Today, many of us are trying to teach our families how to be good stewards of the environment and how to “go green” as much as we can. We show our kids how to reduce waste by swapping our bulbs for longer-lasting, energy-efficient CFLs. We convince them to reuse plastic packaging instead of using disposable plastic bags. We encourage you to recycle old newspapers, glass, and cans.
When it comes to adding a new pet to the family, you have another opportunity to teach your kids how to apply the 3 Rs in one more way. Starts with:
Rescue. If you’re concerned that a rescue won’t join you, you shouldn’t. After all, this is an animal that has somehow been let down by another human. Given the opportunity, this pet will do everything in its power not to disappoint you and make sure you don’t disappear like the previous owner.
When we rescued our Airedale Terrier, Max, he immediately got in the way of everything we did. We have photos of birthdays, holidays and other family events where he is always present, even if it is only the head, the tail or the paw. The rescues are deeply loyal and loving.
Reduce. Whether shelter mismanagement or irresponsible owners, coupled with a lack of qualified homes for homeless pets, is the leading cause of pet euthanasia in this country is a topic of debate in the animal community. Regardless of the position you take, the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable pets is a real problem in this country. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that between six and eight million dogs and cats become shelters each year and that more than half of that population is euthanized annually. When you commit to rescuing and neutering your pet, you have a real impact on reducing pet overpopulation.
When we were in the process of adopting Max, we had to go through the kennels of the local animal control center. It broke my heart to not only see so many healthy and happy dogs begging for a forever family, but especially to see a homeless mother nursing a litter of 8 small puppies. The intake officer told us that a family had left their garbage before their children “could witness the miracle of birth.” The officer had been polite enough not to ask if they now wanted to witness the phenomenon of death. What were these children learning about their responsibility as pet owners?
Renew. When you rescue an animal, you have renewed a life and I think the pet knows it. With Max, we were always impressed that no matter what life threw at him, he was always happy. It is as if he knew that he had had a second chance at life and that he was going to make the most of every minute.
Contrary to popular belief, the dogs and cats that come to the rescue are not all wild, sick, or abused. For example, more animals are being converted into shelters today due to the economic downturn and increased foreclosures. Usually slightly older, these pets are usually calm, more focused when it comes to obedience training, and many are already house trained.
So when you add a new pet to your home, encourage your family to go green with the 3 Rs: Rescue, Reduce, Renew. There is no doubt that there is a pet out there looking for greener pastures and imagine what you could teach your children.