anne_mikolay_2012_120“You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.”

If this quote (by Paul McCartney) is true, and if the reports of the recent actions of Newark Mayor Cory Booker are accurate, then Booker must be a pretty good guy.

While on assignment in Newark during last week's brutally cold temperatures, WABC-TV reporter Toni Yates saw a dog outside unattended. Concerned for the animal's welfare, Yates tweeted Mayor Booker. Booker responded, not in words, but in deed. Cory Booker arrived, picked up the freezing dog, put him in the back of a police car and asked the driver to crank up the heat. The animal, named Cha Cha, must have been grateful and did not struggle at the hands of this stranger.

“This is brutal weather,” Mayor Booker remarked. “This dog is shaking really bad and you just can’t leave your dogs out here on a day like this and go away and expect them to be OK. Hypothermia on any animal including a human animal will set in pretty quickly. So this is very sad. You can just feel the dog shaking pretty badly.”

While some critics may regard the event as a public relations coup, others view it differently, referring to Booker as superman, recounting his past heroic feats, which include rescuing a neighbor from a burning building and hand delivering supplies to Newark residents affected by Hurricane Sandy. I'm going to call it as I see it: one of God's creatures reaching out to help another.

Go ahead. Call me a sap, but I like to believe humans are inherently good and compassionate. Booker's actions, whether true concern for a suffering creature or political maneuvering, strike a blow for animal welfare. Kudos Mayor Booker!

Fair, humane treatment of animals begins at home. If we are cold, they are cold. In frigid temperatures, bring your dogs inside, even if they are an “outdoor breed.” Our pets trust us to care for them. Thank goodness Cha Cha trusted Cory Booker. If she hadn't, Cha Cha might not be alive today.

Albert Schweitzer's words are apropos: “We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”

Though phrased more simply, perhaps St. Francis of Assisi said it best: “If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”