Engaging in effective humane education

I’m a middle aged grandmother … so this is the time when I’m gathering the bits and pieces that will make up the holiday parcel for my daughter and her family, who live in the land of BSL. The parcel will be full of the homely little things that ‘make’ the holiday season for her, even as she is forging her own family holiday traditions.
Family traditions are like a good Yule tree. Although we all admire the well coordinated ones in the magazines … they cannot compete with the ones full of family history. From the original .. and now incomplete… sets of ornaments to the ones that were made with the kids …. each tree is a sentimental journey that was years in the making.
A couple of the Winnie the Pooh ornaments are starting to lose their stuffing. The wooden ornaments we made and painted have faded a bit. But the sleigh bells still jingle and the cat friendly Victorian tinsel still shines … so everything else is just part of the charm.
Tis the season for sweet and sentimental things … unless of course one has the stomach to pay a visit to the ‘free to a good home sites”. Over there, 24/7 …. 365 days a year … tis the season to set love aside.
Like young women infatuated with the giddiness of falling in love, prospective pet owners keep insisting there is nothing wrong with the site. They are quick to gloss over some salient facts:

  • the curbside guarantee provides utterly no consumer protection and often results in heartache from undisclosed health or behavior issues
  • many of the ‘purebreds’ wouldn’t pass CKC muster … in other words its actually illegal to have bred the parents or peddle their progeny as purebreds in Canada
  • the anonymity provided by the site provides a thin veneer of respectability for puppy brokers like the infamous Gail Benoit
  • it enables the worst sort of negative humane education for the children of uncommitted pet owners by showing how easy it is to dispose of pets when the shine wears off or the stuffing starts to leak
  • nor does anyone seem to want to talk about the humane aspect … how many free pets become feeders / research animals / bait dogs or imprisoned in puppy mills?

My Dad always used to say that more is caught than taught with children. Good values …. like love, committment, responsibilty, loyalty and kindness don’t come wrapped in ribbons under the tree. From beginning to end the journey of pet ownership can be one of the most meaningful ways to teach your children well.

I remember when the laws starting changing about drinking and driving. At the time the good old boys I knew were quick to complain … maintaining that they could drive better drunk than most people could sober. Do they drink and drive anymore? Not so much after the first few found out how expensive it was to get their license (and insurance) back.

At one time, it was legally defensible and therefore socially acceptable for a married man to kill an ‘adulterous’ wife. It took the legal recogniton of Canadian women as persons in their own right to begin to change that type of thing.

It is no wonder that anyone working frontline animal rescue wants the lucky pets that they have been able to save to go to perfect homes. After all that work, who would want to see history being repeated, eh?

Yet, most folks are neither the best nor the worst … but sit somewhere in between. They are usually utterly unaware they are not doing the right thing. If they’ve never seen anyone do prenatal pet training, how would they know how easily it can be done? If Mom and Dad ditched the pets everytime they moved, how on earth would they know how to bring their pets when they move? If the family pets were never spayed/ brought in the house/ vaccinated/ etc … how would the children know any better?

The great educational material on the animal welfare sites and the wonderful posters in the animal clinics aren’t going to be read by those who don’t visit. Animal shelters aeren’t going to be visited by folks who are unsure whether or not they will be approved for adoption.

Before the keyboards catch on fire, noone is suggesting that people like the fellow who brings a healthy young chocolate lab in to the vets to be put down … or the woman who gives up her lovely little dog because her new boyfriend wants a big dog … or anyone else who has ever put an animal in harms way be given the green light for adoption.

But all the other folks … the nice ones who are simply unawakened…. should be encouraged and embraced. Until the day when there are no more homeless pets, this is the most effective form of humane education that animal rescue can engage in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s