A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Kindness Toward God’s Creatures

Posted on: July 11, 2013

If you’ve read this blog before, you might know that our household includes a number of pets:

  • one bulldog that’s generally ready to play and run toward us with her body turned sideways;
  • one cat that drools like a dripping tap when he’s being cuddled;
  • one corn snake that likes to hang around my husband’s neck or try to fit in his pockets; and
  • two finches that want us to whistle or sing to them but do not want to spend time in their bird baths.

When I was growing up, my family always had at least one cat and one dog, and at various times we also had hamsters, gerbils, fish and turtles. We even had a calf that followed my father around like a dog, and a pig that would sit for apples and tomatoes. (For those of you taken aback, we were living in the country.)

our cat

Our cat, Skittles

All this to say that my husband and I love animals and have taught our son to treat them with kindness.

And so I felt pretty angry when I read a newspaper article today that described how a store employee lost her job after confronting a customer who had left a dog locked in a vehicle with the windows rolled up.

Given the terrible but all-too-common news about animals found in distress in hot cars and about how quickly the temperature rises in a closed car, how could it have been wrong for this woman to express her concern?

Section 2416 of the Catechism has this to say about our relationship with animals:

Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St Francis of Assisi or St Philip Neri treated animals.

We also read in s. 2418 that “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.” What does it say about our society that we continue to hear each summer about the distress and death of pets left in locked cars?

If we believe that, as s. 2417 tells us, “God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image,” then we need to show it by leaving our dogs at home when we go to the store or to our kids’ activities. By not walking our dogs on very hot and humid days or very cold days. By keeping our cats indoors where they’ll be safe from accidents and predators. By ensuring we meet our pets’ needs for good health and loving care.

Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals. We entreat for them all your mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands and kindly words.

– From “Prayer For the Animals,” Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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