You would think that in today’s world of instant communication and over information people would get the message that taking ownership of a dog is not just a right but a responsibility. Some people get annoyed or completely avoid adopting a dog from an animal shelter because they have to sign an agreement that they will properly care for their new found friend. As it turns out, there is a reason for the paperwork and it is to avoid giving a dog to irresponsible people who will either abuse or neglect their dog.
Weather emergencies, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, flash floods, and winter deep freeze temperatures claim the lives of thousands of dogs every year. Owners do not treat the dog as a member of the family, and so they are left behind to fend for themselves. Most people who do this aren’t leaving a Saint Bernard or Great Dane behind because there simply isn’t enough room in the car for them but instead own a small or medium size dog that will be happy to squeeze in wherever they can. Such is the case in the iheartdogs.com story, where a man had to literally offer to buy the dog to rescue it from the oncoming killer storm, Hurricane Dorian.
One excuse people make is that hotels and motels within the safety zone outside of the hurricane are not pet friendly. But anyone who has lived in a state or area that is prone to hurricanes and owns a dog should know where they and their pet can take shelter. Maybe they will have to drive a bit further or pay a bit more to arrive at the right place, but simply being ignorant of the potential danger to their family, which includes their dog, is not really much of an excuse. Hotels that are pet friendly are likely to charge an additional, one-time fee for the service but the few extra dollars spent is well-worth the security and safety.
For those looking for more information about what it takes to own a dog, the American Kennel Club has a list of 75 (!) things that everyone should consider before becoming a dog owner. It’s worth noting that the AKC isn’t just some type of dog club but where people go when they want top flight dog breeds. From that list there are some broader considerations that can be used even if you decide to get a rescue dog.
One of the most noticeable ones is something many people easily overlook: not everybody should own a puppy. Depending on the breed, there may be health or temperament issues that can result in a bad match for both owner and dog. In such cases, neither wins out and if the owner tries to stick with a bad situation it will only make things worse. On the list of considerations specific to the puppy issue is the owner’s personal lifestyle. If they have an on-the-go lifestyle a puppy is usually a poor decision.
Bringing a dog home is much like bringing home a newborn baby. There are things to buy and preparations to make. One of the most important steps is to make sure all the family members are present so the dog can get a sense of their new environment. The presence of small children usually means there are smallish toys that the dog may think are for their own entertainment. Then there are the items around the house that are breakable and likely to become the victim of the dog’s playful nature. If you own valuable antiques or are an art collector, you will want to reconsider if having a dog will cramp your lifestyle.
While unexpected weather events can throw even a responsible dog owner for a loop, the fact is that come rain or shine, the dog will need to have annual visits to the veterinarian. That costs money, and though the costs for a puppy are usually greater than that for an older dog, there are 100 things that can go wrong. Many times it depends on the breed of dog, so a responsible dog owner will have narrowed down their choices to a few select breeds. If the dog is a mixed breed, then the potential owner needs to be educated about both breeds and any possible problems with the in-breeding. Dogs will get sick from time to time, just like people. Most problems are cleared up by a single trip to the vet, which doesn’t cost much. But if a health problem is left unattended it will only get worse – and cost the owner more money. There are unexpected costs that an owner can incur no matter how much they prepare and educate themselves, but the chances of those added costs will be greatly reduced by an annual checkup.
Speaking of medical costs, people get sick too and may need to be hospitalized. If that should happen, is there a plan in place for someone to take care of your dog? This is really no different than preparing for an unexpected weather event, but how many people have thought, “That would never happen to me” – and it did. Small apartments are not suitable for large dogs, even if it is for a short time. Friends or relatives with allergies may find the presence of your dog to be more annoying than anything else, and knowing this ahead of time can save everyone a lot of unnecessary stress. There are probably 75 more things to think about when creating the plan, and this shows the need for people to give serious consideration before bringing home a loyal and faithful companion.
Responsible dog ownership is remembering that it is a living creature that has needs beyond the physical. It’s hard to imagine what kind of psychological damage is done to a dog who somehow manages to survive through a weather event like Hurricane Dorian. If you think that the dog will “get over it” then you should not be entrusted with the care of your own dog.