Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Students and Their Teachers
This months Links for Learners will support high school
Christian lifestylesappreciation for God's creation
ScripturesGod's covenant with his people; animals
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions
or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from
the resource materials cited throughout the Link for Learners.
God's saving plan
Canticle of the Creatures
Book of Revelation
Resurrection of the body
Love Affair With Animals
Every year around Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, people
around the world have
their pets blessed, often with the following blessing: "Blessed
are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth
fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired
St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask
you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live
according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty
in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures!
This month's article looks at what role animals play in God's saving
plan. But beyond the issue of whether our cat will go to heaven
are deeper issues of how we view animals, what their rights are,
what our rights and responsibilities toward them are and how humans
should treat these creatures of God.
Americans have a complicated relationship with their four-legged
friends. Certainly pets in this country are loved and often pampered.
The Humane Society of the
United States estimates that there are about 68 million pet
dogs and 73 million pet cats in the U.S. Another
survey finds that about 63.4 million U.S. households, or 62
percent, include at least one pet. Those numbers reflect steady
increases over past years.
As the number of pets has risen, so too has the amount of money
spent on pets. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association
finds that the average American household can expect to spend $460
on its animals in 2003, for an estimated total of $31 billion.
Although the majority of that money is spent on veterinary care,
pet owners can also choose from a wide variety of toys, clothes,
furniture and services for their animals.
An increasing number of local governments are replacing
the phrase "pet owner" with "pet guardian"
to reflect the changing status of pets from property to companions.
So far, Boulder, Colo., Berkeley, San Francisco and West Hollywood
in California; Sherwood, Ariz.; Amherst, Mass.; Menomonee Falls,
Wis.; and the state of Rhode Island have all made such changes.
studies suggest there is a health benefit to living with pets.
Different studies have suggested that contact with a pet can lower
blood pressure and reduce the symptoms of attention deficit disorder,
among other benefits.
But even as Americans shower their pets with attention and possessions,
millions are killed each year because of overpopulation. The
Humane Society estimates that six to eight million pets enter
shelters in the U.S. every year, and about half of those are euthanized
because officials can't find homes for them.
The main problem behind overpopulation as a result of owners failing
to sterilize their pets. Although 70
percent of dogs and 80 percent of cats are spayed or neutered,
it doesn't take many animals to create an overpopulation problem.
Just one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce
420,000 cats in seven years,
and a female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000
dogs in six years.
The Humane Society cites other problems as a result of animal overpopulation:
"the transformation of some animal shelters into 'warehouses,'
the acceptance of cruelty to animals as a way of life in our society
and the stress that caring shelter workers suffer when they are
forced to euthanize one animal after another. Living creatures have
become throwaway items to be cuddled when cute and abandoned when
inconvenient. Such disregard for animal life pervades and erodes
Convincing owners to sterilize their animals is the single most
important way to reduce the problems of overpopulation. SpayUSA
offers a nationwide network and referral service for low-cost spay/neuter
There are other questions to examine as we ponder the role of animals
in God's creation:
- Is it moral to spend money on clothing and fancy furniture
for pets when so many human beings in this country live in poverty?
- Some vegetarians believe it is cruel to eat meat products or
wear leather or fur when alternatives exist. Where do you stand
on this issue?
- Many advances in medical research are tested first on animals
to determine their safety. Is the potential for helping human
beings worth the risk to the animal subjects?
- Some animal-rights activists destroy property in an attempt
to stop practices they believe are cruel to animals, such as breaking
into research facilities or destroying development they think
endangers animal habitats. Is it moral to do this?
St. Francis gives us a model for the treatment of God's creatures.
Finding a way to apply that to modern situations is a challenge
that we as Catholics must address.
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further general
reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge
for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.
New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
The Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
The Miami Herald
The Associated Press
resource for the school channel