Friday, 18 January 2008

Sea Shepherd Blog

This is one Sea Shepherd blogger explaining why he fights to help animal conservation.

December 13, 2007
Report from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin

Why I fight
Peter Hammarstedt (2nd Mate)

Being out at sea has always given me the opportunity to reflect on the twists and turns in my life that brought me to a stage where I could safely say that I would risk my life to save that of a whale. My expedition to Antarctica essentially began a decade ago.

When I was 14, I met a dog named Marlboro through the chain-linked fencing of an animal shelter housing pen. No words were exchanged. But his deep brown eyes met mine and there was instantly nothing more important to me than finding this Akita/Cattle dog a loving home. Marlboro never said a word, neither a bark nor a whimper escaped his lips for the duration of his two month stay, but he spoke volumes about the way our society views animals - not as feeling, thinking unique individuals, but as disposable things. Marlboro was named after a tobacco company. I called him my best friend.

For an entire summer, we tried to make the best of the cards that Marlboro had been dealt. Every morning for two months, the concrete floor turned to mud and grass and steel fencing crumbled to a sun that kept us playing around the large oak tree that marked the end of the property for the better part of each day. From that oak tree, the kennels seemed far away.

One Saturday morning, I came in to find Marlboro’s cage empty. He’d been moved. But not to the wide expanse of a country home that I’d dreamed up for him, but to a set of cages down the road referred to as death row. Marlboro had inadvertently bit a volunteer. And because of that, he was condemned to die. The day before he was put down was the first time that Marlboro ever spoke to me. As I said my last goodbyes and turned to walk away, my quiet friend let out a howl and threw the entire weight of his body against the cage door. I ran home crying, feeling helpless. The next day, a Rottweiler named Holly stood in Marlboro’s old cell. She found a home one month later.

Marlboro taught me more than any other individual I’ve ever come across. He would help set the course of the rest of my life and because of that, I am forever in his debt. Marlboro taught me that every single animal, human and non-human alike, is a completely unique individual. Until the end of time, there will never be anyone else exactly like you. Or exactly like me. Or exactly like Marlboro. A pod of whales is a collection of distinct unique personalities. For me that has always been one of the most powerful arguments for animal rights. That we have more in common than separate us. That’s what my best four-legged friend taught me many years ago - that animals are worth fighting for.

The day that I ran from the caged rows that separated Marlboro from the rest of the canine population, I made a promise - that never again, when put in the position to save animal life here and now, would I turn my back. Sea Shepherd allows me the opportunity to keep the promise that I made almost a decade ago, every day of my life. Now I find myself in Antarctica for a third time, hoping to find the Japanese whaling fleet as early as possible in their season; not just because 50 endangered humpback whales are now slated for the harpoon, but so that Marlboro would understand that not for a single day, has he been forgotten.

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