Usually such acquisitions bring a great deal of happiness to the family and can be the beginning of a long and very rewarding association between man and animal. Unfortunately, sometimes this spur of the moment decision can lead to an incompatible situation which brings unhappiness to both owners and the pet.
One of the major sources of friction between families in the neighborhood is the dog which is allowed to wander, such a dog may belong to a family whose members are out all day at work and school. The dog naturally becomes bored with its own surroundings and seeks companionship elsewhere. Usually there is more than one of these animals in the neighborhood and so the suburban canine street gang is formed.
Antisocial activities such as chasing cars, schoolchildren on bicycles, and knocking over garbage tins are quickly learnt. Even if the group does not indulge in these pastimes, they have no respect for boundaries and keen gardeners in the street soon get very sick of scratched up lawns and trampled flower gardens.
This freewheeling group is also very accident prone. Car accidents not only can result in expensive veterinary treatments but may be the cause of considerable property damage, or even human injury. Dog bites and infectious disease are also much more common in this group.
Before deciding to acquire a dog give some thought as to how you can restrain it.
Fencing a corner block or erecting a fence capable of restraining a large dog can be expensive.
The activities of unrestrained males when a female dog is in season is another regular cause of neighborhood ill feeling. The desexing of both male and female dogs not only produces better family pets but helps to avoid many of the problems of territorial aggression, excessive barking and hole digging.
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Cats, too, can be a source of neighborhood tensions. Undesexed male cats regularly trespassing and attacking inoffensive pets are a source of ill feeling. Undesexed females attracting large numbers of nocturnal vociferous suitors also do nothing for friendly communal living.
One of the sad tasks of a veterinary surgeon is to have to destroy healthy animals because of some change in the family circumstances. Of course many of them are unavoidable but some could have been foreseen. It is unwise to acquire a pet if a move interstate or overseas is in the offing.
Children should be discouraged from pet ownership if they are about to leave home and may have to live in student or rented accommodation. If you are frequently away at weekends, make sure that it is possible to restrain the animal adequately and have someone reliable to look after it. Ensure that it has adequate shelter for both extremes of our summer and winter climate.
Try to pick a pet that is compatible with your lifestyle.
If you do not like exercise choose a small dog or a cat, not a Labrador or German shepherd which must be given regular long walks and should preferably be obedience trained. Remember also that long-haired cats and dogs must be groomed regularly other wise their coat becomes matted and unmanageable. Poodles, Airedales and wire-haired terriers require regular professional clipping. If you may grudge this expense choose a short-haired breed.
The purpose of this article has not been to discourage pet ownership but to suggest some of the ways in which both pets and their owners can exist happily within the general community.