No, animals are not our brothers in the sense that they are not born of men; but we share this earth with them, and in many respects, share the same fate. What happens to them eventually happens to us in ways we might not even consider. If we poison our planet, we poison life that is sustained by the planet. If we show little regard for the small creatures of this place we call home, can our disregard of life not quickly extend to the lives of people as well?
Today our neighbor’s daughter took four little kittens to the animal control facility. When she spoke to me about it, she said that she regretted having to do it, but the kittens were ‘feral’ and unhealthy. No one had ever taken the time to show any attention to the mother cat, so the kittens’ relationship with humans consisted of staying just out of reach. The kittens were undoubtedly euthanized this morning shortly after their arrival at animal control.
Each day thousands of kittens, puppies, cats, dogs, and assorted critters are killed one way or the other. We have agencies that try to prevent cruelty to any animal, but the fact is that the animals are in an overwhelming majority. Even if every family in America took in two dogs and cats today, thousands would still be out there roaming the streets and alleys. And the outlook for their survival—much less their healthy existence—is pretty dismal.
Horses were once the treasure and pride of kings. Today it almost takes a king’s financial backing in order to keep a horse. So what happens to the thousands that are not in stables and beautiful green pastures? They die of neglect. It is just that simple. An animal that carries its pride in its head and flying mane can become a bedraggled carcass just as quickly as the dogs and cats roaming the streets unless someone cares for it.
Now the little child that roams the streets is no different than an animal—and almost as dangerous. It may grow up to become a vicious killer. It needs loving care, attention, and someone to teach it—to tame it. The child may belong to a neighbor, but we pay attention if we want to reach out to tame a little heart. We teach by example. The child sees how we treat our cat, our dog, and our neighbors. And the child becomes tame.
None of us can prevent abuse or neglect of all the animals. And none of us will ever overcome the crises of child abuse in this world. But each of us can take responsibility where we can, in whatever way we can. One kitten, one old dog, one little boy at a time can be loved.