If you look up the word ďshelterĒ in a dictionary, youíll see one definition is ďa building serving as a temporary refuge or residence for homeless persons, abandoned animals, etc.Ē It doesnít say ďa repository for consequences of the publicís bad decisions.Ē
The public has to stop using the shelter as a dumping ground for the animals they brought into their homes without doing the proper planning. Donít adopt or buy a large-breed puppy and complain it got too big and dump it in the shelter. Donít leave a dog chained outside 24/7 and call animal control to come get it when your neighbors complain itís barking all the time. Donít surrender a cage full of kittens to the shelter because you couldnít find homes for them, while you have no intention of spaying the mama cat you have at home.
The irresponsible citizens of the county are creating a huge emotional and financial burden on the caring shelter workers, volunteers and rescue groups who scramble to save as many animals as possible.
Before you bring a pet into your home, talk to people who are good pet parents. Ask questions and, more importantly, listen to the answers. Be prepared to be frustrated at times with your pet. Weíve all been there, and there are caring people and qualified trainers who can help you deal with any issue youíre having with your pet. Attend a pet parenting class offered at the P.G. County shelter. Make sure you are 100 percent committed to keeping the pet for its lifespan and that you can afford all those yearsí veterinary expenses. Educate yourself on the breedís size, personality, health issues. Donít believe your kids when they tell you, ďWeíll take care of it,Ē and then they get tired of it in two months.
Get your pets spayed or neutered and microchipped. Keep a collar with ID on them at all times and donít let them run loose. Keep them well-socialized. Integrate them into your family. Keep them healthy, and please keep your dogs on monthly heartworm preventatives. If a legitimate crisis strikes and you absolutely have to surrender your pet, it will already be healthy and adoptable, and we have a better chance of saving its life.
Letís save the precious kennel and cage spaces for animals that really need help: animals that have been abandoned or neglected by cruel people. Animals whose owners fall on hard times and have nowhere else for the animal to go. Animals whose owners have major medical problems or pass away.
The shelter should not be a dumping ground for the publicís lack of commitment to the animals they brought into their homes, perhaps impulsively.
And please stop getting pit bulls until the ban is lifted, if it ever will be. If they are impounded, there arenít many places they can go, as rescues are frequently full. Each week, there are over a dozen (friendly and sweet) pit bulls in the shelter, and sometimes as many as over 30, taking up kennel space that could be used for other dogs.
Finally, to all those responsible pet parents in the county who treat their pets as beloved family members and to the rescues who devote countless hours and dollars to saving animals from the P.G. shelter, thank you. You are part of the solution, not the problem, and animal lovers everywhere applaud your efforts.
Amy Pergosky, Laurel