It's harder to stomach seeing the lacerations and the blood when the gaping wound from the unforgiving jaws of the steel-jaw leghold trap appears through the white fur of a cat's paw.
Just over a week ago, a cat named Emo was horribly ensnared in a trap, indiscriminately set on a neighbor's property to catch a fox. A deep slice through fur and skin; a cat missing for half the day; critical care in an animal hospital with intravenous antibiotics and heroic efforts to keep Emo from losing his leg; and thousands of dollars in vet bills. This is the reality of trapping in America.
Emo is lucky to have survived. His family is giving thanks that he did.
How many thousands of others are not so lucky? How many companion cats and dogs are lost to the intense agony of the steel jaws? How many unintended, unreported victims and wild furbearers, including threatened species, are killed in traps set for sport or commercial gain? How many humans are injured?
Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and the things in life for which we are grateful. I live with two dogs and four cats, and I am thankful each day for their companionship, attention, excitedly wagging tails, and gently comforting purrs. I can't imagine enduring the emotional pain of losing one of them to a trap, especially when that loss would involve Pickle, Molly, Mae, June Bug, Carmelita, or the mighty Wooch enduring insufferable physical pain.
I'm thankful to know that we have champions in Congress who will push legislation when the new Congress convenes to ban these traps, prevent their use on national wildlife refuges, and stop the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using them as archaic, ineffective wildlife management "tools." I'm thankful for the hundreds of furs that people have sent to Born Free USA as part of our Fur for the Animals campaign, allowing us to repurpose them as comforting security blankets for orphaned and injured wildlife. I'm thankful for brands such as Hugo Boss and Giorgio Armani that have gone fur free. And, while I'm sad that cruel trapping still exists in America in 2016, I'm thankful that we're making such progress in ending it, once and for all.
Emo's human caregiver lives in Pennsylvania. She wants to help. She wants to see safe-zones where trapping cannot impact animals or children. When she tells people that something needs to be done to stop this ongoing atrocity, the response she often hears is that "although it's clearly immoral and devastating to an animal... fighting for this cause is a waste of energy."
I'm thankful not everyone is so pessimistic.
Whatever energy it takes to win the battle against trapping in America is nothing compared to the effort that must be exerted--emotional, physical, intellectual, and financial--to save a cat like Emo. There should be no Emo stories on Thanksgiving. No pain, distress, suffering, or fear. Just animals and their people enjoying a peaceful break together.
Keep Wildlife in the Wild,