I'm starting this discussion to get your thoughts and ideas on this subject, and not to upset anybody or make them feel bad, so please participate in the discussion with that in mind.
Here is my question. Do you feel that part of being a responsible pet owner includes having the finances for medical care when needed?
Much of my exposure to other pet owners comes from being a volunteer at animal shelters, and from this forum as well. One of the most common reasons for owners surrendering their pets to the shelter is that they cannot afford them. Unfortunately, the shelters can't afford them either. They are public facilities with extremely limited budgets and staffs. So are the animals better off being adopted by someone who can't afford them or not being adopted?
I'd also love to see some discussion of options for affording pets. Things like insurance, assistance groups, lower cost vets and clinics, training for practicable medical at home by the owner, etc.
I am not sure how to enforce that you need the finances.
My previous kitty was adopted in California - she was found in a construction site, and taken to an agency where they screen very well - they looked at the lease, they spayed/neutered, did home visit before, asked a lot of questions about support etc. and did a home visit afterward. I had to sign a contract! She lived a happy 17 years.
My next set of kitties are a brother and sister, found, oddly, in a construction site, and the lady just emails around for someone to take them. There was no talk of ongoing support, but I gave her my blog site where she can see the pictures of them so she can see how they are. One cat is kneading my leg as I write this...
I agree with Nancy - I know people that adopt cats or other animals and do not get regular care, proper food. Our local shelters do home visits and try to screen people. I donate items (food, litter, carriers, towels) to help.
I just wish more people would spay and neuter... if the animal goes to someone who cannot afford care, then we end up with more animals, sadly, compounding the issue.
OH in a perfect world!!...I too would love to see everyone be able to afford medical care for their pets, unfortunately I doubt that will ever become a reality. The Vets themselves are partially responsible for this with their astronomical fees.
It would be impossible to enforce and would limit so many well meaning ppl from adopting a pet that desperately needs a home....However adoption must come with some responsibilities too, not just 'oh isn't he/she cute, I think my son/daughter needs a playmate'
Perhaps more education, but from where? the shelters? who are already stressed for funds. Its wonderful that some shelters can do screening and aftercare, I know the shelter in my area can barely afford a roof over their building.
Is the pet better off living out their life in a cage in a shelter(with care avail) or in a home with a family (who may not have funds for care)....wow that is a dilemma isn't it.
You know Nancy, I too struggle with this and its a tough call but I'd have to go with the families, life in a cage is no life either.
I would love to see a spay and neutering program avail at 'free' clinic's, I think all
Vet clinics could afford some of their time to provide help to the communities...perhaps even if it has to be a 10% collection from owners that can afford services(?)
Bottom line is pets NEED TO BE ALTERED, the pet population has exploded, resources are maxed.
So many are brought into the world either as neglect, for the amusement of the owner or the greed of a breeder.
I've had pet insurance, and its a great option but than again very expensive.
Assistant groups would be a great idea, do you know of this type of service?
Medhelp is an assistant group of sorts, we cannot physically see or help with aftercare other than to give our advice, thats free and so many are just in need of good free advice.
We would never keep an "intact" animal as a house companion. None of the kitties Anita and I have (or had) are of "show" status, nor of "pure-blood-lines." They are (and have been) pets; beloved little critters, but pets.
We have tried our damnedest to make sure they have had a safe, warm and dry home. (as for ourselves)
We try to make sure the food they eat is of good quality; offering proper nutrition. (as for ourselves)
We make sure they get proper preventative veterinary care (as for ourselves, though with human vets ,-)
We have tried our best to treat them with kindness and gentleness, even when the "fresh hairball" squishes up between the toes in the middle of the night, or kitty gets a bit over stimulated and bites...
These critters are our creations. We "bent" them to our wants...we owe them humane treatment, unreservedly.
I'd like to speak from my experience. We have 3 cats that range from 11 to 2 and were acquired before we hit dire financial issues. They are kept indoors 100% of the time and we haven't been able to afford regular checkups but do our best to provide a happy & healthy home for them as they are our family and would never ever give them up. Recently one was either stung by a bee or a spider and the guilt I felt for not being able to bring him to a vet is indescribable. (we had $3 to last 4 days) Luckily, he's fine now. I asked for and rec'd help in this forum and did my best, but I truly felt irresponsible. I'd eat ramen noodles so they could have their elegant medleys and fancy feast appetizers. This is just my story-I'm sure others have a point of view too.
Hi spirit, you like so many others have the best interests of our pets at heart and love them totally, I understand how you must feel. We do what we can as we can, circumstances are not always in our control.
There are times we have to rely on our instincts and helpful information and try our best.
You are being responsible by doing just as much as you are able to, by keeping them indoors you are giving them a much healthier and safer environment.
my best to you all!!!
Thanks for your kind words, you have idea what I went through while he was ill, but I might have been more upset than he was! And you're right, all we can do is our best, they're so appreciative no matter what.
Do you feel that part of being a responsible pet owner includes having the finances for medical care when needed?'
This is a great topic and an excellent question.
I hope I do not offend anyone BUT, here I go.
IF you know you cannot afford to own pets then my take on this is please, please don't buy or adopt any pets. I know a man who loves dogs but doesn’t have a job and when he does get a job he just isn’t capable of keeping that job. Yes, he doesn't have a job yet he buys puppies people sell on the streets, and when the puppies grow and become destructive for lack of training, or sick.....he just surrenders them to the shelters. Where is the kindness in that? Where is the love? Where is the justice for that poor animal? Do the words 'Responsibility and accountability' not mean anything to people like him?
Another thing, very different, is if you care for your pets and attend to their needs, and at some point in life your finances aren't the best, or for some reason you just cannot afford vet care. If that animal becomes sick and you cannot treat it that doesn't make you a bad owner. Everyone goes through tough phases in life. But as long as you do what you can for your sick pet I guess that's all that matters.
I understand the need for good pet owners, but I think some shelters take their screening process too far. I don't regularly take my cats to the vet because we keep them indoors. If we notice a problem we take them to a country vet that is super cheap. We barely feel the cost! When we were looking for a kitten a couple years ago we went to our local humane society. They had us fill out an application and sent us home so they could look over it. I got a call from them saying that Banfield had no record of the cat we currently owned. I was shocked they had even taken the time to call Banfield without talking to me first. I explained that our cat came from a different state and had been seen in a different city. They accused me of lying and told me that we could not have the cat. The poor kitty was denied a good home based on pure paranoia. So we drove 30 minutes out into a neighboring city and picked up a kitten for $15. That was much better than $100! We took him to the vet they collaborated with and had him screened for all the fun stuff. He ended up having ear mites and we had to pay to have them cleaned out, but that was worth it!
On the other hand, I knew someone who adopted a little puppy. She can't keep a job and can barely take care of her own kids. She couldn't figure out how to potty train the little guy and ended up giving him back. I wish there was a really good way to figure out who is going to be a responsible pet owner, but I'm not sure there is. Even when my husband and I were both out of work and in school we still took great care of our cat. She was fed and went to the vet whenever she needed to. It's definitely interesting to figure out where the line is. When it comes down to it I think a lot of shelters have so many animals they are almost desperate to get rid of them and will give them up to anyone.
Some great input from all of you on a topic that is anything but black and white. I've been toying with the idea of putting together some sort of paper or even a class for adopters at the shelters at which I volunteer on this subject to educate people (particularly first time pet owners). But the quandary is that I don't want to scare people away from adopting pets by enumerating a long list of responsibilities and expenses that go with pet ownership. On the other hand, some people just don't even think about anything beyond the cute little ball of fur they see and then simply send it back to where it came from the first time it doesn't behave like nothing more than a cute ball of fur.
I agree-everyone did have good input and I have to confess to wanting every kitten I see because I'm such a soft touch and my fiance has to reel me in and say "3 is enough!"
but I feel even with our (reiterate from above) new financial issues our cats are healthy and happy and if Bob needed the vet I would have found someone to borrow from if necessary, however humiliating. It does break my heart-the people who return pets like a poor fitting pair of pants, although it might be best in alot of cases. And a "what to expect with your new pet" is a great idea!!
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