Pets give us company, affection and love. But with ownership comes responsibility; to care and nurture them and to minimise their impact on the environment.
Pets can have a profound impact on biodiversity, wildlife and the health of our environment. One only needs to look at the impact rabbits, cats and foxes have had on Australia’s natural systems since they were released into the wild.
Managing our domesticated nature, and pets, in a way that does not further damage those natural systems, birds and animals that we are also keen to experience is a challenge, given the predatory nature of cats and scavenging nature of dogs.
Owning a pet improves your health, teaches children responsibility and helps them develop their social and nurturing skills. Picking up dog poo or putting a bell on your cat would seem a small price to pay.
How to do it now!
Reducing the impact that your domestic pets have on our native fauna and biodiversity is a crucial aspect of responsible pet ownership. We also need to respect our natural public spaces that our pets like to play in. Here are some tips for being a responsible pet owner.
Put a bell on your cats collar to alert birds
Roaming cats kill native wildlife. Even well fed cats will hunt.
Desex your pet
Unless you're going to breed have your pet desexed. You may have trouble finding homes for an unplanned litter of puppies or kittens. Unfortunately thousands of healthy cats and dogs are euthanased (put to sleep) each year.
Pick up the poo
Dog owners should pick up and dispose of their dogs poo when in public places. Some dog droppings contain harmful bacteria, which are toxic to our waterways and can contribute to excessive E. coli pollution readings in creeks and on beaches. So remember to carry bags with you. Many parks now have plastic bag dispensers to help.
Keep your cat at home at night
Around eighty per cent of accidents involving cats happen at night. Roaming cats can get hit by cars, injured in fights, catch fatal diseases (such as feline AIDS) or become lost. Roaming cats can annoy neighbours too, by spraying, fighting, yowling and digging in gardens. Most importantly, cats kept on their owner's property tend to live much longer and healthier lives than cats that are allowed to roam.
Why is this action important?
Taking responsibility for your pets will reduce their impact on our environment. Pet lovers generally enjoy and feel a connection with nature and this action works to deepen this connection.
By taking a few small actions to manage the impact our pets have on our local environment we can have waterways and parks free of dog poo and our gardens alive with birds, bats and lizards.
Most of us have known and could do without the irritation of stepping in dog poo or the anger of seeing your neighbours cat silently stalk a pair of birds nesting in your backyard. Managing our pets impact on the urban environment we all want to enjoy, allows us to live well with our furry friends and our feathered and scaled ones as well.