Not just for Christmas

### Jack Shardlow

**As we enter into the New Year, there inevitably comes a time for reflection, not just over the 365 days that made up 2012, but even further back as well. **

We look back at nights out, at our younger selves and at relationships of times gone by. Then we look towards the future. For freshers this might be asking: “What does University after the first term have in store?” For us finalists: “Will anybody ever hire us?” But how many people include animals in the relationships of times gone by, or in these plans and glimpses of the future?

It may seem like a frivolous topic, but the relationship between people and animals is becoming increasingly strained. There was a time when we depended upon animals for food, transport, work and clothing. This is perhaps best epitomised by the relationship between the Native Americans and the buffalo. This wasn’t just the relationship between a person and their food, it was something far more intimate.

Now it seems this relationship is all but lost. Not just in our culture, but throughout most parts of the world. Dogs Trust recently released a list of reasons people had given for abandoning their dogs; some justify abandoning an animal for reasons including, “my dog doesn’t match the sofa”, “he wouldn’t fit in my handbag or wear the outfit I bought him” and “he smells of dog” – these are just a few of the depressing selection.

People need to snap out of the mindset where animals are seen as fashion items, something to decorate and wear like a badge. Otherwise animals will become increasingly marginalised in society, pushed aside like unwanted Christmas presents. Animals are still sentient, they still feel happiness and sadness, anyone who has seen a video of a slow loris being tickled knows that.

There will be some of you who look at animals in a different way, not everyone looks at the world through the cold, misty goggles of corporate capitalism.

I already know my first kitten will be from a rescue centre, that it will be called Taz and that I will probably wind up working on some wacky llama conservation project on the other side of the world.

Not that reading a letter in a student newspaper will change your opinion on animals, but try to see them for what they are. An animal is for life, not just for Christmas, and an animal does not solely exist for your entertainment and convenience. So why not plan on a 2013 were animals are seen as more than the animated objects behind glass screens in the zoo.

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