Friday, February 13, 2009

Privilege, Not "Entitlement"

(Pictures Above: "Shadow" After and before necessary shaving to remove heavy matts and imbedded feces. A shelter adoption of 8 months ago, the "adopters" were not capable or willing to provide even minimal care to the dog.)
"All or nothing at all"....."When it rains, it pours,"....."Feast or Famine."

The above adages seem to describe well, the ups and downs of animal rescue and adoptions.

After many weeks of scant or flaky adoption inquiries, suddenly yesterday, we were inundated with a whole series of reasonably good adoption calls.

I was tied up on the phone for pretty much the entire day.

It was welcomed relief to suddenly be in the swing again. While most of the calls were not seeking instant adoptions, a number were promising in terms of representing potential good homes for several dogs we have.

Although one can never "count chickens before they hatch" in this line of work, we have felt reasonably optimistic enough to rescue a few new dogs from Animal Control.

Carrie, our long time and most consistent dog foster picked up a lovely German Shepherd mix the other day from the shelter. The dog, named, "Tara" is a total sweetheart and presumably should be a fairly easy adoption following spaying. The wonderful thing about Carrie as a foster person is that she has a family consisting of her husband and two children, as well as she has 3 cats. Once we know a dog is good with kids and cats, the animal becomes an almost assured and quick adoption.

Unfortunately, I almost never have such information on dogs we have in boarding situations.

Another dog we picked up from the shelter over the past couple of days (and who is currently in boarding) is "Shadow" (pictured above).

Shadow is a very small Chow Chow (only 33 Lbs) who was dumped off at the pound by previous shelter adopters. The family only had Shadow 8 months but now claimed they "could no longer afford" him.

Apparently, the people were also incapable of brushing, keeping clean or clipping their dog. Shadow was extremely filthy and matted and his rear end was caked with mounds of dried up feces.

The condition was so bad, Shadow had to be almost entirely shaved. His hindquarters are inflamed and red raw from what seems 8 months of total neglect.

It behooves one to wonder how or why some people acquire animals with seemingly no idea or inclination for proper care. -- It's really not that hard to brush or clip the long hair on a dog's hindquarters.

Recently, I had an email debate with someone in the animal field who stated, "Anyone who wants a pet should be able to have one."

I disagree.

There are many people who, while they may have tender feelings towards animals or "good intentions" are nevertheless, not capable of providing responsible care.

Our shelters are constantly filled with animals (particularly, small, high maintenance or long-haired dogs) who, like Shadow are abandoned when their owners are unable or unwilling to provide even the most minimal of veterinary or grooming care.

While lack of grooming or medical care may not be as egregious as deliberately beating a dog or chaining him/her in a yard without protection from the elements, it is nevertheless abuse in the sense of causing the animal to needlessly suffer. Regardless of the "intentions" of the owner, the result is the same: The suffering animal only knows the pain and discomfort. It matters not what the owners "feel" about the pet or what his/her "intentions" were.

So, no, I don't believe that everyone should be entitled to a pet simply because s/he "wants" one.

I don't believe pet keeping to be an "entitlement" at all, but rather a privilege that should be earned, much the same way a driver's license is earned and issued based upon a person's ability to drive and knowledge of the rules of the road.

It is too soon to know whether some of the hopeful calls from yesterday will result in actual adoptions.

But, one thing for sure: Before we do any adoptions at all ,we will be as sure to the best of our abilities, the adopters will be not only capable of properly caring for a dog (based upon past history and experience) but enthusiastic and welcoming of the responsibility.

The worst thing (in my mind) that could possible occur to anyone doing animal adoptions is adopting out a dog or cat only to witness that animal later returned or abandoned in the condition that Shadow arrived at the city shelter.

Gratefully, I have never had such experience. -- PCA


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