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If you've ever seen a baby rabbit or a duckling, you know how cute they are. But even though we think they're adorable, they're still living beings with thoughts and needs.
Animals are able to feel fear, pain, and stress, so they should never be put in harm's way just for human benefit.
It can be tempting for children to pick up fluffy animals and carry them around, but it's really important to consider what's best for the animals' safety. That can mean gently petting them while they're on the ground and letting them move away if they want to—but in many cases, it means respecting their space and leaving them alone.
A rabbit is tightly gripped between the ears and pulled up, and the animal's hind feet are stained with what may be urine.
That can be hard for young children to understand. They don't always realize that rough handling can really hurt and terrify small, fragile animals.
A duckling is held by the neck. Being held like this can be painful and scary, in addition to making it difficult for the small animal to breathe.
Children and even adults often don't know the proper way to handle animals. For example, rabbits very much prefer to be left on the ground, and if they do need to be picked up, their bottoms need to be supported to keep them safe and secure.
A duckling is gripped haphazardly by a leg while suspended upside down. A rabbit is held completely off the ground by one ear. For both animals, being handled in this way is undoubtedly frightening and could lead to serious injury.
Photographers who use animals as photo props put them in serious danger. Rabbits have been photographed being lifted by the ears, and ducklings have apparently been grabbed and picked up by the head or a leg—or even thrown. The photographer's photos shown above were so upsetting to viewers that they went viral.
The children in these photos don't mean to hurt the animals, but they don't know any better—and that's why responsible adults need to make sure that they don't put animals in these dangerous situations in the first place.
Animals are not ours to use as photo props. They're sensitive individuals with the same desire for safety and comfort as humans, and they deserve our respect.
Great memories can be easily created and captured without the use of animals. When it comes to photographs, stuffed animals are the way to go!
And of course there are many other props that can be used: