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Pitbull Fight
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The Internet has exposed us to many things.  Some things are heart warming and make you feel good about humanity.  Others are horrible, and make you wonder if we as a society have hit an all time low.  As a pet owner, some of the animal cruelty stories I’ve come across have made me cry, but I’m happy I’ve seen them none-the-less as they draw awareness to the issues at hand. My pets are part of my family and couldn’t imagine treating them any less.  With that said, there are many things people don’t realize they do. If this article can improve the quality of life of just one animal, then it has served it’s purpose. The following list will give you some insight into some of the most common habits of horrible pet owners. Are you guilty of any of these?

Beating Your Pets

You are going to have a hard time defending anybody who uses physical reinforcement as an effective way to discipline his or her pet. There is no question there. As outlandish as it sounds, some people still think their puppy needs a firm smack when they have an accident during potty training or their cat deserves one for clawing up the furniture. Your pet is not a human; you cannot effectively communicate why you are hitting them.   Instead of cultivating fear in your pet, show them love and affection when they successfully complete the goal at hand.

Neglecting the Water Bowl

Animals of any kind need clean, fresh water every day.   Would you be interested in drinking water that has been sitting on your desk for three days?  Many pet owners leave the same water bowl out, without cleaning it for days. Leaving that water bowl out is just as bad as letting it run dry. Like human mouths, there is quite a bit of bacteria harboured in the mouths of our pets.  This bacteria gets transferred to the their water bowl where it is left to culture. Even though most animals have strong digestive systems that are capable of dealing with most bacteria, why not take the two seconds it takes to clean the bowl and provide your loving creature with fresh water.

Getting a Pet You Are Not Ready For

First time pet ownership is an exciting time, but there is still research to be done, regardless of whether you are doing the responsible thing and adopting a pet from a shelter or picking up a young animal from a breeder. There is a difference between breeds of pets. Some are perfect for first time pet owners while others demand a more experienced hand. A good portion of animals that end up in shelters each year are there because owners weren't ready for the unique traits of the breed. Whether they were too energetic or too needy, some new pet owners just find their first animal overwhelming. Never adopt a pet unless you are ready for the responsibility.

Not Adopting a Routine

Pets thrive under routine, it takes the chaos out of life and it is a wonderful thing for them. For those who run chaotic and unpredictable schedules, a routine is hard to get into, but pets demand it. You cannot just feed pets whenever you have time or play with them in rare spare moments. This kind of chaotic schedule is infinitely more stressful for an animal. Pet owners, the people who are taking care of a living thing, need to sort their life out and set some sort of routine for their animal to follow as pets usually do not have positive ways of coping with stress.  Much like having a baby, having a pet will change your life.  If you aren’t ready to dedicate part of your life to an animal, maybe you should reconsider adoption.

Abandoning an Animal

Hungry Doghttp://www.flickr.com/photos/98065004@N00/315616051/

There are many reasons people abandon animals., maybe expensive vet bills or or maybe you just couldn't handle the responsibility.  Regardless of the reason, abandoning a pet is devastating for an animal. If you leave your pet at a shelter and nobody adopts it, chances are the shelter will be forced to destroy him or her. I’ve heard stories of people releasing their pets into the wild assuming their primal instincts will kick in and they will survive as a wild animal.  Most pets have been domesticated and have survived with the expectation that you will feed them.  Animals abandoned in the wild usually wind up starving to death or succumbing to the effects of the environment.

Hording Animals

Pets are cute and it's only natural to want to take them in. However, there is a fine line between being helpful and abuse.  If you are unable to properly care for the animals you have adopted you are not doing them any favours by taking them in.  Animals need food, personal space and a clean place to use the bathroom. If you are not able to provide them these basic living standards either because of lack of time or funding, you have taken on too many pets.  At this point it  has become cruel to the animals. Sure, relinquishing some pets to a shelter could help clean up the situation, but not all these animals will find loving homes and sadly may be put down.

Keeping Animals Indoors All the Time

Some argue that keeping pets indoors is the safe thing to do; There are cars, coyotes and other dangers lurking in your back yard. This may be so, but they are still animals; They like the outdoors and don't want to be stuck indoors all the time. While keeping a pet indoors all the time may not be outwardly cruel, it most certainly is sad. There's a big world full of sights and smells out there and much like adventure for a human, it is a thrill to experience new ones. It would be a shame if a pet lived their whole life without feeling the soft touch of grass on their feet or a fresh breeze wafting through the air.

Making Animals Fight with Each Other

Making a pet aggressive and encouraging it to fight other animals for sport is one of the worst crimes a pet owner can commit. It is a complete perversion and betrayal of the human-pet bond to make animals fight for your own enjoyment. There have been numerous high profile incidents of animal fighting in recent history which often end in the animals being put down when they are no longer able to compete. 

Ignoring Ailments

Injured Cathttp://www.flickr.com/photos/29468339@N02/2975303180/

As a human, you can avoid going to the doctor all you want because that is your choice. However, pets don't have the luxury of "choosing" to go to the veterinarian when they are sick. They depend on their owners to make that choice. It doesn't matter if they are in agonizing pain every hour of the day; the choice is still in the hands of their owner. In a lot of the news stories where abused animals are rescued from horrible pet owners, these poor creatures almost always have some infected wound or ongoing aliment that has gone untreated. As a pet owner, your animals health is your responsibility, don’t let them suffer. If you don’t have the means to take care of your pet when they are sick, you shouldn’t have adopted one in the first place.

Being Lazy in Training

Pet training is hard and it takes time, but it is necessary to do. An untrained pet can be a menace, but it is the owner’s fault in its essence. Pets don't know any better unless they are educated. Bad pet owners are the people who give up and think that pets will just work these things out on their own. These owners can be spotted quite easily.  These owners can usually be seen being dragged down the street by a 100-pound dog that is taking the human for a walk as opposed to the other way around.  Of course, this will usually lead to the owner getting angry at the pet for not doing what they are "supposed" to do, most likely leading to beatings. Bad training may not immediately hurt the animal, but lazy and angry owners will.

Prolonging the Suffering

Even good pet owners can become bad pet owners near the end. They love their pet and have been a good owner to them all their lives, but the pet has become quite old and developed an illness which will result in a slow and painful death. Sometimes love can be cruel. You want to keep your pet around forever as a lifetime companion, but their life spans simply are not that long. Don't let them suffer when their last months will be nothing but pain. There is no shame in euthanizing an old dog with a terminal illness.

Forgetting to Feed Them Hungry Cathttp://www.flickr.com/photos/63824260@N00/2857341761/

If a parent forgot to feed their children, the child would cry and whine to remind them. Pets will do the same, but abusive owners often tell them to shut up or confuse their hunger for some other need. It is easy to forget to feed a pet when you don’t make them a priority or for those who have not set up a routine. Outdoor pets are even easier to forget about, since they are not in the owners face. Hunger is a terrible feeling and making a pet experience that is at the height of cruelty.

Leaving Pets in Vehicles

Lots of pet owners take pets with them while running errands because they enjoy their company or in some cases can't trust them to be home alone. Leaving a pet in a car is alright if the windows are cracked and you plan to return within fifteen minutes at most. However, leaving a pet in a car for a long period of time, especially on a hot day is dangerous and cruel. For owners who spend hours in a shop browsing on a hot summer day, even a cracked window will not help a pet stay cool. Bad pet owners who spend hours shopping while their pet is in the hot car can expect bad things to happen. Your pet can overheat quite easily which often results in death. If you see an animal trapped in a car on a hot day, many cities allow citizens to break the window to save the suffering animal.

Not Cleaning Their Living Area

Whether it is cat owners who never change the litter box, dog owners who keep their dog in a small kennel or bird owners that never clean out the cage they are all bad pet owners. Animals aren't happy living in their own filth and it is not healthy. When an animal is continually exposed to its own feces, they will develop infections to their sensitive areas. Pet owners need to get over their own laziness and clean the living areas of their pets. A person doesn't want to live in their own filth and neither do animals.

Sending a Pet to the Shelter When They Get Old

Everyone loves getting a new puppy or kitten; they are cute, soft and have their whole life ahead of them.  Through years of bonding, pet and owner usually become best friends.  As a result most pet owners could never think of just giving up their pet as it ages. However, this is sadly not the case for all of people. Some pet owners are addicted to young animals, but no longer want them when they get older. Of course, since most pet owners want young animals too, many of these older pets never find loving homes again. It is sad commentary on the way our society treats animals. It's as if they are not even living creatures.

Treating Pets like Children

It's harmless to put the occasional pet costume on an animal. They may like it or they may hate it, but in most cases it is not hurting them. However, there is a line in which owners should stop the personification of pets. They are animals, not children. They don't need human food, which in many cases can be bad for them. You can't just set a pet in front of the television and expect them not to get bored and chew up the couch. Pets are animals and need to be treated as such. Treating a pet like a baby all the time will result in a badly behaved animal that often becomes too much for pet owners to handle.

Letting Pets Run Wild

Pet owners should take their animals outside as much as possible. However, for those that lack a backyard fence then they should always be with them. Letting a dog run free, whether it is in an urban or rural environment is a recipe for disaster. There are many hazards for animals running loose without supervision. Allowing your dog to roam the neighbourhood freely dramatically increases the risk of getting run over by a car. Likewise, if they have a strong guarding instinct, biting somebody often results in having to have them put to sleep. If you don’t have a fenced off area, find a leash long enough to allow your dog to move around your yard without exposing them to the dangers of the neighbourhood.

Not Providing Your Pet with Proper Exercise

Obese Doghttp://www.flickr.com/photos/81996142@N00/1149275587/

Pets that do not get enough physical or mental exercise are a menace. They get fat and unhealthy or bored and destructive. Pets need to be exercised both physically and mentally in order to maintain a healthy body and mind. Cats are simpler to exercise, they can just play indoors, but dogs need to be walked at least once a day to maintain good health. Both should be played with at least once a day to keep a sharp mind. Bad pet owners are often quick to blame their pet for their destructive behaviors or poor health when they should really be blaming themselves.

Irresponsible Breeding

Baby animals are cute and can be surprisingly good money. However, while there are plenty of good breeders out there, there are also a lot of bad ones. These bad breeders buy animals specifically to churn out litters for money. They don't get them checked out, they aren't fixed, and they do not get vaccinations. What is worse, to prolong breeding years, they will buy females as young as possible and breed them as soon as they can. Some breeds may be ready to sexually reproduce, but they will not be mentally ready to carry and raise a litter. Breeding too early can cause health problems and mental instability in the female. Of course, if these bad breeders don't sell the entire litter they will often drown them or dispose of them in some other sick and inhumane way.

Leaving Pets Exposed to the Elements

Keeping pets outdoors is alright if they have proper food, water and shelter to keep them healthy and happy. However, when temperatures soar into the 100s or sink below zero, even the best shelters won't be enough to protect them. Even a spare corner of the kitchen floor is better than heat stroke or frostbitten paws.

Killing Pets for Entertainment

Murdering a pet as far as I’m concerned is nearly as bad as killing a human. It is also a sign that there is something seriously wrong with you mentally, and it is generally considered one of the major signs of a future serial killer. Killing a pet accidently is one thing, it happens sometimes, and is something most people never wish to experience. However, as the Internet has shown us, there are many people who kill pets for their own personal enjoyment; these are some of the lowest people walking this planet.  If you know somebody who is killing or torturing pets, please report them to the proper authorities.

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