What does it mean to be a responsible pet owner?

Last month, we talked about the National Animal Care & Control Association, which is a nationwide organization whose members are dedicated to protecting pets from being abused and mistreated, as well as keep communities safe from maladjusted dogs and cats. Sometimes the sad fact is that certain pet owners don’t understand what it takes to truly be responsible for the care and well-being of their pets. This is why education of proper animal care is critical to helping people be proactive and aware of how to take care of dogs and cats, so that people like NACA members don’t have to intervene in unhealthy or unsafe situations in the first place.

Now, there are several ways we’ve frequently touched on that are marvelous ways to ensure you’re being a responsible pet owner. This includes everything from ensuring your pets are spayed or neutered (to reduce pet overpopulation) to getting them registered and chipped (in case they get lost) to regular vet visits for checkups and shot updates. It also means educating yourself on threats to your pet, such as during holiday situations, potentially toxic substances around the home, and signs of injury or illness that could require professional help to remedy. All of these have been noted on our blog in some level of detail or another–and we will, no doubt, continue to emphasize them in the future for new readers.

But what else can you do to be more responsible for the love and care of your dog or cat? One suggestion is to perhaps change your perception about being the pet’s “owner.” Instead, how would you think differently if you perceived yourself as a pet’s “guardian?” Strikes a totally different tone, doesn’t it? And you can encourage this attitude not only in your family, but among the other families and friends in your community who have pets.

Another element would be looking beyond your own pet to others in the area–such as cats or dogs that may be freely wandering the neighborhood. You could coordinate a “trap-and-neuter/spay” program with your local shelter or animal control program to reduce overpopulation and the danger of being attacked by a feral animal. You can also continue trying to educate your community on the importance of spaying, neutering, chipping, and donating resources and time to local shelters and other pet-related volunteer programs. Every little bit helps, but when a whole community is involved, it can make an enormous difference!

What ideas do you have about being a responsible pet guardian? How does thinking of yourself as a guardian make you feel, instead of being just an owner?

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