Apr 042014


Whether you acquire your dog from rescue or a breeder or some other path, you need to be unwaveringly committed to keeping that dog for the duration of its life. If you cannot be absolutely certain that you will be able to care for this dog for the next 17 years, you have no business getting a dog.

Every one of us has heard this countless times, and probably said something similar ourselves.  The problem is that while the intent—trying to get people to understand that a pet is a serious long-term commitment and not something to attempt lightly—is excellent, the specifics are often quite wrong and significantly harmful:Older-2

  1. Pretty much no honest person can genuinely make this commitment.  Who knows what bizarre twists and turns life may take.  You may end up dead, ill, homeless, whatever.  By requiring animal owners to make this eternal vow, we eliminate nearly all homes except those that are dishonest enough to pretend that they can promise the future.
  2. Millions of nice pets end up languishing in yards, kennels, and crates for years because the owners are ashamed to be derided and despised if they admit they cannot live up to this ideal.
  3. Many animals end up dumped somewhere to suffer simply because the person could not face the shame of rehoming their dog or walking into a shelter.

The real message ought to be that when you acquire an animal, you assume absolute responsibility for the welfare of that animal, whatever that means.  In most cases that will mean keeping the animal for a lifetime, but in some cases doing what is best for the animal will mean not keeping it but instead making certain that it goes somewhere else where it will be handled responsibly and with care. In some cases it may even mean stepping up and making the hard decision to euthanize a particular animal. A person’s life may change and they can no longer provide a good home for a pet, a Olderparticular pet may not fit into a particular home, a pet may be too much for an individual to handle, a pet may simply be nasty.  People should not enter into pet ownership lightly, but they also should not feel like there is no escape or they will never try.

Before I get a huge number of hostile comments, let me be absolutely clear that I am not in any way diminishing the magnitude of the responsibility of getting a pet.  I am not countenancing the casual acquisition and disposal of pets.  There are few undertaking I consider more sacred and serious than the decision to become responsible for the welfare of an animal.  And I think we absolutely should be doing everything we can as a community to encourage and increase retention, including making very certain that people understand what they are getting into.  But I do not think terrifying and shaming people is the best way to accomplish this goal.


 April 4, 2014  Posted by at 9:26 pm Tagged with: , ,

  10 Responses to “A Pet is Forever, or is it?”

  1. I completely agree with you getting a pet is not that easy task. One need to take care of the every single activity and problems related to his pet. One should be responsible about their health only then he/she can keep a pet healthy.

  2. I agree. You have to give more than attention. You have to give your pet some love. You have to be there no matter what life throws at him cause you’re the only one he’s got.

  3. That’s right, you’re right, we have a responsibility, but I would not worry me, because in reality it is so that the animal choose ourselves. That’s what we do, is just one Ilusion. Animals come to us, that we might learn something that they can perform the task in our lives, no matter how they may look.
    So we should just act with good intentions, and not to worry.

  4. I totally agree with you. Make up your mind and then go for a pet. To own a pet is like a passion for many people. But, sometimes, the people face problems regarding their care, food and nourishment. If you can’t take good care of them and are taking them just for the style statement and your status in the society then don’t buy a pet. They are like your children and need to be cared and loved.

  5. I appreciate this article. This kind of absolutism (a pet is forever) can be harmful. I know several people who, if I were in charge of the world, would rehome their pets because they cannot properly take care of them. Both animals and owners are miserable. But the cultural taboo against giving up a pet is too strong for them to consider this option. “What would the children think? They need to know that we don’t just give away members of our family!” “That’s water under the bridge. It’s too late for that.He’s mine for better or for worse.”

    A dog who is not properly contained in yard, escapes every day and is eventually killed by a car. A large active breed dog who spends his life in a crate in the mudroom because he’s “too much” for the family. A dog with guarding issues that the owner can’t handle so the family has no more social life, not to mention the neighborhood is terrorized because owner can’t restrain him from other dogs when leash walking.

    All of these folks see themselves as good people who would never give up a dog. In many cases giving up the animal is the lesser evil, and quite possibly not evil at all, as your article so aptly states.

  6. […] year I wrote a blog suggesting that keeping a pet forever no matter what may not always be best for the pet: sometimes […]

  7. Personally I’d never get another dog unless I could be fairly certain I could look after it properly, which means my current situation of working would have to change as dogs need companionship unlike cats which seem to do their own thing.

    There is definitely too much stigma about giving up pets. It’s the lesser of two evils just to pass on the animal to someone who can give constant care. Like you said, situations change and there really is nothing you can do about that!

  8. […] year I wrote a blog suggesting that keeping a pet forever no matter what may not always be best for the pet: […]

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