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Why animal-rescue people end up as snarling misanthropes, living in schoolbuses full of cats and dogs, and avoiding the entire human race

Somehow the local animal group has mistaken me for a tech guru, so I’ve ended up being their email contact person and webmaster.

Regarding the title of this post, we get letters. Like these. The latest arrived yesterday. I quote [almost] verbatim, changing names to protect the innocent and guilty alike:

My name is [Unspeakable] and my wife and I are facing a big transition in our life. We are suppose to adopt a baby in the next few months so we will not be able to give our 3 cats the attention they need. You see 2 of these cats are almost 12 yrs old and we’ve had them since they were kittens. The male, Lucky, is diabetic. Sniffles, the female had a very bad case of kennel cough when we got her from the SPCA so she has very bad sinuses because of it. the 3rd cat Norma Bates a little 6 yr old female who is basically a ferrel cat that lives in our house. We got her from [another group of crazy animal rescuers] but she hates any kind of interaction so we cant do anything with her.

All in all I see all 3 of these cat as unadoptable. We hate the fact that we cant keep them but we have to think about not only the welfare of our new child but their welfare as well.

Please help us during this hard time. We love these cats deeply but things are changing in our lives.

Darned funny thing. ALL would-be dumpers “care deeply” for their animals. ALL of them are getting rid of their pets SOLELY for the most altruistic reasons (or because the BAD PETS — you know, like the ones with BAD SINUSES, have driven them to it). And NONE of them ever offer a donation or even thanks. Nor are they willing to bear the responsibility of treating a chronically sick animal, training an unruly one, or euthanizing a truly psychotic “unaddoptable.” No, the cost of treatment is always too much. Training? Why, that would take both time AND money. And euthanasia? Why that would make them bad guys, and see, they’re too, too, too kindhearted to do anything so cruel. Somehow, it’s just our DUTY to take their responsibilities off their hands — and magically make the unwanteds disappear. They can then fantasize forever about how very, very GOOD they were to find their discards a Happy New Family.

I wrote back. Politely, even, thanks to some astute coaching and restraint offered by the group president. I didn’t send him a copy of this.


OTOH, I must say that I’m also doing email go-between work for the adoption of some foundling pups who were rescued from starvation and certain death. The wonderful people taking care of them and the wonderful people speaking up to offer homes for them are a great antidote to folks like Unspeakable.

The local group doesn’t have a shelter. Just overtaxed foster homes that can barely take on any more strays, let alone owned-but-unwanteds. Every once in a while, when somebody truly has to let an animal go (because they’re being transferred overseas or because they’re moving into a nursing home, for instance) the stressed-out volunteers find ways to make room for more. But also in those cases, the pet owner or that person’s family often offers to pay for the critter’s care until adopters can be found, and they’re truly regretful.

None of this, “Yeah, well I LOVE ’em SO much and I’m such a WONDERFUL caring pet owner that I can’t wait for you to take them off my hands” crap. At least this guy didn’t threaten to dump ’em in the woods. But what do you suppose he’s going to do if his adopted baby (assuming that’s even a true story) becomes chronically ill or develops behavioral problems?


Thank heaven for the wonderful antidotes.


  1. suzan
    suzan December 28, 2010 2:06 pm

    I agree, I support some rescues and it is very sad.

  2. Scott
    Scott December 28, 2010 3:46 pm

    I couldn’t imagine giving away or dumping my cat-he’s part of the family. Yes,he costs some to keep-so what? I chose to have him as a pet,and it’s my responsibility to take care of him. He’s a neutered housecat,stays in and doesn’t bother the neighbors. He’s a lot of fun, playful and friendly-well worth what it costs to keep him. But he will get old and have problems. The other cats I’ve had did-and I took them to the vet. I’ve probably spent thousands over the years. So? They were my responsibility-I took all my cats in for a yearly vet visit, shots,all that. Sounds like that pair shouldn’t adopt a goldfish, much less a human. Lots of people have children and parents did.

  3. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal December 28, 2010 5:06 pm

    His cats need attention? Is he sure he has cats? Mine is happy as long as she is fed and watered and has a relatively clean litter box. Yes, she will sometimes come and sit on my lap, but not if things are too busy. She is content to be a cat.

    As for the baby- she used to sit and watch over her as she slept and now runs away when 3-year old Emily wants to give her too much affection. Using a new baby as an excuse is pathetic.

  4. Winston
    Winston December 28, 2010 7:12 pm

    Kent: That’s what I was thinking as well. The fact that they find it odd that one of their cats “hates any kind of interaction” tells me they’re probably oddball cat people.

    I have never seen a cat that wanted anything more than to have food, toys and/or small creatures to kill and maybe, just maybe to be petted here and there. I have however met people who insisted that their cat needed elaborate meals cooked for it and that it really enjoyed wearing sweaters with stupid sayings on the back…and if that’s what we’re talking about here then it’s probably for the best that they don’t adopt a kid.

  5. Winston
    Winston December 28, 2010 7:44 pm

    And pets and kids at the same time should be no problem. Pets love kids, kids love pets. I was brought home from the hospital to a secluded log cabin with a Chesepeke Bay retriever and a really mean cat…nothing bad ever happened and it was pretty darn cool growing up with animals to play with. Pretty sure they even saved me from copperhead bites several times, too.

    Currently I have 4 dogs, every one of them rescued. In fact only two of them were aquired “legitemately”, my pedigree pekeingese who was cast off because of a silly little thing like a missing front leg and another from the ASPCA, because somebody didn’t want to keep a perfectly good mutt offspring of a top quality Basset Hound that got knocked up. The other two were just found by the road as puppies, one that I’m pretty sure just escaped and made his way to us and another which somebody was kind enough to leave for us by the train tracks. I always tell people that if you pay money to buy a dog, you’re doing it wrong. They have a tendancy to seek out suitable owners themselves!

  6. Marlana
    Marlana December 28, 2010 8:11 pm

    That video you linked was hilarious. I ended up watching 3 or 4 more.

  7. Claire
    Claire December 28, 2010 8:29 pm

    LOL, I thought the cats needing attention remark was pretty funny, too. In this case, though, it’s almost certainly just pet-dumper code for “now that they’re old and have medical problems, I can’t be bothered with them any more.”

    Good on all you critter people …

  8. Claire
    Claire December 28, 2010 8:43 pm

    Marlana, I wondered if anybody was even going to notice that video! The president of our group sent it around just days before I got that email. I really, really had to work hard to resist the temptation to include the link in my response to the guy. I haven’t followed related videos. The temptation to waste time … well, it’s so tempting.

  9. Ellendra
    Ellendra December 28, 2010 9:08 pm

    “But what do you suppose he’s going to do if his adopted baby (assuming that’s even a true story) becomes chronically ill or develops behavioral problems? ”

    Isn’t that what daycare is for? (Oops!)

    My current cat loves attention, we sometimes joke that she thinks she’s a puppy. Got her when I went out deerhunting a few years ago and she climbed in my coat and begged me to take her home.

    (No, I’m not exaggerating! The cat was BEGGING)

    She’s such an indoor cat that there’s no way she could have gotten out there except by being dumped. We had to name her Snuggles, because that’s what she does.

  10. Chris D.
    Chris D. December 29, 2010 5:45 am

    I haven’t watched the video, yet, but I can’t ever see letting a pet go. When I was growing up in a rural area, my house was a dumping ground for every pregnant and stray dog. And I loved everyone of them. Thanks Mom and Dad for springing for all the dog food over the years.

    It was nothing for me to go on my daily jaunt in the woods with upwards of seven dogs all meandering behind me. Gosh, I miss those days. The forest behind my house wouldn’t have lived long if I didn’t have all those dogs to water it with… ;P

    Jupiter, Polar Bear, Bear, Pretty Face and all the rest, I miss you. You kept me out of trouble and watched over me all the time. Thank you…

  11. WolfSong
    WolfSong December 29, 2010 8:17 am

    I think who ever they are adopting the child from, should get a copy of that letter. Think about this…they made a choice to adopt and protect 3 cats, and now, because “life is changing”-when the hell isn’t it?!?-they can’t take care of them, and want to foist them off on someone else.

    So, what happens when life changes again, and they can’t/don’t want to, care for the child they’ve chosen to adopt? Does the child get tossed to a rescue or dumped on the side of the road?

    If they cannot commit to care for and love 3 cats for the cats entire lives, how can they possibly commit to caring for a child for the child’s entire life?

  12. Julie
    Julie December 29, 2010 1:28 pm

    Actually, my 2 cats are very interactive. One is a talker, but both are constantly underfoot. My male dog (a pinhead / miniature pinscher) was chasing the male cat around one day, which is a big no-no in my house. He got yelled at and had to stop.

    Unfortunately, the cat didn’t hear the news. He came tearing around a corner and jumped at the dog. It turns out the cat was chasing the dog.

    I have 3 little dogs, and 2 cats. The place is a madhouse. I am a vp/sec’t for a bengal cat (domestic breed) rescue, and frequently transport animals as well (as part of the national underground pet railroad).

  13. naturegirl
    naturegirl December 29, 2010 6:33 pm

    My cat picked me, and that was obvious because the other 11 in the litter weren’t interested…..her mom came with the house, dad was a neighborhood romeo….so technically that year she was born I was taking care of 18 cats at one point or the other…..

    Last thing I wanted was another animal, the kids were off to live their own lives and I wondered if I’d be alive another 20 years to take care of her…over the past 13 years I’ve made decisions to her benefit more than myself sometimes & I wouldn’t have traded any of it for anything in the world….

    If these people can’t handle having animals, then they’re already in trouble before adding kids…..

  14. George Potter
    George Potter December 30, 2010 12:28 am

    “When the need arises — and it does — you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don’t farm it out — that doesn’t make it nicer, it makes it worse.”


  15. Debby Rich
    Debby Rich December 30, 2010 6:50 pm

    Hey quess what. I bought a dog 23
    years ago in England knowing full well
    that we would bring it home. Now
    thank God for my parents. We flew the
    dog to Mt. until we could get settled
    in our last duty station. New York.
    He was then flowen to New York and then 2 years later driven back to Mt. My
    parents took care of the dog for 2
    six month periods. And on top of that
    I got pregant 3 weeks after I got the dog. Boy that was work. And the dog
    was jeoulous of the baby. But it all worked out. But it did take alot of work.And alot of training of the dog.
    That was not neglected because of the
    baby. And the baby was homeschool.
    She is now pulling A’s in college. So yes it is really hard work, but it can be

  16. The Freeholder
    The Freeholder December 31, 2010 12:37 pm

    Funny…I’ve raised 2 kids, renovated one house and am working on a second, hold down a full-time job and do some volunteer work for an organization I’m a member of, help care for an aged parent, blog and do a bit of writing and manage all this with 5 cats (and an understanding wife). I did the same laundry list with just 4, but one was diabetic and took some small extra time, and we pretty much had to schedule a lot of things around his needs.

    I feel sorry for the kid they adopt when he/she becomes an inconvenience.

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