DON’T get me wrong, I love animals. But it’s always pissed me off that folks get more worked up about dogs and cats in pain than they do about the suffering of their fellow man. It’s like that scene in “Independence Day” when the dog triumphantly jumps to safety — in slow motion, for chrissakes — to audience cheers as hundreds of thousands of people are wiped out by aliens off-camera.
The newspaper I worked at knew how to play up an animal story. An article about, say, a boxful of kittens abandoned on the side of a road would trigger an avalanche of offers to help. Before the next day was over, all of those kittens would have new homes, thanks to concerned readers.
Then came the day in January when a guy allegedly took a power drill to the head of his brother’s pit bull. The dog died from the injuries, leaving behind a four-month-old puppy named Coffee. A disturbing story, and one that the paper played up big time, but it wasn’t the most disturbing one in that day’s edition.
The same day as the pit bull incident, a 43-year-old man took his own life at the gravesite of his wife, who had died of cancer a couple years earlier. The man left behind three children, ages 14, 12 and 9. Three children who now had lost both of their parents in horrific ways. I couldn’t stop thinking about those kids, wondering how they would go on, wondering who was caring for them. After that short news item in the back of the paper, nothing was ever written about the case again, as far as I know.
But back to the orphaned pit bull. A day after Coffee’s mother was allegedly drilled in the head, officials had found a family eager to adopt the puppy. Awwwwwww. There were follow-up articles all through the spring, as publicity-seeking animal rights assho— make that advocates — protested at every court appearance of the alleged dog driller. Every time that pit bull story resurfaced, though, all I could think about were those three young kids who lost their still-grieving dad to a bullet at the grave of their mother. Were they OK? Would they ever be OK? Where were their advocates?
Maybe people are more likely to help animals because it’s easier than addressing the homelessness or the hardships or the illnesses or the injustices endured by humans. Maybe we take in the puppy or the kitten because it’s so gosh-darned cute. Maybe we help the animals because they can’t take care of themselves.
But without each other, we’re just as helpless.