Sunday, January 21, 2018

Choosing your new best friend

dogs 0

Furry Friends: Puppies available for adoption at the Trinidad and Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA)

Donstan Bonn

Is it their adorable eyes; cuddly fur coat or the way they wag their tails that convinces you to say to yourself, "Yes I will take you home."

Dogs are popular gifts and are a great addition to any family. With children home for the July/August vacation many parents might give in to their child’s pleas for a new puppy without taking the time to fully think things through. 

Unfortunately, an impulsive decision can later turn to one of regret and wind up with your new furry friend abandoned on the side of the road.

While the picture I have painted may seem bleak, this is the reality.

In Trinidad and Tobago countless dogs and other animals end up neglected and abandoned on the side of the road each year. Last year the Trinidad and Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA) recorded over 3600 dogs that were labelled under rescued, stray or abandoned. 

TTSPCA’s Operations Manager, Sara Maynard said, "I think a lot of people get animals at the spur of the moment and don’t do enough research. They may see a dog and like the look of the dog but that animal may not necessarily fit in with their lifestyle."

"They don’t realize it takes a lot of commitment; not just physically and emotionally but financially as well," she added.

Echoing similar sentiments, Canadian native, Emily Cappon said, " I moved to Trinidad in 2007 and volunteered with the TTSPCA at that time and quickly realized that there was a lot of needless animal suffering as a result of lack of ‘pet related’ education of the general public.  And still, 7 years later, both as a member of the Animal Welfare Network (AWN) committee and as a privately practicing veterinarian, I am amazed at the amount of preventable problems that we see, on a daily basis.  Not to mention the still out of control, unwanted dog population. Many people don’t seem to understand what a 

spay is or why it is so important, not only as a means of birth control but also for the health of the individual pet.  I still hear about letting dogs have "just one litter", which just perpetuates the problems and actually, it is best for a female dog to be spayed before her first heat, for her own sake." 

The Express through this four part series would take a closer look at man’s best friend and see what it really takes to be a responsible pet owner. 

When it comes to choosing the right dog be it for you, your child, friend or relative, according to here are some things you should know and consider:

1. Dogs take up a lot of time and energy. Yes, they are rewarding. But if you live alone and work twenty hours a day, then perhaps a dog is not the best choice for you. 

2. If you are not often at home, and you really want a dog, you probably should invest in a dog walker or have some you trust walk your dog.

3. Any dog you get should be suitable to not only your lifestyle, but your surroundings. If you live in a shoe box apartment, then a large dog is not a good choice. You do not want your dog to develop health issues, be bored, or destroy things. Large dogs really belong in big places with lots of outdoor space.

4. Consider which breeds are suitable for your region's climate, especially if you have a yard and want to keep it as an outside dog.

5. Puppies require the most work when it comes to house training. If you: (a) don’t want your things chewed up, or (b) don’t have the time or money to train the puppy, consider adopting an already housebroken, adult dog.

6. Make sure you have lots of chew toys available for your puppy and keep all expensive things (like shoes and clothes) out of its reach; the same goes for chemicals and medicines. Puppies like to investigate and try everything, so make sure there is nothing dangerous around for them to sample.

7. Get your dog vaccinated and spayed or neutered as soon as possible. Do not forget to take your dog to the vet for its routine checkups. Your dog will thank you for it and live a much better (and longer) life. 

8. Get a proper leash and harness for your dog. A leash too small or too large may hurt it inadvertently during its walking routine or, worse yet, allow it to hurt others or get loose and run away.

9. Health insurance is a must. 


Next: Adoption is an option.