Responsible Pet Ownership
Here at Fetch! Petcare we love animals, we’ve devoted our lives to animals that in turn give their devotion back to us, providing a uniquely fulfilling relationship for both human and canine (or feline or equine or whatever your pet might be). It is essential, as the human, as the pet’s owner, and as the primary decision-maker in the relationship, to be responsible. But responsible is such a vague platitudinal term, what do we mean by “responsible pet ownership?”
The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) defines responsible pet owners as those who “learn about each pet’s specific behavioral needs, budget their time and resources for proper pet care and training, and make sure their pets are not neighborhood nuisances.” Basic stuff, but for the sake of exploration lets break this statement down into its parts.
Learn about each pet’s specific behavioral needs
The first element of responsible pet ownership boils down ultimately, to appreciating that different species or breeds, or even merely different animals from the same breed or litter, require different handling and care.
Of course, a cat is different from a horse, and the way the human owner interacts with these animals will necessarily need to be modified to enjoy the optimal relationship with the animal. It’s even apparent to most that different breeds within the same species require different treatment, a greyhound, for example, needs much more exercise than a dachshund.
But to go a step further, even two different dachshunds may need different treatment, however subtle. It is the human’s responsibility to learn about these species and breeds BEFORE purchasing (or otherwise acquiring) the pet. And once in control of the animal, it is the human’s responsibility to learn about that individual animal much the same way you learn about your coworkers or classmates. You don’t speak to or act around or treat all the humans you interact in the same manner, and the same is true with animals.
That’s the first keystone to responsible pet ownership, learn about your pet! Take the time to learn about the general care your animal needs, such as the breed’s behavioral quirks, potential health issues or dietary requirements. Take the time to learn about any of the equipment you may need to operate (dogs don’t require a bunch of equipment, but a massive fish tank or, say a horse, comes with some hardware). Take the time to get to know the individual personality of your pet and what makes them comfortable, happy, and healthy.
Budget their time and resources for proper pet care and training
The second element of responsible pet ownership requires the human to contextualize their potential animal bond within the greater context of their life. Do you travel a lot for work? Do you live in an urban environment? Do you have children? Do you have other pets? Do you have experience training this type of animal, or can you afford to pay for animal training or care, if need be?
All of these questions will impact your ability to own a pet responsibly. If you live in Hong Kong, it’s probably not a great idea to get a horse, a few fish or a cat will be much happier living in a city environment. If your resources, and by that, we’re talking money AND time, are limited, your pet choices should be similarly limited. If your living arrangement’s space or availability to outdoor areas is limited, this should limit your pet options as well.
It’s easy to fall in love with a type of animal that you’ve seen on TV or that you grew up with, but a responsible pet owner looks at their situation objectively and determines what the right choice would be for their situation and their needs.
And make sure their pets are not neighborhood nuisances
The third element of responsible pet ownership is a nod to the fact that if society is going to respect the animal’s indelible rights as a species of the earth we share, then the animal has to recognize some of the societal norms in your locality. It is the human’s responsibility to teach the animal the proper way to cohabitate with the neighborhood which generally means appropriate behavior around neighborhood humans and animals, respect for property, respect for noise pollution, respect for cleanliness. The dog doesn’t know it needs to poop on the grass (and you need to pick it up on public/shared-use property), and the dog doesn’t know it can’t bark at every passerby. You have to teach him.
So, to tie everything back together and to shamelessly plug ourselves—being a responsible pet owner boils down ultimately to finding time for your animal. Finding time to learn about them, to get to know them, to exercise and train them, to clean their tank or cage, and all the rest of the jobs that your foray into pet ownership will cast upon you. Fetch! Petcare can help in your time of need! We’ll help you train your puppy, or come over to exercise your cat or walk your dog when you’re working late on a big project. We’ll check in morning and night with your pet when you’re on the road for a few days. Fetch! knows you care about your pets, and though we may not have met your pets yet, Fetch! cares too.
**Updated from Dec. 17, 2015 publication.
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