McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 20, 2012

PAWS - Responsible pet ownership

By Joyce McNally
Special Correspondent

McALESTER — What does responsible pet ownership mean to you? Just bringing a new pet home doesn’t mean your responsibility stops there. When you get a new pet, the first thing you need to do is make an appointment with your local veterinarian. You want to make sure your new pal is healthy. Then, to keep your pet in good health, vaccinations and annual checkups are also necessary. Don’t forget to ask about medicine for control of fleas and ticks and prevention of heartworms.

A fenced yard would be great, but you can also use some type of a large fenced area. It’s important that your pet have plenty of room for exercise and play. Pets also need some type of shelter to protect them from the outside elements, especially when the weather is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. And, don’t forget about giving them plenty of clean water to drink.

Your pet will also need a collar. Add a tag with your pets name, address and a phone number on it and include a tag for proof of rabies vaccination. You might even want to think about micro-chipping. All vital information for your pet is put on a microchip and placed just under the skin. Most veterinarians and animal shelters have microchip readers so it will be easier to unite you and your pal if it gets out of the yard.

Another part of being responsible is to have your pet spayed or neutered and there’s no time like now to have it done! Each year over 120,000 dogs and cats are put to death in Oklahoma shelters because there are not enough homes for them. Many others are abandoned to fend for themselves, often starving or killing livestock to survive.

Over five million dollars each year is spent on animal control in Oklahoma. This sum covers mainly the cost of picking up, housing and then killing unwanted pets. All taxpayers foot the bill for the irresponsible pet owners who produce unwanted litters of dogs and cats. There is no reason to start this cycle over and over again.

Each animal that is sterilized is prevented from producing litters that will increase pet overpopulation, as well as the annual cost for animal control. Behavior associated with breeding, including roaming and fighting, often turns dogs into neighborhood nuisances and worse. Sterilization and vaccination are part of responsible pet ownership.

PAWS has a spay and neuter program and financial assistance is available if you qualify. Call 918-470-7297 today and ask about this great program. If you are interested in adopting a new pet, check out the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter on West Street. The shelter’s phone number is 918-423-7803.

Joyce McNally is a PAWS volunteer and advocate for prevention of pet abuse and neglect. Comments or questions can be directed to her at