When you work or volunteer in animal rescue, you’re bound to run into some horror stories sooner or later. You’ll see anything from people who give up on animals after only days to people who drag animals behind their cars.
Some pets are abandoned in empty parking lots; some are thrown out of moving vehicles along busy freeways. Some are abandoned on the streets without food or water, left to brave the elements.
Each of these stories tears your heart out just as much as the one before, and you wonder if this kind of cruelty will ever stop.
Lucinda’s was the first abuse story I came across when I started volunteering at my local shelter. She was a young cat: 1 or 2 years old. Lucinda had been found by a local businessman who’d discovered a group of teenagers torturing her behind his office building.
They had taped firecrackers all over her, and she was desperately trying to free herself from them when he came to her rescue. Despite the trauma she endured, her spirit remained whole and vibrant. And on her adoption debut day, she found a family to love.
I’m sad I won’t get to see her anymore, but I’m happy she found a safe and loving home. I’m even happier I got to learn so much from her in such a short time.
1. Forgiveness Is Powerful
It would have been understandable for Lucinda to be fearful or aggressive toward people after that experience, but she wasn’t.
She maintained a sweet, affectionate disposition — she showed nothing but kindness toward those who cared for her during her treatment and toward anyone else, really.
It’s easy for humans to get caught up in the wrongs committed against us or to think that somehow by holding onto grudges we’re keeping ourselves safe from future harm. Yet we aren’t protecting ourselves from anything. When we can’t forgive, we keep ourselves from moving on and being happy.
If Lucinda would have been too timid or if she had been aggressive, she may not have found the family she did as quickly as she did.
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2. Physical Limitations Are Also Often Mental
Lucinda didn’t escape her ordeal without some battle wounds.
The veterinary staff believed she had been born without functional hind quarters to begin with — which most likely made her an easy target to tormentors — but she’d lost her tail from the firecrackers. She was badly burned across her body and ears, and she could no longer retract her front claws to walk properly.
Yet despite her physical injuries, she let none of this stop her. She climbed stairs, according to her foster mom, and got in and out of her litter box without help or issues. For the most part, she carried on like any other animal.
She didn’t know she was disabled, and that allowed her the freedom to live and play in the best ways she could.
3. Don’t Give Up on People
No one knew about Lucinda’s life before the events that landed her at the shelter occurred, but on the day she was attacked, she met some of the worst examples of humankind — and one of the best.
The businessman who saved her from those teenagers could have ignored the situation, or he could have taken her to a different shelter where her fate would have been signed and sealed. She didn’t know that, of course; all she knew was that someone came in and saved her, and that’s all that mattered.
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People may let us down and hurt us from time to time, but every now and then, someone will come along and surprise you. Everyone at the shelter — Lucinda’s foster family and now her forever family — showed her, over and over again, just how compassionate, kind and caring people can be.
That’s perhaps the most important lesson of all.