Thursday, February 5, 2009

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff...

After reading one of my columns regarding shelter adoptions, I received a message from a lady arguing about how “expensive and time-consuming” it has become to acquire a dog or cat from a humane organization vs. the hassle-free purchase of a pet through a commercial establishment.

Naturally, being the mouth that I am, I responded at great length and I’m going to share.

Where, oh where, does this person think shelters/rescue groups get much of their “inventory?” And why?

The majority of companion animals relinquished to humane societies once belonged to possibly well-intentioned, yet ultimately irresponsible, people - many of whom bought from pet stores.

They are those who couldn’t have cared less if their pets were spayed/neutered (thereby producing litter upon potentially-homeless litter); those who chained or penned the dog in the back yard or who let their cats roam free (instead of keeping them in the house where they belonged); those who moved and dumped the dog or canned the cat just like any other disposable item.

These are the heartbreaking conditions that shelter personnel face day after day and do not want to see reoccur. Heartbreaking because those animals that cannot be “re-placed” into responsible homes will most likely be euthanized.

Although some may think that it’s a royal pain in the butt to be “screened” before adopting a shelter/rescue animal, these rules are enforced to hopefully prevent the revolving door syndrome; to ensure to the best of the organization’s ability the adoption will be a lifetime success in that the pet will be forever loved and cared for.

Obviously, you can bypass the personal questions, sidle up to a pet store counter, and plunk that platinum down. And, to be honest, you may be offering that puppy or kitten the best home money can buy.

Yet the reality is that when no one is terribly concerned where that animal is going and when the almighty dollar is the bottom line, odds are that some of those dependent creatures are headed for misery.

Shelter employees are not in the business to make things difficult for potential adopters. In fact, they’re not in so-called business, period.

Money taken in through donations and adoption fees is funneled right back through the system, one designed to provide temporary safe haven for discarded pets while they patiently wait for that special someone to show up.

All my dogs have come from humane societies and I was more than willing to pass inspection, if you will, as it proved to me that shelter personnel were not simply trying to clear their shelves for new stock.

Frankly, adopting an animal should not be an easy process. Dogs and cats are living, breathing entities that require - and deserve - a lifetime commitment.

So if any of you really think that shelters should ease up on personal questions that range from asking if you have a fenced yard to inquiring if you can afford all pet-related expenses, or that there shouldn‘t be a waiting period or follow-up visit, then I suggest you visit the euthanasia room just one time.

Believe me, if that doesn’t change your tune, the only pet you should have is a rock.

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