In the opinion piece ‘Let’s End Pet Misery’, featured in the Herald Sun on the 21st of July 2009, writer Susie O’Brien responds to the issue of animal cruelty in Victoria. In an outraged tone, the writer pleads with pet lovers and everyone else alike to support a new bill that aims to make animal desexing compulsory, reducing the rates of unwanted offspring and acts of animal cruelty committed against these animals. The writer begins her argument with the use of alliteration paired with a cliché. “A single stroke of the pen can save … pets from a short life of misery.” The alliteration of the two words ‘single’ and ‘stroke’ draws more focus to the cliché; ‘a single stroke of a pen’. This emphasises how easily the problem could be solved, angering the reader due to the little that has been done to solve the problem. This technique also works to instil guilt within the reader, making it more likely for them to take action in assisting the cause, thereby supporting the writer’s contention to support the compulsory desexing of pets. One technique the writer uses is a frightening statistic that has been juxtaposed in a larger text. “In Victoria alone, 300 dogs are put down every day. That’s … more than 100,000 a year.” This unbelievably shocking statistic is a perfect technique to support the writer’s contention. It is able to appeal to the fear and concern of pet lovers and all other citizens alike.
This statistic works very well to draw the reader’s attention, due to its intelligent position just below the heading, and works to ‘recruit’ more people to the cause, as most would be unable to stop reading after being confronted with such a statistic. Additionally, it would inspire more people to support the writer’s contention and take action to stop all this death. One of the writer’s strongest persuasive technique is the use of a widely known anecdote paired with strong, emotive language. “In a devastating attack, someone … hacked off his ears and tail and then left him to die in pain.” Through the use of the well-known story about Buckley, an eight week old Victorian puppy, the writer’s argument is strengthened in the eyes of many readers, as a majority of them would have heard of the story, and resented the horrific act of animal cruelty. Her argument is again reinforced by several instances of colourful language. Phrases like ‘hacked off’ and ‘die in pain’ don’t exaggerate the malevolence of the crime, but instead work to give the reader a clearer image of the vile act. This then makes the reader feel more strongly about the issue, making it more likely they do something about it.
The strong use of visual media paired with the article is successful in giving the story an even greater effect; working as the figurative ‘icing’ on the argument. The largest image; that revealing the extent of Buckley’s shocking injuries, is a perfect accompaniment to the text, giving the reader a true idea of the result of his terrible wounds. Additionally, the images of pets behind bars, with their innocent eyes, and somewhat fearful expression makes the reader compare them to prisoners whom have been wrongly accused; forced to live a life of confinement for another’s crimes. These elements make readers wish to take action; ending the injustice, and is effective in supporting the writer’s contention.
The opinion piece, “Let’s End Pet Misery,” is effective in persuading readers to support the author’s pledge to introduce a law making the desexing of pets compulsory. Whilst using a highly angered tone, the writer uses alliteration in conjunction with a cliché to give readers a greater idea of how appalling the government’s inaction is. The writer also shocks her readers through the use of an alarming statistic, revealing the true magnitude of the deaths of unwanted animals. Furthermore, the use of a terrifying anecdote used together with colourful language, as well as the images in the piece alert readers to the severity of the situation and appeal to one’s empathy, ultimately encouraging us to share an equally outraged view.