Pets are family, not disposable objects


Some animals will not expect the sudden abandonment by their owner. However, animals shelters are concerned many furry friends will be returned to the shelters. Photo credit: Sofia Gallegos

Rebecca Aguila and Rocio Valdez

Since the first phase of the pandemic reached Los Angeles, many animal shelters have had a high volume of adoption and fostering applicants as many people needed a way to get through this disheartening time.

The initial stages of the pandemic saw many animals fostered and shelters beginning to be emptied, which was rightly seen as a total win for all furry friends.

With all this time at home and the recent extension to stay-at-home orders, many Angelinos find themselves with a seemingly infinite amount of time to spare, but what happens when all the comfort is stripped away from you within a blink of an eye?

Pets are great for emotional support buddies that will always keep you busy and give you something to look forward to when you get home.

These pets, however, should not be seen as coping mechanisms to manage not being allowed to go outside and do the regular everyday things you did before the stay-at-home order.

Of course, there are certainly families who can just no longer afford the expenses of an animal.

Many people who own pets will be faced with (or already made) the hard decision of taking their family pet into the shelter because they face financial hardships due to the pandemic making it nearly impossible to find a steady, and possibly safe, job able to support their family and their pet.

Yes, the pandemic has affected almost every single person throughout the county but this should not be the cause to return your family pet to an overcrowded shelter.

Returning the animal will only stress it out and may eventually push it into a depressed state, hoping to reunite with its original owners.

Then again, there are some of those people who just go through life not realizing that these animals have feelings. The unaware may simply use them for cruel, petty and short-term entertainment.

This attitude towards pet stewardship is completely backwards and irresponsible. To brazenly use an animal and “return” it like an inanimate piece of clothing with a receipt is a shocking show of apathy towards sentient life.

These animals create a bond with their owners and people never truly understand how much a pet can love their owners.

If you are one of those people who has returned a pet because now things are “getting back to normal” or are contemplating doing such a thing, then shame on you, you detestable cretin! How dare you use an innocent animal for your personal emotional well-being without considering the emotions of the animal?

There are also those who do not even care to take an animal to a shelter where they can at least receive a modicum of support. Some find it easier to abandon the animal or let the pet run away from home, letting that pet wander around in the streets with no food or care.

It is actually a crime in most states to abandon a pet.

Taking away the privilege of a pet to have a loving home and abandoning it causes the pet to suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

If you think that mammals don’t have emotions, you are tragically wrong. Animals experience some of the same emotions we humans do, like sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.

Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, does brain scans to study decision-making in humans and he trained dogs to stay still in an MRI scanner while awake.

In Berns study, the scans showed that the caudate nucleus, rich in dopamine, became active in dogs with many of the same things the human caudate activates with, positive emotions.

In ‘Dogs Are People, Too’ Berns states, “The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child.”

“If they have emotions like we do, to me that creates an obligation to treat them better,” Berns stated in an interview with 60 Minutes.

“When you start looking at their brains and you see that they react the same way in many ways that humans do it causes me to question how we treat dogs and animals in general, specifically as property,” Berns says, “Currently under all codes of law something is either property or a human being (a person) and there is not really another category so it made me question where do dogs belong, ‘Are they closer to people?’, and I see them closer to people.”

Berns acknowledges that many of his finding in dogs probably holds true for pretty much any mammal.

Pets are innocent and provide unconditional love to owners and it is the owner’s responsibility to provide the best loving environment in return.

Before you adopt, please understand that the pet is your responsibility for the rest of their lifetime.