(The Essay Contest 2006 awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the Sundowner-Chocolate Auction at the Humane Society Thrift Store on April 26, when the first prize and two honorable mention winners were presented with their checks.)
Should there be requirements for adopting a pet, or should anyone be able to have one? This was the question that the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs asked Archuleta County junior high age students to address in its essay contest. For Jacob Ormonde, the winner of the $100 first prize, the three main requirements to be considered before adopting a pet are affordability, a safe environment, and commitment. Jacob drew on personal experience since his animal family includes two dogs, a cat, and a duck who is "the boss over all." (Read Jacob's winning essay, "Friend For Life".) Jacob was given the opportunity to read his essay to the assembled group of over 120 people.
The Humane Society has recently instituted a mandatory home inspection visit prior to all dog adoptions, which evaluates these very issues. The most important factor to be considered according to Jacob is whether someone has "the commitment, love and time to put towards" a pet.
In addition to the winning essay, two essays were selected to receive Honorable Mention awards of $25 each. The winners of the Honorable Mentions were Danielle Pajak and Jordan Wagner. Danielle stated that "it is not only logical, but ethical" to have requirements for pet adoption since "the point of adopting a pet is to give a good home to an animal, not a bad one." (Read Danielle's essay, "Pet Requirements Are a Must".) In her essay entitled "Great Pets Deserve Great Owners," Jordan cited having time, patience, and love as important criteria for pet adoption. (Read Jordan's essay, "Great Pets Deserve Great Owners".)
It was gratifying for the Contest Committee and the judges to see how well all of the twenty eight students who entered the contest understood the importance of having requirements for pet adoption. While some of the animals at the shelter are strays, too many dogs and cats are brought in by their owners because they did not understand the responsibility involved in having a pet. Since the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs does not euthanize animals based on arbitrary time and space criteria, many of these animals spend a long time at the shelter waiting for the right person to come and adopt them. It is always rewarding when the Shelter staff is able to find the right home for each animal. While it might be tempting to place the animals with anyone who wants one, the staff has learned that this can result in the animal being returned to the shelter, an experience which is devastating to the dog or cat.