The fashionably-dressed lady in her short skirt and designer purse walked in, looking out of place at the city shelter. “Could I help you?” the animal control officer politely said and she replied in a slightly supercilious matter that she was looking for a small dog, preferably a shih-tzu. “We don’t really receive many of those,” he replied, “but you’re welcome to look.” She strolled toward the kennels in her designer heels and a volunteer helping clean the cat kennels just shook her head, thinking of the latest trend of “purse dogs.”
Then, a middle-aged woman arrived with her teenage daughter, and they were looking for a big fluffy cat, like the one they had so many years ago. Nope, no cute fluffy cat presented itself, just some unappealing black and tabby strays, some of who piped up and meowed. After some oohing and awing, the potential cat adopters ultimately left.
Contrast this with the area rescuer, who came in and overlooked the cute calico kitten romping around, but focused on the terrified grey cat huddling in the corner in her litterbox. She started asking questions about how long the cat had been there and how she arrived. She snapped a few photos and started networking in the rescue groups she knew of, while mentally calculating whether her household could take in another foster.
Who is the true animal lover?
We are all on a continuum in terms of our empathy for animals and our awareness of animal issues. We evolve as we learn and understand what their plight is around us.
So is adopting a pet about you (how it will enhance your image) or is it about them (helping the animals who come to you and need help)? There is nothing wrong about having personal preferences, but what many of us recognize is that such longings are a luxury when it will mean some animals will perish and die as strays for lack of homes. It’s why you will see bumper stickers that say “Adopt, don’t shop”. It’s a tragedy that there are so many puppymills churning out puppies in inhumane conditions when so many strays need homes.While it’s true that everyone has their preference with animals (I’m partial to big orange kitties), it’s not the adoptable cats and dogs that attract me. It’s the ones who likely will be overlooked by most people and are vulnerable in the shelter system.
As Albert Schweitzer said: “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”