Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Abandoned animals

One recurrent problem with living way out in the sticks is that people think it's a great place to abandon animals. They drive out in the country, go down a dark road with no lights, stop the car and dump a box of kittens. It happens year after year.

No doubt most of them end up feeding the wildlife. I've a pair of bard owls that live close by. Coyotes are murder on stray cats and dogs. However, some of them make it to my house.

Here's the thing about country people. If we want a cat or a dog, we have them already. We rarely want to take in more, especially a critter not of our choosing. The local dairy farm has a barn full of semi feral house cats. He gives them milk, but for everything else they are on their own. I would not be surprised of he occasionally thins them out. Cruel? Yes, but less cruel than leaving them to starve or freeze to death.

My oldest daughter took in a kitten with frost bitten ears. It had been abandoned during a time of -25 F temperatures. She took it to a vet, got it healed up, and found it a home. My youngest took in one we found in the summer time. It had been living on crickets and grasshoppers.

Last time here it was a mother cat and four kittens. Mom was skin and bones. Until we fed her up a bit she had a hard time nursing. We were able to place them in a no kill shelter, but that's since closed.

As funds for shelters dry up, there are few options for abandoned pets. People loose their jobs and move away, animals are left to fend for themselves. Bringing them to the country isn't a good option. Stray cats are likely to starve, freeze or become some critter's meal. Stray dogs fare worse. They become a threat to deer and likely to be shot on sight. It's common practice out in the country. I'm not likely to do it unless the dog is a threat, but others don't hesitate.

It ticks me off how people get a pet then take no responsibility for it. It makes me wonder. If they are that bad with their pets, how well do they treat other members of the family? Will they be dumping grandpa on the side of the road next?