Monday, September 27, 2010

When Normal People Are Mean To Animals, What's To Be Done With Ourselves?

My husband tells me a cat has begun hanging around his place of business and the staff has taken to feeding it.

“What does Fluffy think about that?” I ask. She's the Himalayan they rescued 10 years ago.

“She hasn't noticed yet,” he says, his eyebrows arching as they often do when he detects the need for surplus caution.

I brought our dog Keeley to visit him once. Took her off the leash, unaware of Fluffy's presence. She was a rescue herself, with two docile cat-sisters at home. So she didn't know any better when she cornered Fluffy who, naturally, hissed and struck out. Keeley, who was five times Fluffy's size, screeched away terrified, her bowel contents spluttering behind.

For obvious reasons we didn't put them together again.

But Fluffy's cast-iron proprietorialness—-and her latest feline rival--speaks to the potential in all humans to be generous-hearted to animals.

Or at the very least to be kind instead of cruel.

And lately, I needed to be reminded of this--that people aren't inherently hateful. It's when they're hurting that they also hurt others.

How else to explain why Mary Bale, when she walked home from work last month in Coventry, England, put a cat named Lola in a garbage can?

Had Lola's owners not had a surveillance camera, they probably never would have learned why she spent 15 hours imprisoned and covered in her own excrement.

Lola's owners posted the footage on YouTube, and a viewer identified Bale.  Last week, she was charged with two counts of animal cruelty; her court date is set for October 19.

But the reality is, while publicity surrounding Bale's offense may be fading, her motivation for doing what she did probably isn't. Unless she undertakes her own personal inventory, there's a good chance it never will.

And that worries me. Lola wasn't physically harmed, but Bale's story feels more treacherous than the blatant animal cruelty of the Michael Vick variety.

Bale doesn't look like someone who would purposely hurt an animal. And her act appears eerily reminiscent of a scene from an adult animated series like Family Guy.

Actually, what happens on Family Guy is even more sickening. In an episode originally aired on April 19, 2009, they torture and kill a pet cat with a razor.

So I can't help wondering, When did cartoons and normal people become so dangerous?

Didn't Bale understand a cat is a sentient person? Would be crushed once dumped in a garbage truck? At the very least couldn't she feel at her core how mean it is to imprison any creature against its will?

True, our society mistreats animals every day--as commodities in our quest to feed, heal and beautify humans. But there is increasing public pressure to improve the lives of these animals by employing kinder, more responsible practices or eliminating animal use completely. Not perfect, but definitely progress. Proof that humans understand no animal is "just an animal."   They feel pain and fear and stress like us.

In the video footage of Bale, it's apparent that she knew what she was about to do was unacceptable. She glanced up and down the sidewalk while she pet Lola--then picked her up, dropped her in the can, closed the lid and left.

Bale thought before she acted.  But for her, maybe it was too late. Whatever hurt had been building up within her was so far gone she snapped.

And whenever we react in a way that's incongruous to what's actually in front of us--or do things out of character, which is what Bale claimed she did--it can mean we've denied our feelings for too long and, ultimately, displaced them.  Sometimes to a place perceived as more safe, such as a pet or spouse or child.

It's frustrating to think her story fades here.  Hopefully it can be something more. A turning point for her.

An opportunity for myself.

I wouldn't put a pet in a garbage can, but I have and still could unleash hurts and resentments with cruel, avenging words and actions.

But none of us is a lost cause. I can do better tomorrow.

So can Mary Bale.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please Feel Free To Leave A Comment