I love animals. I hate animal cruelty. Just had to say that. I think puppies are adorable and I want 5. Kittens can crawl all over me all they want and horses, feel free to snort on me any day of the week. But then there are babies. Kiddies, children, tots, toddlers, munchkins, mini-me’s, rug-rats, juniors, snuggle-bugs: soft, sweet, pure little humans with stinky breath! And I love them more.

If I had to choose between an animal and a little munchkin, I would choose the latter every time. It’s not to say that we shouldn’t look out for animals, too, it’s just that they should come after children in our list of priorities (you have one, right?). Though it is in our interests to save the animals so that the food chain can keep us going, I do worry about how much time and money and energy is put into saving animals before we have properly addressed the childhood mortality rates in 3rd world countries.

The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said “Give to the Paw” and had a picture of a sad looking dog with big brown eyes staring up at me. I was slightly horrified. A little offended that the ‘poor’ should be replaced with ‘paw’. I then realised that this was for Assistance Dogs Australia and not some animal shelter. It lessened the blow a little but still, the feeling remained. The fact is that many people prefer to give to animal charities because the sad little creatures are so darn cute.

Are we simply too accustomed to looking at ourselves in the mirror that it numbs us when we look at human suffering? Is it all too much, too confronting? Perhaps images of dying animals doesn’t hit home to the depths of our souls as much as the human kind. Is it more of a surface feeling and easier to deal with?

The statistics on suffering children (let alone adults) in our world never ceases to shock me. Here are the latest human facts according to UNICEF:

  • For every 1000 children, 93 die before the age of 5
  • 21 children die every minute from preventable causes
  • Of 11 million child deaths, 70% are caused by either: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.
  • 6 million of that 11 million could have been saved by low tech, low cost measures such as childhood vaccinations, antibiotics, micronutrient supplement , insecticide-treated bed nets, family education
  • By the end of this decade, the number effected by HIV/AIDS will reach 25 million children.
It’s heavy stuff. It’s happening right now and it’s wrong. I have 2 kids and the thought of losing them is unbearable. Imagine how a third world parent feels when they know their child could have been saved by an injection or a series of simple antibiotics. It’s inconceivable.
I think it is good and right to look after this world, save the whales and the bears and keep it clean and beautiful. But I do worry that we spend way too much time on the environment and animals and not half as much on the people. What’s your opinion?
If you’re keen to help out a little with this problem check out a friend of mine who has set up an abandoned babies home in Zimbabwe. It is an incredible cause with so much need. Just go to