Let me start this column by saying that I, by no means, am a perfect pet owner.
I don’t give my pets their vaccines exactly when I’m supposed to. I don’t give my dog baths as often as I should. I don’t brush my cats regularly (my mom does, however). And, I’m sad to admit it, but I don’t play with my pets as often as I should. Believe me, I feel horrible about that last one. In fact, just writing it makes me feel ashamed. But, like I said, I’m not a perfect pet owner.
However, I do three things right. I keep my animals safe, fed and warm. In those three areas, I treat my animals like royalty. They practically have their own apartment in my basement. My dog Mickey has a cozy recliner to sleep on and plenty of food and water to drink. I even throw in a hot dog and some dog treats to keep his tail wagging. My cat, Biscuit, has the top of said recliner to snooze on, or her cat tower, which is strategically placed in front of the window so she can look at all the birds she would love to kill if she were to go outdoors. I also have one of those automatic feeders for Biscuit that feeds her at specific times of the day. Sounds elaborate, I know, but it was a necessity. Biscuit has a weight problem.
Shhh, don’t tell her I said that. And even my outdoor cat, Scooter, has a cat bed in the garage. But during these frigidly cold days and nights I have let him come inside the basement to get cozy and warm. Biscuit doesn’t like it too much, but she tolerates him.
Heck, I even keep some of the local possums warm in my garage apparently.
Oh, and a skunk too, but that’s another story for another day.
My point is this, no matter what kind of pet owner you are, you have a responsibility to care for your animals and that means keeping them warm during the winter months.
Monday I was driving back to work after grabbing some lunch and I saw a small black dog tied to a tree in someone’s front yard. There was no dog house to keep it out of the cold and wind, and I didn’t see any signs of food or water either. It barely had enough room to walk around. Mind you, it was 28 degrees outside and that poor little dog only had a thin black coat to keep it warm.
Seeing that dog just walking around in circles, which was its only means of keeping warm, made me so enraged. I completely lost my appetite. I wanted to go back to that house, untie the dog from the tree, and bring it back to my office with me to keep it out of the cold. I couldn’t get the vision of that dog out of my head the rest of the afternoon. And, what made it even worse is that I know there are thousands of other dogs suffering the same fate as we speak.
I just don’t get it. Can someone please tell me why a person has pets if they are just going to leave them chained to a tree in the yard? Why go to the trouble of getting a pet in the first place? Just save yourself some time and money and get a lawn ornament. Those don’t require food, water or shelter.
Domesticated animals, like cats and dogs, depend upon us for protection from freezing temperatures. But, unfortunately, there are too many heartless pet owners that simply don’t care. And it’s those pet owners I would like to spend some quality time with. For a night, or two, or 30, I would make them sit outside, tied to a tree, with only a thin fur coat to keep them warm. I wouldn’t bother going to the trouble of giving them food or water either.
And I would give them just enough rope to, let’s say, hang themselves.
OK, I’m not being totally serious about that last part, but you get my drift.
If my words don’t convince you, maybe the words of one of my facebook friends and fellow animal activist will.
“Going price for a bale of hay is $2. Cost of a plastic dog house starts at $40. Cost to bring the dog in when it’s cold $0. Here’s your sign.”
Well said, Wendy, well said.
Stevie Lowery is editor/general manager of The Lebanon Enterprise in Lebanon, Ky.