Last week I discovered just how hard it is to expect someone to take you seriously when you are wearing bright pink pyjama pants and a virtually see-through t-shirt. At the time I was so angry that I wasn’t even thinking about my less-than-suitable attire (it was 6am after all), but in hindsight it was not my finest moment. Amazingly enough, bad spelling had nothing to do with this little tantrum. Instead, it was the sense of entitlement that some people seem to have developed when it comes to owning pets.
This little rant is brought to you courtesy of my neighbour, who lives in another granny flat on the same property as me. We’ll call him Redneck shall we? But Redneck is certainly not the only person who suffers from the delusion that we are entitled to ‘own’ pets, whether we can afford them or not. Let me set the scene for you. On Monday morning last week I discovered one of Redneck’s cats in my house, hovering on the brink of death. All I wanted was a little Monday morning pilates zen, and instead I got the fright of my life. Cue the race to bang on his parents’ (who live in the main house) door in that less-than-suitable attire. Without going into all the details, this was the second time in the space of two years that the idiot was allowing one of his cats to suffer because he couldn’t afford to take the animal to the vet. The first kitten died, and although my tirade did induce his parents to take the second cat to the vet eventually, he didn’t make it either. My blood boils.
So here’s the thing people. We don’t just get to ‘own’ pets because we want to! I wish Redneck knew how much I want to smack him in the face when he tearfully tells me that yet another one of his animals has died, or when he swiftly replaces that animal with another because “he just loves cats so much”. No you don’t! If you did, you wouldn’t take on the responsibility of caring for one and then fail so miserably. I get that vets are sometimes expensive and not everyone can afford to pay those bills, or even buy enough food for an animal…but there’s a simple solution. Don’t get one. It may seem like offering an animal a home is a wonderful and benevolent gesture, but when you end up being unable to properly care for that animal, who are you actually helping? Maybe circumstances change after you get the animal and you can no longer afford it (which is so not the case in this instance…Redneck has never had any money for his pets, yet can afford to smoke like a chimney. Go figure.) Do the right thing and find that animal a home where he or she will be properly looked after. I know its hard to let go, and it might make you sad…but surely watching your animal die a slow and painful death because you couldn’t afford the vet, or seeing her give birth to litter after litter of unwanted kittens because you never forked out to get her spayed is infinitely worse? I think you’d also be hard-pressed to find a vet who would actually turn a really sick or injured animal away because the owner didn’t have cash in hand. A plan can always be made.
I love that so many South Africans love animals so much that they can’t imagine life without a pet. But when did we decide that having pets was a right? Don’t tell me it’s not your fault that your animal suffered because you can’t help the economic climate blah blah blah. Not everyone gets to drive a Ferrari and not everyone gets to have a pet. Some things are privileges, not rights, and its time to let go of this bizarre sense of entitlement that we have when it comes to animals, and instead see pets as the responsibility that they are. I can tell you that if the place I live right now wasn’t the only one I could find that allowed my cat, I would have moved away from the Redneck and his disgusting ways long ago. These are the sacrifices we make for the animals we love. Ok. Rant over.