Dear Annie

Pet ownership must be a commitment

Annie Lane

Dear Annie: I’m a pre-veterinary student. When I came back to campus this fall, my apartment complex was overrun with cats. I recognized one that belonged to a neighbor who graduated and moved out last May. I took the cat to an animal shelter that I worked with in the past. (Last spring, I helped the shelter to get the university to stop euthanizing feral cats trapped on campus.) But the people there turned down the cat and said accepting stray animals isn’t in their mission statement. They told me to just spay the cat and turn her loose.

The vet wanted $395 to spay her, which I couldn’t afford. My friends said euthanasia is murder, but none would help pay for spaying her. I couldn’t keep her because my lease doesn’t allow pets. And I couldn’t just set her loose, because she would inevitably end up having more kittens. Stray cats often end up contracting diseases, being hit by cars or suffering other painful fates.

The only compassionate option left was euthanasia. It cost $50, much less than spaying her. After I took her to the vet, I lied to my friends and said I had dumped her in the country.

I want to beg college students everywhere not to get kittens. When summer comes, they just get dumped on the streets. Then someone like me will catch the abandoned cats, have to pay to have them euthanized and then live forever with that shame. — Ashamed in Idaho

Dear Ashamed: I, too, implore students to take animal adoption seriously. When you take that furry friend home, it’s meant to be forever, not for a semester. If you adopt, be sure to spay or neuter as soon as possible. Spaying and neutering reduce the overpopulation problem, decreasing pet homelessness and the number of sad stories like this one. The ASPCA’s website has a searchable database of low-cost spay and neuter clinics around the country. Look for the “Pet Care” section on the website.

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