Written by Barbara Prince.
You love your pet and want to rock pet ownership, right?
Well, here are six steps to reach awesome, mindful owner status!
We Americans are passionate about our pets—or should I say, mad about them. Mad, as with all bad love affairs, we have a twisted relationship with our beloved animals. Statistics show that the United States has the largest population of domestic dogs and cats in the world.
Last year, Americans spent a record all-time high of over 55 billion dollars in the pet industry, with projections for another record-breaking year in 2015. In direct contrast to our pet penchants are the numbers which say something else about ourselves.
Those numbers, which we turn away from, are the numbers of euthanized animals which never make it out of local, animal shelters. These numbers are far more difficult to access, due to under-reporting.
Conservatively, statistics estimate that 56 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats in shelter are euthanized each year, resulting in millions of sentient beings discarded like so much garbage.
What to do? You need not subject yourself to another Sarah McLachlan commercial.
You’re probably a very responsible pet owner, but there are actions you can take with information for your arsenal:
1. Spay and Neuter: You’re not a professional breeder and accidents can happen.
2. Identification: Lost dogs seem to find me, and invariably, the pooch has no ID. Less than one quarter of found animals will be reunited with their owners. Microchips are a backup, but not all animal control authorities can scan for a microchip.
3. An animal’s license is not an ID: If your pet is taken to a shelter, often in overcrowded shelters, another animal will be euthanized to make room for the incoming animal. I once found a dog which luckily hadn’t wondered too far from its home, and I returned the dog to its owner. When I mentioned that the dog didn’t have any ID, the owner stated, “Well, he has his license; someone could call the Township.” I said calmly, “The Township is closed on nights and weekends.” It was a weekend.
4. When you call for your missing companion: If you call the police department to report your missing animal or to see if someone else has reported having found your animal, do not accept that the person on the other end is fully informed, especially in a world of shared and regionalized services.
5. Adopt, don’t shop: I have had the honor of knowing many people in the pedigree community who travel around the country showing their animals. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you don’t need a papered animal. If you have a fondness for a particular breed, trust me—you can find one in a shelter as statistics have shown that 25 percent of shelter animals are purebred. Moreover, there are countless rescues which specialize in certain breeds.
6. Donate: Donate to your local rescue or shelter.
With the onset of Spring, the days lengthen and the birds find their voices…the memory of those we love, furry and other, sustain our souls and warm our hearts.
As I contemplate the undeniable bond between ourselves and our companions, I’m reminded of a woman in my community whom I would often see walking her dog about town. She was never with anyone, and she didn’t have great control over the animal. She was a regular. Doggy people tend to notice other doggy people.
I hadn’t seen her out with her mutt in a while, and hadn’t thought too much of it. Then one day, I saw her walking with her dog—and a man. I noticed that she must have suffered a stroke or something which affected her ability to walk. Her husband was by her side helping her to walk her dog.
Thinking about love, I am reminded of this couple, and I think that this is one of the most beautiful expressions of love that I have ever witnessed.
Wishing you warmer days, and hoping that we not only remember the love we have for our domestic animal companions, but also our responsibility to do better by them.
Listen to this Green Divas Heart Wildlife podcast for more ways to help our wilder furry friends that share our planet, by reducing the use of rat poison…
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~Asst. Ed. Green Diva Christine | Images via Shutterstock