The smell of the lake, the waving tree tops, the late-night hoots howls: it may still be spring, but it’s feeling a bit more like summer with each passing day. As we all spend more time outdoors, keeping our pets safe is vital – as is keeping wildlife safe from our pets.
The Fur-Bearers is made up of animal lovers, and we want to make sure that everyone, your pets and your furry wild neighbours, can enjoy the great outdoors – and it all starts with respecting each other. Here are tips for pet owners, wildlife lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike:
- Work on basic training skills, as having a strong recall can keep your dog out of trouble, and protect wildlife who may be at risk (check out the “Spring Training” episode of our Defender Radio podcast for more on this).
- Be aware of area leash laws. Having your dog off leash, or even on a “flex” extendible lead can be hazardous on populated multi-use trails. There are many areas where dogs can be off leash that are responsible for your pet, other recreationalists, and other animals.
- If you know there is wildlife in the area be respectful of their space and keep your dog on leash, as even well trained dogs can get overly excited and chase or harass wildlife (which is illegal in some areas).
- Not all dogs are friendly, and some can be leash reactive – don’t let your dog approach another dog (particularly if they’re on leash) without checking with their person first.
- Make sure your dog is always wearing identification on their collar, and any microchip data they may have is up to date.
- Do a tick check after spending time outdoors (click here for more on that), and make sure your dog is up to date on legally required and recommended vaccinations.
- When possible, keep your cat indoors or restricted to a safe space. Though exact data is often debated, cats do kill wildlife, they can contract or carry zoonotic disease, and be injured or killed on roadways.
- If your cat does go outdoors, ensure they’re wearing a collar with contact information, and any microchip data is up to date.
- Also, if your cat does go outside, consider using one of the many types of collars or bibs available that limit their ability to jump, climb, and surprise wildlife like birds.
- Spay and neuter your cat, and make sure they’re up to date on required and recommend vaccinations.
- Consider a catio! Installations that can be made from fencing, deck materials and so on are a great way to let your cat get outside, enjoy the stimulation of fresh air and sunshine, but remain protected and safe from conflict. Check out a catio one of our supporters made at home last year here.
- Whether you’re camping, hiking, or hanging in the backyard, follow good stewardship practices and clean up fallen foods, waste, and other attractants.
- Investigate local regulations before starting activities like having a fire, organizing large group activities, or altering the landscape in any way.
- Never feed the wildlife. It’s tempting – for so many reasons, many of them good, providing a handout to the animals in nature seems like a positive act. But the ramifications can be dire, and we may not see them ourselves or immediately.
- Change your perspective. In everyday life, we often think about how our decisions or actions will affect ourselves, or those immediately around us. When we’re outdoors, our actions can have profound impacts on plant life, wildlife, and others we may never see. Take some time to consider how your choices may be influencing others, lead with compassion, and do your very best to respect all the people and animals in the world around you.
A compassionate Canada where co-existence isn’t just the norm, but expected, is possible. And it starts with each one of us, choosing to respect the people and animals around us.