Responsible Dog Ownership Month
By Phil Snyder, Executive Director Suncoast Humane Society
Most dog owners feel that their pets are unmatched in their devotion, loyalty, and friendship. Cat owners feel that while their feline friends may not be able to defend their owners in the same manner as dogs, they are just as loyal and devoted. Owners of both cats and dogs may argue that they are as different as, well, cats and dogs.
September is known as Responsible Dog Ownership Month among other things. We know that the rewards of owning a dog include but are not limited to: their excitement when you come home even if you were gone but a few minutes, a wagging tail when you take the leash off of the hook, the delight of retrieving their favorite toy, and the peacefulness of having their head nestled in your lap.
Owning a dog is a privilege and a responsibility. These animals depend on us for food, water, shelter, love and much more. If you are thinking of becoming a pet owner, you must seriously consider the commitment that will be required. If you are already a pet owner, consider if you are currently fulfilling the obligations of having a happy pet.
The American Kennel Club (AKC), offers some helpful suggestions during Responsible Dog Ownership Month. These include:
- Regular visits to your veterinarian, staying current on vaccinations, flea/tick/heartworm prevention, and dental health.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped for proper identification if lost and wears a collar with county license tag and identification.
- Provide exercise. Walks, runs, play fetch (if they bring it back), whatever fits their needs.
- Feed a healthy diet for the type of dog.
- Train your dog to be a socialized pet, neighbor, and all around a good citizen. Suncoast Humane Society offers training classes.
- Be prepared if you have to travel. Consider dog walkers, pet sitters, or boarding kennels.
- Keep your pet safe. Always on leash when walking, keep in a securely fenced yard, and most of the time in the safety of your home.
- Have a disaster plan that includes your pet. Can anyone spell Dorian and Scary?
Most importantly, please make sure to have your pets spayed/neutered to help keep them healthy and happy, and to do your part to help curb the pet overpopulation problem.