I had just been given the key to my luxury yacht and should have kicked back and enjoyed myself. It would have been the first time in my two-month global marathon that I actually relaxed.
But something was nagging at me ever since I noticed it in the local newspaper. There was an animal-rights conference going on that I felt I should check out.
I’m haunted by those heartbreaking ads all over the Internet. You know, the ones that show a bear being mistreated for human amusement, or a bag-of-bones neglected dog. Every time I see one of those ads, it’s like the first time. I try to look away, but can’t. That means it’s working.
So I thought I’d poke my head in at the conference. I wanted to see what kind of people attended such events. Maybe I could help out in some way.
One session called “The No-Kill Alternative” to dealing with homeless animals caught my eye. I had donated to no-kill shelters, and thought it might be a national movement I could get on board with.
I fought urges to go to In-N-Out Burger, LA’s primo place for such fare.
Please understand: I’m not trying to be funny. I should be a vegan, but I can’t even go a day as a vegetarian. I start getting jumpy if I don’t ingest some animal protein every day. Either it’s my upbringing, my makeup, or both. I try to eat mostly fish, thinking that’s the lesser of all evils, but I know that’s not right either. Truth is, hunting and fishing make me uncomfortable.
I won’t buy anything with fur; and I don’t eat pork, lamb, duck or goats because I see them n farms and ponds all the time; and I’d love to have a potbellied pig as a pet. Yes, anything with a face should fall into that category. But as I explained in an earlier post, I don’t eat red meat very often. But once in a great while, I get a craving for corned beef, spaghetti and meatballs, or a cheeseburger.
I don’t feel good about it, but there it is. Anyone who know me knows I love animals, and knows there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for a dog. I wish I could save them all.
I do what I can, and dote on all animals, especially a demanding dachshund who was a rescue dog. Call me a hypocrite, and hate me if you must; but giving into an occasional urge isn’t going to change much. Because there are plenty of humans who don’t give a damn at all.
It was in this spirit that I headed to the conference. Or tried to. I got lost. By the time I got there, there wasn’t much time left.
Then I couldn’t find the meeting. But I did find a psychiatrists’ convention. Hmmm, wouldn’t have hurt to stop in there …
When I got to the right place, no one seemed to know where the session I was interested in was being held. I tried the first door. When I started to ask if I was in the right place, the guy at the door put a finger to his lips.
I watched a film about an “Earth Fairy.” It talked about fish kills and recycling. (I believe in recycling, but have a lot to learn, as I found out from my temporary L.A. roomie). After 20 minutes of watching this informative film, I realized I wasn’t in the right room.
When I got to the no-kill presentation, it had just ended. The speaker had a lot of admirers. His name is Alex Pacheco. He’s the co-founder of the controversial group PETA; and he founded 600million.org, named for the number of stray dogs roaming the globe on any given day.
He told me his group is working on a sterilization pill to humanely ease the overpopulation of strays. He didn’t need more publicity; he needs massive donations to pay for the scientific research.
I felt dejected and helpless.
But the afternoon wasn’t a total loss. I met Rico, a part shar-pei, pit bull and poodle who was at the event with his owners from San Francisco. He was 18; had had a stroke a few weeks ago; and was doing well enough to make the trip. That, at least, was nice to see.