Every pet owner will agree with me when I say that we all love our pets. We all want to provide them with the best items and services that are out there for them, such as the best food, the best veterinary care, the best boarding facility, the best pet sitter/dog walker, etc. We do our best not to take their needs for granted. The simplest things such as walking them, are sometimes taken lightly. I am sure that none of us do that intentionally, but sometimes the smallest everyday routines can become a complete nightmare.
As a veterinary professional, I can truthfully say that I have seen so many critical cases that come into our animal emergency hospital. We see lacerations, injured dogs and cats from dog fights, dogs and cats that jump from high rise buildings, allergic reactions…we see it all.
I get asked by clients all the time if I think they are making the wrong choice for their beloved critters or if I think they are being inhumane. My response to them is usually no. I do not think that a pet owner is being inhumane in any way, especially if they are bringing their critter to the emergency hospital at 3 or 4 in the morning. The inhumane choice would be to completely ignore the problem.
Some injuries or illnesses cannot be prevented, no matter what the pet parent does. And then there are injuries that in some ways could be prevented, such as a pet that has been hit by a car.
Even though a hit by car is also intermittently unavoidable, the chances of getting hurt can also be reduced. A few months ago, a client came in rushing with her dog crying uncontrollably. I rushed to the door to help her carry her dog inside. She had her other dog with her, and I quickly noticed that the dog was being walked with retractable leash.
I am not saying I have anything against retractable leashes. What I am saying is that retractable leashes sometimes don’t stop extending. Even though we may click them to stop at a certain length, the dog may be strong enough to continue to pull and accidentally unclick the leash. This means that the dog can run or walk a lot further than we would like them to. This is obviously very dangerous to both the animal and the walker.
Life in a city like New York is very fast paced. Many of us just want to get on with our everyday lives. In a place like New York City, it is important to get from point A to point B quickly because time is critical. Therefore, New Yorkers tend to mind their own business. When it comes to properly caring for an animal, I do NOT mind my own business.
One nice afternoon, in my neighborhood, I noticed a young lady walking a bulldog with a very loose harness. “Excuse me,” I said, “I don’t mean to be nosy, but I just wanted to point out that your pup’s harness seems to be a little loose. I’ve seen a lot of pets get hurt because they get loose and get hit by cars. Especially around here.” The young lady smiled and replied, “Oh, thank you so much for bringing that up. I am his dog walker and the owners wanted me to walk him like this because he (the dog) has some breathing issues. So they would rather him have a loose harness.” The young lady was nice enough to answer and took the time to explain. She was also responsible enough to communicate that with the pet owners beforehand.
My recommendations to safely walk your pets would be to know your pet’s strength. Know what your pets are capable of and know your surroundings. Also, please try to get the most suitable leash and harness for them. Make sure to adjust them accordingly. Another very important recommendation is to try to train your pets as much possible. It is very difficult to walk a dog that will not follow basic commands, especially if the dog is a large breed (larger breeds are a lot stronger). Also, communicate with your pet sitter or dog walker as much as you can.
Yes, communication is key. Please make sure they are comfortable around your critters and vice versa. Most importantly, enjoy your pets! Our amazing critters are with us for many great reasons. We should always enjoy and protect them. But please try not to take the simplest tasks lightly. Unexpected events occur everyday.