Keeping long lived domesticated animals in captivty. - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-12-2007, 01:47 PM
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Having my record age catfish makes me think about animals in captivity that have long life spans. I've started to think that most if not all of these animals ( mine included) will end up in substandard situations, given away, sold or dead from neglect.

Almost none will live out their lifespans and die of old age, it will all be premature death due to circumstance, mostly related to the primary caretaker being unable to care properly for the animal(s) anymore.



Maybe the caretaker has moved away to go to college, maybe they got married, maybe they have children, maybe they suffer from health issues, maybe they got a demanding job, maybe their new housing arrangment doesn't allow the animals. In extreme circumstances, the animals' lifespan may be longer then the caretaker. The caretaker may be moved into a nursing home leaving the animal(s) behind.



All of these circumstance are vastly increased when one is dealing with an animal with a long lifespan. Animals with a 20+ lifespan.



Examples are :

Turtles

Some fish

Misc. reptiles

Birds ( especially parrots)

To a lesser extent dogs and cats( though their lifespan is more around the 8-15 yrs range)



What person is going to say...Well I've got my whole life planned out, I know for sure nothing is going to happen to prevent me from keeping this animal for life.

Suppose a 14 yrs old child aquires a lizard with a lifespan of 20 yrs.

That lizard is given ideal care, lives in a great terrarium etc etc...Then the child turns 18 yrs old and decides to move away and go to college.

They try to put the lizard up for adoption and it turns out nobody wants this kind of lizard. Opps...before they bought the lizard they didn't know how unpopular they were or how saturated the market is with them due irresponble breeding practices.



The parents don't want the lizard and the college dorm won't allow it. The now 18 yrs adult is forced to choose between having an education and letting their animal(s) die...Not a nice choice.

Maybe in some cases the lizard is just tossed out like trash, other times to live in substandand conditions and eventually die of neglect or or abuse. The original caretaker may have given the lizard a great home, but in the end it didn't matter. The lizard ended up in inhumane circumstances and or died anyway s because the long term commitment the lizard required was not possible to meet due to unforseen future life changes.



I'm thinking that someone who aquires such an animal needs to find a possible outlet for the animal in advance so when the times comes that they may no longer be able to care for that animal(s). Even if it's knowing a good petshop will take them in an emergency.

And maybe if NO possible future outlet can be found to take the animal when these typical life changing situations do occur, the animal shouldn't be aquired in the first place.



Or possibly it could mean that morally nobody should have such animals at all. Though it could be argued that they won't live out their natural lifespans in the wild either.
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#2 Old 04-12-2007, 03:29 PM
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My dad ended up with a dog this way.



A 14 year old greyhound had lived with an older person ever since retiring from racing (nearly 10 years). After her caretaker moved into a nursing home, the rest of the family didn't want to have to deal with an aging dog, so they just dumped her with an adoption group. My dad volunteers with a local greyhound group and found out about her, so he took her in, with the intent of letting her live out the last few months of her life comfortably. She ended up lasting a little over a year and having all sorts of medical problems, so she was a major burden for my dad and step-mom, but they succeeded in giving her a good home, which was the goal.



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#3 Old 04-12-2007, 04:30 PM
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i've got an iguana I've had since I was 14 (he was 5 when I adopted him, and 11 now). I picked colleges, rentals, etc. that have allowed me to continue to care for him in the way he needs and hopefully he'll be with me for at least another 5-10+ years.

I agree that this is something people need to think about when they get an animal. The rescue I volunteer for has a problem with elderly people adopting kittens and then becoming unable to care for them a few years later. They always assure us their family will take care of them when they pass, go to a nursing home, etc. but their familys seem to return them to us more often than not.
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#4 Old 04-12-2007, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fromper View Post

My dad ended up with a dog this way.



A 14 year old greyhound had lived with an older person ever since retiring from racing (nearly 10 years). After her caretaker moved into a nursing home, the rest of the family didn't want to have to deal with an aging dog, so they just dumped her with an adoption group. My dad volunteers with a local greyhound group and found out about her, so he took her in, with the intent of letting her live out the last few months of her life comfortably. She ended up lasting a little over a year and having all sorts of medical problems, so she was a major burden for my dad and step-mom, but they succeeded in giving her a good home, which was the goal.



--Fromper




What a great thing for your dad to do. I've decided if I ever become incapacitated and can't take care of my dogs anymore, one of them for sure will have to be euthanized, along with me, and then we can cross the rainbow bridge together. The others could probably be found reliable homes.



As for turtles and birds and other wild animals, I don't think anyone should be buying them for a pet store in the first place. It should be illegal. Rescuing one is a different story, but just like with a cat or dog, people need to research how long the animal is expected to live and not get it if they're not prepared to care for it for it's entire life. Sure no one can control death or serious illness, but moving or just growing tired of an animal are not proper reasons for dumping it.
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#5 Old 04-14-2007, 09:40 AM
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Looks like most people realize there isn't any answers to this because sventy five people looked and three responded. Woo hoo...I presented a dilema so difficult hardly anyone knows what to say.
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#6 Old 04-14-2007, 10:10 AM
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more like your first post was too long to bother reading thoroughly after seeing it.



A lot of people keep animals for the entirety of their lives. My mom had the same cat for 19 years. We got him when I was 12. I moved out, my brother moved out, my mom always kept the cat. I'm certain that's extremely typical of family pets.



There will always be the people who will adopt an animal then a year (or month) later decide they don't want it after all, and give it up. I would suspect it has less to do with the longevity of the animal than it does the attitude of the family.
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#7 Old 04-14-2007, 10:20 AM
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I have it in my will that my cats will be dropped off at hemingway's estate in key west.
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#8 Old 04-14-2007, 10:38 AM
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When Mom died last year, their 18 year old cat died 2 months later. Dad has a 16 year old cat that he plans to have put to sleep when he can not longer take care of him. My son disagrees, but as tough as my Dad is, the problem may solve itself by natural causes. I do know that he would take Angel if I had to go on an emergency trip or became ill. They just love each other, rompingly. Then my oldest son wants her when I can no longer keep her. I was 54 when I got her, and didn't even think of how long she would live. I am not sure I was being totally fair to her in that I never thought 18 years ahead. She sure has been a blessing in my life though.
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#9 Old 04-14-2007, 11:24 AM
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I got my cat when I was 11.

I'm going away to University not this October but the one after. It would be easier and less confusing to plan this if I didn't have a cat, but that doesn't mean she's going to be discarded or whatever. Next year I am going to start looking for pet-friendly houseshares (well, I have already started looking, but just to get a rough idea, next year I will be planning more completely) so that she can come with me. If that doesn't work, or if the benefits of living in halls/dorms strongly outweigh those of taking my kitty, she will stay with my dad (and come live with me the next year).

I realise that not everyone has a parent willing to be their back-up plan, but not all long-lived animals go uncared for
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#10 Old 04-14-2007, 12:42 PM
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I'm almost 55, my rabbits are about 7, my cat is about 12, and the 5 goldfish are a year old. I'm healthy, but don't plan to adopt any more animals after these partly BECAUSE I looked into making provisions for my animals in a will, and although it's doable, I was having a hard time finding someone willing to take them on. Assuming my two sisters would go for it, one of them has companion animals of her own (3 cats), and the other is thinking about adopting a dog. I don't want to stick them with the responsibility for mine too and make collectors of them.



Fostering for a local no-kill shelter would be a better idea for me after my current companions pass on (well, I think I could handle fosters while I still have the goldfish). If I were to die or become unable to care for them before they were adopted permanently, the no-kill outfit would take them back.

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#11 Old 04-14-2007, 02:04 PM
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Tom the rescue I work for also encourages older people to adopt older or hard to adopt animals. For instance there is a woman we kind of adopted, kind of foster an older FIV positive cat to. She lives in a retirement community and isn't really able to care for a cat herself so we gave her Kitty Guy and the rescue covers most of his medical expenses (which are considerable). The board members also help her give him his meds when she's not able to, drive her to vet appointments, etc. He's her cat but because an older FIV cat isn't going to get placed in a traditional setting we're willing to work with someone who wouldn't otherwise be able to care for a cat.



A 7 year old cat isn't usually going to get adopted quickly, add behavioral problems, arthritis, FIV/FeLV + status, etc. and they're not going anywhere. Spending your last few years with them is a wonderful thing, even if you do outlive them.
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#12 Old 04-16-2007, 08:17 AM
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I have had an amazon parrot for about three years. He will be 13 in June. The reason I acquired him is because a former co-worker of mine had him and her fiance didn't like him. I did huge amounts of research and finally decided I would take him. Since I've had him I've had to move three times and have been diagnosed with a chronic illness. I have always made sure he would be safe with me with the care he deserves. My BF and several friends and family members love him and would be more than willing to make sure he was taken care of if something should happen to me.



By the time he was nine yrs old, he had already been in four different homes. He was abused and neglected and took a lot of time and patience to warm up to me. He now enjoys watching cartoons while we are at work, taking trips to the store on sunny days, playing with his numerous toys, and eating a colorful vegan diet. He tells me, "Mama, I love you."



I don't believe in taking more and more animals from the wild and trying to domesticate them. But since he is already domesticated, someone has got to care for him. I'd rather it be me than someone who bought him because he has pretty feathers.
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#13 Old 04-16-2007, 12:12 PM
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My son has a 10 year old pet turtle, Franklin, that he has owned since he was a preschooler. When we got him, we were still living in an apartment and a dog or cat would not have been prudent because of the lack of room.



(I didn't know as much about pet shops back then. Now that I know more about what goes on behind the scenes at those places, I will not buy any more animals from pet shops. All the pets we've gotten since then have been rescues.)



When my son goes to college in 4 more years, I will take care of Franklin until my son has a home that Franklin can join him in. JH says that he definitely wants to have Franklin live with him, but if he changes his mind, I have no problem taking care of Franklin for the rest of his life.
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#14 Old 04-16-2007, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipse View Post

Having my record age catfish makes me think about animals in captivity that have long life spans. I've started to think that most if not all of these animals ( mine included) will end up in substandard situations, given away, sold or dead from neglect.

Almost none will live out their lifespans and die of old age, it will all be premature death due to circumstance, mostly related to the primary caretaker being unable to care properly for the animal(s) anymore.



Maybe the caretaker has moved away to go to college, maybe they got married, maybe they have children, maybe they suffer from health issues, maybe they got a demanding job, maybe their new housing arrangment doesn't allow the animals. In extreme circumstances, the animals' lifespan may be longer then the caretaker. The caretaker may be moved into a nursing home leaving the animal(s) behind.



All of these circumstance are vastly increased when one is dealing with an animal with a long lifespan. Animals with a 20+ lifespan.



Examples are :

Turtles

Some fish

Misc. reptiles

Birds ( especially parrots)

To a lesser extent dogs and cats( though their lifespan is more around the 8-15 yrs range)



What person is going to say...Well I've got my whole life planned out, I know for sure nothing is going to happen to prevent me from keeping this animal for life.

Suppose a 14 yrs old child aquires a lizard with a lifespan of 20 yrs.

That lizard is given ideal care, lives in a great terrarium etc etc...Then the child turns 18 yrs old and decides to move away and go to college.

They try to put the lizard up for adoption and it turns out nobody wants this kind of lizard. Opps...before they bought the lizard they didn't know how unpopular they were or how saturated the market is with them due irresponble breeding practices.



The parents don't want the lizard and the college dorm won't allow it. The now 18 yrs adult is forced to choose between having an education and letting their animal(s) die...Not a nice choice.

Maybe in some cases the lizard is just tossed out like trash, other times to live in substandand conditions and eventually die of neglect or or abuse. The original caretaker may have given the lizard a great home, but in the end it didn't matter. The lizard ended up in inhumane circumstances and or died anyway s because the long term commitment the lizard required was not possible to meet due to unforseen future life changes.



I'm thinking that someone who aquires such an animal needs to find a possible outlet for the animal in advance so when the times comes that they may no longer be able to care for that animal(s). Even if it's knowing a good petshop will take them in an emergency.

And maybe if NO possible future outlet can be found to take the animal when these typical life changing situations do occur, the animal shouldn't be aquired in the first place.



Or possibly it could mean that morally nobody should have such animals at all. Though it could be argued that they won't live out their natural lifespans in the wild either.



There are two things going on... first is the discussion over whether you should have said animals in the first place. In that regard I would say you should rescue animals, but you should not purchase animals or support the breeding of animals. That stops 90% of the problem right away.



The second part of the discussion is regarding what to do with animals with long lifespans. To that I would say that first you should do as much pre-planning and foresight as possible to ensure that you're ready and able to care for the animal it's entire life. You should give thought to the future, and what you will do when you go to college, get married, move to a new city, or die. But at the same time you can not predict the future, so while you should be prepared as best as possible for situations that might arise, you should not let "what if" situations prevent you from helping animals in need.

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#15 Old 04-18-2007, 09:52 AM
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Tom the rescue I work for also encourages older people to adopt older or hard to adopt animals. For instance there is a woman we kind of adopted, kind of foster an older FIV positive cat to. She lives in a retirement community and isn't really able to care for a cat herself so we gave her Kitty Guy and the rescue covers most of his medical expenses (which are considerable). The board members also help her give him his meds when she's not able to, drive her to vet appointments, etc. He's her cat but because an older FIV cat isn't going to get placed in a traditional setting we're willing to work with someone who wouldn't otherwise be able to care for a cat.



A 7 year old cat isn't usually going to get adopted quickly, add behavioral problems, arthritis, FIV/FeLV + status, etc. and they're not going anywhere. Spending your last few years with them is a wonderful thing, even if you do outlive them.

That is a good idea. I was volunteering for a local no-kill shelter, where their animals have the run of a house after they have been properly quarantined. But they have a separate room where maybe 2 or 3 cats are kept who are FLV+ or FIV+- I forget which. If I took in those cats, they would no longer have to worry about precautions to keep them and the rest of the cats separated (as they do now, for both their sakes). But I wouldn't want to do that while I have my current cat.

Peasant (1963-1972) and Fluffy (1970s?-1982- I think of you as 'Ambrose' now)- Your spirits outshone some humans I have known. Be happy forever.
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#16 Old 04-18-2007, 11:02 AM
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I second kp's comments. It saddens me to see any animal discarded because the owner didn't want to or couldn't care for him or her. More people don't take in the aging animals probably because they tend to have more behavior problems and cost more with medical care. My sister wanted desperately to adopt a 12-year-old dog from a local shelter, but our dad would have none of it because she would only have the dog during the most expensive years. (And he knew she didn't have the money to pay for it, so it would end up coming from his budget.)



Quote:
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The original caretaker may have given the lizard a great home, but in the end it didn't matter.



I beg to differ. It does matter. I would rather be treated well for most of my life and then be abused than be abused my whole life.

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#17 Old 04-19-2007, 12:15 PM
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This just reinforces what I thought originally. It's the rare individual who is able to commit to keeping an animal with a 20+ lifespan on a permanent basis or has made plans for the rehoming ahead of time. Notice how the comments were about individual cases (comments appreciated and it's great that you've gone the extra step to ensure your animal(s)'s future)



Put it this way...If you commented on cats suffering in this town and I said there isn't a problem. Then I showed you two pampered cats, would the cat welfare problem would be solved because two cats out of hundreds were being treated well?.

No...because the issue is not about the scattered individuals who pamper their cats, it's about the majority population of cats. One shouldn't count the exceptions, one should count how the animal in question is being treated by the majority in society to determine the animals' welfare status.



Conclusion?...If possible, it should be promoted that people aquiring animals with longer life spans (Especially for animals with fifty year+ lifespans) make some sort of arrangement.

People will disagree with that, saying they are a responsible party who will keep the animal in question for life. Nothing will sway their commitment right?.

For those people, what would it hurt to make such arrangments?. If they are never used and the animal is kept by the same person for 20-80 yrs, it didn't hurt to make the alternative plans.

Kinda like having a fire alarm and hopefully never having to use it.



Another example I have about long lived animals is from when I was talking with a person who does parrot rescue at one of our extended veg meets. The rescues are overflowing with these birds and....( I'm no parrot expert) they could all be living for 20-80 years+. With all the flow of new birds being bred and sold at petshops, I don't see any other alternative but a mass euthanization at some point.
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#18 Old 04-19-2007, 12:27 PM
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Another example I have about long lived animals is from when I was talking with a person who does parrot rescue at one of our extended veg meets. The rescues are overflowing with these birds and....( I'm no parrot expert) they could all be living for 20-80 years+. With all the flow of new birds being bred and sold at petshops, I don't see any other alternative but a mass euthanization at some point.



Not at some point, NOW. I totally agree with you, exotics are killed each and every day because there are not enough good (or even "ok) homes for them. I'll use iguanas as an example because they are the species with which I'm most familiar. Iguanas are the most popular reptile in captivity, for every 10 purchased 1 will survive 1 year in their new home, most of those are very ill and won't make it past their delayed sexual maturity (4 years). Most of those will be males because females are very likely to die of complications from forming eggs w/o vet supervision and in improper housing. Males almost always have to be housed individually so that makes caring for those who do survie that much harder. Iguanas should live 15-20 years and most won't make it 1.



Every iguana specific rescue that I'm aware of in this state is full and has been full for over a year, they get iguanas and can not adopt them out. The exotic problem is just as bad as the problem with dogs and cats, it's just on a smaller scale.
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#19 Old 04-19-2007, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
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This just reinforces what I thought originally.



Translation: Your mind is made up.



Quote:
It's the rare individual who is able to commit to keeping an animal with a 20+ lifespan on a permanent basis or has made plans for the rehoming ahead of time. Notice how the comments were about individual cases (comments appreciated and it's great that you've gone the extra step to ensure your animal(s)'s future)



Not everybody makes alternate home plans for their human children in the event of their death, either. Besides, there's nothing wrong with positive reinforcement when someone does what they should do.



People brought up their cases probably because you seemed dismissive of anyone who might have a legitimate reason they couldn't care for their long-lived pet. I fully agree people should plan for anything they expect might happen. But as kp says, life can change without warning.



Not to mention, when you bring up the topic of long-lived exotic animals, people will want to talk about their experiences with that, even if it's not quite what you want them to say.

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#20 Old 04-19-2007, 07:51 PM
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I don't believe a mass euthanization is fair and I certainly wouldn't have expected that comment to pop up on this board. What I DO think is fair and reasonable is education. It is our responsibilty to seek as much accurate information as possible before we acquire a pet and it is the responsibility of pet stores, breeders, and anyone else supplying animals to be completely honest about the care and requirements of whatever pet they are selling or adopting out.



The absolute best example I can come up with for reptiles is proper lighting. I have seen far, far too many people with reptiles who have halogen light bulbs over their terrariums and swear that they are doing enough for their pet. It is sad and unnecessary for people to be that ignorant. The best thing someone can do, before they even begin to think about making arrangements, is to do some research before they get any animal in the first place. The second thing to do is adopt one in need of a good home, rather than buy one from a pet store or breeder. If more people did these things, far more animals would be getting the care that they need and deserve.
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#21 Old 04-20-2007, 02:41 AM
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Cat lady, I agree it isn't fair, and that education and restriction of sales would be ideal, but it isn't a reality right now. Euthanizing is a sad reality in animal rescue today, there are more animals of any given species than there are homes for them. It isn't fair for them to be killed, but it also isn't fair for them to die slowly in poor living conditions either, which right now is the alternative.



I work very hard to educate people about how to care for the animals they have/want to have. I can't tell you how many people I've talked out of pets over the years, but there are more impulse buyers than I can educate so those involved in pet rescue are left to clean up their mess. Sadly, in many cases that involves euthanizing their animal because there is no money, space or person to care for them.
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#22 Old 04-20-2007, 09:05 AM
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[QUOTE=skylark]Translation: Your mind is made up.



Probably unless what I've observed both IRL and online is flawed.



Not everybody makes alternate home plans for their human children in the event of their death, either. Besides, there's nothing wrong with positive reinforcement when someone does what they should do.



Good point, despite that I don't see companion animals as the same as children. For one thing I see no problem with giving an animal away that you don't want anymore or cannot keep properly anymore. You can't really do that with a child. I've gotten flamed before by the you should keep every animal for life commitment people.

I insist that when a changes in situation/or a crisis causes an animal to suffer, then it's time to put the animal up for adoption.



People brought up their cases probably because you seemed dismissive of anyone who might have a legitimate reason they couldn't care for their long-lived pet. I fully agree people should plan for anything they expect might happen. But as kp says, life can change without warning.



No, not dismissive, it doesn't address the issue I presented, that's all.

My whole point is based on that life can change in an instant and be unexpected. we can't plan for everything. I feel there are many legimate reasons for giving up an animal. It's just nicer to have another option rather then having them euthanized.
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#23 Old 04-20-2007, 05:42 PM
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Euthanizing animals on an individual basis is done every day. I agree that it is sometimes necessary. However, the term "mass euthanization" implies that steps would be taken to drastically reduce, or eliminate altogether, some species of pets, which IMO is not only unfair, but unethical.



If education is not a reality, the world may as well end now. I teach people every day as my job about the proper care and treatment of their pets. I would love to list the wonderful experiences I have had when I helped someone learn more about the pet they love, but I can't take the time off work to write a book right now. People do care about their pets, they just sometimes don't have all the knowledge they need. Teaching people takes a little longer than a mass euthanization would, but it is the way I would prefer to do things.
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