Friday, December 6, 2013

Orphan Messenger

***Caution: this post contains both a gruesome true-crime story and video of adorable, adoptable cats.  Something for everyone!

I love crazy cat ladies.  Especially this one who hosts Christmas Cats TV.  Have you seen it?  Watch as this grandmotherly cat lady sits in her rocker knitting and hanging out with some awesome adoptable cats.  What a hilariously strange way to raise awareness of all the wonderful cats available for adoption this holiday season through the North Shore Animal League.

I imagine if it weren't for Will keeping me grounded, I might end up a crazy cat lady too.  I've heard Will shout so many times, "No!" whenever I'd mention something about us rescuing another orphaned pet that I long ago gave up asking.  Now I just bombard my Facebook friends with pictures of desperate orphaned pets, hoping someone will come forward and save them.  I know I can't reasonably save all the world's pets by myself, but I can do my best to raise awareness so others can help.  I can be an orphaned-pet messenger, even if I can't adopt them all.

Will knows I'm a pet-rescue addict, but over the years, with his guidance, I've learned to change my pet-hoarder tendencies.  

"You wouldn't have as much time to care for the pets we already have if you brought in more," Will reasons with me.

He's right.  When Will first met me, I was living in a one-bedroom apartment on the ninth floor with my ex-girlfriend, six cats, and three dogs.  Dogs we had to either walk down nine flights of stairs with or wait for the old elevator to get to our floor so we could take them outside, in whatever weather, to go potty.  I barely had time to pet them all.  I don't even remember all the cats' names.  I started to view my caretaking duties as a pain and not a privilege.  Now that we live in a three-bedroom ranch with a fenced-in back yard, and we're down to two dogs and one cat, I have more time to sit and do the thing you're supposed to do with orphaned animals you bring into your home: pet them.

So yes, without Will to restrain my urge to help abandoned animals, I could see myself, easily, ending up with endless orphaned cats and dogs, spending more money on pet food than the electric bill, sitting under a pile of blankets covered in pet fur, lap cats covering every square inch of my lap.  No room for my laptop.  No room for me to write about their plight.

So I've learned to rely on others to help too.  If we each do a small part, change happens.  

I joke about what a crazy animal lover I am, but I'm not the only one.  Lots of my friends say with a straight face that they like hanging out with their pets more than people.  I get it.  If you scroll through Google News on any given day, you'll see so many reports of humans abusing, raping, killing each other, it's easy to understand why many people would prefer to sit at home and pet their pet instead of going outside to face the brutal world.

And it is brutal, but not always.  Especially not with crazy cat ladies around, saving the world one feline at a time, even if it seems like too daunting of a task to do so. 

Humans are not the only animals who are concerned about orphans of other species.  Watch this video below, but be warned.  If you are out of tissue, go to the store now.  It's touching.  

This Huffington Post article about the video describes what happens:

A 2-year-old leopard cub named Legadema had just made her first kill -- a baboon -- when a baby emerged from the dead animal's pouch. Unexpectedly, Legadema ignored her meal, gently carried the baby to the safety of a tree, and began to care for the newborn.
Perhaps living beings will never fully get over their killer instincts--how odd that we often feel we must end anothers' life to survive--but it's good to see that most adults in many species across the globe recognize that orphans must be cared for, especially the ones whose orphan status is a direct result of your killer instinct.

When I saw the video above, I immediately thought there are human beings who could learn a lesson in empathy from this wild beast.  If a leopard can pay more attention to her maternal instinct than her killer instinct, why can't humans? We live under the false assumption that humans are the only animals that possess elevated emotions such as empathy and regret.  This is simply untrue.  Some individual animals respond to their inner kindness more than some individual people do.  Perhaps it's possible for any sentient being to learn to change.  

While watching the video of the leopard caring for the orphaned baby baboon whose mother it had killed, I thought of the horrifying human tragedy that happened in my part of the globe last summer.  Myeisha Turner, 28, and her three year old daughter Damyiah White were murdered in Kansas City.  The murderer is still at large. Whoever this killer is, he or she walks free after leaving Myeisha Turner's son, Damyiah White's brother, a one-year-old, to wander among their dead bodies for who knows how many days.

A leopard in the wild has the decency to care for the baby of its prey.  This human killed not just a mother, but a child, and left a baby, orphaned and alone, to fend for himself on that horrible summer day.

What kind of person would do that?  Can that kind of inhumanity be overcome and the killer's life be turned around?  Can a murderer who ignores the needs of the victim's orphan unlearn such unimaginable hate?  Is the effort worth it for us to try to help?

If not, what else can we do?  Sit back and just watch it happen?  I can't.  I gotta at least share the story.  Maybe someone is out there who can help.  Please, you share it too.  If we each do a small part, change happens.  

Yesterday the amazing human rights activist Nelson Mandela died.  PBS shared on its Facebook page a photo with one of my favorite quotes that the great Mandela left with us on earth:

The man who spent twenty-seven years in prison, but still manged to free his people.  His exemplary life proves hateful minds can learn to love.

Police and activists in Kansas City need witnesses to come forward with information about the murders of Myeisha Turner and Damyiah White, so someone who values human life so little can be kept off our streets until they unlearn to hate.  This crime occurred at 55th and Wabash, but I don't care where you live. All victims of unsolved murders deserve us to treat each other's streets as our own.

If you have any information that could help police on this case, please call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (474-8477).