Holiday stress can strain relations with kinfolk.

But that doesn't justify killing an uncle.

And as if that blatant breaking of family ties by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un last week weren't alarming enough, he also evidently regards dogs with contempt.

In sharp and reassuring contrast, our community shows admirable, enlightened compassion for not just dogs, but cats, rabbits, assorted lizards and even tweety birds.

For instance, if you're looking for a bold and beautiful (or is that a young and restless?) Christmas gift, check out the lovable critters available from the Charleston Animal Society and Pet Helpers (more on those opportunities below).

Now back to the distant, isolated realm of North Korea:

Though the dynastic Stalinist regime there lacks sufficient territory to rate "evil empire" billing, its treatment of its own people - and its wretched ruler's benighted attitude toward dogs - is utterly vile.

From North Korea's official report last Friday on the final fate of Jang Song Thaek, Kim's uncle, who was once thought to be second in command:

"Despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him."

Worse than a dog?

Yes, "you dirty dog" and "son of a (word for female dog)" persist in the American vernacular.

But so, and much more accurately, does "Man's Best Friend."

And the inescapable implication of that "worse than a dog" line from North Korea is that Kim thinks dogs are bad.

However, dogs are good.

And people who don't think so are either a) bad or b) dumb as an ox.

Way off the leash

We running dogs of capitalism rightly fret about the prospect of the kooks who run Iran getting nuclear weapons.

Yet we also must face the reality that the kook running North Korea already has nukes.

OK, in fairness to North Korea, it doesn't waste nearly as much time - and money - as we do between issuing a capital-punishment sentence and carrying it out.

OK, that release about the sudden death penalty for Jang did display an entertainingly withering way with words, including:

"A decision of the special military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security of the DPRK was read out at the trial. Every sentence of the decision served as sledge-hammer blow brought down by our angry service personnel and people on the head of Jang, an anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional element and despicable political careerist and trickster."

And: "When his cunning move proved futile ... he behaved so arrogantly and insolently as unwillingly standing up from his seat and half-heartedly clapping, touching off towering resentment of our service personnel and people."

Well, sure, that sounds incriminating.

Then again, it also sounds fishy (no offense to fish).

And fortunately for us, America is a much nicer place than North Korea for people - and for our lucky dogs.

Plus, all of our U.S. presidents have had dogs.

That includes Bo and Sunny, energetic Portuguese water dogs who live in the White House as a members of the Obama family.

Closer to home, if you don't have a dog (or a cat), or you want to give a living and giving Christmas gift, you can get one from the Charleston Animal Society, Pet Helpers and other area shelters.

You can even do so from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday when the CAS holds a "Home for the Holidays" event at Crews Subaru on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston.

The CAS also will have adoptable animals at 4th Sunday on King Street - on Sunday on King Street. Autos will be verboten from Calhoun to Queen streets from 1 to 6 p.m. Santa Paws and some 2014 CAS Firefighters Calendar guys will be added attractions.

Pet Helpers has a busy weekend, too, with adopting outings at Old Navy in Mount Pleasant's Towne Centre from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and at Petco on 975 Savannah Highway from noon to 4 Sunday.

In the line of danger

If you still can't see why so many of us are so fond of dogs (including my Charleston Animal Society alum Coco, a dandy dachshund mix), ponder this Wednesday New York Post dispatch:

"A brave seeing-eye dog loyally leaped to the subway tracks when his owner tumbled off a Harlem platform Wednesday - and they both survived getting run over by a train, according to witnesses."

The black lab, named Orlando, "never hesitated."

And you should never hesitate to suspect the worst of anybody who barks up the "worse than a dog" tree.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.