Written by Steve Dale
More than resolutions, this might be better described as a Top-10 wish list for pets for 2010.
- Masters As Benevolent Leaders: I’m hollering loud and clear that I hope the “I am the boss” trend of dog training fades into obscurity. Isn’t it almost obvious, dogs learn far more through motivation rather than by intimidation? While being a teacher with consistent rules is a good idea, dogs are not wolves requiring people to dominate them. Not only doesn’t dominance training work; bullying dogs is no more humane that bullying children.
- Europeans Have It Right: Lots of people in lots of European nations have embraced pet insurance for decades. Even with economy here continuing to hold a tail between its legs, if you can afford the monthly premiums, the investment of pet insurance might save your pet’s life. For example, say your cat is diagnosed with cancer or your dog is hit by a car – the treatment may cost $4,500. Compared to human medicine, the fee is a veritable bargain. However, unlike human medicine – you might be left on your own to pay, and might be unable to fork over that sum. As a result Fido or Fluffy loses an opportunity to live. With insurance, you share the cost – so paying maybe $2,500 may be palatable. Many pet owners are unaware insurance is even available.
- Pro Choice: I have long endorsed the “Bob Barkerizing” of pets. Still, spay/neuter is a choice, which I believe should be between to you and your veterinarian – not a government mandate. Besides mandatory spay/neuter simply doesn’t work. In fact, there is a litany of unintended consequences caused by mandatory spay/neuter laws. For example, under such laws veterinary visits decline, leaving some pets with unchecked medical issues, and without a rabies vaccine.
- Fight the Fighting: I don’t know how, but dog fighting needs to end. For that to happen, the spectacle has to no longer be considered cool, which sadly in many places – it still is. Michael Vick has done little – if anything – to make a difference. However, lots of lesser names have made a larger impact. One example is Safe Humane Chicago, which works at a grass roots level in the community, teaching kids about being humane. As a part of the same program older school kids teach younger children a humane curriculum. We need to enforce existing laws (after all dog fighting is a felony), and create new laws. For example, when children are directly involved, or dog fighting is held near a school zone, play lot or daycare center – there should be added jail time.
- Forgotten Cats I: Cats may be America’s most popular companion, but they visit the veterinarian (on average) less than half as often as dogs; cats are far more often given up to shelters or just dumped on the streets. Cats don’t receive the benefit of microchips nearly as often as dogs. People don’t even buy their cats treats as often as people purchase biscuits for dogs. The CATalyst Council began in 2008 to promote cat welfare. CATalyst has begun to make a difference, and my hope is that cats continue to gradually climb in status.
- Forgotten Cats II: Feral cats (sometimes called community cats) deserve a good life too. There be many twice as many feral and stray cats compared to the 81.7 million owned cats in America. I hope more people get involved with trap, neuter, return of feral cats. That means trapping these cats (usually found in colonies), spaying or neutering, vaccinating them for rabies, perhaps micrcohipping and then identifying these treated cats with an ear notch. Caretakers watch over their colonies, supplementing the cats with food, as they live out their lives. By no longer being able to reproduce, they can no longer contribute to an over-population problem, and their numbers diminish to zero.
- Scoop the Poop: As my shoes can attest people often don’t. And the problem is even worse in the winter, where there’s snow. Do people really believe the dog poo melts with the snow? It’s the law to scoop. Dog feces can harbor parasites. And most of all, not picking up simply isn’t neighborly.
- Adoption is a Wonderful Option: Adopting a young animal is certainly worthy, but you’re a special person if you adopt an older or special needs animal.
- Volunteer: There isn’t an animal shelter that can’t use help. You can work in the office (perhaps writing press releases if you have writing experience), or scoop litter boxes or walk dogs.
- Be There: The greatest gift you can give your pet is your time.