Ok- at least this one would.
There is documented evidence that our furry friends benefit us a great deal.
It has been proven that patting an animal and the purr of a cat have healing properties, emotionally and physically. These include, but are not limited to:
an increase in overall happiness and well-being
a decrease in the negative impact related to stressful situations
faster recovery from stressful situations
lower levels of loneliness, especially in seniors
an overall increase in level of happiness
lower blood pressure
lower heart rate
an increase in physical movement and exercise
a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease
So, if animals provide us with so much, why do many not make taking care of their animals a priority?
Every day I read about at least a half a dozen dogs and cats that have been found, without any identification, after wandering into strangers yards. Another half dozen or so that have been corralled in the middle of the street by a passerby, just barely escaping being hit by a car. And yet another group that has been reported lost, or worse, found dead.
Pet ownership is a huge responsibility. One that is worth every moment and every penny invested. However, anyone who is thinking of embarking on this journey that can last 8-20 years, needs to know what they are getting themselves into.
Animals are living beings. Therefore they need an appropriate level of exercise, some mental stimulation and to be socialized.
Like us, they need appropriate food, water, and shelter.
Whether your pet lives only indoors or goes for walks outside, they need to be cleaned up after.
Just like humans, animals need preventive health care (vaccinations, parasite control, etc.), as well as care for any illnesses, injuries or emergencies that will arise.
There are legal requirements of owning a pet, and if you move, those may change depending on the city/county/state/country where you live.
When you prepare for a vacation, or an emergency evacuation, you need to plan for your pet to be taken care of as well.
I say this not to discourage pet ownership, as I would never do that. I only say it because I adore animals, and because for the past month the news media outlets have been marketing "Clear the Shelters".
So many of us Homo Sapiens use our large brain to conjure up how wonderful and magical life with an animal can be. We dream of coming home to receive love and licks. We imagine hiking through the woods with Fido, and of playing frisbee on the beach with him. We fall in love with a little ball of fur and imagine her cuddled up on our laps while we watch TV and drift off to sleep on the couch. We even think of all the followers that we will get on social media when we post hilarious videos of our furry family members
And all of that is likely true.
But so is the pair of your favorite shoes that will get chewed up, and the back of your new couch that will look lovely once it is shredded by claws, and the rug that is ruined when they pee on it. Also true is the appreciation you feel for the scratches you received across your stomach from when Fluffy freaks as you are trying to give her medication, and for the sound of your kids screaming as their favorite toy just got stolen and chomped to bits by Brutus.
For the most part, none of the above is done intentionally, and if monitored, and/or trained, most of it can be avoided.
However, speaking from experience, what cannot be monitored or trained out is the $500.00 vet bill we received at 3:30 am after spending 4 hours in an emergency room after being woken up when our cat decided to test the theory of whether they always land on their feet and did an Olympic level high dive off of our catwalk. Thankfully, she was fine, and she has decided not to try it again. But the stress, worry and exhaustion we felt will never be forgotten.
Having a pet in your life can be one of life's most wonderful things, if you are smart about it.
Avoid making an impulsive decision when selecting a pet.
Don't just pick the cute one, or one that you know nothing about. Select the pet that is best suited to your home and your lifestyle. If you are not home all day, maybe a cat would be a better choice than a dog. However, if you have the time, and you are looking for protection or a playmate than a dog may be your best choice. If you don't want to be tied to your house because of an animal, than perhaps a cat would be a better choice than a dog.
Keep only the type and number of animals which allows you to be able to provide appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship. An animal can cost several hundred to thousands of dollars each year of their life in food and health care alone. Make sure that you can afford at least that for each pet that you decide to bring into your life.
If you do decided to move forward with a pet, please adopt from a shelter or a foster.
Adopt don't Shop
The shelters are truly over run with animals. I have previously volunteered at an animal shelter and have seen firsthand that the number of animals that show up, especially during kitten season, is beyond imaginable. The number of returned or surrendered animals is even worse than that. Many shelters have to turn away, or euthanize, the animals that are brought to them. It is truly heartbreaking.
The found animals that I mentioned in the beginning, are likely now being cared for by the folks that found them because there is no where else to bring them. I know that because I currently have a former stray Momma and her babies under my care and there was no where else to bring them. Our guess is that someone who did not spay their cat, let her out, found out she was pregnant and dropped her off in the woods near our home. On July 20th, this petite little not even year old baby gave birth to 4 babies of her own. Having 3 female and 2 male cats in our home already, we needed to keep all animals safe. As such, Dina, and now her kittens, live in our office, with CNN on 24 hours a day for noise and we have called them the CNN litter: Anderson, Jake, Wolf and Dana. They were a time and financial expense we had not planned on. But we are taking care of them - loving on them and treating them like our own - until we can hopefully re-home them once the kittens can be separated from Mom at 8 weeks and they receive their first vaccinations. (Note: Jake has been adopted and will be going to a loving home.)
Dina was just one of an estimated 70 million stray cats and 1.5 million stray dogs in the U.S. Many of these animals live on the streets their entire lives, vulnerable to starvation, disease, abuse by unkind humans, accidents, injuries and so much more. Now you know why we could not leave her out there. Add to that,
One unspayed female cat and her offspring can produce 5000 kittens in seven years.
And one unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce 500 puppies in seven years
Spaying and neutering these animals is the most humane way to care for them.
Although not living on the streets, our pets should also be spayed or neutered. This is not only important in the event they get out of our homes, but for their own health.
Spaying and neutering helps to prevent them form having various cancers, hernias, infections, and other illnesses.
Spaying and neutering helps to prevent many less desirable animal behaviors
are usually reduced by spaying or neutering, including dominance,
roaming, spraying and territorial aggression.
The life expectancy of spayed/neutered pets is significantly longer than that of intact pets.
So, whether you adopt a furry friend, or help out a stray that just shows up, make sure you are making a commitment to see it through. The love and care you give out will come back to you tenfold. Just remember to spay or neuter them.
Together we can make a difference. . . on the streets, in the shelters and in our world.