Happy Pet.
 by Laurie Buckley!

Passion 4 Pooches, Articles by Laurie Buckley

Do your part and be a responsible pet owner

During the past year, much has been said about the work for Nassau County Animal control. It’s obvious that this department has been painfully under-funded and mismanaged in recent years.


However, that hasn’t received as much attention is what we, the pet owners of this community, can do to help solved the problems that overwhelm Animal Control.

Nationally, six to eight million animals enter animal shelters each year and about half of those euthanized (i.e. put to sleep). This is due in large part to irresponsible pet ownership. So, it’s time we all take a moment to think about this community concern and consider what we can do to prevent animal from ending up in shelters

*Is my pet spayed or neutered? The No. 1 reason there are so many animals in shelters is that there are simply too many of them. There are not enough homes. If your pet is not spayed or neutered you may be adding to the problem. Many pet owners don’t intend to breed their pet but accidents happen. The reasons to spay/neuter go far beyond pet overpopulation.


Pets that are altered live longer. They tend not to run away. There are more content and stable. Discuss this with your veterinarian. If finances are a concern, your vet can tell you about the programs that exist to help pay for spaying and neutering.


*Does my pet wear identification? Thousands of pets end up in shelters because they got lost and didn’t have identification tags. Seventy percent of dogs and more than 95 percent of cats are never returned to their owners. You can go to Wal-Mart and make you pet an inexpensive identification tag. Or, if you want something classy, go visit Stacy at Bark Avenue and she’ll help you pick out a unique designer ID tag. In Nassau County, our pets are required to be licensed, which also serves as identification. A microchip ID is another option that you can discuss with your veterinarian.


*Have I taught my pet basic manners? The other primary reason that pets end up in shelters is due to behavior problems. That adorable little puppy, who never received any training, is all grown up now. He’s not as cute as he was and is basically out of control. At this point, many pet owners will make the painful decision to give him up. The initial time that is spent on basic training of a new pet is well worth the years of enjoyment you will receive from having a happy and balanced companion, with whom you can communicate. Now of course, we’d all like to have a Lassie, but even just teaching basic manners (sit stay, come and heel) is a big help. And while we are of the subject of manners, I implore all dog owners to please clean up after you pets. Not doing so is inconsiderate, unsanitary, and harmful to the environment and gives all dogs and dog owners a bad name.


*Do I take my pet to the veterinarian regularly? Diseases like Parvo, Feline leukemia and distemper cause animals to be euthanized every day and cost animal shelters thousands of dollars each year. In addition, pets are required to be vaccinated for rabies, which remains a substantial threat in Florida. Talk to your vet about the vaccination schedule he she recommends and how often your pet should have a check-up to maintain wellness.


This is by no means intended to be a complete list of the care that goes into being a responsible pet owner. But if we all do our part, we will improve the situation at Animal Control and decrease the number homeless and unwanted pets in our own community.


Laurie Buckley is the Head Groomer at the Pet Care Center of Nassau – Ritsy Klips in Yulee. She is the owner of AniMassage, an in-home massage service for dog and horses. She lives in Fernandina Beach with her 16-year-old Golden Retriever mix, Jake and 11-year old Border Collie mix, Mae. Send questions to passion4pooches@yahoo.com or call 415-0632.