I have an unpopular opinion, which I guess is obvious if you looked at my blog title.
As you know, I am quite a fan of the animals. At one point, I had two dogs and three cats. I’ve also had one dog and four cats. I spend the majority of my cash, time and cleaning efforts on my pets. I also volunteer for two shelters. There was a month, there, that with my shelter kittens, I had 12 cats in my house.
All of my pets have been mutts.
Wait. That’s not true. In 1985, when I was 20, I worked in the mall selling shoes, and on my breaks, I’d wander into the pet store in the mall, not knowing it was allegedly evil. There were Persian kittens in that mall pet store, and sometimes I’d ask if I could hold one. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and spent 100 times my hourly salary to purchase one of those Persian kittens.
He was one of the best cats I ever had. Mellow, sweet, lovely. I had him for years. Moved him to Seattle when I lived there. He slept on my head every night.
So, OK, other than Confetti, my beloved Persian I bought at the mall in 1985 before I knew it was bad, I’ve had mutts I either got from the shelter or that I found on the side of the road or what have you. And this I guess places me squarely in the “adopt, don’t shop” group. I’ve said it for years. I’ve judged people who “bought” their pets.
As if adopting doesn’t cost a pretty penny.
I touted the line, when people purchased pets, that 10,000 dogs and cats are put to sleep every day. That number isn’t actually true, now that I’ve looked it up. It’s about 4,110 a day, which is still far too many. Shelters are overcrowded and traumatic for the animals. I’ve been in them often enough to know. The last thing I want is any unwanted animals. I seethe when people are “moving, and we can’t take [cat/dog] with us.” There’s another pet going to the shelter.
So, for a long, long time, I’ve said, “adopt, don’t shop.” It’s been my mantra.
But it’s starting to piss me off.
Have you tried adopting a pet lately? Because good luck.
As soon as an animal is listed at the shelter, it’s almost immediately got an “adoption pending” notification. And shelters charge up to $250 to adopt. I know from my volunteer work that shelters are absolutely doing their best, but often you bring home a shelter pet with fleas or an upper respiratory infection. You just can’t avoid those when so many animals are in close quarters.
If you go to other pet “rescue” sites (that phrase drives me berserk. You aren’t pulling the animal out of a burning building), there’s sometimes a fee just to apply. And I promise you, it’s no guarantee you’ll get the animal. The fee can be $30, sometimes $50. Just to apply. Sometimes it takes weeks to hear back. Sometimes you hear nothing.
By the way, the average college application fee is $50.
Then, you have to fill out a multiple-page form, listing your vet’s name and number, whether you have a fence, if you believe in declawing or letting your cat out in your yard. Sometimes you have to provide references. References. Like you’re applying for a job. And they will call these references.
Then? If they don’t agree with your stance on any of the above? If your last pet died years ago so you don’t have a vet right now, if you live miles from anyone and let your cat out, if you don’t have a fence but are retired and have no issue letting your dog out 10 times day. If they don’t like any of that? You’re rejected.
Then you have to pay another fee, exhaust your “references” with yet another call, and start all over again.
I’ve had “rescues” tell me they won’t let me adopt because I live too far away for them to make home visits.
I’ve had them tell me I can’t adopt a cat unless I take its friend.
I’ve been given mileage restrictions, as in, “We only let people who live 30 miles from us adopt a pet.”
I’ve been told, “You can only adopt this pet if it’s an only pet.”
In sum, it’s gotten absurd.
If you really want us to adopt and not shop, then make it possible for people to adopt.
I can honestly say my cats are happy and well-adjusted. They get all their shots, monthly flea and heartworm treatment, and at the moment, high-dollar prescription food that was originally meant for one cat with IBD, but they all loved it, the vet gave the OK, so they all get it. Feeding these cats costs me hundreds of dollars a month.
And yet? I would be turned down by these adopt don’t shop organizations because I let them into my fenced yard. I have no neighbors behind me, and I live on a dead-end street. My cats chase each other through the grass, sleep under the camellia bush, and climb the small pear tree. My cats are happy. Any cat would be lucky to live here. But they can’t unless I lie on the application. Or? If I just shop.
If people keep hitting these dead ends when they try to do the “right” thing and adopt, they will inevitably buy a cat on Craigslist, or go to the vilified breeder. If you leave them no choice, if you make it nearly impossible to adopt, then they’ll say screw it and shop.
And that’s my unpopular opinion for today.