Match pets with the right owners
I recently met an elderly gentleman whose beloved Labrador had passed away at the grand old age of 14. That old Lab had been his dearest friend and confidant for years. They were inseparable, an old Lab and a little old man. He managed life for several months without a pet, but an empty home and lonely life was just too much. He said to me, "I used to walk the beach every day with my dog, and people would talk to me. I walked the beach alone for months after he passed away and nobody stopped to talk to me. I was lonely, so I got a puppy."
Though the details of the story may differ, how frequently do you hear this story? Somebody purchases a pet that is not the right fit. Or owners purchase a pet that they can't afford. Or the owners don't have the necessary time to meet the many needs of their pet.Don't leave it to a roll of the dice
Where should you start in this giant endeavor, you ask? You can begin by establishing your clinic as a community resource to pet owners as they tackle the task of selecting their next pet. We all laugh at the silly commercials where people have the wrong pet for them—the active person trying to jog with a bulldog, or a tiny elderly person being dragged down the street by the happy chocolate Lab. We know the pet isn't the right fit, and we could have helped them in advance if they had only asked.
People don't know what they don't know unless you tell them. We need to educate them during the pet selection process. If the pet requires constant grooming that's time consuming and costly or the pet requires two hours of running a day and the owner can't meet those needs, the result may be behavior problems—or ultimately relinquishment of the pet. Just look again at the list above.
There are multiple tools available online to assist in pet selection. You can find links to a few at http://dvm360.com/petselection. If your clinic provides care for exotics, you may want to link to a pet selector that includes reptiles, fish, birds and other animals.