Who Let The Dogs Out?: Being a responsible dog owner
By Kit Baumgartner, Animal Control Supervisor at Springfield-Greene County Health
Responsible Dog Ownership month wraps up on Sept. 30 but being a responsible pet owner is a year-round, 24/7 job. As much as the pets in our life would like to avoid taking a bath or going to get a vaccine, pet owners have a duty to take care of their fur-friends needs to keep them healthy and happy.
It can be difficult to remember all the nuances of pet care, including what vaccines to get, how much food they should eat and how much exercise they need during the day. All pets are different and have unique needs, but here are a few general ones that you may need a refresher on:
1. Socialize your dog.
No, dogs can’t talk yet. However, we do know most dogs like to play, especially puppies. This form of socialization helps acclimate your animal to the world around it in a healthy, controlled way. Reed Animal Hospital recommends starting early to eliminate additional challenges for both you as a pet owner and your dog.
Getting them out and about can lessen the stress of being at the vet or adopting aggressive behaviors when faced with unfamiliar surroundings or people.
2. Get your animals vaccinated.
This not only helps keep your dog safe, but also the other animals and people your pet encounters. Most pets have what are called core vaccines, which are vital vaccines to pets based on risk of exposure, severity of disease, or transmissibility to humans.
It’s important to ask your veterinarian about a vaccine schedule, even if your dog is older. There are still core vaccines, like the rabies vaccine, that your dog needs annually or every 2–3 years.
If you’re looking to get your dog vaccinated, there is a pet vaccine clinic being held at the SAAF Spay Neuter Clinic in Springfield on Oct. 6 from 2 p.m. — 4 p.m. Find out more information by clicking here.
3. Learn your local pet laws.
As simple as this may sound, most cities have unique pet laws you may be unaware of. Staying up to date on what they are in the place you live can help save a lot of time and trouble for both you and animal control if your pet ran away or got lost.
For example, pit bulls must be registered in Springfield and an owner must provide proof of current rabies vaccination, proof of spay or neutering of the dog(s) and must be microchipped. Additionally, if you have a pit bull as a service dog, they must be registered with the Springfield-Greene County Animal Shelter. You can contact the Animal Shelter for more information or to schedule an appointment to register your pit bull here.
Responsible dog ownership is a hard job, but it is an important one. There are tons of ways people can be responsible dog owners that are not listed here, but they include hygiene care, allergy and tick medicine, and dental care.
Most importantly, being a responsible dog owner includes giving your pet plenty of love and attention. Most of the time, they’ll even return it back.