It’s tough living in this world if you are a true animal lover. Every sad story you see on Facebook or read about on a shelter’s blog or stumble over on the news is a rusted dagger to your fluffy and furry-shaped heart. Unfortunately, in most of the heart-breaking fur-baby stories, a human is the villain. And often, if the villains are identified, these people just shrug the Simba chip off their shoulders and come up with some lame, cockamamie excuse. It seems like many South Africans call themselves animal lovers but don’t have a “koek-en-clue” what a lover is… let alone an animal lover. So, to check whether you are a true animal lover or not, here are a few pointers.
#1 You Sterilise Your Pets
This one is not up for debate – if you love your animals (and animals in general), you sterilise them. And you strongly believe in “spay-it-forward” campaigns for all animals. Not only are you increasing your fluffy-half’s lifespan by sterilising them (some vets say you even double their lifespan), but you are ensuring that you aren’t contributing to the thousands plus animals, starving or roaming the streets without shelter, love and medical care. Just to be clear this doesn’t only apply if you have female pets – your roaming tom, man-rabbit, or dog must be sterilised or you aren’t an animal lover. And nope “they don’t have to experience having babies just once” before they are sterilised.
#2 You Take and Love Them As They Are
Once you have decided to take in an animal under your roof, stable or care, you are responsible for that animal no matter what. That means whether you find out your prized three-week-old Maine Coon has a heart problem or your tom of ten years is in kidney failure, you don’t ditch them. This means if your dog is struggling with potty training or keeps wetting the couch because they are now incontinent from old age – you love them as they are.
And this absolutely means when your kitten becomes a complex and intriguing cat or your puppy becomes a full-blown horse-of-a-dog, you love them and accept them as much as the day you were excited to get them.
#3 You Don’t Abandon Them
No matter what – you never abandon an animal.
This means that when you go away for a weekend, a month or when you are moving or emigrating forever, you make suitable arrangements for your animals. This means you don’t just leave a bit of food out and your animal’s favourite blankie and hope for the best when you go away for the weekend. This means that you either take your dog or cat to professional kennels when you are away longer than a few days or you get a suitable house sitter who stays with your pets.
It means when you are moving that you make sure the place you are moving to is pet-friendly and suitable for your pets. And if you are emigrating and really can’t go through the schlep of taking your animals with, you find your pets suitable homes, the day you make the decision you are emigrating – not a few weeks before you go or a month or two. And you do suitable home checks because dog fighting is REAL. Big dogs are used for fighting but small dogs, kittens, puppies and the like are used for baiting.
So, if you are a true animal lover, you never ditch your pets for a holiday, for a better opportunity or for anything, and you always make suitable arrangements for your pets.
Facebook screen grab: a passionate plea from The Cat Shack CC (Oct ’18)
#4 You Give Them What They Need
True animal lovers will make sure their pets get the right type of nutrients from their diets, deworm, de-flea etc. them regularly, make sure all their inoculations are up to date and take their fluffy half to the vet if there are any behavioural or physical changes.
True animal lovers know the breed or type of pet they have the privilege of living with and what they need i.e. If they need a lot of exercise, or a quiet, stress-free home or plenty of grooming. They understand if they need companionship or extra TLC. Whatever their pets’ needs, a true animal lover will not only recognise and realise these needs – but will meet them all.
#5 You Don’t Do Anything At Their Expense
YouTube and Social Media are chock-a-block full of animal videos. Plenty of the animal clips are cute for days and make any animal lover’s heart melt and pump custard. What isn’t funny in the slightest is people laughing at the expense of animals. Sticky-taping an animal’s feet and seeing how they struggle for the sake of a video is not on. Scaring your pet for a stupid challenge (like the cucumber cat challenge), or taking a video of an animal overly stimulated or in distress is just cruel. What has society come to, that we laugh at other’s expense? It’s time that someone stands up and says “this AIN’T funny!”. And if you believe you are an animal lover – “last-touch” – YOU’RE IT!
#6 You Say No When You Need To
All animal lovers should know their limits and know when no will be kinder than yes. When taking a pet under your care, you must be able to afford any, and all vet bills; food, toys and treats etc. If you take pets into your care and don’t have the finance, space or ability to give that animal everything, then you aren’t a true animal lover. As cruel as it sounds, an animal is better off elsewhere (even a shelter) than a home that cannot guarantee 100% care in almost 100% of situations.
And for goodness sake, if emigration or moving somewhere, where pets won’t be allowed is on the cards – DO NOT TAKE-IN ANY MORE ANIMALS!
#7 You Don’t Give Your Pets To Strangers
It’s sickening to see the amounts of kittens, bunnies and puppies that are “free” or “free to good homes” or “these must go” with photos of the litter.
Firstly, if the original pets were sterilised there wouldn’t be the need to find homes for these kittens, puppies, rabbits or what have you’s. If you are thinking what’s wrong with that? This is what is wrong with that – NSPCA and several bodies are fighting daily to bring about the end of dogfighting and all the disgusting practices associated with it. But the public needs to do their bit. Stolen, lost or free pets often get snatched up for dogfighting practices – the larger breeds for fighting; the smaller dog breeds, puppies, kittens and cats are used for baiting.
Recently, a person associated with dog-fighting in South Africa was asked a few questions surrounding this bloodlust, unofficial and highly illegal “sport”. And his answers are chilling. He mentions that when he couldn’t steal animals from yards or his sources “dried up”, he would ask on Facebook for puppies, kittens or dogs for free for his child or just look for people advertising free pets; he would then climb into a luxury vehicle with an expensive suit (as this looks legit), his wife in-tow and meet these people; he then proceeds to tell them about how happy their child is going to be and charms the people into trusting him. And he would do this until he had enough animals for baiting and fighting.
If you love animals, please sterilise your pets and if your pets have a litter by accident, please rather arrange through a shelter to get them adopted than give them away for free. At least, the shelters arrange sterilisation etc. so that the legacy of unwanted litters don’t go on; and they check out homes and charge adoption fees that scare away potential criminals.
If you love animals and your pets, it is important that you (we all) get the basics right. Mistakes do happen, but they shouldn’t be repeated. And as a great pacifist once said: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Let South Africa be known for its greatness!
Please consider sharing this post. It may be a wake-up call to someone and mean a better life for a fur-baby. It may mean someone will think twice for dumping their furry-half or actually get their animal sterilised after years of saying that they will do it but never getting around to it.
A Little About Sparkle Paws and Glitter Trails:
This week’s Sparkle Paws and Glitter Trails post may seem like a bit of a rant. But after a week (heck a month and a year) of seeing upsetting posts on Facebook or receiving messages via WhatsApp, and having my heart broken – over, and over-and-over-again – I am pretty gatvol. We South Africans are better than that! It’s the Sparkle Ellie dream to see lasting change in animals’, as well as people’s lives in this beautiful country. But change takes individual right action, repeated day after day. Please help South Africa be a great nation and help be the change you dream to see.