Being a Good Pet Owner
Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
Submitted by Saga Humane Society
Deciding to get a dog is a life changing decision for you and the dog, and should never be taken lightly. Dogs require at least a couple of hours of your time every day for feeding, grooming, exercise, training and play. They need to be kept safely contained and on walks, their poop needs to be picked up, bagged and placed in the garbage bin. If you don’t have a fence, then your dogs should never be left unattended in your yard.Your dogs will be able to run away to poop in the street or in your neighbour’s yards, empty garbage bins and generally make an unhealthy environment. They will learn bad habits like chasing children, bicycles or vehicles resulting in accidents or injuries. Not only are you placing them in danger, but they also could be causing nuisance problems in your community. Unbelievably, some irresponsible dog owners blame vehicle drivers when their dog is hit by a car or cart, forgetting that it is their responsibility to keep their dog safe and off the streets.
All dogs need a mental and physical outlet. If dogs are not given enough physical and mental exercise they can develop behaviour problems such as barking, chasing and aggression. It is never acceptable to allow your dog to exercise itself. Your dog is your responsibility, which means that whenever it is not contained on your property, it should be on a leash and under your immediate control. Otherwise, you are making your dog everyone else’s problem. Even worse are those who leave the care of the dog to their children. Children should never be left unsupervised with any dog, for any length of time, for any reason. Almost all serious injuries caused to children by dogs happen when they are unsupervised.
When thinking about getting a dog it is important to choose a dog based on temperament and personality to make sure that it fits in with your lifestyle. Saga Humane Society always has plenty of ‘pretty’ dogs that people purchased on impulse without knowing anything about the breed and then couldn’t look after them. When you commit to a dog you are committing for the rest of its life, 10-15 years. That means that whatever your circumstances are and even if they change, your dog is still your responsibility. So, even if you find yourself in a situation where you can no longer care for your dog, it is up to you to make sure you find it a new loving permanent home. So many people get dogs and then thoughtlessly abandon them or force them upon friends and family members when they are no longer convenient, or even worse, abandon them when they move. Surrendering them to Saga HS is not the answer either. In the past two years,625 animals were given up by their owners to Saga and only 276 were adopted into new homes.
Good and responsible dog owners make sure their dogs are healthy, up to date on their vaccinations, wormed regularly and given heartworm prevention medicine monthly. Even more importantly, they have their dog neutered or spayed so as not to add to the problem of dog overpopulation that we already have on Ambergris Caye. Every year Saga Humane Society rounds up, cares for and humanely euthanized hundreds of animals because of the irresponsible acts of those who refuse to have their animals neutered or spayed. Saga Humane Society is a non-profit organization that solely exists through fundraising and donations; it receives no money from the government for its service to the community.
In 2013 alone, 639 dogs were sterilized though Operation SNIP. The estimated cost to Saga was $32,000 which was paid for by volunteers, grants, donations and fundraising efforts. SNIP efforts were concentrated on owned animals that were left to breed freely in backyards, only to be surrendered or turned loose to the streets as strays. Success was measured by a decrease of 26% in owner surrenders and a 27% decrease in surrender euthanasia in 2013.
If you want to be a dog owner, be one to be proud of by being responsible. Walk your dog on a leash when off your property, Scoop that Poop and spay or neuter your dog. Show that not only do you care about your dog, but that you care about your neighbours and La Isla Bonita!
National Pet Week is from the 4th – 10th of May. This is the time to celebrate and congratulate the responsible dog owners in our community.