The Lord God made us all

Q: Expensive and time-consuming efforts are being made to rescue and rehabilitate animals threatened by the Gulf oil spill. Do … Continued

Q: Expensive and time-consuming efforts are being made to rescue and rehabilitate animals threatened by the Gulf oil spill. Do animals have rights? Do animals have souls? What does your faith say about animal consciousness, suffering, sacrifice and stewardship? Dr. Paul Waldau, a lecturer in animal law at Harvard Law School , says, “Religion is a major player in the way humans think about other living beings.” What does that mean to you?

A couple of years ago, one of my Siberian Huskies died unexpectedly. Her sister, with whom she had spent countless play-filled hours, greeted me with only a slight wag of her tail when I got home. Her pain was palpable. I took the deceased Husky to the vet so that she could be cremated, and went back home. My normally frisky, bouncy Husky just lay in the middle of the kitchen floor. Normally she ate whatever food was in her path, but refused to eat or to drink water. I had to give her water with a spoon and cup, and forced only tidbits of food into her only now and then.

I took her on long walks, talking to her, petting her, holding her close, and she would just lick my hand or face forlornly. This went on for weeks.

Finally, one day she ate something that got stuck in her intestines. I took her to emergency care, scared to death that she had eaten whatever it was on purpose, so she could go and be with her friend. I was weeping as they took her to the back, wondering if I’d ever see her alive again. She didn’t even look back as they took her …

The next day, the vet called and said whatever it was had passed and she was OK. I went to get her. When she got into the car, she let out a howl, not one of pain, but just a howl. It was if she was squeezing out the last of her pain, the last of her “tears,” if you will. It was only then that she began to “come back” to me. It had been four months.

If that’s not evidence that animals have souls, I don’t know what is.

There is so much about life that we do not understand. Plants respond to voices and to music; birds imitate the voices of their owners; a wild lion cub remembered the two men who had raised her and when they went to Africa to look for her and see if she remembered them, years after they had released her, she jumped on them with the greatest joy and sense of recognition.

Animals feel. They have the right to be treated with respect; they respect humans who respect them. The souls of animals seem to have the capacity to get to places in human souls that not even other humans can reach. Think of the dogs and cats that are taken to nursing homes, and who make those forgotten human beings smile and feel again. When a member of my church was recently in hospice, another family whose loved one was there was comforted most by her cat.

In that these critters, created by God, have the capacity to reach our souls, it would seem that they have the right to be protected. They are helpless; we are our brothers’ keeper. We are certainly the keepers of the critters God has put on earth who do so much for us.

Yes, cleaning the birds off is expensive, but how can one’s heart not bleed when one sees these birds incapacitated because of human error? When Hurricane Katrina happened, I ached when I saw people and their pets joined at the hip, so to speak, neither one wanting to leave the other. That is a soul to soul relationship. There are no words. If, or since, the Lord God made all things bright and beautiful, all creatures, great and small, then this question is a no-brainer. Yes, they have souls, and yes, they have the right to be respected …in the name of the God who made us all

Susan K. Smith
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  • spellady08

    I agree animals definitely have souls, and that every living creature on this earth is precious in His sight. And as such I don’t think that any living thing should be treated as any less than a creation of Him. Yes, the clean up of the animals in the gulf is expensive, but what about the destruction that we do to God’s earth everyday, or the spiritual turmoil that He must experience as we fight and discriminate against His people. It might not be a monetary expense, but a burden nonetheless. Despite this, it makes us no less valuable to Him. And we as humans don’t get the right to decide which of God’s creatures we want to help. They are all loved in His sight and should be in ours as well.

  • nberger

    Dr. Waidau was completely correct in his belief that religion plays a major role in the way humans think about other living beings. In the book of Genesis the bible says that God gave us dominion over animals. Dominion means authority, and when you have authority over something you also become responsible for it’s care. Of course animals have souls. Every living, breathing thing has a soul. If we are following the teachings of Jesus we know that love in its purest form means sacrifice. Is it, (in the midst of a recession), the most practical move to spend money cleaning oil off animals who may die anyway from jumping right back into the oil, or from what has already been ingested? Probably not, but when I think about the many times God has pulled me out of oil slicks, wiped me clean and then watched with disdain while I jumped right back in the pit, I don’t have to ask myself in this instance WWJD.

  • psalm24

    Whether animals “have souls” or not, God appointed us caretakers of His creation. We are responsible for the lives of all living things. I think the bond we can have with other animals is proof enough that there is some sort of connection there. I like how in C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” heaven is populated with plants and animals as if God has included them in whatever plans He has for us.

  • Orisongmusic

    One Saturday morning my pet Chow had a stroke. After seeing the doctor, we knew it wouldn’t get better for her so we took her home and kept her comfortable for the entire week. The following Saturday, I came home in the late afternoon to find my brother sleeping on the floor with her. The both awakened when they heard me come in. My brother got up and went downstairs and I got on the floor with her and loved on her for about 20 minutes! As I pat her while laying on the floor with her, she began to raise her head, something she wasn’t able to do for a week. As she lifted her head, she kept staring at something in the air, on the ceiling, or somewhere over her. When I connected with her spiritually, I could tell that she felt a “presence” and could actually “see” something”. I whispered to her that God was coming to take her away and it was alright if she wanted to go with Him. I told her that God is a friend and He will take care of you. My brother joined me on the floor with her and she raised her head one last time, took a long look at God, laid her head down and passed away. It was beautiful. I was convinced that God had placed souls in His animals and given them the right to Heaven! This may seem “far-fetched” to some, but I will hold on to this belief and continue to treat His creations as He would expect me to – with love. I do believe that when I reach heaven, I will see my loved ones but I will also see many friendly and loved pets who provided love, security, and companionship to many people who loved them, and they will running about the fields of His glory with the same unconditional love that their Father has for them.