Why dolphins?

From the Canadian news this week, we get a story about some men risking life and limb to free dolphins that had been trapped in ice.  On the surface, this is a heartwarming story and the men should be commended for their bravery. It also made for an interesting juxtaposition to the seal hunting that is just getting ready to commence in Newfoundland.

But there is something about it that puzzles me. These men were fishermen by trade. They regularly kill and harvest animals for a living. They have no qualms about hauling in fish with nets and hooks day after day. So what is it that made them want to help the dolphins?

Several news reports mentioned that the dolphins were crying, that the sound is one thing that drove villagers to action. So is it this human-like emotion that saved the dolphins? I hear others talk about how dogs and cats are different from animals slaughtered for food because they show personality and affection, so maybe it’s a similar sentiment?

Is it their perceived intelligence? If so, then why doesn’t this caring extend to other animals that are similarly smart and show signs of human behaviour, like pigs? It’s one thing that I find so disingenuous, this caring for animals on one hand, while killing them with the other.

I’m not going to knock people that help animals. Anything done to spare the suffering of a living being is a good thing. I just struggle to understand this perspective and realize that one day soon our son may be asking questions on this topic that I’m unprepared to answer.