Earlier today, I opened a can of worms by suggesting that, if your budget is overly tight, you may wish to consider looking for a new home for your pet. My mention of this issue was extremely brief (not nearly enough to actually explore the issue in detail), but a number of readers grabbed ahold of this point and ran with it. Thus, I decided to move this discussion to a separate post so these issues could be explored in more detail.
Pets can be wonderful, valuable companions. I was particularly attached to my own dog growing up – some of my best memories are of playing Frisbee with him in the yard for hours every night after school. I’d toss the frisbee and he’d pause for a few seconds, then give chase at top speed, leaping in the air to catch it, then run back to me to be greeted with a playful petting and a scratch behind the ears. He used to sleep in my bed with me, too, right next to me, curled up next to my chest. I know full well how much a pet can mean to a person – and how much a person can mean to a pet.
Pet Considerations First of all, the decision to acquire a pet is a serious one and should merit some careful consideration. Pets require constant upkeep and attention – if you are unsure if you want a pet or do not know the effort involved in maintenance, look for a situation where you can perhaps watch someone else’s pet for a period while that person is traveling. Pets also have a constant cost – vet visits, food, litter, and other costs are regular and consistent.
You should also consider that a pet will begin to look on you as its caretaker and will form a deep bond with you. If you don’t believe that you will be able to care for a pet over a long period of time, you should strongly consider not getting one. A pet should be a long term commitment – if you’re not up for that, then you should strongly consider not getting a pet.
Unwanted Pets However, there’s a serious problem with pet ownership – what is the appropriate thing to do if the pet is no longer wanted by the owner? If this weren’t an issue, there would not be stray pets and pet shelters wouldn’t stay in business. I don’t feel that taking a pet to a shelter is a good choice – pets don’t deserve to live in a cage, ever. Some would argue that once you have a pet, it should be yours forever because the pet is attached to you, but that’s not healthy either – if the owner no longer wants the pet, it’s not psychologically a good situation for the pet or the owner.
I’m a strong believer in pet adoption, similar to how I feel about human adoption – it’s the most humane solution to a situation where a pet is not wanted by an owner, and that’s what I advocated earlier today. If an owner has a pet that they no longer want or can properly care for, or they discover that the responsibilities of pet ownership are a burden they aren’t prepared to handle, that owner should be responsible enough to find a safe, healthy home for that pet.
To summarize, if there are issues in your home and in your life that are causing an uncomfortable relationship between you and your pet (and finances can indeed be one of them), then you should consider selling your pet to or having your pet adopted by a loving family. It’s not good for you and it’s not good for the pet to continue in a stressful environment.
I expect the comments on this post to be quite interesting.