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Rated: E · Essay · Personal · #126624
Responsible Pet Ownership -- Are you ready to commit to owning an animal.
         We live in a "throw-away" society. This is not news to most of us. We barely use things -- then we discard them. Whether we are talking about cars, clothing or appliances, our retention period tends to be short.

         We buy a new car and, within a few short years, we exchange it for a newer model. Some of us exchange spouses as frequently as others buy a new winter coat.

         When we consider the problem of thousands of runaway and abandoned children living precariously on the streets of our country, we can hardly be surprised that animals have also become throw-aways in our rapidly-moving civilization.

         Kittens in trash cans -- puppies abandoned on country roads -- the starving pony in a neglected corral -- all are unfortunate examples of the sorrow that results when well-intentioned people acquire living creatures without making the knowledgeable commitment of time, money and caring that these animals need and deserve.

         And what are those things we should think about before we decide to bring an animal into our lives or into the lives of our children?

         We should think about the time we have available. Are we willing to expend the time necessary to give adequate care and attention to meet the needs of that animal? A pet, whether dog, cat, hamster, horse, or python, needs to be fed, cleaned, cleaned up after, exercised, and -- hopefully -- treated with affection or even love. Even a goldfish needs most of these things, although it generally furnishes its own exercise.

         Then, of course, there's the question of money. Like anything of value, keeping a pet can be expensive. After the initial cost, be it $10 or $2,500, there is the daily upkeep -- food, grooming, veterinarian bills, fresh water for the goldfish, and so forth.

         Also, replacing the shoes destroyed by the puppy, recovering the cat-scratched couch, and frequently reshoeing the horse are additional expenses. However, caring for an animal is one of the few times when money can actually buy love.

         But we must have sufficient time and desire to exercise the horse, walk the dog, play with the cat, and admire the goldfish. If you don't have the energy, time and ability to care, you and the animal are better off apart.

         Cleaning up after a pet is something that has to be done on a regular basis. It's no fun to housebreak a puppy, clean a litter box, change the goldfish's water, or muck out the horse's stall, but these are all integral parts of owning these animals.

         Often people acquire a pet on an impulse -- when they see a cute puppy and thoughtlessly buy it for their children or for a friend. this often leads to an animal neglected by a reluctant new owner. The children may not be interested and Aunt Harriet never wanted a dog in her life. So the dog is ignored by the children and ends up a traffic fatality in the street or turns up at a local humane society when he grows too big for Aunt Harriet's miniscule backyard.

         Taking care of a animal often represents years of commitment. the lifetime of a cat or dog can be 15 to 20 years. A horse can live as long as 30 years while a goldfish or hamster can expect about 3 years of life. During all this time, you will feed it, shelter it, pay its bills, and -- if you're lucky -- you'll be on the receiving end of great love and loyalty.

         Don't adopt a kitten or puppy during the summer in the mountains and then abandon the half-grown animal when you return to the city in the fall. Three months isn't enough of your time to give to a pet. You both deserve better than that.

         If you are going to be a pet owner, be a responsible pet owner. Before you make the decision, think about the problems as well as the benefits.
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