It happens more often than it should. Someone sees a puppy that is “unbelievably cute!” That’s just the nature of puppies. They decide they must have that puppy and take that puppy home. But then reality sets in. Taking care of that puppy is hard work: training, feeding, more training, exercise, more feeding, and money spent. They can’t handle the responsibility, and unfortunately, that cute puppy ends up abandoned at a “shelter”.
Each year, 6.5 million companions (dogs and cats) are surrendered to shelters in the United States. You often hear people boast about how pets are valued members of their family, yet they end up the first to go when times get tough. When you have a sick or ailing family member, you take them to the doctor. You don’t just drop them off at a nearby shelter and forget about them. It shouldn’t be any different for a dog or cat. In fact, your dog, cat, or any other beloved pet for that matter, is not just a holiday gift or a passing trend. On the contrary, this is a serious commitment that involves a life. While it might be difficult to surrender a dog or cat at a shelter and the emotions run high, they do pass eventually. Life goes on and people move forward. But it’s not as simple for a dog or cat left at a shelter. They are often left confused, scared, sad, and facing a long road of uncertainty ahead that will most likely end in death.
For example, a 10-year old Yorkie named Tatum knows this road all too well. His story is heartbreaking and the note below that was meant for his guardians, demonstrates the main reason people should not abandon their pets without making a lifelong commitment to take care of this precious life. In the eyes of Tatum, and other millions of abandoned pets each year, that have given unconditional love, they deserve better; in return you give them away, to a place they do not know, left alone and missing you; the one person they trusted is you.
It is a sad reality that so many surrendered pets in shelters are put to death. These numbers prevent shelters from properly supporting animals. The only way to change this situation is to address the mindset of society. Pets are not disposable. Society needs to be educated on available resources for pet guardians to understand that it doesn’t have to be a struggle. There are alternatives and other options; they do not have to be surrendered to a shelter. Food banks and veterinary offices offer support and financial help. For instance, there are low cost veterinary clinics available to lower income families. Also, some shelters and animal organization are willing to assist to find suitable adopters, when other options are exhausted.
Of course, this situation can be avoided if people seriously think before they adopt a pet. For example, spend some time researching the dog or cat you are interested in adopting; collect everything you need to know about caring for that animal, including financial responsibilities, food, veterinary expenses, lifespan, overall health, weight, height, exercise needs, and other requirements. If you can truly meet these needs, then you can make a lifelong commitment to your future pet. They need you and will be there for you unconditionally, with no questions asked. You will never find a better companion. You can start making a difference and help spread the word: one life at a time and this cycle can end and change for the better so that animal shelters can do their work and help protect homeless animals.