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Are You A Responsible Pet Owner? – Dr. Sharon Johnston

Dog Listening With Big Ear
Back in vet school, somebody was always trying to raise funds for their class’ senior party or their pet charity. I can fondly visualize much of the picture on a fundraising canvas bag touting responsible pet ownership. Caption was “The Happy Dog.” Arrows pointed to various parts of his cartoon body, describing actions responsible pet owners take to keep their dogs happy and healthy. One of the biggies was neutering or spaying to help keep them home, to reduce aggression, and control pet overpopulation. Earlier today, reading an article about packs of sexually intact Chihuahuas roaming the Phoenix area, and scaring residents, I was feeling glad that local pet owners are more responsible. OK, at least mostly. (A coworker just asked me if I want to foster a pregnant Chihuahua so I shouldn’t self-congratulate prematurely.)

Another thing we can do to be responsible pet owners and simultaneously reduce the number of dogs and cats at shelters is to microchip our pets. Hopefully, if they get lost and found, they will be scanned and helped back to their family. One of my classmates from vet school had her cat returned to her six years after being lost because of his microchip. ID tags tend to get pets back to their families the quickest but they can disappear and that nice microchip backup plan helps us sleep better at night. Overall, chipping is relatively painless, inexpensive, and a nice little insurance policy. And all you conspiracy theorists just relax! So far, the chip doesn’t allow us to track anybody by GPS or control their actions. Adverse consequences of microchipping are very rare and most pets tolerate the procedure without protest.

My canvas bag has lots of other things on it that responsible pet owners do for their pets (training, socialization, monthly parasite prevention are some examples). Lucky for me, most of the pets who come see us at PMC do all the right things!

So, thank you all for taking great care of our patients. Dr. J.