He was an ordinary man by most standards - not too young or old; not one to boast or one to hold back when affronted. He liked to go to the gym and enjoyed going out with his friends, just like anyone else.
What set him apart was his love for the community cats. He watched them as the female ferals struggled each year with new litters. He saw them caring for their kits, and he watched them grow and scramble for safety and food, only to have more litters the next season. He wanted to help them.
He set food out at at first. The cats and kittens were cautious, but, soon stood in the shadows until he came everyday and placed water and food below the tree in his yard. They trotted up eagerly for their meals and always glanced over their shoulders in nervous thank yous as he sat on the porch watching them. He understood and accepted their entreaties with an attempt to do more.
As a child of the Internet, he quickly learned about Trap/Neuter/Return... the best way to care for a colony of feral cats. He found a local, friendly TNR feral cat group that helped spay and neuter the community cats for a decent fee that he could afford. Things were going well. He had gotten into a routine and enjoyed knowing he was making a difference in the lives of critters he would never truly know.
Then one day it started.
Rocks were pelted against his windows. Never one to cower, he went to his porch and saw no one. The perpetrators had fled without a trace. He walked outside to the window and saw it was cracked; an additional expense - but, he would have it fixed by the weekend.
The next day he took the smallest kitten of a feral he called Pearl to be 'spayed'. The little girl did very well and after watching her carefully for a night, he returned her to Pearl. He fixed the damaged window that weekend and thought no more of it.
It was after school on the following Tuesday the second incident happened. A young mother,in her twenties was passing his house with her two young children. The boy and girl were about five and six. A dog followed the woman closely. It was a hound. Hounds are known to chase cats; it's their way, and this hound was no different. He saw the little kitten that had just been spayed and began running after her.
The woman saw her children following the dog into the man's yard. He thought she would call her dog off, as he walked outside to see what the commotion was. Instead she yelled, "Kill the cat! Get him! Kill him."
He couldn't believe his eyes. But, knowing his littlest was in grave danger, he spoke up quickly. "Hey, get off my property! Get your dog out of here!"
The woman looked at him and laughed. The kids laughed with her and the dog caught up to the kitten. The man ran down the steps and approached the hound. The dog backed off just as he was about to grab the kitten's tail. Barking loudly, he turned on the man. The children ran behind their mother's legs.
The woman was furious that her blood lust found no release. "Leave my dog alone!" She screeched, putting her hands on the children's heads. The man looked at her long and hard.
"Lady, I feel sorry for you... but, more sorry for your children. Get out of here, and never step on my property again." The woman gave him the finger in front of her boy and girl and hastily walked away; hound following obediently.
The man went to the back of his home and found Pearl. She was anxiously licking her kitten and looked up at the man with wide, trusting eyes. He felt her gratitude, but, worried deeply. What was happening? He had never faced a person so angry and aggressive towards a helpless animal before, encouraging violence in front of children.
It was a mean season. He knew his small act of kindness would soon test his mettle.. but, he had no doubt in his perseverance. He walked inside his home. Next weekend, a taller fence would be built.