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Animal house

As a kid, I was that little brat that always showed up with a new “lost” animal after my walk home from school. Looking back on it, I probably stole a lot of cherished household pets on those walks. If you ever had a pet run away when you were younger, sorry, it was probably me.

It didn’t matter if it was a dog, cat, wild animal. I even once tried to make friends with a bumblebee. Long story short, bees don’t like to be petted.

While I’ve stopped doing my insane – and possibly illegal – rescues, I have remained pretty odd that way. See, I don’t really like people. To be fair, I doubt people like me. We’ve come to an understanding. Given the option, I would much rather spend my time with a room full of kittens than at someone’s fun, sexy, memory-making life experience of a party.

Given this information, the people I do like don’t really let me go to pet stores. At least, not if they have plans for the rest of the day.

Lucky for me, this last week I’ve had plenty of excuses. One of my friends is moving into her first apartment that allows animals. I went with her to give my expert opinion on a new puppy. For a class assignment, I got to spend the day there. Seeing the rows of the cats and dogs crying in their cages, that old itch to take them home, to rescue them, started stirring again.

I can’t fault the volunteers and workers. They all seemed to genuinely want to do what they could to make these small beings lives a little less lonely, but the odds are just so staggering. Every person only has so many hours a day to portion out to all of them.

Since I can’t take them all home – I already asked – I’ve decided to refine my tactic to reflect my age. Every year, approximately half of all animals at shelters across Canada won’t be adopted. The last place they see will be the bars of their cages.

There are ways that everyone can do something. Once an animal makes it to a pet store, it’s almost guaranteed to be adopted. So, if you’re looking for a new member for your family, think about rescuing an animal from a shelter instead. And they’re not all mutts. Almost 25 per cent of all animals brought to the humane shelter are purebreds that were surrendered.

Many of us live in apartments, and are bound by the rules they set. If you can’t save an animal, think about becoming one of those volunteers. The more volunteers these centers have, the more each can spend with the animals.

If all that doesn’t work for you, what if you just decide not to get a pet until you know you can be responsible for it? Recognize it’s a lifetime commitment – maybe not your lifetime, but the animal’s. Too many of these animals are surrendered because they started as a cute kitten or puppy and now, shockingly, they’ve grown into a cat or dog.

Make sure you spay or neuter the animal if you don’t plan on breeding it. If you take one male and female dog, at the end of six years they will be responsible for almost seventy thousand puppies. For a male and female cat, that number jumps well into the millions.

At the very least, make a trip to the humane society or SPCA. Look at the sad little faces. After that, I feel pretty certain that I’ll convert a few more over to the “people suck, kitties and puppies are dope” side.

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