Opinion: Rescue animals have a history

When we adopt a homeless or shelter animal, we are generally prepared to deal with our new furry family member’s past—particularly those of us who are involved in animal rescue. It is a certainty that an adult pet we adopt will have a history. Sometimes the pet’s past is a good one, but he or she ended up homeless or in the shelter due to events of which their owners had no control. Other times, the pet’s story is not as rosy; maybe even terrible.

I have rescued animals since I could walk. Unless the pet I brought into my home was a kitten or puppy, I knew even at my young age that they had a history, which played a huge role in their temperament and personality. More often than not, the animals were victims of neglect and/or physical abuse. I, and the rest of the family, would tailor our interactions with each one based on our observations of their temperament.

In spite of all of that experience behind me, I was still unprepared for the hyper-sensitive pit bull I welcomed into my home. Meggie is her name. Yes, she had a history that was in the “terrible” category. Unlike other formerly abused pets I adopted, she hyper-reacted to being disciplined in a way I have never experienced in my lifetime.

I am not an animal trainer; but, I choose not to inflict corporal punishment to teach my animals what not to do, such as they cannot go potty inside the house. But, as I learned with Meggie (pictured below), even a harsh word or tense body language can be as damaging as a physical beating. 

                                                          Meggie when she was still at a foster home

I am not a poet by any stretch of the imagination, but I tend to write when I feel strongly about something—whatever that “something” might be. In this instance, it is what I experienced with Meggie one early morning. It had such a profound affect on me that I was compelled to write this poem about it. 

Feel free to pass this along to anyone involved in animal rescue, or who might be interested in adopting a homeless pet, or a pet from a shelter. 

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