Responsibility a must for pet owners

Let’s make Scott Pisani’s job easy.

The best way we can help the executive director of the Kauai Humane Society is pretty simple: Take responsibility for our pets. No excuses allowed.

Most do. Most are conscientious when it comes to looking after the well-being of their dogs and cats. Most treat them like the family members they are, feed them, bathe them, let them sleep in the house — even on the furniture. Key is, they keep them, to the end. If they can’t, they do their best to find a home for them before giving their dog to KHS.

But many don’t. When they decide a dog no longer fits their lifestyle, or did something wrong like chew on furniture, they don’t have time for it any longer. Or when it just gets old, the dog is often dumped. Dropped off. It ends up a stray, wandering until some kind soul helps it. If not, it suffers on its own.

And where do we get this idea that many aren’t committed to their pets? Numbers. Specifically, the numbers of stray dogs on Kauai. That means they were wandering. Either abandoned or lost.

Consider the numbers of strays on Kauai dropped off or picked up:

2016 – 897

2015 – 1,119

2014 – 1,322

2013 – 1,588

That’s a lot of stray dogs. Granted, some are retrieved by their owners. Dogs do get loose from yards, houses, leashes. That is understandable. And pet owners make great efforts to find their beloved animals. But too often, strays remain that way until we turn the task over to KHS to care for them and find them a home. It’s just not acceptable that hundreds of dogs end up as strays — and yet, so many point their finger at KHS as being the problem.

The solution starts with us.

There is good news. It was just four years ago, 2013, when nearly 1,600 strays were picked or or dropped off at KHS. That’s a staggering number. It’s not the fault of the animals. It’s the fault of people. But again, the good news is that that number of strays has been steadily declining, dropping to under 1,000 for 2016 for the first time in many years.

We hope to see that number continue to fall. If pet owners are responsible, it will.

The trend is pointing in that direction. Here are the number of owned dogs surrendered to KHS:

2016 – 341

2015 – 440

2014 – 585

2013 – 902

Good to see surrenders decline by more than 50 percent from 2013 to 2016. We hope to see that number continue to fall, as well.

Yes, there are valid reasons for surrendering a pet. Common reasons include landlord issues, moving, the owner no longer able to care for the animal due to job loss or the pet owner is physically unable to look after their dog or cat. But we urge pet owners to do their absolute best to find a home for animal before surrendering it to KHS. Of course, that’s why KHS is there. Too often, though, that is the first choice of people who decide a dog no longer fits their lifestyle, or they just don’t have time to walk it and no longer want to deal with it. Yep, that’s a reason that’s been used when surrendering a pet: No time to deal with it.

We can do better.

First, we ask that all pet owners be responsible and committed.

Second, we encourage people to visit KHS, check out their dogs and cats, and after careful consideration and understanding the commitment required and the cost involved, adopt. It’s not a complicated process. It’s recommended that all members of the household are present. If a dog is being adopted, it’s recommended that all other dogs in the house be present.

To adopt an animal, the potential adopter comes to KHS; picks out an animal; fills out an application; discusses the adoption with a staff member; pays for the adoption; takes animal home. Under Pisani, KHS is working on improving the adoption process and being sure customers have a great experience and leave knowing their new friend for life.

“We want to celebrate the joy of pet ownership and constructively ‘matchmake’ our animals with potential adopters to find the animal that is going to best match the adopter’s lifestyle,” Pisani said.

That can lead to a lasting relationship that will keep your pet at home, with you, where it belongs.


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