I’m ashamed to say that my hometown province of Quebec has one of the worst records of animal abandonment in all of North America. Every year, tens of thousands of pets are deserted, many of them left behind when their owners move. Some of them are dumped outdoors to fend for themselves, others are left at shelters. And in the worst case scenarios, some are abandoned inside empty apartments. Dogs have been found tied to radiators and cats have been found inside boxes; their owners long gone.
I witnessed this cruelty almost twenty years ago when I was a young mom. A seven-year-old child that lived just a few houses down from ours, and who came over regularly to play with my daughter, rang our doorbell one afternoon, and when I opened the door, there she was with a beautiful cat in her arms.
“Can you please take her?” She asked. “She needs a home.”
I told her that the cat was probably just out for the day, and would return to her family eventually.
“No.” She said. “Her family left her.”
“What do you mean ‘left her’?”
“They moved to another house and didn’t take her with them. She lives outside now.”
Oh. Oh no...
I was stunned. And conflicted. I already had two cats, and didn’t want another, so I told this precious child that I couldn’t take her, but I’d help find her a home. She left with the cat still cradled in her arms, heartbroken. And it took me all of 30 seconds to run after that little girl, scoop that cat up in my arms and take her home with me. I named her ‘Hobo’, and eventually she did go to a new home, but not for a few years. And it turned out that ‘Hobo’ was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to a single, white kitten right in front of my eyes, and that kitten, who we named Slushy, is now almost 20 years old. She lives with my ex-husband, and is surprisingly in great shape for her age.
Hobo is a single case of abandonment out of thousands upon thousands of others. And not all of them have a happy ending like hers. It does happen that sometimes circumstances force us into having to give up a pet. In that case, finding them a loving and secure home is the responsible and humane thing to do. Abandoning them on the street or leaving them in an empty apartment is not.
Animals aren’t something you just throw away.
Here’s a video that will break your heart, and then put it back together again. Get the tissues ready...
Have you ever witnessed a case of animal abandonment in your neighbourhood?