Today’s topic on FreddieSez, is not-so-fun. In fact, it’s sad and heartbreaking but its one that impacts the Nation in the weeks and months following the Holidays each year. Thousands upon thousands of families and individuals decide, often on a last minute whim of creating a Holiday magical moment, that they are going to rush out and purchase a pet for their family/children/significant other/self. It’s noble, exciting and fun on Christmas morning but the days and weeks that follow often uncover poor planning and show a lack of readiness to take on the responsibility for the additional living being you’ve just brought into your world. In short, the great idea turns to a lump of furry coal in your stocking.
There are no hard and fast numbers on the percentage of adoption or purchase failures at the Holiday season, as the turn over time frame is normally three to six months and not a lot of people are forthcoming on the fact that they made a mistake on getting a Christmas gift of a living thing for their home without fully vetting the idea and impact. We know the number is high due to the ever swelling numbers of animals that fill up the cages and floor space in rescues and shelters all over the nation.
Some are turn in’s, where the owner has the common sense and backbone to do the right thing and bring his pet into the facility while explaining the situation. A lot are “drop and run” abandonment’s. People leave their confused pet in a cage or tied up at the front door of the facility at early hours, before it opens, and then drive away. Sometimes it’s worse, they just drop off the unsuspecting animal somewhere foreign like a field or strange neighborhood, and hope the SPCA or some kind soul will come along and take the pet in. Responsible folks who look for adoptive parent options or relatives to take their pet in do exist but if that search fails, the options become fewer and fewer to undo the poor judgment of adding the last minute addition to the family. This doesn’t even begin to cover those who use the horrible exchanges like CraigsList or newspaper/internet ads, where you have no idea who you’re really releasing or giving your pet to, what motive they might really have after they’ve taken custody. Life for your once treasured buddy is confusing and often traumatizing after you’ve abandoned animal, they simply don’t understand.
Imagine the mental toll abandonment takes on these animals. Humans just walk away, they feel bad for awhile, they worry about their decision, the convince themselves how much better off it is for everyone because of XXXX reasons and then they go on with their human lives. Self awareness and the ability to rationalize are really great things. Right or wrong, people move on in short time and go back to their old daily routines. The pet will be a memory but one that fades into a bucket of an experiment tried and failed. The best laid plan that failed and made way for the next better idea.
However, for the furry soul, who is incapable of speech, reason and understanding or forgetting at a human level… this is the ultimate betrayal, one they can’t grasp or wrap their minds around. Bonds grown quickly in a pets life and routine is everything. They love, unconditionally and fully, believing their human is EVERYTHING in their world then, suddenly… that comfort is ripped away and they are alone in a strange place. In the first few hours, they are confused but sure their people will be back and everything will be okay. After all, there is a connection bond and they have a home, right?! Hours stretch to days that turn to longer. Confusion turns to depression and mourning, as the trust fades to loss and sense of abandon. Where is their beloved family, their people, their human? Imagine the sense of loneliness when nobody comes to take them home and their comfortable existence turns to life in a small cage surrounded by other animals in the same situation. The sheer emotional energy of abandonment has to be crushing on the soul of a pet who has been left alone. THIS is the damage and ruin that is never considered when humans make impulse choices at the last moment during the Holiday season.
The success numbers after abandonment are more favorable for dogs, as re-homing and adoption rates are normally above the 70%, generically, across the nation for canine breeds. Cats are much lower with a “get out of jail” percentage hovering below the 15% range. The reason behind the low numbers for cats? Realistically, think about how often you have a buddy who has a friend that knows someone who has a cat that just had a litter of kittens and he’s looking to give them away FREE!. SO you see pictures and BOOM, Fluffy is now at your home. No need to go to a shelter and walk “death row” to pick out someone to save when you can get a new, out of the box, kitten for free. Why buy used when new is so cute and at no cost to you? We’re not saying that’s right, its just the mindset of most people. Dogs also tend to be more visually striking when you see them, cats are stoic and aloof. A dog will show their emotions on their face, tail and entire being. You can see their distress in their eyes and. humans are drawn to the dog’s situation. In a shelter, every dog has a story and the room is buzzing with all of them just begging to be heard. Cats tend to want you to come to them and build that relationship. Dogs warm quickly, cats over time. Either way, its a game of numbers for any abandoned animal. If you’re lucky, cute, talented or just the right match for adoption, you get a round two… if not, the outlook is not good for a long life. The majority of this is avoidable if people would only plan and take a realistic look at their situation, living space, lifestyle and long term future. Its on humans, 100%.
So that’s the sad side, the ugly part. Its the Sarah Mclachlan, SPCA commercial moments in a nutshell. Its the dirty secret that nobody wants to talk about but it exists and gets worse every year. Sad but true, humans mean well but we end up breaking animal hearts and overburdening a system that is already taxed to the max.
Let’s counterbalance the sad and talk about hero’s. Did you know that in San Diego there are 14 SPCA locations and 38 registered Pet Rescues? That’s 52 individual locations doing the work of rescue, rehab and re-home for cats and dogs in where Freddie’s Place calls home. That’s amazing, dedicated and difficult work. These titans of waging tails are the front line of caring, feeding, transportation, grooming, exercise, medical evaluation, intake, interview of potential adoptive parents and everything else it takes to manage an army of wayward furry refugee’s. These folks do this for little money, lots of personal time, tons of tears and emotional strain but also the sheer joy of working with animals who need and depend on them. These are first responders that keep on giving to the community they serve. Their recognition is little but the reward is great, imagine the love they get daily in return for their actions.
Let’s look at each arm of the support chain for abandoned pets
Currently, there are 14 locations for San Diego County Animal Shelters. You can find a complete list of locations here County Shelter Locations (sandiegocounty.gov). Their website will help you with everything from locating a lost or missing animal, how to report animal abuse, what laws surround animal ownership in the county, how to adopt pets in their care, photos and information of the pets in their care, how to contact the shelters and how to volunteer your time. They also have a Foster program for their sheltered animals and a list of items they need for donation.
We’ve located a list of area Rescues at Pet Rescue and Shelters in San Diego CA (petshelters.org). Rescues are privately owned and operated. Much like the Animal Shelters, they take in abandoned, sick and unwanted or abused pets, put them on the road to recovery and then attempt to rehome them. Some are breed specific, other are more generic in nature. Costs in dealing with Rescue organizations is normally more but they are working independently and many are acting as 501(c)(3) charitable. organizations who’s only concern is the well being of the animals they recover and rehabilitate.
A few of the more notable organizations listed in San Diego County are:
That’s a good look at some of the people doing the good work of rebuilding trust, faith and hope in humanity from abandon fur kids eyes. These are miracle workers who get little fanfare and publicity work long, hard hours for the love of their mission and wards. If we all could only have such rewarding jobs.
This story is very “A Christmas Carol” in its telling. It started with the Ghost of Christmas past showing you how poorly thought out decisions for a last minute Holiday gift can spin out of controls and traumatize the world of man and beast alike. It’s easy for the furry Bob Cratchet to be cast aside in a shelter as Scrooge lives on in his petless world, living with the memory every fading.
You were shown the world of Christmas Present, fur children in cages, hoping beyond hope that someone would come for them, that the dream of a forever home isn’t beyond their grasp, that the next shadowy figure that appeared in front of their dark and dank cage would be someone coming to rescue them. You met the hero’s of the story, the shelters and rescue workers, the volunteers and donation providers who give of themselves, everyday, to help build back the trust, confidence, social ability, health and love in these broken spirited forgotten fur children.
Perhaps we’re not telling a Scrooge-tale at all… for the Ghost of Christmas future is really up to society. With better planning, use of the shelter and rescue network instead of mills/breeders/pet stores, correct and timely spay and neuter routines, knowing your limitations as a potential pet owner and doing the right thing by seeing an animal as a living being and not a toy or a throw away part of your life, we could reduce the drop-offs and turn ins, eliminate the overcrowding and devastation of the six month holiday aftermath and assure we all have a Happier Holiday Season, “each and every one”.
If you have the resources, time, desire and/or dedication… please consider donating to one of the list organizations in our blog, or a pet charity of your choice. A little goes a long way in the world of an animal in need. Things like a bag of food, blankets, toys or a few hours a week as an exercise or companion volunteer could mean the difference to one of the forgotten ones. Isn’t the least you can do?
Thanks for stopping by and reading today’s blog entry. We appreciate you taking the time to read along with us today. From all of us at FreddieSez, have a wonderful day and we’ll talk at you next time.
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