St. Valentine’s Day is a special day to remember those we love.  Love comes in many forms and we all express our love and fondness for one another in many different ways.

Research tells us that animals help in allowing people to be more loving because of the compassion they give us; more than two-thirds of owners say their pet helped them through a difficult period.   Here in the UK approximately half of all households have some type of pet and many of us derive deep joy, companionship, and healing from the animals that share our homes and make our family complete.

I too, consider my own rescue dog Duke, as much a part of my family as my wife and stepson.  He is everything to me and brings a smile to my face every single day.   He’s loving, compassionate and a friend to all, especially our postman.  He’s our faithful companion at home, on walks and on holiday and seems to desire nothing more than to be himself and make us happy.  He puts 100% into enjoying his life with us.   To me, Duke is the perfect canine example of selfless devotion, unlimited forgiveness and love.

The love many of us have for our animals often extends far beyond the boundaries of our homes.  Witness the actions of emergency workers, service men and women, soldiers and others in war torn and disaster hit places of the world; filmed and photographed showing spontaneous compassion for vulnerable animals both domestic and wild.  I still recall that iconic image of a fireman giving water to a distressed Koala after the Australian fires and am touched when I hear about soldiers in Afghanistan feeding or adopting stray dogs and cats. 

These sorts of images make a connection with us.

Fortunately, there are many of us with an instinct to protect the well-being of all animals, whether companion animals, wild or farmed.

I know I am far from alone in being truly angry at the dreadful conditions endured by so many farm animals, caged, crammed and confined on factory farms.  I shudder when I think of pigs, every bit as intelligent as my Duke, suffering truly awful conditions on industrial pig units or in factories where a chicken will have more room in the oven than when she’s alive.

David Starr Jordan, the US naturalist said ‘There cannot be perfect civilization until Man realizes that the rights of every living creature are as sacred as his own‘.

I consider myself hugely fortunate and privileged to work here at Compassion in World Farming and to be surrounded by a wonderful team of like-minded people who spend their waking hours campaigning for these farm animals who have no voice, who are so often out of sight and out of mind; but who are nonetheless just as worthy and important as the companion animals that share our home. 

St. Valentine’s Day is a day for showing love and affection; let’s also take it as an opportunity to encourage the world to extend that love to all living creatures too.

I look forward to a time when all of us live in a world that shows respect, kindness and love to all animals, for their sake and for the happiness and wellbeing of future generations. 

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