WITH the new UK dog care regulations becoming active it is time for everyone to take stock and think of their dog and how he or she feels at any given time of the day.
First, is your dog in a safe environment? If there is free access to a road then your dog is not safe. I hear people UK saying “but my dog has very good road sense and has never had a problem”. The point is, that does not mean there will never be a problem. What if the dog dashes over the road to meet a friend, to chase a small animal, or to follow a car? What if he becomes a little deaf and doesn’t hear a car behind him? And what of the public areas do you know if your dog has deposited its business on a footpath or park area while out by itself? Clearly you do not. Prosecutions for such lack of care are now likely to increase.
Second, has your dog a safe and warm place to live? Dogs who live inside the house with their owners obviously have, but what about dogs outside? A kennel should have its entrance pointed away from the prevailing wind, it should be waterproof and draught proof, it should be off the ground (away from mud and rain puddles) and have air circulating underneath, it should be warm with a blanket that is changed at least weekly (daily if it is wet you do not want your dog sleeping on wet bedding), and it should be surrounded with a medium that drains quickly and keeps the area as dry as possible in wet weather small pebbles (not sharp) are good, or concrete. Keeping the kennel raised above the mud and grass will also make the wood last longer.
The kennel area must be kept free of faeces and any other rubbish at all times, and your dog must have access to FRESH water to drink at all times.
Food is the next consideration. Dogs must have at least one good meal daily two is better. If it is on a diet two smaller meals are better than one larger one. If you are interested in your dog’s health, study the ingredients on the packet or tin of the food you are currently feeding. The presence of preservatives, byproducts, meal of any type, and obscure words such as “fiber, fats or filler” should alert you to the abysmal quality of your dog’s food. A dog needs quality foods and that includes vegetables, meats, fish and whole grains. A pot of vegetable peelings boiled up and thickened with some rolled oats is a hugely better meal than biscuits containing about six preservatives, reject and diseased carcases of any other animal, the floor sweepings from frozen vegetable factories and bakeries, all topped off with a spray of fat from collected restaurant grease traps for flavour.
A packet of organic mince (no preservatives) can be added to your vegetables and oats for a balanced meal. Don’t get me wrong there are some good prepared foods for dogs out there, but over-all you have to search to find them and they are inevitably in the higher price bracket. If you can afford them, go to it. If not, just get rid of the preservatives and spend some time in food preparation.
And that brings us to the next point. The health of your dog is all important and if your dog is ill or injured and you do not take it to the vet you can be fined or imprisoned. I have to applaud this new rule, as it is about time the laws were toughened for anyone treating a dog badly. I only hope that under these new laws the puppy mills and badly run pet shops, the uncaring breeders and individuals who should never be allowed to own a dog, the inadequate shelters and most of all the council pounds run by local bodies (because they should know better and are hiding behind their official status), are all brought to justice and prevented from causing pain and suffering to any dog in the future.
A short note on that last item the council pounds: I recommend that all concerned people keep a close watch on their local pound and notify the relevant rescue groups of any new dog that arrives, so that they can be ready to rescue each particular dog as it becomes available. The groups can not be there every day and would be grateful for as many pair of eyes as possible working for them.
I will close on that note, and hope that 2007 means a better deal for dogs everywhere, not just in UK. - Elezabeth