Look at that face! You want it for Christmas soooo badly right?!
Please. Stop there. Think again. Read on and you’ll find out why.
But first, let me introduce myself
Hey, my name’s Carly
For the past 12 months I’ve been volunteering with the Triad Golden Retriever Rescue (TGRR) out of Greensboro, NC. Over time, I’ve taken on more and more responsibilities.
In 2017, TGRR took in 39 dogs throughout the whole entire year (all Golden’s or Golden mixes only). So far into 2018 we’ve taken in 57, and counting. It’s the Chinese Year of the Dog (literally!) and we feel it.
I’ve also done some volunteering with SPCA and Humane Societies.
I’ve gotten attached to 3 dogs who I would walk weekly, as much as I could, who were couped up in a shelter because we couldn’t find a foster home for them. All 3 of which had to be euthanized, 2 of which because of behavioral issues that grew to be too harmful because they were kennel crazy.
My work in animal rescue has opened my eyes to a lot of things. And I know that proper pet ownership education is one of the most important things that needs to be addressed. More chat on that later.
As I opened an email this morning to an adoption announcement of a 9 year old dog, I was flipping through the pictures seeing it interact with the children and thought “Now THAT is a true Christmas present”. A family, a loving family, for that dog in old age. And we know that family is a good family because we’ve done research on it. They reached out to us, they didn’t go to the nearest back yard breeder for a cheap, cute puppy. They did it right.
So let me say this, for the general population. For you “act on impulse”, “I want to be the hero of the family” type people….
ANIMALS ARE NOT CHRISTMAS GIFTS.
Especially the “oh look I surprised you bull shit”
Choosing to get an animal is a HUGE decision. You don’t do it because your 4 year old begs you, or because your girlfriend of 3 months talks about how bad she wants one. You don’t do it on impulse and you don’t do it if you work long hours, every single day.
Because animals are hard work:
- They outgrow the puppy stage
- They require annual vaccinations, which alone can cost you $100+ per animal. Not to mention check ups or emergency visits
- Do you even know how much dog food costs?
- How about potty training. That puppy will pee and poop in your house and you will get frustrated and return that thing quicker than you got it.
- Animals, dogs moreso than cats, require quality attention. You can’t just leave your animal alone all freaking day while you’re at work. Not only is it terrible for their need for socialization, they will eventually get bored and get into things. And you’ll get mad, and you’ll return it.
- And then someday that animal will grow old. And it will move slower than you’d like or require extra medical attention, which yes- costs more. And you’ll be frustrated and you’ll send it off to the shelter because like it never was a part of your family.
And if you’re thinking that your impulse decision to want to get a puppy now doesn’t put you in that category. That you’re ‘aware’ and ‘a good person’. Well, look at these statistics, I will bet ya that many of these pet owners thought that they knew what they were doing. But like many facets of life, convenience overrules every aspect of pet ownership. And when that pet is no longer convenient or no longer a puppy, they got fed up:
In the state of North Carolina, among 89 reporting shelters, during the year of 2017:
- 57,561 cats were euthanized
- 24,907 dogs were euthanized
- 82,902 euthanasia’s were performed as a whole (this includes, bats, pigs, misc. animals)
Think about that puppy or kitten you’ve been considering getting as a Christmas gift for your 5 year old because they won’t shut up about it. They’re so cute and precious and everyone loves a puppy. How much work is it really?
Now think about those numbers. The amount of dogs and cats who were waiting, with loving eyes and a hopeful, yet scared soul to find their forever home. They were confined to a kennel, going more stir crazy with each passing day. The only hope be any volunteer that could let them out for a walk. If the shelter had enough volunteers that is.
Moreso, the number of animals surrendered to animal shelters rises dramatically about 3-6 months after Christmas. Why? Yeah, you remember that cute puppy you got. Not so cute now that it’s peeing in the house, escaping the kennel, and not responded well to training (oh wait, you’re not trying to train it).
Shelter’s have a max capacity. And when influxes of Christmas gifts come in, it puts the shelter into an overwhelming, over capacity place. Some dogs, as a response to that, have to go. The first ones on the chopping block? Old dogs.
Many dogs in shelters are older in age, which is sad because that means they likely lived the first part of their life with a family. And not all cases are the story of a dog tied up in the backyard being neglected to the point that someone else saved them and called the shelter. No, some of those dogs were part of the family. Until something came along that made the family just throw their hands up, and say forget it. A new child, a new job, a move, a divorce etc. All invalid reasons in my opinion, try to change my mind.
Out of our 57 dogs so far this year with TGRR, 25 of them have been in the later half of their years. Yes, some are in our care because their owners died, others are in our care for previously mentioned “excuses”.
People neglect getting older dogs because they don’t want the heartache that comes with losing it. You people, are the real MVP’s, because that shows that you care about your dogs. However, think about the life the dog potentially has had, why not be their hero and give them an amazing end of life? Not to mention, they generally are pretty decent with commands at that point!
Okay, so you really want a puppy. Out of our 57 dogs at TGRR, 15 of them have been 2 years old or less. A large percentage of dogs (and cats!) in animal shelters are in the puppy or kitten stage too. So look beyond that PetSmart window, or the “ad for puppy” on the side of the road. News flash, those are all backyard breeding cases. Another rant for another time.
So let’s round back to my point. Choosing to get a puppy or a kitten as a Christmas gift is NOT the way to go. Walk into an animal shelter, connect with one of those hopeful souls, give them a second chance at life.
And to those of you who are incredible pet owners out there, I salute you, and I want to be friends with you. I do believe there are more good people in the world, so cheers to you!
I also encourage you to volunteer at your local animal shelter because they ALL NEED IT! And while you can, spread the word of proper pet ownership. If your neighbor is planning to get a dog, but you know their gone most of the day, talk some sense into them. If you see a dog chained up on a short leash 24/7, no matter the season, call for help. THAT is when it’s okay to be a hero.
You don’t have to be your family’s hero on Christmas, buying that cute puppy.
But you can be a shelter animal’s hero on Christmas, adopting them- the right way.