In support of Petfinder.com’s “I am a Cat Parent” campaign, I decided to give my 2 cents about animals. I am an animal lover. I grew up with animals. As I child, I believed (and still do) that (non-homo sapien) animals were (1) smarter than us (go see if the cows don’t head to the barn before a big storm hits), and (2) capable of emotion.
Animals are smarter than humans in several area. First, they trust their instincts. Humans over think almost everything. And clearly, some of us are not smart enough to come in out of a storm. Second, animals have never caused air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, or any of the other numerous ecological problems. Humans are the only animals that are really great at destroying the much needed, natural environment. Third, animals don’t waste effort on useless ventures. You’ll never see an African lion waste needless energy.
Animals are capable of emotion – more deeply than many people want to believe. The difference between other animals and homo sapiens – animals don’t hate, hold a grudge, or make weapons of mass destruction because of said hate or grudges. Walk through any shelter to see fear and a bit of hope. Come home after a long day of work to see happiness and joy, and lots of tail wagging. And there are plenty of examples of animals expressing sorrow and pain. Animals even adopt orphans of different species. Now how’s that for caring and compassion?
So it breaks my heart to see so many wonderful animals sitting in shelters, most of whom will be euthanized just because “there’s no room at the inn.” I find it ironic and terribly tragic that the U.S. has heated debates about abortion and the sanctity of life, but no one seems to think twice about the 3 MILLION to 4 MILLION animals euthanized EACH YEAR.* If life is so very precious, why doesn’t that extend to ALL life? Without them, there would be no us. It’s a CIRCLE of life, not a pyramid. And even if it were a pyramid, it wouldn’t be a very good one if we were it.
And while the majority of that 3-4 million are cats (~70% of shelter cats are euthanized) and dogs (~60% of shelter dogs), other animals face the same fate. Ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses – any animal that some person felt like “discarding,” as if a live, breathing animal is the same as last week’s leftovers. To be tossed out when we lose interest.
My pets are a constant joy to me. I can have the absolute worst, most stressful day, but the minute I walk in the door and see Dexter T. Doolittle (dog) and Theodore “Teddy” J. Fitzcatrick (cat) sitting there waiting for me (okay, Teddy is usually sitting there, Dexter does his happy dance), everything seems more than alright.
I adopted Dexter in 2010 from a Humane Society and adopted Teddy this past January from a local rescue. Actually, Dexter picked me and Teddy chose Dexter. There is nothing more satisfying than finding your 4 legged companion. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Dexter, sitting in “puppy prison” (my description of a dog pound), he cocked his head to say, “Finally! I’ve been waiting for you.” At that time, I had no intention of adopting a puppy. I had wanted an adult dog. One that was already house trained. But happily Dexter knew better. (Read his complete story here.)
Teddy, luckily, avoided the pound and was picked up by Castaway Critters, a rescue organization that doesn’t have a facility, but uses foster caregivers. Teddy was being fostered by a local pet supply store, Blue Dog Pet Shop. I had taken Dexter there to see what it was like and to support local business. After we walked in, the other cats moved to higher ground. One cat, despite being 5′ off the floor, was still hissing at Dexter. Teddy, however, seemed completely intrigued by Dexter. He started following us all over the store. Dexter, on the other hand, was engrossed in smelling the store and didn’t pay any attention to Teddy until I stopped moving. I removed Dexter’s leash, and he finally noticed Teddy. Then he & Teddy started playing a game of tag. Clearly this was a cat that would take no bark from a dog. A week later, Teddy came home with us. And while we had a few transition adjustments (mainly Dexter learning to share his territory), they play like they’ve been together since birth.
People say that money can’t buy happiness. Clearly, these people have never paid an adoption fee. Give a shelter animal a second chance at life, and give yourself the best friend you’ll ever have. Adopt, don’t shop, and please, don’t throw them away. All life is precious.
* See these websites for more shelter statistics: