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Think, and then some, before adopting a pet

Are you a dog person or a cat person? Someone would ask me and “neither” would be my quick response, eliciting gasps as if I have said something out of the world like “I believe in an alien invasion.” But really, I have never been a pet person. As a child, I used to be pretty scared of dogs. My aunt had a Doberman and he was ferocious and fiercely protective of her and my cousins. That meant anyone who wasn’t permanently living in their house, was his enemy. And while mostly everyone made peace with his barking, I was just too scared.

But that’s not to say I have never played fetch with my friends’ pets. I admire people who have pets, who take care of these small animals and I truly am in awe of the bond that these pet owners and their pets share. What I don’t appreciate is those pet owners who are initially enthusiastic but then end up neglecting or even at times abusing their pets.

Recently in our small communities, there has been an increase in complaints, albeit mostly unnamed, against pet owners who neglect their pets and mistreat them.

I usually start by giving the benefit of doubt to people. Maybe when they decided to adopt a pet, they really wanted her but then were overwhelmed and couldn’t handle her. Maybe, they got attached to the pet and don’t have the heart to let go while at the same time do not want to take the responsibility of the pet. These are valid reasons, but the smart and kind thing to do is, let the pets go. No, not out on the streets to fend for themselves but to a shelter, or try to get them adopted.

In a perfectly ideal world, if there are tests for driving to see if you are responsible or not, there would be tests for parenting and adopting human babies as well as animals. Unfortunately, we don’t live in such a fantasy but in a reality where much too often people adopt pets without thinking how having a pet would change the dynamics in a house, what it would mean in terms of cleaning, what the costs associated with having a pet are and how attached one could get to a pet.

For any of those considering to adopt a pet, I’d suggest a little introspection. Do you really have the time to devote to taking care of a pet, training him or her? If you have a pet just for the sake of it or because of peer pressure or because you had always dreamt to have a little dog with white picket fence, but you just don’t have the time needed to train, play with the pet, what really is the point? You are simply leaving the pet to fend for himself, getting him lonely and sad. Bored pets can get really depressed and could also lash out by becoming destructive around the house.

Don’t get a cute kitten or a puppy just because they are so adorable and tiny if you haven’t thought about how big they will grow and how much food, space and attention they will need.

Don’t get a pet if you only want him or her when they are young enough to run around and play. If you cannot handle taking care of an aging pet, don’t get one.

Local organizations and the SPCA have a lot of resources when it comes to pets so talk to as many people as you can before you actually take the step. And don’t hesitate to lodge a complaint with your local law enforcement if you suspect or know of someone abusing their pets.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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