Pet owners need to take more responsibility

Any dog can get loose. Thunderstorms, a guest or repairman not securing a gate, or a pooch that sneaks out the front door when you're not looking can result in a dog on the lam. If not rounded up quickly, it can mean a trip to the animal shelter.

Loose dogs and those picked up by Animal Control officers are only minor problems as long as owners take responsibility for the animals they've taken into their homes.

Problem dogs begin with problem owners.

Most dog owners will scour the neighborhood, looking for their errant family member.

When that fails, they'll check at the shelter and turn out their pockets to find the funds necessary to bring to their animal home.

Then there are other dog owners who just don't want to be bothered anymore. They don't care if their dog is running loose around the neighborhood. If it comes home, great; if not, that's fine, too.

Apparently, we have too many problem owners in the area, considering the number of dogs left unclaimed after recent thunderstorms.

It's rarely an issue of money. The claim fee at shelters in the area is comparable to dinner for two at a moderately priced restaurant or to concert tickets. It's pocket change, compared to what families pay every month for cable service and Internet hook-ups.

The very few who really are tight on funds may qualify for help from volunteer animal organizations.

Then there are the other kind of dog owners. Every week, if not every day, dogs are abandoned to the shelter life. Sometimes they're released to the shelter, and sometimes they're just dumped anonymously on the doorstep or in a strange neighborhood for animal officers to pick up.

For some of those animals, life in the shelter is an improvement. But it's still not a home.

Sometimes they find a real home. Sometimes they don't.

If you have a dog, take care of it and care about where it is. If you're ready to be a responsible pet owner, consider adopting one of the animals unclaimed at the shelter.

If you don't want to be bothered, get a goldfish. Or better yet, don't get a pet at all.


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