February is almost over and with it ends Responsible Pet Owners Month. However, that doesn't mean that pet owners can or should stop acting responsibly in caring for their pets. Being a responsible pet owner means different things to different people. Here is a list of things all pet owners should be doing not only for the benefit of their pet but for the benefit of their community as well.
- Take responsibility. When you adopt a pet, you should be committed to caring for that pet for the entirety of its life. Remember that can be 10-15 years or longer for the average dog or cat. That obligation includes both a physical and a financial obligation. Don't adopt a pet on impulse. Do your research. Know what type of care the pet requires and the costs in both physical and monetary terms for providing that care. Be sure you are able both physically and financially to properly look after your new pet. If the worst happens and you are unable to care for your pet for whatever reason, plan for his relocation. Do not simply abandon him.
- Don't add to the number of homeless animals. Consider spaying or neutering your pet. At the very least, do not allow your pet to breed indiscriminately. Your pet should not be reproducing and adding to the number of puppies and kittens at your local shelter or rescue that need a home.
- Supervise your pet. Don't let your pet run at large. Keep your cats indoors. Walk your dog on a leash. Be prepared to clean up your pet's waste and properly dispose of it. Don't leave it lying in your neighbors yard.
- Provide adequate food, water and shelter for your pet. This should go without saying. All pets need to be fed and watered on a daily basis. All pets need adequate shelter.
- Train your dog. Your dog should not be a menace or a nuisance to the public or to your neighbors. You should be able to control your dog. Your dog should not be allowed to chase people or other pets. You should not leave your pet outdoors to bark for long periods of time. Your dog should at minimum come to you when called. Be sure to use positive training methods during the training process. There's no need to hurt your dog to train him properly.
- Provide identification for your pet. Accidents happen and sometimes pets escape. Be sure your pet has some form of identification. An identification tag is a good idea. A microchip is helpful also. Ideally, your pet should have both. If your pet has a microchip, be sure the microchip is registered and that the contact information is current. If you move or change your phone number, update the information immediately.
- Provide veterinary care for your pet. Both dogs and cats need veterinary care on a regular basis.
- Have a plan in place for emergencies that includes your pet. Having an emergency plan in place can mean the difference between life and death. Pack an emergency kit and keep it in a readily accessible area. Never leave your pet behind if you need to evacuate your home, even if you believe you'll only be gone for a short time. Unforeseen complications can occur that keep you away longer than anticipated and your pet will be alone and possibly in danger if you leave him in the house.
Being a responsible pet owner means seeing to the health, safety and well-being of the pet in your charge and making sure that your pet is not a nuisance to others.