“It’s only an animal”

Oh, bug off.

Since I began rescuing animals about a decade ago, I’ve heard a lot of stupid crap, and the stupid crap I’d like to address today is the “it’s only an animal” comment. You know them, the people who respond to friends grieving over a lost pet with impatience and comments like this.

These people think they have their priorities straight, and anybody who grieves over an animal doesn’t. After all, it’s not like a person died. It’s just an animal.

Here’s the deal: these people do not have their priorities straight. Because if they did, they’d shut their face and support their friend through their grief—because even if you think an animal’s life or suffering doesn’t matter, your friend’s grief does matter. Nobody ever, not once, ever in the history of the world ever stopped feeling grief because somebody told them to. They just learned to hide it, which is about the comfort and convenience of those around them, nothing else.

People who treat their friends like their problems are dumb or inconsequential are bad friends.

Beyond that, I don’t have any need to prioritize what I love or care for. I’m not Sophie in Sophie’s Choice—thank heaven. The love I give to a dog or a cat or a lizard is not a lizard-or dog- or cat-sized amount of love taken out from the finite amount of love I have available, gone forever, squandered on an animal when it could have gone to a precious human. My ability to love gets bigger, not smaller, the more I do it. My time and energy may be finite, so I can’t take care of everything and everybody—and love may involve recognizing those limits —but my capacity for love is, I’ve found, pretty damn capacious.

If yours isn’t…well, that must be nice….I guess.

I can simultaneously be sad a gorilla is shot dead to protect a child AND be overjoyed the child is ok. I’m rich and complex in how I love and care.

If you are not…ok.

But don’t judge my kind by your kind.