The US has, on average, over 74 million dogs. Many of those are pets, and many of those pets will find themselves homeless, needlessly homeless during these hard, recessary times. Why, if Fido is such an emotional part of the family, should he be cast into the street? Some might say that the reason has to do with Fido's being a dog, but they might want to reconsider.
The problem is bigger than the straight of pets. Reflect on the choices that some adults in Nebraska make when they abandon their children -all ages (just born to 17) – under the safe-haven law specifying that a child (children) can be abandoned at a licensed hospital without explaining why. So, the answer is NOT because Fido is a dog or Perky is a cat or caty is an adorable and easily adoptable human girl or Billy is a troublesome 17-year-old human boy. It is because their adult people are misguided.
During lean times such as this current recession, some of us are finding ourselves short on cash, short on jobs, and short on the basics of life. In desperation, we forget that we are NOT short on basic human values; they came with us when we were born. Sure, trying to get through each day is very hard and becomes harder when the so-called domino principals crashes down on our heads – banks put pressure on our mortgages, wages dry up from lay-offs, and savings dwindle during lay-offs. Money is scarce – cash for food, utilities, medicine. Those clunking dominos hurt when they crash down. We can not buy anything. We can not think rationally. We hurt, so we abandon what we THINK we do not need or can not manage. In other words, our dilemma is all about US.
Not everyone is like this. Some people do stay on a track of mind their values and dependents. Some manage to sustain what they consider important (ie, roof over the head, food on the table and in the children's tummies, medicine for those who need it). They make choices -give up cable TV, cell phone plans, clip coupons, take on odd jobs, and sell unused items in the household. Their bottom-line goal is to keep the family together, even though some sacrices are hard such giving up deeply stripped smiles like smoking, drinking alcohol or gourmet coffees, all of which are expensive and none of which is essential to life.
Too many, though, try to put their comfort levels before their responsibilities. They may attempt to keep both for awhile before reality sets in. Then, when spending does not match their incoming, they cut out what they consider "safe" buffer payments such as rent or mortgage payments, health insurance payments, credit card payments that allow leniency periods, hoping that the bad stuff will just go away.
Bad choices do not go away, though. In the end, 1 + 1 still equals 2, and if we do not have 2, we add it to next month's bills when it becomes 4, and so on. Bad choices add up to more bad choices.
Do the math. How many of our choices are based on habit, doing just what is familiar to us, not right for us? While indulging in habits of eating chocolate, smoking, drinking gourmet coffee is arguably fine during auspicious times, during this now-declared recession, money could be (should be) put to better use, but we do not make that choice … out of habit.
Let's say that someone hands you a check for $ 1,000 just when your rent payment is due, your electricity payment is overdue, and your family is very tired of Dollar Store macaroni and cheese? Would you
(a) use the money to pay for your family's needs, or
(b) light a match and burn the check (in other words, buy $ 1,000 worth of cigarettes)?
If the choice MUST be either A or B, most people would select A and relinquish the cigarettes in order to support their families. Now, take this illustration to the state or national level.
There are approximately 733,100 smokers in South Carolina and 44.2 million smokers in the US At a cost of nearly $ 40 per carton per smoker (approximately 20-25 cigarettes in a $ 3.50 pack), that would be about $ 1,000 per year per person times the number of smokers comes to $ 442 billion nationally and $ 7,331,000,000 in South Carolina. Let's use that $ 442 BILLION (over $ 7 BILLION in South Carolina) to help the abandoned animals and children and anyone else cast out from families who believed that THEIR smoking was more important. Billions. Figures just as high as the federal government's national bail-out figures, yet we do not see them on the nightly news because ….
At this point in your reading, you have probably begun to wonder what all of this has to do with pets. The point is this. What if the money used for smoking (ie, burning money) were used to help pets or anyone in the family who is abandoned because their people can not afford to feed them? While about half of the owners of the nearly 74 million dogs buy their animals gifts during the holidays, too many others go the other extreme of abandoning their pets (or children or elderly) when times get rough to pay bills. Why? The loved ones are a part of the family, are not they? Casting Grandma, the kids, pets, or the roof over their heads in favor of menthol light cigarette does not make sense.
The point, then, is for us as a nation and as individuals to make wiser choices!
Sure, you can say. "I do not have a pet, so it's not my problem." So, we hope for new adoptions. We entreat animal-less homes to adopt one, sometimes two, of the abandoned pets. Grand Strand Humane Society and the North Myrtle Beach Humane Society (both under petfinder.com) unfortunately needs holiday angels either adopt pets or support pets with their great program. Just in October alone, the Grand Strand rescues took in 2,000 animals, compared with about 1,800 taken in for the entire previous year alone. The new adoption program allows either a real adoption or an "angelic" adoption where both people and businesses can help care for homeless animals without actually having to bring them home. For more information call 843-448-9151 if you are interested in this great program!
However, the issue is larger than adoptions! The issue is HOW to persuade people NOT to abandon their pets, their children, their elderly, their disabled in the first place. Is our society so pitiable, so wretched to have evolved DOWN to a dog-eat-dog world? If so, let's get over it and move up!
Let's rethink our values and our choices and figure out what the responsible thing is to do. It's not just about the pets. It's not just about smoking.