Pets Are Not Disposable Pals

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The call came into the Payson Humane Society at 8 a.m., well before the shelter was open. The lady on the line had just adopted a cat from the shelter and was having second thoughts. She wanted to bring the feline back and trade it in for another model.

One that didn't yowl at the door or hide under chairs. One that didn't climb on the countertops and knock over her carefully potted plants. One that was well-mannered, less trouble, easier to take care of.

Tammy Jones, who works part-time at the shelter, had handled this kind of call before. More and more people it seems, have adopted the attitude that adopting a pet is like buying a disposable razor -- if you don't like it you can throw it away and buy a new one.

But adopting a dog or cat is more like buying an expensive pair of hiking boots or a good baseball mitt; it takes time and patience to wear in a groove and create the right fit.

Our disposable society has created dumping grounds for just about everything -- nuclear waste, trash, sewage -- and in a throw-away sort of way, animals.

Last year, more than 2,200 lost and abandoned dogs and cats were impounded at the shelter and more than half -- 1,158 -- had to be killed. Only 332 animals were adopted.

This month, the Humane Society celebrated a benchmark. Seventy-two dogs and cats were adopted during June -- more animals than any other month on record.

That success is tempered, however, by the dozens of kittens and puppies that have been abandoned at the shelter this spring and summer. The cat houses, which can hold about 40 cats, are always crawling with playful, mewing kittens and cats. There are few vacancies in the dog runs and puppy pens, which can hold about 45 waggly tailed canines.

Of course, anyone at the shelter will tell you their job would be a whole lot easier if people spayed or neutered their animals and didn't throw their animals away at the shelter just because they were moving or wanted a change of pace.

The Humane Society has made the first part easy. The cost of spaying or neutering an animal is included in the $50 adoption fee.

On page 10B of this issue, you'll find a feature profiling some of the characters that can be adopted at the Humane Society. After all, bringing dogs and cats together with loving owners is what the Humane Society is all about.

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