Viewpoint: Respect your pets

Trey Gregory | Copy Desk Chief
Trey Gregory | Copy Desk Chief

By Trey Gregory
Copy Desk Chief

Cherish your pet and make sure it is always taken care of. That may seem like an obvious statement to some. However, just about every day I discover a new reason to believe that a lot of people take their animals for granted.

You can credit it to God, evolution or anything else that you want, but there is something special about the relationship between humans and animals. It has been proven that people with pets live longer, have lower blood pressure and are less prone to depression. It has also been proven that a single dog can be more effective than an entire team of psychiatric experts when given to a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder.

Yet so many people take their pets for granted and even neglect or abuse them. My wife works in a local veterinary clinic. She tells me a story about a new animal who was neglected or abused about every day, and it’s absolutely heart wrenching. Also, for reasons I can’t explain, it seems that about every other week a new stray cat or dog somehow finds its way to my or my mother’s house in China Spring. We were able to locate the animal’s owner more times than I would have thought, but they didn’t want their pet anymore.

My personal interactions with animals have been some of the most rewarding relationships of my life. The first time I can remember an animal being more than just an average pet to me was on my first deployment to Afghanistan. I was a Navy Corpsman assigned to a Marine Corps unit. During the winter of 2007 – 2008 I spent four months in the secluded mountains of Nuristan without many luxuries or entertainment. The shabby billeting I did have was infested with mice that would run into my head at night and they chewed through my only pair of headphones while I was sleeping. So, I took it upon myself to lure in a feral afghan cat and he brought his little sister with him. This was truly one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only was my mouse infestation solved, but I found hours of entertainment and companionship during some trying times.

On the opposite side of that story were some of the U.S. Army soldiers in Nuristan with me. For some reason, they thought it was cool and funny to kill cats and would say things like, “The only good cat is a dead cat.” They spent their winter complaining about mice and were bored out of their minds as we had no TV and only had Internet for about an hour a day.

In October 2010 I returned from my second deployment to Afghanistan. I was extremely fortunate and a married couple, who are two of my best friends, took me in and let me live with them for two years. I was in a long distance relationship, had multiple medical problems, was transitioning from Afghanistan back to the U.S., and had the stresses of planning on getting out of the military. As wonderful as my friends were, their two cats and dogs helped me get through more hard times than I can count.

Now my wife and I have two cats and two dogs, and we even just picked up a foster dog. So many animals can get a little intense, but it’s worth every moment.

So I get so upset when I hear about people who don’t appreciate their animals. They are more than hunting tools, security guards and rodent control. Pets deserve love and respect. It is a great responsibility to care for animals and people should respect and cherish that.

I have no problem with people who don’t feel the same about animals as me. If someone is indifferent about animals, that is fine, to each their own. But at the very least respect the life of these creatures. Make sure to call animal control if you see a stray and get your animal spayed and neutered to keep the population down so we don’t have so many animals that have to get euthanized. The City of Waco provides low cost spay, neutering, and microchipping through the Animal Birth Control Clinic so there really is no excuse to not provide the most basic steps to ensure your pet has a quality life.

Trey Gregory is a junior journalism major from Albuquerque, N.M. He is the copy desk chief for the Lariat.