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Opinion: Pets are not Disposable

This is Spice. She only weighs about 25 pounds - around the same as a standard dachshund. She is going to die Friday.
This is Spice. She only weighs about 25 pounds - around the same as a standard dachshund. She is going to die Friday.
courtesy of Donna Arledge Segelken

If you're planning to dump your dog at the shelter so you can get a "new" pet for Christmas, if you're moving or having a baby or any other lame excuse you can come up with, here's an idea: don’t.

Your dog loves you more than anything in the world, and always has. How many people will do that for you? Hundreds of thousands of people bring babies into this world without "getting rid" of the dog or cat. Don't have time for your dog? Make time. Don't say you can't spare an hour a day to give the dog, which you chose to have, some quality time.

Stop making excuses. And don't for a minute think that it is Macon Animal Control’s job to find Fido a home, nor is it the job of any other municipal shelter. The staff at Macon Animal Control tries hard, but that isn't why they are there, and when it's time to make room at the shelter, the dog you surrender to them is the first to die. How do you think the dogs slated to die on Friday got on that list in the first place? Man up. Woman up. Take care of the pet that stands watch over you.

Our shelter is full because of dogs that we have picked up that are strays, abandoned dogs and cats, court cases (like abused animals) and bite cases. It all gets back to responsibility. Don’t let your dogs run loose and at the very least, put ID tags around their collars so we can contact you when they are picked up. – Van Vandewalker, Interim Director, Macon Animal Control, on Facebook

Moving? Move somewhere that will allow you to keep your pet. Plenty of apartment complexes and landlords allow pets in Macon. Would you move somewhere that wouldn't let you bring your child?

Deploying or going TDY? Find a friend to keep your pet until you get back, or check with one of the rescues in Macon or those set up around the country especially to help deploying military members keep their pets.

Getting new carpet or a new home? Train the dog properly. Get a better litter box. Allergies? There's an app for that - it's called medication. Macon has some of the best allergy specialists in the state. Get to know one.

If your pet is old and too much trouble, take it to the vet and hold it in your arms while it is euthanized. Don't take it to a noisy, terrifying shelter to die in utter fear. Macon’s shelter is old, outdated, dilapidated and just generally horrible, and that won’t change until the SPLOST money is available to build a new facility.

If you don't want that old dog that has been by your side all these years, either find someone who enjoys the many benefits of having a senior dog, or take it to the vet and ask them kill it. Don't walk out - stand there while your wishes are carried out. Your dog would stay with you while you took your last breath. Own your decision like an adult.

If you need help with food and medical care, ask. While a small percentage of rescuers may refuse to help you out even when they know you'll wind up dumping your pet, others will do their best to find food and help with medical care for your pet. The worst anyone can do to you when you ask for help is say no. It isn't fatal; move on to the next rescue group on your list.

Rescuers, you have access to information the average resident doesn't. Even if you can't help someone who has fallen on hard times and is desperate to rehome their pet because they can't afford to feed themselves, much less their cat, you can suggest other groups to call. You know who can perform low cost spay or neuter surgery, or you know someone else in rescue who has the information. If you aren't at least providing information or referrals, guess what? You, too, are part of the problem. Fortunately, most rescuers have as much compassion for pet owners as they do for pets.

Several years ago, a rescuer got a desperate plea for help from a college student whose pet python had grown larger than the young man anticipated, and his landlord wanted it gone - yesterday. Although the rescuer only rescued small dogs, she networked until she found someone who was willing to take in the snake. That kind of thing happens more often than most people realize, and the rescuers, who don't get a dime for their trouble, much less headlines, are usually just happy to know they've helped.

Macon has a large community of pet owners. The majority are good owners who are never a problem. It is you, the irresponsible and uncaring pet owner, that causes the tragic loss of life at animal control facilities. You are the reason a bunch of dogs will be killed tomorrow. Yes, you. You, who wanted to dump your pet at MAC and couldn’t because the shelter is full and not taking owner surrenders. You, who called up the city to complain because the shelter won't take that dog off your hands and kill it for you. You, who turned your pet out on a strange street to fend for itself, allowing the dog to be picked up by MAC, where it will spend its last moments on earth thinking of you and wondering why you haven’t come to take him home.

Shame on you.

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