Reporter: Wendy Stokes
Dogs are excellent companions but should not be an impulse buy! Walking a dog is an ideal way to keep fit and people in the street often stop to talk to someone with a dog.
Dogs have been bred for 10,000 years to be a helper, a guardian and “mans' best friend”. They come in a variety of sizes and there is a dog to suit everyone’s requirements. However, dogs have many needs and their breed is an indication of how much maintenance they require. Most dogs can live for 14 years during which time they have daily requirements for attention and are a considerable expense, especially for a pensioner.
If you buy a dog, you need to get it from a reputable source. If you buy from a breeder, always see the conditions the mother is living in, the best is a comfortable home where the owner will enquire whether the pup is going to the best home possible and will be loved and cared for throughout its life. Selective breeding can cause hidden genetic defects and mongrels are thought to be the healthiest and happiest of dogs. The new pet will need regular injections against distemper, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis and canine parvovirus. Neutering is optional but recommended because it calms the animal and prevents unwanted attention from other dogs. In all public places, every dog will, by law, need a collar with an identity tag or a fine of up to £5,000 can be incurred.
Sometimes, an unleashed dog sees a cat and bolts across a road causing an accident. Also recommended is a microchip with a small permanent ID device inserted into their neck. If your dog is lost or stolen, this internal device will provide security for your pet, who, if lost, might only have 7 days before euthanasia. If your dog acts in a threatening way to anyone, by growling, snarling, chasing or jumping up, it could be considered that your dog is not under control and you could be fined.
Dogs enjoy and need training, as most trained dogs can recognise two dozen commands and some know 100! Dogs that bark constantly can be a nuisance to neighbours and legal action could be taken. Medical expenses involve regular inoculations, neutering, health and dental check expenses and many people consider insurance, despite it being very costly. It is illegal to allow the dog to foul the streets as dog faeces is full of germs and can contain toxocara which can cause human blindness. Fouling in a public place can incur a £50 fixed penalty notice or up to £1,000 fine. Many children’s play areas are dog free zones and also can incur high fines for those who ignore prohibition signs.No dog should be left alone for more than 4 hours because they are pack animals and need human company and are unhappy alone for long periods. They need regular care through exercise, water, nutritious food, grooming and medical care. There are many rehoming centres around the <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on"><_st13a_place _w3a_st="on">UK that care for unwanted animals of all kinds. Reputable shelters carry out health checks, de-flea, de-worm, microchip, neuter, provide a collar and lead to purchasers. They also carry out home checks to see that gardens are properly fenced and that the animal will make a suitable pet for the owner and that the dog will also be well treated.
Useful Telephone Numbers:
RSPCA: 0300 123 4555 PDSA: 0800 731 2502 Blue Cross: 01993 8222651