MURPHYSBORO — Everyone’s seen this image: The sweet-faced golden, fluffy puppy with the big red bow. The chubby-cheeked child wraps his or her arms around it, tossing out names as their face gets licked and everyone is happy.
Here’s the image not everyone sees: Parents pulling their hair out as they look down at that sweet, new puppy that has ripped up a prized book or pair of shoes or has deposited fresh urine on the carpet. The image of dogs quickly put in kennels and taken back to the shelter just weeks after they were brought home.
Diane Daugherty doesn’t want to see this happen. She is the president of the board of St. Francis CARE Animal Shelter in Murphysboro and she said her shelter won’t even adopt out animals to people giving them as gifts if the other party doesn’t know about it.
“It’s a lifelong commitment,” she said, adding that bringing an animal home takes considerable thought.
The shelter does make some exceptions for parents gifting to children, but she said they need to do one thing — research. Looking back to the anecdote to young dogs, or even older, untrained dogs, that get mixed up in mischief, Daugherty said this isn’t a reason to bring the dog back.
“That’s not the dog’s fault,” she said, adding that training is part of the owner’s responsibility and if someone can’t get with that, she had some simple words.
“Then you are too stupid to own a dog,” she said.
At the shelter, she said it is the saddest thing to see a family come in for a dog only to bring it back weeks later after realizing they got in over their heads.
“It’s not a used car lot,” she said, remembering one family who came to surrender an elderly dog that was getting to be too much only to then ask to see their stock of puppies.
Daugherty said the “animals as gifts” problem isn’t as bad as it once was, she thinks people are wising up. But the message is still worth getting out there.
Instead of buying someone an animal, she had another idea: Get someone a spay or a neuter for their pet. This way, the community is one step closer to solving the unwanted animal problem.