Abandoned pets are a tragedy; not only from a humanitarian point of view, but environmental. As I mentioned in my recent post on Pet Soup Kitchens, animals turfed out on the doorstep need to eat and often (particularly in the case of cats), they’ll prey on local wildlife. It takes a lot of birds and lizards to feed a cat over a year. Additionally, stray animals breed; compounding the problem.
I worked in an animal shelter as a kid and what I saw has very much stayed with me through the years – the happy stories of pets being given new homes, but far more vivid are the memories of putting animals down and feeding their bodies into an incinerator.
I was only 11 at them time when I was doing that sort of work – it’s hard to believe. That would never be allowed now but I think it was good for me as it certainly drove home the point that our animal companions aren’t disposable items that someone else will care for once we’re done with them.
Anyhow, on a happier note, the folks at Hill’s Science Diet are spearheading an initiative called Change A Pet’s Life Day (USA). The first ten adoptions at participating Hill’s partner shelters will be free on January 24, 2009. The lucky owners will also get some pet care goodies including free Hill’s Science Diet pet food.
If you’re considering getting a cat or a dog; please consider a “recycled pet“. There’s just something so special about having an animal companion that you’ve saved from a lethal injection.
If you’re going to take the recycled pet path, also consider getting an older animal. Sure, puppies and kittens are very cute, but they are only at that stage for a very short time, can be awfully time consuming, can really drain your energy, test your patience and can be very umm.. messy.
Often an older dog will already have some training – the shelter staff will be able to tell you if a dog you’re interested in appears to be house trained for example. They can also alert you to any behavioral issues they may have witnessed – after all, they don’t want to give you a dog with serious problems as it will only wind up back at the shelter.
And yes, you can teach an older dog new tricks :)