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Responsible Pet Ownership

Posted Saturday, May 1, 2010, at 11:50 PM

Grant, Baby Sydney, and Harry want to know... Are you a responsible pet owner?
Pets are a big part of our family's life. We current share our home with three: Grant the American Staffordshire Terrier, Harry the Belgian Malinois, and Kit the big tabby cat. All three are neutered, and Kit is an indoor only cat.

A few weeks ago I was letting Grant and Harry out our back door that opens into our fenced yard to do their business. I was following behind when I heard a scuffle by the bushes. I was shocked to see Harry climbing into the bushes, and I thought was a shaggy black dog standing behind them. I ran towards them wondering how this dog got into my fenced yard. Then I realized that it was an enormous cat wearing a red collar. My yelling distracted Harry into turning his attention towards me, and the cat escaped under the gate, dashing across the very busy street.

This could have ended very badly. Would my dogs have hurt the cat had they caught him if I wasn't standing there? Would the cat have caused damage to my dogs? Scratched eyes can be a very painful injury for a dog, and can also be very expensive to treat medically. Is this cat vaccinated for rabies? Fortunately, my dogs are. What if the cat wanders into another yard with a dog more determined to hurt it? What if the cat gets hit by a car? What if the cat contracts a fatal communicable disease? The cat has an owner that must love it, as he looked well fed and was wearing a collar. But, why were they allowing their cat to be in situations where he could be injured or killed, or where he could injure or damage the property of other citizens?

But, my pet isn't hurting anything!

This is what people seem to think. But the reality is that pets can spread potentially dangerous diseases and parasites to humans, children in particular. Loose dogs and cats deposit feces in areas that children play, potentially causing illness. Free-roaming cats also effect the environment. Research has shown that cats may have impacted the extinctions of bird species more than anything short of habitat destruction. Cats also outnumber and compete with natural predators, potentially causing an upset of the delicate balance of nature. Free roaming cats and dogs can injure humans, other pets, and property, as well.

How can I be a responsible pet owner?

The most obvious solution is to always supervise your pet. Don't allow them to be a nuisance. Keep your pets restrained on your property not only for their own protection, but also to avoid having them damage the belongings of other people, fight with other pets, or be struck by vehicles. Don't allow your dog to invade the space of other dogs being walked by their owners, as not every dog wants to "say hi." Have your pets spayed or neutered, and kept up to date on appropriate vaccines for your pet's lifestyle. And don't forget to feed a quality diet and exercise your pet's body and mind.

Pets are an awesome addition to a family. The companionship and unconditional love that they provide is unmatched. But, pets can also become a nuisance if they are allowed to do so. Do what is best for your pets and your neighborhood by being a responsible pet owner.

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I've started walking in business areas rather than residential. I am often walking two dogs and pushing a stroller at once, and shouldn't have to deal with loose dogs wanting to "say hi" and risk a dogfight.

I linked it in the original blog, but all dog owners should really read this article...


My dogs don't want to "say hi" to yours. Keep them in your yard and out of my dogs' faces.

-- Posted by stafinois on Thu, May 13, 2010, at 11:26 AM

Oh, to add to my last comment, my second biggest gripe is the dog doody that gets left in my yard!! When you are walking your pet and it does its business PICK IT UP!!!

-- Posted by my2cents2 on Wed, May 12, 2010, at 4:18 PM

I, too, have stray cats in my yard. I always have to do a quick scan of the yard before letting my little dog out. I just pray that someday there won't be a cat I missed seeing because my dog will chase it for sure and quite possibly get hit by a car.

My biggest gripe is the huge dogs running around loose in my neighborhood. I take my dog for a walk daily and three times in the last week we have been "accousted" by huge dogs on the loose. I know it is not their fault, because they want to play, but it is quite frightening having a huge dog running at you. Needless to say my little pup swings around on her leash until I can get her picked up! I hate to do it but sadly I think I'm going to have to start carrying mace.

-- Posted by my2cents2 on Wed, May 12, 2010, at 4:16 PM

I was shocked when we moved up here from Sioux City at the number of stray cats running around. When we lived in town, the back yard didn't have a fence so our dog was tied up in the back. There was this gang of 8-10 cats who would sit just out of her reach and mock her until we got out the hose. I also was worried about them passing on fleas and worse.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Wed, May 5, 2010, at 9:42 AM

For some reason cat owners tend to feel its ok to let their cats run around free. I have at least a dozen that roam my neighborhood. Not only can they get hurt or pick up fleas or a disease there are lots of not so nice people out there that could beat or torture them, etc. Many cats also kill birds and baby rabbits just for fun.

-- Posted by Ervserver on Tue, May 4, 2010, at 9:04 PM

Tell me it's an elderly lady with glasses that always carries a bag of cat food around.

I chased her out of my BACK YARD feeding local strays on numerous occasions, and the kicker? She works for people for pets.

-- Posted by ADAMHARRIS on Tue, May 4, 2010, at 8:21 PM

Love this blog!! in my neighborhood an elderly lady feeds the strays as well. (i'm sure every neighborhod has a lady like that) but they look healthy enough but that doesn't mean they are. when in my yard my dogs chase them away. i hope my dogs don't ever catch one. it would be nice to be able to catch then myself and get them the vaccines they need and to get them spayed or neutered. but i don't have the money to do all the ones i have seen. :(

-- Posted by puppyluv on Tue, May 4, 2010, at 4:14 PM

Good post....nice information you provided.

good looking dogs too...kid ain't bad either : )

-- Posted by Bansky on Mon, May 3, 2010, at 10:21 AM

What a round of applause for this blog! I could not agree with you more! I understand accidents happen and some animals get loose but most of the time (in the area I live in) they are allowed out the back door to do what they need to do in an unfenced yard. And the problem with cats is astounding. We have one elderly lady that likes to feed stray cats and they are so sick and beat up from being stray and reproduce like rabbits because they are neither spayed or neutered. I give respect to animal owners AND the towns that make the owners responsible for their pets. They are the ones that make having a pet a pleasure and not a nuisance!

-- Posted by jusamom on Sun, May 2, 2010, at 3:29 PM

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Aimee graduated from Spencer High School in 1994, and then moved to a large city on the west coast. She returned to Spencer in 2007. Aimee spent more than a decade in veterinary medicine and dog training, and now works in a public library. She lives with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a cat.
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