Leaving Love Behind: The Plight of Abandoned Pets

Posted on: Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

I’ve been sitting here for hours. I don’t know where I am. Everything is unfamiliar. You said “Let’s go for a ride, Buddy.” I thought we were going somewhere special. But when we got out of the car, you patted my head and told me to stay. Then you drove away. I thought this was a new game and that you’d be back in a few minutes. But you never came. I’ve stayed here just like you told me to, because I’m a good boy. I look anxiously at every passing car, hoping to see your face. I’m hungry and thirsty. It’s getting dark and I’m afraid, but I’m sure you’ll come back. I’ll be waiting for you.

I’ve been sitting here for many days. I don’t know why I’m here. Did I do something wrong? Don’t you love me anymore? You promised to take care of me for a lifetime. Don’t you remember the wonderful times we’ve had together? You didn’t even say goodbye. I’m so lonely, scared and cold. My legs have grown weak. I can’t lift my head. A kind old man walks by, gently pats my head and tries to help me. But it’s too late. I close my eyes. My soul flutters away like ashes on a breeze. I waited for you.

Buddy’s story is tragic, but sadly, a harsh reality. There will always be heartless people in this world. There are those who are just plain cruel — taping kittens in cardboard boxes and dumping dogs in ditches. There are those who are selfish and uncaring — tying a dog to a bench and walking away without a second thought, or deserting a cat in the yard of the local “cat lady” who has too many already.

People who abandon pets outside and think “maybe someone will find it and take it home” need to think again. If lucky, someone may find their pet and call the Nova Scotia SPCA before it’s injured, killed by predators, succumbs to extreme weather or starves to death.

Other people who abandon pets are misguided and unthinking. The SPCA investigated 174 cases of animal abandonment last year alone. The majority involved people who abandoned their pets, usually cats, in apartments.

These people think someone will find their pets soon and, meanwhile, they are safe inside. They may ask someone to check on them, but often that person loses interest. Any food and water left behind soon vanishes and conditions become unsanitary. Pets struggle until a landlord finds them and calls the SPCA.

There is never a good reason to abandon your pet. There are options if you plan ahead. If you are moving to a rental property, search for places where pets are allowed.

If you must relinquish your pet, see if a family member or close friend can adopt them. If not, contact the Nova Scotia SPCA or a reputable, registered non-profit rescue group for help.

How do we stop pet abandonment? Before you bring a pet home, ask yourself if you’re prepared to make a lifetime commitment to that pet. Consider the ongoing cost of keeping a pet and ensure you’ll be able to meet your pet’s health and well-being needs. If you know or suspect a pet has been abandoned, please call the Nova Scotia SPCA at 1-888-703-7722.

Pets will never wake up one day and decide they don’t love you anymore or don’t have time for you.

They won’t get bored with you or abandon you when times get tough. Please remember: pets should be family and family is forever. Please remember Buddy.

Judy Layne lives in Hackett’s Cove with her husband and their two adopted pets. A lifelong animal lover, Judy is a volunteer with the NS SPCA.