Having a pet is a responsibility - as we all know, they're not just decorative window dressing. They require food, exercise, mental stimulation, and need supplies such as leashes, harnesses, litter, bags. They require vet care, and our help to keep them healthy and safe. It is not cheap, and if a person cannot afford to do it right, then they shouldn't have an animal at all. It really infuriates me to see people shirking their responsibility. It seems like we're surrounded by examples of people who either don't know any better, or do know better but just don't care.
Some recent examples:
Girl at the checkout at the grocery store, after seeing me buying kitty treats and litter box deodorizer: "We have too many cats. We're just going to have to take some to the Humane Society because they just keep having babies." Said in a self-satisfied tone, as if dumping unwanted, overbred cats at a shelter was a virtue instead of something to be terribly ashamed of. I admit that I didn't reprimand her like I wanted to... I was simply too dumbfounded. In hindsight, I wish that I'd asked her if she'd ever heard of spaying and neutering. Because gosh, it isn't rocket science to figure out that if left to their own devices, cats ARE NOT GOING TO PRACTICE SAFE SEX. Geez.
I am shocked at how many cats come into the shelter because they'd been locked and abandoned inside of an apartment, with no access to food and water, when the tenants/cat owners left. Wha? In what world do these people live, that this is considered to be acceptable? One elderly cat was left in a cat carrier on her front porch. You have to wonder what is going through these poor kitties' minds.
Bryan Hutcherson, brilliant wit that he is, literally starved a puppy to death because it "was too stressful and costing too much money to feed him." So... you just stop feeding him, Bryan? Period? It never occurred to you that this was... I don't know... EVIL? You didn't have enough empathy in you to watch the poor pup slowly starve to death and feel bad for him? And his girlfriend just sat there and watched him do it, which makes her no better than he is. http://www.thenorthwestern.com/article/20110503/OSH0101/305030036/Samantha-Braatz-girlfriend-starved-dog-death-case-makes-first-appearance-charges
And most of us have probably heard of Patrick the pitbull puppy that was nearly starved to death, and when he didn't oblige his "lovely" owner by starving to death, she threw him in a garbage bag and sent him down the garbage chute. Fwoof! No more dog to have to take care of, la la la. http://www.care2.com/causes/animal-welfare/blog/patricks-recovery-pit-bull-bagged-and-thrown-down-garbage-chute/
I'm going to come out and say something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but I'm tired of sugar-coating the truth: I hate people like this, especially the last three. The people that were okay with abandoning a cat didn't care if that cat lived or died. Maybe they hoped that the cat would be rescued in time, maybe not, but regardless, they were willing to take that chance with a little life that they were responsible for. As for the two dog people, I don't believe that they simply made a mistake... it was something that they willfully and deliberately chose to do over time, and there were plenty of opportunities for them to change their minds before it went too far. A dog doesn't starve to death overnight, after all. I think the only remorse that these self-entitled nitwits are capable of feeling is remorse that they were caught and that there are going to be OMG CONSEQUENCES. (Though most likely, not harsh enough, but that's another post.)
It's past time that we as a society embrace the idea that if we are going to exploit animals for food, entertainment, companionship, whatever, then we have responsibilities. We have created a world in which most domesticated animals will never be able to thrive without us, so we have a responsibility to provide for them, and to give them the best life that we can possibly provide. To protect them from predators, starvation, and yes, even their own base desires to procreate in a way that will be ultimately harmful to them. This doesn't mean that we let them breed and breed and breed and continually dump off the ones that we love the least at a shelter. It sure as hell doesn't mean that we stop feeding them because it's too STRESSFUL (What the hell kind of fragile person thinks that feeding a dog is stressful?) And we certainly don't toss them in the garbage when they've ceased to be amusing.
As I've shown in my illustration with the girl with "too many cats," I don't have a lot of respect for people that dump animals off at the shelter. But it's 99,999 times better than starving them to death. It at least means that those cats aren't going to starve to death, so there is SOME acknowledgement of responsibility there. I wish that the others had at least done the same. I have no idea of why they didn't take their animals to a shelter if they were unable or unwilling to provide for them.
Patrick the pit bull (the one that was thrown into the trash chute) got lucky. He survived his ordeal and got enough media coverage that people from all over want to adopt him when he's healthy again. He will go on to have a good life. Snoop, the first dog, wasn't so lucky, and came to a horrible end, no doubt wondering what he had done wrong to have food so cruelly withheld from him.
I'm not sure of where I'm going with this, I only know that seeing stories like this hurts my heart, and makes me want to get out and DO something to protect these animals. A blog post isn't much, but it's something. It's better than hiding my head in the sand and pretending that it isn't happening. And maybe that's a good enough start... for now. Maybe the day will come that I can personally swoop in and rescue an animal from an abusive situation, but for now, I will blog. And I will support and cheer on those of you that are more actively involved with rescuing animals from abusive situations.