Take Care Tuesday – Pets are People Too!

Original Puppy Crate Photo

Image source

Just over a week ago during the ‘Polar Vortex’, someone in Tioga County PA (within 30 minutes of where I live) came down the road and spotted a locked animal crate by the site of the road. Stopping to check it out, the woman’s worst fears were realized: she found a dead puppy estimated at four months old. There are a few more details at the local news site … but basically the puppy was left outside and died, and it is assumed that someone dumped the crate by the roadside after the fact.

Puppy left to die

The local community is appalled and outraged, but sadly it is the sort of thing that happens way too often.

Think about it: the puppy was four months old and died a month after Christmas. Adoption age for puppies is 10 – 12 weeks … so it isn’t a stretch to imagine that the puppy was a gift who would neither immediately behave nor be quiet, and the young child who desperately wanted the puppy was unable to take care of it – or even comprehend the scope of what that responsibility might entail.

There is a reason that every year there are an abundance of articles telling us that puppies make terrible Christmas gifts for children.

Children who get puppy’s for Christmas often lose interest when it grows into a dog. Then parents who don’t want to raise the animal or incur the expense, discard the animal as if it were a used toy. Too many animals given as Christmas presents end up being killed by shelters, abandoned, abused, hit by cars, or given away with psychological damage. That is why some shelters ban pet adoptions during the Holiday season.

In fact, this isn’t the first time this has happened this year – you can quickly find examples in Chicago and Missouri. And that is just of the specific example of being left out in the cold to die.

This fall the local SPCA talked about how ‘give backs’ can often be death sentences – people assume it is like buying something at Best Buy where they can just bring it back for a refund or just dump the dog off if they decide they can’t do it anymore. What they don’t realize is that if their dog is a certain breed or size or color, there is a very narrow window of adoption and only to a small slice of the population. If the dog returns for any reason after being a baby … death sentence.

Through the years I have seen a number of families who were in no position to have a pet go ahead and adopt – maybe they were doing it because a child wanted one, or because they thought they should, or because they want to see if they are ‘dog people’ or ‘cat people’. In pretty much every case the poor dog ends up being destroyed or running away or dying somehow needlessly.

It is a real shame.

Another problem – neuter / spaying. The problem is that pets overpopulate when left to breed freely. It is also a shame to see men in particular who seem to think of their dogs as an extension of their own manhood and therefore cannot have them fixed. Get over yourself – unless you plan to take personal and financial responsibility for the offspring your dog produces … get it neutered. (yes this goes for females as well).

In our house we have four animals – two Norfolk Terriers, a cat we’ve had for nearly 13 years, and a 9 year old cat we were supposedly ‘watching’ while an extended family member moved who is now part of the pack as well. Our dogs came from a breeder and we picked them due to allergy concerns, and the cat we adopted from a family who didn’t neuter their cat and ended up with a huge litter where no two looked alike. The other cat was taken in by someone who had no business having cats, and we continue to work on socializing her and dealing with her PTSD.

In our housing development over the last few months we know someone returned a gorgeous new puppy because it wouldn’t train, wouldn’t listen and they just didn’t want to have a dog anymore. I can only hope that the dog was young enough to still be adopted.

Many of the blogs I read are written by folks with pets (many of the couples are pre-kids). I am sure that each of them have heard the question “what are you going to do with when baby comes along?” Hopefully what we did – make sure to supervise time together and socialize them and teach the child slowly how to deal with the pet. Pets are incredibly sensitive and can be amazing to watch with babies and toddlers.

And while I have talked about the common dogs and cats, there are animals everywhere in this world, most of whom pose no threat or danger, and are just trying to survive. Yet some people think that they exist for their own amusement and torture. I think this speaks volumes about the people.

I know that some religions teach that we have absolute power over other creatures, and others teach that we are all part of the continuum of life. All I know is that animals are living creatures with thoughts and fears and love and emotions. They deserve our love and respect, and if we can’t give them that, then they deserve the opportunity to live and be loved in a home where they are welcome – or in the wild if that is where they belong.

Taking care of the animals and pets of the world is part of taking care of ourselves and taking care of nature. It is something that comes naturally to some, but is something we all need to think about.

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10 thoughts on “Take Care Tuesday – Pets are People Too!

  1. This just broke my heart! I understand if people get a puppy/dog and then down the road realize it isn’t what they thought it was going to be like…. then they should give the animal to a family member or friend – where they know it is going to a good home. My family breeds pugs and we only sell to new owners when we know they are prepared for a puppy and are able to fully take care of them. Just leaving a dog is completely wrong. I have no idea how someone could live with themselves after doing that.

    • It broke my heart as well and hasn’t left my mind, which is why I needed to ‘write it out’. I still have no idea why someone would do that, but I guess some people really shouldn’t have animals.

  2. I don’t have pets – and this is part of the reason. Not that I don’t love animals, but I know animals are neglected all of the time, and couldn’t bear to neglect someone I loved. I’m waiting for the right animal to find me instead of buying one so I can rescue an animal in a similar situation! Sounds crazy, I’m sure, but I want to adopt instead when it “happens” to me.

    • That was why we waited until a few years after having kids (our youngest was 5) before we got a dog. Cats are one thing, but dogs require a different level of attention … and responsibility.

  3. Oh man, now I am depressed! Poor lil puppy! It is so cold out, I feel bad for the animals. There was a little frozen chipmunk on my walkway today, we wrapped it in a sweater and put in under shelter, but I am too afraid to go lift up the sweater now to see if it made it!

    • A few years ago we found a chipmunk struggling that had been hit by a car – still alive, but suffering badly. Euthenizing it was awful, but we knew it was the right thing. Poor thing!

  4. My friends and family know me as the dog rescuer-I always scoop up the loose ones, return to their home if I can find it, and to a shelter if I can’t. You’ve seen enough posts to know I’m pretty attached to my pets-breaks my heart that people can’t see beyond the puppy stage.

    • Some can’t even realize that puppies don’t come with some magical ability to know where IS and IS NOT a good place to go to the bathroom … or chew … or bark … or snooze.

  5. That makes me sick to my stomach and you are probably right about the puppy having been a gift. So so so terrible. I am not a dog person, but I have rescued a few cats. I adopted my older cat in 2005 from a rescue in Ventura, CA. He was the last left of his litter when I got him in November. I wonder if it had something to do with the fact that he wasn’t put up for adoption before Halloween because they were afraid something might happen to him. Either way, I’m glad he came home with me. He will be 9 this year and is still my best buddy. šŸ™‚

  6. That really breaks me heart. Nothing makes me more furious when I hear of people bringing dogs and cats back after the’ve bought them or adopted them (unless the dog was dangerous, which happened to a friend of mine who was deceived about the animal when she got him) or dumping them just because “oh hey it didn’t work out.” People need to really think about everything, including the long term cost of a pet, when they bring them home. People just do it because pets are cute. I LOVE my cat to death, but when something happens to him, unless I’m in a better position financially, I’ll probably wait to get another one.

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