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Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on May 15th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 10 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 10

Is compassion lost on you?

Animals are a gift

BY AMELIA WAGONER

Do you have a pet; a beloved creature that is both friend and family? Many of us have had them, and if you haven’t ever had a pet, it is most unfortunate for your childhood. I suggest you get one or seriously consider it if you can. If you had a pet in the past, perhaps you’ve forgotten all the lessons Fido taught you. Whether you have a pet or not, I ask you to take a moment from your busy day to talk about compassion, for both humankind and pet kind. Right now is the time to look up and take notice of the animals on the Central Coast.

You may ask why now? Because, well, it is the season. It is that time of year when kittens less than a year old show up on my door step, or yours, pregnant and starving. Whenever I meet one of these animals, my heart breaks. Maybe it’s because I am a mother of twins. I remember being “full of babies” and feeling so unsure if they would be born safe and sound, well-fed, healthy ... . When I see that mama cat, I can’t help but remember my experiences with that and see that she has no place to go, no one to help her, no food, no security, no reassurance of safety at all, and it upsets me—very much so. Her hip bones stick out so much I cannot believe that no one has taken her in or even fed her. How did she survive before showing up on my door step? I truly don’t know. She is very pretty, well mannered, and house-trained. I know that someone owned her before and taught her to use a litter box; perhaps her mother did. My guess is that she was taken as a kitten and adored for six months, then abandoned when she was not cute and little anymore.

After taking in this cat, I feel anger—great anger. I am so mad at the person who took this kitten and adopted her, and then abandoned her to a cruel outside world. Luckily for me, only one pregnant cat turned up on my doorstep. I know of a woman who has taken in two pregnant cats because there is no room at the shelters now. I urge you now to do something important for your community. Birth some kittens. Then if someone takes a kitten from you and reassures you that they “will get her fixed,” do not take their word for it. That is how this whole cycle starts. Get the kittens fixed by surrendering them to the Humane Society or make sure that their kitten gets fixed before it is sexually mature. Encourage people to go to the Humane Society to get their cute little kittens. An animal that is not fixed will quickly turn into five cats, and then 25 cats, and then you are contributing to the epidemic as much as those you may chastise.

Have you ever seen a dog or cat abandoned in front of a school? You didn’t want to take on the trouble. Maybe you should take on the trouble. Maybe you need better priorities in your life. Having to feed and nurture an animal other than yourself is a good thing. It will improve you as a person. It will give you life skills that you and your kids will need to date, marry, have kids, be responsible in your job. Animals teach us so many lessons, and more than anything they teach us about ourselves and they give us the company that a human just cannot provide.

I am told that compassionate people are a gift to the world. Sometimes it does not feel that way to us. Does it? We just feel alone, like we are the only ones who actually care—and it is frustrating in this world to be so compassionate.

As someone who majored in psychology, I can see very clearly that our treatment of animals reflects our treatment of humans. For instance, I wonder how many people truly know how many Iraqis died in the Shock and Awe campaign and how many continue to die in Iraq. “Iraq Body Count, the most authoritative collator of casualty statistics in Iraq, has estimated that 6,716 civilians died during the initial invasion—an average of 320 per day. It’s likely the majority were killed by ground forces.” (ie, from March 20 to the seizure of Baghdad on April 9)—Telegraph News UK. These are the civilians; that’s women and children we are talking about. Many people know these things, but it is not something the media talks about.

Do Americans even know what their country is doing overseas half the time? Do we care if we do not have to look at the suffering? I encourage you all to read up on the war and how things actually happened. It’s important for us not to repeat our mistakes. It’s important how the world sees us and our reputation. It’s also important that we can look at ourselves and our leaders with pride. Isn’t it? We have to look around in the world and keep ourselves from becoming arrogant. We should keep ourselves from becoming remorseless and indifferent. Losing compassion endangers us and our way of life. Look at yourself as an American and look at how you turn a blind eye to so many things in the world. That veteran begging on the corner; did it occur to you to feed him? Did you give him a dollar? Upon reflection, don’t you think that sacrificing just a little piece of your time and money to an animal or a human organization is the least that you can do? If you don’t, perhaps you should reevaluate your life.

How much better are we than other nations? What else do we throw away when it no longer suits us? “Each year, approximately 8 million stray and unwanted animals are taken in by shelters across the country. Tragically, about 3.7 million—nearly half—of these animals must be euthanized because good homes cannot be found for them. In fact, shelter euthanasia is the leading cause of death for both dogs and cats in the United States.”—American Humane Society.

On the Central Coast, most animals are kept alive until adopted. “We try very hard to save every animal”, says Sherry at the North County Humane Society, “but we have reached capacity. Every year during kitten season we fill up, and people are much more likely to take a new kitten than a cat.”

Are we doomed to repeat the past and never improve ourselves? Our community? How can we be so arrogant as a nation when we have so many homeless animals? Surely, it is one of the easiest things in our community to fix. A surrender fee is $50 for those who cannot afford more, and if they cannot take the pet now, they can put you on a waiting list. All you have to do is care for an animal temporarily.

To be a foster parent or to help Central Coast animals just contact a local Humane or Surrender Shelter.

Despite our ability to ignore animals, they remain completely accepting of our affection. There are still puppy and kitten farms all over the United States that breed cats over and over. So I ask you never to purchase an animal from the store. These puppy and kitten mills are inhumane places where animals are often abused and truly there is no reason to breed a pet when we have 8 million per year that are unwanted. Always go to a local Humane Society to get a new pet.

Animals are a gift to us. Their whole reason for being in this world is to benefit us. That’s why they are some of the best therapy for adults and for children. They increase happiness in every interaction. Why would you rob yourself and your family of the joy they bring when so many of them need your help?

Amelia Wagoner is a social media promoter and web designer on the Central Coast. Send comments to the executive editor at rmiller@santamariasun.com.