Posted on June 11, 2022

An Animal Rescuer Becomes a Race Realist

E. Furlong, American Renaissance, June 11, 2022

This is part of our continuing series of accounts by readers of how they shed the illusions of liberalism and became race realists.

The website for Maddie’s Fund — a major animal welfare foundation — is now running an article with this headline: “Why are veterinarians always white?” The subheading is, “It’s time to be more inclusive and support people of color.”

The implication is that it’s wrong for the majority of people in animal welfare to be white, but this highlights something: White people clearly value animals in a way other races do not. This is something I have noticed as an animal advocate and long-time animal rescuer.

It took me many years to realize that not everyone cares for animals. I worked tirelessly with cats, dogs, and people in some of the roughest (blackest) neighborhoods in a predominantly black city. Before, I had been an ardent egalitarian. I believed that people were essentially “blank slates” who were all inherently the same despite race, sex, and other immutable characteristics, and I attribute my racial awakening to experience and exhaustion. It is easy to be an egalitarian from an ivory tower — not as easy when one has real-world experience.

Fresh out of college, I started to rescue cats I found on the streets in black neighborhoods. The first cat I rescued was emaciated and recently pregnant. I asked some black boys who were nearby if they knew whose cat she was. “She ain’t nobody cat,” they replied. However, as soon as I showed interest in taking her, the boys, who I would estimate were around 10 years old, changed their tune — they claimed she was their cat and that they had “paid $100 for her.” Were they hoping I would pay them? I was not a sucker and rolled my eyes as I drove away with “their” starving cat.

This was my first lesson in the opportunistic nature of blacks and their low level of concern for animals. At that time, I would not have dared to generalize, but over time, I did.

Early in my volunteer cat rescue “career,” an older white man whom I was working with told me repeatedly that “the real animals around here walk on two legs.” At the time, I thought this was racist and didn’t agree, but I didn’t argue with him, either.

I paid for vet care for the pets of black residents and soon learned that “I’ll pay you Friday” really meant “Get lost, white girl.” A black man told me I sold him a sick cat because he was black. An abandoned building where we fed feral cats (after having spayed/neutered them) was set on fire. I witnessed countless cases of neglect, abandonment, and abuse. The streets were not safe for friendly animals in a black area, and the problem was not traffic accidents. I relieved several black people of their cats or dogs due to what I would call our vastly different concepts of animal stewardship.

One of my fellow rescuers told me that no matter how good and generous we were, a lot of black people would always see us as trying to take something away from them because we were white and they were black. I understood this one evening when I was trying to trap a pregnant calico cat in an alley in a middle-class black neighborhood.

A young black woman was not happy that I was trying to trap her aunt’s cat, even though I was offering free spay/neuter services to the neighborhood. I wasn’t happy that her aunt let her unaltered, heavily pregnant cat roam the streets. A middle-aged black man came across the street to join in our argument. When I told him to call the police if he thought I was doing something wrong, he said “I won’t call the police. I’ll call the Crips.” I laughed at the idea that the Crips cared about cats. “They might not care about cats,” he said, “but they care about our people.”

I gave up and left. “Our people,” he had said. The line was drawn. No matter how egalitarian I might be, no matter what service I might be offering, many black people would always see racial conflict. I came to realize this was something I could never change.

Over many years of devoting almost every waking moment responding to crisis after crisis, I lost the energy and the will to keep making excuses for black people. I no longer cared whether their behavior was “their fault” or not — I simply came to loathe it.

I began to welcome gentrification, because white people moving in means that the suffering of strays will quickly end. There are stray and abandoned cats in a lot of lower-class white neighborhoods, but there is typically someone taking care of them, or at least someone interested in them who lives there. White neighborhoods are also a lot safer (and cleaner) for rescue work.

Black people often walked by cats at our adoption events and said, “They so big.” This is probably because they got cats as kittens but cared so little or badly for them that they never saw them grow into adulthood (about two years) or because their female cats’ growth was stunted by reproduction at an early age. A surprising number of black people also seem to be terrified of cats.

There were several examples of black people who cared for animals, but most of them let me down in the end. For instance, there was a guy from Jamaica (in this country on an expired visa) who fed the cats in his neighborhood and also had saved many dogs who were on death’s door. After his house was supposedly destroyed by the police during a drug raid against a housemate, “James” lived with his animals in a dilapidated house that would have been condemned even in Jamaica. Many white rescuers supported him personally as well as his efforts on behalf of animals, going so far as to provide him with dental care, legal services, a washer/dryer, and a mobile scooter. In the end, each learned a valuable lesson about overextending themselves for him as he ultimately shirked his responsibilities toward the animals, and our almost all-white roster of volunteers had to pick up the slack.

There were many additional instances where I asked a black resident if they would mind putting the food out for the cats in their yard if I provided it for them, and every one of them dropped off the face of the Earth. The people living in neighborhoods full of cats typically could not be trusted to lift a finger to help them. Instead, a brigade of white women who were entirely out of place in those neighborhoods had to be relied upon to clean up after them, sometimes literally removing garbage, abandoned furniture, and debris from alleys and backyards.

One black woman — we will call her “Linda” — lived in a middle-class neighborhood and was taking care of cats on her property. For some years I assisted her with spaying and neutering the cats she was taking care of, and one day a new tomcat showed up at her colony. She said that this cat was causing trouble due to typical tomcat fighting behaviors (solved easily by neutering), and I entrusted her with a humane box trap to get ahold of him and take to the vet with. To my surprise, the next day I received a call from Linda’s brother informing me that he had taken the cat and dumped him in a neighborhood with a lot of feral and abandoned cats. I was livid and devastated, worried about the cat’s welfare but unable to do much except file a criminal complaint against him for abandonment (which went nowhere, but I hope may have scared him). I left Linda an irate message about her brother’s actions and because she never called me back. After that, my perception of her as a “good one” was extinguished.

Animal rescue in a black city taught me racial differences. Black Africans never domesticated animals and certainly did not have pets. Not even Asians seem to care much for animals; some badly mistreat cats and dogs intended for food.

I no longer venture into black neighborhoods on behalf of animals, but I know that any improvement in the condition of animals in those neighborhoods will be due mainly to white people. The idea in the Maddie’s Fund article that there are “too many” white veterinarians is absurd. There is no question that white people are far more likely to value their pets and give them better care. I’ll stick with my white vet, thanks.

If you have a story about how you became racially aware, we’d like to hear it. If it is well written and compelling, we will publish it. Use a pen name, stay under 1,200 words, and send it to us here.