Column: Pets and pet peeves abound on neighborhood social media sites

Regular readers of this column likely are aware of my love/hate relationship with neighborhood social media sites.

They are great places to find someone to shovel your driveway or clean your gutter or buy your Girl Scout cookies or fill you in on that new Prairie Meadows development in Aurora.

And recent topics are also reminders to check expiration dates at local grocery stores because, according to dozens of posters, they (teenage employees ... managers ... the verdict is still out) are not doing a good job of adequately rotating the food on shelves.

One of the best posts I’ve read so far in 2024 was an “unofficial” list created by an Elburn user named Joe about the “Top 10″ issues people are discussing on the social media app.

If a regular user, you probably won’t be surprised at what he found from this survey.

Appearing at Number 10: The need to alert everyone that some sort of animal - coyote, hawk deer, loose pet – has been spotted. Number 9: Someone behaving inappropriately who needs to be called out, followed by Number 8, someone behaving appropriately who deserves applause.

Coming in at Number 7, expressing a political opinion on a post that has nothing to do with politics. Number 6: Praising a vendor or business, and, (no surprise) at Number 5: Lambasting a vendor or business.

Number 4 is seeking info on what’s going on after first responders show up somewhere, Number 3 is seeking suggestions for a business or contractor to use and Number 2 is warning folks about something suspicious caught on a Ring camera.

And coming in at Number 1: Anything to do with “the management of dog feces.”

Honorable mention, by the way, went to the I-88 TIF proposal between Crown Development and the village of Sugar Grove, which at least one person rightly pointed out needs to be discussed far more than animal waste or a subpar siding job.

I’m also happy to report that nearly all responders to Joe’s post not only seemed to agree with his list but thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Which brings me to the latter half of my love/hate relationship with these neighborhood platforms: People who pass judgment on those they know little or nothing about.

Recent case in point - a soon-to-be new parent reached out to his virtual compadres asking for help finding a new home for his cat before bringing the infant home.

You would have thought this guy had requested suggestions on how best to skin the kitty and turn its hair into a baby blanket.

Last time I checked, the post had received over 80 responses, most of which seemed aghast that this expectant dad would even consider re-homing his poor cat just because a baby was joining the household.

One even went so far to suggest – sarcastically, I hope – the cat should get top priority because it was there before the kid.

I know nothing about the dad or the situation, but I’ve no doubt he was taken aback by the vitriol that was directed at him. Instead of responding to some of the unkind remarks, he went radio silent. So we will probably never know whether he found a new home for the pet or took the kinder, more gentle advice from those who suggested that cats and babies really can get along and that he should allow some time before making any decisions about giving up the animal.

One person even nicely reminded the new dad not to listen to old wives’ tales, no doubt referring to the myth that cats will snuff the breath from a newborn.

Some other posts were reminders we do not know the circumstances under which this man’s request was made. One helpful responder even described the steps her family went through in preparing a cat for a newborn, which, by the way, can be found online from plenty of reliable sources.

But even those who came to the new dad’s defense became targets, including one gracious poster who has worked for years with an animal rescue group.

I realize there are a whole lot of animal lovers out there with multiple degrees of passion. And before you shoot off an email accusing me of not being one of them, let me point out I share my home with two dogs and a cat that have as many toys as the grandkids.

It’s as if people are looking for an excuse not so much to share their opinion but to unleash their ire. And unfortunately social media offers the chance to take perfect aim without having to look someone directly in the eye.

So here’s my unsolicited suggestion: if you feel so inclined to get your point across, why can’t it be done in a way that does not judge or shame?

From what I can tell, the post was taken down so we will never know what happened to the cat in question. But there is one thing I’ve taken away from this lively online discussion: Check expiration dates on the food you buy, but if you really want to avoid a bad reaction, don’t try to give away your cat on social media.