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NEW BABY/NO PETS?
8/5/2012 2:05:42 PM
One of my pet peeves, working in an animal shelter.
We got another one of those calls the other day. Iím sure the callers have no idea how much they infuriate me. I volunteer at an animal shelter, and itís my job to check the voice mail. We get a lot of messages like this:
ďI need to place my dog/cat as soon as possible. My husband and I recently had a baby and weíre not able to give our pet the time we used to. He needs to be in a home where heíll get more attention. Please call right away.Ē
Okay, honey, you had a babyówho told you it was going to be easy? You had nine months to get ready for this. Didnít you do any planning?
Living with a newborn was never my idea of fun. I realize youíre sleepless, suffering from hormonal swings, and living totally at the mercy of somebody elseís digestion. But does this give you the right to banish a family member? A dog or a cat isnít disposable like a purse that went out of style.">http://lindalange.authorsxpress.com/files/rsz.steveandmurphy.0024-300x232.jpg" width=300 height=232>Living with a newborn was never my idea of fun. I realize youíre sleepless, suffering from hormonal swings, and living totally at the mercy of somebody elseís digestion. But does this give you the right to banish a family member? A dog or a cat isnít disposable like a purse that went out of style.
Do you think animals donít grieve? Iíll never forget a big, beautiful calico cat whose people didnít want her anymore. When we put her into a cage at the shelter, she turned her face to the wall, bowed her head, and stayed that way for the next two days.
Sure, your dog or cat craves more attention than heís getting right now. But a crowded shelter isnít the place to get it. And as much as youíd like to think so, weíre not going to find him a great new home tomorrow. We do our best to place the animals in our care, but there are millions more homeless animals than there are homes. (Donít get me started on neuter/spay!) As a no-kill shelter, we have residents who came in as kittens or puppies and are still with us in their senior years.
Instead of giving up on your pet, why donít you ask the kid down the street to spend an hour or two with him after school? Or simply make time for Dad to bond with the baby while you sit and pet the cat or walk the dog and soak up some unconditional love. Pet time is a stress reliever; this is a valuable break for you.
Iím not talking about the occasional problem animal that is genuinely hostile to the baby and tries to attack it unprovoked. Certainly you want that animal out of your home. And sometimes itís the baby who provides an unanticipated problem. If you gave birth to a child with a major health issue, maybe you really donít have time for your dog.
But these calls keep coming, one after the other. They canít all be special cases. Did you forget that having a newborn in the house is temporary? Kids get bigger. And when your kid gets bigger, sheíll probably ask you for a pet. Will it be easy to go out and get a replacement? If it is, shame on you! What kind of example are you setting for your child?
One more thing to consider: In a couple of years, you may consider having a second child. How sweet, a new baby in the house! But then thereís your older kid. You certainly wonít have as much time for him. He may act out, throwing tantrums to get your attention. He may forget his housebreakingóexcuse me, toilet training. He may be jealous of the baby, or even try to hurt it.
By the logic you used when you called us, youíd better give him away.
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