One of the greatest examples of where we have been as to what we have become is the issue of service animals. As pioneers we crossed our great land in stage coaches holding our therapy chickens for the two week crossing. Today, we feel the need to hold a peacock for a two-hour airplane flight.
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) created a mess when dealing with the issue of assistance animals. Since people were not required to prove that they were disabled and there were no programs for certifying assistance animals; people took advantage of the ACT to be able to keep their pets, when their landlord discovered that they were violating their lease agreement.
People pushed the issue for taking their pets on public transportation and now have reached the extreme by demanding that their pets be allowed on aircraft. There seems to be a contest as to who can go to the greatest extreme as to the size and type of animal that they choose as a therapy animal.
We live in times in which people complain that government is too big, but the problem is that people are becoming more and more helpless and ask government to do more for them. The pioneer spirit, that made our country so great, is being replaced by needy people.
People don’t want to spend the energy to find a new home for their pet, so they dump it at the “pound.” Fearing that people will think ill of them for surrendering their pet, they turn the animal in as a stray. So, instead of immediately trying to find a new home for the pet, the animal shelter is forced to spend the first few days looking for the animals owner.
It is not uncommon that we find that surrendering pet owners are not only callous, but also stupid. When surrendering a pet, the owner will forget that they had adopted the pet from the shelter and the pet had been microchipped prior to adoption.
Animal Control Officers will get calls from citizens asking for assistance to help the owner catch his/her own dog. The owner has developed such a poor relationship with their pet, that it is more likely that a stranger will be able to catch it.
One summer in Virginia, we had a problem of pet sitters surrendering the animals in their care. They would get tired of caring for the pet and surrender the animal to the shelter as a stray. They would not even bother to let us know that an owner will be returning from vacation to look for their pet.
But the biggest problem that we faced is people adopting a new pet and losing the pet before getting the pet inside their home. Even after all of the instructions that we provided, people would choose to drop the leash to let their new pet run to the front door on their own. Hey, guess what? After being caged for a long while, being off leash opened opportunities for new adventures for the pet.
The good news is that the few people who have access to money can pay others to help them be good pet owners. Doggie Day Cares exist to exercise and socialize and you can even hire people to come out and clean up the poop in your yard.
As we enter the Fourth of July holiday, animal shelters throughout the country will be gearing up for an increase in shelter intakes. Pet owners seem to forget each year as to how traumatic the noise is for their pets.
Pets should be kept away from fireworks. Pets should be kept in quiet places. Pets SHOULD BE WEARING IDENTIFICATION!!!!
In a few days, I will celebrate one year of retirement. The past year has allowed me to settle down and reflect on animal welfare as a profession. I witnessed the era before pitbulls and social media. This profession is much more challenging today for those who wish to make a career in this profession.