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Monday, January 9, 2012

Responsibility

 Shelters should and will always have a need to exist. They need to be there for times when a person truly has nowhere to go.  A person who has passed away and has no family or friends to take their pets needs a refuge for their beloved pets. Stray dogs and cats need a place to go so that they can be reclaimed by their owners or adopted out to more responsible people. Sometimes a person finds themselves homeless and must make a terrible decision to leave their pet because they have nowhere to go. Natural disasters happen and there needs to be a place for pets to be safe while things get put back in order. Shelters do have a purpose, but the problem is that people use them less like their intended purpose and more like a trash can for their unwanted pets. 




Every time I see someone drop an animal off, I am upset. It could be that someone has run into an incredibly hard situation and has had to let go of a beloved member of their family. However, too many times it is not that at all. In just the last two visits that I made to the shelter I saw two people leaving their elderly dogs because they were "just too old". I find those the worst. I cannot imagine taking my elderly dog, that has stood loyally by my side for years, to the shelter. What are they thinking? Why in the world do they think it is someone else's responsibility to take care of their aged dog? Do they think their pet would be better off? If that is their thinking- they are so far from the truth... so very far. Their pet will end up being placed in an unfamiliar cage in a place where they know no one. Their dog or cat will probably shake and cry, they may stop eating.. they might even get sick and some even just die in their cages. If they are lucky, someone will adopt them, but the chance of that is slim. The competition is fierce in there- most people want a baby or one with several years left in them. More than likely, that dog or cat that they left at the shelter will die by a lethal injection and leave the shelter in a plastic bag. If the shelter is a no kill- depending on the shelter- they may spend their last days in a cage, in a kennel with many other dogs and cats who may also spend their entire lives in a cage- waiting. And the thing that rips me up the most about the elderly pets- is that they do wait. They wait at their cage doors, because they believe with every ounce of their being that the person that betrayed them will return for them. I have seen it so many times.. and it never becomes less painful to see. The people who do this to their pets are some of the most heartless people in the world. 

Some people adopt a pet and have no idea what they are getting into. They may find that they have failed at house training and they just give up and take their pet the shelter. On some levels, I have a bit more sympathy for them.. not because they were right to dump their pet- but, because they had failed at trying to teach their pet to live in the human world. I know I have had a hell of time teaching pets of
 mine to become housebroken and to not climb up the curtains. Those people are the ones that I think may still have a chance. They are the people that shelters should be focusing on as people who can be educated. If a person dumps their pet due to housebreaking issues, what if they could be part of a second chance program where the shelter works with trainers who can help to educate the people? If there are programs in place to work with people then I wonder how many pets could be saved. I do see programs in some shelters to offer free training and education and I think that can make a huge difference. Not all people will be responsible enough to follow through- those I do not have an ounce of sympathy for- they are lazy and irresponsible and their pet may end up dead because of their actions. One of the worst things that a person can do is take in a puppy- not train it- allow behavior issues to become a part of it and then dump it on the shelter. Those people need to be held responsible for their inaction in their duties- but, they are not. My hope is that with the various programs being implemented in shelters that there will be enough people to be responsible and avoid or change the behaviors of their pets.. those that do should be very proud of themselves.

Some people adopt or buy a cute puppy or kitten and then, once it gets big, they dump it. Every year, a few months after Christmas there are dogs and cats dumped because they were a present that grew. Often times, they keep them just long enough to have them through the cutest, smallest, and most adoptable phase of their life before dumping them. Sometimes, there are even people that do it over and over again. I wish there was a way to just stop them. But, there is not. Those are people that I think need to be called in to watch their pet die when no one adopts it and they need to be told to their face that their pet died because of them. This is why pets do not make good gifts. They should never be brought into the home on a whim and there needs to be a large amount of research done as to what needs to be done to properly care for them. Breeders and pet shops are far to eager to allow just anyone to take their babies - after all, if they turned irresponsible people away it would affect their income. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by someone who had bought from a breeder that they were told their dog would not get too big.. yes, labs do get big. Sometimes, people have been convinced to buy multiple puppies so they won't be lonely. They are not educated properly.. not at all. Far too few breeders are looking out for the best interest of their litters. There are some, and those are the ones who will put into a contract that the dog or cat needs to be returned to them. Even shelters don't do a good enough job on educating people who adopt puppies.... some are very good at it. But, others are not and I wonder of only taking an adopter aside and sitting down with them to give them resources and talking with them about what it really takes would lessen the number of returns. But, then again.. shelters are so overrun I think they are just happy as hell to see any adoption.

Some people, no matter what kind of education or resources are given to them will always fail their pets. There is too much abuse happening and not enough prosecuting of the abusers- too many lax laws and not enough tracking of the animal abusers. This might just appear to be an issue for the pets, but there are many cases where people who abuse animals go on to abuse people. Why not stop them in their tracks the minute they starve a dog or beat a cat? Why must we wait until they do something against a human? It seems society would be better served to keep abuse of humans down if only they would start with the abuse of animals. Some people refuse to spay and neuter their animals and constantly are adding the the massive overpopulation issues we have with dogs and cats in this country. There are others who are too lazy to even vaccinate their pets and then dump sick animals in shelters - not only giving a death sentence to their pet, but to every single animal they come in contact with. I have no sympathy for them.. I save my sympathy for their victims.

So basically, shelters need to exist- there are legitimate reasons why shelters need to be. People are abusing the service. They have discovered that shelters will take on their messes. They have put down their responsibility and placed it upon the shoulders of the shelter workers. luckily for the dogs and cats who are victim to the those people, there are people who are working for them and fighting for them. But, it is a losing battle until things change. Either "kill" shelters will be forced to continue to kill millions each year due to space, illness and budgets.. or "no kills" will be forced to house animals that may or may not ever find homes- how much can they truly take on? How long can they keep it up? I see articles all the time about overflowing shelters and lack of funds.. it doesn't matter what side of the fence people are on about what kind of shelter is better- what matters is that society is irresponsible- ignorant and sometimes downright callous in their care of their pets.

 There needs to be changes in the community since they are the ones who are causing the problem. I firmly believe that there should be mandatory spay an neuter laws and that spays and neuters should be free. As a taxpayer, I would much rather have my money go to fixing cats to prevent future ones than to go to house the many litters of unwanted kittens who may end up just being killed or warehoused- using tax payer money. Puppy mills need to be stopped and breeders need to have more oversight. Hoarders of animals need to be stopped and instead of getting sympathy need to be made to never own animals again- too many times they contribute to mass influxes of animals when they are busted. No kill shelters need more oversight as well and there needs to be more partnerships between them and the city shelters. People who use rescue animals for their own monetary gain need to be punished severely and all abusers should have much harsher punishments. Education of those adopting and buying pets should have mandatory education and anyone who brings in an elderly pet to be dumped needs to called when their pet is about to be killed and to be told exactly how much that animal missed them. Shelters should exist for those times when they need to be there-- we need to stop allowing them to be used as dumping grounds for all of the people that should know better-- and often do.







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