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Your pets are part of your family

I have to give another shout out to the wonderful people involved in animal rescues and those fostering and adopting at need animals.

Too many animals outlive their human companions, and many do so with people who have no family to take over their care; or the surviving family members cannot, for whatever reason, bring animals into their homes.

These animals are usually older, many are very dependent on their former companions, as older people tend to spend a lot of time with the pets who enrich their lives. I have clients who I know would not have a reason to carry on were it not for their pets. No animal has ever had a nobler job

When such pets are left behind, a very particular home may be needed. Matching a pet to a home in these instances becomes a much different task that adopting a pet at a shelter or the Humane Society.

The volunteers who take on this task must build a network of suitable homes, and a network of people who can help find suitable homes. Luckily, kind-hearted people tend to find each other and build long term relationships. Many kind souls will adopt multiple times, in succession or together.

Older pets can have special needs and may require expensive veterinary care. Some rescues have special veterinary rates for emergency visits, but not ongoing care. So, a family that adopts an elder animal may need to take on a large financial responsibility. For some that’s not an issue but the costs can be a burden to many, and they often fundraise, either on their own, or through the rescue, to help pay for ongoing care. If you see this type of campaign, please give generously.

Some pets may be dumped on a rescue purely because they have become a financial burden. I’m not sure how to react to these cases. I am sure that the owners’ lives would be easier without the financial burden of caring for a senior pet with issues. But pets are family members; how can you give them up without exhausting every avenue?

I have heard of instances in which a pet is surrendered for health or financial issues to a rescue, and the owners then ask, “Do you have any puppies we can adopt.” I know there may be extenuating circumstances here, but “trading in” an older pet facing hardships and asking for a young, healthy replacement just seems heartless to me. I think that most rescues dealing with older animals would not even consider the notion.

To most of my readers, a pet is a companion animal and a family member. They are not disposable, they don’t have a “best before” date and they are treated with respect , and painfully mourned when we have to say goodbye. Our lives are made better by their presence, and we owe them our best efforts to care for them in return. They are not “Just a dog/cat” — they are family.