Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Family Day!

Happy Family Day - increasingly, this greeting is assumed to include pets. For some time now, there has been a cultural shift throughout the Western world to view companion animals as a part of the family rather than being relegated to the secondary role of “family pet.”

For pets and a humane society that promotes their well-being, this is a boon. Generally, it means that animals are well cared for and kept safe. We expect that our family members would receive regular and emergency medical care, a high-quality diet, and all the other necessities of life. We expect that family members would be supervised for their safety, and that families would take steps to ensure that if a member does become lost, that they would find their way home safely.

Sadly, some people do not care for their human family members so kindly or so well, much less their animal family members, whether intentionally or not. Myrna Milani, a veterinarian and blogger, writes about the problematic side to pets as family members in her blog posting, "Pets as Family Members: An Elevation or Demotion?" Dr. Milani points out that all of the failings of parents are replicated with companion animals: overfeeding, failure to learn good "parenting" skills, failure to set appropriate boundaries, etc. It is an interesting read. I would add that when animals are expected to act like humans – the "Disney" dog – and fail in this expectation, they too often end up in the care of the OHS, looking for a new home.

I think on the whole, animals are generally better off as family members, despite the too-common problems. And to those of you who treat them as beloved companions and not toys to be disposed of when no longer fun, those who invest in "raising" their pets responsibly, with skill, who recognize the necessary investment of time and money, thank you. And Happy Family Day!

Bruce Roney
Executive Director

What do you think about pets as family members?  Tell us on Facebook at Facebook .com/OttawaHumane

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