As guardians of our domesticated pet, we have a responsibility to protect them from harm and assure them of basic humane rights. That said, it should be our honor and privilege to harbor this companion in our home. A being so loyal, committed, loving and affectionate, you will not find anywhere.
Yet, world-wide and in South Africa, animal abuse is prevalent and often companion animals’ basic rights are compromised. There are many fantastic organizations dedicated to protect these rights: the right to a safe environment, the right to be protected from harm and abuse and the right to live and die with dignity. These organizations we would broadly define as animal right activists. Some include Animal Rights Africa, Beauty without Cruelty, Capetonians against Animal Abuse and Compassion in World Farming.
Then there are organizations that look after the welfare and care of our companion animals. Some of their responsibility is to accommodate our pets in safe homes and make sure that their living environment is acceptable. We broadly define these organizations as Animal Welfare Organizations, although often their duties include protecting animal rights, as well. There are too many of these dedicated organizations to mention all, but they include the SPCA, DARG, Animal Anti-cruelty League, Wetnose and African Tails.
What are our companions’ rights?
These organizations agendas are often saturated, and they operate with limited funds. They do a great job to ensure basic moral rights.
But what about our companion animals’ inherent rights to safe nutrition, free of dangerous preservatives and an environment that is free from harmful chemicals and poisons? For many years Vondis Holistic Pet Nutrition has been fighting for the rights of our pets to enjoy nutrition that is safe, natural and free of preservatives.
We encourage pet owners to scrutinize the “truths about commercial processed pet food”, especially after the last and dreadful pet food recall that was so widely publicized in South Africa. When many of our pets either died or were sickened from food that contained the harmful ingredient, melamine.
Transparency is key
We demand complete transparency with regards to the cooking process used to prepare commercial pet food and that they declare openly their ingredients and recipes. Our concern is about products that that are laden with preservatives and especially if their inherent dangers have not been tested.
We challenge the veterinarians and their associations and the “cozy relationship” they have with the pet food companies. We have read about these ‘perverse incentives’. In the end the consumer is so over whelmed with marketing jargon that he is unable to commit to an informed and sensible decision.
Much unnecessary suffering
The result is that the health of our pets has been compromised. The British Journal of Small Animal Practice states that ‘ a growing number of vets state that processed pet food is the main cause of illness and premature death in the modern dog and cat.’ In December 1995 they published a paper contending that ‘processed pet food suppresses the immune system and leads to liver, kidney, heart and other disease. This research, initially conducted by Dr. Tom Lonsdale, was researched further by the Australian Veterinary Association and proven to be correct.’
As nutritionists, we are of the firm belief that our companion animals should be fed only natural, wholesome and preservative free food, preferably food that has not been exposed to harsh cooking processes. After all, four legs or two, is there really a difference? Do our four legged companions have different nutritional needs?
All beings, animal or human, rely on nutrition for their well being, health and longevity. The essential components of nutrition include vitamins and minerals, protein, enzymes, omegas, amino acids and anti-oxidants.
Nutrition is arguably, the most important factor in maintaining health, longevity and wellbeing. There is a world wide trend towards natural, organic and whole foods. The same concepts of nutrition apply to our companion animals.
50 chemical years
In the last 50 years the whole nutritional base of our animals has shifted to highly processed and chemically-laden foods, an abrupt change from a natural diet that lasted thousands of years. So unless your dog or cat is a freak, he is all but destined to suffer the consequences of being fed inferior nutrition.
Whilst our argument for safe and healthy nutrition is based on the dynamics of nutrition, there are organizations like Animal Rights Africa, who question the morality of some of the commercial pet foods. They ask the question: ‘is your pet food moral?’
Animal Rights Africa has clearly identified certain brands that ‘ruthlessly conduct experiments on animals to try give their pet food a competitive marketing edge.’ They strongly encourage pet owners to boycott brands that fail to sign up to the ‘no animal testing pet food standard.’ Unfortunately, almost every brand of pet food is guilty of this indiscretion. For the full list and other information, please refer to Animal Rights Africa.
Moral living and ethics in great demand
Many people in our modern era have become materialistic, insensitive and careless. We have steered away from good business and moral ethics and distanced ourselves from natural living. In this hectic life style convenience has become a priority, with processed, preserved and chemical based products enjoying major support.
To protect our animal’s rights it is the consumer’s responsibility to understand packaging labels, to research the safety of these ingredients and take a moral stance on correct feeding and care.
Animal rights organizations, world-wide, are fighting to change the rhetoric describing our animals as ‘pets’ to ‘companion animals’ or ‘members of the family.’ Perhaps then, all our animals will be treated fairly, morally and with dignity.
By Paul from Vondis Holistic Pet Nutrition