By Teresa Cooper, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
It took me 44 years to “get it.” I can’t erase the past, but I can move forward. Perhaps the next time I find myself in the company of someone on a different timeline, I will speak without judgment and consider how best to nudge them in the right direction.
A new acquaintance shared with me his love of animals. He told me of his adventures running with the bulls in Pamplona and dog racing through the icy terrain of Alaska, and he proudly spoke of his pedigree dogs! I semi-politely pointed out the error of his ways—at which point, we parted ways. Once you connect the dots, it’s hard to understand those who haven’t. While this gentleman was on the far end of naivety, the guilt I carry from my own past ignorance still haunts me. It took me 44 years to “get it.” I can’t erase the past, but I can move forward. Perhaps the next time I find myself in the company of someone on a different timeline, I will speak without judgment and consider how best to nudge them in the right direction.
With tears, I’d like to apologize to the animals I’ve wronged.
You were the first animal I loved. I was merely 8 years old. I sat on the stairs and cried the day I found you lying still on the bottom of your cage. Your life was short. You must have been lonely. You never had a chance to fly. I’m so sorry.
When I was 12, your belly was torn open by another animal. You were an “outdoor cat.” You were pregnant. You and your babies died. I can still hear you screaming in pain. I’m so sorry.
You were the horse I just had to have as a teenager. You were given to me as a present, and when I failed to care for you properly, you were passed on to another. I have no idea what became of you, but I fear the worst. I’m so sorry.
I found you as a pup abandoned on the beach. You stole my heart. You were my constant companion and always protected me. Why did I not protect you? Why didn’t I have you neutered? Why weren’t you allowed in the house? I’ll never forgive myself. I’m so sorry.
Lastly … to all the animals I’ve eaten and worn throughout my life: I’m sorry it took me so long to “get it.”
Guilt. It’s hard to shake. Let’s confess and learn from each other’s mistakes.
It’s never too late to take action for animals.
Are there relationships with animals or other encounters with animals that you regret from your past?
Teresa Cooper is a major gifts specialist for the PETA Foundation. She works with PETA’s Vanguard Society members, who are leaders in the fight for animals. Teresa lives in Los Angeles with her crazy kitties, who reap the benefits of having a mom who finally knows better!