Major League Baseball manager, Tony La Russa, and ARF's co-founder and chairman, shares his top ten ideas on how to help make the world a better place for animal companions.
- Spay or neuter your pet. Tell other people to do the same. It's a big deal. When millions of animals are euthanized each year because there aren't homes for them all, even one unplanned litter is too many.
- Before picking a new dog, do your homework. Different breeds of dogs have different temperaments and exercise needs. Read up on dog traits to ensure you pick a dog that fits your lifestyle. And don't forget mixed breeds; there are health and personality benefits in a mixed lineage.
- Before adopting any new animal, remember it is a fifteen year commitment. If we are lucky, our companion animals live long, full lives. Before you get a new pet, ask yourself if you are ready to make a ten or fifteen year commitment to an animal who is willing.
- Make a disaster plan. Don't forget your companion animals when you plan for emergencies. Have extra food, water and medicines for your pet. License, collar and micro-chip your animal in case it is separated from you. Have enough leashes and cages to take your animals with you if you need to evacuate your home.
- Report animal abuse. Use your local animal control agency, humane organization and law enforcement as resources to report neglect or intentional cruelty. There are laws against depriving animals of food, water, shelter, socialization and medical care, and also against maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating or killing an animal.
- Teach children how to avoid dog bites. Tell them not to approach an unattended dog and to always ask an owner if it's okay to pet their dog. Tell kids that dogs may chase those who run and if a dog does bother you, it's smart to stand still "like a tree" or if lying down, to be still "like a log."
- Support your local humane organization. Rescue organizations, SPCAs and your own town's animal control are always looking for volunteers to help with animals, donate bedding and pet food and get involved in a variety of ways.
- Train your animal. Before there is a problem, invest in your pet by patiently teaching it the rules of your home. Dogs, especially, need consistent training so they can learn what is expected of them. Check with your vet, local rescue group or the library for good information on training.
- Make sure your pet travels safely. Before you put any animal on an airplane, investigate what procedures the airline takes to ensure your pet's safety. If you're driving with your pet, make sure it is in the shade and it has fresh water. Never leave your pet unattended in a car; the temperature can rise to unbearable levels within minutes.
- Use your pet to show your kids how to be a good human. If we can teach our children to treat animals with compassion, they will learn how to treat all living things humanely. Talk to your kids about proper treatment of animals. Be a good role model. Explain that pets should never be hurt, must always be fed and given shelter. They deserve time and love from their owners every day. And then, sit back and watch your children's kindness and empathy grow.
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