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The Truth About Pets

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Sometimes I get so angry with people that it just makes me want to spit. This is one of those times that I’m mad as hell and I can’t keep quiet. I know that I’m going to come across to some of you as some sort of bleeding heart, animal loving tree hugger, but that’s cool cause you don’t want to know what I think of you.

Than again, you’ll probably get a good idea once you’ve read this post. So, here it is, the question of the day; what has got me so pissed off that I’m dumping any attempts at objectivity? The way people treat their pets.

Oh great, what the hell’s this bleeding heart on about now? Well I’ll tell you asshole, (if you can call me bleeding heart I’m going to call you asshole.) It’s all about responsibility; responsibility for another being’s life for starters. If, right now, you’re thinking it’s only an animal for pity’s sake, than you can stop reading and we can all pray to whatever we pray to that you never own a pet.

You have to wonder why, if people have that attitude, they even get pets? What are they going to do with it if they have no feelings for it? What expectations are they placing on this creature that they are bringing it into their home if they don’t give a damn about its well-being?

Look at the word domestic for a second. Dose anything about that word look familiar? How about domicile, meaning home, sharing the same the root? So, a domestic animal is one that’s related to your home. We’ve bred them to be part of our home lives.

The implications of that are that these animals have had the majority of their wild instincts bred out of them so they fit into our society. They respond to our orders, they live in our houses, and they live by our rules. Dogs, cats, and other companion animals are capable of being trained or conditioned to do things either on command or through habit.

I used to know people who kept wolves. These were animals that had been either damaged as cubs or illegally bred by other people. (In Canada, it is illegal to raise wild animals unless they are unable to survive in the wild for some reason or you have a special licence) These were animals that had been with them since they were infants.

But they could not be trained at all. They wouldn’t respond to even the simplest of commands. At best, it was hoped they could be socialised to accept humans, and not be scared of them. Perhaps if many generations of them were raised in human society (captivity) they could have that bred into them, but currently they are not a domestic animal.

The dog or cat that lives in your house is as far removed from the wolf or any of their wild cousins as you are from a Neanderthal. They may still display instinctual habits like hunting and killing birds in the case of cats, but how many of them do it for the sake of a meal? True there are cases of cats and dogs going feral, but how often does that really happen and what are the circumstances that brought that about?

In most cases, domestic animals that have returned to a wild state have been in environments where they have been living a semi-wild existence already. Barn cats live fairly independent lives hunting rats and mice in the farmyard and milking barns. But that is what they’ve been bred to and lived like for generations.

Wild cats in the city are the result of animals surviving being abandoned and neglected. If one generation is partially wild and breeds, its offspring will become a step further along the road away from domesticity and so on.

But it is not natural for them. How many healthy strays have you ever seen? They are usually pathetic creatures that survive on garbage and the occasional small animal that they are able to catch. The average domestic cat or dog can not survive on their own no matter how many inspirational movies are made about them crossing the country to be reunited with their families

So, this means when you bring one of these beings into your house you are assuming responsibility for their well being on all fronts. Feeding them, providing them with shelter, and keeping them healthy. The question of an animal’s health also brings up the bigger question of sentiment and anthropomorphising your pets.

Don’t do the animals a disservice by imposing human characteristics on them. True they are sentient beings and have feelings and emotions like all creatures, but that does not make them human. If you start imposing your feelings on to them, you can end up causing them as much harm as if you neglected them.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, usually a man, gee it hardly seems fair to fix them before they get a chance to have any fun. Hey, guess what, animals only have sex to procreate; they don’t have sex for fun. Unlike us, the only time they have sex is if the female is fertile, in heat, as it’s known.

They are not going to miss it like you or I would. Unless you’re planning on breeding a pure bred strain of an animal, involving registering with a society and getting a breeding licence, there is no reason to even let your animal come into heat once. They don’t need the aggravation and neither do you.

Anyway, there are so many unwanted dogs and cats in the world right now that inhumane societies are putting down increasingly higher numbers of animals on a regular basis. The last thing needed is to have cats and dogs breeding because people think their pets get horny.

“Oh they’re so much happier outside than in,” is the excuse so many people have for leaving their animals outside in all hours and weather. Perhaps if a it lives in the country where it doesn’t run the risk of being run down every time it sets a paw out the door you could let it wander. But in the city that’s insane.

There’s also the matter of people leaving their animals out in all kinds of weather. What kind of person let’s a cat stay out in the middle of February when it’s below freezing outside. Their paws freeze up and they literally can no longer stand still because they can’t put their feet down.

Just because they have fur does not mean they can survive when the temperature dips below freezing. Haven’t you noticed that when it’s cold out what your cats and dogs do? They climb onto radiators, curl up in front of fireplaces, or find somewhere as warm as possible to be. Doesn’t that tell you something?

Then there are the people who think they’re being kind to their pet by prolonging its life when they are ill. In the past five years, my wife and I have had to make the decision to have a pet put down because of illness three separate times. In one case it was pretty straight forward, but the other two were more difficult, because there might have been a chance at some sort of recovery.

For animals, just like us and perhaps even more so, quality of life is of paramount importance. You have to be able to see past your own desire to keep the animal alive because that’s what you want, and let him or her go if it looks like they will not be able to live how they are accustomed too.

The first time this happened to us, we left it too long and the animal was suffering before we worked up the courage to put her down. It was still hard when it came to the second time, but we knew that it was in her best interest to let her go.

Of all the things that upset me the most about how so many people treat their pets, the worse by far are those people who move and dump the animal they were supposed to have cared for. What kind of person just leaves their pet behind to live or die (more often die) on the street? Why did they even get a pet if they didn’t care whether it lived or died?

People don’t seem to understand that when they buy a pet they are buying a creature that will be dependant on them for food and shelter. They are taking on the responsibility for the life and death of whatever creature they bring home with them. If you are not prepared to take that responsibility seriously, you shouldn’t own a pet.

Pets are living, breathing creatures as much as you are and deserve to be treated with the same respect that you would treat anybody else. Abusing the trust of anybody is disgusting, abusing that trust so badly an animal ends up dead makes you the worst sort of pond scum in my book.

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • Nancy

    Everything you said, and then some! My dad always told me when I adopt a pet, it’s just that: adoption, just like a child, and the responsibilities are just as binding: I’m bound to provide them with good food, water, shelter, care, and all the medical care I can possibly manage, not to mention affection. If I’m not willing to go the whole 9 yards, then I don’t have a pet. And I sure as hell don’t just pitch it out or give it to the local shelter when I get tired of it or have problems.

    I have 5 cats – all rescues. If push comes to shove, they eat & I don’t, because I know why I’m hungry, but they don’t, and that’s the way it should be. Anyone not prepared to do the same, shouldn’t have a pet.

    Very small comfort, but at least there’s a move in some states and counties to make animal abuse a crime, and to actually prosecute. I suppose that’s an improvement over nothing at all, but there’s still a long way to go to prevent irresponsible, stupid, or twisted people from inflicting themselves on innocent animals.

    Thanks for an excellent post. This is a subject that needs to be addressed more often.

  • Funny Colored Money

    Nancy, sounds like you are a creepy cat lady.

    I agree with everything in the article, you should be stating the obvious, but sadly you are not. As far as putting your pet down, I wish people would put sick Grandmas down as well.

  • Here, here! The Wife to Whom I am Married and her sister volunteer weekly at a no-kill cat shelter here in our area. Take care of your pets, people, and get them fixed.

  • SAJ

    Good Job! Animals are not disposable items put here for our pleasure to be thrown out like yesterdays trash when they do not or can not meet our expectations. What a different world we would have if people would just understand that domesticated animals are “domesticated” and wild animals are “wild” animals and all depend on us humans for their untimate survival, HELLO!. Why is this so difficult to understand? Keep spreading the word.

  • So true. Animals are not trash to be tossed out when you are done with them. It just amazes me how people can do that. When I get a dog or cat, it is here until he/she passes on. They live inside with all the comforts that I give myself. We domesicated them. So we should be responsible for them. Spay and Neuter.

  • CC

    Great post! A lot of times, I see people getting animals(usually dogs) b/c it feeds their ego to be able to control and lord over another creature & keep it in its place. It feeds their ego to be ‘above’ the animal.

    The whole not neutering/spaying thing is just plain ignorant & lazy.

    Also, I am so tired of looking in the paper and seeing ads for puppies- usually its ‘Pit Bull Pups’ or whatever particular breed is IN right now- currently its also Chihuahua’s b/c of damn Paris Hilton. When did dogs become accessories? What the heck?!