The Times West Virginian

November 2, 2013

Pets don’t always end up in ‘good home’

‘A lot of people don’t have good intentions’ for animals that owners elect to just give away

By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — When pet owners can no longer keep their animals, it’s not unusual that they offer them for free to a “good home.”

Unfortunately, according to Mary Sue Miller, a board member for the Marion County Humane Society, those pets don’t always end up in the hands of caring owners.

“You don’t know where these animals are going,” Miller said. “There are people out there that will abuse and neglect those animals.”

While some people are genuinely looking to adopt a pet into their family, Miller said others have cruel intentions.

“I’m not saying it’s everybody,” Miller said. “But a lot of people don’t have good intentions for an animal you just give away.”

According to Miller, puppies are sometimes used as bait for fighting dogs and kittens can be used as a source of food for other pets such as snakes.

Miler also said pets that are not spayed or neutered can be used to be bred.

“You never know where they’re going to end up,” Miller said. “They could in a fighting ring, tied to a chain, used as bait or used to be bred. It’s just not a good thing altogether.”

In order to try to ensure that pets, are, in fact, going to a good home, Miller recommended charging a fee instead of giving them away for free.

“If you charge a small fee, even just $50, people are less likely to pay that if their intentions are to abuse and neglect those animals,” she said.

In addition, Miller said anyone giving away a pet should make a visit to the home of the prospective owner.

“You should do a home check to see where these animals are going to be going and see how they’re going to live,” Miller said. “If people don’t want you coming to their house, it’s obviously not a good situation.”

Miller said there are many organizations that can be resources for people who need to give away their pets, including the Marion County Humane Society, other shelters and local rescue groups. Miller said she offers her own personnel to help to as many people as she can.

“I help everybody that I can come into contact with to find a home for their animal and make sure it goes to a good home,” Miller said.

Miller said people can also post pictures of their pets on Pet Finder and that she can assist with making home visits when possible.

According to Miller, the recommendations that she has for giving away pets are all policies that the Marion County Humane Society follows when a pet is being adopted.

“We have them fill out an application. We make home visits, call the landlord if they rent and if the person adopting is a college student, we call their parents,” she said.

All of those steps are ways to make sure the pets will be in good hands, Miller said.

In addition, Miller said that if for some reason an individual adopts a pet and later has to get rid of it, the humane society requests that it is brought back to the shelter.

“We’ve gotten animals back from people who had their pets for over three years,” Miller said. “We prefer that because then we know where they’re going to go.”

While no-kill animal shelters are a safe place for animals to go, Miller said community members also need to make responsible decisions to cut down on the animal population.

“It’s a really bad situation all around with homeless, abandoned, abused and neglected animals,” she said. “I try to be a voice for them. Everybody needs to stand up and take responsibility.”

And Miller said a big part of that responsibility means taking the right measures to ensure that pets go to the loving homes they deserve.

“The best thing you can do is charge a fee, have them spayed or neutered and do a home check,” Miller said. “It’s not too much to give to that pet that you promised a good lifetime to.”

Email Kaylyn Christopher at kchristopher@timeswv.com kchristopher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.