Pontius Pilate

I had an urgent need for some paper products yesterday morning and took myself up to Walmart before the normal crowds started their Saturday shopping.

When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a stray cat and paused before going into the store to give her a bowl of food. I always carry a small number of cans of food, styrofoam bowls, and plastic spoons in my car for such a situation. I stayed for a brief moment talking with her to put her at ease and then went into the store.

On my way in, the security person and I chatted and he commented about how he had seen what I did and how they (employees of the store) also kept some dishes with dried food for the stray cats at a different part of the parking lot.

It was on my way back out of the store that we engaged more fully in conversation and for fifteen minutes he regaled me with stories of the cats and how he and others had rescued some, neutered some, and how others had been gathered by people and given to the SPCA.

It was at that moment that the conversation took a darker turn as he explained that almost all the cats were dumped there by people. People who tire of their presence or perhaps just experienced a litter of kittens and took the easy way out and dumped them in the parking lot of a large store.

He pointed out that this happens as a matter of routine on a quite regular basis and that explained the steady influx of cats that I see there, each time I go. When the SPCA gets them, he explained that while their shelter is a “no kill” shelter, when their numbers become unmanageable, they “surrender” the overflow to the county’s animal control department who then euthanize/murder/exterminate (pick your own word) them en masse.

By the time I left Walmart, my mind had considerably darkened.

I wondered what kind of people can dump a harmless cat or kitten into a busy parking lot where they may get run over, starve, or end up in the grasp of animal control.

I initially had said to the guy at Walmart that these people should be fined and he echoed that they would if they were caught doing it. But by now my mind had escalated the punishment into 50 lashes like they do in Iran for certain crimes.

While it is a crime, we lessen the implication of committing it to being a small fine and frankly it is rarely even prosecuted. Try dumping dogs or puppies in the same manner and see how such animal cruelty is tackled. But in the case of cats, humanity by and large sees them as a lesser creature and affords very little protection.

Some ask why should we even protect them in the first place and ignore the fact that it was mankind that domesticated their ancestors and created what we now experience as a cat. Any creature that has been thus created is the responsibility of their creator.

What startled me is the abject cruelty that allows some people to dump such harmless creatures and then walk away, leaving their future in the hands of others.

I recalled the lessons from school, of Pontius Pilate who is vilified as having done the same to some rebel who ended up being crucified by the pharisees. That action is forever remembered as “washing his hands” of the affair and claiming no responsibility for what happened next.

Which is exactly what these people do when they put their car in drive and pull out of the parking lot.

What happens to the cat or kitten after that is none of their concern.

We enable that behavior when we fail to teach our children that they have responsibilities in this world and when we fail to hold them accountable as adults for their failures to meet these responsibilities.

There is a unique flaw in humanity that affects most of us that when we get away with something, that makes it somehow ok. That is why huge numbers of people fudge their taxes, drive faster than speed limits, and cheat when they think no one is looking.

If the punishment isn’t severe enough to make us rein in such behavior, then the only counterbalance we have against the flaw is our conscience.

And unfortunately with a growing trend towards self-importance and self-indulgence, our collective conscience is suffering. More people act now with malice than ever before. And they give it no thought because their action serves themselves and they feel little obligation to consider others affected by the action.

Rich to poor, employer to employee, politicians to constituents; the former almost always serves their own need first and foremost.

So is it any wonder that the mistreatment is magnified when it involves what we consider to be a “lesser” animal.

The thought that any creature is exterminated is abhorrent in the extreme but many of those doing it claim benevolence and use words like population control and culling in order to assuage their conscience (or lack thereof).

Try exterminating a group of people and they will hang you at Nuremberg. But feel free to exterminate “dumb animals” and that’s ok. It’s as if intelligence is a measure of the right to life afforded any creature. Yet, we all know that if it came down to low IQ, many of these same people would have long since outlived their own right to life.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love all animals. There is no one right to life that supersedes any other.

As I finished the drive home I thought about the cats that live with me. I have rescued almost all but I don’t own any. They are living creatures and no living creature should own another. I have included a number of phone pics of them here at the end of the blog.

I am so lucky that they choose to live here with me and my life is enriched by the love they show me in return for the food and lodging I provide.

So, it makes it incredibly difficult for me to understand how others can be so selfish and hurtful to wash their hands of the lives of innocents in such a manner.

… just a thought.