Fri, 01 Dec 2000

Animals have rights, too

I have lived in Jakarta for almost a decade and have found several commendable traits about the bustling metropolis, but the ones I am about to mention here are anything but commendable. Much has been said and written in the media about human rights, but regrettably little is said or done about animal rights. I refer specifically to two practices which I find shockingly inhuman. Maybe it is that I am just not desensitized enough.

The first thing which makes my stomach churn is the ferrying of live chickens from early morning wet markets on the back of motorcycles, trussed up and bound like bunches of rambutans dangling upside down from the back of motorcycles. I am not a vegetarian (and some might consider this a case of double standards), but I cannot condone cruelty to birds even though they are slated to be eaten.

The second practice is peculiar to the posh Menteng area of the city: at least I have not come across it elsewhere. It is the sight of little puppies for sale, crowded into cramped cages stacked one on top of the other by the side of the road come rain or shine. Their cries are quite heart-rending.

I wonder how many of these so-called "pure breeds" are really that, and how many survive the harsh conditions and live long enough to be eventually adopted? Certainly any true animal lover would not stop to buy a pet casually sold like fresh carrots on the side of the road to Puncak (I would prefer to adopt from an animal shelter).

I hope animal rights agencies will sit up and take notice, and, if possible, do something.