I do have sympathy for those who must give up their pets. My grandparents had to give up their dog after my nana’s health problems continued to worsen and my grandpa no longer had the time to care for the dog the way he should. Also, the dog loved to dart out open doors and try to run away which isn’t a huge deal for younger folk to deal with, but older folk with heath problems and difficult joints? Not so easy. So they asked around and looked at friends of their kids and did give their dog up. The entire process they were open about why they were giving up their dog.
Why is this on my mind? Because I saw a tweet today that said “Tomorrow is the last day for anyone to take our kitty!! If not, she’ll have to go to a shelter 🙁 Plz RT!! ” from a user whose tweets are locked. This meant that when I thought, “oh that’s sad, I wonder why they’re giving her up, I’m sure one of her other tweets explained it” (I saw this as a Retweet–rt) and clicked for more info–I couldn’t read any of her other tweets. So then I tried clicking on her tumblr link, sure that someone responsible for rehoming their cat would have some photos of the kitty.
Uh, no. No photos. No mention of the cat whatsoever.
Now, maybe she did have other tweets explaining the situation. However, if so, they’re in a locked account that’s not viewable by the adopting public.
So I’d like to make a PSA for those who, for whatever reason, feel the need to re-home their pet to whom they promised love and fidelity until death do you part (yes, that’s part of the unwritten contract we have with our pets, it’s even stronger than marriage because humans can deal better with being left after years of being loved, they’re not utterly dependent on us).
1. Consider whether you really need to re-home your animal. Is it money? Look into pet foodbanks or vets with flexible pay plans. Behavior issues? Have you talked to a trainer? For any of these, when in doubt, talk to your local shelter. They likely have counselors and behaviorists on staff who can assist you in finding these resources.
2. When emailing/tweeting/flyering/blogging about your pet that you need to rehome, please, for the love of pawprints, say WHY you are finding your beloved pet a new home. Honestly, I promise not to judge you for “my 2 year old son can’t breathe with kitty around and we’ve tried shots, roombas, and wipes all to no avail” or “I’m shipping out in a week and my friends/family are all allergic or unable to take my pet” or even “my pet is too rambunctious with my child and I don’t have the time to train my kid and pet how to deal with each other.” Seriously, potential adopters and those people who want to help you, want to know what the reason is. It makes it a lot easier to help you find your pet a new home if we know why you’re giving the pet up.
3. Read ASPCA’s guide to re-homing your dog and seriously do everything they say. I’d love to see ASPCA have some social media tips added to their list, but honestly, it’s the best advice on this. Go read it. Make sure you get your pet healthy and up-to-date on shots. Make sure you charge people at least some money to cut down on Class B dealers (those who take free-to-good-home pets and sell them to labs).
4. Don’t try to guilt people. It’s your pet. If he or she goes to a shelter tomorrow, that hangs on your head. Not the head of readers who didn’t adopt him or her. This is not an animal already given up in a shelter, this is someone who you vowed to love and care for. It’s really not a very effective way of getting adopters because it just makes me think that you’re shucking all responsibility.
5. If you do have to give your pet to a shelter, please make a donation and bring supplies, and try to find one that’s no kill if you can to give your pet the best chance possible. Especially if he or she is older. Keen is 15. He’s very lucky that he came into a shelter with such an active foster program. He would likely not be alive if he had been dropped off at many other shelters. And I say that with my shelter not being no-kill. We’re just lucky to have enough fosters that there was room for him at the time to get into the program.
I’m sorry if this seems harsh, but I get very upset with people. I understand how hard it is to give up an animal, really, I do and I don’t judge you for having to do so, but I do think that we need to take responsibility for our actions. Giving up a pet should not be the same as giving up a purse. It should break your heart a little. If it doesn’t, why did you have a pet in the first place?