By Lisa Connolly
President Homes for Pets/Schertz Humane Society

Having worked in animal rescue most of my adult life, and as the owner of my own pet-sitting business for the past eight years, you see a lot of irresponsible pet owners. It just makes the responsible ones all that more wonderful!

Considering where we live — so close to San Antonio (sadly one of the stray capitals in the country) — the number one action of a responsible pet owner is to spay and neuter your pets. Don’t wait for that first litter! Get it done before that happens! They will be healthier, happier, there won’t be more babies in need of a home, and you have done your part in curbing this awful pet overpopulation!

This is not to say there are not some responsible breeders out there, who do the right things. Those people are fine. It is the mass of “backyard” breeders who keep multiple mothers pregnant for profit, that just adds to the problem.

Another point — pick up after your pet! If you walk your dog, and don’t do so, you know who you are. We’ve all seen the whistling person looking the other way, while their dog does his business on someone else’s lawn. Do the right thing and pick up your dog’s leavings. It is more hygienic, the neighbors will like you and your pet better, and you don’t risk getting fined if you are caught and turned in. I always offer bags to pet owners when I see this. Some appreciate it, others not so much!

Before you get an animal of any sort, please look into what is involved in their care. Dogs, cats, puppies, kittens for Christmas, ducklings and bunnies for Easter, hamsters, mice, lizards, birds, snakes as a pet for a child… so often we see the return part of that, or find that the pet has already died from people not knowing what to do.

They are all cute at first, but some of these animals have a lifespan of 18-20 years, while some parrots can live 75 years! The newness wears off quickly. Lizards are left in a small tank and ignored, parrots banished to the garage, dogs and cats are left outside. What does this teach our children? It is all so sad to witness and just wrong. These are living creatures with needs and feelings.

Be sure that you are ready to give them a safe, warm, loving indoor environment where they can live as part of the family.

That is all our furry and feathered friends really need, and want. With proper care and attention, in whatever way they are capable, they are guaranteed to love you right back!
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