“Never underestimate the power of the love between people and their pets.”
This was said by police spokesperson, officer Albie Esparza, following some unusual teamwork between man and beast on October 7, 2015. A suspected car thief in San Francisco turned suicidal after being caught, and ran into a building where he threatened to jump out a third-floor window. Police negotiators spent 3 hours trying to talk the man down but were unsuccessful until they realized his family, who were called to the scene, brought his pet cat. They used his cat as part of the intervention, and within 45 minutes the man surrendered without incident.
The power of our pets, indeed.
To be needed
Unfortunately I can’t find the citation, but many years ago I was watching a documentary on disabled people and their guide dogs. One woman said that she felt she was such a burden on everyone, but that her dog changed her life in more ways than just being able to get around. What she said will always stay with me because I feel it’s the reason for the incredible bond we have with our pets: “He makes me feel like he needs me just as much as I need him.” To feel needed, like she had a purpose in the world, a reason to wake up the next morning and get out of bed; such is the power of love from our pets who depend on us for their survival.
What’s interesting is that in searching for the documentary, a similar story popped up where the subject said the same thing.
A soldier and his combat dog both returned from Iraq suffering from PTSD. As a result, the dog developed severe behaviour disorders, so the soldier adopted him and trained him to be his service dog to assist in his own challenges dealing with the disorder which gave both of them purpose and rehabilitation. “He needs me just as much as I need him,” the soldier reasoned.
Pets & Rehab
The power of our pets, and cat love in particular, is also being used to rehabilitate prisoners. At the Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana, shelter cats are cared for by carefully-screened inmates who feel a newfound sense of purpose and responsibility. One offender’s particularly compelling reasoning was that, “[l]ove will change characteristics from anybody’s tortured past. That goes for animals and humans, really.” And more powerful than the feeling of love, the present expression of it, is the belief in one’s capacity to love, which, for a multitude of terrible reasons and circumstances, people forget and are reminded of when staring into the wide eyes of an innocent animal who needs it.
Perhaps that’s what happened to the suicidal San Franciscan when he saw his kitty. Perhaps that’s the power of cats to help those who suffer from depression, and any of us who get sad from time to time: we look into those big eyes and think, I can love, so I will live.
If you have a story you’d like to share about the impact your cat has had on your life, please post below.