add that I have written 68 posts on this blog and only 2 of them have been negative reviews. I learn something from every event I go to, but I will not agree with everything I hear.
The goal of my blog is to learn and to start a discussion. I believe in fact-based debate and that is why I left comments completely enabled (unlike most bloggers who use some type of moderation). I added the moderation because many of the comments on this post were not based on my writing.
I will respond to the comments that were based on my actual writing:
First, I would like to clear up any confusion on the section I generally put at the end of my posts - Questions for Consideration. There are solely questions I think of while at the event or writing my article. Unless I answer them, they do not imply my opinions. I see that my comment on the course of nature was not understood as I intended - and I apologize for the poor wording. I believe, however, that it is a question that many people would think of when learning about orthopedic surgery for squirrels. One must consider the overall impact and whether it will cause the animal more pain and suffering (this is something that was discussed at the event.) and whether there is something else that we could invest in that would have a broader impact.
I think that wildlife rehabilitation is incredible and the gift some people have to work with animals is really special. In no part of my original piece did I put down or criticize the great work that rehabbers do or try to tell anyone to stop their work; I simply challenged the community to look at a broader picture. My main point was that we need to look at the big picture in addition to individuals and decide where our resources will have the greatest impact.
As far as the claim that water bottles just aren't that big of a deal…I think we can all now agree that it is important to focus on both the details (individual creatures, etc.) and the big picture (entire species, ecosystems, etc.). Despite which category you think water bottles fit into, why create more waste?
Here is an article with some good statistics: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/enough-with-the-plastic-water-bottles-already.html#.
I hope this clears up any misunderstanding that arose from my post.
To be quite honest, I was a little wary heading over to the ASPCA office for this meeting tonight. In general, I tend to believe that the ASPCA is too concerned with very specific cases of the well-being of domesticated animals and not the bigger picture of ecological wellness. Don't get me wrong, the ASPCA helps many animals in need, but seriously, we're talking about entire species going extinct, in fact, here are some statistics (each fact links to its source):
- 10,801 endangered animal species worldwide (the link is attached to a list)
- 9,322 endangered plant species worldwide (also attached to a list)
- "Destructive human activities have led to the current rate of species extinction, which is at least 100–1,000 times higher than the expected natural rate." WWF
Tonight's Meetup was concerning the rehabilitation of squirrels:
I was relatively appalled when they mentioned orthopedic surgery, casts, and splints for squirrels who had been injured in the wild. Then I cringed when the first speaker mentioned "Feng Shui" to minimize stress and help the squirrels heal. Wildlife rehabilitation is incredible and the gift some people have to work with animals is really special. However, I think it is necessary to look at the big picture in addition to individuals and decide where our resources will have the greatest impact - whether we should be spending the money on orthopedic surgery or on awareness and prevention of the harmful human actions humans that endanger the wildlife. Although the human soul makes it difficult to resist trying all you can to help a cute animal, which action will have a bigger impact? It is a hard decision to make. [I inadvertently deleted a fantastic comment and have added it at the bottom of this piece - It really shows how hard these decisions can be.]
To make it even worse, THEY SERVED BOTTLED WATER! Yes, the ASPCA, animal advocate, served those insanely wasteful mini Poland Spring bottles.
At one point, almost ready to shout something at the speaker who kept taking sips from her mini bottle [while talking about the risk of oil spills…], I turned to the person next to me and we had the following conversation:
Me: How can we drink bottled water while talking about wildlife conservation?
Me: You know, bottled water is just so horrible for wildlife.
Her: What? In what way?
Wow. I just stopped talking at that point. I couldn't even believe that this woman was concerned enough about wildlife to trek to the Meetup, yet doesn't know the dangers of bottled water….
Sorry, I didn't catch the name of the first speaker. She spoke about the rehabilitation process for squirrels, both newborn and adult.
Kelly Pile: Who read an ode to the first speaker, her mentor.
Maura Mandrano: She spoke about rehabilitating 104 squirrels total to release and how she now rehabs about 15 in her 900 square foot apartment.
Dr. Alexandra Wilson: Vet for the Wild Bird Fund and Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine.
Questions for consideration:
1. What ecological impact do squirrels have on our local environment?
2. How can we improve the overall ecological health of NYC and limit human impact on the few remaining natural species?
3. How can we increase education of the topic of nature to students in NYC, being in such an urban environment? [because if they don't know, then they can't appreciate, and if they don't appreciate then they won't care or want to help]
4. Should one ever consider letting nature takes it course and using resources to help the bigger picture, even if it is extremely difficult to let an individual slip away? [I don't really think anyone has a perfect answer to this...]
5. How can you serve bottled water at an ASPCA meeting?
As always, please comment if you have something to say.
This Meetup took place on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the ASPCA Midtown Manhattan Office (520 8th Ave) and was hosted by the Mayor's Alliance for Animals.
If you are at all interested in finding out more about this Meetup, here's their page: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/NYCWildlife/
Anonymous: Only days ago my employment was terminated when an injured squirrel came in and I begged the owner to let me find a rehabber to care for it rather than have its life so thoughtlessly terminated. I know a number of rehabbers that would have GLADLY taken on this case. But instead, she refused - and when the police officers who brought him in asked what his fate would be and I told them, truthfully, that he would be euthanized - I apparently "offended" the emergency vet owner by "speaking poorly" of the establishment. Apparently she would rather I lie to the police becase the truth is offensive. If the truth is offensive then something is innately wrong with that truth - that is the point where people who give a damn would make a policy change. Instead, I was let go due to the offensiveness of that truth and her inability to face not only the facts, but her own twisted internal pride for the "wrongness" of the system. And the truth is - I would do it again in a heartbeat. Would I go about it somewhat differently, knowing the outcome? Certainly - but it probably wouldnt make any difference. The facts are the facts and the facts are WRONG. We have no right to play God and to treat and rehab one animal, while we refuse to give another even the scrap of a chance. And you will never understand the passion involved in squirrel rehab until you do it yourself. I went about my life as if they were merely a part of the background scenery until two helpless little babies were dropped into my lap. I was told by everyone in my area in charge of rehabbing to have them put down because they were too young to survive. I refused to accept that answer and today they are two big, beautiful, healthy young adult squirrels wilding up to get ready for their release and I will never again brush off, ignore, or take another squirrel for granted. There may be a lot of them, but their intelligence, affection and their passion for life have completely won me over. You will never comprehend the beauty of these little critters until you experience it first hand - until you see that mischevious twinkle in their little eyes, or you get a grateful, formula-whiskered kiss once their helpless little tummies are full and they curl up in your lap and doze into a happy little milk coma.
I believe all animals have souls - and the soul of a squirrel is a beautiful thing to know.
I believe all animals have souls - and the soul of a squirrel is a beautiful thing to know.