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Living the Life

The Expat Pet

The domestication of animals began when tribal humans realized how much easier it was to hunt with wolf-dogs. With the advent of agriculture and farming, the list of domesticated animals expanded to include those that can provide food and labor. In a sense, domesticated animals are expats too as they followed or were brought along as humans migrated or settled around the world.

To a city dweller, when you say domesticated animal, most think of pets. Over 60% of American households have pets; some 78 million dogs and 94 millions cats live with their human owners. Keeping a pet is not about food (!) or labor but more about comfort and companionship. Most pet owners consider their petsĀ  member of the family. During the Katrina disaster, pet owners around the world sympathized with those who risked their lives to stay behind with their pets because they couldn’t be brought into the shelters. The Federal government had to enact policies to include pet care and rescue during disaster relief. People love their pets.

Adopt a pet

Expats with pets may have a difficult decision.

People who love their pets and become expats often have a dilemma: What happens to Fido or Fluffy? In the aftermath of Katrina, many have had to give up their pets as they move to new living conditions that do not allow pet ownership. And if there’s no disaster, no emergency? Until recently, Britain had a very strict quarantine policy of six months before allowing any animals into the country. Six months is a disproportionally long time if the expatriate experience is only going to be a year.

The Ad Council along with The Humane Society of the United States is currently running a campaign called The Shelter Pet Project to encourage people to adopt a pet from a shelter. Ads like the one called “moving” are posted on bus shelters and speak directly to those who are about to become an expat. It is a bittersweet solution. Still, there is a chance that your pet will find a new home — possibly with an expat who just move into the city and need the comfort and the companionship.


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