We’ve all seen the guilt-tripping pictures in-between the endless captioned captures of cats doing cat things on Facebook. Some of us may have even taken notice of the bleeding-heart animal posters at the vet’s office. Regardless, we’ll typically pause for consideration for only a moment before we return to our daily programming.
Because no one wants to spend too much time feeling sorry for those less fortunate… animals notwithstanding. And that’s perfectly fine. If we were to try and properly digest the state of the sadness and cruelty in the world, along with its wide scope, we could make no meaningful progress forward. No—it’s much easier to do what you can with what you have, and hope that, at the end of the day, you’ve made the world a slightly better place.
So what does this have to do with sad dogs and cats? Well a couple of things, and all to do with empathy. I used to volunteer at the Albuquerque Animal Shelter. I’d write up bios for the long term resident cats and dogs to try and make them more adoptable. In-between, I’d walk the dogs and pet the cats to instill human-positivity amongst the shelter residents, who were often surrendered from loveless homes–people who just didn’t have time anymore.
The sad fact of the matter is the pervasive attitude that most would-be adopters weren’t interested in adopting animals to improve the animal’s life. Rather, they wanted a pet that was more-or-less “good to go.” A pet who would complement their mood or décor. It makes a certain shade of sense, but only from a selfish standpoint. And here we get to the crux of my point:
Don’t adopt an animal if you don’t have the time or commitment to take care of it.
Many first-time adopters seem to believe that the adoption in-and-of-itself is a pious act, which is kinda BS. The charity doesn’t end with the adoption fee and you carrying the pet out of the shelter… it goes on until the animal grows old and dies. If you get a puppy or a kitten… that’s 10-20 years later, and for us college-folk, that means the little guy is with us for some of the most flux-defined moments of our adult life.
Think about that.
It’s rare that you find a person who prioritizes the well-being of the creature over their own lifestyle, career, and schedule. It takes a heightened sense of empathy to—out of nowhere—learn to love a dog or cat enough that you’re willing to nurture it like you would a child.
But ultimately, that’s the sort of relationship you’re signing up for when you adopt an animal: that of a parent-child. “Cats are fine being left alone.” “Dogs are humanity’s friends.” True enough, but your everyday friends and colleagues aren’t co-dependent on you for survival.
So don’t go adopting unless you’re able to commit. One of the worst things you can do for a pet is constantly change around their environment, but this is exactly what most college-aged adopters do. They’ll adopt a cat or dog on a lark, then surrender it back when they change apartments in the summer. Don’t do this; it’s better to spend these years concentrating on yourself before you start scooping up lives and litter… Litter, you can throw away. Not so with pets.