You and Your Pet

Get Help - Family Matters

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Unemployment can mean tough times for everyone, including the family pet. In fact, sometimes hard decisions have to be made: Dog food is expensive, so is cat litter. When it comes to choosing between feeding your child and feeding your dog, well, it amounts to being no choice at all. But, there are options out there for unemployed pet owners who are having to stare down these tough questions. Not all of them end up as dramatically as you might fear.

The simplest option for a pet owner is simply to take their dog or cat to a field or city block somewhere, and drop the animal off. This is, however, probably the worst thing you could do, not only for your pet, but for yourself and your community. There is some rationality that goes on in the human mind that tries to explain this: The animal's wild instincts will take over, and it will be just fine. Well, unfortunately, most pets by definition do not have the instincts necessary to survive in the wild: they are fully domesticated. Sure some breeds and some individuals will make it, whether by luck or skill, but for the most part, if you abandon a pet that has no idea how to hunt, no idea how to hide, no idea how to survive, it will die. For example, my cat is a great pouncer. She'll sneak up on me and pounce. But, then she'll lick me. So, not a great hunting instinct. Most animals that are abandoned end up starving to death or being eaten (or both). Please, do not do this to your family pet (or any animal, really).

Instead, if you must leave your animal, please bring it to your nearest Humane Society. The recession and rampant unemployment have had a devastating effect on humane societies and most of them are at or beyond capacity. Often times, they will try to find a place for your pet anyway. Most of these places are understaffed and underfunded, but care very deeply about their animals and they'll find a place for yours if they can. That said, the sad fact of the matter is that many humane societies are forced to euthanize a number of their animals, especially those that have not been adopted under a given time limit. If you want to limit the risk of this happening to your animal, it is up to you to find a good home for it. Thanks to the advent of Craigslist, this is easier than ever before, as you can simply put an ad up for a free dog or cat (or bird or whatever) in search of a loving home. This way, you'll be able to screen the applicants and, hopefully, find someone to give your pet a good, loving home. Keep in mind, however, that once the pet is gone it's gone. You can't take it back when you get a new job (unless you and the new owner agree to this, but generally it's not considered healthy for the animal).

There are also steps you can take to try to bridge the gulf between jobs, so that maybe you don't have to give up your pet at all. For example, last spring the Dogswell Pet Food Company gave away free dog food to unemployed dog owners, at a rough cost of $200,000. Sure, it made sense from a business perspective for them, but it also helped a lot of owners keep their dog until they found a job. In addition, the Save Our Pets food bank provides owners who qualify with three months worth of food (dispersed bi-weekly). The point is that programs like these are out there, and all you have to do is search for them. If you truly love your pet like a son or daughter (as some people profess to), then you owe it to them to exhaust all of these options before biting the bullet and finding a new home for them. However, it's important to keep in mind that your human family comes first.

Giving up a pet is never an easy thing, but it is sometimes necessary. Have faith that your pet will adapt, it will be happy in its new home, and it will survive without you; assuming that you do the right things for them. Most often, these animals are unable to take care of themselves, for reasons of human engineering. They require your help, even if the best thing for them in the long run is to be with someone else.

Now that you have read about Vital Accessories, may we suggest that you take the next step and check out Dealing With Stress. It is important to us that we are able to help people as they recover and prosper after job loss, so please contact us with suggestions, corrections, and even your personal experiences. If you found this article or video to be helpful, we'd love for you to share it with a friend. Also, be sure to check out all of the amazing resources for your career transition in the Book Store!

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