Blog the change: Pets are forever.

by Jules on April 15, 2012

It breaks my heart every time I read about a pet that has been “given up” because a family had to move, or a because a baby was born, or because the dog was just too active (or in other words . . .untrained!). The other excuses? “I don’t have time for him”, “I can’t afford her”, “He/she has medical issues that I cannot deal with”. Many people go into the adoption (or purchasing) process without having any idea about how much work a new pet can be.

I have known people that have had dogs since they were puppies and then, once they had a baby, had no use for the dog. I have no idea how this happens. It’s not my place to judge, I really just wish I could understand. How did you love this animal like a child and then give it up?

Calgary Humane Society did an amazing campaign that I really loved. “I am a forever dog. Not an “until” dog.” (you can see more here!)

I think it is important for rescue groups and humane societies to educate the public, starting with children! Everyone needs to realize that pets are not something that we get on a whim. They are a lifetime commitment. They deserve love, training, high quality food, and someone that will care for them their entire life.

What else can we do to impress upon people what a huge life choice adopting a pet is? How do we help people keep pets when they feel that they can’t? How can we reduce the number of pets that end up in shelters? These are just a few of the questions that keep me up at night and  I hope we can find solutions to in the near future. Kudos to Calgary Humane Society for their brilliant campaign!

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  • http://istillwantmorepuppies.blogspot.com Pup Fan

    I agree 100%. I’ve never understood people who can just get rid of their pets. When I adopted Bella, I was making a commitment to her for the rest of her life. No matter what.

    I realize that there are some situations in which keeping the pet is not feasible – but I also feel that people give up too easily. And if someone really can’t keep their pet, then you’d think they’d try to find a better solution than just dropping her off at the nearest shelter.

    I agree with you that we need to find a way to get through to people on this front – the campaign you’re highlighting is a fantastic start!

    • Jules

      Sometimes I think people don’t truly understand what their options are, and they give up in desperation- the shelter is probably the easiest option.

  • http://btc4animals.com Be the Change for Animals

    What a beautiful poster with a valuable message. It amazes me to see such stark differences in the ways people consider (or don’t consider) sentient beings, no matter what kind of beings they are.

    There are those who give up because it’s easy. Then there are those who don’t and, sometimes, I’m not sure which is worse. Our neighbors have long housed old kennel dogs. When all died but one, they slapped on a shock collar to stifle his sounds of depression and loneliness. Many days I can hear that last old dog howl through the collar and I cry for him. Why even have a dog? The solution? Buy two puppies off of Craig’s List… which the older dog hates. And here we go again for another 12 years.

    The bottom line should be to “care” for your animals for life. Sadly, for some people, that isn’t the case. I hope the poster makes people think. And you’re right about educating children. The situation above is perpetuated because, as a child, this neighbor watched his mother constantly drowning feral cats in the creek rather than spay the mother. The cycle of neglect continues.

    So, what else can we do? For me, I have to stifle the anger and insinuate myself into their situation where I can – in positive ways. I’ve asked that our dogs meet on a walk to deter fence guarding at the property line – using positive reinforcement for my dogs’ part as an example. I’ve voiced my concerns about the barking of puppies triggering the old fella’s shock collar. I cannot come at this situation in anger or all communication beneficial to helping these dogs will be cut off.

    I think that’s the hardest part of this educational challenge. Staying involved without openly passing judgment and inserting suggestions or food for thought over time takes strong will. The poster above is a terrific start to opening dialogue – to be sure. And that dialogue is where we make the real difference – even if it breaks our hearts again and again as we do it.

    Thanks for Blogging the Change,
    Kim
    BTC4animals.com
    ThisOneWildLife.com
    DogHouseAdoptions.org

    • Jules

      Oh wow- I’m certain that I would not be as good as you at hiding my anger . .one of the many things I am working on. You are so good to stay positive, because, you are right – anger and confrontation will not help anyone. Those dogs are lucky to have such a caring neighbor ;)

  • http://www.jodistone.wordpress.com Jodi

    Darling, I sat down to write this very post and couldn’t find the words. thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    We need to educate people also about the importance of spaying/neutering, exercise and training. My next BTC post should encompass them all, but until then. GREAT JOB!!

    • Jules

      I loved your post!

  • http://rescuedinsanity.com Kristine

    In general people just don’t see dogs or other animals as creatures of value with feelings similar to their own. This is where the struggle begins. Even those who love having pets don’t always understand that sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the sake of said pets.

    I agree also with what Kim said above, the best way, the only way, to approach people who view animals as expendable, is by positive messaging. I think this may be where a lot of shelters and rescues get it wrong. Understandably, they are angry and tired and completely fed up. But if we don’t approach people from a place of understanding, we are only going to alienate further.

    It’s just so hard…

    • Jules

      It is one of those problems that just starts to make my head hurt :(

  • http://bringingupbella.com Leslie

    These are questions that keep me up at night as well.

    As the webmaster for one of the organizations I volunteer with, I see every surrender application that comes our way. Often, I want to grab the person and ask what the heck they were thinking when they got the dog?

    But I have also taken a much beloved older and well-cared for dog out of the arms of his grieving owner who surrendered him to us because they were losing their home.

    I have learned to temper my judgement as a result and just focus on what I can do to make the life of the dog I’m interacting with better.

    Education is key but I do worry about placing the burden for such solely on the backs of our over-taxed shelters and rescues. Especially since I already hear so much complaint over the “restrictive” adoption policies of some of them. I often feel we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

    Why couldn’t a course in humane behavior be within the realm of possibility for our public education curriculum?

    • Jules

      I can’t think of anything worse than having to give up your beloved animal because of financial reasons – my heart goes out to those people. Like I said, it’s really not our place to judge, but sometimes it seems like people give up a little bit to easily.

  • http://mybrownnewfies.wordpress.com Jen

    I think that we make it way too easy for people to give up their pets, but that is only because we don’t want to see them suffer. It’s one of those catch 22 things. You darned if you do and darned if you don’t.

    Wonderful post!

    • Jules

      Definitely a catch 22 :( We want the best for the pets and the people!

  • http://snoopysdogblog.com Snoopy@snoopysdogblog

    That poster message is so perfect – I’m sure it’s made at least a few people think about whether they’re really in it for the long run :)

    In the UK they used to have a campaign ‘ A Dog is for Life not Just for Christmas ‘ – these kind of campaigns are great to get the message out there that we need forever homes :)

    Your pal Snoopy :)

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