Life is Such a Lottery for Pets
What did I do wrong?
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!