Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blog The Change For Animals!

Blog the Change Hi again everyone! This is a triple-post kind of day! I had a sponsored post, plus the final Twisted Mixtape, but I certainly couldn't skip out on this particular one, a topic so special to me... animals!  On Blog The Change For Animals day, bloggers commit to writing a blog post about animal-related issues, and how to make the world better for our furry, feathery and/or scaley friends.

I volunteer with a pet rescue organization, which most of you already know because I blog about it frequently. We get our animals from various places. One way we often get them is when strays are picked up on the street. Another way is when an animal hoarder is forced to give up some of their pets, and gives them to us. We take in puppy mill dogs who are no longer wanted. We also go to high-kill shelters and bust out the pets who are on the list to be euthanized... we put them in foster homes and promise to find them a forever home, giving them a new lease on life. We also occasionally get owner give ups, where the owner chooses to surrender their pet directly to us instead of to an animal shelter.

Of all of the ways pets end up with us, many of them... the shelter dogs, the owner give ups, and the strays... started out as family pets, but lost their home when their owners didn't want to (or felt they couldn't) take care of them anymore.

So I decided to post some of the reasons that people give up their pets. It is easy to judge people who do this, but many are people who got a pet thinking it would be a simple and fun, and that every family needs a pet. They may not have thought about how complicated a pet can make things. When deciding to get a pet, it is a good idea to think about these reasons that other people have parted ways with their pets, and decide what you would do in this situation. If you have a plan, you will be better prepared to keep your pet forever, which is the future everyone really hopes for when it comes to any animals.

1. They're moving. (Can you commit to bringing your pet with you, if you ever move in the future? Even if you don't plan on moving now, you never know what will happen. If you rent, are you willing to search longer or pay extra for your pet to live with you in a new home?)

2. Their landlord doesn't allow pets. (Before you get a pet, have you checked your lease to make sure that pets are allowed? Even if you've seen other people in your complex or building with pets, you need to make 100% sure that your new pet will be allowed to be there. Some places only allow certain types of pets, or pets under a certain weight limit. Some actually limit the breeds of dogs you can own.)

3. Too many animals in the household already. (How many animals do you currently have? Who currently takes care of your animals? Do the animals all get along with each other, and are they generally relaxed around other animals? Does the idea of one more pet overwhelm you?)

4. Cost of pet maintenance. (Are you able to securely support yourself and your family members, and save up money? Or are you living paycheck to paycheck? Research the type and breed of pet you're getting. Remember that larger animals will need more food. Animals with certain kinds of fur will need regular grooming.  Some particular dogs will need more training and toys to keep them busy. All pets will need regular vet visits. If your pet gets sick or injured, can you afford to pay for his treatment?)

5. Owner having personal problems. (In many cases, a pet can be comforting when you're having personal problems... but is this the case for you? If you're getting a pet for your children, but the pet is just going to cause more stress for you if things get difficult, you might want to hold off on the decision to add an animal to your life.)

6. Inadequate facilities. (Some dogs need, need, need, a yard with a tall fence. If you are going to be leavin your dog outside alone for any amount of time, you'll want to make sure you have a secure fence that will keep the dog safe. If a dog sees something interesting happening on the other side of the fence, and he's able to jump over or crawl under, he can easily lose track of where he is and get lost, or run out in front of a car while he's chasing a squirrel. If you live in an apartment, can you take your dog for regular walks (multiple times per day) or to a dog park? An older or less-energetic dog may be fine just going for short walks to relieve themselves, and cats don't need to go outside at all, so these might be better choices for someone without a yard.)

7. No homes available for litter mates. (Please spay or neuter your pets! Please, please, pretty please? There are already so many homeless dogs and cats in the world for every single human being in the USA to have one or two. The best way to prevent puppies and kittens from dying in a kill shelter is to make sure your pets are spayed and neutered. Please do this! I beg of you!)

8. Not having enough time for a pet. (If you are not home much, it may not make sense to have a pet sitting around waiting for you all the time. Cats may be more independent than dogs, but they still like human company. Even smaller pets like guinea pigs need companionship! On a regular basis, your dog or cat shouldn't be home alone more than 8 hours, preferably less, partly because they can't really hold their pee much longer than that! Some people choose to leave their dog in doggy day care, or hire a dog walker. But your pet's first choice would be to have as much time as possible with you.)

9. Biting. (Pets can be trained not to bite. It is best to start this training as early as possible with a puppy or kitten. If you have a pet who bites, you should consult with a professional trainer who can work with you. If you are adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue, the people there will be able to tell you about the pet's temperament. Adults and teenagers may be willing to work with and train a pet who occasionally bites due to trauma in his past. But if you have children, or young relatives who visit often, you'll want to make sure you get a pet who isn't prone to biting. Also, remember that any animal can bite when they are frightened or in pain! This is their only defense! Even with the most gentle dog, teach your children to be respectful around animals. They should not corner a pet or force a pet to be picked up. Teach them that if a pet growls, that means the pet is saying, "Please stop that. Please leave me alone." Do not punish a pet for growling, because that is their warning signal!)

10. House soiling. (For dogs, this can be eliminated with a lot of training. Dogs who were from puppy mills or hoarding situations may have never been taught to go to the bathroom outside. In these scenarios, they are often left to pee and poop in their cages, which is very unnatural to an animal. Housetraining a dog will require a lot of patience. Are you up for it? For dogs that are particularly hard to housetrain, you can use belly bands, which are like cloth diapers that wrap around a dog's waist. This will stop them from peeing in the house, but it won't really stop them from pooping. For a cat, it may be a matter of finding the right litter box and litter. An already-trained pet who suddenly starts peeing in the house may have a physical illness. If you get a pet, are you willing to work through issues such as these?)

11. Incompatability with other pets. (Most rescue organizations will insist on doing an introduction between a household pet and a potential new pet, to make sure they are compatible. This is important. Remember, to the pets who were there first, the house is their territory, and they may not want to share it. Research the best way to introduce a new animal to the house. One safe way to do it can be to keep both animals in separate areas of the house, where they can get used to the smells and sounds of each other without actually encountering each other. Then you can begin slowly putting them together, in closely supervised situations. Even if you know your dog or cat is usually fine with new animals, it is still a good idea to do an introduction to make sure. Some rescue organizations will let you bring your dog to the rescue, to interact with multiple pets and see which one he seems to choose!)

12. Owner gets too old or gets ill. (Pets can be great for senior citizens or people with illnesses or disabilities! The relationship can be therapeutic and beneficial in so many ways! However, the best idea is for senior citizens or medically fragile people to arrange a backup person who will care for your pets if anything happens to you. Often rescues will ask you to find a person who will commit to this arrangement with their signature. When choosing a pet, make sure it is a pet you can physically handle. A large or extremely energetic dog may not be right for a person whose disability causes them a lot of pain, or a person who is frequently tired and cannot run around a lot. Seniors should make sure their family members know who they want to take care of their animals, should something happen to them. Also, many assisted living facilities and nursing homes will now let residents bring their pets along with them.)

13. Allergies. (This is something people should be aware of before they start looking for a pet. You may want to get allergy testing done for members of your family. If someone is allergic, would they, and you, be willing to try things such as taking allergy medications, doing extra vacuuming and dusting, and grooming the pet more frequently? Also, note that some people are allergic to certain types of dogs or cats and not others. Some dogs shed much less than others, and some dogs produce less dander than others. If allergies are an issue, do some research ahead of time to decide how you will handle adding a pet to your home.)

14. New spouse or significant other does not like the pet. (Uh... no offense, but, I would never get into a serious relationship with someone who didn't like my pet! IMHO, if someone truly loves another person, they will find a way to get along with the person's pet, just as they would find a way to get along with a person's children or other family members. If you are single and are looking for a relationship, consider where your pet will fall in your list of priorities. If you think you'd be willing to give up your pet for Mr. or Mrs. Right, you might want to hold off on getting a pet until you do find that special person. Then, the two of you can choose a pet together.)

15. Divorce or splitting up. (This is like the opposite of number 14. The two people who chose the pet together split up, and now neither person wants the pet! This is seriously something to think about before getting a pet. Even if you're in a happy marriage, just humor yourself with the "what if" game. IF you were to split up for some reason, would you be willing and able to keep your pet? Would you be emotionally able to care for a pet that reminded you of your ex-significant-other? If the answer is "no," you should reconsider getting a pet.)

Pets are awesome, and they are a lot of fun. But they are also a big responsibility. If you're thinking of getting a pet, please really think about it and decide whether or not you are ready. There is no shame in deciding that this isn't the right time in your life for a pet. There are other ways to spend time with animals, such as volunteering with a pet rescue like I do, or offering to babysit your friends' or neighbors' pets.

Thanks for reading, everyone! If this post keeps one pet from losing his family, I will be the happiest person in the world!

Frankie is a 3-year-old pitbull in the San Bernardino, CA City Animal Shelter. His caretakers report that he came in as a friendly, frisky, happy dog, but is now acting sad and dejected and refusing to eat. He needs love! Read more about him here, and spread the word!


  1. I'm with you... I would NEVER get into a relationship with someone who didn't like my pet! That's just fucked up!

  2. I grew up in a family that adopted pets from shelters, so I think it's awesome you volunteer the way you do! (Our best dogs always came from the shelter.)

    My husband and I finally adopted our big baby last October. It was a really tough decision. As we're a military family, there's always the chance that we'll have to go overseas, and might not be allowed to bring him with us. (We'd have to find an amazing family to take him when we left if we did this...I'm praying we don't have to.) While that was a drawback, however, our little guy was practically thrown into our lives. We're his third owners. My husband's coworker announced one day that they were giving away a black lab puppy. They already had three other dogs, and the two older dogs were beating the puppy up regularly. They had adopted him from his birth family, where they think the first owners mights have shot pellet guns at the puppies. And while my husband's coworker's family loved him, the other dogs were just too much. When we got him, he had an ear infection, infected bites all over his head, and he was pretty skinny. I'm grateful we got him when we did because he was in pretty bad shape.

    I would be heartbroken if we had to give him up, but we felt like adopting him to get him out of bad circumstances was the best we could do. As there's no use worrying about tomorrow, however, until it gets here, we're loving every day of our little guy. He helps me with my anxiety attacks, and he keeps us laughing. Great work you're doing there! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Totally breaks my heart when people give up their pets. I saw a listing for a dog. His family gave him up because he wasn't a puppy anymore. Not kidding. So sad.

  4. It sounds like you volunteer at a great place. This is a great list and definitely things folks need to think long and hard about before getting a pet. I can't imagine ever having to give up a pet - in some circumstances (esp'y #12) it must be quite heartbreaking. I used to be sad about the animals that would come in as surrenders to the shelter where I volunteer, but now I just think of it as another chance for them to find a loving home. (Well, except for case #12... when they come in because their owner has died/gone to a nursing home, that still makes me sad.) Great post!

  5. Awesome post!! Please, Please, please research the breed of do you buy or adopt!! shelters are so fully of "difficult breeds" I know husky's and akita's are cute a fluffy but they are a full time job!!! research, then adopt!!!

  6. Bravo! BEST POST I have ever read! This alone could fill a small book that should be on everyone's reading list!
    Our Roxie is a rescue from a hoarder. Eighty five dogs in her (unkempt) home and yard. Roxie is so grateful for what she has now. If your list had to be narrowed to only one item - SPAY and NEUTER would have to be it. I am always surprised, but very happy, at how many wonderful rescues there are with the same mission as yours has. God bless them all!

  7. Great advice for those considering a pet. I can't imagine giving up a pet, and I'm sure for at least some of these people it is a heartbreaking situation.

  8. such wonderful information! thank you for posting about it.

    thank you for also commenting on my b4tc post, about adopting a diabetic cat. You are not alone in your feelings, but everyone who tries to do it is surprised by how easy it is. Most cats barely react to being tested and injected

  9. This is a great list, and I appreciate how thorough it is. So many people think getting a pet is all fun and games, but it can be a lot of work and requires a firm commitment.
    If my hubby and I were to get divorced, we'd be fighting over who got the animals, we would both want them all, that much I know for sure! I also couldn't imagine being with a person who didn't love animals as much as I do.

  10. You and I share the same favorite pet rescue :) You are so right about responsible pet ownership, this is a fantastic list of considerations one should think about before adopting a pet.

    Thank you for blogging the change for animals,

  11. I had two dachshunds that I had to rehome. I work nights and I really never felt like walking them when I got home. My son and his dad (my ex husband) were no help with them either. I agonized over it, but I knew it was best to find them a home with people who really wanted dogs. I went through a dachshund rescue in Wyoming, and they were rehomed with a retired couple in South Dakota. It was much better for them.
    I learned that dogs are not good pets for me. I do much better with cats.
    All of my cats are rescues.

  12. This is a really thoughtful post - I love that you set out so many things that people often don't think about before adopting a pet. Thanks for blogging the change!



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