Stealing or rescuing?

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When I told a dharma friend of mine that the bunny had returned and that I planned on keeping it, she paused. For a long time.  Finally, she asked how did I feel about stealing someones rabbit.  After all, I know where the bunny came from, why didn’t I contact the bunny’s owners?

Hmmmm.  Is it stealing?  I mean, it’s not like I went into their backyard and nabbed the bunny.  The bunny had been running free for three days.  There are no “Lost Rabbit” signs in the neighborhood.  They have not contacted me or my Spanish speaking neighbor to ask if we’ve seen the bunny.  If they had done that, I would give them back the bunny.  But, it appears they don’t care and have relinquished guardianship.  So, if they are not going to take care of the bunny, I will.

When I check my motivation, it is virtuous – I want to help this little creature and give him a good, safe home.  My motivation was not malicious.  Yet, when I check my heart I do detect a definite lack of compassion towards the people who lost him.   I can’t relate to people who don’t take care of their animals.  In addition to letting the bunny escape or run loose, they have a dog that barks all night.

I know that different cultures have different relationships with pets.  My pets have better lives than many people in this country – they have quality food, a safe place to live, medical care and lots of love.  I don’t think I am over the top when it comes to the care I give to my pets – yet some may think I am, especially if they have financial challenges getting the above needs met for themselves.  So, should no one be allowed to own pets unless they live up to my standards of pet care?

The bunny is staying with me.  Should they show some signs that they are looking for the bunny (but it’s been at least 4 days since he’s gone missing), I’ll reevaluate.  And I’ll also take my friend’s advice to try and generate some love and compassion for the people who owned him.  The hardness I feel in my heart is not good.  I need to avoid having aversion for them, and developing too much attachment for the little bun bun.  I think I need to spend some time meditating on equanimity.

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3 responses »

  1. So, should no one be allowed to own pets unless they live up to my standards of pet care?

    No, but that’s not what’s happening here. Despite the previous owner’s significant lack of care for this bunny, you said yourself you’d return him if there was a single shred of evidence they even wanted the bunny back.

    These people, in my opinion, are criminally negligent. As you said, they have most definitely “relinquished guardianship.”

    Part of me wants to give them the benefit of the doubt (like maybe there are physically unable to find their bunny due to some unspeakable tragedy), but most likely, they’re just “done” with him.

    I try and try to understand how someone can just let a pet wander off and still they sleep at night.

    I think of this pretty, sweet, affectionate kitty who now lives inside with us. Outside for months until we finally saw she was no regular feral cat.

    Turns out she was spayed, so she once lived with someone. Where is this someone? Why haven’t they posted signs? Checked in with the local shelter? I think of these people every time I snuggle with her.

    Thank you for your kindness to animals.

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