Protests & Politics

Un-caped crusader?

I have a sometimes exhausting list of things I am protesting. Frankly, even I get lost sometimes. Here’s a short list of the top issues:

  • Puppy mill pets (dogs, cats, horses, ferrets…)
  • Plastic bags (this has morphed in bags in general)
  • T-shirts at charity events (or other giveaways) (they end up in the landfill and are made with slave labor)
  • Palm oil (deforestation)
  • Rain forest beef (I should really do a lot more here, but I can’t claim to be perfect)
  • Junk mail (seriously?)
  • Sales calls (but who isn’t)
  • Guns (I’m not sure how to effectively protest this, but I don’t own one and try my best not to support gun culture)
  • Round-up (Monsanto is evil, you know)

Periodically I am inspired to volunteer on various issues, but, honestly, I’m not as dedicated as I wish I was.

Activist: a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue

Bicycle Activist?

Recently (with my move) I have taken to riding my bike to work. Now, honestly, part of the reason for this is that I don’t have parking and there is no parking around my building. And it’s good exercise. But a component of that is my desire to be “greener”. Every day as I ride my bike to work I feel sort of smug to be such a “greenie.”

Probably that feeling of smugness negates any good I might actually be doing…

The one thing I didn’t realize about riding my bike is how DANGEROUS it is. People are crazy.

Today i was riding my bike to work. I was in the bike lane along a pretty busy street, but no one was immediately around me. I came to an intersection where I had the right of way and was getting ready to ride on through and this SUV came roaring up, rolled through the stop, and was just going to go out into the traffic. Except I was about 6 feet away and coming on!

I hit the brake and said “Hey” more as a scared protest than anything. The driver slammed on her brakes and said (I really am quoting), “I’m sorry. Normally my kids tell me when to stop.”

?!?

 

If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time. Marian Wright Edelman

How about just road safety activist?

Oregon has a law that essentially says every intersection is a crosswalk. The idea is that if a pedestrian comes up to an intersection and wants to cross the street, cars and other vehicles should let them. The law also says that if an intersection is more than 100 feet away, the place where the pedestrian is becomes a crosswalk and the car should yield.

Frankly, if you’re a pedestrian and expect drivers to follow this law, you’re out of your mind. My big suggestion is don’t hold your breath.

Thus, when I’m walking my dogs (or just me) I ALWAYS wait for a significant break in traffic or for cars to stop.

Down the street from my  house there is a marked intersection. The reason it’s marked is because it’s a main crosswalk for a nearby school. In the mornings and afternoons safety guards enforce the area.

When I get home in the evenings and take the dogs out, it’s not guarded. But because it’s marked, it’s a more reliable place to cross than others.

A few weeks ago the dogs and I were waiting for a break in traffic and a school bus saw us and stopped. A jeep was just cresting the hill in other direction, so I figured they’d see the bus and us and stop. But no, the driver completely ignored us and sped on by while we waited in the intersection. The bus was indignant enough to honk.

Carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of a reward. Princess Diana

Farcical Feline Arrester

In spite of these incidents, I don’t think transportation is going to rouse my activist ardor. But a few weeks ago, something came into my world that inspired me to take up a cause.

Kittens.

A few doors down from me there is an abandoned house with a huge porch that has been dug out underneath it. Cats are EVERYWHERE. For the first few months as I dragged the dogs past it, I assumed (hoped?) it was a colony that someone had done the spay and neuter work on.

Then the kittens appeared. A total of five, as I later found out.

The Willamette Humane Society (WHS) does a good job of advertising their low-cost spay and neuter clinic, and they have a grant that allows anyone in my zip code to get a free spay or neuter. So I contacted them and found out they would take any kittens and I could make an appointment to have any adults I could catch sterilized.

I had noticed that someone was feeding the colony, so I left a note saying I would be willing to help get the animals sterilized and the kittens into good homes. The elderly woman who contacted me said that she didn’t really want to deal with the colony anymore, but did like one of the cats (black mama cat with stubbed tail) and she’s like to see her returned. She “handed over” the colony to me (which really wasn’t what I was hoping for) and said I could call her when everyone was fixed (literally) and she’d take over feeding again.

So, at the end of March I began “Operation Kitten”. My goal was to catch the kittens so they could go to WHS, be socialized, and then adopted. After that, I would start trapping the adults, hoping to catch the mama quickly to avoid more litters.

After a total of 12 hours over three weekends and three different trapping methods, I caught two kittens. That batch of kittens is now too old to be socialized, so this week I began trapping.

The first shock of this process was how expensive it was to rent a trap. WHS will rent you a trap at no cost, but you  have to put down a deposit. Other organizations charge $10. After some debate, I decided to invest in a trap so I wouldn’t have to worry about renting.

The second shock was the wait to get an appointment. It took me almost a month to get the first appointment!

Finally, the day before the appointment came around (appointment on Wednesday, trapping Tuesday night…) I had carefully followed the directions about getting the animals used to going inside by feed them inside the trap with the door shut.

That evening I carefully put out wet food for extra enticement and set the door.

Imagine my shock when I actually captured a cat! Not mama cat, but definitely a cat (I had nightmares about raccoons or rats.)

Proudly I took him into WHS…

A note about my third shock: On this ONE day, there were over 20 people dropping of animals for sterilization. This is EVERY DAY! The volume is just… amazing.

…dropped him off, and made arrangements to pick him up after work.

I walked back in the door, expecting to hear the directions they had told me about not releasing the cat until the next morning.

Here’s what they actually said: “This cat has already been neutered. And he’s a friendly one, too.”

I caught someone’s pet.

I’m not cut out for activism.