I have always been an animal lover. A slew of furry children have resided along side the real children, until the real children grew up and started rescuing furry children of their own. Most, if not almost all, of our pets, have been rescues. We did have a pair of guinea pigs at one point that were adopted from a lovely family. Aside from Arthur and Basil, though, the rest have come with stories and baggage. The kids joke that you actually have to have "a story" in order to be indoctrinated into the fold. At one point I was seriously in danger of becoming "the crazy cat lady".
It all started when I discovered this colony of wild cats. Initially I thought I'd found just one little abandoned kitten, which of course you can't ignore. The next thing I knew I was in touch with every cat rescue agency in the county to help me spay and neuter and find homes for a zillion cats. The agencies were a bit of help when it came to the cost of spaying and neutering, but they are overtaxed beyond imagination, and at that time not able to offer much more help than that. I singlehandedly found homes for 29 babies, 2 adults, and spayed/neuted and released a host of others before all was said and done. My career came to an end when I lost access to the property they called home. The rejects came to live with us. We nursed back to health more than I can remember, but the sickest of the sick became permanent members of the family. I have an almost blind, one eyed female that pretty much owns my bed. A big orange tabby was shot for snake food, survived miraculously, and is about 18. He's sees a chiropractor once a month for a stiff back due to his fake elbow, but aside from that is healthy and happy.
The point is, there are a zillion cats out there on the lam, in trouble, freezing to death in harsh winters, dying because of human irresponsibility. If everyone took responsibility for their pets and made lifetime committments to care for them, and spayed and neutered, this problem would be greatly diminished. When someone abandons one female kitten, her offspring and their offspring turn into a colony of feral creatures. They all compete for the same food chain, inbreeding, dying horrible deaths, but not usually before enough have survived long enough to continue the line.
As human beings we have a responsibility to look out for creatures who can't look out for themselves. Stewardship goes beyond the land. When we eat healthy we are stewards of our bodies. When we buy organic we are contributing to stewardship of the earth. When we show compassion for creatures less fortunate we become stewards of our souls. It links us with a continum and a circle of life much greater than ourselves. And believe me, it won't just be you than does the rescuing; you'll be rescued too!
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)