The holiday season is here. This is a season for giving, sharing, friends and family. You take a moment to reflect upon the previous months this year, looking at the positive moments and maybe the not-so-positive. You look at the successes and how you might have done other things better.
With only a few weeks in the year remaining, think back to the beginning of January. Resolutions were made with an intent to accomplish each one this year. There's still time for those of you who did not do what was promised, what was set out to do and what was started but not finished. We are fortunate to be able to have choices and make plans. We have the freedom to do what we want, when we want and how we want.
Dogs and cats do not have these opportunities. Pets rely upon our help, our care and our love. Pets are dependents in our lives, looking to us for everything which included that promise for life.
No dog or cat is perfect by any means. Each pet develops their own individual personality as they grow. It is up to each of us to adjust to their changing needs. Remember that you accepted this responsibility, for life. Dogs and cats are not expendable, to be discarded when you are done with them. Pets have feelings, too. I can tell you that no matter what, a dog or cat has unconditional love for us.
Then there are those people who leave their pets, discarded, homeless and on their own. Dogs and cats roaming the neighborhood, once part of someone's life, no longer having a family who loves them. Those humans without a conscience think nothing of opening the door, kicking their pet out for the day -- or maybe even forever.
There's the dog excited to finally go for a ride in the car, only to be driven down a back road, strange and unfamiliar territory for your pet. The car door opens, a ball is thrown and your dog bounces out after it. Before he can get back to you with the ball in his mouth, excited and happy to please, you take off, leaving your dog behind. Not your problem anymore, you don't give him a second thought or even a look into your rearview mirror. Your dog is left in the wild, homeless and alone.
Or your cute little kitten grows up and your kitten is no longer there, grown up into an adult. Your cat has developed its own personality and he seemingly doesn't fit in anymore. Dump him or let him outside, not your problem, he will fit in somewhere, maybe someone else will take care of him. You tell the kids, family and friends that he ran away. You don't want to tell them how you
really felt or what you had done. You tell them you looked and looked but couldn't find him. Did you give your actions a second thought? Did you try to find your once beloved pet because you do have a conscience?
But there is a declining number of homeless pets in our community because the awareness of being a responsible pet person has increased. The majority of people in this community are animal lovers and wouldn't tolerate those who would abandon or hurt an animal.
Knowing that spaying and neutering your pet also reduces the chances of unwanted births, and the more people realize that adopting a homeless pet is the right thing to do, this number will continue to decrease. We are in a different day and age, a time to look toward the future, not only for ourselves, but for our children and children's children. Pets will always exist in our world and theirs. They will always be here for us and we need to be there for them.
I encourage you to complete your resolutions for this year and maybe think about starting at least one early for next year. A homeless pet deserves to be home for the holidays. No dog or cat should be in a shelter while friends and family share gifts of joy and love. Give a shelter pet a second chance to live and love. If each of us in Manatee County step up and give a homeless pet a furr-ever home, we will no longer have sad dogs and cats that are wondering when they will be picked.
Manatee County Animal Services is offering cats for adoption at no cost in December. That's right, cats for FREE! (While supplies last)
Calling all cat-a-holics or wannabees, we have your cat! Here at Animal Services, we aim to please. Any and all cats, all shapes, sizes and colors, absolutely no cost to you. No down payments with no interest. No monthly payments to worry about. Stop by the shelter or adoption center and find your fur-ever friend today. All pets adopted will receive a health check, be spayed/neutered, vaccinated including rabies and microchipped.
Now the disclaimer in not-so-small print; Free does not include a license certificate/tag required for Manatee County residents, which is $15.
If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky too.
Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.