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Pets can add much to life, take care of theirs

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POSTED: October 4, 2007 5:04 a.m.
As a long-time resident of Liberty County, I feel compelled to speak up once again about pet overpopulation, the reason why it exists, and the fact that we all have the responsibility to address it.
I know many people were not raised around animals, and therefore don’t understand and appreciate the bond a human and his dog can have. I wished everyone would take the time to get to know a dog, really get to know a dog! It would teach them so much. For one, it would teach them that an animal is not disposable. When allowed, it becomes a member of the family and should be treated as such. None better than a dog can teach you and your children about companionship, loyalty, trust, forgiveness and unconditional love. Dogs don’t judge, they don’t care about material possessions, rank in society, looks, etc. All they care about is that you love them, and in return they will love you back. People who have had the chance to experience this kind of love know exactly what I am talking about. Those who have not had the experience to be loved by a dog have no idea what they are missing.
Having said this, it brings me to the root of the problem. Due to the fact that many people fail to recognize the great service these animals have to offer to us and our families, they dispose of them as if they were a bag of trash. Many military families with new orders suddenly realize they can’t take the dog to their new duty station and think the shelter will find them a new home or worse yet, they are certain someone will take them in if they just leave them in their backyard or roaming the neighborhood after they have moved. Single soldiers deploy and find themselves with no other option but to “get rid” of their dog. They realize too late that they probably should not have taken on a long-term commitment they are unable to honor.
I ended up with one such dog. He was living out his lonely life on a chain in Long County. I am sure the soldier this dog used to belong to had no idea his dog had ended up like this. Too many area residents don’t see the need to spay and neuter. When their female dog, who had been chained up outside, turns up pregnant again at no fault of her own, she suddenly becomes a burden and finds herself abandoned, her puppies drowned or left to die in a trash bag in a dumpster. When the family dog gets sick with heartworms because his family didn’t see the need to spend money on monthly heartworm preventative, the family decides they just don’t have the money for treatment so what better to do than to dispose of that sick dog and get a brand new puppy. Of course that new puppy will not come from a shelter to help one of the many homeless dogs, it will come from a breeder or a pet shop, because there’s always money for a new puppy.
I am not making these scenarios up, they happen every day all over the United States. Countless healthy animals are euthanized by animal control each week. The brave people who work for our animal control are fighting a loosing battle. You cannot imagine the emotional burden it puts on our animal control staff who wished they could find a home for each one of those animals rather than being forced to kill another innocent little soul. I am involved with the shelter and animal control on a regular basis. We, workers and volunteers, try to save what lives we can, but for every little life we rescue, at least 10 others have to die. The shelter is overflowing with almost 100 dogs and countless cats that have been carelessly discarded. The shelter employees work tirelessly to care for these animals. They pray for as many good adoptions as possible. Animal control works equally hard trying to find rescue organizations for the animals. Nevertheless, beautiful, loving animals are euthanized each and every week.
You don’t think about their faces because you choose not to, or because you just never thought about it. I do, I see them! It breaks my heart a little more each week.
We rejoice for those who we can find a foster or forever home for. I just wished you could see them, their eyes filled with hope when a loving hand reaches out to touch them through their cell door. Their little tails or nubs wagging when they feel human eye’s on them. Or their pitiful howls when they watch you leave the facility without them. How about the ones who crouch in the furthest corner of their cell, looking at you with big sad eyes, in which you can read the miserable existence they’ve had. Or how about the ones that need medical treatment because they were found with a broken leg, a dislocated hip or gaping wounds? Animal control is not equipped to treat those who are eventually euthanized. In the meantime these animals suffer in a little dark cell until their final day comes. I am not making this up; it’s everyday life at animal control!
I don’t know how the animal control officers manage, because it takes a toll on me each time I visit. You don’t just forget about the faces of those nameless animals, they haunt you in your dreams .
Please take the following guidelines into consideration, and please love our animals!
1. Please become involved with the animal shelter. The shelter appreciates volunteers and donations more than you know.
2. When you and your family are ready to invite a pet into your home, please remember that it is a long-term commitment. A healthy dog can live up to 15 years, sometimes longer. A cat can live up to 20 years.
3. Remember that owing a pet can be costly. Not only should you be prepared to pay for food, bedding, monthly heartworm and flea treatment, and regular vet visits; you must be prepared for unexpected vet visits as well.
4. Yes, puppies are the cutest; however, be aware that generally puppies remain in their puppy stage for two years. They will likely chew your favorite shoes, rummage through your trash, rip up your favorite comforter, pee and poop in your house and the list goes on. If you don’t have time to train a puppy, you may want to look for an adult dog that has already been trained and knows the difference between your shoes and a rawhide bone.
5. Please begin your search for a pet at our shelter, which is filled with loving pets of all ages, sizes and breeds. They have already been vetted, and spayed/neutered. If you are looking for a specific breed, check the internet for breed-specific rescues in our area. This will allow you to get the breed that you always wanted for a fraction of a breeder’s price.
6. If you still end up buying from a breeder or a pet shop, PLEASE spay/neuter your pet at 6 months of age. This is the most important vet appointment you will ever make for your healthy pet. It will prevent unwanted litters, and has many other advantages. If you are interested to learn about these advantages, please ask a veterinarian or check the internet.
7. If you purchase a pure-bred dog for breeding purposes, please think again! Dogs were not placed on this earth for you to make money with. They are not breeding machines, and most of all, too many dogs have to die in shelters; therefore, we do not need to breed more into this world.

 

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