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About the Writer:

Beth cares deeply for the Lord and those around her. She looks for ways to help and support her readers by sharing her honest convictions and personal life lessons. With a creative and energetic writing style, Beth translates memorable word pictures and helpful principles into language we can all relate to.


Those Who Can't Help Themselves

By Beth Caster

It began when I was just a pint-sized, toe-headed bundle of mischief growing up in Pittsburgh. Simply staring out of my bedroom window and watching the squirrels’ antics was hours of entertainment. Finding a furry caterpillar in the backyard was cause for celebration and the christening of each one with the name “Gus”. I can still remember watching one of the Gusses crawling on our picnic bench and actually stopping at each water drop on the bench to slurp it up. Caterpillars could drink water? I was amazed. Every little thing I saw a living creature do was a fascination to me. I was born with the animal gene.

Fast-forward a few years later and I was a teenager begging my parents for a pet, any pet. It came in the form of a bird that I hadn’t asked for, but sure as heck wouldn’t refuse. After that came a bunny, a stray cat, a puppy from the Animal Protective Association, and another one from the Open Door Animal Sanctuary.

Away from my menagerie, I was out convincing friends that they needed to have a pet in their lives, too. There were too many pets being discarded in shelters, eventually euthenized if not adopted. I could hardly stand the thought. When anyone I knew gave in and consented to a pet from the APA, I gladly shelled out the cash to save a life. It was a joy to me, like buying clothes or cars might be to others.

Animal abuse has always profoundly bothered me. Something about it gets me in the gut, forcing my insides to scream, “Do something! Help those who can’t help themselves!” It compels me to action. I’d often wondered if becoming so affected by suffering animals could be a sign that I was out of balance. Did I care more about animals than I did about people? I went to God over this, praying for more compassion for souls with eternal value. While I do feel that He continues to balance my heart, the nagging voice in me remains. “Help those who can’t help themselves!”

I don’t remember when the acceptance that I couldn’t save every animal started to set in. Between that knowledge and gut-wrenching episodes of Animal Cops, a slight hardening began in my heart. It hurt too much to care about every animal that met with a horrible fate at the hands of a horrible human. I couldn’t reach them all. Maybe it was part of God’s answer to my prayer for balance. Maybe it was part of the survival nature of the heart; it knows when to callus. And little by little, mine did. I still love the fact that God blessed this planet with animals, but I have stopped obsessing over the fact that millions of them are being tortured.

But please believe, when that abuse comes within my reach, I won't stay in my seat.

Recently I started a new job. I had just opened the office for the day when I looked to my right and saw something outside my window. The sight caught my breath. Walking down the street was the most appallingly abused dog I have ever seen in person. This dog had cream-colored fur thinly covering her protruding skeleton, the skeleton of a body that should have weighed at least fifty pounds more than it did. Her Schnauzer-like face had the lifeless eyes of a creature on the brink of death. Her nails were (no exaggeration) an inch and a half long, curling with their length and distorting her paws. They were not the nails of a dog who survived in the wild, with regular walking to file down her claws. These were the nails of a dog who had been imprisoned and neglected for a very long time. I was amazed that she could walk, even moving with urgency, never stopping to pause or sit. My mouth hung open as about five seconds passed. I knew I was not allowed to leave the office. Then came the moment that separates people who like animals from people who love animals.

I was out of my chair in less than a second, taking off down the street after that dog.

I must have looked funny running all over a parking lot in heels and a skirt. Onlookers stared, some questioning accusingly if that was my dog. But I didn’t care. I was not going back in my office without that dog. I chased after her, armed with a spare leash that I had kept in my car and the egg sandwich I had planned to eat for lunch. This dog walked as if she was disoriented, making large circles around the plaza. She was oblivious to my presence, strolling across the street in complete apathy towards the oncoming traffic. I followed her quietly for about ten minutes before finally getting close enough to wrap the leash around her bony neck. Thankfully, a woman from a neighboring restaurant had noticed us and offered to take the dog to the Humane Society. I was told later that the HS volunteers literally cried when they saw the dog.

In the weeks that followed, I was left wondering if little Whisper had survived the recovery process. One thing is for sure; if I knew who abused that dog, I would absolutely do whatever it took to press the most serious charges possible. While I understand that not everyone has the “animal gene”, there is a compassion in every human heart that rejects suffering. That compassion cries out, “Do something! Help those who can’t help themselves!” And you can help.

If you know of an animal who is being abused, just pick up your phone and make a report. If you live in Missouri, you can reach the Humane Society of Missouri at (314) 647-440. It will make all the difference for a little life who has been waiting for a very long time for someone to care.

Copyright © February, 2007– Beth Caster. All rights reserved.


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