caged cats

Do They Really Need To Be Rescued In This Way?

Dog Cages In the Village

I was with a group of hikers when we passed by a village and saw this scene… Along the road, there was a long row of cages lined up, at least 50 of them, each had a dog locked in it. The dogs could barely stand up inside, they look sad, and miserable. The villagers pointed to an old lady nearby and told us she was the owner of these dogs.

With lots of question marks in our mind, we slowly moved on, but then suddenly we heard the old lady yelling and screaming and cursing. It turned out that one of the hikers had made a comment about the dogs being locked, which apparently irritated the old lady. She said she’s spending 80% of her income on food for these dogs so they are much better off than being stray dogs. She complained that she had to work so hard for the dogs, while we hikers were enjoying our lives hiking… etc. We could still hear her yelling after we were halfway up the hill.

We learned that recently somebody called the police and reported animal cruelty. When the police arrived, she told them the same thing – how much money she’s spending every month on the dog food, then the police left without doing anything.

Among us we started a heated discussion on this controversial topic. Just because she spends money, does it mean what she’s doing is really good for the dogs? Apart from food, would it be equally important for a dog to have a life where he can stand, walk, run, play, roll in the mud, and just be a dog? If this lady is spending 80% of her income on dog food, does she still have any capability to take the dogs to the vet when they need? Would it be better for the dogs if she lets them come every day when she wants to feed them, then allows them to go back to run in nature and live like a dog?

Bobo From the Mountain

Bobo was born in the mountains and has been living all his life so far as a free dog. One day, for whatever reason, someone decided to rescue Bobo and brought him to a shelter. Bobo and other rescued dogs are all locked in the cages at night. Bobo was very unfriendly to humans. The only time he behaves was when he’s out walking during the day.

Since he came to the shelter, Bobo has been howling, barking and whining vehemently every night. He frantically bites the cage wanting to get out. In just a few days he already lost two teeth from biting. Every morning people open his cage to a pool of blood on the floor.

The shelter asked me to talk with Bobo. As soon as I connected with Bobo, he said, “I hate humans! Why don’t you just leave me in the mountains! Everything was fine when I lived in the mountains. I could find food for myself. I stay away from humans. Every time I see human there are bad things happening. I don’t want to be with humans! Please tell them to release me back to the mountains!” Bobo went on to tell me that he was once caught by a human, kept in the cage without food for many days. He has a deep fear for cages.

The shelter of course didn’t agree to release him, but agreed to keep him in the hallway instead of inside the cage at night. Although he barked less, he still tried very hard to break out through the door and badly damaged the door.

All he wants is to go outside and live freely in the mountains. He doesn’t want to be “rescued”. However, humans still insisted “rescuing” him.

The Empty Apartment

Years ago, I once visited a place of a lady who claims to be rescuing cats. She rented a two-bedroom apartment to keep the cats. All the cats were kept in cages in one room, while the entire apartment was empty aside from the cages.

Around 30 cats were living in 2 layers of cages, each contains 2 or 3 cats, mostly kittens but there were adults too. There was nothing on the bottom of the cage. The kittens had to step on the bare wires of the cage with their sensitive paws. There was no litter box. If the cats on the top floor make a pee, the bottom floor’s cats just take a “shower”.

There was a small plastic “airplane cage”, with and an adult cat locked in it. He had a clipped ear, which means he used to be a stray cat living a free life. Now his life is inside this cage where he couldn’t even stand up.

All of the cats there looked dirty, sick and miserable. My heart was crying.

The lady said she kept the cats in the cage for their “safety”, so that they wouldn’t try to run away.
She went on to tell me how much money she spent to rent this apartment and on cat food. She was obviously proud of herself “rescuing” these cats.

Honestly I would call this hoarding rather than “rescuing”. If I were a cat, I’d rather die of hunger than being locked day and night in a cage where I can’t even stretch, let alone jump or run.

Living the rest of your life in a cage while getting your daily meals provided, is that all what an animal needs? Does “rescue” mean only providing food to a prison cell? Is this kind of “rescue” doing any good for the animals, or is it more for making the humans feel good about themselves? Do humans have to rescue animals who don’t want to be rescued in this way?

[First published with Naari Magazine.]