The Responsibility to Pets

It’s Friend’s Day, so I thought it was great time to talk about our four-legged friends, and in particular, our responsibility to them.

Nothing makes me more scared than the thought of not being able to look after a pet when they need it most, for the simple reason that pets are family. And, frankly, people who don’t get that have no business owning one.

Blunt, but fair? This is why I think so…

Something that really bothers me about the way a lot of people talk about their pets is as if they’re products – luxury goods, fashion accessories, or lifestyle items. There’s the age-old story of someone who walks into a pet store, sees a kitten, and demands “this model, but in this colour”. Or, personally, an acquaintance I had just met telling me about their friends’ small dog who jumped off a table and broke multiple legs – their words were, paraphrased, “Ugh, it’s so annoying. You spend so much on the dog, and then it does that and you have to spend so much more fixing it.”

Instantly and permanently ensured I didn’t like that person.

Because pets aren’t products – no matter that you paid money for them, or if they came with a quality guarantee; they’re living beings. Living beings that you’ve accepted the responsibility to care for and provide the best quality of life that you can.

It honestly baffles me how people can see pets as disposable, interchangeable, or so valueless that people (literally) throw them in the garbage. Dogs and cats demonstrate empathy and altruism. In certain measures, canines are considered more intelligent than primates.

So it makes no sense to accept that kind of responsibility – to welcome another member into your family – if you aren’t ready to treat them like family. People don’t put kids with terminal diseases up for adoption because they can’t handle the hassle of caring for them, or give away toddlers when the start outgrowing the crib because they’re such a nuisance and take up more space. So why would it be acceptable to do the same to an animal?

It’s not like there are no other options – shelters, rescue agencies, some veterinary clinics and the like all accept animals that owners can’t care for, no questions asked. People list cats and dogs “free to a good home” on places like Craigslist and Kijiji all the time.

There are heartbreaking times when people have to make hard decisions – letting a pet go because they cannot afford care and still keep a roof over their heads, or food on their children’s plates, or because they’re forced to move far away (even out of the country) by situations beyond their control. And I have the utmost sympathy and respect for all those in that kind of scenario.

It all comes back to responsibility – if you agree with the idea that it’s your duty to care for your pets as well as you’re able, sometimes that means making sure they make it to the care of someone else, where they can hopefully find a loving new home.

And it’s just one reason we’re such big supporters of adoption and rescue – every pet someone is able to give a “forever home” to helps make sure that wonderful, amazing animals have another chance.



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