A few months ago a friend posted something on Facebook which made me think - and then think again. Facebook and thinking?!? Yes, on this one occasion. You will have guessed by now that it wasn't just a picture of my friend's dinner or an amusing meme about Donald Trump's hair. it was a challenge about how we might treat animals in this life if we knew we'd meet them in the next. My friend is an animal lover, owning dogs and horses, and posts regularly on FaceBook to raise awareness of cruelty to animals. Somewhat tongue in cheek, I asked her, "what about the ones you've eaten?" to which she replied, "good point, I hadn't thought about that!"
Traditionally our country has been described as a nation of animal lovers. We are a nation of passionate and often slightly barmy pet owners. We abhor blatant cruelty to animals. We melt over the endless cute animal pictures and videos on social media. We give generously to animal welfare charities.
A whole host of articles have questioned this status, based on reports by charities like the RSPCA, but the vile acts highlighted by these reports are clearly carried out by a very small minority of our fellow citizens. So perhaps we can say that, on the whole, we are a nation of animal lovers?
However, there are some things which happen in our country - supported by the majority of people - which may at least make us stop and ask whether we can seriously be considered to be this nation of animal lovers.
I want to look at the evidence for and against this widely accepted statement, and to allow us to take a fresh look at our relationship with animals and how we treat them.