(Part 1 of 3 parts)
The best definition I read about compassion that made me understand this most “attractive” but “complex” word in the dictionary came from the Dalai Lama.
He said: Compassion means wanting another being to be free from suffering.
When I started to act based on compassion, I realized I also feel happiness every time I help others.
An act of compassionate leads to another being’s happiness as he/she/it is freed from suffering. Subsequently, the person who helped ends up happy and delighted for being part of the process of freeing another from misery or pain.
This is why, I think, the Dalai Lama said, “Compassion and happiness are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. “
As I grew older, a desire to help not only humans grew stronger.
I started as a donor for a rescued dog. I would send funds online for abandoned or injured dogs found on the streets.
Later on, I was put on the path of actually rescuing animals in need. My happiness grew more as I assisted others in saving dogs and cats who were suffering in filthy cages in pounds, who were hit by a vehicle and left to die, who were suffering from an illness while alone on the streets, among others.
But these are not just the ways to help animals in need.
Many individuals who love animals have messaged me and want to help. But they feel frustrated because they can not help due to their day jobs or their kids and family, or because they are sick, or they do not have extra funds.
These compassionate beings want to help free dogs and cats form suffering. They just do not know how given their circumstances.
Here are simple, compassionate acts:
1. Be kind to stray dogs and cats.
When I say help the strays, you do not have to get all the stray animals. Just be kind to them. Please do not hurt them.
As Sam Russell in 5 Simple Ways to Show Compassion to Animals and the Planet from the site Tiny Buddha (simple wisdom for complex lives) said:
“Stray animals aren’t any less living beings just because they don’t have a home, the same way people living on the streets aren’t any less human because they too are homeless.”
Russell also suggested the following:
a. Please contact local animal welfare agencies or organizations if you do see a wandering stray. It is possible someone lost their pet and is starting to worry.
From my experience in the animal welfare world, a dog or cat and his/her owner is reunited through this simple act of compassion:
Take a photo or a video of the dog or cat, specially if the dog or cat has a collar, and post the photos or video and state how the owner can contact you for the location of the dog. Ask for proof of ownership. If you can contain the dog or give him or her a temporary shelter, this will be more helpful so that the animal will not wander away from the location.
I discourage persons from posting the exact location of the dog, specially if the dog has a breed or is pregnant. Why? Because there are irresponsible, greedy breeders out there who might get the dog and use the dog for breeding. As for the pregnant dog, her pups will be sold by a money lover and not an animal lover, after which the dog might be bred again or abandoned after the dog has served its purpose.
b. If it is a stray, it may be scared, sick, or injured, which means it needs help. Please do not shoo them away.
Do take a photo or a video or both and post these in Facebook pages of animal welfare groups and seek help for the dog or cat.
“Resist the urge to shoo it away and go about your day. They might be feeling lonely or are just really pleased to see you,” Rusell said.
“I’ve always felt that ignoring the random cat that wanders up to you meowing away is like ignoring a person who greets you with open arms. They don’t care if you haven’t shaved or are still in your slippers. It’s great to see you, “ Russell said.
He added: “Just remember to approach cautiously so you don’t scare the animal or put yourself in danger.”
Please do not handle the dog or cat unless you have a pre-exposure anti-rabies shot. Look for help from animal welfare groups in Facebook to get the dog and to bring to the clinic.
Most animal welfare groups do not have funds or space in their homes at the moment until some of their rescues have been adopted. But if you want to rescue the stray, and you are willing to pay for medical treatment and to adopt the dog or cat yourself, please ask for their help. They will be more than willing to do so.
c. Feed strays if you can.
We always have dog food and cat food in small packets either in our vehicles or our bags. We give these to strays. You can do the same thing.
You do not have to wait for an organization to organize a feeding program to donate dog food or cat food for strays or to feed strays.
You can feed the homeless dogs and cats in your neighborhood or on your way to work.
You do not have to approach the dog or cat as they might run away out of fear. Many of the strays have been hurt by humans, thus they are wary of any approaching human. Please leave the food where they can see it. They will approach the food when they see you leaving.
Dog food or cat food can be bought by the kilo from P150 to P300 per pack. With just one kilo, you may be able to help 15 dogs or 25 cats. Wouldn’t it be nice to make 15 to 25 beings happy in just one day?
(Next week: Other ways to help animals in need.)