One of the hardest obstacles faced by animal shelters, veterinarians, rescues, fosters, trainers, really anyone who works in animal care or welfare really - is an unrelenting expectation and grossly misrepresented portrait of animals and how they should behave. Now, the reason I titled this blog “animals” instead of “pets” is simply to remind people that these are in fact ANIMALS we are speaking of. Living, breathing beings.
It seems like a simple concept really, right? Animals vs. pets. But the funny part is many people seems to have forgotten the animal part. People hear “pet” and think of something very different. We seek out these “pets” and bring them into our home. We let them sleep with our children and curl up with us on the couch. We go adopt a “stranger” from a shelter or breeder, of another species that sometimes we know very little about personally, and give it free reign of our home and valuables. And then, to make the concept even more interesting, we become surprised or upset when bad things happen. Now of course these bad things can be small, potty accidents or chewing of shoes - but other times they’re catastrophic for both the people involved and the animal. And when those things go terribly, suddenly we remember that it is an “animal”.
I pose this question to you - what other species does this? What other species takes an animal we know nothing about and just lets it into their home? Why is it we do it and think everything will be simple?
I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard, “If I had known they would be like this I wouldn’t have gotten them.” And that statement has been said about many various species over the years to me and nearly each and every time it was due to the person not doing their research. Very rarely was the animal acting so out of sorts that it warranted such a statement.
Whether it’s a dog, cats, horse, bird, tortoise, fish, whatever you intend to get - please take your time. Read, talk to others who own them, visit with them beforehand and MAKE SURE it is what you want. Taking on a life that will depend on you should be along the same lines as having a child. Some may shake their head and say “how can you compare having pets to having a child?” A life is a life. And seeing the affects it has on the animals when they are rehomed, neglected, abused, time and time again - and the way it breaks them - then you begin to understand that no matter what you may have originally thought… there is not one life that is worth more than another.