A lifetime commitment

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2018

When one thinks of the term “lifelong commitment,” it’s often with the understanding that the timeframe is the span of one’s life up until a certain point. But when it comes to pets, “lifetime commitment” takes on a different meaning.

Take the elderly dog — a golden retriever mix, thought to be about 13 years old — that was abandoned at local vet’s office. Whether the owners were moving to a place that doesn’t permit pets or simply no longer wanted to take care of an aging dog doesn’t matter. What matters is that a pet is a lifelong commitment in the truest sense: pet owners need to be committed to taking care of that animal regardless of circumstances — theirs or the animals’.

The county animal shelter and local veterinarian offices should not be used as a repository for pets. Pet owners who believe dropping their animal off means their once-beloved pet will be automatically be adopted are either naïve or in denial. Beaufort County has far too many animals picked up by Animal Control or dropped off at the shelter simply because not enough pet owners will do the responsible thing and spay/neuter their pets. It’s especially the case in the warmer months, when the newest generations make their appearance. When puppies and kittens are piling into the shelter, the shelter runs out of room. There is only so much space to house animals; there are only so many adopters and rescue agencies pulling animals out to send elsewhere. Unfortunately, time and space can conspire against many animals in the shelter — including those that are dropped off with a baseless hope that an elderly dog or cat will magically find a new home.

Adopting from the local animal shelter is fulfilling a civic duty: that animal will be spayed or neutered (it’s a requirement for adoption), thus stopping the cycle of reproduction one animal at a time. Adopting clears space for another animal to be housed. Adopting gives another animal, a harder-to-adopt animal, a better chance at rescue.

But all pet owners need to approach ownership with one thought in mind: it’s a lifelong commitment, regardless of buying new or adopting from a shelter. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as “Buddy” or “Princess” may live — it’s that kind of commitment.