“Free to a good home”

How often have you seen a message like this?

“Free to a good home. We are moving and we just can’t take Fluffy with us. She’s been fixed and she has all her shots. If she isn’t adopted in a week I’m afraid to say we are going to have to take her to the shelter.”

Or something like this – “Now that we have a new baby, we just can’t keep Spot. He’s really friendly but we just don’t have time for him.”

While I cringe at the new term “furbaby,” perhaps it is useful here. A pet is a member of the family. Fluffy and Spot were chosen to live at home, with you, by you. No, they aren’t children in the true sense. You don’t have to deal with morning sickness or labor with them. You don’t have to have someone with them until they are 12. You don’t have to save up for their college fund. You might have to worry about them coming home pregnant, but unlike real children you can prevent that problem with an inexpensive operation.

But they are family. They are dependent on you. They need you. You provide their food and shelter. You provide a home for them. Dogs and cats and any other pet are not accidentally in your home. You chose to have them there. You can’t back out and “take them to the shelter” when you find that you don’t have the time or patience for them.

Because “take them to the shelter” is just newspeak for murder.

Sure, some unwanted pets get adopted at the shelter. But most get “put to sleep,” or “put down.” Translation – killed. Does this term make you wince? It should. We are operating under a fantasy that when we take our pets to the shelter they will be adopted and loved. The shelters are overfull and understaffed. There aren’t enough people who come by to adopt. Pets that are there after a few days are killed. Is this fair for you to do to your pet, your “furbaby”? Oh, you might say that you aren’t killing Fluffy or Spot, but killing by proxy is still killing.

Do we do the same with our children when they get to be too much? No? Then why do we do it to our animal children? They are just as dependent on us.

Some people think they are giving their unwanted pets a second chance by releasing them out into the country instead of taking them to the shelter. Surely Fluffy and Spot will revert to their original non-domesticated nature and do just fine. I have a friend who lives out in the country and she assures me that she sees the results of this kind of thinking all the time. Fluffy and Spot don’t suddenly learn how to hunt for food. Instead, they become food for coyotes. Actually, they are lucky if this happens. Otherwise, they suffer a long slow death from starvation.

If you can’t commit to at least twelve years of supporting a dog or cat, don’t get one. They aren’t mandatory. You aren’t required to have one.

If you do get a pet, get it fixed as soon ask possible to prevent an unwanted litter. I’ve heard that guys are the least likely to get their male dogs fixed. They seem to take it personally that their male dog has no testicles. Trust me, dogs do not suffer from the same gender identity issues.