By Ariane Beatrice A. De Castro
The first thought that probably goes through a person’s head whenever they see a dog is how badly they want to take it home. Who wouldn't love a cuddly companion? Such fluffy, irresistible creatures that definitely tug on anyone's heartstrings. Sadly, not everyone is aware of the responsibility that comes with owning these animals. This is evident with the number of stray animals and the number of recorded neglect cases around the country.
The first few days of owning a puppy are easy. They are still manageable and easy to take care of. They only eat in small amounts. They don’t jump around the house or destroy things. But as they grow, it’s not always the case. They may be too playful, or worse-- they can have behavioral problems, especially when not properly socialized. I have heard a lot of horror stories wherein their dogs become “too much” of a responsibility, on which owners do not have a choice but to send them away, causing an increase in the population of strays. According to the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, twelve million stray cats and dogs roamed the nation in 2019, and yes, it is as many as it sounds. Besides sending them away, another (not so feasible) option is sending these dogs to pounds/shelters. Sometimes, some people are willing to adopt these dogs. Sadly, there are many instances wherein a shelter becomes overcrowded, causing them to have no more room for dogs, not being able to provide for their needs, or the most unfortunate circumstance-- the need for euthanization.
This is what should be avoided. When you own a dog, here are some things that should consider:
First, it is important to conduct some research on how to properly take care of a potential dog, particularly that information is almost everywhere, and all it takes is one click. There are some studies, social media groups, youtube channels, blogs, and forums where you could learn a lot. Learn about its breed’s temperament, how many hours of exercise it needs, and what kind of maintenance should be provided.
Second, make sure to properly socialize them. Introduce them to your friends, families, and other dogs. Take them for walks. You could also hire professional dog trainers, for better results. Socializing is a crucial step that is usually disregarded. This is what leads to behavioral problems in most dogs.
Third, make sure to prioritize their health. A healthy dog is a happy dog! Keep up with vaccinations, feed them healthy foods, make sure to regularly visit the veterinary clinic for checkups, spay/neuter them (if you have no plans on breeding), and groom them. This will help them live a happy and long life.
Fourth, make sure to give them enough love and care. Do not leave them alone in poor conditions. Make sure you spend enough time with them. Be patient with them. Do not hit them! Play fetch, run with them, cuddle, give them enough pets. You will really see the difference in what affection gives to dogs. These are only some of the things that you should keep in mind.
Like in a normal human parenthood, there is no such thing as a “perfect fur parent”. What actually matters is how eager you are to learn, and how willing you are to provide what’s best for your dogs. Parenthood with a four-legged creature is also a journey in progress
Basically, taking in a pet takes more than just love and adoration. Time, effort, patience, and financial capabilities should also be taken into consideration. There are already way too many neglected animals, and the least we could do is to be responsible owners of the pets that we already have.
Lastly, keep in mind to adopt, and not shop. Visit your local shelters and dog pounds. Who knows, maybe the love of your life is waiting for you there?
Ariane Beatrice A. De Castro is a 2nd Year Legal Management Student in Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She has always been passionate in fighting animal cruelty and neglect, being a fur parent herself to 5 adorable dogs. She is hoping to inspire the Filipino youth in joining the call for the safety of every animal’s welfare, especially the strays.
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