The following is a guest post by contributor, Xanthippa Socrates, who’s family escaped from behind the Iron Curtain from what was then, Czechoslovakia.
LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Stood on her hind legs to greet any prospective owner who might approach her glass-doored kennel, Harriet is a black English cocker spaniel abandoned as a deepening cost-of-living crisis pushes growing numbers of Britons to part with their pets.
Cash-strapped Britons give up pets as living costs soar https://t.co/juh05l05mH
— Dr. Rich Swier (@drrichswier) August 17, 2022
She was found running along a busy road in London after witnesses saw her pushed out of a car and is one of 206 dogs and 164 cats currently being looked after at rehoming centres run by the Battersea animal charity.
It is a similar story at other centres across the country – with some seeing record inquiries for dog and cat returns – as the tightest squeeze on living standards since at least the 1960s forces many owners to decide the additional cost of food plus hundreds of pounds in vet bills is no longer manageable.
“We are concerned that’s going to be an increasing reason for people bringing their dogs in to Battersea,” Steve Craddock, who manages the centre in soutwest London, told Reuters.
NOTE: in the 1970’s Czechoslovakia, pets (in particular, dogs) were declared a luxury and the tax on dogs was raised to be about the same as my family paid in rent for 3 months for what was considered a large, modern apartment (the building had an elevator and everything – and it was assigned to us before my dad became a political dissident, so the bureaucracy found it difficult to kick us out afterwards). It would have been well over a year’s worth of rent that my great-grand-parents were paying annually for their kitchen/sitting room, a bedroom across the common hall (their only access to running water was in that hall and shared with all the tenants on that floor) and a shared toilet…
And the cruelty people were capable of towards their pet dogs when they suddenly became expensive to keep was, for me, unimaginable, incomprehensible…
Taking the dog out to a forest, tying it to a tree (out of sight of anyone who might report it – or save the dog) and leaving it there. Even Hansel and Gretel had a better fighting chance… And this was just an example of ‘passive cruelty’, not the more active types.
This was useful to the regime because it sowed discord and hate into nuclear families: typically, one spouse and/or the kids were pro-pet and willing to do anything for them, and the other spouse resented the cost (and political stigma attached to owning a Western-style luxury pet) and that would be the one ‘getting rid’ of the pet. It broke the trust between spouses, parents/children and so on.
Destruction of the nuclear family at its most fundamental.
The kicker was that because of the housing shortage, even broken families often had to live together for quite some time after the marriage failed, so, no privacy and spite-spying on one’s spouse was easily accomplished.
Bonus: becoming callous to the plight/fate of the beloved family pet dehumanized the ones doing it/witnessing it, making it that much easier to behave inhumanly to others, including, well, everyone… much like taking in an animal, making the kids become attached to it and then sacrificing it to Allah for Eid does. Different ideology, same methodology for dehumanization.
OK, so the ‘tax’ here is based on food/vet bills, but, while the means are a different shade of green, the effect is the same. By giving up their pet, because the cost outweighs their love, people are becoming less humane, more ruthless and feeling more justified in doing whatever it takes to make their life easier, regardless of the cost to anyone else, even their loved ones.
Of course, not all people will fall into this trap. But those who do become useful tools for the tyranny machine.