Recently many of us who have Facebook pages woke up to a photo of a little puppy frozen to the bottom of a bathtub left in a yard somewhere in the country. Last week there was a news story about an individual who was found to have over 100 animals living in the home, many sick or dead. A cat and her kittens were found struggling to survive under someone's porch after being thrown out of the house. Stories like these are unfortunately common, but they never cease to shock us. Why is that?
The answer depends on who you ask, but it all comes back to the core question of what it means to be responsible. We humans are "owners" of animals because we have the ability to function in ways that they do not, therefore we take on the leadership role. With this role, as with all leadership roles, it becomes our responsibility to think and act in their best interest.
To make sure that everyone is reminded of this, February has been named Responsible Pet Owner Month. It is a reminder that the act of being responsible comes on many levels and in many forms, each one important in its own way. It is a reminder that the lack of responsibility has consequences far beyond what many people realize.
Not spaying or neutering contributes to the overwhelming killing of shelter animals and can cause medical issues for the pet. Not vaccinating can lead to legal issues in the event of a fight, never mind putting the animal in a stressful situation if it is taken away. Leaving a dog outside chained or sitting in a pen without human company can cause severe mental stress and eventually may end up in aggression, which once again may result in the animal being taken away and perhaps killed. Every scenario results in a chain of issues that can be stopped with making the right decision from the start.
It is too late for that little puppy, but it is not too late for everyone to sit up and take notice of their actions and the actions of others around them. It is not too late to realize that being human is a privilege, and so is "owning" a pet.
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