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Looking for a pet? Consider these first...

Posted by siyerwin on Sunday, August 03, 2008 at 1:49 PM

Abandonment and neglect of pets are some of the major problems animal welfare volunteers regularly contend with. It seems that there are a lot of people out there that are failing to realize that getting a pet is a long-term commitment.

The bottom line is, if you can't see yourself being with the same cat or dog 10 to 15 years down the line, then I think you should re-think your plan on getting one. To put it bluntly, if you're not in it for the long haul, forget it.

More than half of the cats and dogs currently living at the PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center (PARC) are victims of abandonment and neglect. And with the excuses and justifications that the people who abandon them offer, it's obvious that they simply are choosing the easy way out of difficult situations.

It makes you wonder about how they arrived at the decision of getting a pet. Did they know that, like a lot of things in life, having a pet is not a walk in the park?

In this blog post I offer a list of considerations that I think every one thinking of getting a cat or a dog (or any domesticated pet for that matter) should go over and internalize. I use the word "internalize" because I want these considerations to be a part of every potential pet guardian/owner before they actually start having a pet. It does require a some introspection to learn of your capacity as an animal guardian and I'm hoping the following list will help you in your decision-making:

  • Are you being impulsive?

  • Most people will agree that puppies and kittens are indeed cute and the reaction they get from people is a spectacle in itself. But if the main reason why you're adopting a puppy or a kitten is because they are cute and you want something cute and furry to cuddle with and show your friends then I suggest that you step back and practice a little self-restraint. Sleep on it and think about it again in the morning. Puppies and kittens grow up and they do it really fast! The people who do it out of impulse will probably get overwhelmed by the inconvenient habits of growing cats and dogs. This usually brings out the worst in these pet guardians which in turn brings out the worst in their pets. These are the situations that could end up in abandonment, neglect and cruelty which most of the time is death sentence for the animals concerned.

    Prada and a shelter friend - MeFindHome.org
    My cat Prada and a shelter friend a few days after I found her crying her little kitty lungs out under a huge Ford F150.

    If you get the urge to adopt a pet, I suggest that you think about it for 1 to 2 weeks (or longer). Spend half of the time learning as much as you can about raising a puppy or a kitten and the challenges it entails, and the other half looking for that perfect one. Potential adopters at the PAWS shelter are usually asked to visit multiple times before being allowed to bring home a shelter animal. This helps PAWS evaluate the sincerity of the adopter and it also gives him/her time to think his/her responsibilities as a guardian.

    PAWS Promotes the adoption of adult dogs that are available at the shelter. Sometimes it's easier than adopting a puppy or a kitten. Read about the 10 good reasons in adopting adult dogs.

  • Are you moving any time soon?

  • I think a better way to put it is "Will you treat your pet as family and bring it with you where ever you go?". Some people tend to overlook the welfare of their pets when they're planning a big move. These animals are living beings that have come to depend on you so you should include them in your 5-year, 10-year plans and should also be a factor in your decision to relocate. The former shelter manager of PARC Oscar Lei took all of his 4 cats to Canada when he moved there.

    Sometimes leaving your pets behind literally means death for them. Take for example the story of Ella (picture below), the German Shepherd, who was abandoned by her owner, Christine Dawn Abrams, at their home in Florida. The dog starved to death waiting for her to come back. She's now on trial for cruelty. More on this at Ted's blog.

    Ella, the German Shepherd, was left alone for two months!
    If you already have a pet and are planning to move abroad (or anywhere) and bring your pets with you but you have no idea what to do, you may get in touch with PAWS and we will help you get in touch with people who have done it and know what to do. There is always a way. Please don't leave your pets behind.

  • Do you have the time?

  • Animals have emotions. And like you and me, they have this basic need for human interaction to make them well-adjusted and well-tempered individuals. Neglect this need and things get ugly emotionally for all parties.

    PAWS recently received an email from someone asking if he could abandon his dog because he couldn't care for him anymore as he spent "70%" of his time out working. The math will indicate that he's spending 16.8 hours working every day on the average and 7.2 hours are all that's left for him to do other things like rest and recreation. Assuming the numbers are accurate, an adjustment of only 3% in his work schedule will allow him 30 minutes of quality time with his dog. This reminds me of a Filipino saying:

    " 'Pag gusto, maraming paraan. 'Pag ayaw, maraming dahilan."
    (If you want it, you'll find ways. If you don't want it, you'll find excuses.)

    I find that a 15-minute play time with my cat is more than enough to expend that excess energy and to create that bond between cat and human. The rest of the time, all you'll need to do is talk and interact with them. A dog, depending on the size, might have a different minimum requirement but I doubt it will be that big a loss in terms of the time you need to earn a living.

    If you are willing to make time, create time, sacrifice other things that you need to do in order to attend to a pet, in sickness or in health, then by all means go adopt a pet as soon as possible!

  • Do you have the money?

  • This is a reality that I'm actually reluctant to talk about. But it is the truth. Pets cost money. And the top things that we need to spend for is food and veterinary care. The good thing is, and the reason why I put this consideration down the list is because it's the least important of them all.

    Your financial capability is by no means an indication of your capacity to become a loving and responsible pet guardian. Michael Tan of the Philippine Daily Inquirer wrote in one of his past articles on our very own Filipino dogs, a.k.a. askals, that he has seen families living in rural areas that were willing to spend part of their small income for veterinary care:
    ...But at the university clinic, I saw another aspect of the “askal” [a contraction of “asong kalye,” or street dog]. The ones we saw had owners from poor communities, who clearly loved and cared for the dogs and were willing to use part of their meager budgets for an ailing dog...
    Read the entire article at Inquirer.net.

    The cost of food varies depending on your pet and the type and brand of food you buy. Of course a big dog will put a bigger dent on your wallet compared to a small dog or a cat. All dogs were not created equal in terms of chow needs (volume) so you should take that into consideration as well.

    Veterinary care is one of the most important commitments as far as the tenets of responsible pet ownership is concerned. Vaccination against deadly diseases is a must. If your pet exhibits signs of sickness, it is important to bring it to the vet the soonest time possible. The internet is a good source of information but no one here can safely diagnose what's wrong with your pet. I would refrain from hanging out in online forums and mailing lists asking what's wrong with your cat or dog. Only a veterinary doctor can help you with that.

    Here's a little secret that can help you save some vet money: Have your pet spayed or neutered.

    I've put up a small list of veterinary clinics at http://vets.mefindhome.org [Under Construction].

    Related article about finance and pets: A Not So Shaggy Dog Story
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There you have it. If you've made it this far down this long and boring blog post and you still want to adopt a pet then I congratulate you. It's a good start.

The funny thing is, while I've been saying that having a pet isn't easy, that is only partly true. For those who truly love animals and their pets, dealing with these responsibilities is nothing but a happy job. Someone said that if you love what you do, then you'll never work a day in your life. That applies here as well.

These animals have an amazing ability to pay back all the love you give them plus a whopping amount of interest. There's simply nothing like puppy and kitty love!

Thanks for reading and for being a responsible pet guardian/owner.

Planning on buying a pet from pet stores? Why not adopt instead?
Click here for the adoption procedure or call up the PAWS shelter at 475-1688.

Related article: Liza's (Very Long) Word On Abandonment

Related video (courtesy of 3 DLSU student volunteers):

Video URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtGklGXq4aU

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  1. 3 comments: Responses to “ Looking for a pet? Consider these first... ”

  2. By Anonymous on Aug 7, 2008, 11:01:00 AM

    Nice Sherwin, I will post this in the multiply site - Ann

  3. By Lexy on Aug 12, 2008, 3:51:00 PM

    I read this on multiply.
    BTW I have a new dog waiting for me when I get back. My cousin said that the puppy has a leg abnormality, I don't really know the details. All i know is right after I heard it I didn't hesitate to tell my cousin that I'll adopt the poor puppy and have it check up on a vet. Can anyone recommend me a good vet that specialize on this? thanks! Email- dj_lexy01@yahoo.com

    Thanks to the vet clinic list ^^

  4. By siyerwin on Aug 20, 2008, 8:34:00 PM

    Lexy, Vets in Practice comes highly recommended. I'd also check out Greenwoods Pet Clinic if I was in Pasig. Marikina Vet if in Marikina.

    hth!

Post a Comment

Please do not leave your email or contact numbers in the comments. Email me directly at sherwin @ mefindhome.org if you have concerns or questions. This blog is increasingly attracting breeders/pet sellers trying to advertise their business through the comments and I don't want that. The blog seems to also be becoming a bulletin board of sorts for people who wish to abandon their pets. Blogger.com allows no way to edit your comments so there I have no other option but to delete comments that I deem inappropriate in this regard. I apologize for the inconvenience. Again, if you have any questions/concerns, better to email me at sherwin @ mefindhome.org than to comment here. Thank you very much!

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