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Our Challenge and Our Opportunity

By Coleman Burke

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The other day you probably all read of the death of Gavin Maxwell, who produced that delightful "Ring of Bright Water." He said, "Stage one on the way to understanding human beings is an understanding and affection for animals." Fit this in with the statement from Proverbs. Actually, Gavin Maxwell was more intrigued in his life by animals than by people. And I know there are others here who are. And I accept that. I'm not critical of it. I rejoice that there are people who are more intrigued with animals than with people.
But I have a very deep concern about many humanitarians - that this is over-emphasized. I'm very much bothered by the phrase, "dogs are man's best friend." There are a great many people who could be brought into the humane movement who get this thrown at them so much - I'm one of them - that you wonder whether these people have human friends. And, really, want to have human friends.
There are a lot of other people who are more intrigued with people than with animals. And I think we must be very careful in this movement to bring about a universal situation where man is recognized as a dog's best friend, and a cat's best friend, and any kind of animal's best friend. This should be our emphasis. This is what we should preach. A universal situation where the world knows that man is not only his fellow man's best friend but the animal kingdom's best friend. That's why I go back to the Biblical quote, and that's why I dared to assert that Biblical quote today. It isn't too popular these days, but if we'd read that good book, we'd be a lot more powerful in doing our job.


Katie Carroll

Date 1969
Pages 18-20
Publisher Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy
Conference Title National Leadership Conference of the Humane Society of the United States
Date accepted 1969
Language English
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  1. Agencies and organizations
  2. Animal abuse
  3. Animal protection
  4. Animals in culture
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Human-animal bond