Why is it that, when I don’t stop to think about it, I’m more moved by a distressed puppy than a homeless person? Whenever that ad with the cute little animals and the Sarah McLachlan song comes on the TV, I have to change the channel or turn the TV off before I get sucked in and my heart starts melting. The same thing happens when I drive past the billboard with the cat that just wants “to know what love is you heartless jerk, why haven’t you adopted me?”* And I know I’m not the only one; many of my friends talk of adopting dogs and cats, and (no discredit to them) this happens far more often than any conversations about getting involved with a local shelter for humans or about adopting children one day.
I say no discredit to my friends, because I hardly blame them. This is normal in our culture, where Doggie Motels are fancier and more comfortable than the nearest homeless shelter. I’m not saying homeless shelters should be “fancy,” but I question the amount of money spent on providing comfort to animals as opposed to the amount we give to causes helping the needy.
I’m not sure why we are like this, myself included. Maybe we just like cute things a whole lot, and let’s face it, no person will win a cuteness contest with a puppy. Maybe it’s because caring for a dog seems easier than taking steps to get involved in the lives of needy people. What worries me is that the reason might be that we think needy people aren’t doing their part to stop being needy, so our involvement is minimal at best. To that I say, you don’t know their story. Maybe some of those people holding signs on the side of the road really are lazy, but then again maybe some of them didn’t have the same kind of chances I had. Besides, that dog you’re rescuing probably didn’t get off his butt to go look for a job either.
I love dogs. And I love cats. I play on owning some of one or both someday. But I pray that when I eventually have an income, I give more of it to organizations that help people than I spend on my pets. A considerable amount more. I believe we’re called to be humane to animals, but I also believe that the Lord set us above them. I believe having pets is one way to exercise both those callings. I also believe that animals don’t have souls, and people do, and my concern should rest more on the souls God placed in my life than any animal, no matter how much Sarah McLachlan sings.
*this is not an exact quote