Paws for Thought
Presented by Lincoln County Humane Society
We live in a culture where it is easy to judge others – total strangers – based on what we see on social media. There are endless stories of cyber bullying and verbal attacks on social media. A culture of shaming others has developed and this has extended to the realm of animal welfare. It is important that we recognize how damaging and hurtful our comments can be. And why we should change our approach to shaming others.
LOST PETS – The Lincoln County Humane Society shares pictures and information of lost pets for any owner that requests it. There are also entire Facebook pages such as Lost Dogs of Wisconsin or Lost Cats of Wisconsin whose mission is to reunite lost pets with their families. The owners of lost pets may include details such as – “the dog is not microchipped” or “the cat escaped through a hole in the window screen.” This is a useful method to have lots of people view a photo of the animal with information about its potential location quickly and cheaply. Dozens of people “share” reports of lost pets on their own Facebook pages and it is incredibly helpful and often contributes to an animal reuniting with its owners. However, it is far too common to read comments criticizing the owners. People post comments asking why preventative steps weren’t taken to ensure an animal was secured in its home or why an owner has yet to spay/neuter or microchip the lost pet. Some even reflect on their own success as a pet owner that has never lost a pet and question why other pet owners would ever be allowed to have pets if a current pet is lost.
It is easy to assume that an owner is irresponsible and somehow to blame. For someone that loves animals, the idea of any animal being lost and scared is upsetting. But it is important to remember that the pet’s owner took the time to report it missing and is probably devastated that the animal isn’t safe at home. Criticism won’t help reunite a pet with its owner. It won’t keep other pets safer in the future. If you want to make a difference, take the time to EDUCATE others.
There are several ways to educate the people in your life: remind friends and families to put proper identification tags on their dogs. Keep cats indoors as much as possible and only allow them outside with supervision. Keep your own pets microchipped and remind others to confirm the chip registration on their own pets.
SURRENDERS – Part of the goal of the Lincoln County Humane Society is to help owners who are no longer able or willing to care for their pets. Although there are frustrating moments where an owner surrenders an older dog and immediately asks, “What puppies are available?” Other trying moments can occur when the same individual surrenders the third litter of kittens in a year. But as exhausting as those moments can feel for shelter staff, this is the reason our humane society exists. We are here for the animals that need us.
Many people who surrender a pet are not making the decision lightly. Some have tried training their dogs or taken a cat that refuses to use the litter pan to the vet multiple times. There may be times when a person truly cannot find affordable housing that allows pets. Sometimes the humane society is the necessary option.
When adoptable pets are posted to the shelter’s Facebook page, we share information about whether the pet was brought as a stray or was surrendered. When the word “surrender” is mentioned, it is only a matter of time before someone comments about how shameful it is to surrender a pet. This again, does not help the situation. Instead, share the animal’s photo, help to promote it for adoption.
The realm of animal welfare can be emotional. Even a photo of a homeless pet can cause distress. Instead of feeling hopeless or resentful toward the lost pet’s owner or the individual who surrendered a pet, use your energy to make a difference. Adopt, foster, donate, volunteer and educate. You can make a difference in a positive way.