Saturday, July 26, 2014

Adoption is a Promise of Forever

Meet Monty; he is named after Tavares Montgomery (Monty) Williams, Jr., a former NBA player and current head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.  I received Monty as a birthday gift from my sister when I was in high school; this was about a year after our cat Sandy ran off before a snow storm.  I had found Sandy as a stray at our old house, so she was an indoor/outdoor cat.

Monty is now 18.5 years old (91 in human years), and he's been mine for over half my life.  Adoption is a promise of forever...a lifetime commitment.  Trust me when I say that there are days I want to give up on him as he ages, but I remember plenty of his quirky personality characteristics that make me smile and make me a proud momma.  As a kitten, his favorite game was fetch down the stairs or taking a walk on his leash and to this day, his favorite snack is plastic bags (not that I encourage this behavior).  I found out later that some chemicals or oils used in manufacturing plastic bags resemble catnip, but he probably does have the disorder pica and was genetically predisposed to this condition since he is part Siamese.  (I know, he doesn't look Siamese, but the crook in his tail gave it away!) 

Lately, with my new job having me travel more, I feel guilty that he's alone so much.  I've been debating about getting a dog so that he has somebody, but also so that I get out of the house and walk more.  I even visited a few dogs at one location.  During this process, I have read one too many times in which animals have been either owner-surrendered or owner-abandoned.  Both of these have prompted me to write this blog, especially since I believe adoption is a promise and a commitment to forever.  I will not deny the fact that my parents helped me by taking care of Monty the years I was in college, but they made it clear from the beginning that he was my cat and my responsibility.

I consider an owner-surrendered animal to be one in which the owner could either no longer care for it appropriately or the owner, through no fault of their own, had to get rid of the animal.  I appreciate that these owners want to do what is best for their pets, but I wish they would try to rehome their pet themselves either through a rehoming program or using their networks.  My sister rehomed one of her cats to a family friend and that gave them the ability to follow-up with my sister about anything that may have come up in the first few months.  In the local area, Austin Pets Alive! has a rehoming program.  Shelters can stress out an animal very easily, and let's not forget that there are still many shelters who euthanize animals when there isn't room.

An owner-abandoned animal, in my opinion, is one in which the owner moves and abandons the animal on the current property thus forcing the animal to become a stray.  I have seen this most frequently with cats, but it seems that this is now occurring more frequently with dogs too.  These animals are left to fend for themselves on the streets.  I have a hard time forgiving the owners who do this to an animal.  At the very least, surrender the animal to the shelter.

Since I'm not sure I want another 18+ year commitment, I have decided that if I was going to adopt either a cat or a dog, it will not be a young one.  While older ones may have some behavioral issues that need to be addressed due to being left at the shelter or abandoned, I rather make the shorter commitment.  The other thing that I've been thinking about is fostering animals for a bit.  This way, I'm saving another life at a shelter that still uses euthanasia as a means to fix the problem and not making a lifelong commitment to an animal.  Our neighborhood has adopted a stray cat, socialized and fixed a feral cat, and are working on capturing another feral to have him fixed as well. 

Animal owners need to realize that they have committed to taking care of their pets for the duration of their lives.  I never imagined Monty would live this long, but he has brought me a lot of joy throughout the years and I wouldn't trade that in heartbeat.

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