Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Soapbox: Pets Are A Commitment!

Once again, I'm gonna get back on the Soapbox.

This post has little or nothing to do with Gizmo; it's me whining and ranting about something that bothers me. You might wanna just scroll to the next post. The little scrollbar is there on the right side of the screen. Go ahead and scroll away; you won't hurt my feelings.

Alrighty, on with the rant.

A few weeks ago, a little girl who lives in my neighborhood (I'd guess her to be somewhere between 12 and 14?) showed up at my door with some leopard geckos in a cardboard box. She was tired of them, and apparently someone in the neighborhood told her that I'd take them.

"Why do you need to find a new home for them?"

"I'm bored of them and my mom says I have to get rid of them before she'll buy me a new guinea pig."

". . . What were you planning on doing if I couldn't take them?"

"Oh, I'd just let them go outside."

I could've choked that mom. Way to teach a kid that pets are expendable! I called her mother and had her come over, just to verify what I'd been told and to make sure that she had honestly OKed her daughter abandoning the pets like that.

Yes, mom was in on it and 100% okay with it. Some people should not be allowed to purchase animals.

I asked them a few basic questions about guinea pigs, since that was apparently the next poor animal these people were bringing home. They answered most of the questions accurately enough, but one of the ones they had no idea on made me cringe. They didn't have the faintest idea how long guinea pigs lived!

Well, I explained to them that guinea pigs generally live from 5 to 12 years when properly cared for, but can also live considerably longer than that (I had a guinea pig named Sparkle that died at the ripe old age of 14). I also said that I would take the geckos because reptiles are notoriously hard to re-home, but that I would NOT be the dumping ground for unwanted pets; I would not take the guinea pig when she was "bored with it", so she better be SURE she was going to stay interested in it throughout it's lifespan.

Well, I got the geckos all set up in a new tank. The best I could manage on such short notice was a 10-gallon, which is on the small side for two full-grown geckos, so to give them a bit more "room" in it I added a burrow.

(Note: These aren't my geckos; but that is the same burrow I bought.)

Well, a few days later, the girl came over wanting to see Gizmo, and I reluctantly agreed. Then, as an afterthought, she wanted to know how the geckos were doing. When I took her over to their new terrarium, they were both asleep down in the burrow in a pile.

"Can you get them out?"

"No, they're asleep. Besides, I'd have to dismantle the whole thing to get the burrow out. You're just gonna have to look and not touch right now."

So she proceeds to start banging her knuckles on the glass to wake them up. Needless to say, I quickly escorted the brat out of my room.

First off: One of the most important questions when bringing a pet home is how long of a commitment is it going to be? I bought Gizmo knowing full well that I could still have him when I was 35. Do you really think that kid is still gonna want that guinea pig when she's 20?

The leopard geckos still have their baby stripes faintly visible. They can't be more than a year old, and she was already "bored of them".

Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting a short-term pet. If you want a pet, but you only want to deal with it for a year or two, buy a mouse or a hamster. I love tortoises, and I love conures. However, I don't want to deal with a pet that might live 30 years or more, so I don't have a tortoise or a conure!

Secondly, just letting them go outside? How awful, and for more reasons than one. There are a few different hypothetical ways that could end, all of them horrible. In this case: a terrible, unnecessary death. No desert reptile is going to survive a winter in Ohio.

But, say that they were a species that was capable of thriving here. Well, just "letting them go" is one of the ways that invasive species can get a foothold, causing untold damage to native flora and fauna. Never, EVER let a pet go into the wild.

Finally, it's a living creature. Show it some respect. All of my pets have a "don't mess with me" zone where I will not hassle them unless it's an emergency. And "letting the neighbor kid pet it" is NOT an emergency. I don't pull the geckos out of their burrow. I don't pull my snakes out of their hide-rocks. I don't hassle my cats when they're asleep in their beds. And I don't drag Gizmo out of the log-cabin in his play yard.

People need to teach their kids a basic respect for living things; the golden rule applies to animals too. If you wouldn't want someone to do it to you, don't do it to your pet! I don't like being teased, I don't like being suddenly awakened when I'm napping, and I don't enjoy having my hair pulled or ears pinched, so I don't do any of those things to my pets!


  1. That's just..wrong. ...I can side with your anger.

    And I like how you handled the situation (I still have major problems with handling situations that I can't think up before hand- so I just wanted to let you know I learn a lot from you, and I appreciate it, even if you're not trying to. =] )

  2. I remember you mentioning that incident. Some parents should just not get pets for their kids. I'm getting worried about guinea pig.

    Also, what's a conure?

  3. This is a conure:

  4. I can completely agree with you on this. You are a good person for believeing in this, acting on this, trying to help others see this and for last but not least, taking those poor geckos in.

  5. Wow. I facepalmed when I read this line:

    "I'm bored of them and my mom says I have to get rid of them before she'll buy me a new guinea pig."

    And, I did not think that the attitude of these people could get any worse from there yet it sure did...

  6. Amen, I know full well that my dog (a cavalier king charles spaniel named Ruby) will live, when peoploerple cared for, to the age of 16-17. And that my leopard gecko, Orlando, will live for about 10 years.


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