Here's what I do understand: Pets like cats and dogs are needy and stupid. No matter how intelligent your furry friend is, he or she is still not smart by human standards, which can lead to accidents, large vet bills, ruined furniture, etc. I know this because I have a cat that got his leg caught in a lamp wire last year, which turned into his doting "parents" spending a small fortune on surgical leg amputation. (And guess what? He's still an idiot.) I also know this because my new neighbor's dog "digs" at the wall that separates our bedrooms, so every morning, whenever that dumb canine wakes up, he claws his way into my REM sleep without abandon. Pets can wreak havoc and cause us to rearrange our lives in unpredictable or unwelcome ways -- but that doesn't mean it's cool to casually discard them or shoot them in the head when they piss on the floor too much. And even if you think those things do constitute re-homing, death, or abandonment, I strongly believe that an animal's quality of life shouldn't be of less importance than a human's. With that said, I also understand why jokes like this get made:
Many years ago, when STFU, Parents was still in its infancy, I posted a similar submission that had a much more serious undertone. A woman was "joking" about serving her neighbor's dogs a salad with "antifreeze dressing" (still a truly inspired murder strategy), and the readers' reactions were so intense, I had to take down the post. A few months later, I posted an even more controversial example, this time written by a woman who was laughing off the fact that her one-year-old had smushed, aka "cuddled," a kitten to death. I wound up taking down that post, as well, and I learned a good lesson: Unless you're prepared to potentially upset your friends with "abuse anecdotes," you should probably keep them to yourself. For every person who thinks it's funny to joke about killing animals or watching their kids torture their pets, there are far more people who think it's a bummer.
Dammit, kids, get your sticky, dirty, grubby paws off of Cleo the cat!! What the hell did Cleo do to deserve to have "hands of fur" yanked out of her body as her "cat mom" looked on in amusement, typing about it on Facebook like some kind of mean girl? Who among this family will serve as Cleo's advocate if her trusted owner thinks it's funny to watch her get tortured by tiny sadists? I know that parents aren't often able to give as much energy or attention to their pets after babies come along, but that doesn't have to mean that the kids come first and the dog comes twenty-third. Plus, some people are so overprotective of their kids, their inner mama bear starts perceiving ALL dogs (and cats!) as lethal predators. When you assume every furry animal is a feral threat to your child, you entertain some pretty twisted rationale.
Yep, make sure you carry that gun everywhere you go so you can quickly kill any off-leash dogs that cross your child's path! Who has time to wait for a school bus to smash into rabid canines these days?! Just grab your concealed weapon from your handbag, flip it around three times like you're in a Western, and shoot those motherfuckers dead! It's the dog owner's fault for not using an electric fence, or keeping the dog crated in a secluded basement or something. Everyone knows dogs shouldn't roam free, and since many municipalities have leash laws, it's perfectly within a parent's right to play target practice with a dog's head. Thankfully, in Lorraine's case, the universe stepped in to destroy the wild beasts before they got to little Penelope. If they hadn't been smashed by a large vehicle, Penelope could've been injured. I mean, probably. Who knows. All that matters is those dogs' legs don't work anymore.
But you see, instances like this one are why so many parents choose to displace their pets. They're under the impression that kids and pets don't mix, so pets are better off with another place to live, even if that place is "heaven." Sure, parents don't always want to abandon their beloved animals or drop them at the front door of kill shelters, but when your number's up, it's up! Parents have no qualms asking their friends and acquaintances online if they're in the market for a new companion, because what good is social media if you can't re-home your family cat to someone you know (or maybe someone they know)? The first time I ever saw a friend try to get rid of his pets, he stated it matter-of-factly: "Hey guys, we're moving to a new state, and the cats aren't coming with us. Anyone want two cats? They're super awesome cats, we'll miss them, but um, yeah. Who wants to take two cats off our hands??" Then once every five days for about a month he would pop up and go, "Hey friends, time is running out before we move, and we'd *really* like to not have to put down our cats or leave them at an overcrowded shelter. It deeply, horribly pains us that they aren't making the journey to Indiana with us—ahhh, if only the state of Indiana allowed pet cats!!—BUUUT for real, though, who's going to take these cuties and give them the "forever home" that we no longer want to give them?" In the end, I have no idea what happened with the cats, but something tells me it didn't look like one of those commercials where freshly-brushed felines lay amongst satin pillows and wet food served in crystal goblets.
If you're getting rid of your pet, you can use social media to spread the word if you WANT to, but consider the impression it might have on your pet-loving friends. It's one thing to announce that you're irritated with your dog for shitting on the kitchen floor (which, honestly, who cares), versus announcing that you're unable to continue caring for your dog because you're too busy obsessing over your baby. I'll personally never respect that as a good reason, and I'm confident there are more people like me in the average person's network than not. So to all you parents opting out of pet ownership—for whatever reason—I respect your right to ditch your pets, but your Facebook posts make me sad and angry, and no, I'm not looking to adopt your four-year-old beagle (but please don't put him down and tell everyone about it). Let's check out some examples.
There's an inherent catch-22 when you offload a dog and have a baby, because you want to shout, "He's a great dog, awesome with kids, will probably love your kids (yes, you!)," but then you're essentially admitting that you're just not in the mood to deal with your dog anymore. If the dog is so great with kids, why can't you keep him around? Hasn't M. seen all those pictures of dogs and babies? Has she seen this Vine of a dog tucking in a baby? It's the cutest thing I saw all week. If you're going to re-home 2-year-old (still a baby!) Tyson just because you now prefer your much smaller human version, then that makes you a terrible dog owner. So yeah, I guess find Tyson a new home. Hopefully his new owners won't decide he's not worth their time and energy in two years, because that would suck! As if M. gives a shit!
Just look at the pleading look in that sweet kitty's face. "Why are you getting rid of me, Mom? Did I not purr enough for you? Was I not cute enough for you? Did you somehow decide that it's morally defensible for two people to adopt a kitten, watch it get a little older, and then completely abandon it once they have a baby? Why would you adopt me in the first place? If I love to be loved, don't you think I would love to be loved by your new little baby? Don't I deserve that, since you gave me a home? All I want to do is sleep in the sunshine, but I'm too much work for that?"
NOPE. Seriously, what kind of person gets rid of their lovable cat BEFORE there's even an issue with a baby? This person doesn't DESERVE that sweet face. Good luck with your baby, you assholes!
Holy shit. Did Britt just say all of that? She has truly taken us on a dead dog odyssey of tragic proportions. And let me get this straight—she "did what was best for her family" by choosing to kill the family dog? And she phrases it in such a way that she believes it was "better" for Bailey the dog, too? I guess if rationalizing that killing your dog was somehow beneficial to the dog gets you through the night... but it appears that by choosing to go that route, Britt is now traumatized herself. I can only assume this dog has acted violently in some way toward her baby, but just to be sure, I went back into my STFU, Parents archives to get the full story. Here's what the submitter wrote:
"This WAS a friend of mine whose dog was acting aggressive toward her new baby. She looked for a home for the dog for 3 weeks...never took the dog, that she had owned for 5 years and called her "first-born child" to obedience classes, and gave up on the dog after that amount of time. She NEVER posted a "take the dog or I'll put her down" post and then suddenly THIS popped up. I am very upset because had I known that it was re-home or death I would have taken the dog for a short time. Needless to say, I never wish to see her again."
Parents, if you're going to put down your dog if you can't give it a new home, give your Facebook friends the full story when you attempt to re-home. I think that most people (perhaps naively, but I'm included in this) don't assume that if you're looking to re-home a pet, it's either "re-home or death," so letting people know is a real swell idea. Also a good idea: Training your dog and investing in that member of your family before completely giving up on him and putting him down.
Amanda....I hate to tell you this, but there are thousands—MILLIONS!—of people who have had cats, sometimes even multiple cats, while also having a baby, sometimes multiple babies, and everything worked out just fine. In fact, some people think cat hair and dander help babies develop immunities, so they have a reduced chance of developing allergies and asthma. There have even been studies showing that "babies who grow up in homes with a pet—namely a dog or a cat—are less likely to get sick than children who live pet-free." But ah, who am I to tell Amanda all of this when she's probably already done a ton of research herself! She sounds perfectly qualified to make this decision. I'm sure Smokey appreciates the time Amanda is putting in to be a good cat owner.
Damn, L. That's some perfectly executed shade you're just threw in C.'s direction. PRO-TIP all you paranoid "momma bears": There are these things called LINT ROLLERS and WASHING MACHINES that will remove cat hair from your baby's stuff, IF you choose to ignore that pet hair might actually be great for your baby's immune system. What you're doing is the equivalent of lathering up your toddler with hand sanitizer every 20 seconds in the park, blocking your child from germs that may actually have longterm exposure benefits. In other words, you're being a moron. Do some research. Don't listen to old wives' tales or, apparently, your own intuition, because there are a lot of families with pets and babies that cohabit in peace. Pet hair is annoying, but it's not a good reason to take your cat to the fucking pound. Ugh.
*Side note: I can't help but notice that several of the examples I receive involve cats that are declawed, which is fucked up. If you're going to declaw your cat, keep your cat, because otherwise you're taking away their only means of protecting themselves and basically tossing them to the wild. That's cruel, and it's why the rescue group I adopted my two cats through made me sign a contract saying I wouldn't declaw them. There have been many times that I wished they had no claws, but then I just imagine being a defenseless, 10-pound creature and I'm like, "Nah, it's cool." At the very least, if you DO decide to declaw, don't be an asshole and get rid of the cat a year later.
This update was written by my friend Evie, who has two kids but still knows a line of mommy bullshit when she reads one. It's even sadder when it comes from a neighbor, because who wants to feel like they're living next to a misguided mama bear whose version of 'baby protection' is displacing her 6-year-old cat? It's nice to see a parent as enraged as I am about people throwing away their animals. Triplets or not, we owe it to our pets to try to stick it out for the long haul. But if worse comes to worse, and you find yourself penning a letter about getting rid of your cat for reasons best described as "shaky" and worst described as "evil," I don't think it's asking too much to use punctuation. Try to look like you care, if not the for the sake of your friends, then for the sake of your soon-to-be abandoned pet. They deserve the dignity of punctuation AND proper grammar—if not the unconditional love of their owners.