Home: Pet: Unwanted
Companion dispenser   (+5, -5)  [vote for, against]
A way to dovetail lonely kennel pups with lonely aerobic walkers

At parks and trails, install an ATM type kiosk where anyone with a valid bankcard can register a pet for a few hours or days at no charge.

Pets would be supplied by the humane society and would present to the door on a leash and fully certified as healthy. The animals would be maintained in separate pens within the take out site, and a registration would trigger a sweeper that would coax the pet into walking out by pulling on the pet's leash.

The leassor would agree to walk the pet and to return it within a specified time, or keep the pet if some kind of unexplained bonding occurs. Returns would work the same as take outs, and could be done at any registered take out site.

I originally thought this could work without a caretaker onsite, but I reconsider that it may be wiser to have someone there (just like in human adoptions) to see that no one tries anything stupid from the getgo, like attaching your companion to a bicycle or jetski. It might be good idea to followup any nonreturns to make certain the companion wasn't left in a newspaper box somewhere.
-- reensure, May 26 2000

Alley Cat Allies http://www.alleycat.org/
promotes humane, non-lethal control of feral cats in Washington D.C. area [johan, May 26 2000]

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary http://www.bestfriends.org/
Probably the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the U.S. [johan, May 26 2000]

(?) Unwanted Dog Postboxes in Japan http://www.times-ar...timfgnfar01001.html
The News Of The Weird item [crando] recalled summarizes this London Times article [jutta, May 26 2000]

(?) Puppy mill Puppy_20mill
Another attempt at enriching the lives of pound animals... probably not as good. [ye_river_xiv, Feb 19 2007]

Emotional cruelty to an innocent puppy is the first thing that crosses my mind.

Is there a limit to satire?

Should ethics come into the discussion here?
-- eagle, May 26 2000

Sure, eagle. Who's ethics did you have in mind?
-- centauri, May 26 2000

If you think there's something wrong with the idea (and I didn't say I thought it was perfect or that I condoned it) come up with a way to fix it. I thought that's what this site was all about: tossing out wacky ideas and having others play around with them.

You can't just substitute "baby" in for "puppy" to make your point. No institution (that I know of) is going to euthanize a human baby because no one wants it. The Humane Society will put a dog to sleep, eventually. At what point does the possibility of "emotional torture" (along with a little exercise, probably snacks, and temporary interaction with some fun humans) outweigh the certainty of death?

How is this any different from people paying to go on horse rides? The horse probably has more of an idea of what's going on than the dog and the horse has a to carry a person and gear, some if it in its mouth. Or is this unethical too? Where do you draw the line?

I don't like this idea as it stands, either. I think it should be a lot more like horse rides. The dogs would be owned and cared for by an established group based near some hiking trails. The dogs would have some basic training, including how to find their way back. Collars hold GPS and biotelemetry rigs. Dogs get exercise, people get exercise and time to spend with a dog. Some people, like those forced to live in the city, could send their dogs to this institution and visit them.

<Hamlet quote deleted as [johan]'s point is taken. I just like the sound of that quote.>
-- centauri, May 26 2000, last modified Jul 14 2000

Well, I suggested the GPS and biotelemetry stuff so that the owner of the establishment could be sure of where the dogs were and their state of health and not have to be around them during the rental period. Besides, most of the ideas on this site seem to take advantage of GPS ("It's like a toaster, but you always know EXACTLY where it is...").

My experience has been that dogs are only really worth the slobbering, sniffing, and jumping if I have at least a slight emotional attachment to them, so I can't see this operation being that enjoyable anyway.

Rentable _monkeys,_ now....

Just kidding.
-- centauri, May 26 2000

Re: emotional torture.

Is it any less torture to keep a dog in a concrete pen inside a building, able to hear and smell other dogs but never to interact? The only contact it gets is people walking past the cage and looking at it, and the person who brings food. The lucky ones get taken home, most of them are killed. <If only more people would have their dogs fixed to avoid this problem...Cats too.>

I think that at least this way they'd get a bit of enjoyment out of their short lives.

<Caveat: I haven't been to a pound since I was a little kid. My parents tell me I started crying because of all the dogs that I COULDN'T take home, when I knew what was going to happen to them. Things may have changed since....but I don't think so.>
-- StarChaser, May 27 2000

I think the eagle's criticism is that "owning" a pet isn't like renting a bike, but rather like having a friend. Most people wouldn't be happy being checked out to a new friend every day for some small, abitrary amount of time.

The question is, if you were in prison for no reason except that no one cared enough to take care of you, would you rather stay in prison all day, or get randomly released to for an hour or two to be a companion for a complete and total stranger? For the purposes of thinking from the animal's perspective, you may want to keep in mind that they probably don't know they will be killed when the "prison" runs out of funds to care for them.

I understand the sentiment behind the idea, and appreciate the compassion behind it, but unless it caused a large number of "good" adoptions (animals that weren't returned or abandoned) i think the money would be better spent supporting no-kill shelters or organizations that try to help control urban stray pet populations.

According to Best Friends, in 1999 fewer than 5 million animals were killed because shelters couldn't afford to keep them. This is a hell of a lot of needless death, but in 1987 that number was 17 million. So perhaps there is hope that with work and support of no-kill shelters, the killing of unwanted animals could end in the U.S.
-- johan, May 28 2000

centauri: What are you getting at with your Hamlet quotation? When Hamlet utters those words, he is telling Rosencranz that Denmark is a "prison." When Rosecranz says, "We think not so," then Hamlet replies: "Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison." I hear Hamlet saying that with more sarcasm than "moral relativism" or nihilism. In otherwords: "Well, Rosencranz, my Uncle's killed my Dad, the King, and now just 2 weeks later, he's sleeping with my Mom, but if you *think* Denmark's a good place, then the situation must only seem bad because i *think* it's bad..."
-- johan, May 28 2000

Last rant: If the idea was simply a way to add happiness to a pound dog's life, I would not have ranted at all. But the idea seems to use pound dogs because they're the cheapest source of rental material -- not out of good-heartedness.

So let's stop trying to justify this idea because it would benefit the pound. If you really want to benefit the pound and their poor inhabitants, work on ideas to:

a) Raise money for the SPCA so that it doesn't have to kill any animals.

b) Encourage people to spay (sp?) or neuter their animals that they have no intention to breed properly.

c) Encourage good people to adopt pound animals rather than buying pure-bred puppies from pet stores.

Our local "Petcetera" pet shop does not sell puppies or kittens that come from breeders. Instead, they act as a "retail outlet" for the local SPCA's adult and puppy/kitten adoption programs, without even marking-up the price that the SPCA charges. Almost every animal they bring in finds a good home.
-- eagle, May 29 2000

It's my understanding they already do this in Japan; it was a News of the Weird item some months ago.
-- crando, Jun 26 2000

In my evil yuppie-puppie neighborhood, the pets have permanent companion status -- the friends and lovers are much more temporary.
-- hannahm, Jun 28 2000

I don't know about other people, but I am mostly a cat person. This does not keep me from having contact with dogs though. I've gone over to a friends house who has owned a dog. The dog never knew me, and the dog was well taken carre of. Despite the GREAT conditions and the fact that I was a stranger, the dog was overjoyed when I took him for a walk.
-- lockle, Aug 16 2000

What a horrible idea!
-- Foxy, Jun 11 2001

OK, try this on for size:

If you have a friendly dog, in the city (if you MUST!) you can have it assessed by a welfare expert from the park-n-wag kiosk at your local park. If he/she thinks it's temperamentally well-suited, they'll give you a dog-walking service for free, collecting Rover every morning and returning him every evening.

At the Park-n-Wag, city dwellers with leisure on their minds can really enjoy mucking around in the park by hiring the dog (leaving a deposit/ID), thus paying for Park-n-Wag's low overheads. Each dog may have certain instructions attached ("no jumping in ponds, please") or be allowed a rich and varied experience with no strings attached.

Benefits: a) The dogless get to enjoy the company of a dog b) The dogless aren't compelled to buy their own dogs, adding to the tonnage of excrement already deposited on urban soil and paving every year. c) Energetic dogs get a proper work-out every day, with no cost barrier to dog owners who can't afford to pay a dog walker. d) A job or two is created

For the worthy among you, you might sponsor a dog from a shelter to be housed at the Park-N-Wag, with a dogtag saying 'I'm available'.
-- adhib, Feb 05 2002

Thank you, I'm certainly not advocating an end to animal shelters ("The 'pound" is a venerable tax-supported institution here). Please freely leave your own dog if you want for a few days, because they get taken back to the pound at night anyway. I'd just like the pound to be a little closer to my house so I'd enjoy it more. Plus, with the ATM card for verification, it wouldn't really cost me anything to walk with a dog and I'd probably save money eventually over the cost of keeping my present ill-tempered and unsocialized beast. (No explanation for this, I've always had a "way" with dogs and cats)
-- reensure, Feb 05 2002

This certainly isn't a great idea, but there is still plenty of room for improving the lot of pound animals. Currently, the dogs get very little social interraction, and virtually no human contact. Dogs kept this way, as in a no-kill shelter, or a place that euthanizes only after a very long period will get out of shape, and unfriendly. Moreover, the feral animal population cannot be completely cared for, due to lack of funding.

I had suggested a "puppy mill" (See Link) to help improve the lot of the animals a little, and while that idea improves the health, and funding issue, it does nothing to add human interaction, so your idea, bad as it is, is still better.

Problems: 1: The name sounds cruel. Something a little more friendly might work better.

2: Allowing owners to leave their pets there may not be wise. Admittedly, a lot of house pets could use a more enriched environment, but putting them in with pound animals is a surefire recipe for turning this into an unwanted pet dumping ground.

3: Currently, anyone would be allowed to take as many animals as they want. RFID implants, already used in animals, and GPS tracking collars might help protect the animals a little, but I would feel better if this service had some membership requirements. A certain waiting period, obtaining some of the licensing the local authorities mandate for pet owners, and perhaps even a background check would be a great service to the animals. Added costs might be mitigated by easier prosecution in the event of pet violations, as well as annual membership fees, which most people forget to cancel out of until they get hit with the bill after stopping the service. The pets themselves would also benefit from a members-only type arrangement, because they would then be more likely to see some of the same faces over and over again, and such regular visitors could then be notified before the animal was scheduled to be euthanized. Such a warning might prompt quite a few emergency animal adoptions, thus saving animal lives.
-- ye_river_xiv, Feb 19 2007

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