There is no equivocation for that. Let’s look into where this judgment emerges and see if you agree.
Pet owners are a breed of human which embraces the nurturing instinct which keeps us from eating our young. In some cases, pet owners treat their animals with better care than their human companions, colleagues and children.
You have seen them. They are never -ever- without their dogs or lizards. Single-handedly, they support the pet clothing, food and accessories industries. Veterinarians retire well on these people’s tickets.
They rarely consider themselves owners. Instead, they feel a connection to their animals, an enjoyment in their pet’s happiness and a responsibility for care to ensure longevity and safety. Pets are family members as much as in laws, siblings and children.
Yours truly is one.
Some people own no pets because of circumstances. They have a genuine love of animals and the caring attitude which would adopt, comfort and engage a pet on the same level as they would a child. Whether their living arrangements or income, they simply cannot give a pet a home. These people have the sense to know they are not in a position to provide an appropriate home and do not.
There are a few people who should never have pets. They have no capacity to care for anything beyond themselves emotionally.
Then, there is a class of people who think anything with more or fewer than two legs or with hooves, scales or feathers should never come in contact with anything except a human plate. Their engagement of neighbor’s and family’s pets is generally intolerant and considered a point of contention at any social function which occurs at the pet’s home.
After such visits, the pet hater generally questions the sanity of the pet owner, takes a shower to scrub away any evidence of the pet and attempts to schedule future engagements at neutral territory away from the animal.
People Who Suck
Lower still on the food chain are the people who suck. These people are not only in this category. Unfortunately, they are in all of the categories so far discussed. They fall into a few (searching for non-derogatory term) orders.
Many of them have pets of their own. This is the disturbing part. These own animals. Their interaction with their pets comes when (if ever) convenient, is not particularly social, does not meet the needs of the animal and more often than admitted is nothing shy of neglect.
A bit further down the scale from them are the non-owners who openly advocate the illegality of pet ownership. These people move for housing restrictions in SFD neighborhoods. They protest for no pets in public spaces: parks, rest areas, sidewalks. They think service animals should be restricted or outlawed. Ironically, they also advocate against zoos using the hypocritical stance they are inhumane.
There is one level lower than this. These are the people who believe they have the obligation to rid the world of unhomed pets. No, they are not taking them to shelters. They are not calling animal control. Instead, they are discharging firearms and poisoning food to exterminate pets which are away from owners or have no owners.
I see it.
I have rescued one such dog. He came to my home to be Super Dog (be invisible, sire puppies and disappear). A year later on a Friday afternoon, he came back.
- 8.5 feet of broken chain attached to the collar which was ingrown into his neck
- Fleas, mites, bugs, worms, heartworms
- 30 pounds underweight
- Abscessed teeth
- Broken teeth
- Fight wounds and scars
- Missing fur from sleeping on concrete
- Bullet hole in his chest
I called animal control. I had the officer deliver this animal to the veterinarian. If I had not, he would have lain on the floor in the shelter for four days until their vet came for his regular Tuesday call.
Zed came home three days (and $783) later with two chest tubes, antibiotics and pain med. Within three months, he had gained 35 pounds (and could have stood a diet) and was very used to sleeping on the couch… all 105 pounds of him.
His brother was not so lucky. He was scraped off the roadside with a shovel.
No applause. I am not proud. There is more.
This past Friday afternoon, another dog came to my home and refused to go back to wherever his owner lives. Cash, Zed’s daughter, pierced his ear for trying to eat her food, but he was content to sleep on the porch beside her for most of the day.
He was a little bit of a thing, about 3/4 Cash’s height but desperately underfed. A healed, broken rib stuck out at a 60 degree angle from the rest of his rib cage. He had fleas (and now we fight fleas again, this late in the season). But there was something else. His head was bloody where I knew Cash had not manhandled him. It was Sunday before I could get close enough to him, without him running away, for me to see it.
Shelters do not always rescue these animals when animal control brings them in. Many are put to sleep. This one is special. He is a sweet little dog who already has found a home. I would have loved to have him come back here, but I have all I can handle with the two I already own.
Cash is Zed’s daughter I kept from the litter my late husband’s dog had. She is fixed and will be bringing no puppies into the world. Beau was a puppy farm rescue who was slated to be starved. He did not sell before it was time to rebreed his dam.
What is the point?
The group of animal lovers, be they pet owners or sympathizers, need to take action. While we could be trite and talk about legislation, picketing and flogging the inhumane, there are specific things we can do. All of them are legal.
1. Call animal control.
These underpaid law enforcement officers do a tremendous, thankless job. They are wrongly blamed for the animals which are destroyed.
In fact, they do far more good than you may imagine. They protect animals from ending up like the red dog’s and Zed’s brothers: roadkill. They take neglected animals away from owners. They are humane in their capture of diseased, hurt and vicious animals.
2. Get to know the shelter.
If you are so inclined, support the shelter where animal control takes animals. Even if your idea of support is a flat of dog food each month, you are helping. If you can spare a few hours, volunteer to bathe dogs, throw a ball or pet cats. All of these animals need love. If you can afford it, have proper environment for it and will make the lifelong commitment, adopt an animal.
If you know of someone who sucks, report them to the police or animal control. The police are the proper authority only in certain instances, but the animal control officer can forward the report if that is the case.
4. Stop breeding.
Ignorant people the world over want puppies and kittens. Farms are big business. They breed animals and starve or destroy the extras. Even if your pet is only an indoor animal, have it spayed or neutered. The overpopulation of domestic animals is epidemic. A fence is not an appropriate method of birth control. (See Cash as an example.)
5. Choose wisely.
We are a consumer driven society. If you are spending your money with people who support puppy farms and kitten mills, you are not part of the solution. These are the ones we should let starve.
Do not buy animals. Adopt.
Make a difference.
Are your animals adopted? Do you know how to contact animal control? Do you know anything about your local shelter? Have you ever called animal control?
When you tweet or +1 this post, please use the hashtags #pets and #rescue. Thank you for sharing.
(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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