/I am disappointed in local pet owners 
Dog at Shelby Humane's shelter. Photo by M.K. Bryant, News editor.

I am disappointed in local pet owners 

By M.K. Bryant, News editor 

If you read our last issue, you probably saw a very wordy article I wrote about Shelby Humane’s issues with capacity.  

There was a lot more that I wanted to say in that story. Honestly, it could’ve been well over 2,000 words. I spent about three hours in the shelter doing my research, and if I hadn’t been crunched for time due to College Night, I would’ve stayed longer. There are so many stories there that I think need to be told. 

I can’t stop thinking back to a specific cat that I saw in one of the kennels as Interim Executive Director Saundra Ivy took me on a tour of the shelter. He was a beautiful orange cat who had just recently arrived at the shelter.  

He was also extremely depressed. 

He had been surrendered by his long-term owner just a day before, and he allegedly had not eaten anything since the start of his stay. He also allegedly had not moved from his spot in hours. I remember watching one of the shelter employees trying to coax him to eat. By the time I had left, she had not had any success.  

When people surrender their pets, I can’t help but wonder if they take the animal’s mental wellbeing into consideration. I tend to be overly empathetic—often to the point that it borders on weakness—but I think empathy is important to keep in mind in these situations. Imagine you’re happy and well-adjusted in a home with a family. All of the sudden, seemingly at no fault of your own, they give you away, leaving you alone in a cage. How would you react?  

According to Ivy, it can take up to six months to get these animals past the grief period that they experience after being surrendered.  

This is a far too common occurrence. During my interview with Ivy, she explained to me that owners have surrendered their pets three times more frequently in 2023 than they did in 2022.  

I was also informed that, frequently, owners are shocked to discover that there is a fee to surrender pets to Shelby Humane.  

They don’t want to pay for it. They don’t want to take responsibility for their own, often selfish, decisions. However, there’s much to be taken into consideration financially. Animal care isn’t cheap—especially veterinary costs, which Shelby Humane has to pay for the animals that they take in. 

I don’t want to imply that I believe all owner surrenders are for selfish reasons. There are, of course, plenty of other reasons why someone may no longer be able to care for a beloved pet. But, all too frequently, owner surrenders are caused by a simple lack of care. 

However, the issue doesn’t stop with owner surrenders. 

I believe that the root of the problem is simple: people keep getting pets despite not being willing to be responsible pet owners.  

Almost every day in various local Facebook groups, I see people who are in search of the owners of animals that they have found. Frequently, owners will reply, insisting that their animals are fine to roam freely.  

I don’t understand why people would choose to be pet-owners when they clearly aren’t willing to take responsibility for their animals.  

It is not possible for a pet to safely roam freely and unsupervised. You never know what could happen. They could get hit by a car, get in a fight with another animal or even simply get lost. There’s never any guarantee that they’ll come back.  

There is a lot that I could say on this subject, but for the sake of being concise, and not venturing into territories that could be considered “mean”, I’ll leave it at that.  

Being a pet-owner is not just a privilege, but a responsibility. Consider this before committing to pet ownership.  

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M.K. Bryant is a contributing journalist for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in mass communication with a concentration in multimedia journalism, and she’s double-minoring in theatre and creative writing. When she’s not busy watering her plants or writing, M.K. can probably be found wandering around an art museum or a library.