Pet ownership responsibility

When it comes to raising children, most people understand the tremendous responsibility that comes with being a parent.

Children have to be nurtured, which takes time, love, money, patience and self sacrifice.

Nurturing a life to maturity is one of the most basic human experiences, and one of the most rewarding.

It is unfortunate, however, that many people do not understand that raising pets like cats and dogs is also a major responsibility, and that these now domesticated animals need human nurturing just as much as children.

The recent outbreak of the parvovirus at the Humane Society shelter highlights again the need for people in the Cayman Islands to understand what is involved in responsible pet ownership.

Through Tuesday, 15 per cent of the dogs at the shelter had died of the deadly canine disease, which has temporarily closed the facility.

What is particularly tragic about this outbreak is that parvo is easily preventable through vaccinations that start with a series of shots when the dog is a puppy and are given annually after that.

But the problem goes beyond just the lack of properly vaccinated animals.

The dogs at the Human Society Shelter were unwanted anyway, having been abandoned by their owners or undesirably propagated by dogs left to roam the streets by pet owners who simply don’t understand their responsibilities.

It is no longer acceptable to let your dog or cat freely roam outside, especially if that animal has not been spayed or neutered.

People must understand, too, that being a pet owner has other responsibilities.

Besides parvo vaccinations for dogs, for example, responsible pet ownership requires monthly heartworm and flea/tick medications.

Just like children have to have vaccinations and regular check-ups at the doctor, pets need regular visits to the veterinarian.

This all takes a deep sense of caring for the pet, and money, too.

Simply feeding a dog or cat without offering it love, attention and the proper preventative health care is actually cruel to that animal.

Like potential parents, people need to think long and hard about making a decision to own a pet.

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