Advocate Editorial Board opinion: People need to take proper care of animals

Americans love their pets. The Humane Society of the United States estimates 39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog and 33 percent own at least one cat.

But owning a pet requires responsibility and commitment, and unfortunately, that is not always what owners are willing to invest. Last week, the Advocate reported on the story of two puppies found in the Hidden Meadows subdivision by Hutch and Kathleen Pine. The couple caught the puppies and took them to the Main Street Animal Hospital, where they were examined. Apart from some eye damage in one of the puppies, both were healthy but a little thin. Kathleen Pine paid for them to be de-wormed, neutered, vaccinated and more, but she also needed to find a new home for the pair, who she named "Peaches and Herb."

The Pines were not able to keep the puppies because they already had multiple pets, but April 13, Kathleen Pine posted a notice on her Facebook page saying Peaches and Herb were adopted by a family.

We are glad this story had a happy ending for the puppies. Unfortunately, that is not always the case for animals in Victoria. According to Joe Lopez, chief animal control officer with Victoria County Animal Control, the service picked up 2,381 dogs and 2,091 cats in 2012. Of those, 1,150 stray dogs, 414 owned dogs, 1,431 stray cats and 285 owned cats were euthanized. This is a grim picture for animals in Victoria County. Pets in modern society depend on people to provide a safe, secure environment. When humans fail in that responsibility, it is the animals that suffer.

We encourage pet owners or anyone considering owning a pet to be fully aware of the responsibilities involved. The American Veterinary Medical Association website has a list of basic guidelines for responsible pet ownership. Here are some of the tips offered: • Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment and requires an investment of both time and money.

• Always carefully choose animals best suited for your living situation. Do not make an impulsive decision.

• Make sure pets are properly identified using tags or microchips and the registration information is up to date.

• Have your pets spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Provide proper health care for your pets, including regular visits to the vet for vaccines, checkups and any health problems.

• Provide exercise and mental stimulation to keep your pet healthy and happy.

These basic steps can help pet owners properly care for their four-legged friends for years to come. But most of all, we encourage members of the community to spay and neuter their animals and treat them with love and respect. As the Pines demonstrated, there are ways to find a home for unwanted pets without dumping them.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.