Responsible Pet Ownership: Protecting Wildlife
Our wildlife is constantly under pressure due to urbanisation, global climate change and habitat destruction. These are just a few examples of how our actions affect the natural world around us and unfortunately, these actions can cost the lives of many indigenous species.1 When we think of things that can affect our wildlife, we tend to think about pollution and damage, however, one of the most overlooked issues our wildlife has to deal with is our pets.
It is extremely important that every pet owner is responsible in order for their pet to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life, but it is also important when it comes to protecting the life that surrounds us. If you are a pet owner that is passionate about conserving and protecting our native species, read on as we delve into the topic further.
Follow the Leash Guidelines
Keeping your dog(s) on their leads in areas that require you to do so is essential when it comes to being a responsible pet owner. This could be due to livestock being nearby, unseen and hidden dangers or in many cases, to protect our wildlife. This could be in the form of an endangered plant or animal. When dogs wander off-lead and dive into the bushes and sprint across the fields, it could disturb nesting grounds and natural areas. The signs are there for a reason, so follow the rules.
Train Your Dog to Listen
Training your dog to listen to their name when they are off lead is important for the safety of your dog as well as other animals, and is something you must have control of. If you don’t, they could attack or chase native wildlife or other pets, putting that animal and themselves at risk. If you allow your dog to run off-lead, then you should consider getting pet insurance to help cover any unexpected injuries your dog may experience. You may want to look at sites like Everypaw, where you can compare pet insurance and find the best level of pet cover for you. This can include covering vet bills from an illness or injury, to paying out costs for damages and funding a reward for a lost pet.
Withhold Outdoor Time for Cats
The majority of us will allow our cats to explore the world on their own terms, however, this is actually starting to become something that many of us should discourage. Allowing your cat to explore the streets increases their risk of damaging the local wildlife as they hunt and injure native species, such as voles, lizards, mice and birds.2 It also increases the risk of them getting injured by a car or in a cat fight. Unneutered cats are at higher risk of the behaviour problems, which may lead to fights and other negative behaviours, and may also breed and spread feline STIs.3
Spay and Neuter Pets
Making sure we spay and neuter our pets is something every pet owner should consider. It improves the behaviour of your animal, reduces their prey drive, and makes them better household pets in return. It also reduces the risk of many health conditions and will completely remove the chance of any unwanted litters. If your dog or cat is used for breeding, or they can’t be fixed due to a medical condition, then you must supervise them.
Reduce the Number of Strays
Encouraging responsible pet ownership doesn’t only protect wildlife through taking the necessary steps to do so, but it also helps to reduce the number of unwanted animals. Many unwanted animals do turn into strays. These animals will have to hunt to survive, putting the lives of native species at risk. They are also more likely to roam in protected areas that could disturb peaceful breeding grounds and nesting sites. If you find a stray or suspect cruelty, you should contact the RSPCA.
Report Any Injured Wildlife
If your pet injures any wildlife on their walks or during outdoor time, or you come across one on your travels, then report it to a local wildlife charity, vet or the RSPCA. This will ensure that the animal gets the care that it needs to be fit and healthy and survive.
As you can see, many of our actions that we see as normal can have a devastating effect on the wildlife that surrounds us. Now that you are aware of how our pets can affect our nature, you can carry out the necessary steps and precautions as a responsible pet owner to reduce this from happening. At the end of the day, their lives are just as important as the lives of the animals we share our homes with.