Social Question

Aethelflaed's avatar

Is it ok to rehome a pet?

Asked by Aethelflaed (13747points) July 26th, 2012

Over on Passive-Aggressive Notes, Connie, a cat owner, asks coworker Brian for help in finding a new home for her cat, as she is moving to an apartment where she feels her outdoor cat would not be happy. Brian responds by writing an email to their fellow coworkers accusing Connie of abandoning her cat, who will “probably end up in a shelter” anyway. Then, many many commenters side with Brian, stating that Connie is a horrible pet owner, is abandoning her cat, and that pets are a lifelong commitment that one cannot give up simply because life circumstances change.

So I put it to you, good Jellies. Are pets a lifelong commitment? Is Connie abandoning her cat, and seeing pets as disposable? Are there acceptable circumstances for giving up a pet, and non-acceptable circumstances?

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42 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Wait, Connie isn’t allowed to move because she has a pet who can’t move to the same location?

What a ridiculous notion.

gailcalled's avatar

That is despicable behavior and agressive-agressive; nothing passive about it.

My daughter moved 3400 miles from her home in Providence four plus years ago; the trip would have been a nightmare and so Milo chose to live with me, where he had had many previous pleasant visits.

We are all happy; when my daughter comes to visit, Milo breaks up with me and sleeps with her. Talk about a Lothario.

I can certainly think of other scenarios…illness, death, relocation…even though it is tough on everyone.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Rehome? Have we so bastardized the English language that we have to use euphemisms?

She is GIVING AWAY or ABANDONING her pet. She is not ‘rehoming’ it.

tedd's avatar

Anyone who gets rid of a pet for any circumstances loses points in my book. Even if it’s legitimate, they should have thought about that before taking in the pet in the first place.

And as much as Brian is being an A-hole about it, he is (in my opinion) right. She is abandoning the cat for reasons that aren’t that serious or she should’ve thought of in the first place…. and sadly the cat likely will end up in a shelter from my experiences. My g/f’s cat had her previous owners give her up cuz they had a child, and we got her from the shelter.

tinyfaery's avatar

When I take an animal into my home I am obliged to that animal for the rest of my life. I also read-up and learn what is and isn’t true about animal behavior. Outdoor cats can have wonderful and fulfilling lives indoors. Just play with the vertical space and allow for varied window viewing.

My animals go where I go. And I simply can’t move to a place that isn’t suitable for the entire brood.

She is not an animal abuser by any means of the word. I do question her loyalty, but that’s not what this is about.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I agree with most of these posters, when you accept the responsibility for a pet, it’s for life. My 13 yr old, grey-faced, arthritic boy is so used to being spoiled rotten and catered to, I’m afraid he wouldn’t survive seperation from my husband and I who have raised him from a puppy. The only acceptable re-homing I can possibly condone is if the animal is suffering in any way by you keeping it. And of course, if you charge a fee to re-home, to me you are a poor excuse for a human being.

jca's avatar

Fortunately, I have never been in a situation where I’ve been unemployed, broke, homeless. However, through my work I have seen people in those situations, and I think it’s harsh to criticize people who might end up in a situation like that and have to give their pet away due to circumstances beyond their control. To say they’re abandoning seems a tad harsh, IMHO.

tinyfaery's avatar

I see homeless people with animals. Just sayin’.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I just took in another re-homed pet. For me, animals are a lifetime commitment.

Not everyone feels the same way, thus the need for shelters and the reason my home has more pets than people.

Is Connie abandoning her pet? No. She was attempting to do what she thought was the right thing to do. Abandoning is when people drive out to the country and leave their dog at the side of the road, go on vacation and set their cat “free” to fend for itself, move from an apartment and leave the pet behind alone & unfed in the vacant apartment….on & on it goes.

BTW the apartment abandons happen a lot. Yet another reason we have so many pets

jca's avatar

@tinyfaery: I am referring to people in shelters, people with families that cannot sleep on the street. Shelters (at least those here) don’t take pets.

CWOTUS's avatar

Personally, I don’t see any reason why she can’t simply have the cat euthanized if she can’t take it with her and can’t find a decent home for it otherwise – and Brian doesn’t want to take it.

The idea that we have to make “lifetime commitments” – for the natural life of the animal – is absurd to me. Sure, make it “a lifetime commitment” and preserve the option of ending the animal’s life at your convenience.

It’s not like we don’t already do that with animals we’ve never even seen before. I have several of their partially dismembered carcasses in my freezer in the form of “London broil”, hamburger and fish fillets.

I think the responsibility is to provide a safe, decent and loving home while that is convenient, and we have a responsibility to “what happens next” when it’s not. And that’s where it ends. Some of the posters here really have their priorities misplaced. As usual.

jca's avatar

If I had to move, and could not take my cats with me, which would be unthinkable, but if it were the case, I would rather give them to a loving home, perhaps someone I know, than euthanize them.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Seriously CWOTUS, that is pretty coldhearted. If you can do it and live with yourself that is your choice.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@CWOTUS I come from a long line of (few hundred years) farmers. Animals are a commitment. Even feeding wild birds outside is something that once begun must be commited to.

If a farm animal can no longer work, it becomes a pet. We don’t go out a shoot a milk cow just because she’s tired. We literally put her to pasture to enjoy the life she has left.

We do the same with our family pets.

wundayatta's avatar

Pets are not people or kids. I believe that aside from being deliberately cruel to them, we can pretty much do what we want. We are not obligated to care for them. However, I do think that if we decide we can not care for them, we should not abandon them. We should either find another home, or put them to sleep.

I don’t think animals have rights. I think that human societies treat animals differently, and that is fine. In many nations, dogs are not seen as pets. They are work animals or food animals. People would laugh to see someone treat an animal as a pet.

Here in the US, many people see pets as like children. They believe pets should have rights, and that we owe them a certain kind of treatment. Because they see pets as almost human, if not human, they love them and can not imagine treating them any differently from the way they treat children.

I don’t judge people for this. If you get love from an animal and the story you tell yourself about the animal is that you have to treat it in a certain way or you are being inhumane, that’s fine. But I don’t think there is any moral basis for this stance. It is an emotional stance. There is no objective standard by which we treat animals. It is all according to the social compact—what most people think.

I don’t think people should be cruel to animals. I think we should cause them the least amount of pain possible. But I also don’t think we owe them anything, and that many times, the kindest way to treat them is with euthanasia. We can’t take care of all animals, and we don’t owe animals anything. We take what we want from animals, and when we are done, we should dispose of them kindly.

Animals are very different from humans. I think it makes sense to grant humans rights, because that is a different social compact. We want to be treated well by others, and so we treat others well. Animals can not treat us well. They simply aren’t capable. With rights, come responsibilities, and if you can’t behave responsibly, then it makes no sense to grant you rights. Animals can’t behave responsibly, and thus it makes no sense to treat them as if they are people.

Coloma's avatar

Bottom line, shit happens.
Having to rehome a pet is not synonymous with being a terrible person or abandonment.
Yes, a pet should be taken with the idea of a lifelong relationship but, things and situations change and sometimes people find themselves in genuine circumstances where they have to let go of a pet.

Getting a pet when you can’t afford to feed yourself is irresponsible, but having a life situation change happens and there is no shame in having to find a new home for a pet.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Whenever I am asked to help rehome I have to stop myself judging that person for treating their animal as something they can just get rid of when it becomes inconvenient, but I shouldn’t be so judgemental. We cannot always predict how life will go and sometimes these things become out of control. I can usually tell the difference between someone who has exhausted every option and feels they have no other choice but to rehome their pet and the ones who haven’t bothered to explore other options, they are the ones that find it very easy to say goodbye to the animal. In the end, I would much rather someone did try to rehome their pet before taking it straight to a shelter or worse, dumping the animal on the side of the road.

For me, personally, my animals are a commitment and I can’t think of any reason why I would rehome them.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@tinyfaery I see homeless people with dogs all the time too but maybe people who find themselves homeless decide to rehome their animals for the sake of their animals. Is it fair for the dog to go from living in a comfy home, never going hungry to living on the streets? I’m not saying either option in this extreme case is right or wrong but I certainly wouldn’t judge someone for rehoming their pet if they found themselves homeless. That, in my mind is about as legitimate as it gets and shows a selflessness on the owners part.

jca's avatar

In the county I work in, if you’re homeless with children you can’t sleep on the streets unless you want the children removed. You will be placed in a shelter, where pets are (unfortunately) not allowed.

Coloma's avatar

@Leanne1986 Yes, I totally agree. Big difference between uncaring and irresponsible and being faced with some sort of hardship.
I was afraid I might have to rehome or put my pets to sleep when I divorced 10 years ago, I was lucky and managed to keep everyone, but it was a humbling experience.

Being almost 53 now I understand the curve balls life slings at people sometimes and it is importnat to not be quick to judge.
I adopted 2 young cats in the last 2 years and it’s possible they could outlive me. haha
My point is that anything can happen and situations need to be “judged” on a case by case basis.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m not an overly religious bible worshipper, but I do recall something about ‘suffer the little children and animals to come to me’....which means to me that they are innocent dependent souls, to me we are their keepers and should do everything in our power to protect them and treat them well. I would no sooner kill my 13 yr old dog than to kill my mother or my husband, to me he is a part of my soul, but alas I’m a sentimental American. I was raised on a farm, too, and had to part with my ‘friends’ time and time again and watch my grandfather bang kitty cat heads on a fence post because they were simply more mouths to feed that he didn’t want. I have never recovered from the trauma of watching him walk away with no feelings whatsoever about any animals on our property. To me it’s just wrong.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes, it’s ok to rehome a pet. It is not ok to just drop an animal off on the side of the road, and hope they find a good home, but it is definitely ok to find a new home for one of your animals, if you really have to.

I’ve had several friends through the past 10–13 years who already had pets, then had children, then it turned out their kid was allergic to their pet. It’s UNFAIR to be an asshat about it and say, “Oh well, too fucking bad, you adopted the animal now keep it to the detriment of your children’s health. Just make your kid take fucking pills every day so you can keep the animal.” THAT is not ok. I hate that attitude.

And yes, quite a few animal lovers on this site have some really fucked up priorities when it comes to animals. See here for an example.

If this lady can’t take the cat, she can’t take the cat. I’m sure she’s already sad about it, there’s no point in being a douche to her. At least she’s trying to find it a good home instead of leaving it somewhere.

funkdaddy's avatar

Isn’t the commitment to do what’s best for your pet and not harm it?

If staying with you is going to be detrimental to them, then the caring thing to is to find another home for them that can care for them.

People with rigid rules on this sort of thing usually haven’t had to experience them from the other side. Rehoming is almost always better than the alternatives.

syz's avatar

In an ideal world, every pet owner takes responsibility for and supplies adequate care for their pets. This is not a perfect world, and we each stand in our own shoes – I don’t know all of the specifics for this individual and so I can’t speak to her decision.

My hope is that she put a lot of serious thought into this decision and tried to find alternative solutions. I also hope that having made her decision, she will work diligently to find a good home for her pet. I hope she follows up with whomever takes the cat and obtains a promise that if it doesn’t work out, the cat comes back to her rather than to the shelter (or abandonment).

Alternatively, speaking from personal experience in the veterinary field, there are plenty of substandard humans who treat a pet with no more care and respect than a potted plant.

SuperMouse's avatar

I am really shocked at how harshly some people are judging this woman! She is trying to do right by her cat by finding it a new home. She isn’t abandoning the cat, she is trying to help it find a place where it will be able to live happily in the way it always has.

I had a rather nutty and aggressive cat once upon a time. When there were just adults in the home it was no problem at all. When I brought home my new baby and that cat started stalking him as if he was prey then pouncing, I knew it was time to rehome the little fellow. Honestly anyone who judges me negatively for that choice seems to have their priorities slightly out of whack.

Bellatrix's avatar

When we take on the care of an animal we should sincerely see it as a lifelong (their life) commitment. That should be our expectation.

However, our life circumstances may change. We may be forced to move to a place where the animal will not be allowed (retirement home/hospital), we might need to emigrate or move countries for some reason and the animal would have to go through a long quarantine process that would be detrimental to that pet because of its temperament. Life situations change. When that happens, we have a responsibility to ensure we find the animal a good replacement home. If we do this we meet our obligation to take lifelong responsibility for that pet’s well being. We have ensured it continues to receive loving, quality care.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have gotten both of my current pets that way. One left his family and came to live with me by choice and the other was basically abandoned when his owners were taken to nursing homes. Their children came by once or twice a week to feed her, but when she came through our fence, she was near death from a horrible flea infestation. We took her to the vet.

The owner brought over her rabies shot records, and we have had her ever since.

josie's avatar

Pets, for better or worse, are subject to the “owner’s’ whim. There is nothing in nature that says that a human being is compelled by anything other than their own conscience in how they treat a pet. And no reasonable person would argue that outrageous cruelty is and should be addressed by law. But seeking a different keeper for any reason is not cruel treatment. People. Seriously.

wundayatta's avatar

@KNOWITALL How did you want your grandfather to kill the cats? Did you want him to cry over it? Would that have made it better for you? Do you think that would have made it easier or harder for him to do it? Maybe if he showed his feelings, do you think he wouldn’t have killed the kittens?

Most stories I hear, the person who has to kill the kittens drowns them, and he or she does it out of sight of the children. Adults understand the responsibilities of having a lot of pets, and know they can’t take care of them. Kids don’t have the perspective to understand this.

As we all know, there aren’t homes for all animals. So there are shelters that kill them, if they can’t be rescued. You know this happens. Do you know how it happens? I don’t.

Do you grieve for all the pets who have no homes and must be killed? Or do you, like people who may seem more hard-hearted, just put it out of your mind?

rojo's avatar

I have an asshole dog I’d like to rehome right now but then again I had a son that I wanted to do the same thing with from time to time sooooo…. I guess I’ll just keep him until his time here is at an end. Besides, he just licked my hand and thats as close to an apology as he can manage.

codette's avatar

It is possible she thinks of her cat as a disposable commodity, but to me it sounded like she was concerned about the quality of life and mental well-being of her pet. Maybe she had the opportunity to choose an apartment that her cat would enjoy, and maybe she was simply not prioritizing the cat’s feelings in her choice of a home. (Personally, I continue my apartment searches until I find a place where my pets will be happy. In a city where I was told there aren’t many porches, I didn’t rest until I found a porch anyway. Lucky cat.) Either way she is still doing a good thing for her pet in considering its preferred habitat. I know plenty of animals who were re-homed for different reasons and while the process of separation and transition might have been difficult for some, they have all bounced back, bonded with their new humans, and lead happy lives. Many pets can have enough emotional complexity to mourn for their disappeared humans, but many are also incredibly resilient (perhaps in a simple-minded way?) and can easily adjust to a new home if it is comfortable.

Keeping the pet with you for the duration of its life is not always in its best interest, specifically if you can no longer provide a good living for it. If she’s just passing her cat off on anyone because she’s over it, then I don’t like her one bit. But if she is considering the mental and physical needs of her outdoor animal and thinks the apartment is inappropriate than I think that’s actually pretty compassionate of her.

gailcalled's avatar

As I have said, Milo came to live with me after having spent his childhood and teen-aged years with my daughter.

He seems very happy here; this morning when I got out of bed (and mercifully after I had slipped my feet into a pair of Crocs), I stepped on a dead mouse.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Wynundatta – First of all, I didn’t think the cats should be killed, we lived on a milk farm with a huge barn and lots of field mice for goodness sakes. Second of all, killing a cat by drowing or with two fingers on the back of the head and slamming it on a fence post, don’t always wor—sometimes one of the eyes falls out and it has to be slammed down again and again. And yeah, it was traumatizing to a 7 yr old girl who was raised not knowing much of violence. If he would have showed some emotion, perhaps I could have loved him more growing up, it scared me and made me wonder what he was capable of. Later I learned he had to be hard because he helped liberate concentration camp victims, but as a child I didn’t know all that. Do I care about animals getting put to death by the thousands every day because idiots can only love a ‘purebred’, I absolutely know and despise the practice. If my fellow humans were smarter, and spade and neutered their pets, it wouldn’t be happening, so yeah, people suck. Moving on….

wundayatta's avatar

Ideally, of course, people would spay and neuter their pets. They don’t. They let pets go feral. They don’t care for them properly. The shelters are filled with abandoned pets. Feral pets are reproducing in the wild. Wait. Is “feral pet” an oxymoron?

Can you care for all the unwanted or unhomed or unowned pets? Yes, we should prevent them in the first place, but we don’t. So how do we handle them? What does an animal lover say?

jca's avatar

My heart grieves for all the unwanted pets, the animals cruelly treated on farms and the animals tortured by cruel humans.

gailcalled's avatar

Yesterday, while getting my yearly car inspection, the mechanic and I heard a dreadful high-pitched screaming noise.

The people who live across the street from the auto body shop have been letting their dog run free near a busy road. Many have warned them to fence in the property.

Sure enough, the dog had run out onto the road and been hit by a car. The owners and their young children milled around helplessly for about ten minutes while the dog cried horribly. Finally, they were able, using a large towel as a sling, to get the dog into the SUV and take it to the vet’s. I heard later that it had broken a leg rather than its back and might also have a concussion.

My initial urge (which I did have to resist) was to drive by and run over the owners.

mpippin's avatar

“Rehoming” is the most responsible thing to do. I hate the thought of an animal going to the shelter. Imagine being in jail- its the same for them. Abandoning wouldve been walking out and leaving it to fend for itself or just setting it out on some back road.

jca's avatar

@gailcalled: Did that dog live?

gailcalled's avatar

@jca: I hope so but have not had to return to auto mechanic since the incident. Next time I drive by, I’ll stop and ask.

jca's avatar

@gailcalled: Tell them “Fluther wants to know!”

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