Is It Friendly?

13 Aug

This stupid question is a pet peeve of mine.  

As an animal worker, I quickly learned that owners cannot be trusted to deliver accurate



information on their pet’s temperament.  More than once, I or my co-workers have had to get the gloves (or worse got injured) by a “gentle” pet.  On the other hand, almost 85% of cats being called “fractious” by owners let me take their rectal temperature independently.  It’s not the owner’s fault.  Really, asking ANYONE this question about any animal is not appropriate.

defensive or hungry (depending on noises)

defensive or hungry (depending on noises)

Any breed/species, any size, any average attitude, in any situation is liable to act out of character.  You can’t say with confidence that an animal is nice/mean/whatever, because it’s mood and behavior is always changing based on the environment and the circumstances.  This is why people that have bonded with their wild animals should still take safety precautions.  And why people’s tigers maul them and their monkeys bite their face off when they don’t.  This is why your kitty who is sweet and cuddly at home turns all teeth and claws at the vet.  Any animal has the potential to defend itself or aggress.

Today, Cool and I had to transport another abandoned kitten to the shelter.  This is



unacceptable and I hate the type of person that does this!  But that’s a subject in another post.  Anyway, our landlord’s kids had crated the kitten, but that had been hours prior and in our relatively quiet courtyard.  When the shelter-worker went to transfer the kitten from the landlord’s crate to their cage, he asked, “Is it friendly?”  I thought–are you kidding with this?  Do you ask everyone this?  How many times has this heeding the answer to this question backfired?  Additionally, I thought–wow, not the smartest to let people help you load animals (for liability), and do you really think it’s a

impatient--leave me alone

impatient–leave me alone

good idea to do this in the lobby (with other animals present and people coming in and out the door to the busy street)?

I told him I didn’t know.  Which I didn’t because I never handled her.  And because I wasn’t sure how stressed she might be from the crate/ride/noisy lobby/touching by strangers/etc. .  So he asked me again, “Is she friendly?”  This time with an edge to his voice.  I again responded I didn’t know.

If you can’t ascertain an animal’s temperament by looking at it’s body language, listening to it, feeling the tenseness of the body–you’re in trouble in animal-related fields.  If you can’t handle yourself appropriately and restrain as the current situation calls for–you shouldn’t be handling animals.  Especially in an open lobby with



the client’s assistance.  By the way, I could have easily done this by myself, but hung back because I realize they have liabilities and respect they want to do their job.

This reminded me 1)  what a pet-peeve that question is and how many people have run into trouble by listening to inaccurate answers 2) I could NEVER, NEVER, NEVER work in shelter medicine.  The people that come in are trashy, hateful, and/or irresponsible.  The workers are incompetent, burned-out, overworked, and jaded.  It’s busy and understaffed.  You would come face-to-face with the reality of the animal overpopulation problem.  Constantly.  It would simultaneously make me



belligerent and break my heart.

So Sir, you get a pass for terrible, inept customer service because of all the things you put up with at your job on a daily basis.  But I suggest you stop asking people what an animal’s temperament is and pay attention to the actual animal–they’ll tell you the truth.

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