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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 9 February 2009 Issue


We receive a very high volume of inquiries and requests to accept surrendered animals. To help us expedite your problem as quickly as possible, please observe the following guidelines:

1. Do not say that you are, "considering finding a good home," or, "feel you might be forced to," or, "really think it would be better if," you unloaded the poor companion animal. Ninety-five percent of you already have your minds stone-cold made up that the animal will be out of your life by the weekend at the latest. Say so. If you don't, I'm going to waste a lot of my precious time giving you common-sense, easy solutions for very fixable problems, and you're going to waste a lot of time coming up with fanciful justifications why the solution couldn't possibly work for you. For instance, you say the cat claws the furniture, and I tell you about nail-clipping and scratching posts and aversion training, and then you go into a long harangue about how your husband won't let you put a scratching post in the family room, and your ADHD daughter cries if you use a squirt bottle on the cat, and your congenital thumb abnormalities prevent you from using nail scissors and etc., etc. Just say you're getting rid of the cat.

2. Do not waste time trying to convince me how nice and humane you are. It's irrelevant. Your coworker recommended that you contact me because I am nice to animals, not because I am nice to people. Oh, and I don't like people who "get rid of" their animals.

I hope someone, "gets rid of" you someday.

I'm not hateful, I just need you to be honest and direct, please. I am an animal advocate, not a people therapist. After all, you can get counselors, special teachers, doctors, social workers, etc., for your ADHD daughter. Your companion animal has only me, and people like me, to turn to in his or her need, and we are overworked, stressed-out, and demoralized. So don't tell me this big long story about how, "We love this dog so much, and we even bought him a special bed that cost $50, and it is just killing us to part with him, but honestly, our maid is just awash in dog hair every time she cleans, and his breath sometimes just reeks of liver, so you can see how hard we've tried, and how dear he is to us, but we really just can't .... blah, blah, blah....."

You are not nice, and it is not killing you. It is, in all probability, literally killing your dog. But you're going to be just fine once the critter is out of your sight. Don't waste my time trying to make me like you or feel sorry for you in your plight. It's just not going to happen.

3. Do not try to convince me that your pet is exceptional and deserves special treatment. I don't care if you taught him to sit. I don't care if she's a beautiful, blue-eyed Persian. I have a waiting list of whacked-out animals who really need help. I have no room to shelter your 'pet' just because you decided you no longer have time for your 14-year-old Lab. Do not send me long messages detailing how "Skippy just l-o-v-e-s blankies and carries his favorite blankie everywhere, and oh, when he gets all excited and happy, he spins around in circles, isn't that cute? He really is darling, so it wouldn't be any trouble at all for us to find him a good home." Yeah, right.

Listen, I can go down to the pound and count the darling, spinning, blankie-loving animals on death row by the dozens, any day of the week. And Skippy is a six-year-old shepherd-mix weighing 75 pounds. Fact: Big, older, mixed-breed, garden-variety dogs are almost always completely unadoptable. I don't care if they can whistle Dixie or send smoke signals with their blankies. What you don't realize, though you're trying to lie to me, you're actually telling the truth: Your companion is a special, wonderful, amazing creature. But this mean old world does not care. More importantly, you do not care, and I can't fix that problem.

All I can do is grieve for all the exceptional animals who live short, brutal, loveless lives and die without anyone ever recognizing they were indeed very, very special.

4. Finally, tell the truth, and the whole truth. Do you think if you just mumble your cat is, "high-strung," I will say, "Okey-doke! No problem!" and take him/her into foster care? No, I will start asking questions and uncover the truth, which is that your cat has not used a litter box in the last six months. Do not tell me you "can't" crate your dog. I will ask what happens when you try to crate him, and you will either be forced to tell me the symptoms of full-blown, severe separation anxiety, or else you will resort to lying some more, wasting more time that I could be helping animals.

And, if you succeed in placing your pet in a shelter or into foster care, do not tell yourself the biggest lie of all: "Those nice people will take him and find him a good home, and everything will be fine." Those nice people will indeed give the animal every possible chance, but if we discover serious health or behavior problems, if we find that your misguided attempts to train or discipline him have driven him over the edge, we will do what you are too immoral and cowardly to do: We will hold the animal in our arms, telling him truthfully he is a good dog or cat, telling him truthfully we are very sorry and that we love him, while the vet ends his life. How can we be so heartless as to kill your pet, you ask?

Do not ever dare to judge us.

At least we tried. At least we stuck with him to the end. At least we never abandoned. him to strangers, as you certainly did. Didn't you? In short, this rescuer/fosterer has reached the point where she would prefer you tell it like it is:

"We picked up a free pet in a parking lot a couple of years ago. Now we don't want it anymore. We're lazier than we thought. We have no patience, either. We're starting to suspect the animal is really smarter than we are, which is giving us self-esteem issues. Clearly, we can't possibly keep it. Plus, it might be getting sick; it's acting kind of funny. And we're too cheap to take him/her to the vet. We'd rather buy cigarettes, beer or a new plasma TV.

"We would like you to take it in eagerly, enthusiastically, and immediately. We hope you'll realize what a deal you're getting and not ask us for a donation to help defray your costs. After all, this is an (almost) pure-bred animal, and we'll send the leftover food along with it. We get it at the discount store, and boy, it's a really good deal.

"We are very irritated you haven't shown pity on us in our great need and picked the animal up already. We thought you people were supposed to be humane! Come and get it today. No, we couldn't possibly bring it to you; the final episode of 'Survivor' is on tonight."

Author Unknown

Submitted by: Jillouise/ [email protected] .

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Please send comments and submittals to the Editor: Linda Beane [email protected]

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