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We owe them a better life

For years I owned two wonderful pets. A dog that we got when she was six weeks old and another dog that someone abandoned that my son rescued. It was expensive to take care of them and to make sure they had all of the vet care they needed.

I am no stranger to the world of caring for animals and this is a part of the reason I find myself appalled at the ways many animals are treated in our community and other communities across this country.

A few weeks ago, I investigated possibilities of adoption for some kittens who had been brought to my porch by their mother who is a stray cat. I called numerous no kill shelters and those who work with rescue for animals to no avail. I was told by one no kill shelter in Atlanta that they were receiving 80 calls a day from people trying to find homes for kittens. At the time, there were three kittens on my porch, I had found a place for one of them.

Since I no longer wish to own pets now that my oldest dog has died and the younger one lives with my son, I continued to search for homes for the kittens. Several generous people at my church offered to assist me in getting the little kittens placed in a no kill shelter, but since there was no space, I was left with taking care of them until I could find them homes.

Many advised me to simply call animal control and take the chance that they would be adopted or killed. I did not find that an acceptable option. I believe all life needs to be honored and treated with the utmost respect and though I did not go searching for these little animals, they came to me and I felt I owed them a chance to live. I fed them and made plans to take them to be spayed and neutered.

Of course, the best laid plans do not always work out. Two of the kittens left my porch and did not return. One left but returned a week later. I have no idea what happened to her sisters. For several days she seemed to be calling them and waiting for them to return.

One morning when I went out on the porch to give her food there was a huge homeless dog out in the yard. Another example of an animal that has not been managed in a responsible manner. I know there are many folks who are working very hard in this community to rescue homeless animals and to care for them to the best of their ability. I truly appreciate them for all of their work. But all of us are responsible. We should not have an epidemic of stray animals in this community or any other community for that matter. We owe them a better life than that.

People who cannot or will not take care of animals should refrain from getting them, and if someone can no longer take care of an animal it is their responsibility to find another caring home for it.

We have many veterinarians in this town who will spay or neuter animals for reduced fees. I have one friend who takes stray cats to the vet to be spayed or neutered and returns them to their habitat. She cannot take care of all of them, but she can help with controlling the number of homeless cats in our community.

The truth is that our cats and dogs are God’s creatures and they need to be treated as such. This may be difficult for some people to comprehend, but it is true and they deserve better treatment.

This column by Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., appears twice monthly. Meeks is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. E-mail her at kayma53@att.net.