My first question for you is, do you own an animal? A cat or a dog? A mouse or a monkey? A hamster or a horse?
My second question is, why do you have this animal? Is it for you or is it for the animal? Where did you get your animal? How long have you had it? Where do you keep it? Is this your first pet, and did you know anything about having a pet before you became a pet owner?
These questions all stem from something that I heard last weekend. I have many friends who work with animal shelters, both locally and far away, and I am aware that it takes a very special person to work saving animals.
Last weekend a kitten was dropped off at the local kill shelter, a shelter that can only keep animals for a limited amount of time before they must make room for others.
Why was this kitten dropped off at the shelter, you may ask. The answer is a terrible one.
Some local family had obtained this kitten, and then they had put up their Christmas tree. And, as cats and kittens will climb and explore, especially on trees, this kitten had climbed the tree and evidently broken some of the ornaments. So, someone in the family immediately decided that the kitten had to go!
What person in their right mind doesn't know that cats climb trees and that they love Christmas trees with the dangly ornaments and glitter. I mean, how dumb do you have to be to not know you are setting yourself and the kitten up for disaster. And how utterly mean is it to throw the kitten away when you should have known and not gotten the kitten to begin with!
So back to some of my questions. If you don't understand the nature of an animal, do you really think you are the right person to own one?
You do know, for instance, that a fish must have water - and if it is to survive the water must be treated and cleaned.
If you have a dog, it needs exercise – a space to run and play. It needs a space to play, and, as dogs love to gnaw, if your pup does not go outside much, he will gnaw on something inside.
Are you a person who believes there are just more animals in the world, especially domestic animals, than we can take care of? Do you know what to do about it? Spay and neuter! It's really very simple. If you are a pet owner, spay and neuter your pets, even if they are barn cats. Because if you do this, there will not be an over population of kittens and puppies which ultimately have to be killed!
I had a neighbor who, at one time, trapped the wild cats in the area, took them to be spayed and neutered and given shots, and then she let them back into the wild. What a responsible person she is!
Do you allow your dogs to run wild, chase cars, intimidate neighbors? You know, there are laws about that, so, if for no other reason, you should keep you dogs penned if you don't want a ticket!
My point in this column is to encourage everyone to be a responsible adult when it comes to pets. If you don't like animals and if you don't understand them, don't get them, even if your family wants one! It's not worth the hassle, and it's harmful to the pet.
If you have an animal or you want one, take time to learn about it - as in, cats do climb whenever possible, and if they are indoor cats they will climb furniture and sharpen their claws on it!
As I said in a previous column, God gave us dominion over the beasts of the fields, and it is up to us to take that responsibility seriously!
Now, to all of you I must remember to say, may God bless you this Christmas and throughout the rest of your lives, and remember, there is a reason for this season - Jesus Christ's birth! So, I hope I don't hear any "happy holidays" from you but, rather, "Merry Christmas"!