Those who sign up to be a professional or volunteer in the animal world with much more in mind than to be a beacon of hope and prosperity to the animals in their care. Certainly no one wakes up in the morning considering how to injure, traumatize or kill those in their care. Yet, when it comes to the treatment of our fellow professionals, sometimes I question that last sentence. Perhaps it has something to do with how big our hearts are. With big hearts comes the ability to love hard but to also want to protect, and even hurt those that who might put those we love in danger. But are we getting so lost in our love and our passion that we have chosen to injure our brothers and sisters?
Caring for animals and empathizing with their owners can create a wear and tear on ourselves that can leave us burned out, compassion fatigued, or worse. Yet to add insult to injury, we don’t just have to the bare the scars of our work, we have to bare the scars of wounds delivered by our colleagues.
It has been said that to use punishment in teaching is to suggest that the teacher has run out of tools. If this is to be applied to human to human interactions I would say the same. Many of us have run out of tools to communicate our differences and our growth in positive and progressive ways so that everyone grows. Perhaps part of it is the protection of a computer screen and hundreds of miles between our physical beings, but the damage is as real as if it was inflicted face to face. If anything, it is worse. People suffer in silence or worse, close themselves off to ever growing.
To say it plainly, bullying in the pet professional fields has to stop. In the case of our pet dogs, they have been with us for at least 10,000 years, yet what is it about the last 60 that has created vitriol where it is okay to try and ruin someone’s life and livelihood because you don’t agree with them. There are proper channels. There are avenues where abuses can be corrected. Yet some choose to spew venom on the internet, in videos or social media channels until they feel their foe has been vanquished. And all the while they are no better than those they revile, because it is their own inability to grow, learn and communicate, that has been displayed when they choose to terrorize, punish, and bully.
Instead of hunting down and lynching the next person the status quo turns it’s spotlight against, how about we grow. How about we learn to create a bridge to learning, solidifying some common ground. Focus on building a community where the old is celebrated for paving the way and the new is honed and tested to be even better.
In the 10+ years I have been a professional I have seen an amazing amount of growth, and advancement and at the same time, I have seen an ever growing army of lost souls. Of those who have chosen to shut out their industries and go it alone. And to eventually collapse under the weight of such hard work only a few years along.
This isn’t how we grow our fields. This isn’t how we create great minds that can flourish and create the next great steps in advancement. The only way that can be done is to bury our egos and find a middle ground to stand on. And from that middle ground we accept our humanity and the humanity of our brother and sisters. We accept that weakness and ignorance is safe and ok. That we will make mistakes. And as long as our central commitment is to do better, we ensure we will grow.
I ask that anyone reading this, end the rallying cry that there can only ever be the use of the most perfect method, and end permission to spew sermons while only seeing through the eyes of someone who has never actually dealt with the case displayed before them. I ask that instead we ask questions. We practice empathy. We accept our imperfection along with theirs and try to learn. And to teach when invited, when learning is accepted.
I believe in the commitment of good dog trainers to do good work. I believe in the dedication of good vets to do the most tireless complicated work. I believe in the passion of bleeding heart rescue and shelter workers who give everything to save lives. I believe in the drive of other pet care providers to do good work in the name of their love for animals. I believe that in the hearts of 99.9999% of those who work with animals, we mean the best for those in our charge. And to think otherwise hurts all of us.
Who is ready to end the bullying and abuse, and pick up the tools of communication and camaraderie so that we can grow as an industry and better serve the animals we touch? Who’s with me?
Start today. Share this message. Tell your story about being bullied. Share how you grow and what inspires you. Tag someone who you look up to. Or simply hashtag to show you are someone who will not put up with abuse in your industry. #stopbullying #NotTrainerAggressive #NotVetAggressive #NotRescueAggressive #EndProfessionalAbuse