by Melissa Lambarena
Alfred the cat was found in a feral cat colony malnourished as a result of a respiratory infection. At 10+ years, the elderly cat held on tightly to the last of his nine lives. He nursed his way back to health at Heaven on Earth Society for Animals, a non-profit in Van Nuys that aims to improve the quality of life for homeless animals, and he was later adopted. Not all stories have a happy ending like Alfred’s.
Many people opt for the cute little ball of fur they see in the window of a pet store, but that pet may also have its own tragic story to tell. Pets from pet stores most likely come from a mill where they’ve endured horrifying conditions. Jill Buckley, Esq., Senior Director of ASPCA Community Initiative says that pet mills don’t want shoppers to see their facilities, so they use websites to lure customers and pick a public place to sell the pet desired.
The ASPCA describes pet mills as small confined spaces with unsanitary conditions. Pets are crammed into cages and stacked up in columns where waste from cages up above falls onto pets below. Conditions result in sores, severe dental diseases, abscesses, matting and more. Sick pets are often unsellable and abandoned or left to die, and often pets are sold regardless of health conditions.
California law SB917 aims to prevent animal cruelty by increasing the misdemeanor penalty for animal neglect and prohibiting the sale or give away of a pet as part of a commercial transaction on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival or boardwalk.
According to Eri Kriteman, Founder and Executive Director of Heaven on Earth Society for Animals, more than four million pets are killed every year in animal shelters across the nation. More pets are now in need of adoption as they lose their homes in the economic crisis through unemployed owners that are forced to move into apartments that don’t allow pets.
Kriteman suggests adopting because pets are typically spayed or neutered, vaccinated, tested for certain diseases, flea and worm free, micro-chipped and overall healthy. If you would like to adopt a pet in need visit the municipal shelter where animals run a higher risk of being put down. Families wanting pets with specific qualities should contact a rescue group that will know the history and personality of pets in their care.
Jen Lozano of Sherman Oaks is thankful to have adopted Ayla, her beagle spaniel mix. Although it wasn’t love at first sight, the pair bonded instantly and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
“I was interested in Ayla’s sister because of her coloring, but Ayla’s sister was hyper and not interested in me,” said Lozano. “Ayla came directly to sit on my lap and that was all it took, she chose me.”
A recent visit to Star Eco-Station in Culver City drives home the importance of making responsible decisions when it comes to pet adoption. Many of the rescued animals who call Star home were saved from well intentioned pet owners who got in over their heads while others were seized during illegal animal trafficking and smuggling activities.
From warm and snuggly to slithery and scaly, watch the latest episode of California Living on EncinoMom.tv. Meet some of the abandoned or surrendered animals (like the carnivorous lizard pictured) that people thought might make good household companions. What kind of pets call your house home?