Saturday night I finally got off the phone with a fellow volunteer around midnight and as I lay in bed I started thinking about the butterfly effect. You’ve all heard of it, right? The theory that the flap of a butterfly’s wings can create a chain of events that leads to a tsunami on the other side of the world? Well, I felt like I was smack dab in the middle of one of those tsunamis, and realized that not only was I, but tons of other people, in this position because of one person’s actions.
To make an incredibly long story short, the animal control that I volunteer at had a Great Dane surrendered by the owner last week. Hell broke loose across the state of Florida on Friday night after I posted his picture with people wanting to save this dog. On an unrelated note, I find it extremely frustrating that people were literally fighting over this dog while we have tons of other beautiful and healthy dogs (the dogs featured in this post are just some of them) that are sitting there with no interest in them at all-but that’s another issue for another day. Anyways, I lay there thinking about all of the people that were working to save this dog. There are the three officers at animal control, plus the volunteers (there are four of us), plus all of the people that do crossposting and help us keep track of comments on Facebook, plus the various decision makers at the rescues that were interested in him, plus the volunteers that they got in touch with to try and help them with transport, plus all of the people that those volunteers reached out to for help….the list goes on and on. Here we were, midnight on a Saturday, not much more than 24 hours after we had posted his picture, and I’m guessing a couple of hundred people were in a state of panic.
And why are all of these people in a panic? Because one person decided that they could not care for their dog and, instead of taking any personal responsibility for their animal, they dumped the dog at animal control where it would become someone else’s problem. It’s this attitude, this “it’s someone else’s problem” mindset that is making me crazy. Because that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it? The dog/cat/whatever isn’t the owner’s problem once they don’t want it anymore; there is someone else that will clean up their mess.
And it’s not just pets that people seem to have this attitude with. There is the person that throws their trash out the car window because someone else will pick it up. Or the person that leaves their cart in the middle of the parking lot instead of walking 10 extra feet and putting it in the cart spot because someone else will do it for them. Or the people that see a person with a flat tire but continue driving because surely there is someone else that will stop and help them.
Last week I was very graciously invited to an hour long radio interview where I got to talk all about Last Hope Rescue and at the very end, the host asked us, “If you could have just one wish, any wish, what would it be?” The other person said it would be to win the lottery and build a huge facility for Last Hope to use. Since this was a pretty great wish I felt a little put on the spot and answered “increased education so people would understand the importance of spaying and neutering, and responsible pet ownership so that we can get to the root of the problem”. I see now that I made a mistake. My wish should have been for people to take responsibility for their actions. Because until people start to do that, other people are going to continuing using their time and resources to fix what becomes a huge problem when really there shouldn’t even be a problem that needs fixing to begin with.
Can you imagine if everyone that made the decision to own a pet took it as a lifelong commitment? It would mean that all of the energy myself and other volunteers spend saving the life of a dog that the owner no longer deemed their problem, could be spent saving dogs that never had a home to begin with. Or educating people on responsible pet ownership. Or lobbying for better laws surrounding pet ownership, breeding, and breed specific legislation. We could actually get to the root of these problems. It would be the butterfly effect but in a positive direction instead of the negative one we seem to be stuck in. Hey, a girl can dream, right?