Saturday, February 14, 2009

Isn’t he just the most adorable thing?

Valentine’s Day is the day when we often think of love between two people or even between family members. But for many those we love include the furry four-footed variety of people. In our house we humans are still out numbered by the canine contingent and we like it that way.

Loving our pets and receiving love from them is a special kind of joy, but it is also a special kind of responsibility. My SO and I have viewed our four-legged children as a life-time responsibility just like our son. We accepted responsibility for them for their whole life. Where Z will one day grow up and become a responsible person who takes care of himself, with our continued love and support, our furry kids will need us all their lives. Just as we won’t bail on Z when he’s having a tough time (like at 4am when he’s been crying since 10pm and has demanded that mom hold and rock him the entire night even though she has to work in the morning), we don’t bail on our other kiddies.

Yes, I am a bit of a radical animal activist. But if you’re going to be passionate about something, taking care of the animals that God gave us dominion (read responsibility and stewardship and not control) over is a pretty good thing to be passionate about. Just like it’s a good thing to be passionate about the world we are supposed to be keeping safe for our children and their children.

What I’d like to suggest to you on this Valentine’s Day, and as Easter approaches, is that we enter into pet ownership with full commitment. I was reading a story recently about a woman whose boyfriend bought her “love birds” for Valentine’s Day. Cute. But birds live a long time and they’re not for everyone. I’ve known people who brought home puppies and kittens for Valentine’s Day as well. Easter often brings the people who still go out and buy cute little bunnies or ducklings. These are not disposable pets to be discarded when we’re tired of them.

I encourage you, if you are going to add a pet to your family, to go to the local shelter. The all American-mutt is alive, well and often the best pet you could have. We rescued an abandoned dog I found alongside a road a few years ago. She was emaciated, had a respiratory infection and her coat was uncomfortable to touch, falling out in clumps. After the vet confirmed she wasn’t dangerous and there had been no damage to her liver or kidneys from the starvation, we treated her infection, fed her well and soon she was a beautiful and loved member of our family. We had never intended to keep her, just to find her a home. So when the people who dog sat her while we were on vacation asked if they could keep her (they’d fallen in love with her) we were thrilled.

If you’re looking for a specific breed but don’t intend to invest the large amounts of money to “show” the dog, let me suggest You can search by breed for these dogs in need of rescue and a loving home. Or google your breed and the term “rescue”. Almost every breed has one and you can save a dog from a sad future. Avoid puppy mills.

Speaking of “puppy mills”, I’ve not weighed in yet on the octuplet mom. I wanted to wait until I had seen some of the rumor shake out and what was really happening.

I’m appalled. My SO and I had to use interutero insemination to get pregnant. Z was planned and we agonized, and still do, over whether we have/had the money to care for him properly. I can’t imagine being a single parent and intentionally having 14 children. I can understand the rationalization behind the first 6. She had them in two “batches” and perhaps she didn’t really expect she would end up with that many infants. But for her to then undergo invitro again was irresponsible and in my mind criminal negligence. AT this point almost everything that has to be said has been said and it seems like pile on.

Instead I want to ask a couple of other questions. The taxpayers of California aren’t the only ones who will have to pay for what this woman has done. We all will and not just in the federal disability that most of these children will require or in the increased costs of health care that will be passed on to us to make up for the lost payments. Or in the “education loans” she expects to get to care for her kids while she goes back to school.

Insurance companies will re-examine their views on fertility treatment and no one will complain because of the negative feelings toward fertility procedures this woman had engendered. A few states require insurance companies to cover infertility treatment, but the scandal of this birth may make it easier for insurance companies to block single women from receiving treatment.

Our basic human freedom’s may be in danger as well. Many legislators are talking about “laws” to prevent such things from happening. I hate that this happened, but to have this result in the government legislating reproductive rights is just terrifying. I’m not talking about abortion here. I’m talking about legislators making the decision on how many children we should be allowed to have, how many embryos could be implanted at one time, etc. That’s a small step to deciding who should be allowed to have children and who shouldn’t. Remember, the government used to forcibly sterilize people who had been committed to state institutions. And this at a time when having severe depression (now treatable with meds) or seizures (now treatable with meds) and other disabilities we no longer automatically declare as grounds for institutionalization.

I have a question about what this situation is going to mean for the woman’s ex-boyfriend who is the sperm donor. Will he be held responsible for these children? He agreed to go along with the first pregnancy but not the subsequent ones. Are we not going to force him to pay child support? I say we make the doctor, whose actions are beyond reprehensible, pay child support. If they can force the ex-boyfriend to pay support, will they one day extend this to sperm donors period? If so a means for families to be made will be gone. No man will help infertile couples if he is going to be held financially responsible for the child.

We will be feeling the effects of this woman’s bad choices for some time to come. Still, I feel worse for the 14 innocent lives that she has created to feed her need for love and acceptance.


Jenny Beans said...

I just don't even want to talk about Nadya Suleman anymore, like you said, it's too much. She's out of control, and the doctor who did it should have his license taken away. More and more evidence is coming out medically that multiple births of that magnitude seem healthy when they are young, but as young adults and teens they face severe mental repercussions. And this from a woman who already has three special needs children. While I don't agree with the government regulating how many children people should have, I do think that they should implement a rewards system for people who choose to have only one or two children. Maybe if more people were encouraged positively through major healthcare cuts or tax cuts, it would make an impact on some of the more irresponsible people who have child after child simply to increase their welfare benefits. A lot of people disagree with me, and that's understandable, but I have one child. I love her, and I love children. They are a joy and a wonder, but I could never imagine having enough love or patience inside of me for thirteen other children. It's just not fair to the kids.

Sandra Cox said...

Kudos on the mention of homeless pets and pet ownership on Valentines. Applause. Applause.

And speaking about the octuplets how did she pay for that? I'm assuming that's something we are paying for too. I agree, the doctor has responsibility there. And I did not know the government at one time forcibly sterilized folks that were institutionalized.
The whole situation is way scary.

Kelly Kirch said...

The woman had surgery to look like Angelina Jolie and had 14 kids. She ain't stable.

We got our cat at the humane society. I think she was an abused cat of a multiple cat home. Here she has dominion. It saddens me that animals taken as pets are considered disposable. If you aren't going to care for them, even remidially, don't get one. They deserve better.

Molly Daniels said...

All of our pets (save for 1) were found abandoned on the street. Our Elkhound had been purchased at a pet store, but the owner neutered him prematurely. When she and her boyfriend split up, she inisisted he not get the dog and would we 'dog-sit' until she got back on her feet (her parents refused to let Shadow in their home)? 11 years later, he died of natural causes in our backyard, a well-loved and much wanted dog.

German Shepherd and Black Lab were abandoned (Lucky was even in danger of being euthenized). Our first 5 cats were a mother cat who delivered 4 kittens four months after I adopted her from the street. And Oreo came from the park.

Oops...left out the rats. They came from the pet store, and are very well loved too:) They keep us entertained every day!

AMEN, Jae. I ranted about her last week, as well as another woman's issues with the same doctor!

Anny Cook said...

My kitty has been with us fifteen years... so yes, it is a long term commitment. Had the last cat nineteen years.

As for octuplet lady, there are definitely several screws loose there and I agree with you, there will be longterm repercussions from her actions. Excellent post!

barbara huffert said...

I've always favored rescued cats, either by me, obvious strays straight off the street or from my vet's staff who generally have an array of fur babies in need of homes. And I've never been disappointed with any of them.