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Animal Stewardship and Humane Treatment

Updated on February 2, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.


A Question of Animal Rights

Our Hubber BeiYin asked the question, " You 'had to sell' your best friend? How is this possible?" He included thoughts about horses and pet dumping in garbage dumpsters.

This brought a lot of thoughts and memories to mind and I'd like to share a few experiences.


Sled dogs training for the Iditarod. Many people oppose running dogs in sled races and even working animals on farms.
Sled dogs training for the Iditarod. Many people oppose running dogs in sled races and even working animals on farms. | Source

Responsibility For Another Life

Whether the decision at hand is one about producing or adopting a child or about taking on a pet, it is an important one. Unexpected financial crises or disasters can occur to wreck our plans for caring adequately for another life entrusted to us, but I think we should do our best to amke plans to do so, anyway. However, I think we should do so after carefully considering the possible results of parenting and training a child or an animal, and whether we can handle this 24/7 mandate long-term.

Know Yourself

Although the psychiatric condition known as plubukto was removed from the American Psychiatric Association's DSM series of diagnostic manuals, it still occurs. Originally, it was a condition brought on by extreme, long-term cramped living conditions that resulted from living in igloos in the isolated Subpolar North, while constantly wrapped in furs, having large dogs for blankets, and being snowed in by blizzards.

The manifestation occurred when the stricken individual went outside, removed all clothing in temperatures of, say, -50 to -75 degrees F, and ran screaming away to become lost and fatally frozen. "Cabin fever" is a very mild form of this phenomenon. Some people suffer from it when overwhelmed by the 24/7 nature of having a child or a pet that requires attention.


A 24/7 Responsibility

Does the prospect of caring for an infant without sleeping more than 2 hours at a time for several months or of constantly walking dogs or letting them in and out of the house bother you? Then you may not want to attempt to have or raise either.

Perhaps you do not realize that you may have this reaction until after the new family member is on the scene -- In that case, counseling and support groups are available in many instances for both new parents and new pet owners. Some cities have organized respite care for children and senior citizens or those with Alzheimer symptoms, on weekends for when parents and families reach their tolerance levels and may become abusive if they do not secure some freedom from the 24/7 grind. I don't know if there are respite care facilities for pets, but boarding kennels may bring relief for a couple of days.

People abandon children of all ages at the State Fairs every year and these kids are placed into foster care or adoptive homes if at all possible - if the original family cannot be tracked down. Some families cannot afford their children's basic needs and some want the freedom from the responsibility. Some people become frightened, panic, and dump their children at a fair or a mall and leave town. The same series of scenarios can happen with pets as well.

In many cities, newborn infants can be left at local hospitals by parents who cannot, or feel that they cannot, care for these young lives - with no penalty to the parents. This is an improvement over former laws, one that helps individuals and couples that believed they could care for a child and simply cannot do so, as well as those that always knew that could not. Yet, babies are still found in high school toilets and pets keep turning up in dumpsters.

Snowball the Rescue Bird Dances to Michael Jackson

Columbus Ohio Zoo Show - 150 Rescued Animals

Animals as Friends

One wonders how another person can sell a horse if that horse is the person's best friend. Horses present a large expense long-term, require daily attention, and need continuing training and exercise. Not everyone can maintain all of this expense and effort, including emotional effort. For some of these individuals, it is better to sell the horse to a friend or a nearby stable/horse farm in order to assure that the horse will receive proper care.

It helps if the person can go and visit the horse - like former owners of potbelly pigs visit at the pig sanctuary farms on weekends. Thailand has an elephant rescue sanctuary, but some countries have no animal rescue programs.

For that matter, in some countries where the masses are starving, people would eat the horse for survival. In America, selling or shooting a horse or dumping a pet out of boredom is just as bad. For example: Recently, a law enforcement officer in Central Ohio was preparing to go on vacation with his family. He did not want to pay to board his two large dogs, so he shot them both in the head. it was ghastly, a crime, and he was suspended from the force for his actions.

Baby chicks used to be dyed various colors and sold at Woolworth's and Kresge's for 50 cents each at Easter.
Baby chicks used to be dyed various colors and sold at Woolworth's and Kresge's for 50 cents each at Easter. | Source

Here's another ghastly example: When I was a child, some stores still sold (illegally) pet baby Easter chicks, sometimes dyed odd colors. It was illegal to own livestock within the city limits and the birds were usually dead the week after Easter, because they were not fed at home - people forgot or did not think of it - they were toys. This was very cruel. Our two chicks one year lived, but disappeared. They were fed to me and other children that autumn at a picnic at an distant relative's place outside the city.

After we ate, we were told where the chicken came from, while the relative laughed. After a couple of other incidents, I learned that he was someone to avoid. Having no children, he adopted an infant boy and under his care, the child in high school entered the world of drug trafficking and later fatally wrapped a car around a tree or light pole. On the way to this ending, the young man had been charged with child abuse himself.

Some people are not able to raise healthy children or pets and may never become prepared.. Still, if an owner cannot afford to continue caring for a horse or other pet, selling the animal or giving it up for adoption is much better than neglecting it and having it die of starvation and illness. Moreover, this is often a crime that can lead to fines and even jail time for the owner. For those that consider animals friends and family members, this is unfathomable.


Perhaps some individuals should not be permitted to have children or pets, but this is difficult or impossible to control. Human adoption can be controlled, but human reproduction, less so. Animal spaying and neutering are useful in controlling the population of feral dogs and cats in America. Regardless, pets and children are still dumped each year. One hopes that children are never sold, but the news media run across a case of this occasionally.

I think that in economic downturns especially, some people can no longer care for their pets, but they might be able to take them to shelters or rescue farms. Some homeless shelters are beginning to accept pets with their owners on a limited basis as well. Exotic pets might be accepted by a local zoo. However, when shelters are full, where so these pets go? I heard a woman say that she would do anything possible to keep her two cats with her, no matter what her financial status or life circumstances. Not all people can have this conviction.

Cats are often turned loose on farms, but many cats and dogs are dumped out of cars on the highways and roads of America every year. Some pets are thrown into dumpsters alive or shot in the head like the dogs mentioned above. Sometimes college students abandon pets they kept during the school year and these cats and dogs are found in empty apartments.

Some people cannot take care of pets and others will not care for them, even after having purchased or received them as gifts. In cases of malicious dumping, the best we can do is to report it to animal control and law enforcement as soon as we witness it and teach children to grow up with responsibility in mind when it comes to pets and children. We can also become involved with local pet shelters, educate the public, help to prevent animal neglect and cruelty, and recommend the spay/neuter programs available for animals.


© 2009 Patty Inglish MS


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