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When pets become a public concern
(Shenzhen Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-10 08:56

A fortnight ago, a cat was trapped in a footbridge frame for two days, mewing for help. Finally people used ladders and ropes to rescue it. This incident has raised the question of whether we should use public resources like a fire engine to rescue an animal in a similar situation.

Pets are given sufficient attention and care in modern society. [file photo]
In America, people treat their pets as if they are one of the family. Some childless couples treat their pets as if they are the children they don't have. The pet-care industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.

People spend money not only on food and treats for their pets, but clothing, pet care items, such as shampooing, clipping and nail polishing, medical care and vaccinations, and toys.

They even go so far as to spend money on animal psychologists and pet cemeteries. Pet shows are held every year where people go to extremes to present their animal as the best in the show.

I had a cat at one time who was so good with my children, he was truly a member of the family. Over the years, his behavior resembled that of another child. At times he seemed to almost possess a human personality.

In the United States, where life is held to be precious, it is normal procedure to rescue pets, whether it is a cat in a tree or a dog down in a well. This is usually handled by the fire department. This of course, is paid for by the taxpayers through the taxes they pay for services.

This is a more difficult question for cities in China. The answer may lie in whether resources are available to perform such rescues according to priorities. If an animal is trapped and the fire rescue unit is already occupied, possibly at a fire, the pet would have to wait. But if the fire team was not busy, it may be called upon to help animals in distress.

This is not a question in developed countries. We've read reports about people sending for a fire engine to rescue a cat from a tree. And Western police even used a helicopter to chase a car that had violated traffic law. It seems these kinds of resources are abundant in those countries.

But with our limited resources, we sometimes may be forced to prioritize our love. When a human and an animal are both in critical conditions needing help, who would you go to first when your resources are sufficient to save only one of them? The answer will naturally be the human.

The reality with us is that we can still see some people begging to make a living, some people in some remote areas of this country hardly have enough to eat and wear. So with this reality who should we help first with our limited resources? Again, people first.

So the conclusion is that in a country like China, we can't afford to do such things as using a fire engine to save a cat. We have alternatives, though, like using tools like ladders or many people working together to do so.

An animal is the same as a human being. As Buddhism sees it, they are the same as they are both lives. When we should use what we have to save a person in critical conditions, we should not hesitate to do the same when an animal is in danger.

We should not make the comparison about who is more important, an animal or a human being. And rarely will you find an animal and a person in critical conditions simultaneously when you have to choose whom to save first. So you doní»t have to think again whether you should use what you can to save a cat when it is trapped somewhere.

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