Michigan Animal Shelter Offers Pets For Veterans

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On a day dedicated to remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom, it is also important to thank those who served in our armed forces and survived. Those who were fortunate emerged physically and emotionally unscathed. But many were not so fortunate. And while most of us will never fully understand, or even begin to imagine, what they’ve been through, we can still find meaningful ways to demonstrate our compassion, support and gratitude for their service.

Second and Main. Warrenton, Va. Memorial Day, 2012.
Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

According to recent media reports, a local group in Jackson, Michigan, has done just that. An event, called “Pets for Jackson County Veterans,” is sponsored by Jackson’s Friends of the Animals. It began last Monday and continues through June 15. So for the next three weeks (give or take a few days), veterans can visit the Jackson County Animal Shelter and choose an animal to take home as a pet.

“There’s so many organizations across the country that are realizing the value of matching veterans with pets and helping with PTSD,” Jackson County Animal Shelter Director Lydia Sattler told the media. “And knowing that we have a lot of animals in the shelter right now that really would be a great match for someone that’s needing that companionship and that comfort, the fact that we can help both the veterans and animals out is just a win-win situation.”

The Friends of the Animals for the Jackson area also told the media it sponsored the event in an effort to help “enrich the lives of veterans.”

And there is certainly reason to believe it will.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are proven benefits of pet ownership including increased opportunities to exercise, spend time outside and interact with other people. The CDC also notes that having a pet can “help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship.” Finally, the CDC notes that, “studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.”

As I write this, plenty of pets are waiting for a chance to form that bond. In fact, the ASPCA estimates that millions of unwanted dogs and cats end up in U.S. shelters in any given year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. The good news, according to the organization, is that 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats).

As Fox network’s Lansing and Jackson affiliate reports, pet adoptions fees at “Pets for Jackson County Veterans,” will be covered.

All animals available for adoption will be current on their vaccines and will be spayed or neutered.

To adopt a pet veterans will need to bring proof of residence in Jackson County along with  a copy of their DD214 paperwork or their Jackson County Veterans ID card.

The Jackson County Animal Shelter is located at 3370 Spring Arbor Road and is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

The Cost Of Responsible Pet Ownership

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Lots of people love animals. But sometimes love is not enough.

Sometimes, a long distance (or even international) move forces owners to rehome or surrender their pets to local shelters. Sometimes old age or catastrophic illness prevents an owner from continuing to care for their pet. Sometimes a pet is surrendered because of a shift in family dynamics (such as a birth). And sometimes, the owner realizes that they can simply no longer afford to provide for their pet.

dog parade, puttin on the dog, 2018
An Adopt-A-Dog volunteer with a dog available for adoption. Puttin’ On The Dog, 2018. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

In  fact, cost  reportedly ranks among the top five reasons for pet relinquishment. And frankly, that’s just not right.

Part of being a responsible pet owner — and I do stress responsible pet owner — is being fully informed before you buy or adopt a pet. That means you should know how much it will cost to buy or adopt and provide ongoing care for your pet before you get one. And you need to be honest with yourself about whether you can afford to have a pet before you get one.

That being stated, here is some general information about the costs associated with pet ownership.

  • Initial Cost: Adoption fees (which sometimes include the cost of spay/neuter procedures) will typically be approximately $100. If you are buying a pet from a pet shop or directly from a breeder, expect to pay several times that amount. Conservatively, plan on spending at least $400  to $500 for the acquisition of your pet.
  • Accessories: Brushes, food bowls, toys, litter boxes, leashes, collars, scratching posts… They’re all essential and costs can add up quickly. Budget at least $125 to $140 to cover these costs, depending on whether you get a dog or cat.
  • Preliminary vet check: Whether you adopt or buy your pet, one of the first things you should do is take your new pet to the vet for a thorough checkup. Some shelters or rescues will have arrangements with local veterinarians who will do these exams for a small fee. Plan on spending $50, for the exam and put an additional $200 or so aside for a spay/neuter if Fluffy or Fido hasn’t been “fixed.”
  • Ongoing expenses: Again, food, treats, and toys top the list of pet supplies that have to be replenished on a regular basis. Of course you should budget for these based on your pet’s unique needs. A general estimate is $150 to $200 or more per year for dogs, and $200 per year for cats.
  • Medical expenses: Let’s not sugar coat it. Veterinary care is expensive. Even “healthy” dogs and cats need routine shots and other preventive care. Budget at least $350 to $450 for annual check-ups and related matters, exclusive of emergency medical care.
  • Unexpected costs: Of course, there’s no way to budget for unanticipated events. But if you can, try to set some money aside for emergency veterinary care (for illness or injury). You should also consider health insurance for your pet, since even routine care (like teeth cleaning and lab work) tends to be expensive.
  • Additional considerations: Do you travel a lot? Even if you only leave home occasionally, you’ll need someone to look after your pet. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to count on a friend or family member. But if that’s not possible, you’ll have to get a professional pet sitter, or leave Fluffy or Fido at a kennel or cattery. In any case, it may be costly, so you should plan accordingly.

Speaking as a pet owner, I know exactly how expensive having a cat can be. I also know it’s worth it.

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Cat Fanatic Proves You Can Fight City Hall

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Here’s a question for you. Do you think the government (town, city, county or state) should be allowed to regulate how many pets you have?

Personally I have mixed feelings on the topic. On one hand I think it’s a great way to prevent hoarding — as long as the laws are actually enforced before things get out of hand. I also think it’s a good way to encourage responsible pet ownership — even if it can’t guarantee that people will treat their pets properly.

And then there’s the rebellious part of me. This is the part that says, “Wait just a minute. How dare you tell me how many pets I can have?”

Fighting city hall — and winning

Apparently a Utah man feels the same way. As recently reported in The Salt Lake Tribune, a West Valley City resident has two black cats and wanted to get another one. But when he went to the local animal shelter to get one, he learned that he couldn’t because of a city regulation limiting the number of cats and dogs residents could have to two per household.

Furr-911 rescues Hurricane Harvey kittens.
Hurricane Harvey kittens make an appearance at Puttin’ on the Dog festival, courtesy of FURR-911. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

When he learned the only way to change that was to convince the city to change the rules, he took the challenge seriously. And after six months of lobbying, his persistence finally paid off.

Earlier this month, the City Council unanimously passed an amended ordinance that “would allow for pet owners to apply for a permit to have up to four cats or dogs.” However, the restriction pertaining to the total number of pets is unchanged, meaning that residents still can’t have four cats and four dogs. An exception to the limit for kittens and puppies up to 4-months old is also unchanged.

A matter of personal preference

As it stands, I have had cats since I was 10. But the only time I had more than one was when my ex and I were married. And I’ll be honest. Having two cats in a small apartment was an adventure, especially since my cat was the alpha.

After I got divorced, Heals came home with me. She also moved to Virginia with me, and live there for three years before she died of cancer in 2007. I was still living in Virginia when I got Eli in 2008 and I’ve had him ever since. Sometimes I think about getting another one — but it wouldn’t be fair to him — or to me, for that matter.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

For one thing, Eli is a “pit bull in a cat costume.” He is loyal, affectionate, and super-smart. But because he was abused before I adopted him, he is very easily triggered and acts accordingly. You’d think that he would mellow out as he gets older, especially since he’s been in a stable, loving environment for so long. As it turns out, that’s wishful thinking. Finding ways to address his redirected aggression is an ongoing process.

Secondly, having a cat is expensive. Or should I say, having this cat is expensive. There’s food, and cat litter, and vet bills. Oh, the vet bills. And because Eli is such a handful, I have to take him to the vet to have his claws clipped every three months. At $23 and change for each trimming, even that adds up.

Not to mention that I’m busy and I travel. So the bottom line for me is that — as much as I love cats — I don’t think I’ll ever have more than one at a time again.

How about you? Do you have pets? How many? How many is “too many?” I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to comment.

New York Following Cali’s Lead On Pet Store Law

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the approach two New York legislators are taking as they push for the passage of a new law regulating how people can acquire pets.

According to recent media reports,  the state lawmakers, who represent different New York City boroughs, co-sponsored the legislation that would prevent pet stores from selling small animals and companion animals obtained from “large commercial breeders.”

Instead, the pet stores will be required to source and sell animals from licensed rescue shelters or humane societies. The law would also allow the humane society or shelter to keep any animal not sold/adopted through the shops.

The proposed measure failed to gain any support last year. However, proponents are optimistic that will now change with the power shift in the state legislature.

Jumping on the bandwagon

This idea isn’t unique to New York. Not too long ago, I wrote about a similar measure currently being considered in Connecticut.

dog parade, puttin on the dog, 2018
An Adopt-A-Dog volunteer with a dog available for adoption. Puttin’ On The Dog, 2018. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

Like the proposed legislation in New York, the Connecticut measure failed to gain any support in the past. Although a fire at a Danbury, Connecticut pet store prompted renewed interest in the issue, it also sparked concern.

“We’ve been sending home between 60 to 80 puppies a month, and we’ve been doing it for 25 years. Most of the people who come to us are looking for pure-bred dogs, which many local rescues don’t offer,” Sean Silverman, the owner of Puppy Love in Danbury told the media.

“If stores like ours are unable to provide the type of puppies that people want, then some 15 to 20 thousand people here in Connecticut will go on the internet, get a dog with zero regulations, and have it shipped, but will not get any guarantees, it’s just putting these people in a bad situations.”

Because some state lawmakers have express reservations as well, there is no guarantee the measure will pass.

California law enactment sets precedence

Earlier this year, California became the first state with this type of law.

Inked by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2017, the new law (which included provisions giving businesses time to adjust) takes aim at so-called “puppy mills” and “kitten factories.” While it does not prohibit people from buying small- and companion animals directly from breeders,  it does mandate that pet stores throughout the state sell only dogs, cats and rabbits sourced from shelters and rescues.

“By offering puppies, kittens, and rabbits for adoption from nearby shelters, pet stores can save the lives of animals in search of a home, save the breeding animals trapped in puppy mills, and relieve pressure on county budgets and local tax payers,” a fact sheet said.

Among other things, SEC. 2. Section 122354.5(c) of California’s Health and Safety Code now mandates that pet stores keep detailed records of the animals made available to the public. Specifically, pet shop owners must “post, in a conspicuous location on the cage or enclosure of each animal, a sign listing the name of the public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or nonprofit from which each dog, cat, or rabbit was obtained.” Pet shop owners must also make this information available to  public animal control agencies or shelters upon request.

As stipulated in SEC. 2.Section 122354.5(e) of the state Health and Safety Code,  pet store owners that don’t comply with the new law faces a civil penalty (fine) of five hundred dollars ($500) for each animal “offered for sale in violation of this section.”

In conclusion

Clearly, these laws — like any others — have their share of pros and cons. Proponents hope they’ll put an end to puppy mills and kitten factories, while easing the burden on animal shelters and rescue groups. Opponents are concerned about over regulation.

The bottom line is that only time will tell whether the type of legislation passed in California will become law elsewhere.

Pit Bulls As Police Dogs — Now That’s Cool!

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Time for another confession. I love pit bulls. I think they are so cool. I’d definitely get one (or more) if I could. But unfortunately, I am allergic to dogs, I live in a small house, and the pet I do have is definitely an only child. So I’ll just have to “settle” for a pit bull in a cat costume.

I’ll also take any chance I can get to advocate for these wonderful dogs, which are all too frequently exploited, vilified and discarded by irresponsible and ignorant people. And I’m not the only one.

Recently I came across an article about a program that trains rescued pit bulls as police dogs. No, I am not kidding. Along with German Shepherd Dogs and Belgian Malinois, Bloodhounds, Dutch Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers and similar breeds, some American law enforcement agencies are using pit bulls as police dogs.

As a former cops and courts reporter, and as someone who volunteered at a local animal shelter for several years, I think that is pretty (bleeping) awesome. In fact, I think it’s so awesome, I’ve probably written about it before. But if I did, it was more than a year ago… so I’m going to write about it again.

Animal Farm Foundation + Sector K9 = Success

The story that caught my attention was about Sector K9’s latest graduating class, starring Pepper, Hype, and Maverick. All three are pit bulls, all of them were pulled from animal shelters around the country, and each of them now has a second chance at life.

K-9 Demonstration at Puttin’ On The Dog, 2018. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

Grant funding from the New York-based Animal Farm Foundation allows Sector K9 to train rescued pit bulls as police dogs. But not only that. The  Midlothian, Texas organization trains their handlers, too. Once they’ve completed the program, some of the canine and human partners hit the streets in search of drugs and guns. Others head “back to school,” where they help provide a secure learning environment for kids. All of them are expected to participate in community out reach, and act as ambassadors for the breed.

“Participating in our Police Detection Dog Donation Program is more than conducting a sniff of a vehicle or a building. It’s about educating school kids and sharing your K9 with the community at events,” Sector K9 says. “We carefully select departments and handlers who share these values.”

Saving money, saving lives

According to the Animal Foundation, law enforcement agencies often spend a small fortune (more than $20,000) to acquire one purebred, purpose-bred dog capable of doing the same jobs as a Sector K9 graduate.

On the other hand, Animal Farm Foundation’s grant allows authorities to acquire K9s at no cost. Just as importantly, it improves the quality of life in the communities they serve while giving the dogs opportunities to do meaningful work.

So far, brief bios for more than 30 detection dogs and their partners are featured on the Animal Foundation’s website.

There’s also plenty of praise for the dogs from the people who know them best.

“The best thing about having K9 Wilson is that he did not just benefit one community. He has brought several communities together because other agencies have contacted us to do searches for them as well, thus creating a partnership between our communities,” says Officer Lucky Huff of the Quinton Police Department in Oklahoma.

At a time when law enforcement is often maligned by politicians and the press, having a pit bull as a partner can actually help kids overcome their distrust of the police, another officer says.
“[The program] benefits the community a great deal by impacting young kids and bringing them closer to the police department as a whole with the help of K9 Athena’s presence. Hopefully, after they meet Athena, they walk away with a better outlook on police officers,” says Office Jody Bullard, who is assigned to the Dallas Independent School District.

Puppy Love: Finding The Perfect Pooch On New Pet App

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Once upon a time, people in search of the perfect pet simply went to the local pound or animal shelter. Then the Internet came along, making it easier for people to expand their search. Now there are apps.

Maybe you’ve heard of BarkBuddy or PawsLikeMe. But have you heard about GetPet? It’s the latest app created to match people with companion animals in need of forever homes.

The backstory

Since its debut last month, GetPet sure has gotten a lot of ink. The Associated Press did a story and several publications followed suit. So why all the hype?

Well for one thing the app was created in Lithuania, a world away from the 21st century hotbed of technological innovation otherwise known as Silicon Valley. But as far as I’m concerned that’s actually really cool, since it helps address a serious need in that country. Specifically, it encourages people to adopt shelter dogs in the capital, Vilnius.

As the Associated Press reports, the gang of animal lovers that created the app did so after they were taking a computer class and happened to see a stray dog through the window.

So far, GetPet has been a huge hit with users and the founder of a local shelter which houses more than 100 dogs. Since GetPet launched, more people are calling and coming in to ask about adoption, Ilona Reklaityte told the AP.

One GetPet user who visited the shelter and planned to adopt a dog from there also told the AP that GetPet creates a win-win situation for the shelter dogs and the people interested in adopting them.

How it works

The other reason GetPet has gotten so much hype is because of the comparisons to the dating app, Tinder.

According to one of its creators, GetPet users can view shelter dogs available for adoption on the app, and then use GetPet to then schedule appointments to meet them in person.

“It is like Tinder, but with dogs,” co-creator Vaidas Gecevicius, told the AP. “You can arrange a meeting with the dog — a date.”

To view photos available dogs, GetPet users simply swipe to the right on their mobile device. When one catches their interest, they can then scroll down to get more information. By swiping to the left, they can view more photos.

At the moment, only dogs are featured on GetPet. But that won’t always be the case. According to the AP, future plans call for the addition of other animals in need of new homes.

And as far as I’m concerned, it’s all good.

As seen at the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival

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As the old saying goes, sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 words. So without further ado, here are some of my favorite photos from the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Enjoy!

Great Dane wins Best Lap Dog contest at Puttin' on the Dog.
Best Lap Dog winner. Puttin’ on the Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Furr-911 rescues Hurricane Harvey kittens.
Hurricane Harvey kittens make an appearance at Puttin’ on the Dog festival, courtesy of FURR-911. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Owner and dog get a helping hand on the agility course.
Balancing act. Action in the agility ring at Puttin’ on the Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Runner-up in one of the contests at the 30th annual Puttin' on the Dog festival.
Second place? What do you mean I got second place? The indignity of it all. Puttin’ on the Dog, Greenwich CT. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with her charge at Puttin' on the Dog.
Take me home! A senior dog steals the show in the first parade at the Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic


Nap time! Hurricane Harvey kittens take a break at the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Good news about animal adoption from the ASPCA

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We’ve all seen them. In fact it seems like they flash across our TV screens all too often. It’s hard to ignore those heartbreaking images of abused and neglected dogs, cats, puppies and kittens.

We’ve all heard the pleas from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and similar animal rescue groups. Make a donation. Sponsor a pet. Adopt don’t buy. Do the right thing.

But recently the ASPCA shared some good news on TODAY. People across the country are actually heeding the call. They’re doing the right thing.

More new homes, fewer deaths for shelter animals

New ASPCA data reveals that the number of dogs and cats that end up in U.S. shelters has dropped significantly in the past six years. Specifically, the animal welfare organization says the number of dogs and cats American shelters is approximately 6.5 million (3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats). Back in 2011, the total number of dogs and cats in American shelters was roughly 7.2 million.

Cute Kitten, courtesy of FURRR 911. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Bolt, a kitten rescued by FURRR 911, at Puttin’ On The Dog & Cats, Too 2016. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

The good news doesn’t end there, however.

More people are adopting pets from shelters now than they did six years ago. The ASPCA estimates that 3.2 million dogs and cats are now adopted from shelters each year, as opposed to 2.7 million in 2011.

Better yet, fewer shelter are animals are being euthanized. The ASPCA’s data analysis back in 2011 revealed that 2.7 million unclaimed shelter animals were killed each year. Today the annual death toll stands at roughly 1.5 million.

Finally, the ASPCA says, more “lost” pets that end up in shelters are reunited with their rightful owners today than in the past (approximately 710,000 per year now as compared to 649,000 in 2011).

Awareness plus action equals success

The ASPCA attributes the success to:

  • A significant change in the way Americans view companion animals
  • Changes in adoption procedures
  • Changes in certain laws
  • Changes in technology
  • Greater availability of affordable spay/neuter clinics
  • More assistance for people who struggle to care for their pets

Pet ownership is a responsibility, not a right

Clearly the reduction in the number of euthanized shelter animals is a huge step in the right direction. But there is still a long way to go until we get to the point where there are no needless deaths.

Finding a humane way to curb the feral animal population in the United States is also an ongoing concern.

In order to address both issues, people must realize that pet ownership is a responsibility. It is not a right. No one is entitled to have a dog, cat, puppy or kitten. In fact, there are some people who should never have dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, or any other pets, for that matter.

Companion animals rely on people for food, shelter, medical care, and most importantly, love. Providing all of that is a tremendous responsibility. But it’s worth it.




Words to soothe a savage beast: how reading affects traumatized dogs

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Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

A few weeks back, I mentioned that my cat, Eli, is extremely sensitive. And in that regard, nothing’s changed.

But I did learn something interesting the other day. Or more accurately an article in The New York Times confirmed something I’ve always suspected: animals might not understand everything we say, but they definitely understand our tone of voice.

I guess that’s why volunteers read to dogs at the ASPCA in New York City.

“As long as you read in a nice soothing voice, they enjoy it,” Hildy Benick, 69, a volunteer who has been with the reading program since shortly after it started, told the Times.

Victoria Wells is the senior manager of behavior and training at the ASPCA. She started the reading program in 2013, and says it is a great way to help dogs that have to relearn how to trust people.

“You know within each session the progress that they’re making,” she told the Times.  “In the beginning of the session, the dog might be in the back of their kennel cowering, and then they move forward, lie down, relax; their tail might wag.”

Meanwhile, across the country, volunteers are reading to dogs and cats at the Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA.

Like their counterparts in New York City, the animals awaiting adoption in Phoenix are good listeners. And apparently they’re not too picky about which reading material their human pals share. If you think about it, that’s saying a lot, considering some of the college kids that volunteer at the shelter often read from their text books, according to Whitney Fletcher, Director of Volunteers & Special Events at AAWL & SPCA.

“As you read out loud, you are focusing on something other than the animal,” she says. “In turn, the animal grows accustomed to your presence and voice, which is calming. Dogs and cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing.”

If it works with shelter animals, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work with our dogs and cats, too. So the next time you curl up with a good book, try reading to your pet and see what happens. He (or she) just might enjoy it.

Author questions morality of having pets

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“A better question would be: Should everyone be allowed to have pets?”

With the state of American politics these days, I’ve come across plenty of reading material that has simultaneously left me speechless and sent my blood pressure through the roof. But when I found this story I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry — and it has nothing to do with politics.

The Miami Herald article I discovered was just one of dozens written about a new book called Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets. In it, the author, Jessica Pierce, questions whether it is ethical for people to have pets.

“When we see our cats gazing wistfully out the window, or watch a goldfish swim lazy circles in a bowl, we can’t help but wonder: are we doing the right thing, keeping these independent beings locked up, subject to our control,” she asks in the Herald. “Is keeping pets actually good for the pets themselves?”

As you all know, I have a cat and love animals as much as — or maybe more — than most. But with all due respect to Pierce, this is one of the most ridiculous, stupid, idiotic things I have ever heard. I am not quite sure if it is an extreme case of political correctness, an extreme case of anthropomorphism or both.

A More Relevant Question

In her book, Pierce admits that most people do treat animals well but claims others “take them for granted,” or “think they are disposable.”

Sadly it is true that many people neglect, abuse, and abandon companion animals that require love, food, shelter and medical care in order to thrive. So to me, the pertinent question is not whether it is ethical to have pets, but whether everyone should be allowed to have them.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Clearly the answer to that question is a resounding, “no.”

Some people shouldn’t have pets because they are selfish. Some people shouldn’t have pets because they are irresponsible. Some people shouldn’t have pets because they are emotionally incapable of having them, and others shouldn’t have pets because they are financially incapable of having them.

Then there are the people who shouldn’t have pets because they are just plain evil. These are the people who have dogs and either engage in or sanction dog fighting. These are people who take advantage of dog breeds with aggressive tendencies. These are the people who leave their pets locked up in cages, crates or carriers all day. These are the people who abuse, abandon and neglect companion animals. These are the people who run puppy mills. These are the people who believe in killing animals for fun.

Taking Proper Precautions

I didn’t get any of my cats from a pet store, so I don’t know if there are screening processes in place for people who do that. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve heard and read, I don’t think there is. If there isn’t, maybe it is time to rethink that.

I’m also unfamiliar with what’s involved with getting a purebred animal directly from a breeder. I assume that legitimate breeders do what they can to make sure puppies, kittens, and other animals end up in good homes. Again, feel free to let me know if this is the case.

As far as adopting from a shelter or rescue group goes, I can only speak from personal experience. When I adopted Eli from the Fauquier SPCA in 2008, I had to fill out some pretty extensive paperwork and pay an adoption fee before I could bring him home.

Prospective adopters had lots of dogs to choose from at the annual Puttin on the Dog show in Greenwich last fall. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Pick me! An Adopt-a-Dog volunteer with a dog up for adoption at Puttin’ on the Dog in Greenwich. September 2015. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

At the local animal shelter where I volunteer, there is a comprehensive screening process in place to ensure successful matches. Prospective adopters must fill out and submit an application which includes specific information. References are required and checked before an adoption goes through. In the interest of full disclosure, specific information about each dog — including their background, age and compatibility with children and other animals — is also listed on the shelter’s website.

As Far As I’m Concerned…

Personally, I’ll never feel guilty about having a pet. In fact, with so many dogs and cats in need of a good home, the only thing I’ll ever feel badly about is that there’s no way to save them all.