Tuesday, October 14, 2008


We all know that animals are often in lousy situations; we're even desensitized to it. Pictures of overcrowded cats in cages at the Trenton Animal Shelter won't make you donate your time, or send supplies, or money, to help with this crisis. "Oh well," you may think, "that's never gonna change." And you'd be correct. So maybe you'll continue working on that report, or will pull the chicken out of the freezer for dinner tonight, and just continue on your way.

I don't judge you for that. I don't. Glen and I do a lot for the Trenton cats (and occasional dog) and I'm convinced most days it doesn't matter at all. It doesn't change the fact that there are irresponsible idiots out there who don't sterilize their animals, and then dump them on the street; or, that people are losing their homes right now, and the family pet is often the first thing to go. Left unchecked, those family pets will take over the streets, where they will surely die; or they wind up in the shelters, where they may die, too.

I started writing this here blog in part because of the stray cat situation in Trenton. I had volunteered at the shelter a couple of times in 2005, and always left in tears, and sometimes, I left with an animal. Obviously, I'm an animal person, so feeling lousy for an animal in a lousy situation isn't difficult for me. But it does reflect a bigger trend: that domesticated animals are in such bad shape because their companions — humans — are, too. The way I figure, if I can change the circumstances of just one animal, it means everything to that one creature; it also takes some of the load off of the good people at the shelter; maybe it even helps, in a small way, to keep our taxes down (not that the shelter has seen much in the way of tax dollars; good God, have you SEEN that place?)

Photo courtesy of Paul A. Harris, Jr., of www.trentonrises.com. For more pictures of the shelter, including pictures of way too many cats in a deplorable state, click on his link.

We all have different strengths and talents, and some folks are really talented at saying, "Look at those stupid animal people who would do anything for animals, but won't do the same for their fellow humans." And some people are just trying to maintain and/or improve their little corner of the world, in the ways they can, and if their little corner is riddled with stray cats, well then, that's the problem that must be addressed. So, I'll focus on my neighborhood cats, and LA Parker, you can keep up your fine humanitarian efforts in Ewing.

Our goal with a cat-riddled corner was to keep our local cats out of the Trenton Animal Shelter, largely because it's a kill facility, but also because it helps to relieve the burden at the shelter, freeing up the staff and volunteers to focus on the animals who need attention. Plus, I should be able to take care of my own damn corner. I am capable of that. Most of the time.

I don't think I'm all that special. I don't have self-esteem problems, but I mean, come on: I'm a computer geek, and most of the time, I don't shower until a half hour or so before Glen gets home from work, and I spend my days at the computer, in my jammy bottoms. Today, they're South Park/Camo jammy bottoms.

My South Park jammy bottoms are awesome, and so are my long toes. That is Steve (who was a Trenton stray), resting his weary, cat-tormenting head on my knee.

I mention this because with the written word, you don't get to hear my inflection. And I want to convey that I am not really a self-righteous, sanctimonious person. If I were, most likely I would have (at least) showered by now. What I'm saying is that I do have respect for (most of) the rest of humanity. Surely most of you are more social and more active than I am: you shower and get dressed in the morning, and leave the house, right? I'm a bit busy these days with a new baby, a new dog, and a bunch of cats, but I assure you, even without all of those wonderful beings around me, I'd still be sitting here in my pajama bottoms. It's a fact.

My point is, if I can take care of a bunch of beings, certainly you folks who get dressed in the morning and leave the house occasionally can do a little something, too. You don't have to do a lot. Maybe just don't give up your animals, or try to pawn them off on suckers like me. Maybe you have some old towels you were gonna toss: the shelter can use those. Maybe next time you're at Sam's or Costco, you can buy a case of cat food and you can bring it to the shelter — or bring it to me, and I'll bring it to the shelter. If you've ditched an animal lately (and you know who you are, Dad), perhaps you can repent in even just the smallest way by buying a bunch of little fuzzy mice, and again, bringing them to the shelter, or bring them to me to bring to the shelter. If you do have a bit of spare time, maybe you can go to the shelter to help out, or coordinate with the volunteers and help out on adoption days at the pet store. It's a great activity for older kids who like animals.

I know there are people who figure none of these efforts will make a difference and there are people who will criticize because you're doing something for animals, instead of people. But your efforts do help humanity. Cats and dogs were domesticated by us; they are part of us and our history. They need us to care for them. Humanity is better for what companion animals have to offer, and their suffering does not improve our society.

For more information, check out the Trenton Animal Shelter's website.

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