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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are you an Animal Lover or Spectator?

by Christine Michaels

What does it mean to be an "animal lover"? Does it mean feeding a hungry, homeless animal? Does it mean contributing a few dollars to a neighborhood effort to spay/neuter stray cats? Does it mean you would pick up an injured dog on side of road and rush it to nearest animal hospital and spend the thousand dollars if you had the money? Aaah and that is the crux. Often people have the money but would rather spend it on material things. We say we are a nation of animal lovers, yet during a recession people are dumping their animals into streets, an act of cruelty per the law.

More specifically I'm faced with a recurring issue that weighs heavily on my mind and emotional wits. I really need some feedback on this one.

Two coworkers live in same apartment building where they care for an outdoor stray cat. To protect their identities let's call these coworkers Roger and Jane. Both are single, no children, no dependents and are gainfully employed at prestigious advertising firm.  Often when congregating in the kitchen I hear stories of many nights out with friends. Per Roger "I never am home only to sleep at night. If I'm not at work then I'm out with friends" which explains why he does not adopt a homeless pet. Perfectly understandable.

However, Roger and Jane each feed Milo, the apartment's pet. Roger feeds him at night and Jane feeds him in the morning. Now of course I have educated them on the critical need to neuter Milo to reverse epidemic of homeless cats AND to stop animal cruelty.  I have shared personal, DETAILED stories of injuries by kittens and cats. This conversation has endured for well over 7 or 8 months. Roger jotted down name of closeby vet and the hours. I even offered to help with picking up Milo after surgery, etc. To this date, nothing has been done. Roger's refrain, "I'll talk and coordinate with Jane".

What time investment is required? 20 minutes to place Milo in a carrier and drop him off at vet on the way to work. 20 MINUTES! I even loaned them my pet carrier and offered to pick up Milo post surgery and do his post care! Roger is insistent on partnering with Jane. Therein lies the problem. Jane, in our last conversation,  shared she just doesn't want to make the time.  I was shocked! A wave of questions bubbled up to my lips I had to hold back "Then you're not an animal lover, are you?" "Why not be part of the solution instead of the problem?", "Do you not care that half of kittens are born,  die under 8 weeks of age?" This doesn't have to happen if people spay/neuter the animals they feed or care for.

Can Roger and Jane afford the $25? Absolutely!
Do they have the time? Absolutely!
Do they care? I suppose not. But it pains me that someone with the time and means and knowledge does nothing and is now intentionally part of the problem.

Here's where I believe that a full blown regional EDUCATION PSA campaign is necessary. There is a high recall (advertising lingo for "many people remember a particular commercial" ) of the ASPCA commercial with Sara McLoughlin. The story of an abused or abandoned dog, it pulls heartstrings, the tear geyser is gushing, and motivates you to open your wallet and donate. I did. What Miami needs is a brief video following the life and struggle of a mother cat and her kittens, the host of dangers they face.  A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.

Do I think Roger and Jane are "animal lovers"? No. Another term is more fitting "Animal Spectators". Spectating from a distance and not wholly investing in their welfare are two different things. Roger and Jane love to watch Milo and feed him but care nothing for his general welfare and that of other cats. Once Jane was worried that Milo had evident injury. Something with his paw, he was limping. I lent her my carrier to take Milo to vet.  She never took him. Sadly I think I'm bordering on generalization in stating that Generation X is a generation of instant gratification. We hear if often and I see it. The "spoon feed me" or "it's not my problem" mentality.  My priest recently preached from the pulpit "Those who have the least, give the most". He's so right.

More recently, our CEO sent an inspiring message in commemoration of 9/11. He reminded us that "Silence is not a legacy" and encouraged us to not let evil prevail and speak out about an injustice. I used this opportunity to appeal to Roger and Jane. Roger came to see me immediately--a ray of hope. Again "I'll speak to Jane and coordinate with her." This was Friday, September 9th. That light of hope has vanished.

Why doesn't Roger just take Milo? Good question. At this point I don't want to ask for fear of nagging. There's that fine line between friendly encouragement and maintaining cordial professional working relationship. Rocking the boat at an employer is never wise.

I decided, I have to let it go. It's not easy, it's torture and instead convert that rage and frustration into pure energy to propel me to reach my dream of an educational campaign. Only then will we reverse this tragedy!

What do you think? Please share your opinion by clicking on "Comment" below.

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