It is a sad fact of life, and especially of veterinary life, that people feel compelled to buy or otherwise home a pet to then seemingly get bored and ultimately abandon them. There are, of course, a number of completely legitimate reasons for why a person might no longer be able to care for a pet and thankfully help is on hand from well meaning charities and individuals who do their best to ensure such animals do not remain homeless, something I fully support. Similar to having a welfare system in place to provide much needed support in times of acute economic crisis, such as the unexpected loss of a job, having such organisations and mechanisms in place for pets is vital and they provide real options for well meaning, caring but unfortunate pet owners. However, much like welfare systems, there will always be the malignant few who take the piss.
Taking on a pet is not – or certainly should not – be a decision that is taken lightly or on a whim. Responsible human beings realise that they are making a commitment to care for an animal for the rest of it’s life, not simply the remainder of it’s “interesting life.” I, along with many other vets, see far too many examples of people ignorantly taking on a dog or cat, either for themselves or as a misguided gift, and to then quite frankly get bored of them and look to offload them on to someone else as if they are a second-hand car or last season’s smartphone. An example this week reminded me of such aspects of human behaviour as we have had a lovely, if vocal, young dog in hospital who it appears is no longer of interest to his young owner and, more disappointingly, their family who you would hope should be serving as positive moral role models for their child. Alas, all the example that seems to be getting set is one of disposal and “easy come, easy go.” The child has become bored with the dog and so the family no longer want the dog and had expected to simply be able to leave him with us as if we were some repository for discarded pets rather than a hospital. No good reasons exist for why this animal is being abandoned other than the fact that the child’s family made an all too common stupid decision to buy a puppy for their child, who was probably already used to stamping their feet and screaming “I want” and promptly getting, before getting bored of their new plaything. This is fine with toys. Or gadgets. Or shoes. Or clothes. Or anything that doesn’t have a pulse, feelings, a life. But not a pet. Abandoning an animal simply because it no longer amuses you is abhorrent and simply marks a person out as irresponsible, unreliable and unfeeling. Not great character traits in anyone.
Thankfully, after insisting that THEY do the legwork in finding THEIR dog a new home and that they come and collect their pet and pay for it’s treatment with us, as is their responsibility as both pet owners and consumers of our services, a new owner was presented and, fingers crossed, the dog can now look forward to a life in a caring home with people who actually give a shit. I know, however, that he won’t be the first ill-advised, ill-conceived pet purchase and ultimately abandoned animal we see this year. Depressing? Yes, it is.