I’d like to believe that every pet owner is responsible and maybe, like me, a little crazy. That we’re willing to commit for a lifetime of love – starting with potty training, walks in weather both wet and sunny, healthy food, yummy snacks, fresh litter, toys ( only to find the box or bag was equally as exciting ), unexpected medical expenses, and so on. Unfortunately, crowded animal shelters and rescues prove that this is not always the case. More disturbing is the weekly if not daily posting of “Free to a Good Home” advertisements that fill both print and digital platforms. We’ve all seen them – ads saying, “ FREE TO A GOOD HOME. MUST MOVE AND CAN’T TAKE DOG/CAT/BIRD”. The owners are concerned. They talk of not wanting to profit from the sale of a family member so hence the “giveaway”. There is worry over the stress of shelter life. It will be too hard on a pet so used to the comforts of home. I cringe each time I see these pleas for help. The possibility of an unhappy ending looms large. For every story of a dog or cat abused,killed, or missing, how many go unheard?
Dog fighting groups look for free bait dogs to use in training exercises. “Bunchers” or “B dealers” sell pets to laboratories for research. Intact males or unspayed, female purebred dogs may be taken and used as breeders in puppy mills. Pet “flipping” is a relatively new phenomena where dogs and cats are taken and then resold for profit. And then there are always those individuals who just seek to torture and abuse the helpless. These are the type of people who prowl the free listings. These are who’s calling and pulling up in your driveway.
I know I have previously written about how shelters and rescues are already overcrowded. And yes, don’t get a pet if you’re unwilling and incapable to care for that animal under any circumstance. HOWEVER, life happens! Understandably there will be occurrences where an owner has to relinquish a pet. If you must, the local breed specific rescue or animal shelter is the far better option than Facebook or Craigslist or flyers at the market. Owners have met potential adopters, done home visits……all fictitious. To anyone who complains that an organization’s adoption process is too rigorous, I say that it is borne of experience. They have learned how to weed out the liars and the frauds, how to carefully match pets with families to decrease returns and increase permanent adoptions. I have never found anyone who was truly interested in adopting to be offended by questions or the deep level of interest in ensuring a perfect match.
The decision to give up a cherished pet is agonizing. Don’t be further burdened with “what if” or “if only I had known”. In addition to any fees that may be required by the group at the time of surrender, please consider an additional donation of funds, food, or toys. They will so very grateful for your thoughtfulness. Being a caring owner means lots of things over time. One is a measure of unselfishness we seldom know that we possess.