Tag Archives: food banks

They shouldn’t have pets

You may hear people say “people who need help from food banks shouldn’t have pets.” If you can’t afford to feed your animal/your kids/yourself you can’t afford a pet. Easy to say. You could, however, also say if you can’t afford to feed your kids, you shouldn’t have them.girl and cat closeup wikicommons

You may have decided to have kids when things were going well in your life, you had a partner, you had a job, money. Then you lost the job, you lost your partner. You can’t afford to house or feed those kids properly anymore. What do you do with them then?

Depending on the age of your kids and how well behaved they are, you probably could find homes for them. You may not find one person to take them all, but if you split them up, you might find enough homes. If they’re too old, not cute enough or badly behaved, well, you could be in a pickle. Maybe in a year’s time you’ll have a new job and be back on your feet and can afford the kids again. But what do you do during that time?

This isn’t likely to happen, or be expected, for kids. There’s welfare and child benefits. There are food banks – aid that started within communities because governmental help often didn’t adequately meet the need to keep body and soul together.US Navy help at food banks - commons.wikimedia.org

What if they got a dog when they were doing well? Should they have to get rid of their pet? Where is that dog going to go if they do? Killing (“euthanasia”) is a legal option for getting rid of healthy happy pets, but not a desirable one. The pound? Shelters? At least maybe the animals live, but it’s a high emotional and financial cost for all involved.

Help from food banks for kids and pets

Then a year later when those people are back on track financially, what do they do then? Probably go out and get another dog. Why not help them keep that first dog during the bleak time? Anyone who ever had a pet – even a goldfish – as a child knows how Mitten tree Carroll Co. Public Schools Marylandimportant that animal was to their young life. So even if you don’t care about animals or about adults who can’t make ends meet, think, as they say, about the children. The trauma of losing a beloved pet in any way in childhood is never forgotten.

We don’t bat an eyelid at people needing help feeding their children. When we shop, we buy an extra can of tuna for the food bank bin. We enjoy making up parcels to donate to Christmas Care. We buy for toy drives and mitten trees. So why would we begrudge a family a can of cat food or a pack of dog treats?

As a whole, we believe it is in society’s best interests – politically, socially and financially – to keep families intact. Those families may well include pets – indeed maybe should.

Pets are more than extra mouths to feed. They provide comfort, therapy, exercise and a reason to greet the day. We, individually and as a society, owe them as much as they owe us.

Obamas with Bo, White House lawn, commons.wikipedia.orgJobs and relationships can come and go, but the love of your dog or cat is steadfast. That is a lesson many of us learn as children. But some of us forget it. It’s worth remembering. So too, when thinking about someone needing help feeding their kids and pets, it’s worth remembering, “there but for the grace of God, go I.”

First posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog on Sept. 23, 2011.

Merry Solstice

Whatever the name of the event you’re celebrating, Happy It. The one thing that all the festivities happening at the time of the winter solstice solstice Christmas tree with Elsie cathave in common is that they are celebrations of life and giving and sacrifice.

It’s supposed to be a happy time and that is exactly why it often isn’t. One thing I always enjoy, in my jaundiced view of the hype of buying and getting and enforced cheeriness, is giving away. Money, time or stuff – no matter how grinch-like I’ve felt, writing cheques for charity and putting money in the Salvation Army kettles always makes me feel good.

Charities rely on that feeling of goodwill in people. Food banks need the festive season generosity of donors for the bleak months that follow. When people are still paying off December debts and, in our hemisphere, feeling the cold and dark of winter, donations drop. The reserve from December gets them through.

Animal shelters need money and supplies to deal with the numbers of animals dumped on them during and after the Big Day(s). The puppy, so cute with a big red bow, a month later is making a mess in the house that nobody has time to deal with, so out puppy goes. “She needs Charlie under tree opening presentsa home where somebody’s home all day”, they say to shelter staff tired after having heard that 20 times that day.

Food banks, soup kitchens, animal shelters: all staffed by volunteers who also would like some time off for holiday celebrations. They know their work will increase in the coming months. But people and animals still need to eat every day. So if you’re not doing anything – and even if you are – can you spare a few hours? Can you serve at the church basement dinner so that one of the regular workers can put his or her feet up and relax?

Easy Solstice giving

When you’re knocking fellow shoppers over at Wal-Mart to get the last-minute toy for your kid’s gift list, why not grab a second one? Give it to some other kid who won’t be getting it from his parents. When you’re getting a new hair bow for Fifi because it’s so cute, why not pick up a dog brush for your local animal shelter? They always need leashes, collars, bowls and supplies. If you don’t have a birdfeeder, buy one and a bag of seed for your spouse or kid. It’s a long, cold winter for little birds.

When you’re figuring out your holiday meal place settings, add another one for a neighbour who is alone. Or maybe they’d rather not join your family but would appreciate a hot plate of food or a homemade pie.

cats under Christmas treeI spent one Christmas alone in a new apartment. I’d made toys for the cats and was happy to spend the day with them. Then my landlord’s son came to my door, holding a foil-wrapped plate. “Mom thought you might like this,” he said and scurried away. It was the most delicious Christmas meal ever, and not just because she was a good cook. It was that they had thought of me. Have a wonderful Solstice and Season.