Friday, November 5, 2004


At K-9 Game Day last month, this pair was among the musical Hula Hoop competition. Only the dog was supposed to sit when the music stopped.

Pets should be included
in owners’ daily lives

With so many pets sharing our homes and lives, it is no wonder that more people consider their animal companions to be family members. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of Oahu homes have a pet and more than 37 percent own at least one dog, according to a 2001 Ward Research study.

Adoption assistance available

If you are considering adopting a new family member, adoption counselors at the Hawaiian Humane Society are available to advise and assist, enabling you to choose the best pet match for your family. The counselors can also provide information and answers regarding animal care, diet, exercise and other pet-related questions.

For more information on adoptable pets, visit www.hawaiianhumane.org or call the adoption hot line at 946-2187, ext. 780.

Incorporating pets into the family benefits the animal and the rest of the family, too. According to the Purina Pet Institute, 68 percent of dog owners and 61 percent of cat owners believe a pet's companionship is the greatest benefit of having pets.

Animals are social creatures and enjoy interacting with their human families. Lots of pet owners designate a special time each day to socialize and bond. This time could be spent throwing a Frisbee in the backyard, lounging on the couch watching the nightly news together or spending quality time grooming. Most pets and people look forward to these moments each day.

Another way to engage pets is to allow them inside the home with the rest of the family. This is not a problem for most cat owners, whose pets often live indoors or come in at night. For those with dogs that are tied up or tethered outside or are restricted to a fenced yard, it's important to note that canines enjoy being with their families, and being kept apart from their human pack can make a dog timid or anxious. Experiencing physical as well as emotional closeness is an important aspect in families, whether it is from parent to child or person to pet.

"Long-term tethering prevents dogs from a full life that's balanced with physical, mental and emotional interaction and stimulation -- something you just can't get being tied up all day," said Marty Hutchins, coordinator of the society's animal behavior program.

Provisions under Hawaii state law are minimal -- a chain at least 5 feet long and adequate food, water and shelter. Ensuring that a dog's full needs are met is left in the hands of the owner. Owners may think dogs like being outside, but constant and prolonged tethering can result in an overly aggressive dog. They can become extremely territorial, attacking someone who may unknowingly wander into their area. The separation can also lead to neglect because medical problems may go unnoticed.

A great way to incorporate pets as full-fledged members of the family is to educate children on animal care and humane treatment. Children who are responsible for caring for a pet often put their education into practice. This bond contributes to a child's lifelong appreciation of animals.

The proper combination of pets and people creates a new type of family unit. People turn to their pets for love and companionship just as often as they do their human loved ones. In return, pets provide them with unconditional physical and emotional support. Animals have become integrated with the needs of families and can be vital components within the family structure.

"Pet Ohana" runs the first and third Fridays of the month. The Hawaiian Humane Society is a nonprofit agency dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals. It is at 2700 Waialae Ave. Call 946-2187.

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