Animals aren't disposable -- pets require a loving, lifetime commitment

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“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life his love his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”

– Author unknown

Out of the mouths of babes.” That was the first thing I thought when a friend recently related to me a conversation she’d had with an 8-year-old boy.

My friend was walking a pit bull puppy she rescued and was fostering, when she came upon a nice young boy that exclaimed “what a pretty puppy” she had! They spoke for a few minutes, then the boy said she should keep her instead of trying to find another home for her, because she would have lots of pretty puppies and she could sell them for $200 each. My friend tried to explain to the child that there were far too many puppies and dogs that don’t have homes, so more of them should be “fixed” so they don’t have more babies.

The second thing I thought was that we sure have a lot of work ahead of us, trying to change the mind-set that dogs are cash cows. Animals really are thinking, feeling creatures, and they deserve our compassion.

WITH THE INCREASE in the number of people who are unemployed or underemployed, and the costs of living going up every day, many people are turning to other ways of making money – some that are certainly not humane and definitely not legal. The use of dogs as cash cows shows up when backyard breeders have litters of cute little puppies they sell to people who may or may not give them good homes, but are more likely going to use them for breeding more puppies or involving them in the dogfighting circuit.

The mama dogs usually are not fed properly or given proper veterinary care (vaccines, etc.), then are put out when the pups start eating food. The mama dogs are kicked out, abandoned, left to fend for themselves or die, even though they still were nursing and bonding with their babies.

Young children are learning this horrible practice from their parents. We must find a way to reach adults and children to teach them compassion and responsibility for all living creatures. Pets are not disposable. They require a commitment for the life of the animal.

When I went to bed one night recently, the last sound I heard was the barking of dogs, seemingly telling their families how cold they were and how good they would be if they could only come in where it was warm. They kept on – “Please, please, let me in! I am so cold!” It’s heartbreaking.

I WOKE UP a few more times in the night to the same sound – dogs barking, begging for some warmth and companionship. Part of pet ownership is providing adequate shelter to protect them from the weather. And still, some people leave their dogs out on chains or tethers, and don’t give them any shelter from the weather. Many people think that if they put a plastic igloo out in the yard, the dog will go in it, for shelter, out of the cold. You try it. There is nothing warm and cozy about a plastic shell.

A dog house needs to be big enough for the dog to stand and circle around in before he lies down. It should have a rug or blanket or at least straw for warmth and comfort. It should give him a comfortable place to sleep.

We need to spread the word about responsible pet ownership, which includes spaying or neutering animals to prevent more litters from being born, as well as the importance of vaccines and regular checkups, and simple compassion. This is not meant to be one of those Sarah McLachlan commercials that everyone turns away from – just a dose of reality and a plea for help, because most people don’t realize how big the problem is.

THERE IS MUCH that we can do. With enough community support and volunteers, we could implement a humane education program, like many other communities have done, where volunteers bring pets and information into the schools, and work directly with children to show them how important kindness and compassion really are. Knowledge is the key. When people know more, they do better.

Educating the public about how to responsibly care for animals, and to treat them with respect, kindness and empathy is a very important aspect of animal rescue work.

TRADITIONALLY, humane education has meant teaching the proper care and treatment of animals. Today, it involves much more. Humane education now includes topics that stress respect, compassion and responsibility in the treatment of all animals and people.

We believe that children taught to provide justice, kindness and mercy to animals may become more just, kind and considerate in their interaction with one another. These are life lessons that build good character. Let your local-government commissioners and board of education representatives know that this is an important topic that deserves discussion and action.

(The writer – co-owner of the Village Deli in Augusta – is the founder and president of the animal rescue group That’s What Friends Are For.)

Comments (33) Add comment
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InChristLove
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InChristLove 12/15/13 - 09:20 pm
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LOL! I had to go back and

LOL! I had to go back and see which one of your post someone gave you a TD because I sure didn't but thanks for assuming I did.

I didn't originally feel the need to defend the letter writer but I thought she has some good advice about educating proper care for our pets and your 8:18am condescending comment to me "Education is right and learn what "anthropomorphic" means" set the stage so to speak. You can say it was not in response to me but it is what I "discerned" it to mean since my comment was on education. As for the letter writer, I don't see anywhere in her letter where she even insinuated you were an "animal killer" or Neanderthal.

Evidently someone else disagrees with you indicating a TD but I don't usually give thumbs up or thumbs down so look else to lay the blame.

InChristLove
22481
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InChristLove 12/15/13 - 09:25 pm
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(ymnbde) "i did not assume

(ymnbde) "i did not assume this letter was about the medical college
it has nothing to do with the medical college"

Maybe you better tell Bizkit that because he is of the opinion it is.

Bizkit
33022
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Bizkit 12/15/13 - 09:29 pm
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No I wasn't blaming you ICL-I

No I wasn't blaming you ICL-I generally like your comments. Like I say maybe I am defensive-I've had PETA protesting at an institution and it felt "terroristic"-very much so , then family members heated arguments, so I am not saying I'm not jaded-but I can't help how I feel. Just as I gather you can't. I'm not sayin' I'm not reading too much into this, but you got to realize I over analyze everything by nature. I'm not saying I'm right-I'm saying it's my opinion. Dang.

nocnoc
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nocnoc 12/15/13 - 09:33 pm
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I took time to read the Authors other animal related articles.

Did any one else?
It does give greater insight into direction and her moderate Animal Care and responsibility agenda.

Just click on her name above.
http://chronicle.augusta.com/authors/lorna-barrett

You'll quickly see she DOES NOT come off as a Raving Left Animal Rights above Humans idiolog.

She is preaching responsible Ownership in each of her last 6 submitted articles this year.

InChristLove
22481
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InChristLove 12/15/13 - 09:42 pm
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Bizkit, I am sorry that your

Bizkit, I am sorry that your life has been turned upside down with all the issues at GRU and I can understand how you could be defensive but I will have to disagree with you on the fact that education is not needed on how to properly take care of our pets. I see it in my neighborhood all the time, pets not properly taken care of. "over analyze everything by nature" join the crowd. You're not the only one. Your opinion sure sounded like you were saying "I'm right, ICL is wrong". All I'm saying is it's possible she's just saying, love and take care of your pets. We can agree to disagree with no hard feelings.

Bizkit
33022
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Bizkit 12/15/13 - 09:43 pm
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So it's coincidence and I'm

So it's coincidence and I'm wrong. Sorry. Not the first time. So pet education is worthy because some people "kill" their pets with love=no discipline, soft foods, and don't maintain shots, worming, get your pet spay/ neutered, etc. Course every owner should know that. When I got a fish tank I leaned all about fish care, leaned about snake care, learned about rodent care, etc.

Bizkit
33022
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Bizkit 12/15/13 - 09:53 pm
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Well I just offer an

Well I just offer an "opinion" I would never argue it's authoritative. Like I say I'm usually wrong. Sorry. Hey I've seen people abuse their pets too and I find that offensive. Then some times people with good intentions unintentionally risk their pets health too. I love dogs and I have owned some fine animals it was my pleasure to be their owner. I remember carrying my best hunting dog out of a swamp we got lost in when I was a lad. I felt like the dog and I were joined at the hip-he could read my mind. Very intelligent dog whose nose was so good he never sniffed the ground-always the air. Most dogs spend their time nose to the ground. This dog was always in the lead and would often run the game back to me. We both loved the adventure.

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