A Nation of Animal Lovers
“A British boy had a dog named Paddy. The dog died. His mother was worried about the child’s reaction to his death, as she knew he loved the dog.
The kid arrived home and asked:
- Mom where's Paddy?
- Well, actually Paddy died…
- Oh that's too bad.
The boy went to his room. After two hours he came back downstairs and asked:
- Momwhere's Paddy?
- I told you son, Paddy is dead.
The kid went hysterical:
- Oh my God, Paddy is dead?! I thought you said daddy is dead!
Adapted from a British popular joke
Myth or fact?
At the beginning of this course we were asked to define Britishness. As people often use stereotyped cultural conceptions to describe one others nation, we started defining it with abrainstorm of preconceived ideas that popped out in our minds. It was all about the British insularity, the royal family, the tea tradition, the punctuality, the double decked buses, the bird-watching, among many other suggestions of things that we would name as “typically British”. My hint was “the love of animals” and I decided to do a research based on this topic. Is Britain a nation of animal lovers?At what point?
I started my investigation using the huge network of online information. First I searched for data at a worldwide level using web browsers and keywords. Then, I looked for useful information contained in UK sites only. During the first stage of my research I realized how strong is this conception of the British having a sentimental attachment to animals was. People from all aroundthe world have been posting questions related to this topic on forums and social networks. The most common one is: “Do British love animals more than they love people?”. This one is just for the record, as I will not discuss here about their sentimental values for humans vs. animals. What I will do is to expose facts that support the idea of the main topic.
On the second stage of my research Ilooked for all kinds of information that I could gather about Great Britain’s official entities that support animal causes. There are hundreds of associations and organisations spread all over the UK. Data published by the University of Kent shows that the amount of charities supporting animals without homes outnumber the amount of charities for homeless people. These are some of the organisationswith greater visibility: the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Animal Aid, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Animal Kingdom Foundation, the Scottish Animal Rights Alliance, the Animal Protection Party (political party), the League Against Cruel Sports and the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT). An article extracted from The Guardian statesthat “the British public's love of animal charities is nothing new. According to the Charities Aid Foundation figures, the NSPCC receives just £2m more in donations than the RSPCA. The Dogs Trust receives around £34m in donations every year and Cats Protection around £27m”.
I extended my research to the importance of animals in the Britain’s social life. It has been proved that nearly half of thehouseholds keep at least one domestic pet. Animal graveyards are common in the UK and the Rossendale Cemetery in Lancashire is just one example. Most of the owners do not bother with such grand arrangements when their beloved animals die, but there are millions of informal graves in people’s back gardens. And speaking of unpleasant casualties, I should mention as well that in the UK is illegal torun over a pet in your car and keep on driving. You have to stop and immediately inform the owner. There are plenty of veterinary clinics and animal hospitals all over the country and one in particular, St. Tiggywinkles, was specially developed for wild species.
The British love of animals goes beyond emotional attachment to the domestic ones. Wildlife documentaries are one of the most popular...