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AIBU to feel terribly guilty about previous pets

(8 Posts)
Mcmcmcmc Mon 23-Jan-17 23:56:47

I'm from a big family (5 siblings). When I was a child (not in the UK) we lived in a big house with a garden. We had lots of pets, including, at one point, 7 dogs, 2 turtles and 2 geese. They seemed like quite happy animals and were well fed, well looked after, with lots of room to run and play, etc.

Then lots of things happened, my grandmother got ill and bed bound and came to live with us to be cared for full time; my dad had cancer (he had an operation and chemo; he recovered and was well for another 7 years after, but it was still a tough time). Both my parents worked full time, and dad also had a long commute (obviously stopped working for a while when he was ill but then he went back to work straight afterwards). We had nannies and a cook but still, I think my parents (particularly my mum) had quite busy lives.

Around that time my mum gave the 7 dogs and the 2 geese away to former work colleagues, which were people she believed loved animals and would look after them responsibly. I think we kept the turtles (they were pretty low maintenance anyway) and a puppy that my aunt had given us. About 3 or 4 years later, we moved to a rented flat in a bigger city, and the landlady said we could not have pets, so my mum gave the puppy (now a "grown up" dog) away to a work colleague who lived in a house and was said to love pets. I can't remember what happened to the turtles.

Now, 15 years later, I am living in another country with my partner and we decided to adopt two rescue kittens from a charity. This got me interested in looking after rescue animals and I see a lot of stories about abuse and neglect on Facebook groups, etc. I am now freaking out that my family gave all those pets away to people they probably didn't know very well and we had no updates on how the pets were doing. I worry that the dogs may have ended up on the streets. And the geese, honestly I don't even want to imagine. They are not the easiest animals to look after and can be quite noisy and aggressive. I worry the person who took them might have killed them.

It's been difficult to keep these worries all to myself, not remembering all that happened, and today I asked my mum on the phone what really happened to all those pets, and why she gave them away. My mum is a really lovely, kind and generous person but she does not react well to any perceived criticism, and now she is feeling sad and guilty and saying that she honestly can't remember. She got tearful and started apologising to me on the phone sad

After that I remembered all that background that I included above - that we had serious family illness, etc. around that time - and wondered whether it may have been that. Also, at that time (early to mid-90s) looking after a pet was a completely different thing to what it is today, at least in my country. Neutering wasn't widely done at all - in fact most people used to think it was cruelty - and many dogs had their tails cut for "aesthetic" reasons confused

I really want to let go of that guilt and think that our family gave those pets a very good life while we had them, and my mum had to give them away in good faith, believing they would be looked after well, because she had a lot on her plate. But seeing all the animal abuse out there makes that really difficult and hard to let go sad

trumpsburiedpenis Tue 24-Jan-17 00:01:55

YANBU. I have felt the same thing over the years. But back then it was your parents' decisions not yours. And luckily these days people are more clued up on rescues and what happens

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 24-Jan-17 00:09:26

I mean this kindly but what good does it do the pets worrying about them now? They would be long dead by now regardless. And it wasn't your decision to make anyway. Do you have issues normally with going over and over things and worrying excessively?

I know someone who was fed his pet goat for dinner. He has trust issues. Unsurprisingly.

harderandharder2breathe Tue 24-Jan-17 07:44:25

You were a child, you had no control over the situation.

How do you know the people that took in your pets didn't give them loving homes?

Agree with mrsterrypratchett it's no use worrying now, there's nothing you can do except look after the pets you've got now and maybe help out a rescue charity

LunaLoveg00d Tue 24-Jan-17 08:07:30

I don't really think freaking out and worring excessively over this after 15 years is healthy to be honest.

Annie592 Tue 24-Jan-17 08:09:22

Around that time my mum gave the 7 dogs and the 2 geese away to former work colleagues, which were people she believed loved animals and would look after them responsibly.

It sounds like your family had a really tough time, and your Mum didn't just abandon these animals, she gave them to people she knew, who she believed would care for them- under the circumstances this sounds like the best thing she could have done. Chances are they were fed, loved, and happy. The cases of abuse/neglect out there are awful, but the vast majority of pet owners do not treat their pets this way, so please don't torture yourself about this. Good for you for getting rescue cats!

BlindAssassin1 Tue 24-Jan-17 08:22:09

If you're being U then so am I! I had rabbits as a kid and I see the advice for them is so strict now, vaccinations, don't feed them this that or the other.... but I do forgive myself because I, and my parents, just didn't know at the time.

However, what really pisses me off is that it still goes on. I know so many people who have not even maintained basic care of pets, bought them from chain pet stores, from Facebook and ditched them or even killed them when they don't like the temperate of the animal. I'm much more upset and angry about what happens now then what happened then.

dollydaydream114 Tue 24-Jan-17 10:55:08

You were a child; there's nothing you could have done and it does sound like your family had a difficult time.

I have had similar thoughts to you. My family were diligent about pet ownership and about following the advice at the time on how to look after them ... but that advice has really changed now and the way we cared for, say, our guinea pigs was considered right at the time but I now know it wasn't fair on them. Also, we had a dog with a docked tail because that was the norm then for that breed, but neither my mum nor or I would never buy a docked puppy now in a million years. We wouldn't get pedigree dogs from a breeder at all, in fact!

I understand why you worry about it, but none of these was your fault and you are in no way responsible for anything that might have happened. You need to let it go I think.

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