In May we observe Responsible Animal Guardian Month as a reminder of the great responsibility we have to our pets for their care, safety, and well-being. Its roots began in 1822 when the Martin’s Act was passed in the UK to protect against the cruelty of animals. This was initiated mostly for horses and cattle but was soon after amended to extend to dogs and cats. In 1866 America formed the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which led to many other animal protection organizations to follow by 1900. And eventually In Defense of Animals (IDA) started Responsible Animal Guardian Month in May to remind us that we are guardians, not owners, of the animals in our care. According to the ASPCA, a responsible guardian is defined as a legal adult who is “fully committed to humane, compassionate, lifelong care for their companion animal(s).”
Being a responsible animal guardian starts with a plan to make sure you have done your breed and/or needs research for the animal you are bringing into your home. Ensuring a safe environment that is free from potential danger is also your responsibility as a pet owner. Chipping your pet is another important aspect of pet guardianship (which we will discuss shortly). Providing proper and regular medical care, as well as dedicating enriching and quality time with your pet, are vital components of animal guardianship. Read more on the IDA's purpose for Responsible Animal Guardian Month.
Being a responsible animal guardian can extend to the animals in your environment. They don’t always have to be the ones that you consider yours and in your home. You can be a guardian to the animals in your neighborhood in various ways. Avoid using rodenticides on mice and rats that can be eaten by cats or predatory birds. (Read here about New England predatory birds being killed by rat poison.) Clean up after your automobile if it leaks radiator or other fluids onto the cement, which is harmful to all animals if swallowed. You can also get involved in the TNR programs for local feral cats so they remain healthy, but also to spay or neuter so the colony does not grow.
May is also Chip Your Pet Month. A part of being a responsible animal guardian is having your pet microchipped. What was once thought to be invasive, is actually a simple procedure that is no more painful than a vaccination. All Creatures Animal Hospital posits that an estimated 8,000 lost cats, dogs and other animals are returned to their homes each year due to being microchipped! Indoor pets are the most in need of microchipping because those are the animals that might not be able to find their way home if they escape when a door or window is left open. Outdoor animals also benefit from microchipping in the event that they are stolen, or in worst cases, injured and need to be identified. Overall, microchipping is the best way to secure the return of your beloved fur baby!
Additional Reading for FAQs of Microchipping