The desire to build a kinder, fairer, more compassionate society doesn't stop with homosapiens.Deidre Brock MP, World Animal Day 2017
Today I took part in an event to celebrate World Animal Day. Organised by the One O'clock Gun Association, it fittingly took place at the giraffe sculptures at the top of Leith Walk. Despite the blustery wind it was a lot of fun for the gathered crowd which included a piper, some beautiful horses and a fair few dogs ! Here's what I had to say.
As an MP it's my job to give people a voice in parliament but it's also a chance to be an advocate for those who haven't a voice of their own. They could have four legs or two, use wings or webs, have fur, fangs, hooves or ridiculously long necks like these fellas behind us. Some are our friends, some are wild, some we farm and others we work with - but all have a role to play in our shared world.
As Mahatma Ghandi said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated". The desire to build a kinder, fairer, more compassionate society doesn't stop with homosapiens.
Our world is all the richer for the diversity of nature within it and as the dominant species we have a duty to respect all the creatures with whom we co-habit on this planet.
It's also good for us – our mental health is better if we can stop to laugh at the daftness of a dog or admire the colourful plumage of a parrot.
I'm only too aware from my job in politics that human activities can create some pretty awful situations for animals. This ranges from the dark world of puppy smuggling – now Europe's third most valued smuggled item after guns and drugs – to the use of cramped, dark battery cages or the illegal trapping of migrating songbirds. There's a lot to be done.
I also know from my inbox how many people care about animals and are doing their bit to help and that fills me with optimism about what we can achieve. Some may be in a position to give a rescue dog a home, others may give a few quid to support the fantastic work of the SSPCA. Others may lobby MPs like me calling for stronger political action to end the hunting of beautiful wild animals like lions or giraffes for trophies.
World Animal Day is a chance to celebrate all the incredible work being done by individuals and animal charities both at home and internationally. And there are many of them – in my constituency alone I'll give a shout out to the Edinburgh Cat Protection League, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the volunteers beavering away in charity shops such as the Dog and Cat Home in Stockbridge or Lothian Cat Rescue on Easter Road.
The diversity of the animal world is reflected in the range of issues that arise and today is an important day to come together, support them and celebrate their work. I hope World Animal Day helps more people to stop sticking their heads in the sand like ostriches – let's work to make animal cruelty extinct.