01/08/2016 2:52 PM IST | Updated 03/08/2016 8:33 AM IST

10 Things That Great Pet Parents Do

Where there are wagging tails and happy purrs, you will surely find good pet parents. And a good pet parent is a responsible one. If you are thinking of getting a pet, here are some duties that good pet parents in India fulfill.

1. Acquire pets from good sources

Many pedigreed animals come from unlicensed or backyard breeders and puppy mills. Such breeding facilities are illegal and cause immense suffering to the animals held there. Animals in such facilities are often improperly bred, not weaned at the right age and aren't socialized properly, which leads to physical and behavioural problems as they age.

Moreover, in the quest to churn out "pedigree" animals, unscrupulous breeders will mate genetically related animals, making their offspring increasingly susceptible to genetic diseases and ailments. Instead of supporting those who put profit above the welfare of animals, great pet parents rescue their beloved animal companions from a local animal shelter, or acquire them from a responsible breeder.

Partha Pal

2. Adopt the right pet for India's climate

Animal shelters have plenty of indigenous/native breeds that are robust and best suited to the country's tropical weather. Shelters house plenty of animals, including purebred and pedigreed dogs, rescued from the streets after being abandoned by their previous owners and in desperate need of a good home.

3. Meet their pet's special needs

It's important to ensure a pet's specific needs will be met before taking one home. For example, many large dogs require space and plenty of exercise; before bringing one home, good parents ask if their home is large enough to accommodate the animal, and if they can meet their exercise needs. Some furry, long-haired or thick-coated animals shed and require regular grooming. Many parents put plenty of time, money and effort into making sure their pet is groomed adequately. Dogs with thick coats aren't adapted to India's tropical weather. They need to have access to cool surroundings which may necessitate a considerable monetary investment.

Good parents know their pets are as alive as they are, and deserve to live happy lives filled with unconditional love.

4. Leave exotic and non-native species in their natural habitats

The desire to own such animals, especially those sourced from the wild, has resulted in the decimation of their populations in their native regions. The sale of clownfish (which became popular after the success of Finding Nemo) for home aquariums has resulted in almost 100,000 fish being taken from the reefs annually, often caught using cruel cyanide poisoning. Many people also buy exotic species and then release them into the wild, believing they are giving the animals freedom. However, doing so can put local wild species at risk of disease or predation from exotic species.

5. Don't break the law by buying animals sourced from the wild

No matter what fables say, parakeets cannot predict the future, and tortoises are not magnets for good luck. Likewise, snakes, geckos, mynahs, turtles and other wild animals are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and cannot be captured, sold, bought or reared at home. Moreover, being "wild" animals, they cannot survive in a home environment. These animals are snared and trapped from their wild habitats by poachers, who prematurely separate them from their parents, and trade them illegally.

Feel Through your Eyes

6. Care for their pets

Animals depend on their human parents for access to adequate food, shelter and veterinary care. Every pet needs wholesome, nutritious food that is in accordance with their specific needs and activities. They also need a bowl of fresh, clean water easily accessible at all times; and changed at least twice a day. Just like humans, animals react to weather conditions; hence, they need to be kept cool or warm, depending on the weather. Pet parents also provide routine veterinary care in the form of regular check-ups and vaccinations. While a home filled with animals may seem a wonderful thing, good parents know they can only keep those many animals whose needs they can attend to.

7. Never allow their pet outdoors alone

Pet parents make it a habit to leash their dog when taking him/her outdoors. As for cats, they are best left indoors. Animals that are not spayed or neutered may mate, thus adding to the stray animal population. They may even attack, or be attacked by other animals and run the risk of being hit by vehicles.

8. Do not breed animals at home unless they have the proper permits

Most good parents ensure their pets are spayed or neutered, which should always be done by a registered veterinary practitioner. Breeding animals requires several permits, and is a large investment.

9. Ensure that pets carry some form of identification

This includes the pet's name, address and phone number. Microchips are a great way to keep track of him/her

10. Don't treat animals as disposable commodities

It is a crime to abandon an animal.

Alokparna Sengupta

The hallmark of a responsible pet owner is an ability to recognize an animal's specific needs as well as one's capacity to fulfill those needs. Simply put, animals should not be treated as samples to be tested. Good parents know their pets are as alive as they are, and deserve to live happy lives filled with unconditional love. Remember this before you commit yourself to one.

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