Saturday, 29 September 2012

From Charlene Fernandez Bobis: Looks Matter, Even When Adopting?

This story is one told by my former university professor turned friend, Charlene Fernandez Bobis (shameless plug on her behalf, she is the author of Misadventures of a Disorganized Young Woman--go read it if you haven't yet!). She wrote this last month and I'm re-blogging it as a copy-pasted article since I don't believe it can be directly linked to. It's a very accurate description of how it feels to be an animal welfare organisation volunteer.
The work my mom and friends like Rosa Fontelera-Yong and Tanya Guerrero do is heartbreaking. Every few days they post appeals for help for abused and neglected animals, and invitations to adopt the same animals once the hard work of rehabilitating them is done.
They put up with stupid trolls on Facebook, intrigue within their own animal welfare societies (and to me, an outsider, it just looks stupid), and the lack of support and gratitude from others. They have to put up with ignorant idiots who think that paying for adopting an animal is "like selling the animal" and morons who call out on Twitter and Facebook, "Paki-rescue naman ang hayop namin (Please rescue our animals)" during natural disasters--because they saved themselves first. All this without reward.

But worst of all, I remember someone sneering at a photo of a dear little calico cat, "E pangit naman yung pusa eh. Bakit ipapaampon pa yan (That cat is ugly. Why should anyone adopt it)?"

If I've tagged you, it means you know what I'm talking about, you love animals like I do, and have encountered people like this.

Do we have to have this kind of attitude even when it comes to animals? Is there even such a thing as a beauty standard for animals? Breed considerations aside, does that mean that mixed breed animals (Aspins and Puspins) are by default ugly? Never.

As someone who has had many cats (and a few dogs) own me, all of whom were ordinary animals plucked off the street, I believe that the real beauty of a cat or dog is in its personality. And no, this is not a Pollyana-ish statement. Our family has given homes to crippled cats, one-eyed cats, dogs thrown out for having ticks, fleas, or mange, and other animals rejected for various, shallow reasons.

I often run across the sweetest stray cats; they are affectionate and gentle. It always breaks my heart not to be able to take them home, because they deserve a home for their faith in humanity. I know I've lost most of mine, and for these animals to trust us not to hurt them, to believe that we will be kind, makes me feel even worse when I know I cannot help them. These are cats that hang around public places and come when called. They express gratitude for small morsels of food or even just a few moments of stroking or petting them. I think these cats are beautiful, even when they are grimy or ill or skinny or have injuries. If we have to apply human standards of beauty to these animals, then we're simply proving that we are not, in any way, superior to them. Whoever said that, anyway?

Please tell those you know to adopt a cat or a dog instead of buying one, if they have the space. And tell them to open their hearts even to apparently "ugly" animals. Perhaps we can remind them that when they judge animals that way, then they're showing us who's truly ugly. And it's not the animal.
And just to illustrate, I'm sharing here some pictures of my dogs.

Top row are Cynthia (see you at the Rainbow Bridge, baby girl), Clarissa, and Scotch. Cynthia and Clarissa are purebreed Shih-tzus and Scotch is what is now locally known as an Aspin (Asong Pinoy). Bottom row are Baxter, a half-breed Cocker Spaniel, and Kaito, a purebreed Mini Pinscher.

I dare anyone to tell me that they're not all adorable in their individual ways. And I'll give virtual cookies to anyone who can guess who the smartest of the lot is.

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