Musings of an Animal Advocate

Has it really been over a month since I last blogged? That doesn’t seem right. Yet, it does because not much animal related work has happened in that time. There are always the odd little stories with my ferals, or a spotting of a “new” cat in the neighborhood, the frustrated desire and attempts to catch more of the cats in my neighborhood, but nothing worth posting about.

Being an animal advocate is an adventure. It makes life more challenging and stressful. Unlike most people I cannot just turn my back, or walk away when I see something wrong. Perhaps the problem is that I see things in the first place. Things that most people do not see. Today when I was walking to work I noticed a dove on the sidewalk. Something about this dove was just not right. I still can’t quite place what wasn’t right, but something about her seemed off. Perhaps it was the fact that she didn’t fly away when I approached, but I think there was something more than that. The feathers on her back seemed to be wrong, like some were missing or displaced. And one of her eyes seemed a little larger than normal, or maybe there were some feathers missing from around her eye. I don’t quite know what it was but something about this dove screamed “wrong” to me. I was able to stand within inches of her and stared at her for several minutes  (which is weird in and of itself. Unless this Chicago dove was just used to all the people around Lincoln Park Zoo).  I wanted to get help for her,  because something just screamed wrong to me. I was late for work though, and my phone had once again stopped working, so I was unable to call either Flint Creek to seek their advice about this bird, or my boss to tell him I was going to be late. So, reluctantly, I walked away from the dove, vowing to try to find help and do something when I came out from work if she was still there.

I highly doubted that the dove would be around when I got out of work, I mean a big city like  Chicago, especially around the green parks and open spaces of Lincoln Park Zoo, there are plenty of places for a bird, even an injured one, to go to. I was unsure if she was able to fly though, and I thought a flightless bird might not get very far in the four hours I am actually at work. Unsurprisingly she was not in the park when I came out of work. I looked for her, but there was not even a bird to be found, with the exception of one Robin bopping around. I hope the bird is ok. I know nature can be cruel, I know not all animals or birds born will survive, that they get sick, injured etc and die. I just thought, if this bird was injured, I could at least ease her suffering. That is my interpretation of humans role in the world. I am not religious but did go to a Catholic grade school. I remember coloring pictures about being kind to animals and not hurting them. And I remember when we first studied the Bible, and the book of Genesis where it says that God gave humans dominion over all the animals, I immediately interpreted that to mean that we have the responsibility to protect them and care for them. So my goal was simply to make the dove’s life easier. If she was injured and had to be put down, then it would at least have eased her suffering. At least I can say I tried. It is more than more people would have done.

It is strange that I found this bird today. I went to the vet’s office to pick up some medicine for my cats and as I pulled up I thought to myself, I hope I don’t find any more cats today. No animal rescues today! See the last time I went to the vet’s office without my cats, I found a stray cat wandering the street.  Most people would drive by but I had to stop. My family and friends tell me I didn’t have to stop, but I did. It’s just who I am. I stopped, got out of the car expecting the cat to run away. He did not.

Milk Dud, chillin at the vet’s office. How could you not stop to help a cutie like this?

He ran towards me and demanded I pet him. I swore a little under my breath. I called the vet’s office to see if they were aware of this particular cat being out on the streets. They were not. I swore some more. My worst fear has always been picking up someone’s outdooor cat and mistaking him for a stray. Of course I tell everyone else that if the cat is outside and doesn’t have a collar on, it is fair game to assume she or he is a stray. I sat in a near debilitating indecision for what felt like minutes. It was “near debilitating” because the cat demanded I pet him this entire time. I eventually decided to scoop him up in the extra carrier I have in my trunk and take him back to the vets office to scan for a microchip.

Fortunately, he did have a microchip, and oddly enough, he was chipped to the shelter I used to work at. So I gave them a call and drove him back there so they could reunite him with his adopters. Which they did, apparently Milk Dud, as I discovered his name was, lived within two blocks of where I found him and had snuck out only an hour or two before I found him.  It made me proud that I picked him up, and helped me justify myself to my family. Some people don’t understand this need to stop and help, and I can’t explain it to them. It just is an essential part of me. It is who I am. I fought it too long. Even while I was in the doctor’s office with Milk Dud waiting to hear about the microchip, I was worried that I would have to explain myself to his people.

The people who don’t understand my need to help, to stop and help the injured animals or lose dogs and cats roaming the street also don’t understand my need to not eat meat, to try being vegan, to do what I can to help the vulnerable of this world. And they never will. I have to stop being defensive around them. I have to be proud of who and what I am. Maybe then they will have a little understanding of where I am coming from.

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