It was a common occurrence at the shelter: people turning in animals because their children were not caring for them. Most of the time the animals were in fairly good shape, but sometimes they were emaciated to the point where we would make sure to get all the surrenderer’s information, in case it was a cruelty case. (Usually not since we went easy on people who turned in animals, as opposed to having them confiscated.) Often the animals were poorly socialized.
Sometimes the parent would make the child tell us why the animal was being turned in. I suppose they did this as an object lesson — to really pound the lesson home. Usually it came across as just plain cruel. These weren’t my kids and yet their tear streaked little faces as they told me why they couldn’t keep Bingo would break my heart.
That’s right…little faces. The kids ranged anywhere from 5 on up. How anybody expects someone who just learned the alphabet to have someone else life in their hands is beyond me. And how anyone can turn in an animal who is starving to death and say this was a child’s fault — well, it makes me understand the story of Noah’s Ark. (Save the animals, but other than that…let’s try this again!)
They were punishing their kids for not being responsible, completely missing the irony of the fact that they — the parents — had foisted their own own responsibilities on their children and then on a non-profit organization. Where were these children supposed to learn responsible behavior in the clear absence of role models?
Sometimes when going through the application process for adoption people would say that the pet was for their child. Most of the time, when asked if the children would be expected to be the sole caregivers, people would look at me like I was mad. (Thank God!) However, a lot of parents really expect children to take on the responsibilities of an adult.
It goes without saying that, if an adult does not feed their young child, they will get into a lot of trouble. They can’t say, “The kid is eight — she can feed herself!” An eight year old needs to be parented. How can you expect a child — who is not expected to care for herself — to keep another creature alive.
You teach a child responsibility by being responsible. A child learns to care for a pet by parents caring for the child and by seeing the adult care for the pet. At 5, the limit of what you should expect is having the child “help” by working the can opener or setting the dish before the pet. Even when a child really is old enough to feed the pets you remind them, and you ask if they did it, and you certainly notice your pet is getting thin.
You don’t wait until you have a fur covered skeleton in your backyard.
If you’re thinking of adopting a cat or kitten this is a fabulous time of year to do it! Starting in late spring, and throughout the summer, the birth rate spikes and shelters begin the tragic task of making hard decisions when all the cages fill and the rescues can’t take in anymore either.
June is adopt a cat month! This means many shelters have special adoption rates!
A lot of people like to wait until Christmas, but that’s about the slowest time of year for cat birth rates. Now you can save multiple animals by adopting one — the animal you adopted and the animal who can know go in that cage (and up for adoption!)
Want to know what the shelters (and rescues) in your area have up for adoption? Try Petfinder!
Since I’m on a roll (downhill): anyone with a growing puppy needs to check the collar occasionally for proper fit — you should be able to comfortably fit two fingers underneath the collar.
A too tight collar can become embedded — actually grow INTO the neck. In fairly minor cases this can lead to sores and maggots. In severe cases it can sever the artery in the neck, causing death.
Too loose however, can cause the dog to slip his collar during a walk or if lost…and there goes the id and the main way a good Samaritan can secure your pet!