A Guide on Responsible Pet Ownership

No longer is it just a matter of sitting a pet cat or dog on a mat by the fireside and feeding it a plate of food. The tireless lobbying by various organizations to ensure that cruelty to animals does not occur has seen changes that mean that pet owners have far more responsibilities towards their pets than has previously been the case.

Pets are generally purchased to fill a need and give enormous love and devotion to their owners. Consequently, they deserve to be looked after and cared for in a respectful manner. Many RSPCA organizations throughout Queensland now have information available for people who are seeking to know what is required of them should they take on the responsibility of owning a pet. Many local governments also have a set of guidelines that indicate legislation in regard to the ownership of pets. The above bodies have services at hand that are able to answer any questions that a prospective owner may need to ask. Below is a basic list of expectations that one needs to consider when purchasing puppies, dogs, cats and kittens.

De-sex Cats and Dogs

An increase in numbers of feral cats and wild dogs have led to the introduction of a policy that all pets purchased through a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s (RSPCA) facility be desexed. This is seen as a pro-active stance to ensuring that the number of unwanted and uncared for animals is kept to a minimum. It is hoped that this will ensure that fewer numbers of animals find their way back to the local pound or RSPCA, an important measure as cats can have as many as 4-6 kittens in any one litter, whilst a dog can have between 2-12 puppies in their litter. Many of these animals are sold on to other people, disposed of or are handed in to a local RSPCA facility for that facility to either re-home or put down.

Many veterinarians are actively promoting the need to desex animals to ensure that numbers of unwanted animals do not get out of hand. Your local vet can tell you the approximate number of losses to native wildlife as a result of feral cats and dogs.

Be Responsible-Tag/Micro Chip Your Pet

Most local government authorities throughout Queensland require that pets be identified with either a tag or a chip. Councils see the tagging of pets to be a way of ensuring that if a pet is lost or strays from home that they are easily identified and returned to their rightful owners. Tags and microchips should include the name of the pet, the home phone number, and/or the address of the owner.

Local Government Rules

Most local councils have a sliding scale of fees for pet ownership. Fees for dogs and cats that live within the town boundary are generally higher than for animals that reside on farms and in the country. Local councils employ animal catchers to maintain that stray animals are caught. It pays to have a pet proof fence to ensure that your pet is not found on the streets and placed in a pound. The cost of returning an errant pet who has strayed from home back to their owners can be significant.

Vaccinate Your Pet

The RSPCA suggest that dogs be vaccinated on a yearly basis for:

  • Parvo Virus
  • Adeno Virus
  • Distemper
  • Bordetella
  • Para Influenza The vaccinations for cats are:
  • Calici Virus
  • Rhinotractitus
  • Panlecopenia Virus

5 Points to Remember

  1. De sex your cat or dog.
  2. Microchip or tag you pet
  3. Vaccinate your pet
  4. Keep vaccinations current
  5. Uphold local government regulations

Heidi, an RSPCA worker interviewed for information regarding RSPCA services informed me that “if you want something that looks pretty and is easy to care for then get a pot plant; it’s cheaper because taking on a pet is a ‘for life’ experience”. Heidi then went on to say that a pet offered unconditional love towards those who care for them. The RSPCA have a set of guidelines that give prospective pet owners a clear understanding of what is expected of them should they proceed in purchasing an animal from any one of their facilities. A pet purchased through an RSPCA facility will be vaccinated, desexed, heart worm tested and to complete the package your new pet will come with a starter pack bag of diet food.

One word of warning for prospective pet owners concerns the growth industry of back yard breeders. Many of these breeders are unlicensed and fall far short when it comes to producing healthy kittens and pups. The concerns voiced by the RSPCA is that emphasis for many backyard breeders appears to be the dollar sign and does not always mean the wellbeing of the animal. Be responsible purchase pets from a reputable source.