2017-07-13 / Editorials

The most lovable pet owner is a responsible pet owner

The biggest beef we hear about pet owners, specifically dog owners, is that they don’t always pick up Puffy’s poop. But being a responsible pet owner involves more than just care and maintenance: People need to choose the right pet to begin with and be prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the animal healthy and safe.

This week’s Acorn contains three articles about pets in the community. On Page 1 is Sylvie Belmond’s story about the Agoura animal shelter and how one woman’s leadership has helped make the facility a success.

A word of caution: Not everybody who keeps and protects animals is laudable. because on the front page is Becca Whitnall’s story about a Conejo Valley man who went too far in his desire to collect exotic pets—including alligators, a Gila monster lizard and venomous snakes—and got in trouble with the law. Finally, on Page 18 is Ela Lindsay’s new column about oddball pets that are popular in the community, starting with the potbellied pig. If you’re looking for a different kind of pet, such as a snake, bird or rabbit, be mindful of the fact that these animals aren’t to be trifled with and simply discarded when the newness of ownership is over.

The first thing to know is that pets, when cared for properly, aren’t cheap. No, you don’t have to fork over $300 to brush Fido’s teeth once a month—the canine family has been around since the dawn of time and never saw a dentist once. But in modern times, regular veterinary care is required, and owners should be prepared to foot the bill.

We hear readers asking why some shelters charge an adoption fee while others do not. The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control and its seven area shelters cannot provide the services they do without the help of your tax dollars and fees. Some facilities are subsidized by private donations, but many are not. Please don’t grouse if it takes a few dollars to bring your new pet home.

Valley Cats, a respectable nonprofit, non-government adoption center on Hampshire Road in Westlake Village, informs us that when a rescue pulls an animal from a high-kill shelter, it has to pay for the animal’s pull fee, medications, and surgeries, if necessary. Rescues often take animals that require round-the-clock bottle-feeding, which also isn’t cheap.

The rescues perform a valuable service because they reduce the numbers of animals that might otherwise be euthanized at the kill shelters.

A reduction in the kill rate could be achieved if people would only spay and neuter their pets. Owners who want to observe the miracle of birth suddenly realize they have seven new babies on hand—and must put them up for adoption. Some of the animals may eventually have to be put to sleep.

Bottom line: A good city or county animal shelter doesn’t kill wantonly, and a good rescue doesn’t profiteer—it saves lives. In the end, good pet care begins with the owner, a responsible owner who truly loves animals.

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