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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Are Pets Appropriate For Urban Areas?

            So far this week I've been putting on the dog about my caring for pets.  I was serious yesterday about having had some good dog friends in my past and the concern that I expressed on Tuesday about abandoned pets is genuine, however, at the risk of incurring the wrath of what I know to be a legion of pet lovers who sometimes read this blog, I must confess here that I am not a huge fan of household pets.

             Please let me explain my position before you stop reading this and write me off forever.   I like animals, but I am in no means a PETA extremist.   I eat meat, but I don't think animals being raised for meat should be abused unnecessarily.  I don't have a big problem with zoos and circuses as long as animals in these institutions are cared for and respected.  And I believe that humans have been given a responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth and it's creatures.

            I have made a choice not to have pets and I would probably never want to have an animal cohabitating within my living space.  Many pet owners are very careful about cleanliness and hygiene, while others are not.  There have been times when I have visited the home of a pet owner where the environs appear very unclean and smell badly.   Sometimes I will leave a place such as this with pet hair covering my clothes--not something I really like.

             The irresponsible pet owners are the ones I am concerned about when we start condensing human population in an urban setting.   How do we determine who is capable of responsible pet ownership?  We already have the problem of people who have no business having children becoming irresponsible parents thereby creating a serious problem.  These are the same kinds of people who become irresponsible pet owners.

             Despite ordinances about animal waste and noise, this is still a nuisance situation in some communities.  Unpleasant odors emanating from homes and yards and issues of insects and other pests can cause discomfort and threaten the health of the community.  Then there is the issue of dangerous animals or animals who attack or threaten humans or other animals.  An urban animal undergoes some of the same stress as humans can and may react in inappropriate ways or may suffer bad health effects. 

            Living in the city can be bad enough putting all sorts of different humans in close proximity, but when you add animals to the mix it can create a more disruptive situation.  There might be solutions that could work to some extent.  In Los Angeles I have heard of condos that cater especially to pet owners.  Some neighborhoods offer dog parks. 

            I would prefer that no pets be permitted in my neighborhood.  At times I have been annoyed by the barking of neighbors' dogs.  Stepping in dog poop in my yard has been an unpleasant experience on more than one occasion.  Recently my wife was charged by a large dog as we took our  granddaughter to the pool--pets are not permitted at the pool and I was placed in a confrontational situation with the neighbor who had brought the dog.

          If I lived on a farm, in the country, or an open suburban area I would probably have an outside dog.  I might even consider an outside cat if rodent control was an issue.  I'm not against pets like these.  But as long as I live in an urban area like Los Angeles I don't plan to own any pets and I would prefer not to be subjected to the pets of others.

           What is your opinion?

Do you think pets are appropriate in crowded urban areas?

        What solutions do you think are appropriate?   Should people be required to undergo education programs and testing to see if they are qualified to own pets?  Do you have a pet horror story you'd like to share?
           At the top of this post is a picture of some recent stamps offered by the U.S. Postal Service.  The Animal Rescue Adopt a Shelter Pet stamps picture some dogs and cats that have been adopted from animal shelters.  The stamps, released  on April 30th, were part of a campaign to raise awareness for pet adoption.  The postal service also has a number of related items for collectors or for gift giving.  You may still be able to find these stamps at your local post office.


  1. I am an animal Lover having in the past a dog and a cat, both lived to good ages and was treated as part of the family, The cat called Tabitha when 10 yrs was diagnosed as diabetic and we were shown how to give her her 2 insulin shots each day. well she outlived my husband by two yrs and was a great comfort to me during my grief. I would never have another pet but I think people who do should be inspected to see if they're capable to look after a pet.

    Have a nice day.

  2. I too am a pet lover but do value your concern, however in saying that...I think the issue is a sign of much bigger social problems.

    Besides, what's wrong with a little extra fur on your pants :)

    Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  3. Think it all comes down to responsibility. Unfortunately, there's no license requirement for pet ownership.

  4. Yeah, that stepping in dog poop is not cool. Some of those dog logs are human size. We have a Yorkie so the little tootsie roll poos are not really a problem.

    Stephen Tremp

  5. If we can't do anything about irresponsible humans having babies than we really have no business worrying about placing tougher restrictions on owning a pet.
    I have pets in an urban setting. I follow the rules. I pick up poop. I keep my dog on a leash. I work hard to keep my dogs from barking lots. I follow the rules. I watch others not follow the rules. There are no consequences for those who don't follow the rules. If there are rules than there should be consequences otherwise there is really no point in having the rules to begin with.
    I work very hard to have my pets be as well behaved as possible. I will say that I'm very annoyed by people freak out just by seeing a dog. Don't they realize they freak the animal out? I can't help it if they get all jumpy and screamy around my pet. My pet will react like the animal he is and bark or growl. That is not my fault.
    Living in a social environment requires us to be tolerant of others. I have to grin and bear when I sit at a restaurant next to a screaming child throwing food at me. So it is only natural that someone might have to deal with hearing my dog bark every now and then. I would rather do that than to live in a bubble and have no contact with other people. Social environments will always produce something to bother us.

  6. It would be nice if all pet owners were responsible. It's terrifying how many stories there are of horrific treatment of animals.

    We've never had a dog or cat because of time. My hubby & I both work full time. The kids have school, work and sporting activities. They've been involved in some kind of sport since they were very young. We decided early on it wouldn't be fair to the animal because we couldn't be home enough to give it a decent amount of attention.

  7. an interesting discussion... I have SEVERE animal allergies. I can't even be in someone's house for more than a quick hi/bye if they keep an animal in there - I've even had to stop hanging out with certain people because the amount of cat hair on their clothing was causing me to react. Considering this I really wish there was a pet dander free community where I could live a simpler more social life... BUT the fact remains that people have their freedom of choice. Our society has so many problems larger than the yahoos who seem to enjoy living in filth and the responsible pet owners really shouldn't have to jump through hoops just because other owners are less than stellar.

    Dogs bark, cats... well, they skulk around doing cat things in my sandbox... I don't like it, but I don't think that the answer is more laws governing pet ownership.

  8. As we progressively, and at times at breakneck speed race toward being a "me" oriented society there will be no solution to the problem of inconsiderate pet-owners. Our society is, if it isn't already, rapidly acheiving the highest level of selfishness ever. You cannot expect the totality, or even the majority of pet-owners to be considerate if the majority of society is not considerate.

    Please, don't hasitly condemn me here, I know a good number of pet owners are considerate, as I strive to be. Our dog is licensed, is always on a leash, we pick up after her, she does not do her business on anyone's yard, nor does she roam indiscriminately. There are a good number of pet owners who are the same.

    It just isn't pet owners. Neighbors are inconsiderate with noice, their cildren, their driving habits.

    Do I think pets are appropriated in crowded urban areas? Pets are appropriate anywhere with responsible appropraite owners.

    I don't think there are solutions that are appropriate. If you propose a three strike and you loose your pet law - I don't want law enforcement, courts, etc tied up with these issues rather than crime. I certainly don't want to see another system of government social workers developed to visit homes of perspetive pet owners, and then have regular visits and monitor pet ownership. Wait a minute, I am stil out of work, and a government job monitor pet owners, maybe I will apply.

    Volunteer, charitble organizations without government sponsorship could possible enforce pet ownership classes which includes consideration and owner behavior prior to be approved for a pet.

    Then who monitors these organizational and educational facilities?

    If that works, educating, testing, monitoring, inspecting, etc. works then maybe we can extend it to relationships, marriages, and parenting.

    Consideration, manners, social skills, use to be taught by parents. I still remember lessons on holding a fork, a napikin, opening doors, standing when an elder or lady entered a room, chewing with my closed. We don't teach manners, social skills, or consideration as a whole anymore.

    So, we end up with inconsiderate and irresponsible pet owners who allow dogs to run loose, use neighbor's lawns as facilities, bark uncontrollably, overpopulate the neighborhood.

    Fortunately, I don't have a pet horror story. Just your little irritations stories as you have shared, dogs jump on me, step in mess, have to pick up after other dogs, shooing them out of my yard, etc.

    Good topic today. I can see the hair on the back of the neck from the great and considerate pet owners who also take issue with the irresponsible ones, and I can see the hair on the back of the neck of the irresponsible wondering who put a burr under your saddle as your topic touches home.

    I will say, if I may, that it feel it is shame that you are missing out on countless hours of fun, companionship, and memories because of your choices. But then again, they are your choices and no one elses.

  9. As long as the owner is responsible, then they should be able to have a pet no matter where they live. It depends on the owner no matter the area.

  10. Thanks Lee, for telling me about this post which relates to my latest post. The coincidence is making it a more interesting topic.

    Anyway, I agree with much of what Junebug and Gregg said, but with less intensity. :)
    My initial thought was of how similar dogs and babies are. Both MUST be taken care of, both are sometimes annoying, and both are very lovable by a lot of people.
    Let's see: step in poop or listen to a baby cry non-stop on an airplane. Hmmm... I would be quite frustrated to step in the poop, and to have to clean my shoe (it's happened), but it took 10 minutes to run the shoe under the outdoor faucet, and I was over it...which reminds me of gum stuck to a shoe -hate that too. The baby-no such luck. Had to endure it.
    After reading comments on my post and yours, too, it occurs to me that the disgust of the actual poop drives a lot of the opinions. As a mother of three, I had to learn to clean poop, vomit, etc. And yes, many times it got on my hands.
    It's a trade off, as with most things in life. Love and companionship can involve unpleasant work.
    I've digressed off your question...I respect your opinion and I understand your feelings, but I don't know that shutting down an entire urban area to dogs will ever happen. Perhaps if you keep a dialog going, such as this post, it will strike the conscious of someone that needs to be more respectful.
    Will read your previous posts when I have a few more minutes later today.

  11. I don't know that more inspectors and licenses would solve any problems, even now there are enough people to patrol what is set up. Me, I'm a pet lover, particularly of cats. You know the joke, "you don't own a cat, it decides whether it wants tolive with you". As far as classes to teach a person how to be a good pet owner, I think that it's a natural gift, a person helps a pet and the pet helps the person. Take for instance the programs of bringing animals into nursing homes for the inhabitants to take care of. A lot of this type program allows the person to see the same pet each time. It's been proven to help with depression and gives them something to look forward to. Interesting post, Lee.

  12. >> Should people be required to undergo education programs and testing to see if they are qualified to own pets?

    Oh, you mean like a new government agency?
    Yeah, that's what we need - a new government agency.

    My slogan: "More Government For Better Living!"

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  13. I will always have animals--I adore them, but I reach some of your same concerns from a different direction.

    Urban animals should be APPROPRIATE for an urban environment. A cat is perfectly happy in a house or reasonable sized apartment, and not an issue... maybe two cats in a bigger apartment--up to 3 in a house, if there is a second litter box. A smaller dog in a bigger apartment...

    you see, animals need ROOM. Exercise is as important for them as us. They get territorial, they like to be in a clean space.

    BIG DOGS need a big yard AND lots of walks. A little dog can get by on just the walks, as there is room enough for the regular running around inside.

    The Humane Society, when we adopted our big dog in Portland (on the edges of urban), came to inspect our yard to make sure we had room. They rejected an adoption application from friends of ours because their work schedules meant the dog would be home 10 hours with no people. THAT is the kind of supervision needed for responsible pet distribution. It is too easy to get a pet, and owners don't THINK about the issues necessary. Having a dog is like having an elementary school child. They need attention, regular discipline and lots of love. Having a cat is like having an adult child. You give them space, food and shelter, and they decide if they can tolerate you (but being the cool mom is the BEST)

    I don't mind pet hair--I'd give up guests before pets, but it is a disservice to people AND pets to be so crowded it's stinky.

  14. Sadly, I think most of people's concerns about pet ownership come down to consideration for other people, which is a value our society has long since thrown out the window.

    I have to clean up dog poop in my front yard. I do not own a dog. Somewhere in my neighborhood, a dog owner is ignoring the various laws regarding dog ownership, so new laws won't help.

    But, even on a more basic level, the dog owner is being lazy, inconsiderate and rude.

    I always had outdoor cats, but when I heard my neighbor complain about cats in his yard, and decided I wanted a cat, I made the cat an indoor cat. The cat doesn't seem to mind and my neighbor is happier.

    Consideration for a fellow human being...what a concept!

    I think I'll invent a new catch phrase... how about "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

  15. I understand what you meant under cleanliness and hygiene. I myself keep my cats in the yard (I have a big one) and they are not inside the house. After all it is unnatural keeping animals inside when they are outside creatures.

    My neighbor has a huge cage with dozens of parrots right under my window, and sometimes it smells terribly, I might address that issue some day when I go crazy :) People shouldn't keep pets in buildings just in private houses, and people shouldn't keep farm animals in cities.

  16. My thanks to all who participated in today's discussion. Feel free to continue to add to this discussion. I would like to respond to those who have commented so far.

    Yvonne-- Beloved pets can offer great comfort to those who are grieving or suffering illnesses. They can offer companionship to those who feel alienated. I understand how your pets could have helped you in difficult times.

    Jules -- In my posts this week I'm trying to call attention to some of these important social issues. Individual responsibility seems not to be very important to some people and that's where the real problems originate.

    Alex -- Ditto from above. When I was younger it seemed like I recall dogs and cats having to be licensed and wear tags -- hence the term "dog tags". Maybe that's why I didn't see as many pets when I was young-- they were more regulated and a greater responsibility.

    Stephen Tremp -- One of my worst incidents with dog poop came from a little toy dog. This incident nearly resulted in physical injury to me and turned into a real inconvenience. I may have to relate the story one day in a blog post.

    June -- I agree that the irresponsibility of some causes a bad rap for those who do right.
    Tolerance is a necessity in highly populated areas. Dog owners need to understand that some people have had traumatic experiences with dogs and other animals and have perfectly rational fears. While it is quite rational to be afraid of some potentially threatening dogs. Also, some people have allergies that can cause severe or very uncomfortable reactions. All people don't embrace animals and think they are as cute or beautiful as their owners do. But like you say, in a social environment it's unlikely everyone will be happy about everything.

    Jemi-- You've taken the right approach to this. Unfortunately some pet owners don't come to the logical conclusion like you did.

    T-- I certainly empathize with your situation. More laws? We have a lot of laws for control of sillier things. Pet ownership is a responsibility that is sometimes taken much too lightly.

    Gregg - You covered so much territory that I won't comment on everything, but you once again hit on the issue of common courtesy and respect for others that has sadly dwindled in our often self-centered society. There are some rational solutions and some of them should be examined. As far as the fun, etc that I am missing--like I said in my previous post, I've had some good animal friends and companions in my past. They were usually in times and places where pet ownership was more suitable for me. In my current situation I would not want to have the responsibility of a pet. Maybe again someday.

    Macon Pet -- Thanks for visiting. How do we determine if an owner is responsible?

    Anita -- Educating pet owners will help. There will always be some idiots out there though. Sad that we have to deal with the idiots.

    Judy -- The pet programs for the elderly and the sick are helpful.

    StMc -- There are certainly plenty of government agencies for things that involve less responsibility than owning an animal. What is the purpose of government anyway?

    Hart -- Prolonged confinement of an animal is a cruelty. Animals need their space.

    Larry -- That's a clever phrase you got there, but do you really think it could catch on.

    Dezmond -- You make some excellent points, thank you.

  17. I think some pets are fine for urban areas, as long as they are loved and looked after, and there's enough room for them. My husband loves dogs. We have a backyard big enough for one, but neither of us have the time to walk it so we chose not to get one.

  18. I appreciate your concerns about allergies but I don't take my dogs to other people's home or to restaurants. They are walked often in the park or trails(basically outdoor environments) and I should be able to use the park even if others are allergic to my dog. The only other public place they are allowed is to the dog park and, well, if someone is allergic they shouldn't go to a dog park. I am a very good pet owner. I should not be punished, insulted or otherwise regulated because there are idiots out there.
    As for traumatic experiences they should see a therapist and take that into consideration if they are going to go to a park where someone may be walking by with their dog on a leash. All I am saying is that they are responsible for their actions. If they freak out they have to understand that is going to cause a pet to freak out and I can't stop my dog from that initial bark when we are both surprised by some random scream from just seeing a leashed dog. I would be more understanding if my dog was running free but that doesn't happen because it is against the rules in the park. I have to deal with my traumatic events and not impose my baggage on others. I don't think it is too much to ask others the same things I ask of myself.
    If idiots can have and raise children I should be left alone as I raise the only thing God has allowed me to raise - dogs.

  19. Lynda & Junebug-- Thank you for you thoughts and I think you both express the need for responsibility on behalf of all pet owners. My greatest concern is for those pet owners who do not care about others and create situations that are not good for the pets or the humans that have to deal with the situations that are the fault of problematic pet owners.

  20. r-LEE-b ~

    >> There are certainly plenty of government agencies for things that involve less responsibility than owning an animal.

    I agree. And I say we dismantle them as well.
    Are you saying that we should create additional unnecessary government agencies because some government agencies that are even more unnecessary already exist? Are you saying that one wrong justifies another?

    >> What is the purpose of government anyway?

    Ask a question and you shall receive an answer:
    The answer you are looking for will be found in a study of the Declaration Of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. But to put it in a nutshell for you…

    Congressman Ron Paul says that, “The most basic function of government is to protect life.” To that I will add, “And Liberty”.

    Ron Paul has also said, “For national security, we need to give more attention to our own border which is being illegally breached every day, and yet the government shirks one of its few constitutionally mandated duties, namely to defend this country.”

    For a great explanation of the meaning of words like “liberty”, “democracy” and “government”, read THIS.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

  21. StMc -- To have order there have to be certain laws in place. As the article you link indicates, and as I have advocated in the past, words have meanings that have particular connotations to the user and the hearers.

    That's why there is always so much disagreement and varying interpretation of things like laws. When Ron Paul idealistically tries to say that we must give words precise meanings I think that would be virtually impossible.

    As far the animal issue I do think there are certain ordinances in place in nearly all communities and like things like the illegal immigration issue this is lack of enforcement. I am probably not referring to additional unneccessary agencies, to existing agencies that need to enforce the laws. And maybe for the purpose of control some new laws may be needed on the books.

    I am not a pet hater and I don't want to oppressively take away anyone's rights, but as Paul states,

    "government was created solely to protect the rights, liberties, and property of its citizens."

    This definition could come down to things like controlling pets in certain environments. At least that's my opinion.

    To put in another way, why must I put up with my neighbors incessantly barking and bad smelling dog and dog crap in my yard, but when I drive to Phoenix or Las Vegas I can't drive 80 to 110 MPH without taking a risk that I will be ticketed for speeding? Don't I have the right to drive as fast as I want if traffic conditions allow it?

  22. >> As far the animal issue I do think there are certain ordinances in place in nearly all communities and like things like the illegal immigration issue this is lack of enforcement.

    OK, but the question you asked and the one I was responding to was: >> "Should people be required to undergo education programs and testing to see if they are qualified to own pets?"

    One of the problems, LEE, is that people who have little regard for laws and no regard for their neighbors are not going to be much bothered nor reformed by minor little laws to begin with. And new government agencies only create new ways that bureaucrats can abuse their power and curtail the liberties of citizens (not to mention eat up more of their income via additional taxation to support the new agencies!)

    Utopia will never be achieved by law. But try getting the bleeding-heart liberals (i.e., Democrats - which is just another name for "socialists") and the big government-loving Republican statists to understand that one!

    Alright, I'm done here, Brother. I'm just too tired to discuss this any further. I needs that vacation I gots comin'. I needs it in a BIG WAY!

    ~ Stephen T. McWornout
    'Loyal American Underdog'

  23. Hope everyone comes back next Thursday for a debate topic that may really stir things up. Some of you may not like this one.


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