In Shakespeare’s day, something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Nowadays, something’s rotten in the United States. That something in two words: disposable animals.
One of the saddest aspects of our citizenry is this sticky notion that animals are disposable. One of the ways that plays out is in the ongoing practice of dumping dogs of a certain age at the local shelter.
For most of us, this is unimaginable. But for too many others, it’s ridiculously justifiable:
• He’s sick, and I can’t afford to take him to the vet.
• He’s high-maintenance.
• He’s not as fast, not as much fun.
• He’s not as cute as he was as a puppy.
And on and on.
Forgive the pun, but that dog don’t hunt.
Older dogs make fantastic companion animals. They are typically more relaxed, more content, less rambunctious and far less inclined to cause trouble than their puppy counterparts. For many, this calm, cool and collected older dog is the reward of enduring puppyhood, with its housebreaking, teething, nipping and chewing challenges.
No one is more aware of this fact than shelter workers. And I happen to reside in a county that hosts some of the best.
The citizens of El Dorado County are blessed with an outstanding animal welfare organization: PAWED. People for Animal Welfare in El Dorado (of which my wife and I are members) is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of companion animals. Boy, do they see it all.
In addition to senior dumping, they see people go on vacation and leave their dog alone in the yard. Many of these dogs try to escape (who could blame them?), and when they do, PAWED picks them up and houses and cares for them.
They witness the consequences of “breed trends.” Paris Hilton gets a Chihuahua; everyone wants a Chihuahua. Puppy mills and breeders start pumping out Chihuahuas. Next thing you know, shelters are full of unwanted Chihuahuas. The thing about trends is they always come to an end.
Who pays the price? The animals, organizations like PAWED and the people who want to adopt from them.
When a shelter is operating at beyond capacity — and almost all are these days — it is forced to raise adoption fees to cover costs. Higher fees, in turn, keep people from adopting. It’s a sickening cycle that demonstrates the high cost of careless behavior.
One way to stop or at least slow the cycle is for animal lovers who want to support the good work of their local shelters to make a donation to that shelter to subsidize adoption fees. Low adoption fees are key to keeping shelters an attractive alternative to buying from breeders, brokers and pet stores.
This year more than any other, I’d encourage animal lovers to consider giving the gift of a donation to their local shelter to all their animal-loving friends and family members.
If it’s true that all good things come to an end, why not all bad things? It’s high time this trend of disposing of our companion animals goes for good.
Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at www.creators.com, and visit him at www.unclematty.com. Send your questions to [email protected] or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.
Copyright 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc.