Dear Potential Pet Parent,
I’m more than a cute face in a window of a pet store, or that affordable pup in the newspaper. I shouldn’t be an impulsive buy or a surprise gift! I am a living being that is domesticated and will rely on you for all of my needs. You must plan carefully in advance before bringing me home because MY LIFE IS AS IMPORTANT TO ME AS YOURS IS TO YOU.
If you don’t bother to do any research before getting me, then you can’t be surprised when my actions don’t meet your expectations. I was born a certain breed and have those characteristics; I cannot will myself to be what you want me to be in order to accommodate your lifestyle no matter how much I may want to ultimately please you.
I’m not a “practice baby” until a real one arrives. I don’t want you to experiment with my life by using me as a surrogate child only to be cast aside when a human baby comes because you think you will not have any time to care for my needs. Millions of families have kids and pets; there is nothing exceptional required to manage both. Dogs are not babies and frankly I will be FAR easier to care for than any human child.
I am domesticated; therefore, I cannot train myself. You must show me house rules and proper ways to behave. I will respond obediently when my actions are reinforced positively. If I am a “bad dog” it is surely because you have not committed to my training. This will be my downfall when you inevitably give me away; you will not have done me any favors by ignoring my social needs. I may have a difficult time being adopted by someone else or may never even make it out of the shelter where you abandon me.
If you move, take me with you! Don’t leave a family member behind. Show me an ounce of the same dedication that I have given to you my entire life. I’d lay down my life for you without hesitation. If I am truly a part of your family, you will bring me along to our new home. If you give me away or take me to a shelter, I guess I never was.
Consider my comfort in everyday situations. Don’t run errands and leave me in a hot car. If you would be too hot or cold, it would be the same for me! Don’t relegate me to life alone outdoors. I am a social animal, and just as you need interaction and human touch to thrive, so do I. I am called a COMPANION animal for a reason.
Plan for my lifetime care long before you bring me home and this includes emergencies. I will need to visit a veterinarian every year at a minimum and need quality food to eat. Preventative medications will keep me healthy and free of parasites. As smart as I truly may be, I cannot entertain myself while you are away from home so I need safe toys and bones to keep me busy and stimulated. I also need exercise and training. You aren’t doing me any favors when you bring me home and then don’t provide for my care and well-being.
When I am old, show me loyalty and help me navigate through my adult life. If that means I need medication to ease my pains, please get it for me. I have protected you and our home. I have laid silently beside you and listened to your troubles. Do not commit the ultimate betrayal by abandoning me in my golden years, for you will be old someday too. May your family members extend the same consideration that you will show me.
I am not a pet rental from a temp agency. Nor am I like a napkin that is thrown away after being used. When you bring me home, I assume that it is for my entire lifetime and not until I outgrow my original purpose.
I am a companion animal at the mercy of he or she who brings me home. I don’t get to pick who I go home with. My life will only be as good as you make it.
There is one favor I will ask of you…don’t bring me into your life unless you are willing to be a loving caregiver for the duration of mine.
Every Potential Pet
*while it is difficult to track euthanasia rates in the US because shelter reporting requirements differ from state to state, americanhumane.org reports an estimated 9.6 million cats and dogs are put to death EACH YEAR because of lack of homes*