Features


SATURDAY, MARCH 29, 1997

Pets Family Members, Not Throwaways

One of the peculiarities of the humane movement is that there are no identifiable bad guys. We often talk about irresponsible breeders and owners, but there is almost never a name or face that we can connect with the problem.

One place where pet overpopulation is immediately personal is at the receiving counter of an animal shelter. When a person takes in a dog or cat, there is no way to hide from the truth.

To really understand the dynamics of avoiding the truth while getting rid of your pet, try this “Top 10 List.”

Note: To sort out our list and to make it more readable, I have also included a pet lover’s translation. Ready? Here goes!

Name the top 10 fibs people tell when surrendering their pet at an animal shelter.

10. We’re moving.

9. He’s perfectly house-trained.

8. He’s good around small children.

7. My child is allergic to him.

6. I can’t afford to feed him.

5. I’m sure he’ll be adopted.

4. He is already obedience trained.

3. He needs to live in the country.

2. He never barks or digs or eats the couch.

Pet Lover’s Translation:

10. We’re moving.

If they were really moving, they would take old stereos, ancient refrigerators and threadbare sofas - if they are still functional. The difficulty of taking a pet with them is far less than that old Volkswagen that they intend to restore, sometime in the 21st century. This is an open admission that the dog or cat has no real value in their life.

9. He’s perfectly house-trained.

This means the pet is trained to do his business in the house - perfectly, every single time. You shouldn’t really be surprised at this, as many of these people had trouble potty training their children.

8. He’s good around small children.

He is good around small children if they are handcuffed, bound and gagged. The real problem is that their kids are not good with dogs. Even the most patient canine will eventually get tired of being slapped, pinched, jabbed and gouged.

7. My child is allergic to him.

My child is allergic to having an uncontrolled dog nip him and jump all over the place.

6. We can’t afford to feed him.

We can’t afford to keep feeding him our best shoes, socks, curtains and television controllers.

5. I’m sure he’ll be adopted.

I am sure some person out there would love to have an untrained, unhousebroken, destructive and potentially dangerous animal. Many polls indicate that a percentage of every population is insane.

4. He is already obedience trained.

He is already trained to obediently race to the door in answer to the bell, jump on guests when the door is opened, tug unmercifully on a leash and get into the garbage.

3. He needs to live in the country.

He needs to live in any country other than this one.

2. He never barks or digs or eats the couch.

He never does these things if he has an opportunity to chase carts, jump on the kids, steal food from the table or bite the mailman.

It is commonly believed that people who surrender their animals should be confronted with the truth about their actions. While we would all enjoy believing that scolding the people responsible for pet overpopulation will “teach them a lesson,” that is rarely the result. In most cases, it teaches the person to lie. In some cases it teaches them to dump their next batch of critters.

Until we can change the way people interact with their pets, they will continue to treat them as disposable items rather than valued family members.

Oh, I almost forgot - the No. 1 fib told as people surrender their pets at animal shelters is .. a drum roll please … “I thought the breeder said the pup’s mom was a ‘great dame!”’

xxxx


 

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