This is "Be Kind to Animals Week." It includes both wild and domestic animals. There are countless ways that we can be kind to our wild neighbors: feeding and providing water for birds and squirrels, setting out salt blocks and water for deer if you live near their pathway, leaving nests alone, not feeding wild animals on your property so that they lose their fear of humans, not hunting unless you will use the meat and hunt humanely, teaching children respect for all animals and leaving all wild animals, including insects, in their natural homes.
Feral cats are a huge problem in this area. People dump their unaltered cats which then produce hundreds of offspring. Kindness to these animals is trapping, neutering and releasing. Call the humane society for more information. Some funding might be available.
As for these animals that we humans have domesticated, we owe them our commitment. We adopt them and bring them into our homes. But sometimes we forget about their rights. Sometimes we forget that they are deserving or our love and respect. We forget that they are living, breathing creatures with super large hearts and brains willing and eager to learn. These brains need to be employed. If we do not challenge them by teaching them proper behavior and even some tricks, they will put those brains to use in their own way. Sometimes this can be destructive, particularly with a pet that is terribly bored and lonely.
The Payson Humane Society is distributing a card this week naming 33 ways to be kind to animals. A few of them are: Spay or neuter your dogs and cats, Spend quality time with your pet daily, Provide nutritious food and fresh water, Visit the vet annually for check up and vaccinations,Keep toxic chemicals out of reach, Keep license and identifications up to date. Provide adequate shade, shelter and a dry spot in the sun.
Regarding the issue of spaying and neutering, cat and dog overpopulation is a serious matter deserving the attention of all of us. More than 8 million kittens, puppies, dogs and cats are put to death in shelters because there are not nearly enough homes for them. Seven out of every ten dogs and cats (nationally) taken to humane societies are put to death. And what about this statistic -- half of all the cats and dogs born each year die in shelters, laboratories or on the streets. These statistics certainly show a complete lack of human kindness toward animals.
As for health benefits of sterilization, neutered and spayed cats and dogs experience a 98 percent reduction in certain types of cancer and infections, particularly of the urinary tract. Also, sterilized cats and dogs are less likely to roam, they bond more closely with their human guardians and are less likely to fight and spray urine. Sterilization is a simple procedure. The pet is back to normal usually within 24 hours. We owe it to our pets to spay and neuter. These recommendations come from The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Davis, Calif.
Be Kind to Animals Week is a great time to make some changes in our relationship with our dogs and cats. There is a wide spectrum of positions that our pets occupy in our households. any are valued members of the family. Lots are spoiled rotten. But many spend their lives in the back yard alone and miserable.
Exercising with our pet leads to better health for both. Obesity in dogs and people is a very serious health problem. Trained dogs, just like well behaved children, are wonderful to have in the house. The more time we spend with our dogs, the more they will know and understand the rules and work very hard to abide by them. What they want more than anything is to be with us. They want to protect us and our homes and they want to love and be loved.
There are many activities that people and their dogs can do together: Hiking, car rides, camping, walking, biking, grooming, teaching tricks, obedience classes, the dog park, organized activities like agility, fly ball, musical freestyle and many more. Encourage your young child to read to the dog or cat. It is great for both. But one of the nicest activities is just visiting. Sit on the floor and let your pet on your lap and rub his ears, massage his shoulders, back and hips, rub his tummy, whatever he really likes. Talk with him.
During Be Kind to Animals Week, spend at least a few minutes each day listening to, watching, and paying really close attention to your pet. You will learn something. And what you learn will increase your appreciation for this dog or cat who shares your home and your life.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.