Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Animal Instincts

Sorry, folks. I have a lot of opinions. This post was inspired by my good friend, Randi.

Both Randi and I grew up together and we both grew up with animals. Randi had Mammy kitty, Cuddles the bunny, and Hippie-Lou the dog. I had Brownie the absolute terror of a dog, and then we got the absolute love of my life, Phillie, the cocker spaniel with the littlest brain but the biggest heart. We also had Snottie boogers, the odd-looking dog, JJ the parakeet (among many) and a newt named Norton. I grew up loving animals and wanting to have them in my life. When I graduated college, I got two cats, Moue and Shadow, from the local LA County Shelter. Moo was a little kitten, and Shadow had been knocked up, wandering the streets. I had Shadow (or Sister) for nearly 10 years before she succumbed to several health problems, among them diabetes, a brain tumor, and colon problems. I have loved all my animals, and I have taken care of them, to an extreme in some cases. Phillie was my pride and joy, my first best friend, and will always by my favorite. He was just a dog that came into my life at the right time and the right place. I had just turned 12, was quite smart and motivated, but had a hard time being my own person at such a young age. Phillie was my bud, not caring what I looked like, or how I dressed. Phillie actually did me a favor. He was sick and dying, but I was in Philadelphia. I flew home and he hung on. I knew it was time for him to go, and he let me hold him in my lap in the car ride and at the vets. He was such a cool pup, I still miss him to this day.
Shadow came down with the diabeetus, and we ended up having to check her sugar twice daily, give her insulin shots twice daily. I actually would test my cat's blood sugar prior to my morning coffee. If you know me, this is a big deal, trust me. But, we got into a good habit, and things worked out for the most part. I don't think Shadow suffered too much with her diseases. We kept her comfortable until the end, when her health was failing, her lungs were filling up with fluid, we decided it was the humane thing to euthanize her. I'm not sure if she was grateful for the relief or not, but I know that both Alex and I felt a sense of release. We missed her terribly, but knew she was at least not suffering anymore.
Are other people's stories about their pets the same? Hardly. I had a friend who had to put a young kitten to sleep, it was so sick. All of these experiences shape our lives, and it's lovely and wonderful to be responsible for another life, to have an animal contribute to our rich experiences. I think I will always have animals in my life, even when I'm old and gray. I think they're wonderful.
However, I do think things have gotten out of control. Randi tried to adopt a puppy, but was denied because she has a child under 5 years of age. Nearly all my friends with kids under 5 have dogs. How can you make such a ridiculous requirement? I have another friend who adopted a dog from a "rescue" organization. In the paperwork, the rescue organization requires this person to constantly update them on the dogs whereabouts, implores this person that if they ever don't want the dog, to give him back to the rescue, and insists that the organization can take the dog away at any time, any place. Although the majority of these stipulations seem to have the dogs best intentions at heart, I just have to wonder when we became so nuts. Randi was asked what food she will feed the dog. What the hell difference does it make? I will feed him food. Likely what's on sale, and probably some table scraps to boot. And you know what? The dog will be fine. Or he won't. Sometimes animals die. It's OK. It's not great, but it's OK. Shit happens.
Look, I can see where some of these organizations are coming from. My mom got her dog, Valentine, from the Humane Society. They recognized that Valley-Girl was just about the sweetest thing ever, and they matched her up with my Mom perfectly. They came out, looked at my Mom's backyard, and handed her over. My Mom walks her every day, takes her to the vet yearly and keeps up on her health and grooming. Valentine is a perfectly happy dog, and she fits right in with the family. I think this is a reasonable situation. They want to make sure you have an area for the dog to hang out in. If you rent, they want to make sure your landlord is OK with pets. Fine. I get that. But three references, including a vet reference? You have got to be shitting me.
My kitty Moo gets to go to the vet when she's sick, and I sometimes keep up on her shots. She's an indoor cat, doesn't get into too much trouble, and we treat most of her ailments at home (we are scientists after all). She is currently up to date on all her shots because we will be traveling with her this summer, so she needs to be. Otherwise, I might have held off another few months to pay off the wedding. Realistically, people are doing the best they can. Are dogs better off in a house, rather than a shelter? Yes, absolutely. Should you screen people to make sure they're able to have animals, and have a reasonable area to take to pets? Sure (however, in the city? c'mon now! We don't have backyards and plenty of people have pets! Get over this "must have a backyard" thing!). And premium dog food, multiple vet visits for any and all ailments, no kids, age restrictions (as in, no one under 25 can adopt an animal?), can't be college students, must own a home? C'mon now, folks. You're now eliminating at least 50% of the population, who might be perfectly OK to take care of an animal. There are thousands of animals in shelters around the country. These animals need homes, or they are euthanized. Yes, make some reasonable rules. Hell, do a house check, or a vet check if they have one. But, realistically, you are only hurting those animals that you want to help. Some of us are perfectly capable of taking care of an animal. Will we go into debt to care for the animal? Maybe. Will we feed it better food that we eat? Probably not. Will the dog or cat notice? Nope, not a chance. Dogs evolved to eat our table scraps (and likely to help us hunt) and cats came along for the ride because of the abundance of rodents associated with human life. Pets have evolved alongside humans, and many of us feel empty without a pet by our side.
To these bullshit "rescue" organizations, get over your pompous, ridiculous ideas. Realize that some people want to have pets, and let them. It will be a huge improvement over your animal hoarding tendencies. Maybe you should rethink your actual goals in these organizations. It seems like your goals may be to become a non-profit to feed into your dog and cat hoarding tendencies? Until then, I will be supporting my local Humane Society shelters, as well as the City and County animal control shelters. Their policies are reasonable, and they are looking to place animals in forever homes. Not looking to repossess your dog when you decide to move across the country, or need to feed them non-premium dog food. It floors me that organizations make these types of demands on people. Are you trying to prevent poor people from having pets? It sure seems that way.
Why don't you spend your money educating people about animal abuse? Trying to stop the ridiculous amount of dog-fighting and cock-fighting that goes on around the Philly area? Why don't you spend your money on giving coupons to struggling families so they can keep feeding their pets? Why don't you actually make it easy to give a pet away if you can no longer take care of it? Why don't you help people with their vet bills? All of these things are reasonable, the right thing to do. Buying premium dog food? Keeping an perfectly good animal in a shitty shelter because of your stupid rules? Not helping anyone, and actually harming the animals you are claiming to want to help.

1 comment:

Randi said...

You tell 'em!