It's a given . . . all pet owners must take responsibility for their animals, and that includes offering a safe and warm home, food and water and daily exercise.
But there's also the spaying and neutering issue, and it's only right that we, as responsible pet owners, don't add to the pet overpopulation problem.
Tuesday was the anniversary of Spay Day USA, so it's the perfect time to stress the importance of spaying and neutering.
With the growing numbers in pet ownership - some 74.8 million dogs are owned in the United States, while almost 90 million cats belong to someone - thankfully, many veterinarians and volunteers throughout the United States know the importance of spaying and neutering, and Spay Day USA, a Doris Day Animal Foundation national campaign, was created.
The day serves as an attempt to save the lives of homeless animals through the spaying or neutering of pets and feral cats.
Pet owners who neglect their dogs and cats by letting them run loose and refusing to have the animals spayed or neutered are a burden on their communities through the overcrowding of streets and neighborhoods and, ultimately, shelters with helpless, homeless animals.
Statistics show that two unaltered cats and all their descendants can theoretically number 420,000 in just seven years, while two unaltered dogs and all their descendants can theoretically number 67,000 in six years, according to information provided by the Humane Society of the United States.
Anyone visiting area dog pounds and animal shelters knows the many unwanted pets waiting to be adopted. Statistics have proven that most of these animals won't go to a new home and will be put down, as an estimated 5 million cats and dogs are killed in shelters every year.
Unfortunately, some pet owners are reluctant to spay or neuter their animals, but animals as young as 6 months old can safely undergo the procedures, according to any veterinarian.
For pet owners who cannot afford to have their animals spayed or neutered, many shelters, including some in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, will provide financial assistance for the surgery. Help is only a phone call away. Remember, it's a pet owner's responsibility to help reduce the number of homeless animals - period.
Keep in mind, too, that anyone pondering adopting a pet should think long and hard about properly caring for an animal. Bringing home a puppy or kitten and deciding a few months later that the responsibilities are just too great means another homeless animal in already overcrowded shelters and pounds.
Our pets provide unconditional love day in and day out, so it's only right that they deserve our attention.