Winter is approaching and we will probably hear advisories to expect El Nino, La Nina, and whatever newly named storm is on the horizon. Thanks to the science of meteorology, weather forecasters, Doppler radar, and other tools, we can plan our daily attire, schedule vacations, and be advised whether to build barriers against raging flood waters.
Even though new technology brings with it new terminology, the idiom “It’s raining cats and dogs,” which has been around for centuries, continues to be recited when Mother Nature opens the skies to dump especially heavy showers. The expression has another meaning now a days. Sadly, it is coined to describe the constant deluge of cats and dogs, and other animals, dumped in shelters, thrown from cars, left to fend for themselves on streets or in places where few people dare to tread.
I did a bit of research to try to find out how the phrase came about. One explanation is that back in the 1500's, houses had roofs made out of thatch, which are thick piles of straw woven together that dogs and cats would take refuge in to keep warm. When it rained, the roof became slippery, causing the dogs and cats to fall to the ground.
There is Norse mythology that claims that people used to believe that cats were in charge of the rain, and dogs were in charge of the wind. Therefore, when you put rain and wind (cats and dogs) together, you got a really big storm.
Still, in 17th century England, heavy rains sometimes caused the drowning of kittens and puppies and their bodies would be washed down the streets. Or, people might have thrown their dead animals into the street with the rest of their garbage, so when the rain came, the corpses would float down the gutter. Obviously, animals were not considered to be pets or companions.
We can lay blame on “Mother Nature” or “Global Warming” for causing storms heavy enough to tear roofs off homes, or floods high enough to destroy homes, cars, and other personal belongings, but it is “Humans,” or the lack of humanity, that is at fault for causing the abuse, neglect, and death of innocent animals.
We could tell ourselves that in previous centuries little was known or taught about humans and animals co-existing. However, it was in the 1820's, in Britain, that several philanthropists founded the society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Yet, animal welfare was considered a waste of time and money, and animals were not recognized as sentient beings by most people. Nevertheless,
education and hard work brought attention to the first SPCA and by 1840, Queen Victoria granted permission to rename the organization the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
In the 1860's, Henry Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, and animal rescue came to the US. Other rescues followed and within the next 3 years, anticruelty laws and rescues in at least six different states were formed.
In the 1870's, the American Humane Association (AHA) went national, and in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States was formed and the organizations set about educating the public.
So why, in this day and age, do so many people appear to be uneducated or ill-informed about what it means to be a responsible pet owner? Is it a “cultural” issue, as many contend, because some families were brought up to believe that pets are nothing more than possessions? It appears to many, especially those in the rescue organizations, that society may be regressing to the mindset of the 18th and 19th centuries when animals were not recognized as living, feeling, responsive beings.
With all that said, the current advisory warning states: Have your umbrellas handy in anticipation of it continuing to rain cats and dogs, and get yourself galoshes to walk through the puddles of tears that will continue to fall from those who are trying to make a difference. A very dismal forecast lies ahead for the animals, unless and until society learns the consequences from its absence of morals and principles. One can only hope that a rainbow lies ahead.
As always, you and yours are being solicited to help bring a ray of sunshine. You can help make a difference.