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Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Gift of Loving our Animal Friends

Molly is a horse with three legs*. Oh, she was born in perfect condition, but during the floods caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, she was abandoned by her boss. After weeks of wandering around in flooded areas, she was found and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were harbored. Unfortunately, Molly's misery did not end there, because she was attacked by a pitbull who mangled her right foreleg. As it usually goes with social cases, Molly was not a priority for the vet, because there was no one who could pay the bill. Luckily the vet saw her and was moved with compassion. He saw how careful Molly treated her damaged leg and how she would lay in ways that she would not acquire any additional wounds. He also saw how she allowed people to help her. This horse wanted to survive and the vet decided to help.

Molly's mangled leg was amputated just below the knee and she received a provisional prosthetic leg. From there on, things improved steadily. A prosthetic specialist made her a permanent prosthesis and thanks to her balanced attitude Molly regained her zest for life. Today, she even notifies others when she wants her prosthetic leg attached or removed and best of all, she even has a job! Molly and her new owner visit hospitals and other places where people, especially children, have lost the will to live. With her presence and the story about her survival many get encouraged to work on their recovery with renewed energy.

Stories like Molly’s can be found around the world. Animals can be our greatest friends if we let them. We only need to be receptive to their generous, giving nature in order to experience how kindhearted most of them are. And then, it should be self-explanatory that we should also be there for them when they are in distress.

It is this last part that is sometimes lacking among humans. We want our animals to be there for us when we need them, but when it is the other way around, we often feel as if we cannot invest as much time, love and energy in them.

I therefore welcome the initiatives of many animal shelters and entities who go out of their way to save abandoned or mistreated pets and try to give them a new, loving home. The most painful truth is that many people think they are animal lovers, and choose to remain in complete ignorance about their actions. Think of the many people who state that they love their birds, but keep them caged year after year? Or those who swear that they love their dog but keep them chained month after month with no running space and no time or chance to play? And think of all the people that walk around in zoos with great pleasure, totally ignorant to the suffering of those caged animals?

There's a nasty selfish basis in keeping animals captive for our enjoyment. It reveals our inability to relate to the fate of these animals that have received a life sentence without having committed any crime. However, we do have the ability to think and reflect, and I am inviting you to consider animals with more reflective depth -- not only your pets but all animals. Give them a chance of a life they can enjoy, please? Take good care of them. Feed them well, take them to the vet when they are ill, and grant them proper space to move and play? If your pet is always locked or chained because you are so busy, you might want to consider granting him or her some more time, or donating  him or her to someone who can muster more time and love? I do hope that you read this in the spirit in which it is intended: not as reprimand, but as a humble request from animal lover to another.

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