I Adopted Your Pet Today - A Rebuttal to a Polarizing Poem
Updated: 6 days ago
Photo credit unknown — Widely circulated on the internet for many years
This poem simultaneously infuriates me and breaks my heart.
It's circulated social media for years keeping this sensitive topic polarized with its absolutes. Social media: a venue too narrow for meaningful conversation, where broad judgments are made that shame people without knowing the circumstances behind the story (Facebook examples here). Our stories are complex, messy, and sad — devastatingly sad — and when you only read the headline, you miss it. Someone might assume a dog with matted hair was mistreated; maybe it was. Or, maybe the owner couldn’t afford professional grooming but didn’t love their dog any less than someone who could afford regular grooms. The point is, we don’t know, yet we assume the worst about humanity.
Sometimes giving up a pet is a better option than keeping them in an environment they’re not thriving in. Please stop judging them.
I get it. People grossly abuse, neglect, and abandon their pets — and give up their dog because they got a puppy or are moving and don’t want the burden of bringing their dog along. I’m not talking about these people.
I’m talking about everyone else.
As for the poem, OF COURSE, “the dog is depressed, doesn’t eat much, a little skeptical of new people.” His world was just turned upside down, and it’s traumatic.
I wrote this poem in conjunction with an article that goes into much greater detail about this topic. “We lump people who circumstantially rehome their pet into the same category as those who abuse and neglect and fail to see anything in between. We must change the narrative around rehoming because, quite frankly, it’s dangerous. I worry we’ve created a climate of shaming people away from seeking help.”
Adopting a pet is a wonderful thing to do, but it doesn’t always make one the hero this poem depicts, “saving a pet from its horrible owner who committed a ‘selfish’ deed.” I would argue that sometimes giving up a pet can sometimes be a selfless deed.
Rather than sighing every time I read the poem, I’m challenging it. Yes, I fully understand that my poem makes assumptions that the owner is heartbroken about their decision (which is not the majority of cases), but its polarization is intended to match the original poem’s essence. I know each of these reasons can — and will — be challenged with, “they should have XXX…” but life happens, and people are left in situations they could never have imagined.
And they deserve a voice too.
I ADOPTED YOUR DOG TODAY
The one you brought to the shelter unable to speak through your sobs;
The one you would have given anything to keep for another day;
I don’t know your situation, but I am sorry…
That you fell on hard times and are now working two jobs, leaving your dog alone 18 hours at a time, and you realize that’s not fair;
That you were evicted and the shelter doesn’t allow dogs;
That you were diagnosed with cancer and had no friends or family to care for your best friend;
That you lost your job, have been turned down for any financial assistance and Care Credit, and couldn’t afford your dog’s medical care and are seeking a rescue who might be able to provide your dog medical treatment, so he doesn’t die;
That you went to jail and your dog was left with no one to care for him;
That you can’t find affordable housing that accepts your dog’s breed;
That the weather is so hot that your dog is at risk of heatstroke (or frostbite in the winter) if you continue to keep him living outside with you on the streets or in your car;
That you got divorced and the only people you have to stay with won’t allow you to bring your dog;
That your good intentions went wrong, and you took on too many animals;
That your assisted living doesn’t allow dogs;
That you were called to serve our county;
For the mental breakdown you had from the challenging behaviors you did not expect to be faced with when you set out to find a dog to be a comfort to you;
That your baby is severely allergic to your dog;
That you were in an abusive relationship and had to flee to save your life and your dog’s;
That your new dog doesn’t get along with the one you’ve had for years, and you made the hard decision to keep your original dog comfortable;
That you recognize you are not active enough to give your dog the exercise he needs;
That your dog bit your child;
That you exhausted all options and were forced to make this heartbreaking decision;
But most of all, I’m sorry that people who know nothing of your situation are making assumptions about you…that people are shaming you, only deepening the sadness you already feel about this decision.
I’m sorry for your loss, and I thank you for allowing me to adopt your pet and give him a second chance. He’s in good hands, and we’re having a great time.
The dog who gave me the best 12 years of my life.
Whoever you are, thank you for caring for him until he became mine.
Written by Elizabeth Weiner