Letter from the Editor: Whether you adopt a pet or foster one, you're saving furry little lives
There aren't a lot of things I'll flat-out lecture anyone -- friend, family or stranger -- about, whether I know them or not.
But buying pets from a breeder or pet store? Oh, that's certainly one of them.
According to the nonprofit American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 6.5 million dogs and cats enter shelters every year, and about 1.5 million of them will be euthanized each year.
So explain to me again why there are people paying thousands (you read that right) of dollars for a cat or dog when there are animals in shelters waiting patiently for a forever home? And, depending on where they are, waiting to find that home before they're euthanized?
I've adopted all my pets over the years, and they all have their own quirky personalities: they've been goofy, sweet, loyal, sometimes crabby but always lovable little companions -- even the cat who kind of wanted to murder my husband (but in a cute, "I'll someday take over the world and will not be a benevolent overlord" kind of way)
I know I've talked before about the cat we recently adopted, Alexis Something Rose, who suddenly started only answering to Ham Sandwich one day. (see what I mean? Cats, man. They're so weird!)
Lexie Ham Sandwich is very particular about her toys and has favorites. She's a big fan of catnip and treats; she is very much NOT a fan of taking medicine.
When we had her at the vet recently -- an all-cat vet -- they all fawned over how "cute" she is (and she really is, right?)
She's so afraid of the dark we have to leave a light on at night for her.
But then there's the other thing: She always has to know where we are, all the time.
It started the very first day we brought her home. She had to keep making sure we were there, so she'd run between us, kind of hug us with her paws, purr, lather, rinse, repeat. For hours.
Like she was so grateful to have people, she just had to keep reminding us or something?
It was the sweetest, most wonderful thing: Unconditional love. Because that's what pets are all about.
They love you whether you're happy or sad, whether or not you're having a good day, and even when you've set the bar just a little bit lower for "messy bun."
Couldn't we all use some of that right now?
Well, there are easy, free opportunities available to qualified adopters this month at Heartland Animal Shelter, 2975 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook, because November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month.
According to the shelter's newsletter, if you are qualified to adopt, fees are waived for senior cats 8 and older, and Stella & Chewy's, a premium pet food maker, will reimburse adoption fees for dogs 7 and older.
There is never a fee if a senior person 65 or older would like to adopt one of the senior pets.
Here's the thing: Senior pets can still be just as playful and goofy as their younger shelter buddies, but even if they aren't, they have a lifetime of love to give.
Plus, with age comes experience, right? No house training with dogs or litter training with cats. BONUS.
FYI: Like every other shelter, Heartland is adopting by appointment only right now.
But I know what a few of you are thinking: "Mel, that sounds nice, but I'm just not sure about having a pet."
Heartland needs you, too. Have you ever considered becoming a temporary foster?
Giving a pet a home for a little while, just until they find their forever home -- Heartland is seeking foster families for their animals as well.
For details about fostering or to make an appointment to adopt a senior pet, visit heartlandanimalshelter.org.
Think of it this way: By adopting or fostering, you're giving an animal a forever home, making room in the shelter for another animal -- so you've made life better for two -- and getting nothing but love in return. OK, love and litterbox scooping, but it's worth it.
• Melynda has worked at the Daily Herald for 21 years. Please look at how cute Lexie's giant paws are. They're too big for her little self!