At 12, I saw a picture of an animal behind bars, tortured, seemingly shedding tears and for the first—likely last—time I was spurred into political action.
Following the instructions on the page, I filled out a form and mailed it away to an address that promised to send me material that would help me put an end to animal cruelty.
Pre-Internet times, however, were a drag, as fewer people seem to remember each day, so it couldn’t happen overnight. Day-after-day the mailbox was thoroughly inspected in hopes my material would arrive.
In the weeks that passed, I saw each dog and cat as a potential victim to some form of hateful exploitation, and I knew the sooner I got my hands on the package the sooner I could save them.
Problem was, I learned upon the coveted material’s arrival, it meant I’d have to make some serious decisions.
To end their torture I’d have to get rid of my favourite lipbalm, because its maker tested it on something furry and
lovable. The shampoo my mother bought was responsible for countless creatures’ torture.
Mascara? Never again.
The list of culprits was endless, but I could do my part. Not only could I boycott those products, I’d ensure others did as well.
With reams of newly acquired “tested on animals” stickers and a list of sinners in my possession I headed to the mall.
As covertly as one who had given up washing her hair with shampoo could be, I sneaked into every drug and department store with stickers up my sleeves and dispensed them on all the products on my hit-list.
Thanks to a diminished perspective on the world, I believed I’d done my part and researched products that would allow me to be presentable and cruelty-free and that carried on for years.
Unless something sported a cruelty-free label, I wasn’t going to use it, and I continued on colour-free, conscience clear, for years to come.
Adulthood, unfortunately, rolled around and the clarity of perspective that comes from youth was stripped away.
With the understanding that virtually every single prescription drug sold across the world required animal research and testing for their development, I came to understand humans I loved, were beneficiaries, if not living, because of science shaped by animal testing.
It was a realization that gave rise to a shedding of previous convictions that I had been so easily entrenched in.
That said, I still believe there needs to be some transparency when it comes to the practice, and respect for those who have gone out of their way this week to turn the spotlight on the facility at UBC Okanagan.
I may not agree with all the lines they’re spewing this week, but a vestigial part of my being is cheering them on in their crusade.
Kathy Michaels is a staff reporter for the Kelowna Capital News.