2011-07-20 / Columnists
Pets, Pets, Pets
Humans may be the masters of their own destiny but domestic animals - especially pets - are completely dependent on us. They are at the mercy of fate. One littermate may get a wonderful home while a sibling wallows in neglect. Think about that the next time you see someone giving away free kittens outside a grocery store, or read one of those scary pet adoption posts on Craig’s List.
The quality of a pet’s life is directly related to the concern of the caretaker. I have always considered this notion the “Black Beauty Factor,” reminiscent of the roller coaster of kindness versus cruelty experienced each time the horse in Anna Sewell’s famous novel changed owners.
Consider the contrast between these two sidedoor scenarios at Babylon Shelter last weekend. The side-door is where animals come in, but it is locked. Patrons must complete their paperwork first in the office. Space for owned animals is limited because of the volume being surrendered. At times, people must be on a waiting list, especially during kitten season. An attendant lets the announced people in the side-door. You don’t expect anyone to barge right in.
I must have left the door ajar when I re-entered to pick up the phone. A minute later, without saying a word, a woman standing by the phone tried to hand me a kid’s school backpack and a crumpled piece of paper, so I uttered my standard: “I don’t work here” loud enough so the director could hear me on the other end. Then she walked down the hall, wandering into the lobby filled with visitors. She looked like she was taking out the garbage.
It turns out she had an adult cat stuffed in the backpack. The poor cat was in terror. I won’t go into detail about the feline fluids released to show the cat’s distress. The woman’s English wasn’t good but it seems that she adopted the cat at the shelter several years ago. The folded paper was a receipt for a spay bond which may predate the present shelter regime where homes are screened and all pets leave altered. It’s hard to tell if she ever got this cat spayed.
Her daughter was coming from Wisconsin and her son from Australia (I think) for a visit. They were allergic so she “had to get rid of ” the cat. When asked if the cat was friendly, she said yes, but the cat scratched her when she put her in the backpack. Gee whiz, no surprise. While the office staff tried to reason with her that their visit was only temporary, she added that she didn’t want the cat because she didn’t play anymore. She complained that the cat just ate and slept.
Meanwhile, we took the nameless cat into a room by herself. We released her from the schoolbag where she was supposedly packaged for a half hour. Out wiggled a wet, overweight black cat, hyperventilating, with bewildered eyes as big as Venus. She hissed at us and hid behind some cat furniture. She is set up with room service so she can relax over the weekend. Hopefully, time and a settling-in period will help her calm down. As upsetting as this was, it could have been worse. She could have abandoned the cat anywhere out of sight. The woman left with her drenched backpack.
Maybe she will zip her visiting kids inside it when she gets tired of them.
The Good: Just as the shelter was closing, a lady pulled up in an SUV. A chubby, white-faced Golden Retriever mix seated next to her was barking in approval of her parking job. First thought: “Oh, no, here we go again. She wants to get rid of her old dog.”
Boy, was I wrong! She asked if the shelter accepted donations. She moved her car to the side-door and popped the trunk to reveal a beautifully packaged bag with a new dog bed and comforters. It seemed that Puddles, not sure, but the dog’s name did begin with a P, didn’t like beds and preferred to sleep at the foot of her bed. The lady would return with more goodies soon.
Then she proceeded to tell us that Puddles was 11-years-old, that she adopted her from the shelter when she was a tiny puppy, that the dog was the love of her life and that she regrets not adopting her brother, the runt, too. She often wonders what happened to him. Who took him? She had another lovely dog a year older than Puddles, also from Babylon Shelter. When he died, Puddles was terribly depressed. If she only had adopted the runt, even though it would have meant having three dogs at once, Puddles would still have her real brother as a buddy.
This refreshing conversation helped to dissipate our anger about the cat trapped in the schoolbag.
Puddles had won the Dog Lotto. We can only pray that 11 years ago, Puddles’ brother was as fortunate to find guardians as loving as his sister’s, rather than someone as cruel as several of Black Beauty’s owners, or someone who would dump him just because company was coming to visit.
Adoptables at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Sparkles” in C-4 is a 2 year old muted calico turned in by someone who could no longer afford to care for a pet. She loves attention. Enjoying the shelter’s wading pool is “Lola” #94193, a young Beagle, abandoned with her sister Beagle when their owner moved out of state. Lola must have been hit by a car, requiring hip surgery, the cost shared by the shelter and Last Hope. She now zooms. You would never know she once limped.
Dogs: “Cindy”- black Shepherd mix; “Loralei”- Boxer; “Shorty”- Shepherd/Pit pup; “Mona Lisa” with a perpetual smile; Shiba Inu.
Cats: “Seabo”- tuxedo free roamer; “Puddles”- tabby in the colony; “Goya” – tuxedo kitten in C-3, eviction victim.
FOUND: female Beagle on 11th St. W. Babylon. Contact 631-225-1311.