Real Mistakes, Real Laughs:

Air bases were built on captured islands of Tinian, Saipan, and Guam but they were barley within the range of the long-range bombers.

(hope the bombadiers weren't on gluten-free diets)

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Not to Lose Your Humanity In These Hard Economic Times

As soon as I read the pet article's title, How Not to Lose Your Pet in Our Difficult Economy, my blood began to boil. Tips to prevent people strapped for cash from surrendering their pets to shelters, rescue organizations, or simply abandoning them? It is unthinkable to me that such an option exists.
Okay, so I was already a little hot under the collar, so to speak, about a Baltimore "pit bull" who had been doused with gasoline, been forced to swallow gasoline, and ignited (for the outcome of that story, sign up for my newsletter). I was frustrated that convicted felon Michael Vick was released from prison after such a short sentence for his part in animal abuse (animal cruelty laws need to become more stringent, but that's another blog). Personal feelings aside, I realize that perfectly nice people may be under economic pressure to relinquish their pets.

I just don't understand it.

Do these perfectly nice people consider relinquishing one of their children? Of course not. Do they investigate every economic option before taking the easy way out and getting rid of the pet? Doubtful. Before taking on the responsibility of pet ownership, did they even consider the possibility of a crisis, economic or otherwise, putting them in this position? Probably not.

I know I'm a bit militant when it comes to animal welfare, and I'm prepared to accept any recriminations for the following content (I took similar heat when I challenged Katrina victims who abandoned their pets). But why is it acceptable to disavow compassion and responsibility for pets when pockets are light? Why do they deserve a lesser quality of life than the humans who take them into their homes? Why do they deserve a lesser quality of life than humans, period? They are sentient beings who can teach mankind a lot about character, loyalty, and love.

Economic struggles regarding pets usually manifest in the cost of feeding them. We seem to forget that, in domesticating dog, man essentially traded custodial obligations for dog's labors on the battlefield, hunting grounds, farms, sentry duty, etc. If dog didn't eat, man didn't benefit. Our survival no longer depends on dog's assistance, but care of domesticated dog is no less our responsibility.

The article I read suggested cutting pet-care costs by buying the cheapest food possible. Far be it from me to criticize economically-strapped dog owners from bulk-buying Brand X chow if that's the only way they can afford to keep their pets. However, the composition, not the price, of Brand X chow is the problem. The filler, grain, and other inexpensive, processed ingredients do not comprise an optimal diet for carnivorous canines.

In all fairness, most Americans don't feed themselves an optimally-healthy diet; why should I expect anything different for their pets? After all, if the Average Joe family is going to have processed hotdogs for dinner, how cost-prohibitive can it be to buy enough to include the family dog? Americans' tendency toward excess in everything extends to our pets, but we should remember that a lack of excess does not equal insufficiency.

As for health care, the economy puts many of us in a position of choosing between medications and food. But again, denying a pet from necessary health care due to financial constraints is not just unfortunate, it's abusive. I'm not talking about major surgery here; many pet owners unable to pay for expensive emergency medical treatments make the difficult decision to euthanize. I'm referring to pet owners who ignore parasite prevention, infectious disease prevention, spaying/neutering, etc. And while parents who neglect to provide routine health care for their children are subject to legal action, such pet owners usually aren't, implying a kind of complaisance. Bottom line: if you can't afford to pay for heart worm prevention and regular veterinary care, don't get a dog. The "Octo-Mom" garnered media attention -- and subsequent financial aid -- for her economic plight as mother to 14 children. The more ubiquitous scenario -- a single mother with four children and a dog -- gets nothing.

Those of you still reading understand what I mean by advocating pet responsibility and forethought. Compassionate, responsible people don't just quit when a situation becomes inconvenient or infeasible. If we as a nation can afford to feed, house, clothe, and occupy imprisoned murderers, rapists, and child molesters for nigh on 50 years, we can set aside a few bucks a week toward our quadriped -- and I daresay more deserving -- community members.


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