Augusta is starting to show signs that people really care about animals. Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of people who care about their pets, and truly take good care of them. However, there are many people who still think of animals as a nuisance, a piece of property or less than that.
Even the laws and ordinances in Augusta-Richmond County, with regard to animals, have not been updated to reflect a more caring society – until recently.
THE ANIMAL Services Advisory Board is working diligently to create a framework in which to protect animals from abuse and neglect. There is much to be done, but on June 27, the Augusta Commission approved an ordinance to protect pets by prohibiting operators of motor vehicles from leaving cats, dogs or any other animals unattended inside vehicles under circumstances that would endanger their health, safety or welfare.
Pet owners usually do not intend to place their pets at risk, and do not understand how quickly the internal temperature of an enclosed vehicle can rise, even if the window is down slightly. However, owners are responsible for the well-being and safety of their animals. Pet owners should follow the same rules of thumb as parents of young children and not leave them unattended in enclosed vehicles.
Now there is a legal way to rescue animals in distress when they have been left unattended in vehicles. Call law enforcement if you feel any animal has been left unattended in a vehicle for a period of time that will endanger its safety and well-being.
Several other aspects of pet care are being addressed as well, such as tethering dogs, transporting them in the back of pickup trucks and more. When we know better, we should do better. We, as a society, are learning more about animal welfare, and need to teach one another better ways to care for our pets.
SPAYING OR neutering all pets is one of the most important ways to care for them, and to help slow the overpopulation of animals that results in neglect, abandonment and death of thousands of adoptable pets every year. Pet owners are legally bound to see that their pets have rabies vaccinations before they are a year old, yet many people don’t even take their dogs and cats to a vet, ever. That is neglect, and it is against the law. All pets that go outside should be microchipped. It is an inexpensive way to ensure that, if lost, your pet will be returned home.
This has been a particularly busy season for births of litters of unwanted kittens and puppies. All of us who are involved in animal rescue are extremely overwhelmed at the numbers of animals that are turned in, surrendered or abandoned. We do everything we can to get them spayed or neutered, then vaccinated and adopted, but we have to admit that we cannot save them all. That is heartbreaking to have to say. If you are willing to volunteer or foster cats, kittens, dogs or puppies, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We definitely need more volunteers.
IF YOU ARE looking to adopt a pet, please check with Augusta Animal Services first – (706) 790-6836. On Saturdays, Petsmart and Petco play host to rescue organizations, and have cats and dogs available for adoption. Both of these pet stores also have cats ready to meet and possibly adopt, every day. We post found and lost animals on Facebook; it has become a great tool for animal rescue. Be part of our growing network of people who care enough about animals to be a part of the solution.
(The writer – co-owner of the Village Deli in Augusta – is the founder and president of the animal rescue group That’s What Friends Are For.)