6 of 8 Family Pets Killed, Because…

signs“6 of 8 Family Pets KILLED cuz you people REFUSE to SLOW DOWN”

I saw the sign while out walking dogs not that far from my house. The message was forceful, the anger palpable.
PETS.                    KILLED.                    YOU PEOPLE.                     REFUSE. 
The words jumped out at me as though an invisible fist had punched me in the stomach.

Pets died and it was someone else’s fault… some evil entity, a speed demon, lurking behind the steering wheel of a mechanical beast running down innocent pets. Really?

signMy heart aches for the pets that died, and for the loss suffered by the families who loved them.  I can only imagine how distraught the drivers must’ve been if they’d seen and known they caused injury to a dog or cat.

But, really? I didn’t see tire tracks across any of the front lawns in this neighborhood.  Surely the faceless drivers, THOSE PEOPLE, didn’t ride up on the grass deliberately accelerating toward the sleeping dog resting in the shade of the maple tree.

Where is the responsibility of the pet owner? Why was the animal allowed to roam?  No fence, no kennel, no tie out, no zip line, no Invisible Fence™, no supervision… no responsibility. In their grief, does it help them to blame someone else? Perhaps, but anger rarely brings comfort. And anger will certainly not bring the beloved animal back.

The sign might serve to slow traffic down a bit for a short time, until everyone has read it and the novelty wears off.  It might bring some awareness to the families living in the neighborhood with pets and children. It might help drivers to realize the street is home to good folks and not just a thoroughfare for commuters.  But it doesn’t bring the deceased pets back, and it won’t likely save future pets from meeting a similar fate.

When we bring an animal into our home we make an unspoken pact with that animal to keep them safe in a warm in a loving environment. We feed them, we love them, we train them, we keep them clean and healthy.  In exchange, they comfort us, love us, listen to us, play with us and perhaps alert us to intruders.

signsDo not misunderstand.  I am NOT blaming the victim, the animal did not deserve to die.  I’m suggesting that we all need to take personal responsibility for the safety of our companion animals. People do need to slow down in residential areas, but pet owners also need to take necessary precautions and defensive measures.  A sign after the fact is just a cover for negligence and neglectful ownership.

So, I wonder, will the people who lost their pets learn from their animals’ sacrifice? Will the next cat or dog be left to roam the streets, visiting friends and neighbors on a whim, allowed to dart out after a rabbit or squirrel? Or will they be cared for, confined to a safe and comfortable area, taught to stay home and come when called?  I hope for the latter, but when you’re hurt and angry it’s sometimes easier to blame others than to take responsibility for your own actions (or lack of) - but it will not erase the responsibility you have for the life of your pet.