Bob became a webmaster of a site for animal rights
Written by Bob (Bobpa!).
It's not like you wake up one morning and think: now
I'll become an animal rights activist, but more that
you wake up one morning, and realize you are one. It's
a gradual process that has grown more and more over
the years for me.
Like most people here in Holland I was raised with the
idea that animals are there to be eaten by people. In
the (Christian) household I grew up in it was even given
biblical meaning by saying that God had created animals
for that purpose. In that sense I grew up like everybody
I had a lot of pets in my youth. From rabbits to turtles,
dogs, cats, birds, fish, mice and more of that ilk.
Why?? Because I loved animals. And I thought that if
I were to take as many animals from pet stores as possible,
I could give them a better life. In many cases that
was actually so, but I didn't realize that by buying
these animals I was supporting a trade that caused more
animal suffering than I could solve.
The realization that animals have feelings, can experience
pain, etc. didn't come until I was about 15 or 16 years
old. I was a passionate fisherman and I often spent
entire vacations and every free hour fishing. Although
I neatly followed the rules myself, I saw many others
(mainly youngsters) who took pleasure in torturing fish
by keeping them hooked and sweeping them in and out of the water, killing them for fun by throwing them to the ground, and catching ducks with fishing rods
and bread crusts. I didn't like that. When I saw those
things I wondered if animals really couldn't feel pain,
and I also wondered about the use of torturing these
animals. It went so far that I started to wonder what
was more important to me: the welfare of animals, or
that I had the right to catch them and do with them
as I pleased. I started to wonder if indeed I had that
right at all, and if so, what that right was based on.
Somewhere around that time I started to realize that
fishing was something I could no longer afford to do,
and that I had chosen for the animal's right to live
peacefully in its own surroundings. Even though it was
hard, I gave up fishing. The idea that fish had to suffer
just so I could 'enjoy' myself for a few hours was unbearable.
That was my first - basically subconscious - step toward
animal rights activism.
But I still ate meat, totally unaware of the animal
suffering it entailed. Most meat-eaters know that cows
they see in the pasture will eventually end up on their
plates. But between the picture of the cow, and the
picture of a piece of meat on your plate there's something
missing. Most people (consciously or unconsciously)
don't think about that. Who wants to know that the animal
he's eating has experienced terrible fear and pain just so he can eat it? Who wants to see a picture of cows bleeding to death, or refuse bins filled with blood
But still I ate meat, although I did start to become
more concerned about the dishonest situation in the
world. After campaigning for various movements and action
platforms: (e.g. anti-racial and fascism) but also against
poverty and housing shortage, I more and more arrived
at the conclusion that freedom is the keyword in these
matters. Freedom to practice religion, to be honest
about your sexual preferences, so that you don't have
to be afraid of people with a different skin color,
etc. This also brought me into contact with people who
were vegetarians. This was new to me. Why shouldn't
you eat meat? Don't you get sick without meat? Don't
you need it to stay healthy? Still I decided to learn
more about it. I found some pro and contra books, read
them and tried to formulate my own opinion. That was
a quick affair. For someone like me, who fought for
the freedom of every creature, the decision to become
a vegetarian was easy. No animals should have to be
locked up in tiny cages for me. I didn't want to eat
hormone-injected animals for my enjoyment. I became
This still didn't lead to the animal rights activism
I'm occupied with today, but it was a good start. I
evolved into someone who wanted to prevent or ban animal suffering at all cost. People somehow feel this, and dump their unwanted animals on you. This had the consequence
that I was caring for animals I hadn't really asked
for. But if others don't do it, who will…? I sheltered
various animals (e.g. iguana's etc.) and cared for them
until they died. It became clear to me that it was easy
for people to get their hands on all kinds of animals,
but that everything went wrong in caring for them. This
got me thinking. How could I prevent this? Was it possible
to make these people understand that they shouldn't
buy such animals? I didn't know.
And then there was the Internet!!!!
Yes, and then there was the Internet. Like many others
I subscribed to a provider and entered the world-wide-web.
It took a while, but at a certain point I arrived at
an animal rights organization site. I was surprised
that there were people who felt like I did, and that
they had the ability to explain their views to millions
of people. I followed link after link, and learned a
lot. Then came the time when I thought I should have
my own web site. My first was a site with many links,
a chat room, little programs for downloading, but also
a number of pages about the horrors of vivisection.
Those were my first real steps! In the meantime I tried
to find out more about things that occupied me. Hunting
in our country, factory farming, vivisection etc. I
started entering online petitions, signature actions
etc. I did different things for a number of years, on
the net as well as in the country. I had become a real
animal rights activist!
But that was not something to be proud of. I dreamt
of a world in which people would see animals as their
equals, and wouldn't kill them for their meat or skins.
It's not something I wanted to be, but something that
came out of pure necessity. There's so much animal suffering
around us, visible and invisible. We often don't even
think about it at all. Millions of animals suffer each
year from cruel factory farming or die because they
have beautiful furs, countless suffer because people
like locking them up to "study them, care for them,
look at them". I'd met so many people, had gained
a lot of knowledge, and wanted to act from my emotions.
What to do? The idea of removing my web site and replacing
it with a Dutch-language animal rights site seemed the
Here I could finally tell my story. With pictures and
stories I could let people know what really goes on
in factory farming stables. I could tell them how many
animals die each year so that ladies can wear beautiful
fur coats. I could name names and addresses of stores
that sold fur and ask the visitors of my site to boycott
these stores. More and more I've come to realize the
power of the medium Internet and how it could propagate
the things that matter to me so much.
On 1st January 2000 I started my new site "Animal
Frontline". A site where, besides information on
different types of animal suffering, you can also take
action. I hope that in the future my Dutch site will
become important and that great numbers of people will
find their way there. The form Animal Frontline is taking
on is that of a real online organization. That means
that by sending protest e-mails, and signing online
petitions things can really change. This future medium
is already an important medium for animal rights. Many
companies have already decided not to sell or produce
certain products (fur, certain animal skins, lures etc.)
anymore after receiving many thousands of e-mails from
all over the world. I'm trying to do 'our' Dutch bit
by offering many petitions or actions in Dutch, with
example letters (often in a foreign language). Fortunately,
this initiative is having results. Many people really
do send out the example letters, but I'm also noticing
that people (fortunately) find their way to Animal Frontline
for Dutch actions. Nowadays I'm involved in all kinds
of animal welfare. I support and help different organizations
and promote them.
I would like to add that fighting for animal rights
is normal for me. I can't understand that people hurt
animals for their own enjoyment: bullfights, dogfights
and cockfights, but fishing as well. Because these animals
cannot speak out for themselves, there must be someone
to do it for them. Fortunately I'm not alone in this!
People sometimes make fun of me by saying that animals
have no rights. After all, they can't vote? Or do you
think they should be allowed to vote as well? Pure nonsense
as far as I am concerned. I think that animals simply
have a right to a life without pain. To live in their
natural circumstances, without being hunted by man.
The right to freedom, happiness and wellbeing. Just
like people! Who are we to deny others the circumstances
we claim for ourselves?
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