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Life is Such a Lottery for Pets

Updated on March 22, 2012

What did I do wrong?

Evne in Britain, thousands of dogs and cats are abandoned every month.  Many are euthenized.
Evne in Britain, thousands of dogs and cats are abandoned every month. Many are euthenized.

Pets need food, love and companionship

For every dog, cat, bird, fish and the rest kept with understanding and love, there are thousands not so lucky.

Dogs kept on chains or on rooftops, anxiety and rage slowly turning them crazy. Cats kept away from the light of day and their fellows, never for a moment living as nature intended. Birds - even huge parrots - kept in tiny cages, alone and frustrated - creatures which live in flocks of hundreds in the Amazon and Australia, etc. Tropical fish, bred thousands of miles from the reefs which are their birthright, in tiny, stinking little glass tanks half full of oxygen deprived water, where they soon die of misery and disease and despair…

Most people are not intentional cruel. There is just no real education regarding the care of pets and domestic animals.

Often the cute puppy, kitten, bunny or hamster is bought to satisfy the whim of little Johnny or Betty, who soon tires of his/her present, especially when the subject of feeding and caring for it comes up.

And dogs, especially, give of their love and whole life into making their owners happy. Thankfully, nearly all owners realize this and love them in return, reading about their care and needs, keeping them insured against serious injury or illness, exercising them and keeping them company.

The kindest and most understanding owners of all keep pets in pairs or more: after all, with the best intentions, you are not a dog, cat nor bunny rabbit and cannot satisfy them as company like one of their own species.

Every week we watch TV News, horrified, as malnourished and dying horses, cats or dogs are rescued from crazed owners who have let them gradually starve, fall ill or left them in disgusting circumstances. Little is heard from them again. Occasionally, we read of the owner getting a slap on the wrist from some judge: a small fine, the animals confiscated; in extreme cases, maybe a few weeks in prison. And this for crimes that if perpetrated against children, or other human dependents of the accused, would result in years in prison, thousands in punitive damages, and ostracism from society.

In the UK - one of the countries with the best record in animal and pet husbandry - there is still not enough control by far on who can own a pet - or how they should house, feed and entertain it. Once, many years ago, we had dog licenses, renewable yearly. I have no idea why that was stopped. In the case of dogs, they share our world: our streets, parks and beaches. Our car costs us hundreds of pounds in fees every year, surely a few pounds to have a dog license, including registering the animal - with a vet check included perhaps - would be a good idea. It would also give a pause perhaps to impulse buyers who soon find the honeymoon is over when the pretty little ball of fur becomes an 100 pound smelly furry monster with the energy of a rampaging lion.

Unauthorized pet dealers get a free run in Britain. Buying a dog from one of these “puppy farm” representatives has a whole host of disadvantages and future problems. The animal’s lineage is suspect as there are often no papers, or the ones they do produce are phony. If it is a puppy, the parents are never seen and it may be already carrying disease or genetic problems. You can never be sure if the correct injections against distemper, etc., have been given. A dog that appeared inexpensive often not only works out much dearer in the end, it can result in tragedy for the pet and its owner, and there is rarely any redress from the dealer.

All too many pet shops either carry puppies and kittens, etc., from doubtful sources, or they have gone with the trend and done away with live animals altogether, just stocking pet requirements: cages, beds, food and miscellany. All this does is make the prospective owners look further afield for their pet need, often right into the hands of the “farms.

I often think it is a great shame that, like every other aspect of our lives, pet sales have fallen to the crass god of commerce. The old time pet shop with its caring and involved owners were the best place to acquire your family friend then and the sellers were always there to discuss your pet’s needs after purchase.

Safest today where dogs (and some cats) are concerned is to deal direct with an owner-breeder, where you can see the sire and/or the bitch. Adopting a more mature animal from a shelter is often a great idea, giving you a sound pet and a new lease of life to one that has been relinquished or abandoned.

People should be well advised that it is not easy to look after any pet properly. I only have two budgies at present, but they take more care in keeping clean, entertaining and feeding than many would like to have to do. Of course, they are a pair, so that mitigates most suffering their confinement in a (huge) cage causes. But even here I am having to be cruel in denying them the opportunity to fly, flock and breed. It just seems like you can’t win sometimes.

I am a huge believer in NEVER keeping caged or tanked creatures alone, unless you are prepared to fill in as the pet’s companion. This is relatively easy with most dogs, but how do you become mentor, partner and bosom friend to a 200 pound crocodile or a Reticulated Python, much less that lonely little goldfish! Well, you can’t, yet people keep these magnificent creatures all their lives alone in some exhibit, feeding them other poor live creatures regularly, Madness!!

Which brings me to the point that there needs to be strict laws about what animals we should be allowed to keep, especially when there is any suspicion they were caught in the wild.

In the UK, we don’t generally have wolves, big cats or large herbivores as pets. But it is not so uncommon in the USA and South America, etc.

I personally don’t think any snake or reptile is suitable to be kept as a pet. They never enjoy mental communion with us, merely seeing us as providers of food who keep them confined. They have no capacity for love and affection unless it is involved with procreation among their own species. That boa curled around your arm is just there for the warmth, not because it is straining to give you a kiss. All they are is an ornament which people think bolster their image.

Same for insects and arachnids. Large spiders like tarantulas are unhappy in captivity. Any arachnid with stronger venom that a Tara should be left out of your plans.

The one exception to this are bees, of course, and perhaps ants if you can establish a colony in a fish tank and where they have outside access. Fascinating for the kids and easy to dispose of by putting the whole kit and caboodle in the garden.

Fish should never be kept in round, oval or small tanks. They need to have a minimum of a few square feet per fish. A tiny tank with no surface area deprives them of oxygen and is unhealthy for their mental state. To those misguided people who bleat, “It’s only a bloody fish!” Yes, well you’re only a bloody idiot, but you get decent treatment in life!

Pets only really want the basics from life. They don’t need the TV, computer or cell phones. But they do require food that is compatible with that they would have in the wild. They need fresh water 24/7. And larger animals need exercise and companionship, both yours as the owner and/or that of one of the same species. They will need help when they get sick, just like you do. They will need a certain amount of training in order to fit into your world.

There is no greater joy in the world than a well kept dog with his owner, or a sleek and contented cat curled up by the fire on a winter’s night. Even a guppy grinning at you from his clean, ample and well equipped tank can be inspiring.

Do you remember “Mrs Do as you would be done by” from the kiddies “Water babies” yarn? Well, I do (barely) and I try to obey that admonishment when I have the responsibility of a pet.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea for primary schools to have a pet’s morning once a month or so? Kids could bring their pets, where appropriate, and discussions with a teacher over training methods and the advantages of one pet over another, etc., plus all the funny and entertaining stories that go along with animal and human transactions. A whole lot more comes to mind regarding this idea, but this hub is already too long!


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    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Cheers JG


    • profile image

      JohnGener 4 years ago

      Oh, no, I love it! I was endorsing your whole post. I think the ponistg frequency is a good thing. There are a couple of reasons (at least) why people might hesitate to post frequently: (1) Concern about pushing down the previous posts, and (2) Concern about appearing to post too much. I'm glad neither of these has held us back, so far.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Ha! Gemini, I think if they watch us for a while, our stupidity, violence and wars, etc., that might just happen.

      In batteries like the poor hens!


    • Gemini Fox profile image

      Gemini Fox 6 years ago

      Lol - just read your last comment and it reminded me of a science fiction story required in high school in which aliens had taken over Earth and treated us humans as their working livestock (not like slaves - like cattle). THAT was a mindbender!

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Zee:

      Our beautiful simple fellow creatures. If there were an almighty, I am sure we would be targetted, as Milton or Tennyson said in his great poem about heaven rages at birds in cages.


    • ziyena profile image

      ECLECTIC PLETHORA 6 years ago from LOST IN TIME

      Love the idea about elementary kids bringing in their pets for show n tell ... oh so many rules now days. Great Hub Bob from a mutual animal lover!


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Well, what I really meant was the mom and pop stores were better than what we have today as the owners generally cared about the animals they sold. The ones we need to get rid of are these puppy farms, producing puppies like battery hens.

      I dunno what's best really Gemini...wish i could do something more than just write bootless articles.


    • Gemini Fox profile image

      Gemini Fox 6 years ago

      I didn't mean that pet stores that only sell "accessories" for pets should be banned, just the selling of any live animals in stores - because as you say, people make snap decisions in the heat of the moment and purchase an animal because it's "soooo cute" and little Billy is throwing a tantrum wanting a puppy and no thought is put into the real care of the animal. Not to mention the puppy mills that sprout up to fill the demand for these pet stores. Is that what you meant by your question?

      A nice alternative would be for pet stores to only be allowed to "sell" animals that have come from local shelters - which Petsmart and other places actually do today (in addition to their other live animals). Maybe if that's done for the next five years it would help reduce the "surplus" of all those poor unwanted animals lingering in pounds and shelters.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Gemeni Fox: I can't remember pet shops actually being banned outright, but I lived overseas most of my life and only returned here in 2003.

      But our strangling "elf 'n safety" laws have put paid to many small businesses, so much so, that most pet emporiums that do survive only carry feed and miscellany.

      I can't quite understand why you say "Pity they weren't banned everywhere...?"

      Star: Thanks, not to have a "blacker cat than yours," but I had 17 cats when I lived in the desert in Baja!

      They were my "pride" and joy.


    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Wonderful hub. We love our nine cats. They can involve medical care that is more than we can afford, but we do all we can to make them happy with good food, and a lot of love for them all. We love our animals. Wish all animals could be treated well. GBY.

    • Gemini Fox profile image

      Gemini Fox 6 years ago

      Totally agree that the laws need to be so much tougher regarding pets. It is so appalling that pets (and farm animals) are treated simply as products and not live beings.

      My mother was British (but lived in the US for over 50 years) and I seem to remember her saying that pet stores were banned in Britain . . . but per your hub I guess that isn't so? Were they once? Too bad they aren't banned everywhere!

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Jools. Yes, anyone can own a pet, and we have so many problems just trying to sort human woes out, it won't get any better.

      Shinkicker. I though it was a bit too long, but compared to your remarkable efforts, I am the micro to your macro. I have the same problem with pet ownership, things have to be just right in your life.

      Angie. Yes, and the sad thing is my hub and all the protests all over the world about animal treatment seem to do little good as their situation,. along with wild animals, deteriorates.

      A world without us would be welcome to the tired old planet.


    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 6 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Bravo, Bob! Great hub on a very emotive subject ... so glad you tackled it.

      I agree it is sad the way many pets are treated ... there are folk out there who shouldn't be in charge of a paper clip never mind any sort of mammal. It makes me so depressed when I see abandoned or ill treated animals on the news. I get very fierce about their feckless owners but sadly I don't really know what an effective answer is to their terminal dimness.

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 6 years ago from Scotland

      Thanks for the interesting Hub Bob, it certainly wasn't too long and I enjoyed reading it. I've not had a pet for many years and if I did again this has certainly given me food for thought, especially about having a companion for a pet. That never occurred to me as a problem before.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Bob, great hub. I think your restraint was admirable because as you know, in the UK, we regularly see pet cruelty on the news and it just disgusts me. Anyone can own a pet! But a lot of those who do, shouldn't be allowed to, such a shame for the animals.

      I work in a school and we had a pet morning where the kids were introduced to the head teacher's slightly daft puppy. The kids got a huge kick out of it and she brought all of his bits and bobs in and explained how important it was to take care of a pet etc, etc. Shame so many grown-ups can't go to 'pet mornings'.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Frog de alfa male and he kno3s it!

      Becky: I would love to adopt your kitty, but I cannot have pets in this effing flat at the moment (except the budgies)...what's a gerbil or two between friends?


    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I love this hub. I also have a cat that my daughter rescued from the streets. Do you want it? It is not fitting into our family and I have called the Humane Society but they are out of room. I would not feel right about returning it to the street where it came from so I will not do that but I am tired of having to constantly defend the gerbils from it.

      She was pregnant when we found her but she has since had her kittens and we found homes for them. A nice man who has a bunch of them around his barn. He has them fixed and feeds them but he needs the mousers. By mama's example, they must be very good at it because she won't leave the gerbils alone and we like them better.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 6 years ago from Arlington, TX

      My dog has it made in the shade. He rules the roost and gives unconditional love in return. He's a one man dog and listens to no one usually but me.

      The Frog

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      My lovely loyal lady hubbers! What would I do without you.

      I don't know whether these "bootless cries" and animals behalf do any good; all our treatment, good and bad, seems hard wired in by the time we reach the age of maturity.

      Did you mean Romney the Nick, Au fait? He has such a stupid expression: good presidential material!


    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      my shelter kitty HATES other cats, but loves snuggling with me. we get plenty of cuddle time and he fairly much rules the roost.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago

      Bob this was one of your best hubs! I love your passion towards the animals. I too feel the same way about animals being caged and the mistreatment of them is beyond horrific. Not everyone that wants a pet should have sometimes they have no idea how to care for one. Thank you for wriitng this and I will share it for sure. Take care,


    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 6 years ago from North Texas

      Back in 1983 Romney put his dog in a cage and tied that cage to the roof of his car where the dog had to ride for 12 hours on a family vacation trip to Canada. Can you believe it?? Just read about that recently on Yahoo News. What a guy!

      I love animals and they love me. Unfortunately I'm deathly allergic to all animals so far as I know except horses. Had a chance to hug some draft horses back in 2008 and got no allergic reaction! Unfortunately my landlord doesn't allow pets, and I'm upstairs anyway. ;)

      Agree with Barnsey, that we have made so many animals (sometimes pets, sometimes not) dependent on us and it's our responsibility to take good care of them. I grew up on a farm, and my mother made sure I knew that I had to put our animals ahead of myself since they were not in a position to care for themselves, and they contributed to our family's welfare.

      Never be cruel to an animal. Make sure they have water, get fed on time, and that they have necessary creature comforts. No putting them in a small cage and driving them at high speed, wind and bugs in their eyes, for 800 miles, no bathroom breaks!! Oh yes, the Yahoo story mentioned Romney's dog got no bathroom breaks.

      I like to feed the wild animals, birds, squirrels, possums, etc., since I can't have a pet of my own. I used to have a cat a long time ago, but after I was scratch tested to see if I was allergic to cats, I became allergic to cats. So when my cat passed on I didn't get another one.

      Everyone who can should go to their nearest animal shelter today and save an animal, give them a home. If I could, I'd get them all out of jail!

      Great hub Bob! You write so well and that's why I like to follow you. Voting you up and awesome!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I prefer pets to humans. They are a source of great joy and comfort. The people who mistreat pets are capable of mistreating children.

      I absolutely have noticed that people who hate cats are no friend of mine. Cats are the easiest pets to keep and care for since they are quite good at caring for themselves.

      Dogs give such unconditional love and loyalty that they can lower your stress levels and be your best friend.

      I would endorse classes in pet care for sure. So many people don't have clues.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      This is a fabulous hub Bob, and full of good advice. I wish more people did the research before taking on pets they ultimately fail to care for. I also like the fact you state the importance of keeping animals in pairs rather than solo (although of course some species need to be kept alone like hamsters and certain spiders etc or they will try to kill each other). I would say that if I had a tropical fish tank I would struggle to provide several feet of space per fish, especially if I had a shoal of Neon Tetras as I would end up with a tank about 60 feet square in my living room lol.

      Great hub and good advice to anyone thinking of taking on a pet or pets.

    • Barnsey profile image

      Barnsey 6 years ago from Happy Hunting Grounds

      So true, my sweetheart and I were just talking about that today. If I was rich I would just open a giant pet refuge where cast away domestic pets could live out the rest of their lives in a free, open space, while being well cared for besides. They deserve it because we are the ones who made them dependant upon us, how can we do anything less than the best for them? Great Hub!


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