Go ahead, just let your two-year-old child out the door. They want to play outside. Let them sit out on the driveway, or wander around the neighborhood – while you do whatever you’re doing inside. After all, they want to.
A subject has been burning my mind lately, involving a personal situation that has been ongoing and unresolved. You see, we have some neighbors, a nice little family, down the street. A decent, friendly couple who have a young son and new baby boy. They also have a beautiful Maltese pup and two equally beautiful cats, one Russian Blue and one Siamese.
A few months back, the woman and her son appeared at our door, frantically asking for help in search for her beloved cat. She held a stack of printed flyers, showing a photo of a lovely Siamese and contact information. She said the cat slipped out the door; she was in tears and my heart went out to her. I kept watch whenever I drove through the neighborhood, hoping to catch a glimpse of the lost kitty. I never saw one, never heard anything about it.
Then a couple weeks ago, as my daughter was driving home, she saw a dog and 2 cats sitting out on the driveway of a house a few doors down, no leashes or fence. She told me about it; I had her drive me immediately over to what she’d seen (no, she wasn’t thrilled, but she’s used to how I can be on such things). There on the driveway sat the dog and two cats. I went to the door; the man answered, holding the baby. His young son peered out from behind his dad’s leg.
I asked politely if the pets were theirs – he replied yes, they were. And immediately he launched into a defensive explanation of how they don’t like to stay inside, and he “can’t hold them in”, and “they don’t go anywhere”. Now, I’ve raised four kids, along with household pets. I’m no stranger to the difficulties of juggling all that goes on at home. I know how crazy things can be sometimes, and I’ve had a couple of “door-runners” – cats who shoot out the door just as you’re opening it. We’ve made plenty a mad dash into the darkness of night chasing after them and making sure they were promptly brought back in.
But to knowingly have 3 pets, a dog and two cats, all sitting out on the driveway or front yard? And here’s the kicker – no collars. Not only no tags, but no collars. I attempted to explain my concern for their welfare to this man, but it was quickly obvious he would only argue. I left, walking right past these three pets who didn’t even budge as I approached. I was tempted to scoop them up and take them with me – but that’s the “rescuer” part of me I have to keep in check sometimes.
A day later I was telling the story to my next-door neighbor, who apparently knew much more than I about this family’s penchant for letting their pets outside. My neighbor has had not only the opportunity to learn that this family clearly knows the risks they are taking with their pets, but also has had trouble walking their own dog past that house. The small dog seems to have a very large ego; one that gets very vicious with other dogs who cross its path. There have been dangerous encounters, fortunately (so far) with no extreme results. At one point the Siamese was actually found on the street and brought to a rescue group – and the family recovered their beloved cat from that group, only after they were first given a full explanation of all the dangers their cat might face outdoors and promises were made to keep it safely indoors.
Why do people knowingly let their pets roam freely outside? How can they justify the risks they are taking? How will they feel if something bad happens to their pet because of those unnecessary risks? How is it any different than letting children outside on their own? And how can you allow your dog to sit in front of the house able to attack any innocent passerby? I can find no reasonable explanation. Convenience, laziness, stupidity are all I come up with. And irresponsibility. This issue has been stewing in my head and heart, but yesterday’s post by Steve Dale (of Steve Dale’s Pet World) prompted me to write about it. You can read his post here – Steve Dale’s Pet World
And Steve has given me something to consider – maybe I should swoop up those beautiful animals, take them to a place that will make sure they are safe. Or I could go back and knock on the door again, speak my piece with the man, tell him to just let his son out in the yard. Let him roam – because he wants to. On second thought, I won’t – an irresponsible parent of a pet might be an irresponsible parent of a child, too.
Oh, by the way … a couple days ago, driving home and past that house, the Russian Blue was sitting near the edge of the driveway. After I passed, I looked in my rearview mirror – an oncoming car had to hit the brakes, because the cat walked out into the street and crossed right in front of it.