LESLIE CRISS: No season seems right for surrendering family pets

“Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.”

Milan Kundera

“A dog (or cat) is for life, and not just for Christmas.”

National Canine Defense League



Every Wednesday morning, photographer Lauren Wood and I leave the Journal and head to the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society.

We visit the homeless cats and dogs and choose four each week to photograph and write about for the Journal’s Pets of the Week feature.

Two are published in the Sunday Living section; two in Lee County Neighbors on Thursdays.

When I tell people we go there, they ask how we can possibly do it.

It isn’t easy. It’s heartbreaking. Every visit Lauren and I usually get attached to one of the shelter pets and fight the weekly urge to take one home.

I have to be content to love and care for the three dogs already at my house. Still and yet, I find it difficult not to fall in love with others.

Since I’ve been doing this weekly task, my sister has adopted a Tupelo/Lee puppy and so has my father.

We’ve been told this weekly posting of pets and their pictures has helped with the adoptions at the shelter. I hope so. That’s why we do it.

The folks at the shelter are working hard to keep the place clean, giving the animals a safe, warm space to hang out until someone comes along and offers a forever home. They are well fed and cared for during their time at the shelter.

The shelter pets arrive in different ways. Some are picked up by an animal control officer; others are brought in by kind animal lovers who see a stray and choose to take it to a safe place where it might have a chance at adoption and a better life than roaming the streets and foraging for food.

The saddest animals at the shelter are the ones who had homes, but suddenly have homes no longer.

The paperwork outside their cages reads, “Owner surrender.” The excuses may differ from pet to pet. From my perspective, none are truly valid.

The one reason that seems in the least bit acceptable is that the owner has become ill or is at an age where he or she can no longer physically care for the animal. I’m sure having to give up a beloved pet is heartbreaking for the owner in those cases.

“Dog keeps having accidents in house.” “We are moving to another town.” “Cat sheds on furniture.” “I have a new job and just don’t have enough time for the dog anymore.”

I didn’t make these up. They are some of the real reasons given when folks abandon dogs and cats – some of them elderly. They go from having room, board and, hopefully, a modicum of care to being homeless and frightened.

Young children – including babies – have accidents, make messes, take time, need love and attention. Thankfully, most people don’t abandon them because they decide they are too much trouble.

Please, think long and hard before making a commitment to an animal. Make sure it’s a commitment you can – and will – keep.

And to those of you who offer these abandoned pets a second or third chance…

You rock.


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  • Dana Carver

    God Bless you. I seem to want the ones that are returns! I was given a 2nd chance, why shouldn’t they. I was volunteering one day when my Freddy chose me. He was a return. The paperwork said unrealistic expectations, what does that truly mean? No, he doesn’t play alot. He sleeps on my bed and sheds like crazy. He’s terrified of storms and drives me insane. But he chose me! I love Freddy. He’s never had an accident, he’s never torn up a shoe. He’s never bitten anyone or failed to give love. So…what did his previous owners expect him to do?


    Thank you for this service Chris. All my pets are rescues: a ton of trouble: but a daily reminder of unconditional love.