Thursday, February 18, 2010

February: Responsible Pet Owners' Month

February is Responsible Pet Owners' Month. And I've got some advice, heh, heh.

1) Flexi-leads. Throw them away. They're not good for anything, ever. Think of trip wires - that's what these really are. If you've ever been on a bike and have come across one of these babies, you're a goner. Face, meet pavement. And why is it that people who use them seem to have no regard for anyone else around them? Or, even worse, they let their CHILDREN control them?!

2) Train your dog. Nothing fancy, just basic obedience. More animals end up in shelters because of bad behavior that can be curbed with simple training; yours doesn't have to be one of them. Added bonus: You won't believe how much happier both of you will be when your dog understands that you're his leader. Dogs love having a leader to help them make decisions!

3) Anthropomorphizing is not a good thing. Yes, dogs are intelligent, but they're not human. Here's a great example: A lot of people - okay, men - don't like to neuter their dogs. They think Fido will miss his testicles after the Big Operation. Believe me, Fido doesn't care. After a day or so, he won't even notice. And implanting Neuticles is just assuaging you, not Fido. (Boy, has this company capitalized on you anthropomorphizing humans!) Let your dog be a dog!

4) Spay/neuter your pet. It's safe, relatively easy, and good for their health. If you can't afford it, try Friends of Animals for spay/neuter certificates. There ARE options to help if you're financially strapped!

5) Please, please, please don't tether your dog. Dogs are social animals and love to be with their humans and in many cases other animals. I mean, why did you get her in the first place? To tie her to a tree in the back yard? Tethering makes me sad. If you do have to tether for short periods of time, make sure you provide lots of clean, fresh water. And don't make tethering a habit.

6) Get your dog an identification tag and a microchip! These are soooooo important! All of my dogs have a tag with their name and my contact info on them and they're microchipped. Many shelters offer low-cost microchipping on a regular basis, at a fee much lower than a vet's office.

7) Exercise your pet and feed them a proper diet. An exercised pet won't be bored and therefore inclined to destroy things in your house. And the hope is that a good diet will be reflected in a good, long life. Which leads me to...

8) Visit your veterinarian! A lot has been said about the pros and cons of regularly vaccinating dogs. I, personally, vaccinate my dogs, except for Buster, who cannot be vaccinated for anything other than rabies (he's got osteosarcoma and his oncologist feels that the risk to vaccinate is greater than the risk not to vaccinate). Either way, a wellness visit to your vet can reveal other health issues that you might not have detected.

Okay, I'll get off of my soap box. Take care of your pets, that's all I ask.


  1. Yeah! I think that was a good list. We encounter so many of these problems each day, with irresponsible pet owners, and it just makes our lives harder. We saw someone bring a dog on a retractable leash to a dog park and two big dogs ran into the leash, ended up dragging the other dog, and the owner got angry. Our walks would be so much better if people just knew these things...

  2. Very, very good points. It's amazing how many people do not know just to get their pet spayed/neutered. Thanks for listing all those important points.

    Much love,

  3. Great list, though we worry about the tethering debate. Dogs need to be loved, cared for, socialized, trained, and protected. - and that is the gist of your list. We totally agree.

    A method of protecting is tethering when done properly (lots of socialization and exercise) in a secure area from wild animals or other dogs. Unfortunately, the debate gets tied up (pun intended) with people who chain a dog to a tree with no socialization, no food and water, and no shelter. That is wrong. But that same thing can happen inside a fence or confining a dog in a crate for hours on end. The issue, really, is whether the dog is receiving the proper amount of shelter, nutrition, socialization, and love.

    As a Siberian Husky fan, I am friends with mushers who use tethering in a very responsible way who focus on socializing and exercising the dogs.

    We use a drop line when we are camping (a line tied from two fixed objects with multiple hook ups for our multiple dogs). We are ALWAYS with the dogs when they are secured in that fashion. There are some tethering ordinances that would forbid that. I just disagree.

    But peace on that - in general, we agree. There is much to be done to make the lives of our canine friends better.

  4. @Thundering - I agree - tethering in a responsible fashion is just fine. I don't have a problem with that at all. Unfortunately, living on the outskirts of a city, I do see many dogs tied to cinderblocks (as an example) and left in the heat of summer or cold of winter with no protection, no water or food, etc.

    It's all in the way the dog is treated. If tethering is part of your exercise - in your case, it's part of your sledding exercises, and you're a responsible person who takes great measures to make sure your dogs are safe and well-cared for.

    My focus is on the not-so-smart individual (and I volunteer at a shelter, so I see a lot of abused animals, so maybe I'm more sensitive?) who tethers for their convenience, and forgets about the living creature at the other end of the leash.

    Your point is well-taken. And thank you for visiting!

  5. Totally, completely agree. Our focus is the same. And, as a family of rescue pups, we salute you volunteer efforts at a shelter!

    P.S. - And not out to go exercise some dogs on the trails all day.

  6. Agree with Thundering Herd on the tethering debate. In some cases it's a primary form of containment, it isn't.

    I also disagree on the flexy leads. I use one on my dog. It is kept tight when we're walking, especially in tight quarters, but then when we hit a couple of park areas I give the dogs some time to sniff around a bit and this gives them more ability to do so....and I think that's important.

    I realize people hate them because so many people are idiots on how to use them, but it seems like educating people on how to use them is a more constructive than saying don't use them at all.

  7. @Brent - you probably saw my response to Thundering Herd. I agree that when things are done responsibly, all is well and good, re: tethering and flexis. People like you don't need to be told because you're already aware of those around you, and the welfare of your animals.

    You make an excellent point, one that should be repeated: Education is important rather than ignoring a situation.

    Of course, when your comments fall on deaf ears for so many years, it's much easier to throw your hands up in the air and give up.

    Recently, I adopted a great dog out to a family and the father insisted on taking the dog home on a flexi-lead. I asked that he at least agree to walk the dog off of our shelter premises and not let his 9-year-old daughter do it (as she was mercilessly insisting), because our volunteers were on the property walking other dogs (I didn't want any unexpected accidents). She grabbed the lead from him when I turned my back to make copies of the adoption contract, and I repeated my request. He whispered - yet I could just hear him - "wait until we get outside, then you can take the leash." I was very upset because he was not only putting his own daughter at risk, he was putting our dogs and volunteers at risk, and why? I wasn't asking much.

    These are the people my comments were meant to target, not you or any of the responsible folks out there.

    By the way, thanks for stopping by. I'm flattered!


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