By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
Someone, who I was close to, called me up to say that she wanted to get rid of her daughter’s bunny. They got another pet and her daughter lost interest in the bunny. The rabbit was an Easter gift four years ago.
This person wanted to know if I knew of a place where they could unload the rabbit. Replacing one pet for another is a bad lesson to teach a child.
All Animals Need Our Love
When I was 13, I took zoology classes at the Bronx Zoological Society. I grew up in the Bronx, and went to the zoo every Saturday to learn about animals. In the summer, when I graduated from the program, I had a choice to either volunteer at the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo.
Being in Manhattan was far cooler; so, I chose to volunteer at the Central Park Zoo. While at the zoo, I got close to several animals. I was allowed to handle a sparrow hawk, a boa constrictor, and I made friends with ducks, lambs, sheep, goats and other animals in the Children’s Zoo. My favorite was a lamb.
I was at the zoo every Tuesday and Thursday. It was my last week in August before going back to school. I raced to the Children’s Zoo looking for the lamb. I found out from one of the zoo keepers that he died. I just started sobbing. The zoo keeper took me into the monkey cage with Panzee, a friendly young chimpanzee.
Panzee saw how sad I was and immediately gave me a hug. He sat on my lap as I cried. I don’t remember the zoo keeper’s name, yet I clearly remember he said: “You must love all of the animals equally.”
Pointing to Panzee, he said, “How do you think he would feel if you liked one animal better than him? You really must share your love. Whether, it’s chimpanzees, lambs, goats, cats or dogs, you will have a number of animals in your life, and all of them will be special.”
The day I brought my son, Jordon, home from the hospital—10 years ago—a nurse asked me what was I going to do with my cat. I talked a lot about missing my cat, Earl, while I was in the hospital. So, I guess she overheard me.
I honestly didn’t understand the question. Then I learned that many people abandon their pets at shelters when they bring home their first child, when they get married, when they want a different pet, when they move, etc.
I had no thought of giving up Earl. Today Earl and Jordon are friends, and Jordon cares about animals.
If you are reading this, you probably love animals. I tend to like animal-friendly people. I also respect people who don’t like animals. One of my sisters-in-law never wanted a pet, and won’t get one.
What angers me are the people who get a pet and then decide it’s too much work. I have no tolerance for them.
Back to the Easter Bunny
Please tell everyone you know NOT to get a pet for Easter. When you are ready to get a pet, go to your local shelter or rescue group. Talk to pet owners to find out how much work is involved. And when you are truly ready to be a pet parent, go for it—just know you are in it for the long haul—rewards and all.