SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

June 14, 2013

How we can be better pet owners

Pets are an important and cherished part of our family lives. After all, where else can a person find such unconditional love and affection as well as the scientifically proven emotional connection we call the human-animal bond? Yet, despite this powerful relationship, animal shelters and rescues are still inundated annually with millions of dogs, cats and other pets that are relinquished for a wide variety of reasons. So, how can we help make sure pets find a “forever home”?

Most people can understand that our animal friends need an appropriate diet, fresh water and necessary veterinary care. But many fail to see that there are other, less tangible needs that should be addressed if our pets are going to remain in our homes.

In other words, are we first making good decisions when bringing a new pet into our family and then, are we providing the emotional, physical and behavior training support for our pets to have a rich life?

The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) spent one year in 12 selected animal shelters across the United States to find out why pet owners give up their pets. Of the 2,000 canines sent to shelters, more than 45 percent of owners cited some sort of behavior issue as one of the reasons for relinquishing their dogs. For the almost 1,400 felines, human and personal issues (allergies, no time for the pet, new baby, etc.) were the most common reasons for surrender.

“The biggest problem we see with dogs is the unruly, untrained adolescent animal who has become too much of a handful for the family,” says Dr. Martha Smith, vice president of Animal Welfare at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. “We spend significant time and energy giving these dogs some basic obedience training and that helps with their adoptability, getting them into a loving home more quickly.”

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