Dr. Leandro Gutierrez: Pet ownership takes ‘education and responsibility’

November 15, 2012 • Local News

This 7-month-old Siberian Huskey was turned over to Animal Services because she is an escape artist. She is full of energy and requires space to run and lots of exercise. She would need special accommodations in the summer months in order to keep cool. Jessica Palmer Photo

Dr. Leandro Gutierrez, consulting veterinarian for the City of Roswell Animal Services, spoke out about responsible pet ownership.

He has noted a 28 percent increase in owner reclamation of dogs from Animal Services and provided the figures, with 64 dogs reclaimed in October 2011 compared to 88 dogs reclaimed in October 2012. Adoptions are also up.

However, not all the figures are rosy. “From Nov. 1 through Nov. 10, we had 14 dogs whose owners refused to [auth] come get them. By extrapolation that could be 42 dogs by the end of the November, dogs that are not lost, but will not be returned to their owners because they do not want them. …That’s a disturbing number,” he said.

The reasons for an owner release vary. “Sometimes people are not willing to pay the fee or they can’t afford to keep a pet. It’s always money, money or behavior — the dogs have become troublesome. They escape all the time; they dig in the yard, chew on shoes, but a dog that’s chewing, running or digging means he needs more attention and exercise.”

Gutierrez stressed the need for responsibility on the part of the pet owner. “The answer is education and responsibility. The responsible owner goes and finds his dog before it gets picked up by Animal Control.”

Gutierrez believes that Animal Welfare Alliance has been instrumental in the increase in reclamations, and he emphasized the importance and benefits of getting a dog spayed or neutered. “It makes it easier to reclaim them.” He acknowledged that AWA has closed its doors, but he hopes it’s only temporary.

He pointed out that a number of veterinarians have discount rates for spaying and neutering animals adopted from Animal Services, and he recommended that people shop around, check the fees at the different veterinary clinics.

Gutierrez commended Animal Services staff. “I think animal control officers are handling as much as they can, but as long as owners are letting their dogs run the problem will continue. The public needs to be responsible for their pet.”

Dog adoptions have also increased dramatically. In October 2011, 32 dogs were adopted compared to 48 adoptions in October 2012, an increase of 33 percent. “We are extremely appreciative that people now think to go to Animal Control to find a pet,” said Gutierrez.

He credits some of the rise to Pet of the Week, but he wanted to remind people that if they don’t see the dog they want in the paper, they should come into Animal Services in person. “If you don’t want the cute, little fuzzy dog featured, we have big ones. If you want a purebred, we’ve got them too.”

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