Liz loves animals. Seeing them ill, hurt, or killed breaks her heart. She advocates for "adopt, don't shop" and TNR programs for feral cats.
Animals and Holidays
If you pay any attention at all to the news or animal rescue posts on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, you will see a barrage of stories about animals being abandoned or mistreated in some way. This is shocking, inexcusable, and preventable.
As the holiday gift-giving season approaches, there are bound to be kids yammering for a dog or cat or Guinea Pig or some other animal for a gift. Beware. This tends to happen most at Christmas and Easter, with either dogs and cats, or in the latter case, baby chicks and bunnies being the preferred pets on the request list.
Giving in to such clamoring cannot be done without careful thought and planning. Adopting a pet is not something that should be taken on in a moment of weakness or on a whim. To be sure, puppies and kittens and baby chicks are irresistibly cute. Keep in mind, however, that they will grow up. While they are sure to keep their general physical characteristics, they will outgrow the "adorably cute" stage of their babyhood.
Children Are Not Capable of Caring for a Pet by Themselves
No matter how good their intentions, a child cannot reasonably be expected to accept the responsibility of caring for a pet. Ultimately, that is the parents' job, and if they don't feel up to the task, then a pet is not for that household. To be sure, a child can help with the chores related to the care of the family pet, but it is just that: a family pet, and not the child's alone. The younger the child, the less they can be expected to help.
Only much older children involved in such things as 4-H projects should be entrusted with the sole care of an animal and even then, supervision and expert advice are required. (And I offer this example reluctantly, as 4-H involves teaching children to raise animals as food, and as an ethical vegetarian, this disturbs me.)
The animal shelters are overfull of abandoned and surrendered pets that people bought or gave as gifts. While their intentions may have been honorable and loving, the idea was not well thought-through.
And please, never, ever, give anyone a pet as a surprise gift! Never. You may be placing an intolerable burden (whether of responsibility or of finances) upon that family or person, and the animal will suffer for it in one way or another.
A pet should be adopted into a family with the same thought and consideration that would go into adopting a human child, and with the same level of commitment.
Animals Are People, Too
Yes, I realize that is an incorrect statement. It got your attention, though, right? The point is, we are all animals, so the correct version is, "People are Animals, Too." We share a good many of the same traits and physical characteristics with our animal friends.
Do you doubt me? Just take a glance at the chart below. We share all of the top-level biological niches.
Sadly, there are too many people who do not care to acknowledge this commonality, thinking of animals as "just animals," and ranking them below us in intelligence and the ability to feel pain, whether physical or emotional.
That is an erroneous belief. I could point to hundreds of newspaper and internet articles almost daily reporting on the heroism of pet dogs or cats. (Yes, cats can be heroes too!)
You want feelings? Perhaps, these folks needed to see the poor little squirrel my husband saw. His partner (however you want to call an animal relationship) was dead in the road. The other squirrel was visibly upset, running back and forth, scolding the passing cars, and standing guard over his friend's body.
We Are All Animals, Sharing the Same Top Four Biological Classifications!
|DOMESTIC DOGS||DOMESTIC CATS||HUMANS||RABBITS||GUINEA PIGS||DOMESTICATED HORSE|
(Several Different Ones)
Canis Lupus Familiaris
Some of Our Cats
A Pet Is Not Disposable
Folks, know this: if you take on a pet, it is for the duration of that animal's natural life.
I can only hope that at least some of the people who truly need to see this message, do! Otherwise, I fear I'm but 'preaching to the choir.'
You don't throw a pet away because you tire of it or it becomes more work than you bargained on. You adopted that animal into your home; ergo, you've made a commitment to that animal for the duration of its life, just as if you had adopted a child. In a sense, that animal is a child and remains so throughout its lifetime. We humans saw fit to domesticate these animals centuries ago: they have become dependent upon us for their food, health, entertainment, and exercise. Animals are simply not disposable any more than your children are!
(And if you do have children, and have ever 'disposed of' a pet for any reason other than euthanasia in the case of a terminally ill animal, then double-triple-whammy shame on you for setting such a horrible example!!)
A pet should be adopted into a family with the same thought and consideration that would go into adopting a human child, and with the same level of commitment.
But We Had to Move!
Moving should be no barrier to keeping your pets. Here is a brief listing of resources I found on the internet, (using less than 5 minutes of searching), for finding pet-friendly housing:
This is just a small sampling. A search on Google will reveal many, many more such resources. Those above are just for the United States, but I'm sure there are also plenty of such resources for other countries, as well.
There Are Very Few Good Reasons for Giving up a Pet
If there is some legitimate reason (such as severe illness or death of the owner, or very severe economic hardship) why anyone might no longer be able to keep or care for a pet, they, or a trusted person of their choice, must make every effort to find it a new, loving home, not toss it out to fend for itself like so much trash! And, there are agencies that can and will help with donations in the case of financial woes. (See partial listing below.)
We ourselves are in rather dire financial straits right now, but we refuse to give up our kitties. We adopted them, therefore we owe them. We may have to make a few sacrifices, but the cats stay! I've said for years; I don't care if I were reduced to living in a tent; my cats stay with me!
Financial and Resource Help For Pet Owners
- Tony LaRussa's Animal Rescue Foundation
People Rescuing Animals...Animals Rescuing People. ARF saves dogs and cats who have run out of time at public shelters and brings people and animals together to enrich each others' lives.
Please Do Not Surrender a Beloved Pet to a "Shelter"
Be very, very careful if it does become necessary, after much careful thought and soul-searching, to give up a pet. Research carefully any agency you are considering. Be aware that the majority of so-called "animal shelters" are far from being any such thing.
Even the ones that call themselves "Humane Societies" do not live up to the expectations implied in their names. Many of these agencies are "high-kill" locations. They move animals in and out rapidly, space and money being their only concern, and not the welfare of the animals entrusted to their care. If they get full, they start the killing.
Here are the definitions of shelter:
1. Something that provides cover or protection, as from the weather.
- a. A refuge; a haven.
- b. An establishment that provides temporary housing for homeless people (or animals!!!)
2. The state of being covered or protected.
(emphases and parenthetical statements in definitions are mine.)
There are far too many so-called animal shelters out there who routinely euthanize perfectly healthy animals—shame, shame on them! They are not worthy to have the word "shelter" in the name of their facility!! They need to call themselves what they really are: Agents of Senseless Death, for they are no better than Hitler's gas chambers!
Harming Animals Is Unconscionable!
Mistreating an animal is as bad or worse! Anyone who abuses an animal should receive a taste of their own medicine! Such people also probably have little or no conscience about harming or killing people, either!
As pointed out above, we share with our pet animals membership in the same top 4 segments of biology: kingdom, phylum, sub-phylum, and class. Ergo, we are all animals! What we do to any animal, we may as well be doing to any other human!
What Is Abuse?
Everyone can give a reasonable definition of abuse in the sense of physical harm or mistreatment, such as being hit repeatedly and for no reason with either the hands, or being kicked, and so forth.
Then there are the horrific stories of true cruelty, and I won't go into the graphic details here—we've all heard about these stories in the news.
However, make no mistake: neglect is abuse just as much as is outright physical cruelty! A dog left outdoors on a chain, unable to reach food or shelter is lonely and will bark out of boredom and frustration, will usually prompt a complaint from neighbors about the noise. When animal services investigate, the owner will be charged with neglect, a form of abuse.
Even if not tied up, that dog is not being properly cared for. It is as if you locked your kid outside and ignored their cries of hunger and being cold, just because you couldn't be bothered. Don't you think Child Protective Services would be at your door right quick?
Unfortunately, the wheels of justice for animals turn much more slowly, but animals left outside with no attention are just as surely being abused as those who are being hit, kicked, or subjected to other horrors. There are laws against animal cruelty and abuse, and if you see it happening, you should report it.
Health Benefits of Pets
Our pets give us so much unconditional love and companionship throughout their lives: it is our cherished obligation to return in kind to them. It has been scientifically proven that pets add quality to our lives, and sharing the companionship of a pet reduces stress. Just the act of petting a dog or cat (or bunny or Guinea Pig...or whatever) is calming. Want to reduce your blood pressure? Pet your pet!! Maybe it will help you off those pills the docs like to push!
Spay and neuter your pets, and that will go a long way toward reducing the feral and abandoned/unwanted animals issue. In addition, there are sound medical reasons for so doing: namely, reduced risk of cancers of the reproductive organs which afflict many 'whole' animals.
Dogs and cats are becoming more and more familiar as visitors to senior citizens and nursing homes for the beneficial interaction they provide to dementia patients. Also, children in long-term care facilities have benefited from animal visitors. It brightens their mood and aids healing.
There are also the working class of dogs that help us in many ways each and every day. These include but are not limited to: guide dogs for the blind; hearing assist dogs; police dogs, rescue dogs, and countless others.
A new category is one of emotional support animals. They must meet certain criteria, but they enjoy the same privileges as seeing-eye dogs or other assistant dogs, in that they must be allowed with their owners, at all public places that normally bar animals.
Anyone who has ever had and loved a pet can attest to the value of that animal in their lives. Pets reduce our stress levels, whether by purring to us, greeting us, allowing us the soothing sensation of petting them, and yes, laughter, the very best medicine, as we enjoy their often comical antics.
Alternative to "Shelters"
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2010 Liz Elias
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 25, 2012:
Hello there, Lucky Cats,
Why thank you so much for your kind and enthusiastic endorsement. (Blushing, here...) I'm so happy to have made the acquaintance (if only virtual) of another CCL. ;-) Thanks again for your support and for the votes!
Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on July 25, 2012:
my very dear MsLizzy! YOU are amazing, You are fantastic and I am so very thankful for YOU. You are SO RIGHT on every count, DML! and such a strong woman to write w/such conviction and honesty...and (highly respected) opinion!!!! Such a wonderful, fantastic hub...I agree with you,, of course...100 % Thank you so very much,, my dear CrazyCatLady, DzyMsLizzy!!!!! from another CCL! All ups!!!!
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on June 28, 2012:
I'm pleased you liked the article; thank you for stopping by and leaving the compliment.
Didge from Southern England on June 28, 2012:
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on February 20, 2012:
Nice to meet you. (Did you bring any caramels? lol) Thanks very much for sharing your experience--a fellow animal lover is always welcome here. I'm delighted to hear that you have been able to save some animals--I know that is a fantastic feeling--every single one counts.
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 20, 2012:
I agree 150% with this hub. Unfortunately, as an ex-pat living in S. America I have seen too much animal neglect. I am proud to say, though, that I've been able to save some animals and find good homes for them. Thank you for spreading awareness of a sad issue.
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on September 26, 2011:
Thank you very much for your comment and wonderful insight. I salute you for being one of those who truly care about animals and for doing all you can to see that they are cared for properly. Kudos to you!
ladybluewriter from United States on September 26, 2011:
My novel that I wrote Legacy of the Skull Master and the animals I review on my hubs, some of them were rescue animals that no one wanted or abused. I wrote it to help children to be successful in school, but in doing so I brought up the need of animals rescue. I own a cat that was shot by a BB Gun and still carried them today. She is 15 years old. A Maine Coon cat that is very loving. The horse in my book was a bag of bones that was rescued and loved for over 14 years and was a handsome stallion. Even the raccoon that was rescued by a wild life handler was an orphan. People need to give animals a good loving home, and if you have them then do not abandon them. Be a responsible human being and give them the life you would want them to have, if they were like humans. They look so lost when dumped and starving. I know, because many have come to my street in Oklahoma City. Some of you may not know that one Thanksgiving we had to rescue a whole herd of horses that were dumped in a field near my house and were starving to death. This happens everyday. Please be a good citizen and help these animals to have and to keep a loving and caring home. I agree with the author of this hub, that shelters end up killing the animals and have not enough money to keep the animals alive. Find your rescue groups, if you know some animals need rescue. I fully suppport this hub.
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on December 02, 2010:
Thank you so much for your glowing praise! I'm glad you liked this hub. Please help spread the word. ;-)
erthfrend from Florida on December 02, 2010:
This was an EXCELLENT EXCELLENT hub!!! I feel the same exact way you do and Im so glad you shared this. Many people need this reminder that is so very important! THANK YOU for writing this, it is very much appreciated and you made such important, truthful and wonderful statements.
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on December 01, 2010:
Mickey Dee, Nell Rose, libby101a, Manutdmumto4,
Thank you all for your kind comments and input. I am pleased that you liked my article. I do feel it is an important message to spread.
Manutdmumto4 on December 01, 2010:
This article is brilliant!! You have an engaging style, I really enjoyed reading it and I agree with everything in it too.
I have kids who are begging me for a puppy, I would love to get one but the time isn't right yet, my youngest two are only 2 and 1 so I literally couldn't cope with another baby in the house!
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on November 23, 2010:
libby101a Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked my hub, and thank you so much for sharing your stories of what it really means to be a pet owner. Just because someone CAN buy a pet, doesn't always mean they SHOULD.
Your insight is valuable information.
libby101a from KY on November 23, 2010:
Wonderful hub! I agree 100%!
If someone gets a pet they should absolutely treat it as a child...so many get pets and never, ever take them to the vet...if they become ill they just let them suffer as though they are less important that humans!
I remember when I got my golden retriever pup...she got so sick so I took her to the vet, she had to have a blood transfusion, they told me there was a high chance she would die anyway and asked me if I would rather have her put down! I looked at my baby and she looked up into my eyes! It was like my child laying there! There was no way I could have allowed her to die! Any chance at all was enough for me! It ended up costing me right at $3000 dollars. But she was so worth it! She saved my life a few years later! She repaid me in many ways, mostly with her unconditional love! I had her for 11 years and I loved her dearly.
Another dog, a chocolate lab-I adopted her as an adult. I let her out in my yard with my other dogs to do her business, a huge fenced yard of 10 acres, I called and called for her to come back in... no answer... then I heard a card slam on its brakes and a dog scream...then the car sped out. I ran out to the road and there laid my dog, she raised her head up and that was all she could do. I called my vet immediately... she informed me there would be an extra fee for her coming in at midnight... I said that didn't matter... she ended up having to have surgery.. her hip was completely damaged!! The X rays and surgery revealed that had she not been hit by the car, she would have died later because her hips were in bad shape from hip dysplacia... and she wasn't showing the first signs of pain! Her care cost a fortune too...but again well worth it!
People should not get animals if they don't have a heart! And they surely should NOT get a pet if they can't or won't afford to take it to the vet when it gets hurt or sick!
I loved your hub! I hope it gets publicity and people see it! Everyone should realize the aftermath of getting pets and not taking care of them! And when they send them to a shelter that 9 out of 10 times they are going to be put down!
Nell Rose from England on November 22, 2010:
Hi, I agree with everything you said! I only want to add that if I ever saw anybody hurt an animal I would hurt them back big time! lol we are an animal mad family, so you got me on my soapbox now! lol thanks nell
Micky Dee on November 22, 2010:
The mistreatment of any living creature is heinous! God bless you Kindheart!
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on November 21, 2010:
Zsuzsy Bee, mistyhorizon2003, Penny,
Thank you all for your visit and kind comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Please help spread the word!
Penny on November 21, 2010:
I agree with every word. Wonderful article. :)
Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 21, 2010:
Lovely Hub and a great message to get out there at this time of year... in fact ALL year!
Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on November 21, 2010:
Great hub about our best friends. Nice pics too.