Daily Life, Dogs, Kenya, Nairobi
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Dear Fellow UN People

Since adopting Oreo, it has come to my attention that, apparently, UN people (international staff be it families, couples, or single people) are notorious for abandoning animals (and not just in Kenya). A number of people, upon hearing that we are with the UN, asked me (with grave concern) if we plan to take Oreo with us when we eventually leave Kenya. A friend of ours, also UN, has experienced the same thing since she rescued her dog earlier this year.

Of course we will take Oreo! She is our family. This is her forever home and she will go wherever we go. There is no question about that. We think along the lines of a certain couple we know who are with the Canadian High Commission: if a post doesn’t allow for the dog, we turn down that post. No one is pointing a gun to your head demanding that you take the assignment.

If you wondered this about us, I hope I’ve settled the matter. We don’t leave animals behind. Furthermore, we think to the future and how to bring any animals with us to wherever life takes us. The pack stays together.

Sadly, there are a lot of expats, especially UN it seems, that don’t see things this way. They get a dog or two, or cats, and then suddenly they just can’t take them to the next post. “It’s such a tough decision. But I just can’t.” 

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when a person has no choice but to surrender an animal—and that is heartbreaking for that person. I’m not talking about that scenario. I’m talking about pure and simple abandonment. I’m talking about people who suddenly, after years, discover they are highly allergic to the dog or cat. I’m talking about people who say things like:

  • But we’ll be in an apartment….
  • It’s too expensive to ship…
  • We can’t bring that many animals…

…and so on.

To those people, I say this:

You have chosen a life of service that requires mobility. You know this. You are an adult. You makes choices everyday and you know that the future requires flexibility. You are fully capable of making responsible decisions.

If you don’t think you can take the animal with you, don’t get one in the first place. If you think of animals as accessories, for the love all things good on this earth, please don’t get one. If you think it’s okay to leave a living creature—a sentient being who is entirely dependent upon you—then you need to rethink a lot of things in your life.

f you’re not sure of your status or ability to provide a forever home but love animals, you have options. If you crave being around dogs or cats, you can foster. It’s short term. It’s understood that the animal will go to a forever home and you are just there for the time being. Or, you can volunteer. You’ll get your furry fix, help animals in need, and you won’t add to the problem of abandoned animals.

I say this to everyone, but especially to UN people. Let’s change this trend. Let’s live up to the promise of what the UN is supposed to be. Treat all living creatures with kindness and respect. Don’t abandon your pets.

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