Thursday, October 11, 2012

Reality Tv and Pet Ownership

After watching a reality show for a while it always happens.  It doesn't matter what the topic is or how invested in the show I have become.  Once it happens I suddenly realize all the other faults of the show and can no longer watch it.  The bad pet owner moment. 

Last night it happened on 19 Kids and Counting.  I have been watching this family since there very first TLC special a decade or so ago.  I think there were 14 kids and one on the way at that time.  I am fascinated by the number of the children that they have and the ability for the parents to keep everyone well behaved and getting along.  They have no debt.  They make their money off real estate investments.  No one works a 9-5 job.  They spend all of their time with their family.  Whether you have 1 kid or no kids it's definitely a lesson that you can do more with less if you plan properly. 

The family lives in rural Arkansas and is extremely religious.  There have been moments over the years when they have done or said something that made me cringe.  Visiting the creationism museum.  Continuing to not use birth control despite the medical problems that the last two pregnancies caused for the mother and the death of their last baby.  But none of these things bothered me enough to get me to stop liking the show.

Last night the family adopted several kittens that were being given away for free or that they found as strays.  Any time I see children around kittens and puppies it drives me nuts because 99% of the time the parents don't teach the children how to interact with them properly.  The kids are chasing the animals, picking them up, pulling their tails, interrupting their sleeping, eating, etc.  These are all habits that can lead to bad behavior in the pets as they get older.  When the cat scratches the kid or the dog growls at him to tell him to back off the animal is dumped at the nearest shelter (or worse) because it has shown signs of aggression.  No one tells these people that they are the ones who have caused this aggression.  So a couple years later they get new kittens/puppies and the cycle starts all over again.

The Duggar's oldest son also adopted a kitten.  To their credit, they were doing a better job teaching their children how to interact with the kitten than their parents.  Unfortunately they belong tothe tribe of idiots who think cats are wild animals.  They let the cat live in the house for a while and then it becomes an outdoor cat.  Like somehow this is the normal rite of passage in a domestic cat's life.  They had a kitten a couple of years ago that disappeared shortly after they let it outside.  They assumed the cat had decided to live with a neighbor or some other improbable ending.  The reality is that the cat got killed by a feral cat or another animal or got hit by a car.  A domestic cat is in no way prepared to fend for itself in the wild.  If it is a barn cat that was born outside and is surrounded by other barn cats that teach it how to live, absolutely.  But that's not the case. 

I have a friend who lives in Philadelphia.  Her and her husband adopted a cat that they let outside.  This cat has been seriously injured several times.  Each time they take it to the emergency vet and then let it back outside once it has healed.  They say that cats belong outside. No one they knew growing up kept cats in the house.

Every week I see a dead cat on the side of the road.  There are cats roaming around my traffic-heavy suburban neighborhood.  I have seen foxes and other wild animals in the woods behind my house.  I know cats have been victim to wild animals as well.  It's depressing. 

I don't watch The Real World or any of the other over the top reality shows but if something crazy happens on one of those shows I know about it.  The mainstream news media with cover it.  Other shows will spoof it.  It will permanently become part of the pop culture history.  I wish there was the same sort of reaction when there are opportunities to educate people.  I wish someone would sit the Duggars down and have them watch a documentary about homeless pets in this country.  Because their kids are going to be just as ignorant as they are and continue to pass it along.