Monday, February 14, 2011

Fuzzy valentines

An acquaintance posted this today on Facebook:

"My thoughts may seem heartless but I'd like answers: I love animals as pets... but seriously, what good does it do to save homeless domestic animals? I'm talking about TV commercials that want donations to help them. Honestly, I'd much rather donate money to saving wild animals. What's the good in saving them as apposed [sic] to euthanizing? Don't we have enough of them already?"

But seriously? I don't understand her point of view. My response to her was, "Every December we go to the local animal shelter with our kids for our Christmas service project. It's been a real eye-opener to see how little money they get from adoption fees vs. their operating costs. We donate food, cleaning products, and lots of love to the animals. Maybe a more hands-on approach would make a donation more meaningful to you."

Then she posted, "
Hmmm... I'm not convinced yet. I think they should be 'put out of their misery'. I know that may sound horrible, but I'd want to go to heaven if my life sucked. God can take much better care of a creature that's not contributing to the earth in a beneficial way."

The practical part of me immediately responded: "That's what happens to animals that aren't adopted, but euthanizing them still takes money, often more than shelters receive from their regular sources of funding."

In my heart, though, it goes so much deeper than that, so far beyond just matters of practicality--understanding that it takes money and time to help animal die humanely as well as to live humanely--and I've been stewing about it all afternoon. I want to reach out, grab her by the shoulders and shake her. I want to say:

"I have a few more thoughts. Have you ever had to put an animal down? I did, just last week: a cat we adopted from a shelter 11 years ago, and who has had a long, happy life with us but who recently had kidney failure. We put him down right after we found out because we knew there was no remedy and we didn't want him to suffer. Having done it, it's hard to think in a cavalier fashion about putting down animals who 'aren't contributing' to society or who might be better cared for by God. You say you are looking for answers to something that perplexes you, but it almost sounds like you want your answer tied up neatly with a bow on top, absolving us all of guilt or the responsibility for caring for animals that have been neglected--by 'putting them out of their misery'.

"The thing is, there are no easy answers to this issue. Life on this earth is messy. Wild animals are no more or less deserving than homeless domesticated animals, or any others, for that matter. So, we do what we can do, what we feel comfortable doing, what we have the means to do, we guide our actions as much as possible with compassion and integrity, and we make peace with the messy parts of life we can't control. But there are no neat bows, no easy answers, and for us, as stewards over the animals of this earth, no right to make the decision to put down an animal for our own convenience that does in fact have a chance for a healthy, meaningful life in which it feels joyful and loved."

I was all ready to cut and paste, to post my opinion on her wall--but then I stopped. I honestly think there's no point; I think she just wants someone to tell her what she wants to hear. If that's the case, I'm not going to convince her of all the holes in her argument, and I don't want to get all het up if it's not going to do any good. I can only feel sad for her, really sad. She just doesn't get it.

Fuzzy valentines need our love even more than we need theirs. It's a privilege to be loved by them, as well as to love them in return.


helgaruth said...

My friend Sue said to me the other day, "God bless the little children and the animals...for they have no choice". She told me it's a little prayer that she's said over and over again for years. So true. Our stewardship for these helpless and innocent ones is truly important. I often find that I don't get it. But I'm grateful for those such as yourself who are passionate about caring for our fuzzy valentines. You remind me that I am an animal lover. Thank you.

Super Happy Girl said...

:( It's so sad and there's no real solution. It's good that people care and volunteer.