Friday, January 27, 2012

Who is a perfect pet owner?

I grew up in a household full of animal lovers. Our family dog, Blackie, lived to be almost seventeen years old. If you ask most of my friends, they will tell you a dog who comes to live at my house has hit the doggie lotto.
I have had the 'who is qualified to be a pet parent talk' with my friends and on some issues we simply agree to diagree. I had the same conversation with a co-worker who expressed interest in adopting a dog but simply did not have enough time for a dog and that wouldn't be fair. Fair? When an animal is facing death because there are not enough homes, how much time is enough? I have two rescues, work a job, have a home and spend, on the whole, about an hour a day of what most would consider quality time with my dogs. Is that enough? Growing up our family dog never spent "time" with my parents. He was simply part of the family and spent much of his time patrolling the fenceline, trying to find a way to get out to roam free. He stalked squirrels and birds, dug holes in the dirt and came inside only when he wanted to. He slept with one of us each night and everyone in the family cried when he died.
So should having a fenced yard be a qualification? What about how much time the dog is going to spend alone? If the pet gets sick, can you afford to fix him?
All these questions are asked sometimes by rescue groups and humane societies. Kris Weiskopf, the Chief of Manatee County Animal Services wrote a great article about this subject. You can check it out here. The article points out the costs of being so particular, the animals end up staying in the shelter and not going to a home. When this happens, many of these animals are killed and the shelters speak about not having enough "qualified" homes.
On the flip side of the coin, there is this article which brought up some very valid points about the qualifications for pet adoption. This article gives examples, unfortunately lots of examples, of people who tried to adopt an animal from a rescue group and were disqualified for reasons set up by the rescue. To the person in the article, they people then contacted a breeder or pet store and bought a pet.
Is this really what we want? Have we all become overzealous in our mission to find these animals homes?
So the next time a person calls or comes through the door who wants to meet one of your animals, think about what is contained here. If the animal finds a home, why does it matter if they are going to be alone for 8 hours? It sure beats the alternative which is usually death.

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