Do you think that if a child wanted their parent to get them a baby, would they, if they threw enough tantrums and hissy-fits, eventually let them have it? Unless you’ve recently suffered a major brain injury, I’m assuming your answer here is no. Now, consider an animal and not a baby, and depending upon the ease with which the parent is bullied into giving in to the child, the child would probably get what it wants.
The story hereon is a familiar one. The parent assumes the child will soon get bored of the new living, breathing plaything, and correctly so. The child soon realizes that there is only so much entertainment that can be gained from teasing the poor thing, and moves on to the next new thing that catches his fancy. Or else, the parent soon realizes that the thing actually needs space and time and it eats! oh how it eats!
So they do what they think is best. An inconspicuous visit to the park, where it is left tied to the tree. Maybe someone else will find it and take it home. Someone who actually wants it.
If only that’s how it worked. At best, someone will find it before it starves to death, try to find the owners, and when that fails, call the local shelter.
Wait, that’s a good thing right? Yes, of course. It will have a place to live and food to eat. but the sad reality is, this fiction is mirrored in too many real life stories, and there aren’t enough shelters to hold all the abandoned pets and injured strays. And a lot of these shelters run on good intentions and meager budgets, with not enough room to spare for every stray that comes their way. Most run on government grants and/or donations from animal-loving patrons, but the bills are numerous. Money to board all the animals and for their food, staff to man the shelters, (although many people volunteer to do their bit), veterinarian bills, transport costs, money for cages and such and basic utility bills such as electricity, which is crucial in summer months. A lot of shelters run at over-capacity, and cannot provide all pets the ideal care and attention the need, even if they might really want to.
Shelters also run adoption and foster care programs. The only problem is, most people prefer to buy from pet stores or breeders, regardless of the cost. There is a strange, stupid social status associated with owning expensive breeds. Even when people adopt, the cold, harsh reality is, fancy breeds get adopted much quicker and much more often than mutts. Similarly, people tend to prefer babies, the irony being that older dogs are much easier to handle, them being already trained and past their hyper adolescent phase. Some people are quick to abandon their pets as soon as they cause the tiniest bit of inconvenience by growing old or getting injured. These animals find it the hardest to find a second home, mostly due to the medical costs involved. But if the owners aren’t, then the already overburdened shelter is bearing these costs.
So to dump a pet at the nearest shelter you can find, or the farthest, to bury your guilt as far away from you as possible, isn’t as humane as people think it is, although to just dump it anywhere would be tantamount to killing it. Just because it is an animal, doesn’t mean it can necessarily fend for itself. It’ll probably be dead within the week.
All that is needed is a little foresight. Getting a new pet is not like buying furniture for your house. You can’t just place it in your house and expect it to take care of itself. It depends on you to take care of itself, even the more independent animals like cats need to be fed, bathed regularly, taken to the vet, played with everyday for them to be healthy and happy. It also boils down, like so many things, to money. Most poeple fail to consider the post-purchase cost of a pet before buying them, especially when going for a pedigree or exotic specie. The general rule is, the more exotic the animal, the more it’s upkeep and food is going to cost.
When people do not put much thought into the idea of buying a pet before getting one, they often neglect to spay or neuter the animal. So when they end up with a pregnant pet and eventually more animals than they bargained for, the find abandoning the babies to be their only recourse. This is extremely common for animals that are commonly kept in pairs, such as rabbits or mice, which multiply at an astonishing rate, so soon they find themselves with a house full of rodents. Some might try to sell the babies or give them up for adoption, which is a good idea, as long as the new owners have been thoroughly vetted and have proven themselves capable of caring for the animal.
So please, the next time you meet someone contemplating the idea of buying a pet, make sure you warn them about what they’re in for. Pet’s aren’t temporary entertainment; depending on the life-span of the animal in question, they can be a long-term responsibility that they need to put a lot of thought into before committing to.