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With Christmas rapidly approaching, many people might be contemplating buying our loved ones a puppy or kitten as a gift. While this type of gift might be given with love, they might not be used with love over the long term.

Dogs and cats are not objects that may be bought and sold and forgotten. They look so cute all wrapped up in pretty bows and ribbons, but what then? They are not toys that can be tossed into the backyard when we’ve become bored or tired of them.

Our local animal shelters are full of dogs and cats that have been forgotten and neglected. Cute little puppies and kittens grow up to become adults with personalities, and eventually become old and sick and need our love more than ever.

It has become common knowledge among the scientific community that animals, and I’ll use dogs as an example, feel the same emotions and physical pain that humans do. Dogs feel sad, happy, scared, worried, excited and lonely. They also feel physical pain but are able to hide it very well. It is up to us, their owners, to sense their emotions and have a greater understanding of their physical pains so we can help them. This is our moral obligation to the pets that are in our care — to treat them with dignity and respect in sickness and in health. If this sounds like too much work or responsibility, then a dog or cat is probably not a good idea for you or your family.

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Ellie Whitney

Billings

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