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September 10, 2008 > Ohlone Humane Society: A member of the family

Ohlone Humane Society: A member of the family

By Nancy Lyon

The person who first said it was raining cats and dogs didn't know the half of it. Everywhere, animal shelters are seeing an increase in the number of animals coming in to their facilities. Where are they coming from and why? There is no one answer but there is a pattern that may explain why so many of our animal companions are ending up lost or abandoned by people who are supposed to be their guardians and family.

It's not just that these are very hard times for many people and properly caring for an animal has become more difficult - undeniably in some cases this can be a factor but it isn't the reason in too many cases.

Then what or who is the real culprit? There isn't just one reason but I can give you an overview based on many years of seeing too many animals come into the shelter and too few going out the front door to hopefully a better life.

One of the repeating themes is well-meaning adults who have never had a companion animal before and are pressured by their children who want one "just like their friends." They haven't taken into consideration that that new addition to the family will cost considerable money, time and effort - and once the newness wears off - the animal will ultimately be their responsibility.

Often after caring for the "pet" becomes burdensome and he or she is turned out into the backyard and basically forgotten, it is a relief when the animal escapes his or her isolation and disappears or ends up in the animal shelter a neglected, unclaimed stray. The supposed guardian writes them off and goes on with their life while the poor animal becomes a statistic.

For the animal's sake, before they become a statistic consider the following:

Don't get or purchase an animal if:

* You want a toy to amuse your children and are not willing to commit to perhaps 12-15 years of properly caring for him or her.
* You want to be just like your friends who have one and you haven't taken time learn about responsibly caring for a companion animal.
* You like the "look" of a particular breed or species and haven't done your homework to learn about the vastly different characteristics of each and how it will impact your life.
* You think it's going to be neat to have that cute little critter that's going to make you a chick or guy magnet.
* You want a muscle dog like a Pitbull or other large breed dog that will show the world what a macho man...or woman...you are. Or worse, want to use to use the poor dog for fighting purposes.
* You want a cheap way to protect your property until the dog becomes a liability or gets too old for the job.
* You want a dog as a hunting tool or other such activity but are unwilling to also bring him into your home.
* You think that you can make money breeding the animal...you won't.
* You don't believe in or understand the need to spay or neuter.
* You are moved to buy that cute little critter in the pet shop window without understanding the health, genetic and social problems that come with "puppy mill" animals or careless backyard breeders - both caring little about anything but making a buck. For many reasons an animal shelter is a better source for adoption than a pet shop.

Do consider bringing a companion animal into your home and family if:

* You are willing to be the loving caregiver for his or her entire life.
* You can afford the costs of not just basic veterinary care but the medical emergencies that will arise.
* You are willing to bring him or her into the interior of your home and not just your yard or garage in order to become a member of your family.
* You have time to provide loving companionship and are willing and able to meet their need for exercise and socialization with humans and other animals..
* You understand the breed or dominate breed, and species characteristics and have given real consideration to whether they truly fit into your lifestyle...you don't go by looks alone...you do a reality check first and do some studying before you make a commitment.

In California alone, an animal is put to death every 63 seconds simply because there are no good homes available for them or they are no longer wanted. Animals deserve our respect and compassion...before you even consider bringing one into your life, stop and consider why you want to and if you are really ready and willing to provide for their needs for their entire life.


"Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures."

His Holiness The Dalai Lama

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