Is there only room in our hearts for humans?
Published 13/12/2015 | 02:30
The Blackberry Cafe on this country town's main street should be renamed 'The Beautiful Beacon Cafe', for its brilliant Christmas lights could guide ships into distant harbours. Other shop windows feature the Holy Family, surrounded by animals in the manger.
For the crib reminds us that we are connected to other sentient beings. Or so it should. After all, our pope took his name from St Francis of Assisi, who viewed our "brother and sister creatures" as part of God's family. Which is why St Francis is also patron saint of this column. Yet the shameful truth is that animal rescues in Ireland receive scant support.
I found out just how dire the situation is when I went to order calendars and Christmas cards from Paws - an animal rescue centre in a neighbouring county.
The calendars had gone up in price because (as Gina who, along with her mother, founded Paws nearly 20 years ago explained), their former sponsor is now supporting more locally-based charities.
Gina is grateful for the years of sponsorship and understands why it came to an end. The funding they used to receive made a massive difference to the rescue centre.
Sadly, it reflects the fact that apparently not one major Irish business supports animal charities.
Most spare them the bother of begging, by stating that "no animal charities need apply". It brings to mind those dark days of the sixties, when some landlords in England put up signs saying "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish".
It seems the dog part still applies, at least in this country, where "people come first", as some say. We certainly do, as the shocking state of this planet that we dominate proves. Which is precisely why we have a moral obligation to take responsibility for the problems that we cause.
Let's be clear: animal rescue centres are not the ones who abuse and abandon thousands of animals every year. They pick up the pieces after those who do.
As such, you might expect that they would be appreciated and rewarded for that heartbreaking work. But instead it's the opposite: they are discriminated against and disrespected because of it.
The National Lottery doesn't consider them worthy to receive funds. While it's ironic that the Department of Agriculture usually gives animal rescues "whatever is left in the kitty" on Christmas Eve. Last year, Paws received €28,000 (€22,000 of which they already owed to the vet).
Maybe Gina should hang out a stocking this Christmas. She would get more solace from Santa than from the so-called Christians in this country, who might do well to remember that there is no room in the Kingdom of Heaven for those with no compassion in their heart for its most vulnerable creatures.