Stop Dumping Animals!


I am so sick of this. On NextDoor, on the online community site, a picture of a once pet Chinchilla on a hot Chicago sidewalk was posted. Whether he was dumped or somehow escaped, it’s impossible to say for sure, but likely dumped. And it seems, there’s been more of this in recent years.

Two purebred Lionhead rabbits were left outdoors when a family moved from their home Wilton Manors, FL. These domestic rabbits weren’t spayed or neutered, so they proceeded to do what rabbits do. Now there are over 60 rabbits, who actually are not equipped to deal with predators or even the Florida heat. Many succumb to fatal heatstroke. Still, though, they reproduce like rabbits and there are currently efforts to rescue them, and spay/neuter.

Pet alligators are dumped all over the country, while most may survive in Florida, Chicago winters are hardly a climate suited for the gators. If he wasn’t caught in a Chicago Park District Lagoon a few years ago, Chance the Snapper would have died. Gators have even been rescued from the Great Lakes but how many have never been discovered and die?

Florida is the state for discarded animals, some survive and some don’t but all disrupt the ecosystem. There are so many invasive species in Florida alone that there’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to this. Some species, like the brown rat, have interacted with Florida species not only in Florida but elsewhere for decades. However, other species, ranging from the Rhesus Macaque (a kind of monkey) to Burmese python were once kept as pets and then let loose.

Turtles, snakes and lizards of all kinds are high on the list of animals left to fend for themselves, as are domestic rabbits and domestic ferrets. People think it’s a good idea to get an unusual or exotic pet, but get bored with the animal or can no longer care for it, and then simply release it. During the pandemic Guinea pigs were a big hit at pet stores, but many have been let loose. New York City experienced a kind of Guinea pig explosion in parks. Sadly, all these animals quickly die of starvation or are eaten by another animal for which they have no defense.

Of course, people like me talk about how a pet is a responsibility – which is true….but that talk is merely talk and doesn’t seem to matter. These individuals apparently don’t care, and can’t be educated or shamed into doing the right thing, which is caring appropriately for the pet for life, finding someone else to care for the pet, or not getting the animal in the first place. I don’t have a solution – though some favor legislation banning certain animals in certain places. The problem is then which species are on the banned list, and what about people who do care very properly for pet turtles, snakes or whatever the animal is? Why should they pay a price because a minority doing something incredibly reckless and cruel?