We love our pets and consider them a member of our families, right? But is love enough? Of course not. Even though every day is a great day to check-in and make sure we are doing all we can for our friendly felines and furry Fidos, May is Responsible Animal Guardianship Month.
Every May, pet companions across the country come together to inspire and encourage those who care about animals to get more involved in their communities. Fostering, volunteering, helping those in need, this is the perfect time to make plans for the weekend, the month, or longer, to do good for pets everywhere.
“What makes a responsible animal guardian?
A responsible animal guardian looks out for an animal’s physical, social, behavioral, and psychological need.” – ASPCA
Programs & Choices in Our Communities
There are wonderful ways to celebrate responsible animal guardianship. Here are just a few ideas, big and small, that ensure responsible decisions as well as change lives for the better.
- Always adopt from no-kill shelters and animal rescues. If a purebred is a must, remember that shelters often have purebreds and there are many breed-specific rescues. If buying from a breeder is an absolute must for some reason, be sure to choose ethical breeders. We should make the commitment never to buy from commercial kennels, backyard breeders, or pet stores.
- Give up a weekend, or several, by volunteering at the local animal shelter or sanctuary. We can work with the animals or match our skillsets with specific projects such as building awareness, coordinating an event, fundraising, and more.
- We can reduce the growing population of homeless feral cats by implementing a trap-neuter-return (TRN) program in our local community or neighborhood.
- For those of us who are short on time, but still have a big heart that wants to take action, we can run a 5k with our dog that will help fund a shelter, we can donate money to our local shelter, or we can donate materials.
- Unfortunately, a common problem in many households is the misunderstanding that a pet is belonging or thing that we own, rather than a life for which we have adopted and agreed to take responsibility. We can help to change the public’s perception by encouraging the use of “guardian” rather than “owner.”
- If nothing else, we can encourage others to volunteer, donate, foster, and participate in local programs. Spreading the message of responsible pet parenting is just as important as taking other actions.
- Lastly, always report suspected abuse. Animals cannot speak up for themselves, and they will never have the opportunity to grow up and move out or change their situation. That means it’s up to us to speak up for them. If we suspect abuse, it’s our responsibility as humans who understand the responsibility that comes with guardianship, to always report any suspected abuse.
“The use of the term ‘guardian’ will ultimately end so much cruelty and abuse, and save so very many lives.” – Dr. Elliot Katz, Founder of IDA
Best Practices at Home
- Training our pets while they’re young will mean they understand basic commands and will be able to navigate basic household rules with minimal effort.
- Pets need socialization, not just with their humans, but with other animals. Dog parks, play dates, and if we’re really committed and able, adding an additional furry friend to the family can all help ensure a healthy social life.
- Nutrition not only extends lives. It can help minimize behavioral problems and anxiety. It also reduces the risk of obesity and maintains strong joints and bones. That’s probably a good nutrition note for all of us, but in this case, exploring the nutritional factors for our pets food can make a big difference. EcoEats can be a great option for those who find their dog food lacking.
- Exercise! Another great note for all of us, but in this case, we humans often forget or don’t realize just how much exercise our pets need. Dogs and cats need a minimum of 30 minutes of daily activity.
- One-on-one attention on each of the pets in our household is surprisingly important. We can throw a ball, take a walk, or get out the toys. Concentrated playtime with one pet at a time is important for our both, our mental and emotional health. But most importantly, it’s necessary for our dog’s and cat’s mental and emotional health.
- Get vet visits scheduled and keep those appointments. Cats and dogs need their yearly check-ups. And as they age, they may need even more, so getting pet insurance or setting aside a little cash in preparation will help keep our companions and our bank accounts in purrrfect condition.
- Treat all animals, our pets in particular, with compassion. It can be easy to humanize our dogs and cats because we share space and spend time together. But the truth is, dogs and cats don’t think like us. In fact, they are navigating the world in a completely different way. When their behavior is frustrating or doesn’t make sense, consult professionals before becoming angry or turning to punishment.
- Give them a name and let them wear it proudly. Most than a collar with tags, we can make sure every pet under our guardianship has the best possible chances of being returned to us when we get them microchipped.
- Grooming is a great way to get some one-on-one time with our pet. If that’s not happening, we can take them to the groomers. Either way, clean teeth, shiny coats, and healthy skin are our responsibility. EcoMange and EcoRingworm for dogs and cats are great, all-natural products to keep on hand for fungal and bacterial infections, mites, hot spots, and other common skin conditions.
Responsible animal guardianship may seem like an everyday common sense task to most of us, but everyone is at a different point in their learning process. Everyone finds understanding and compassion at different times and in different ways. We can all take part in the celebration by inspiring others and leading by example.