Opinion

Dumping a cat, even Clarice, is never a good idea | Guest Column | Dec. 24

This time of year, a package left at the door generally elicits merriment and surprise – maybe anticipation of fanciful gifts. Unfortunately, the gifts don’t always reflect so well on the giver.

On the night of Dec. 19, when PAWS was closed, someone left a cat in a cardboard carrier at the door of our adoption center on Miller Road. There was no note and no padding, food or water inside the throw-away carrier.

By chance one of our staff drove by and saw the pile of stuff, stopped and found the female cat (pictured), who is now being medically assessed.

Had no staff member driven by, the cat likely would have escaped the carrier by morning and become a grim statistic, fending for itself in an area with many dangers.

We’ve named this Christmas cat Clarice, after Rudolph’s reindeer girlfriend on the animated holiday classic.

As you may recall, Clarice inspired Rudolph to believe in himself and do the best he could, even when he was feeling down and times were tough. We hope Clarice the cat will inspire animal lovers to reach deep and try a little harder.

Although it is marginally better than the cowardly “releasing it in the countryside,” abandoning a pet at the closed door of an animal shelter is certainly inappropriate, potentially harmful and possibly illegal.

In this tough economy, shelters are coping the best we can with the increasing numbers of pets being relinquished for financial reasons

Like many shelters, PAWS has a prioritized waiting list, and we do the absolute best we can, with no government funding, for owners of cats like Clarice when they come through the appropriate channels.

PAWS is so grateful for the support of animal lovers who support our veterinary financial assistance fund for low-income pet owners, our free spay/neuter program for low-income pet owners, and our pet food bank that provides literally tons of pet food to food banks for pet owners in need.

The animal-loving community is pulling together through all this, and we’ve re-homed dozens of animals from pet owners facing hard times. As do all the other animal welfare groups, we do all we can to help out until an animal can be placed.

Although we don’t know the outcome yet for Clarice, she offers a great reminder that adding a pet to the family requires years of financial and emotional commitment.

The rewards are immeasurable but it’s a decision that never should be taken lightly. For more information, check out the Adoption section of our new website, www.pawsbainbridge.org.

In a related development, this week we initiated a brand-new, online county-wide lost-and-found pet registry at www.KitsapLostPets.org.

Pets sometimes escape, and this site will allow anyone to post a pet they’ve found or look for a pet they’ve lost, with pictures and locations.

It’s just another strand in the privately funded safety net that protects our community’s companion animals, and is fueled entirely by the compassion and commitment of animal lovers.

Here’s wishing everyone festive and furry family holidays.

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Mark Hufford is executive director of PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap.

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