It’s not just Animal Abuse that gets me angry. It’s those that ‘talk the talk’ about helping to make a difference, and then, well, don’t.
Take this past week. In just seven days, I have had three separate situations that have entailed people not making good decisions.
A woman witnessed a moving vehicle tossing a live cat out the window. The cat hit the pavement, injured, and then ran off. Of course this woman took to social media to rant about the driver, threatening to take action against the driver if she saw him again. In that same post, she took the time to post the location and description of the vehicle. She stopped to see if she could grab the cat, and went back to that location one time later to see if the cat would show. But – BUT – she didn’t report it. And then, when others stepped up on that post to beg her to report it, to provide additional information, and to participate in making a plan to search and rescue that cat, she chose silence. Someone else, from that Facebook post, reported it. And when authorities were finally able to connect with this woman, she suddenly lost her memory and said she could not remember the exact location or description of the truck. I personally messaged her, asking her to drive with me up and down that street to spot the location, but – BUT – no reply. Her final action was to delete the Facebook post, despite the fact that many people were still in varying degrees of working together to look for the cat. Shameful.
There are feral and stray cat colonies and families everywhere, my town is no exception. I won’t get into all the ways that this can be prevented. Instead, I want to talk about a small cat family in the next town over. Hanging around a dumpster, next to a clump of brush, is a cat family. Both adults and kittens. Ferals? Maybe. Strays? Definitely. I’m proud to say that our community is really good about helping out these outside cats and kittens. So, when I made it known that a local business that had a small family of cats that needed feeding, watering and shelter help, a woman who volunteers at one of our local shelters stepped up and offered to feed and water them. We talked about what caring for these cats meant, and what the caretaking would entail. When it was time to build the winter cat shelters for this location, the day of building them came and she called in sick to cancel for that. I didn’t think much of that – people get sick and plans change. I moved on, we built the shelters, set up the location, and this woman said she would go – every day. That was in the summer. Fast forward to this weekend, and mind you, no-one has heard a peep from this woman since that time, so we assumed all was going as planned; everyone is under the impression she is feeding and watering these cats every day. But – BUT – she hasn’t been. I find out by accident, when I stop by that location to retrieve my trail cam so we can use it to monitor another animal in need issue. I drive up to this location, cats are there, but no food and no water. No recent prints in the snow to show that any human has been there in quite some time. My heart breaks for these cats, who probably have been waiting a while to eat. When I reach out to this woman, her response boils down to she’s busy and she goes “when she can”. These cats are depending on her for their food and water. But – BUT – no response. NO response. Can I use the word Shameful again? Shameful.
Situation III ( a twofer one)
My husband and I are in our home, and there’s incessant barking going on outside at a nearby residence. Taking a walk outside, it’s a dog unknown to us in our neighborhood. This dog is barking at a deer that is inside a fenced in yard. The dog is on the outside of the fence, a young German Shepherd who has a collar and a harnass. No-one is around. Clearly a loose dog. A knock on that neighbor’s door and we are told that he sees this strange dog in the yard, but – BUT – he doesn’t want to get involved because he does not recognize the dog, so he does nothing. We jump in our car and drive around the area, whereby we run into the dog owner in his car, looking for his dog. He is super worried and very upset. But – BUT – why is he looking for his dog? Because he let the dog out at the gas station down the street without a leash so the dog could potty, and the dog took off. We drive around a little more, eventually spot the dog, put him in my jeep, and return the dog to his owner.
What is the main theme of these situations? Well, actually, there are a few. But my focus is this: Don’t Be a BUT.
In a nutshell:
- If you witness Animal Abuse in ANY form, REPORT IT. You have a moral, ethical and legal responsibility if you witness abuse, to report it. Reporting it does NOT mean YOU will get into trouble. Yes, you will be part of the reporting process where they will take your contact information. But the bigger picture is that by reporting it, a formal witness allows law enforcement to investigate aspects of a situation that they otherwise cannot act on. Witness statements also can help stop an abuser from abusing again just by providing information and details that maybe no-one else saw.
- If you commit to helping an animal in need, help at 100%. If you take on a volunteer project that requires x, y and z. Then, please to do ALL of x, y and z. To simply pick and choose what you will do in piecemeal, when something more is required and you know it, is well, simply crappy of you. Others (animals AND humans) are relying on you to do exactly what you promised, at 100%. If you realize your volunteer project is not working out for you (for whatever reason), then don’t just stop. Make calls, ask for help, find a replacement, do whatever it takes to make sure the job is done at 100%, and then stop.
- Get Involved. If you see something, or if you think you see something, JUST DO SOMETHING. Lives (both animal and human) have been saved and spared because people, even doing the most minimal thing like a phone call, have done something. If you see that strange dog in your yard, even a phone call may make the difference between that dog running off, getting hit by a car or becoming further lost/cold. Don’t ignore something just because you can or it’s easier to take that route.
- If you own a pet, think about your actions and non-actions. This includes the smallest effort of putting a leash on your dog before you take him/her out to potty in a strange place. Preventative actions has saved many lives, and the effort is sooo small.
Whether you work in Animal Welfare on any level, or you own a pet, you simply can’t be a But. And, being ‘but-less’ should be encouraged in others also. If you see an opportunity to help someone else not be a BUT, then do it. It really matters.