Updated: Mar 10, 2021
There is an increasing number of articles and news segments related to people abandoning their animal companions. They are left inside the home when people move, they are dropped off at a vet to be euthanized when there is no medical reason, they are disposed of with the trash of unwanted furniture and garbage. I suppose this has been happening for a long time, but the news is picking it up more and it is more apparent.
I love animals and am disgusted and hurt by these situations. It is not only because I love animals that poor treatment sickens me. This treatment of companions speaks to bigger issues: the human ego and the lack of empathy and understanding towards beings different from us. The human ego in these cases, speaks to a sense of superiority. It states that only humans have feelings, pain receptors, and minds. It shows humans as being the ONLY significant beings on earth. It also shows lack of empathy, callousness, disregard for nature, selfishness, and hatred. Yes, hatred. If you think this behavior only affects the poor animals in their care, think again. Someone with such disregard for a living being cannot be a kind soul.
Having an animal companion is a responsibility. The animals do not have a choice. Humans pick out an animal and bring them home. Once this action is done, it becomes our responsibility to care for that animal and offer a life of love, protection, and care. They become part of our family. They rely on us for shelter, food, exercise, medical care, and companionship. We become their pack.
When someone decides to dispose of their animal, they are showing a separation or distinction that screams : "You are not valued. You are not important. You are not family". The very existence of this disposed animal is now in jeopardy. It is not guaranteed that someone kind will find them and care for them. Besides that, the trauma that the animals feel may prevent them from living a happy life, even if they are given a second chance in a new home. The trauma is mental and emotional, and sometimes physical.
The decision to get an animal companion should not be taken lightly. We must consider the financial responsibility of proper care and the possibility of high medical expenses. We must consider how much time we will have to play and exercise and interact with the animal- they are social beings. We must make the animal a priority, same as we would a human child. We must take into account our living situation and get an appropriate companion. A Great Dane, for example, is not a good fit for a small city apartment. Patience, the ability to care, the desire to incorporate the animal into your family are all things that must be thoroughly discussed before bringing the animal home. You must be willing to have a reciprocal relationship with them. It is not only for your companionship, but for the animal's as well. Respect is important. No two dogs are the same, for example, just like no two humans are the same. They each have their own preferences and behavior and respecting WHO they are is important.
I understand that life can be challenging. Things come up unexpectedly. BUT, and this makes all the difference, you would NOT leave your human child behind when you move. You would NOT dispose of your human child with the trash. You would NOT ignore or neglect your human child. Your animal companion IS your child. They need you and want you and love you.
If you find yourself in a position where you can no longer care for your companion, and you just can't bring yourself to see them as your child, there are options other than disposing of them or euthanizing them. Find it in your heart to do one last gesture of love and respect for the animal that has been in your family giving you unconditional love. Ask your family and neighbors if they will take them in. Contact a NO-KILL animal shelter or Rescue group. While this is still traumatic for the animal, at the very least they will have a better chance at being placed in a loving home.
Humans must think of animals as more than "things". They are living, breathing, sentient beings that have as much right to be on earth and live a good life as we do. They are better than humans, in my opinion. They do not destroy nature, they do not hunt for pleasure, they respect the laws of nature, they do not experiment on each other, they do not pollute the very air we must breath and the water we must drink, they do not kill in masses and deplete a species which then throws off the delicate balance of nature. Animals deserve more respect than we give them. We are the lesser species. We may have learned technology and made advancements, but none of that is essential for survival of the planet. With each new advancement, we have created a bevy of problems that affect not only our health but the health of the planet.
Re-think the animal kingdom. They are not meant to be captured, forced into labor or entertainment, or caged for medical use. Re-think how you think of your "pet". If you do not think of them as family, you should not have one. If you do not take their care seriously, then you should not have them. Animals are not here for our pleasure. They are here to co-exist with us. Please, re-think and choose kindness. Always choose kindness and love over anything else.