Keep pets close to home

Free ranging house cats are estimated to kill 1 million birds a day. Unwanted pets take a huge toll on local wildlife each year. As responsible pet owners we should all do what we can to help prevent the increasing number of stray animals. By Roger Wolfe Outdoors Columnist

By Roger Wolfe
Outdoors Columnist

Don’t let your pets STRAY too far from home!

Everyone knows that dog is man’s best friend, that is unless you are a cat lover, and then of course it is our feline companions. It doesn’t matter if you are a cat person or a dog person, we all love our pets.

Unfortunately, when those lovable pets wander too far from home, or worse yet, are left homeless or dropped on the side of the road, they can have a tremendous impact on the wild world around us.

Even though our beloved Fido is the kindest sweetest dog around, his ancestors were predators. Those instincts still exist in our faithful companion, although he may not show them in his daily luxurious life of laying all over the furniture and slurping down that gourmet dog food.

Put those same pampered pets in the wild, and left to fend for themselves, they can rely on those instincts to hunt for food and keep themselves alive. And they will!

In this day and age we are constantly bombarded with reminders as pet owners to spay and neuter our pets. It sometimes gets to the point that we just don’t want to listen anymore. The sad fact of the matter is that we should, for so many reasons.

It just takes a stroll through your neighborhood, or even our local Chief Logan Park to spot several stray animals. Granted, there are many kind hearted souls who will feed and try their best to take care of those homeless animals, but for those few that have a helping hand, there are many many more who have no one to help and are left to hunt for their survival.

Our domesticated dogs and cats are very efficient hunters when they have to be. This fact coupled with the fact that our dear animal friends are not, nor were they ever, a part of our native ecosystem, means that when they begin to hunt they can take a dramatic toll on local wildlife.

It has been estimated that feral, or stray, cats kill nearly 1 million birds each day. That number has even been suggested as high as over a billion birds a year. That is an astounding number. Surely Mister Snuggle Puss couldn’t be such a hardened killer.

Dogs are just as proficient at staying well fed. They will hunt and eat just about anything. A population of wild dogs can take a huge toll on wildlife of all sorts in their home range, leaving the area almost like a ghost town.

With the number of stray animals continually on the rise, so is the impact they are having on our wildlife. As pet owners it is our responsibility to make sure we keep our pets close to home so they don’t get lost and become strays.

More so, we must take steps to make sure that unwanted pets do not become strays and begin taking a toll on wildlife. There are numerous county run animal shelters, no kill shelters, and groups and organizations that are in place to find forever homes for unwanted pets.

Still the best way to control the growing problem of stray pets is to have your pets spayed or neutered. It is not only the responsible thing to do, but it also protects our wildlife that lives all around us.

So maybe all those tear jerking or annoying ads telling us how to look out for our pets aren’t all bad. Maybe they are just trying to protect our wild animals as much as they are our fur babies.

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