Taos Bark

Free puppies, kittens, not really free

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Free puppies … come and get 'em … free dog to "good home" ... look for the "free kittens" sign, in the Walmart parking lot . Facebook is overwhelmed with these posts offering up these animals for the taking. And then we have the people who bring their litters to Walmart and happily give them away to anyone who wants one. I guarantee you that these pups and kittens will end up contributing to the already existing animal population challenges we have here on a daily basis … if they live that long.

Taking on the responsibilities of having a pet is expensive. They are sentient beings and require the basics of life just like you do. Dogs and cats have hearts, lungs, kidneys, a liver and intestines. They have an anus and a urethra, so they eliminate waste just like we do. They have skin and bleed just exactly like we do. Their bones break and they feel pain as we do. When domestic animals are not fed they get hungry. When they do not have water, they get thirsty … just like we do. Have you ever gone without food or water? If so, how did you feel? Did you suffer? Animals feel the same. They starve and can die without food and water, just as we can.

Do you enjoy being warm in the cold weather and cool when it is hot? Would you suffer if you had to be outside in freezing weather or exposed to a blaring hot sun. Animals feel the cold and can freeze to death and can die of exposure to the heat, just like you and me. Yes, they have fur, but put on a light sweater, a hat and just a pair of socks as well as regular clothing and sleep outside on a winter night. Will you get very, very cold or will you just freeze to death?

If your life consisted of living in an enclosed area 24/7/365 without any other stimulation, no walks, no hikes, no car rides, no hanging out in the family home, would you thrive and maintain any social skills you had or might have developed and acquired?

And for those of you who want to take the free pups posted on Facebook and sites such as eBay, Craig's List and newspaper classified ads, I have some questions for you. Are you able to pay for:

· Required vaccinations to prevent Parvo and Distemper and the feline diseases?

· Spay/Neuter fees?

· Veterinarian fees for your pet's emergency illness or injuries?

· Pet food for regular daily feedings?

· Water is free, but are you going to make sure your pet has fresh water all day long?

· Required licensing and tags that give contact information?

· Microchipping? Your dog and cat can be identified if lost and found through a scanner.

· An area where your dog is enclosed and can't leave your property?

· A leash or halter to take your dog off your property?

Responsible pet owners will follow these procedures easily, but I have found that most people who want to take a free animal do it for other reasons. Many times it is a capricious act, without thought and will enjoy the pup or kitty until it stops being fun. What kind of commitment are you willing to give your free pet? Is the lack of not wanting to spend money or the lack of money and indication of what is to come? Are animals replaceable to you?

· Hoarders. Free animals that are "rescued" by animal hoarders quickly become victim to deplorable living conditions, disease, malnutrition and socialization.

· Dog fighting rings love free dogs to train their dogs to kill … why invest in a dog who will die as a bait dog?

· "Bunchers" are people who look for free pet ads. It is a business for them as they sell these pets to animal medical labs or veterinary schools for testing.

· "Bestiality" - Animals used as sexual objects. You can find it in both our own town and county animal ordinances, and it is against the animals laws in just about every county and town in the United States. As of 2012, 37 states had laws against bestiality with penalties of fines and imprisonment. Also, almost in every country, with the exception of Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, Romania and Brazil, it is a criminal offense.

Our community is not safe against these threats. Fortunately, all that is required to discourage these dangerous people is to charge a healthy adoption fee.

You have alternatives to rely on in Taos. You can call Stray Hearts Animal Shelter and your pups and kittens will be taken in. Taos has animal rescue groups and people who can also offer you an alternative to giving your animals away for free.

For more information or to share an animal story, contact taosbark@gmail.com or call (575) 613-3448.

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