Most Americans know what it means to be a responsible parent, a responsible driver or a responsible gun owner. Too many of our neighbors, however, don’t make the time to be responsible pet owners.
A number of dogs and cats might be alive today had they not been allowed to roam unsupervised. And many more deaths could have been prevented had pet owners spayed or neutered their animals.
Dogs should always be properly confined when they are not on a leash. Doing so means your pet is not making a nuisance of itself in a neighbor’s yard.
It’s also important for pet owners to sterilize their animals so there are no unwanted litters. Spaying or neutering pets also means dogs and cats wander less and suffer fewer mood changes.
Spaying or neutering household pets is essential for lowering the population of stray and abandoned animals that end up in local shelters. More than 3 million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year.
Pet owners also should have their dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies. This is particularly important in our region, where rabies is most commonly found in raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.
The raccoon strain is generally considered to be the most dangerous because raccoons are more likely than other rabies carriers to come in contact with people and their pets.
We would also remind local local governments that animal control is an essential public health service and should be treated as such.
That includes properly funding the service at the level it deserves.
We know there will be the usual push back from residents and politicians who argue tax dollars should not be spent to build kennels and pay “dog catchers.” That’s an inaccurate and outdated perception of what a professional animal shelter program is all about.
Animal control is not a charity. It is an important health and public safety function that deals with many diverse issues, such as rabies, abandoned animals and abused pets.