Friday, May 9, 2014
Tornado Season and Priorities
Whether as children or adults, we’ve all had pets that we loved to distraction. We pampered them, cared for them and mourned their death, sometimes for months or even years. People describe their pets as part of the family. Americans are crazy about their pets. Some even remember a pet in their will. “It's estimated that 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% have a cat.” This does not even include goldfish, snakes, gerbils, birds, rabbits and all the rest. But the craziness must stop when human lives are at stake; it’s only a matter of perspective!
The subject today is not about some crazy cat woman living alone with 80 or 90 felines. It’s about seemingly normal, typical, everyday people who are making choices so outrageous and irresponsible that it’s nearly beyond description.
This Associated Press article describes the dilemma of state and city officials in Oklahoma regarding the admittance of pets to tornado shelters. The problem is understandable. Dogs and cats cramped into a small space with strange people and strange animals are likely to misbehave, cause distractions, or even panic. They don’t understand the significance of being safe in a shelter during a storm. They may cause injury to themselves, to other animals, or to people in the shelter. The very real clean up issues, though minor in comparison, are also increased.
Most of the people can’t afford to build a personal shelter and depend on the government for their safety. They don’t think ahead about these issues and naturally assume their pets will be welcome. That too is understandable.
The craziness comes when they arrive and are told their pets are not allowed. Rather than abandon his dog, one man chose to ride “out the storm in his car, one of the most dangerous places he could be.” In another example, “Suzanne Brown, 48, rushed to shelter at the local city hall, which was equipped to accommodate 1,000 people. She managed to sneak in her cat, but not her Pomeranian, so she remained outside as the storm came through. She was unharmed, but eight people in nearby El Reno were killed.”
You might think that if people want to risk their own lives, it should be their choice. Fair enough, but the real extreme occurred “when one family was asked to put its dogs outside to make room for another family that had arrived. The adults actually got into fights over that decision and trying to boil down the priority of who should be inside a facility during a storm: a pet or a person.”
We all love our pets, but to value the life of a dog over the life of another human being, even a complete stranger, shows an unbelievable failure in perspective!