We need to take care of our dogs

The yellow lab in Hanalei on Sunday was lost. Or maybe abandoned. Hard to say. No collar, he ran across the highway, was nearly hit by a car, then wandered down a street.

He was friendly, though, and walked warily over when called. Wagging his tail, the lab was happy for some attention and gulped down some water and ate a few bites of food. He was young, a bit thin, but had been trained. Someone, at least for awhile, had owned him and perhaps still did.

No one on hand knew whose dog it was and few seemed sure what to do with it. Take it home? Put an ad in the paper? Take it to the humane society some 45 miles away? The lab solved the debate when he trotted off and disappeared around another corner. Hopefully back to its owner. Maybe not. Some dog owners allow their pets to roam free, despite the county’s leash law. This might have been one. We hope that lab had a home and found his way back. But there are many stray dogs on Kauai. Too many. Some, after time, were unwanted by their owners and let loose. Some are neglected and run away. It’s sad to see dogs wandering on their own, too scared to let people close so they keep running.  Many end up at the Kauai Humane Society, which does its best to care for them, and to find good homes for every pet. But space is limited at KHS and money is tight. It can’t keep every dog that comes in until it finds a match for it. Eventually, regretfully, hundreds are euthanized each year.

It’s not their fault. It’s the fault of people who decline to take responsibility for their animals.

We can do better.

It would be great if every dog had a home and we encourage adoption. Before adopting a dog, though, consider the time you need to give to a pet. Consider the expense. Consider whether you have the home or desire to have a dog. Consider, too, whether you will adhere to the leash laws and make use of a dog park.

If so, by all means, adopt a dog. Give it a home. Watch after it. Care for it. Love it. You can’t put a price on the rewards of dog ownership, but you’ll feel the difference in your heart.

If we can do that, maybe we won’t see a yellow lab running scared across a highway, and we won’t have to wonder if he has a home, or he’s still out there looking for one.

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