By Peg Cushman
Love has many faces, feelings, textures and colors. I adore and respect all furry, feathered, finned creatures, even insects. I probably was the only kid who didn't step on ants, and still gently releases spiders, bees, mice, squirrels and many others back outside because they all have a family to return to. I have nursed injured bunnies and birds back to health and was exhilarated when they were able to fly and hop on to continue their lives.
Many cats arrived on our doorstep for one reason or another. My favorite was Jose Fuzz, who temporarily adopted me. Jose had long gray hair and his back resembled an armadillo. His hair was severely matted and after many intense grooming sessions I finally untangled him and he moved on.
Many more cats followed and several adopted us. A few tears and my dad always gave in.
I can’t understand why people who have the privilege of having pets can be so cruel to them, whether it's failing to feed them, abandoning them, ignoring, hitting or not appreciating their gentle spirits. They are precious gifts given to us for such a short time.
Recently my life was threatened because I interfered with an abusive pet owner. A few days before the incident, I had returned a beautiful pit bull to its owner. I knocked on the door and when the man saw his dog, he started yelling and cursing, saying he would beat her. I quietly said, “She doesn't deserve that because it was your fault she got out.” The poor honey was huddled against my leg shaking and didn't want to go in until he screamed again and grabbed her.
I walked away feeling sick for what was going to happen to the innocent pup. I had noticed scars on her face and shivered at the thought of how she acquired them. A few days passed until more commotion ensued. The neighbor had received a delivery and both pit bull pups had escaped. The hulking man was walking down the street pounding a metal crutch against his hand and bellowing that he was going to beat the daylights out of them.
I cried and pleaded with him not to hurt them. This evil man told me to mind my #$@% business, and he will do whatever he wants to his property.
I shrieked: “They are your family, not property!”
The SPCA came quickly to assess the situation. They asked if I had a photo or video and of course I didn't. After examining the pups, they reassured me that they didn't have any new wounds. An abscessed tooth was noticed in one pup; it was probably terribly painful. As usual, nothing could be done because abusers have more rights than animals. I hope follow-up visits are conducted to recheck animals after a family has been reported, but in my heart I doubt that this occurs.
I feel terrible that I wasn't able to help them when faced with the continual arrogance and ignorance of people who should not be allowed to have life’s sweetest angels. Animals are the most perfect beings on the earth. They love us unconditionally, fill our lives with joy, love, loyalty and lots of fur.
If you can't adopt, please consider donating to the many local animal shelters that desperately need help. Every penny is used to help cats and dogs regain their health, get spayed or neutered, and find the safe, secure homes they deserve.
The French poet Anatole France said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Peg Cushman, of Niagara Falls, stood up to an abusive dog owner.