I was recently asked the questions below, how would you answer!? …
Generally speaking, how has working in animal rescue affected your perception of pet owners? Have your experiences changed your views on animal issues in any ways? And have you noticed any changes in the behavior and attitudes of pet owners themselves since you began?
I began my “rescue career” in 1997, shortly after taking my first job in the veterinary field. A neighbor ran into hospital and said there was a litter of newborn kittens and their mother in a trash bin and the truck was going to come and crush them. A few hours later I had the entire family at my house. I remember asking myself how someone could do such a thing to their pet. Many years later I am not shocked at anything anymore and sadly just shake my head when others show dismay at the horrible things they hear. I have had the unique experience of dealing with pet owners in the veterinary field as well as those who unfortunately contribute to the rescue world’s woes. For me, this insight into both worlds has highlighted the many things wrong with our society. From the man who does not want to neuter his dog because he feels like it is a personal attack and also wants “just a few puppies,” to the woman who does nothing for the sick cat living outside of her apartment, other than say “poor thing” as she walks by with her dogs. There are so many pet owners who just do not understand how their actions affect the world, or are just unwilling to take the time to care.
Like others who have had hands-on time in the welfare world, my experiences have changed my view of many things. It is difficult to live life oblivious to what is going on around us once you literally scrape frozen stillborn kittens off of a sidewalk or pick maggots out of a dog that was shot and left to die. It makes you much more aware of the responsibility we all have to be good people. On a positive note, I have met many wonderful and good people over the years who devote themselves to making a difference.
Although the rescue and veterinary worlds have become a stronger public force for animals over the years and more people are educated, there is still much that will never be solved. What happens when you drop your pet off at a shelter will never be fully comprehended and Pit Bulls will always be misunderstood. Helping owners understand the need to spay and neuter will always be a struggle, and what really happens when you throw your pet outside to fend for themselves will never be completely understood. Unfortunately, pet owners are human and each makes their own decisions for their own reasons. Therefore I cannot say that I have noticed any widespread changes among pet owners as a whole. Those who care and want to be educated are.