I had not given much thought to the subject of unwanted puppies in a long time. I cringed the last time I saw a couple at the Wal-Mart parking lot with puppies loaded up in a clothes basket and a FREE PUPPIES sign attached to their truck. I wondered what kind of homes those puppies might have in store for them? Likely, the couple giving them away did not care, asking no questions about where they were going or the kind of home they would be placed in.
Living in town for many years, we never had to worry much about someone dumping off puppies or kittens on our doorstep. Around here, that kind of thing happens mostly to people who live in the country. We have a good friend who lives just a couple of miles out of town on a busy road who constantly sees dumped and abandoned dogs and cats, puppies and kittens. They wander around aimlessly, hungry, and without shelter. While it is always aggravating for him, he feeds them and does the best he can to care for them. Those who are not so lucky, I’m sure, are hit by passing vehicles, while others become prey to larger predators. Some, likely starve to death.
Of course there are also the stray dogs that run around town. They have collars, and owners somewhere, yet run amok over the streets, taking a leak on the neighbors shrubs and flowers or a dump in the middle of a nice stand of grass. I have chased many of these adventurers off our property, in hopes they go back home. Not so long ago, someone’s elderly Beagles broke loose and found their way on our property. Noses to the ground, we found them steadily following some happy trail through mom’s iris beds… perhaps there was some big investigation going on. Or maybe they were just remembering their days of glory, hunting down a rabbit or a fox! FD and I laughed at these two old fellas, baying and crooning as they moved from tree to tree, noses glued to the ground. Finally, FD managed to lead them out the front gate. Something told me they would find their way home.
We also see our share of feral cats visiting the ten-acre ranch, wandering the woods, and living a life of solitude. And we get visits from the neighbors domestic cats as well. I do not usually get too upset about roaming cats. They don’t kill chickens or chase Daisy deer around like dogs do. For us, dogs seem to be the real problem most of the time, whether they have collars and tags or not.
Two weeks ago, I noticed my in-laws scrambling around near the chicken pen. I figured a couple of chickens might have escaped the pen. Going over to help them, I quickly realized it wasn’t chickens they were corralling … instead I discovered they had found two puppies and a small-breed, grown dog. None were wearing collars. They were friendly and playful. Immediately, I suspected someone had dumped them off in front of the property. We led them into Daisy deer’s old pen and Mom put some water out for them. I put a little dog food out for them while my Father-in-law called animal control. The person on the other end of the line explained they had a situation they were working on, and it would likely be an hour or so before they could come to take care of the dogs.
It turned out to be several hours, actually, before anyone came. During that time, I went out to pet the little group and tussle with the puppies. The older dog had a look of worry and sadness. It huddled near and seemed to want comfort. The two puppies seemed happy to chase and play, sinking those sharp puppy teeth into my yoga pants, not intending to let go! They were a wild pair! I wanted to photograph them… but I couldn’t. I was pretty sure that animal control would have to euthanize them in a few days. I couldn’t look at the photos and know that I had a hand in their demise.
A part of me was angry. I wondered how someone could just dump off a pet or defenseless animals that been used to a life of being fed and sheltered? How could they expect these little beings to adjust to surviving on their own? And what if they could not learn to survive? They would either starve to death, get hit by a car, or be taken down by predators. I supposed, the “dumpers” most likely assumed that someone would take in this motley crew and give them a home. Whatever the case, it would not be their problem anymore, it would be someone else’s… and surely, since this neighborhood was a nice one with good people… or, surely someone or several people might take in a puppy or dog? Or maybe they heard we rehabbed wildlife.
Maybe these people assumed we were animal lovers and would take in some strays. Or, worse than that, they had no caring whatsoever for the dogs, considered them inferior and discarded them like one would a bag of trash. Whatever their reasoning, they “dumped” their responsibility on others. I was angry that these “dumpers” forced our family to deal with these trusting babies. And I was angry because I did not want the responsibility, for myself, nor could I take it on at this time. My elderly in-laws felt just as sad. So, we did what everyone else does; we called animal control. Now, it was not our problem anymore either.
For a few days after I was very sad. I felt terrible. I felt bad about my role in the problem. I kept remembering those sweet, trusting eyes. I know animals are discarded every day. FD and I have adopted rescue dogs in the past. We felt it was the right thing to give a homeless dog a forever home. It was a commitment we made with a lot of thought involved. If one goes to a locator-type source like Petfinder.com for pets on the internet, various types of pets can be found that need homes. Much of the time, people discard pets due to lifestyle change. Or possibly, the pet was cute when it was little but, later on, the owner found it had needs he could not provide.
To me it is obvious, sad happenings of this nature boil down to ignorance and simple lack of responsibility. If you do not want a litter of pups or kittens to find homes for, have your pets neutered. Think about medical issues and age-related problems – all pets have them. If you can not afford medical expenses or you do not have the time to devote to a pet’s needs, then do not have a pet. Find out how long you will be making a commitment, discover the needs and lifestyle that benefit the pet most. So I say, if you cannot do your best with another living being, then do not go the route of the ignorant and irresponsible.
The weekend after animal control had come for the dogs, my mom-in-law came running across the pasture with the latest edition of our small-town newspaper in hand. She had been comforted to find photos of the three little dogs on the front page, in color! With the posting, the animal control officer was making a plea for people to come forth to give these little fellas a home. He had named the older dog Rufus, described as a “sweet, mixed breed”. The two others, given the names of Elvis and Presley, were said to be about two months old and very healthy. I was so happy to see that these three discarded dogs were being given front-page attention, and that the exposure would surely help them find a home.
I keep hoping that the human race will open their eyes to the irresponsible treatment of living creatures and Mother Earth. We can stop the suffering and waste from continuing. It all begins with awareness, education, and making responsible decisions. Responsibility comes in many forms, and it is up to each of us to find a way to end the enormity of the situation. There are many atrocities in the world today… but the worst, to me, is looking away and remaining quiet or happily ignorant of a problem. My hope, instead, is that each of us will look long and hard at the problems we encounter, and find a way to create something better…
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…
Also, you might enjoy reading about another little girl we fostered who came from a puppy mill… Chyann’s Story