Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dogs: Responsible ownership is an absolute “must"

Recent events should light a fire in all of us.

The inspiration for this post was a Letter to the Editor in The Chronicle Herald from Tracy Jessiman of Chester. Her family is a long-time supporter of animal rescues. Her letter was in response to recent news events.

What has come to light over the past week should bring the responsibilities of pet ownership to a sharp focus. Five days ago a dog was deposited on someone’s front lawn in British Columbia. It was dead, encased in a block of ice. More recently it has been revealed that 100 sled dogs were “euthanized” last year after the Olympics, also in British Columbia.

The details of both are utterly horrific, and I will not recount them here. They have made news around the world. If you do wish to read more follow these links. I warn you, they are a hard read.

Simon and Henry, my two "little boys in fur suits"

Responsible Dog Ownership
The decision to have ownership of a dog (or any pet) bears with it the greatest of responsibility. Many factors need to be considered when making a choice that is right for you. The dog has to be of a breed that will fit into your lifestyle, be that by temperament, size or need for exercise and companionship, to name just a few. A dog is an investment — in your time and heart. Or at least it should be.

The American Kennel Club has a fantastic list of things to consider before you decide to add a pet to your family. Go to http://www.akc.org/public_education/responsible_dog_owner.cfm for their full posting.

Anyone who has had a dog as a family member knows the joy and unconditional love a pet freely offers. The very least we can do is return it. Doing so enriches the lives of all involved.

If you can no longer give your pet the home it deserves
If you find yourself in a situation where you no longer can properly care for your pet there are many fine organizations that can help.

There are a multitude of situations we may find ourselves in where that may be necessary: loss of employment, divorce, residence downsizing, death of a family member, etc.. Pet owners must keep in mind pets always need to be looked after in the best possible way.

Sometimes that means finding a new home for them. If I ever had to do that for my “boy in a fur suit” it would break my heart, but I know I could do it if it was best for him.

There are many local organizations that can help find an adoption home, or if you wish to adopt a pet in need of a good home. The SCPA Nova Scotia, and Animal Rescue Coalition are two. There are many, many more. There is no excuse to let an animal suffer. Their links are below

As a final note, did you know that under Canadian law dogs are considered property, so if families break up or someone passes away it is not at all clear to whom ownership will pass unless it is explicitly stated? As you do for your children, ensure who you wish to care for your pets is clearly outlined in your Will.

If you wish to contact Tracy, you can find her at recycledlove@eastlink.ca.

As she said in her email to me: “For every animal abuse case...there are many kind and caring people who want to help animals in distress. I would also encourage you to contact Annette Armitage (at Animal Rescue Coalitions). She's very impressive.”

Tracy, I think you—and people like you—are very impressive.

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