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Tony Zizza

Blame 'Alleged' Pet Owners, Not Economy
By Tony Zizza
Jul 7, 2008 - 12:14:32 PM

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"When man is in trouble, God sends him a dog." -- Alphonse De Lamartine (1790-1869)

Judging from a recent article in The Tennessean newspaper concerning the high number of pets that have been dumped at county shelters by their alleged owners, perhaps when cats and dogs are in trouble in Music City, God should send them owners that are not such pathetic slugs.

According to Tennessean staff writer Rachel Stults, who wrote the June 28th article, "In hard times, owners surrender pets: Shelters euthanize record numbers", "Pet owners in Nashville are increasingly giving up their pets to shelters, and animal control officials say the slumping economy is to blame."

First of all, these pets are not being surrendered or given up. They are being dumped. They are being killed. Don't these alleged pet owners realize that there are a plethora of animal rescue organizations available to help? Are they too lazy despite gas prices supposedly being their problem number one to even bother seeking alternatives? How long did it actually take them to decide to let their sweet dog or cat die at a shelter?

Secondly, animal control officials are reading too many liberal websites if they think "the slumping economy is to blame." In this view, no choice a human being makes can be said to be wrong or cruel because the economy is not doing as good as it should be. We're right back to the "blame every single thing on Bush" mantra. Consequently, innocent animals are no better off with such slippery thinking.

I mean, get real. If according to Bradley Greer, a shelter supervisor, "people are struggling" so much so that "sometimes you have to put yourself in that position where it's either feed my pet or feed my child", there is no way in heck you are working hard enough. Or love your pet enough to get through all of this together. Hmmm. I wonder how many pet dumpers are still smoking? Still drinking? Still eating out too often? Still hitting the vending machine at their only job?

I certainly share the sentiment that Tennessean July 6th letter writer Carolyn M. Clark has - the "number of pets dumped by owners is sickening." It appears the act of making sacrifices for your pet is beneath some people. I seriously doubt they clip coupons. I seriously doubt they have utilized opportunities to use less gasoline. I seriously doubt that they ever loved their pet like a member of the family. Because that is exactly what they are - a member of the family. Tony Fortner, director of Williamson County Animal Control, has got it 100 percent right, "My animals would get part of my sandwich if it was the last sandwich I had."

If you're not willing to make a sweet dog or cat an equal loving member of your family, don't bother. It's OK, but just don't do it. Pets don't need people who can never finish what they start. They need people who are able to recognize what they need and then simply deliver on it. This shouldn't be a big issue or stressor for someone who wants to give unconditional love to an innocent friend in fur. Pets depend on us. They count on our commitment to simply care for them.

Are you someone that can be counted on?

Tony Zizza is a freelance writer and animal lover who lives in Hermitage, TN. He can be reached via email:

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