By Dr. Parker T. Barker
It is such a shame and a terrible occurrence, but it happens all the time. Every year, millions of pets are left behind at animal control, shelters and rescues. And we have all heard about the shelters that put dogs and cats to sleep within just a couple of days of being dumped there. In other no-kill shelters, the clock keeps ticking for animals waiting for a new family. Of this group, the kittens, puppies and outgoing cats and dogs have the best shot at finding homes. However, if a pet is a senior, a black cat or dog, Pitbull or is sick, injured, shy or less than perfect…there often isn’t much hope. According to recent research, the average dog or cat spends 12 weeks in a shelter before being adopted. Yet, many have been there for more than a year. Or two years. Or more.
And the reasons they end up in a shelter is usually through no fault of their own. Some animals end up left behind when something happens to their family – economics, illness or death. For many others, they were abused or just dumped. And then, others are abandoned due to injuries or old age at a time when they need their family the most. One puppy grew too big so he was dumped. Others were just left by the side of the road to fend for themselves.
Petfinder, an online adoption site, has designated the third week in September to be Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable Pet Week. The goal is to find homes for the millions of less-than-perfect pets. Did you hear about this in Beaufort? I didn’t either and I have to say I am sad to think that we need reminding that the color of a dog or the shyness of a cat will deny them their furever home. Are we really that judgmental? When I was adopted, I had to be treated for frostbite. And I had half the fat on me than I do now – no comments please. Do you know how much frostbite hurts? Well, let me tell you. A whole lot. And then they decided to just get rid of me. I don’t think about them much because I refuse to acknowledge how much they hurt me but sometimes I do remember. And then I snuggle up with my mom.
Did it cost her some extra bucks to take care of me? Sure it did. And if something else terrible happens like I break a leg chasing my pal Briana around the yard, I am sure she will step up to the plate again. I’m also pretty sure that if I went blind or only had three legs, she wouldn’t give me up. Not for anything. And I hope all of you reading this say the same things about your pets. But we are the lucky ones. Please try and remember all those who are languishing in shelters and animal control facilities who really do have a lot to give to a family that will love them.
I don’t know why black dogs and cats are routinely left in the shelters. Some have suggested that they don’t photograph well. Does their black coat mean they have less love to give or won’t be fun to play with? I don’t think so. Or why do people just ignore the “old dogs”- because you think they can’t be taught new tricks. I’m nine years old – definitely in the “old dog” group. And I’ve never been better or more active. Don’t assume. Never assume. Please be an equal opportunity adopter. Great pets come in all sizes, colors, and ages. Walk slowly down those awful aisles in the adoption centers and take a good look. The shy guy sitting in the back of a kennel might just be the perfect pet for you. And now I’ll get off my soapbox.