Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fur Kids and Animal Responsibility

I promise this post has a point. If you don't want to read about my animals, skip this post. If you don't want to read about animal responsibility, just read to the part where I talk about my dog. If you turn off the Sarah McLaughlin commercials because you've already rescued an animal, spayed or neutered it and it makes you sad, you can also skip this.

Olivia (left), Allistaire (right)

Allistaire and Olivia are my 4-year old kitties. After volunteering with the humane society in high school and working to rehabilitate feral cats who were going to be euthanized (who eventually became the happiest kitties ever in my parents household), I knew I wanted to adopt feral cats who would otherwise not be adoptable. Feral cats can be domesticated if you adopt them young enough, but it takes a ton of patience and work. My husband and I would sit for hours on the floor with chicken baby food to try to get them to come out from hiding and come near us. To this day, they're extremely wary of strangers, but great with me and my husband. 


We got Eleanor from a woman whose dog had mistakenly gotten pregnant and was giving away the litter of puppies. She's the most expensive free dog I've ever known. Between allergies, stomach problems, anxiety, training, doggie daycare and the eating of objects which are not meant to be eaten, we've spent more money than we've ever spent on ourselves. We could have taken 10 trips to Hawaii in the 2 years we've had her. 

Ellie is a lab/rhodesian ridgeback mix, and is the perfect blend of the hyperactive, bad toddler lab and territorial ridgeback. Despite her issues, she's extremely lovable, expressive, funny and wonderful. She's the best practice for a child I could have ever asked for. 

Why am I randomly posting about my fur kids? Not to sound like a Sarah McLaughlin-themed commercial (which you know you ALWAYS change the channel for because it's so sad), but so many people give away their animals and don't think of the consequences. Volunteering for Labrador Rescuers was one of the saddest and most rewarding experiences of my life. In addition to helping at adoption events and checking homes of potential families, I was in charge of answering all of the emails of people looking to adopt. I also had to deal with the people who were getting rid of their dogs. Because of the economy, a lot of the people were losing their houses and felt like they had no other options. Then there were people who had mistreated their animals or simply got tired of them. They weren't cute puppies anymore and hadn't been trained so they had issues. I had one guy who wrote me and said that if we didn't come get his dog in 30 minutes he would shoot it. One of our volunteers rushed down in the car and saved the dog, who was wonderful and was eventually adopted to a great home.

I'm trying to make a few points.

1. You have a pet. You have a responsibility. These pets can't take care of themselves. If you have an animal that you don't want anymore, taking it to the shelter isn't the solution. The Humane Society DOESN'T WANT YOUR ANIMAL. There's no room. The shelter isn't a happy field where animals run around and hug each other.

Here are stats from 1997 from the Humane Society website. The euthanasia stats have increased DRAMATICALLY since the recession, to the point where stats aren't even recordable:

  • Of the 1,000 shelters that replied to the National Council's survey, 4.3 million animals were handled.
  • In 1997, roughly 64 percent of the total number of animals that entered shelters were euthanized -- approximately 2.7 million animals in just these 1,000 shelters. These animals may have been euthanized due to overcrowding, but may also have been sick, aggressive, injured or suffering from something else.
  • 56 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized. More cats are euthanized than dogs because they are more likely to enter a shelter without any owner identification.
  • Only 15 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are reunited with their owners.
  • 25 percent of dogs and 24 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are adopted.
It is estimated that approximately 3.7 million animals were euthanized in the nation’s shelters in 2008. This number represents a generally accepted statistic that is widely used by many animal welfare organizations, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

2. Pet stores are not responsible. Google "Puppy Mills".
3. My parents have always gotten their dogs from a breeder to show them (in dog shows). I don't hate my parents, and I don't hate you if you got your dog from a breeder. I do always prefer that people adopt from a shelter. If you are going to buy a purebred dog and are set on getting it from a breeder, go to the breeder's house and see the living conditions. Find out about past litters. Papers mean nothing. Don't perpetuate bad behavior.

Thanks for reading my PSA - I promise to talk about happier things in my next post.


  1. OMG cutest pic of the kitties cuddling! I love it.

  2. we rescued our cat from the shelter, and when we got him he was really sick, but we took care of him and now he is the best kitty ever.

    on the flip side we did get our puggle from a breeder. We checked references, and had many conversations with her. When we got to her house to pick him up we had to remove our shoes wash our hands and she was constantly cleaning. I was impressed.

    Animals need love and ocmpassion. Thank you for posting this!

  3. i totally agree!! we have one rescue dog, who we automatically decided to adopt because we'd seen him before and i thought someone brought him back and i was outraged.

    our pug is from a breeder, but we totally went to this woman's house...and Bojangles was prancing around the yard like a tiny tub of lard, in all his puppy pug-ness. she was so sad he was i know he was in a good home before.

    and i agree about the practice children...except our pups are the reason we're WAITING a few years before babies...they're a handful already!

  4. but we took care of him and now he is the best kitty ever.

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