Animals have always held a special place in my heart. My most vivid childhood memories come from experiences I’ve had with pets that have come and gone in our family.
Sheba, who was a Doberman pinscher, became my first best friend, but was my father’s first a decade earlier. She was a smart, caring and overall beautiful being. At 3 years old, when I was stuck on the monkey bars in our backyard in Sacramento, she was there right under me, ready to catch. Not many years later, I found Sheba in that same backyard one rainy afternoon. Her final moments were spent with me holding and covering her before my father took her to be put down.
Other pets came into our family, but losing my first best friend was the most impressionable early memory I hold. She wasn’t just a dog, she was family, and she was a companion in my life.
This isn’t uncommon for many people I’ve encountered, as all of my friends and family have well loved, spoiled pets of their own. Not one to miss a single meal, every animal I’ve owned has lived a life of comparative comfort.
My current fur baby, Jade, who is a 6-year-old longhaired Chihuahua, has an overfilled toy bin of her own and a personal heating pad turned on every two hours.
No matter how you show your pets love, they hold a special place in your soul for your entire life; a place which no future pet fills.
It seems unfair their lives are so short in comparison to our human lifespan. Whether you choose your pets through friends, social media or by other means, your fur babies need your love and attention until the end of their lives, just as much as you may need them.
It’s heartbreaking to see countless pets that are unable to find homes, while knowing mine is living safely and restfully with a full belly, warm on her heating pad. During the Carr and Camp Fires, there were slews of posts on social media about lost homes, family and pets. Scrolling through my feed, it seems like an experience of almost impossible sadness. Shelters are still full and many families will be separated forever from their pets.
I’m very much unashamed to say, when visiting the Lassen Animal Shelter and Adoption Center to cover ‘pet of the week’ for the newspaper, I leave in tears every time. The stories of how many of these animals end up in the cages of the shelter are all painful to hear.
The whimpers and blameless looks of every dog and cat in the shelter never get easier to experience. I immediately wonder, as I’m sure they do, as to what happened that they’re there. I make no assumption of ill will on the part of those whose animals end up at the shelter. Many times the decision to relinquish their pets is out of owner control, but other times it isn’t.
The staff of the shelter have such admirable and tough exteriors for doing such disheartening work, but we all know it is entirely worth it. Had it not been for the shelter, many pets from the community that are dropped off or found would otherwise be in worse and unwanted conditions, left to suffer or unmentionably worse.
With the state’s new Pet Rescue and Adoption Act signed off by the outgoing governor, I’m even more excited for what shelters can do for local communities, even those without a pet store. With the recently passed legislation, pet store operators will no longer be allowed to sell a pet in a pet store unless they were obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, humane society shelter or rescue group.
This means shelter animals in the state can get the best chance and more opportunity to find a forever home. This also means breaking the cycles of puppy mills and kitten factories in California. The work done by shelters throughout the state and country are worthy endeavors, often done by volunteers who care just as much as you.
Seeing this small step passed gives me hope more shelter animals will live their lives as members of a family. To know they will live their lives with love and will pass on just the same, is a win to me.