In partnership with The Animal Welfare Fund of New Jersey and the NJCAR Foundation, the Lesniak Institute’s essay contest encouraged participation by New Jersey students in elementary, middle and high school. The goal of the contest was to inspire students to use their writing skills to promote the need to protect animals from cruelty and to save animals from extinction. Below, please find one of our winning essays.

Student: Riley C.
School: Memorial Middle School
Title: The Power of a Pet

What do you think of when you hear the word humane? Hu·mane – adjective – having or showing compassion or benevolence. Gentle, open-minded, sympathetic, unselfish. It’s so important to have these qualities in a friend, it makes us feel loved and safe. This is especially important with animals, we can try to read their emotions, but the fact is, we can’t communicate with them. When animals are physically abused, it impacts them more than we could know. It creates a scared, hurt, creature. If we can treat humans with humane characteristics, why shouldn’t we do the same with animals? If we need the world to change, we need to be the start of it.

First of all, the world quite literally revolves around animals. They each have specific roles to keep their ecosystem surviving and growing. If you take a large number of animals out of an ecosystem to do testing on them, the ecosystem completely changes. And while it might not seem like a big deal, this is affecting us in the long-term. If there is a lack of animals in a particular area, then other animals can’t eat, then animals that would eat them can’t eat, and so on until we can’t eat. It is wrong for humans to disregard the impact animals have on the world.

Secondly, animals don’t have the same rights as people do. It is wrong to take advantage of this fact and hunt animals excessively because there isn’t a specific law saying you cannot do it. I’m not saying that animals should completely stop being used for food, clothing, and other purposes, but I think it should definitely be limited. New Jersey has already started with this. For example, New Jersey enacted the first ban on ivory and rhino horn transaction. New Jersey, along with Washington, are the only states so far to enact a ban on imports and transportation of “trophies” of endangered species. This a great start, New Jersey has come far already with trying to protect animals, but we need to do more to stop people from treating animals inhumanely.

Lastly, animals have such a significant effect on people. An article from The National Center For Health Research states, “Findings suggest that the social support a pet provides can make a person feel more relaxed and decrease stress.[8] Social support from friends and family can have similar benefits, but interpersonal relationships often cause stress as well, whereas pets may be less likely to cause stress. The social support provided by a pet might also encourage more social interactions with people, reducing feelings of isolation or loneliness.” Animals are helping us, and we don’t even know everything about the effects of having pets like dogs yet. Instead of abusing and hurting these creatures, we should be treating them with the same amount of respect as a person.

In conclusion, New Jersey needs to take action in treating animals more humanely. New Jersey has already come far with this, but we need to keep pushing animal rights. As long as we keep doing our part, the world will slowly, but surely, start to treat animals more humanely. Think about the word human one more time. Hu·mane – adjective – having or showing compassion or benevolence. Gentle, open-minded, sympathetic, unselfish. If we can all treat every living thing around us with humane qualities, we can be the start of a more caring world.