Human-animal relations scholar Keridiana Chez recently wrote to me to say she was bothered by the trend that she'd seen on BuzzFeed and other sites of focusing on feel-good "rescue narratives." These are short stories, told in a series of photos or a video, in which a single animal (a dog, usually, but sometimes another type of animal) has been rescued from a horrific situation, rehabilitated, sometimes from the edge of death, thanks to the love and hard work of dedicated animal rescuers, and transformed into a new creature. (For examples of these stories, see here, here, and for the relatively rare farmed animal story, here.)
When I asked her what bothered her about these stories (which I avidly read, and often cry through), she said that she worried that they obfuscate systematic forms of abuse, by simply focusing on individual animals who have suffered abuse.
I think she's right.
This first video, the story of Miley, a dog who was barely surviving on a trash heap in Los Angeles, was viewed by almost 18 million people and generated countless donations to the organization that saved her, and she had a pool of over 500 people who were competing to adopt her. Miley, after her years of suffering, had a wonderful end to her story.