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Gramps,

In my experience it seems that a lot of Mormons don’t respect animals. When I was at BYU my roommates didn’t respect them. Once a cat got into the apartment and before I could gently guide the cat outside a roommate of mine grabbed the cat by the scruff of her neck and threw her out. I’ve known a lot of LDS people who have stated they don’t really care for dogs and cats. Someone told me me that she grew up on a farm and animals were there to do some kind of work not to be a companion.

Gail

 

Answer

Gail,

It sounds like you care about a lot about animals. I understand. My dog is curled up by my feet as I write this.  Fortunately, there is much evidence in both the words and actions of our leaders, and in the scriptures to show us that kindness to animals (domestic or wild) is very important to our Father in Heaven.

For example, Pres. Howard W. Hunter is noted to have had a beloved cat that he rescued as a kitten.  When he was about seven years old he passed by an irrigation ditch near his home and saw several older boys throw a kitten into the water.  When the kitten crawled out, they threw it in again.  After the boys left, Pres. Hunter took the kitten home warmed it up by his family’s wood stove, fed it and nursed it back to health.  It became a loved family pet.   Sharing Time: Reverence for Heavenly Father’s Creatures.

Pres. Joseph F. Smith taught: “Kindness to the whole animal creation and especially to all domestic animals is not only a virtue that should be developed, but is the absolute duty of mankind.  . . . It is an unrighteous thing to treat any creature cruelly. . . . The Gospel and Animals

This kindness to animals extends beyond pets and other domestic animals. Pres. Kimball and other leaders talked about not killing animals for sport, and Joseph Smith taught that even snakes should be treated with kindness.

“In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, ‘Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.’ The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.” (History of the Church, 2:71–72.)

The scriptures also give us instructions about the treatment of farm-type animals.  That this should be done with kindness is made clear under the Law of Moses where the Lord taught the people to be kind to the ox by not muzzling it as it was eating corn. (Deut. 25:4) They were not to cause undue strain on the animals by yoking them unequally. (Deut. 22:10) They were even counseled to help animals of their enemies (Exodus 23:4-5).  Also you might recall that we are commanded that animals also should be allowed to rest on the Sabbath. (Exodus 20:10)

We are shown, once again, God’s reverence for animals through two of the Savior’s names: Lamb of God and Good Shepherd.

It’s not necessary to have a pet if one doesn’t enjoy the company of animals, but God has made it clear that animals of all kinds should be treated with kindness and respect.

 Gramps

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