I’m going to tell you a story that’s kind of sad, but it’s also absolutely infuriating at the same time. You know me…you know how I am about animals. If you think you might be offended or don’t want to be ‘brought down’ in any way, don’t read this. I’m going to write about things I am INSANELY passionate about, and if you know me at all, you probably know exactly what those things are gonna be. I’m just saying. It is what it is.
If you still want to read, here. Let me begin with this:
This is “Lady.”
I met Lady this morning on my way to the office. I left earlier than usual because I had a phone interview I had to do for a story, and so I was trying to be super punctual. But as I headed towards the main road out of my neighborhood, I spotted a smallish gray cat in the road ahead of me, mere feet from the busy, 6-lane road.
As I neared closer with my car, the cat was walking very slowly, almost painfully across the street. Normally, a cat in the road that senses a car approaching will bolt to get out of the way. I was moving slow so that I wouldn’t spook it into running in the wrong direction…towards the busy road. The cat didn’t move any faster as I approached. No one was coming behind me, so I stopped my car, rolled down the window and called to the cat in a soft voice.
The cat looked in my direction and mewed. Something was terribly wrong with it.
I got out of my car slowly, approaching carefully. I saw no blood, or signs of road rash, so it didn’t appear the cat had been hit by a car, thank God. But it wasn’t right. It was skinny, with wet eyes and its back legs were twitching funny. To me, it almost seemed like it was sick or dying. I made a split second decision to try to pick the cat up and get it out of the road. I should have been driving to work, and instead there I was, gently loading an injured or sick cat into my car.
We all know a cat would never let a stranger pick it up like that, so of course something was horribly wrong. My heart was breaking but I knew the cat needed comfort, so I just spoke softly to it, told it it was going to be OK, I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to it, and drove quickly over to the nearest vet clinic which happens to be right in my neighborhood.
Of course I started wondering about the money part of this. What was I doing? I have $40 in my bank account until I get paid tomorrow. I didn’t know this cat. In fact, I had a suspicion it wasn’t anyone’s cat. It was just a stray. Was I doing the smart thing, carrying a sick cat into a vet’s office?
And yes again.
I felt so right about doing this. And when the receptionist asked me if I was going to take “financial responsibility” for the cat, I said, “absolutely.” What was I going to do…let it die? I’d already picked it up from certain death on the hot road, so it was underway from the moment I touched its little, weak body.
I explained what had happened, and the techs started checking the cat out. It was a girl. They thought she had a dislocated leg or something at first, and we gently wrapped her in a towel to weigh her on the big dog scale. She was only 6.5 pounds. Her eyes were cloudy, like she was older. Her coat was dull and basically, she didn’t seem long for this world. But I sat with her as she lay on the table wrapped in the towel, and I talked to her.
I told her what a wonderful cat she was, and that no matter what happened, she was going to be absolutely OK. I did. I sat there in the room waiting for the vet to come in, just petting her softly and watching the vitality just fading from her green eyes.
The vet came in and checked her over. There were no injuries. No dislocated joints or anything. However… all symptoms pointed to her being poisoned.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my neighborhood has been plagued by a psychotic bastard who is poisoning the dogs with strychnine/arsenic-laced dog food, left in the park and in other places around the neighborhood. It’s been going on for about a year now. The police are involved, and it’s a very serious situation. (Luckily, everyone is super vigilant and aware of this problem, and there are signs everywhere warning people about the danger and encouraging owners not to let their dogs off leash or allow them to eat anything they find along a walk. I’m just used to watching out for anything suspicious and while I haven’t seen anything and my own babies have been safe, it’s still terrifying to think that this is going on!)
Getting back to the poor cat. Basically, the poisoning is treatable but it’s not cheap. And the cat was already pretty bad. I said I would pay for bloodwork to determine if she had in fact been poisoned, and then if they could tell how dire the situation was, I could make the decision to treat her or humanely euthanize her.
The only problem with that was the fact that the bloodwork results wouldn’t be back until the end of the day today, the earliest. And then, for all those hours, the cat would be deteriorating even further. They could keep her sedated, do an IV with fluids, but finally the vet was just blunt: it wasn’t likely to help. He recommended putting her to sleep.
And so, I agreed.
She had no name, so I named her Lady. They wrote it down. She had a name.
I talked to her again, reassuring her about peace and no more pain, and that she was forever safe and no one would ever hurt her again. I got choked up, but honestly, I felt like this was the best thing I could do for Lady. Instead of letting her suffer for hours, I was giving her the gift of a peaceful sleep. I was so grateful I found her; that I was the one to take care of her when God knows we live in a world of callous, uncaring people.
If I’d left her there in the street, even if I had shepherded her to a side street away from the dangerous main road, it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. Not for me. I would be thinking about her all day and agonizing over leaving her. And now, knowing she was poisoned, I know she would have either been hit by a car (someone not paying attention to the road or unwilling to slow down for a slow-moving cat) or crawled under a bush somewhere and suffered a slow, agonizing death out in the 100+ degree heat.
The vet staff was so nice, and didn’t charge me for the euthanasia or cremation. I only had to pay an exam fee. They thanked me for being so compassionate, which was nice, but unnecessary. I had no choice in doing this. I believe I’m literally wired to do this sort of thing. I can’t help myself. Even during a week when layoffs at work are looming, and I don’t want to drop any balls at all there, an animal won out. It’s the best way to explain it when I just say that this is what I do and who I am. End of story.
But I have to tell you, I am beyond PISSED OFF that this had to happen. Oh my God. I want to murder someone. I want to find the coward who is doing this and forcefeed this person some of the poison, and hold him or her down outside in the hot sun, and let them slowly die. I want to inflict true suffering and torture on this person. I do. I know that isn’t very ‘compassionate’ of me, but that’s ALSO how I am wired: you simply do not commit violence against those who do not have voices or the means to defend themselves. You just DO NOT DO IT. In the same way it’s horrible to hurt a baby, it’s just as horrible to hurt an animal.
I have no sympathy for these assholes. None. I would personally disembowel a criminal who did something to hurt an animal. I have a red-hot anger flaring up inside of me whenever I read or see something that qualifies as cruelty, and I know one of these days I am going to lose my shit. You know how you just have a feeling about some things? Well, I have a very strong feeling that if I am ever going to be arrested, it’s going to be for inflicting my own eye-for-an-eye justice on an animal torturer. I don’t even care. I’d gladly go to prison knowing I took one of the bad people out of our population. I’m dead serious.
I feel like buying a weapon and driving around my neighborhood, every day, looking for this piece of shit; this embarassment to the human race. I want to catch him or her in the act. And I want to let this pent-up, insane RAGE out all over them!
And God help anyone who ever even attempted to harm my own pets. Holy crap. I’m pretty sure I would tap into a primal instinct, buried since the days when we were all cavemen, and tear the person to shreds. I’m positive I would. Just like any mother protecting her children; that would be me with my dogs. You even look at them the wrong way, I’m going to give you one hell of a problem right back.
I WANT TO DO MORE!!!
I want to help save more animals and stop the horrors perpetuated on them everyday. I want to STOP the overpopulation problem. I want to slam people up against a wall and shove a photo of dead animal carcasses at the pound into their faces. “SEE THIS? Because you let your animals breed, because you bought a bred animal, because you put money into a system that’s a DISGUSTING SHAME to our very society…these animals ARE DEAD. You did it. You might not have actually put the needle in, but make no mistake: YOU CONTRIBUTED.” How’s that feel? People just don’t want to confront this horrendous truth. It’s easier to put it out of mind. It’s easier to justify behavior, or try to find loopholes as to why your situation is different or better somehow.
Life is ugly. It’s brutal, in fact.
And this particular problem is, sadly, a very real part of our everyday lives. Animal overpopulation isn’t going to go away overnight. But we have to do all we can. All of us who are animal lovers; all of you reading this. PLEASE don’t take this shit lying down. It’s about us as much as it is about the animals.
In Christian theology, the followers of Christ are taught to be stewards of the earth. To care for those who cannot care for themselves. To view the multitude of blessings we have been given with reverance and great respect. To not waste things, to not harm or damage unnecessarily. I think it’s cool that sustainability and green/recycling is becoming so popular, because in the Christianity that I subscribe to, this is a paramount belief. It’s what we were told to do in Genesis. And dumb mortals Adam and Eve fucked it up. But the message is still there, and we do commit sins every single day. The whole free will thing, you know… yadda yadda. It doesn’t mean we can’t be the best human beings we can be. It doesn’t mean we give up or stop trying to do the right thing.
And that’s what I want to teach people. To see inside themselves and determine what this means for them, individually. Does it mean you become someone who regularly picks up trash on the beach? Or that you spend time giving things you have in excess to those who don’t have enough? Or does it mean you speak out and help abused children or women? Or, like in my case, does it mean you try to help the lowest of the low, the animals? Whatever your calling is, LISTEN TO IT. It’s so crucial to being a true human being. We’re called to help. Not just in Christianity, but in all major religions.
There is a higher power. And guess what: WE’RE IT.
Sorry to babble, to get on my soap box. Actually, scratch that. I am really not sorry at all! I’m glad I care this passionately about something, and I shouldn’t feel ashamed or apologetic for it. I am not hurting anyone or anything. Maybe hurting feelings from time to time, but come on… that’s going to happen no matter WHAT. There’s always going to be someone who disagrees. I accept that and in fact, I would never fight it. It’s regrettable people have to get their egos damaged sometimes, but it’s really unavoidable.
I want to believe in the good in people! I want this so much it hurts.
I want the good people to stand up and help their world. I don’t want the good people to turn their heads away from a problem. If I had one superpower, it would be the switch the light on inside all of the good people, give them the jolt to have the courage to DO what they are meant to do, by nature. Whatever that is. I just want to believe we each have the capacity and ability to help out and do something good for the universe. I do believe it.
It’s hard on days like today. It’s very hard to watch an innocent, beautiful creature die because of evil. But it’s not going to beat me. I am going to fight to believe in the good heart of the human race.
I’ll do this, forever. Just try to stop me.