October is Adopt-a-Shelter Pet Month. This article is in recognition of this and our trait of the month responsibility.
Responsible Pet Guardianship Saves Lives! Dogs and cats have been domesticated and in our homes for 10,000 years. They not only depend on us, they are in fact, required to have a guardian to exist in our country. They absolutely depend on us. Our responsibility to them begins long before they actually enter our homes, and our heart. Anyone considering an animal companion would do all considered a great favor to educate themselves about dog/cat guardianship responsibilities prior to making that commitment.
The unfortunate consequences of irresponsible pet guardians in our country looks like some pretty staggering numbers. Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide. Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized. At Higher Ground Animal Sanctuary, we receive more pleas for help than we could ever keep up with. We do the best we can and with the help of volunteers, fosters, private donations, our partnering veterinarian, Mountain Empire, and our pet food and supplies source, Pawpular Companions, we have rescued almost 300 animals this year. We are responsible for 68 permanent resident animals at the sanctuary and many more animals in foster care. These statistics have been greatly reduced in our country over the last several decades with increased spay and neuter programs, as well as humane education and awareness via animal welfare groups. However, we still have a long way to go.
Prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Fortunately, living in the 21st century, we have access to so much information! A complete dissertation can be found instantaneously, right at our fingertips, regarding just about any subject matter. All we need do is type our query in the Google subject box and hit “return.” A responsible pet guardian will fetch a great deal of helpful information: “What to consider before choosing a Pet”, “How to be a responsible pet owner,” “Meet your Match,” “Adopt Don’t Shop,” “The importance of dog obedience.”
It is so very important to do your research! A little bit of homework is not only helpful but crucial to the outcome of meeting and bringing home our best match. A responsible pet guardian will exercise some foresight to pave the most optimal opportunity for a lifetime of success with their animal companion. Those who get pets without learning about the breed, not realizing what they are committing to are the first to abandon them. Read books, ask experts about the pet you are considering and factor in whether or not you’ll be able to afford a pet, spend the necessary amount of time with them, and meet their mental, emotional and physical/energy needs before making that decision. Make sure nobody in the household is allergic. Be certain EVERYONE in the household is onboard with the new furry friend. And be responsible! Provide shelter, nutritious food, spay or neuter your pet, vaccinate, microchip to bring your dog home, license to protect your pet and support our local animal control, exercise, commit to health, training is not optional! It is essential! And make a plan for end of life care.
Animals are for life. Animals should not be abandoned because you are going to have a baby, they bark too much, get injured, develop health issues, got too old, or because their families decided to move or get divorced.
Pets are a commitment, they are a privilege, they are for life. Be a canine Ambassador! Be a responsible pet guardian!
Cheri Scandalis is the president and co-founder of Higher Ground Animal Sanctuary. She is a mother, wife, grandmother, an animal advocate and a voice for the voiceless.