Today I was quite offended by a member of a Animal Rescue group that I was a member of that made a few comments that pretty much insinuated that I am a bad person that neglects my pets. Where did this come from you may ask? The debate of whether Spay & Neutering & Microchipping should be mandatory and not the owners choice. I will not mention names etc but I will share her comments and then also my response to this so that you can see both sides of the discussion and why it annoys me so.
Here are her comments in order of posting (note this conversation started because someone was talking about a neighbor who has a dog that just had a 3rd litter of pups and was chained outside...I AM TOTALLY AGAINST THIS!)
"I have been interested in creating an Animal Abuse Task Force and an extension of a group in Ohio that advocates against BSL and shuts down dog wardens who are malicious in their euthanizations. That groupPost #2:
has really changed the face of sheltering in Ohio, one community at a time. I have tons of plans for the long-term, so I would love to start a conversation."
"The Kanawha Humane society, when you adopt a pet that is unaltered, they tell you to come back in a few days. They have that pet fixed BEFORE it leaves the shelter. That is the way to enforce the mandatory. Can you FORCE everyone? No. But you can make it illegal to have unregistered litters, and then you can create a huge fine for violators. Will you still have violators? Of course. People disregard the rules and the law all the time. A guy like this neighbor, by letting his dog have multiple litters, clearly disregards animal welfare. You cannot change him. But you can hurt him financially, and you can hurt his legal record and possibly his credit record."Post #3:
"I have not had a chance to get dog food to you because there were just 2-3 days between your request and your visit to the shelter. I do buy 2 bags of dog food every week and put out around Huntington for strays. I also have helped to start a magazine in which we provide FREE space for the shelter to showcase their adoptables: we put out 7000 copies, print editions. This covers a lot of area. We could use more volunteers getting the magazine out, but... we were able to get 23 of the 30 from Huntington shelter adopted in our first month-- we can improve but we are new, so I'm okay with that. We think you are really talented taking photos and getting the 'story' of the pet: we are hoping you might let us use some of your pictures but that is not for me to arrange. I love what you are doing with the internet. Frankly, the internet is awesome but unless a person is logged in, and unless they find your site, or unless they have facebook accounts, they are not going to see that we are trying to move animals. When my dog disappeared, I realized WV has very little activity on the net compared to Ohio and KY. The major reason for the magazine too, is the online lost and found for LOCAL pets. We are trying to build that up because these 'stray' animals are lost pets. The shelter may take them in and they seem unwanted, meanwhile some family is frantically searching and has no uniform way to locate all the shelters and see all the dogs/cats for months. I know because I've been looking for more than 15 months now for my dog. It took forever to figure out how to contact all the shelters. What you are doing is awesome because the lady at the shelter who does Petfinder, can only take enough time to do some of the animals. She cannot get them all up there. If someone is searching for a lost dog/cat, your site may help find them and bring them home."Post #4:
"I am also for mandatory microchipping. If you dont' want to do that, then you don't own a pet. I hope the goverment requires a data base where you register your pet -- dog and cat-- and you supply their medical records-- vets can supply the info-- and when an animal comes through animal control, there is a history established about that pet. I will quit writing now except one more thing: don't hate all people. Look for the good ones and hang your hopes on them."My response to her postings:
" I personally disagree with making it mandatory for microchipping and spay/neuter if you choose not to do so. I have 4 dogs and 2 cats all of which I have rescued and only 1 of all of them are spayed. Are you saying that because of I haven't had the funds to get all of them fixed & microchipped that I do not care about my pets? I do not think this is a fair judgement. I love these animals to bits and would do anything for them that is in my power.. I am also responsible with my pets enough not to let them around other animals to get pregnant. Things happen that are sometimes out of your control,yes, however if you pay attention to your pets and are responsible enough you can make sure that they do not become pregnant. I disagree with puppy mills 100% and think its the worst possible thing. However not everyone is that way, and just because they can not get their animals fixed, or choose not too does not mean they are bad people. I'm sorry but I disagree and I think it is totally unfair to take someone's choices from them and pass judgement so harshly."This post led to her response which was simply:
"If you can not afford to get your pets spayed or neutered and microchipped then you can not afford to properly take care of them and you should not have them."
Do my animals look mistreated to you?
Once I received that comment I decided to leave the group without further comment because I am not going to be judged so harshly for sharing my opinion on a topic. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I did not speak my mind further there, but I still have my blog where I can say what ever I choose. So... with that said.... Here are my thoughts on this matter in full. Feel free to comment with your thoughts and opinions on this matter as long as they are respectful and non judgmental. I would like to have a proper conversation/debate on this, not judging, throwing insults, or hurting anyone's feelings.
Here are my thoughts:
I am highly in favor of spaying or neutering your pets. However I have 3 female dogs, and 1 male dog that are not spayed/neutered as well as 1 cat that is spayed and 1 cat that is not. Sheeba was spayed prior to us adopting her. If we were in a better financial status and the cost of this surgery was much lower then we would be able to have our animals spayed/neutered but at this time we have come to the decision that until then they will remain unaltered, and we will be as responsible as we possibly can with what ever may happen. I'm in favor of requiring shelters to neuter all adult animals prior to adoption. I think this would help in cutting down the population of unwanted animals.
That being said, however, I do not support mandatory spay and neuter ordinances, or mandatory micro-chipping. I think there's merit in many of the reasons such ordinances are opposed, but for me the main reason comes down to personal choice. Do we really need more regulations that will need government/law enforcement attention? Do we really want to be removing pets from families that, through lack or knowledge or resources, do not or cannot comply with the law? Do we want to punish the hobby breeder for producing a litter while most ordinances explicitly exempt high-volume breeders (which can include puppy mills) from having to comply with the regulations?
I'd like to see communities that have low-cost spay/neuter clinics expand them. And wouldn't it make sense to subsidize spay/neuter costs for low-income families so that they can afford to have their pets fixed? Or even give a discount or something for multiple pets (like in our case.) In fact, If there were more free clinics and vets willing to do these surgeries for free to help in the community, I very well believe that more people would be willing to have this done.
But you really cant mandate people to do the “right thing.” You can educate, cajole, bribe—what have you, but there will always be irresponsible people, who do not care. When you think about all the laws currently on the books that aren't enforced, do we really want to add another set of rules that have to be enforced, especially when the failure to follow the rules results in comparatively little harm? Do we really want regulations that, when enforced, can result in the confiscation and possibly the euthanization of the animal?
How much sense does it make that if you do not spay or neuter your pet you could be fined severely, and/or your pet could be removed from your care? Where would they go? Back to a shelter to add even more population to the already maxed out population of the horrible animal shelters? Where they will be in cages, forgotten, and mistreated until someone happens across them, or they are euthanized for the next group of pets to come in and take their place? Does that really make any sense? To me that is more heartless than a person loving an animal unconditionally but is unable to afford the cost of a surgery, or a chip. Does our government really need another thing to add to the list of things that add on to our already outrageous taxes?Should those tax payers who are allergic or do not like animals in the first place pay and be responsible for taxes that have nothing to do with them? I'm sorry but I think not. There are SOOOOO Many more important things in this world right now to worry about then whether or not an animal is fixed or has a microchip. For instance, homelessness, child abuse, the adoption and foster system... I could go on and on.
This could almost certainly go into the much larger debate of pro-life or pro-choice. No matter if we are talking about animals or not. Lets leave that debate for another day however....
It comes down to a personal choice here. I am responsible enough to know how to take care of my pets and make sure that they do not become pregnant, or lost.They are my pets and I should have the choice of whether they are capable of producing or not. I love my animals. I think of them as an extension of my family. I will do anything in my power for them that is within my ability. I make sure they are fed, bathed, sheltered, and spoiled rotten... I have been an animal rights advocate since I was in middle school and have supported Peta, The Humane Society, and the ASPCA for that long. I have rescued so many animals and found them good forever homes that I can't even keep count any longer.I'm not a bad person, I love animals and feel very strongly about their protection.. they have no voice, so they need someone to be that voice for them. I have always felt that way. I do not appreciate being judged so harshly, when you really don't know my situation or anything about me.. now you know my opinions and a little more about me and where I stand.
Do you have thoughts/concerns or something to add to this discussion? Feel free to comment and share!