Here in America, we love our dogs. We hold them, we let them lick us in the face (and even encourage it), we let them sleep in our beds, some of us even dress them up and push them around in strollers or carry them in oversized purses. But because an Amber Alert doesn't cover dogs, we often find ourselves at a loss if our own pals go missing or if someone else's shows up on our doorstep. Here are some tips for lost dog prevention and recovery:
• Embedded Microchip. A tiny device made of silicon and other inert "biocompatible" materials that are nontoxic and hypoallergenic that is implanted into the flesh between a dog's shoulder blades. The dog's information must be registered with a registry service. Then if the pet is found, a microchip reader at many shelters can scan the chip, and the owners can be contacted.
• GPS Dog Collar. The collars, which range in price from $70 all the way to $500, use a combination of cellular and satellite technology, so pet location can be found on a computer or smart phone.
• Jackson.craigslist.org/pet/ You can post free lost/found dog advertisements here.
• As a Facebook member, you can post information about lost or found dogs and also post information on any lost or found flyers you see around Jackson.
• Flealess.org/lostpets/mississippi.html. Much like Craigslist, you can post free advertisements for lost or found dogs.
• Neighborhood Pet Registry and Forum. Most neighborhood associations have websites. If they don't already, encourage your neighborhood association to set up a pet registry. Dog owners can go online and register their dog and their contact information. Then if a dog is lost and someone finds it, they can simply get on their neighborhood website and find the contact information for the owner. The forum is also available for residents to send out lost/found dog posts.
Remember, the first step in lost dog prevention is a tagged dog collar with your contact information. However, if you find a lost dog, you should never jeopardize your personal safety for a strange animal. Call Jackson Animal Control at 601-960-1774 for aggressive, starving or threatening animals.
Because we adore our four-legged friends so much, it's pretty surprising that in Mississippi, we only have two current dog parks in our entire state, neither of which is in Jackson (although there is a third up-and-coming dog-park in Byram). Watchandtrain.com recommends 60 minutes of exercise for dogs every day. For those of us that live in apartments or have tiny yards, that can be a challenge.
You do have the option of lobbying your community for your own dog park. The proposed dog park in Byram is estimated to cost an initial $8,000 for construction and maintenance. In the meantime, there are a couple of current alternatives to dog parks in Jackson.
• Doggie Day Care. The Dog Wash in Jackson offers a week-long day camp for dogs.
• Dog Playgroups. Many play groups for dogs are springing up around Jackson. Go to websites like Facebook or Meetup.com to join a play group or start one of your own (most of the current playgroups are breed specific).
• Dog Classes. There are a variety of dog-training classes offered around Jackson. Everything from obedience, to agility, to therapy dog classes is out there.
• Leash-walking. Yes, the old-fashioned way. Most of us need the exercise anyway, so there is always the option of putting Fido on a leash and taking him for a walk or jog around the neighborhood. Most city and state parks also allow dogs as long as they are leashed and you scoop the poop.
A pesky neighborhood dog can be a bit of a problem. If a neighborhood dog is taking his daily dump on your lawn or digging up your Knockout roses, the owner most likely doesn't know about it or, frankly, doesn't care. Therefore, approaching your neighbor about their annoying pooch can be tricky. If you decide to broach the pesky dog topic with your neighbor, the number one rule of thumb is to be as polite as possible. Explain what is happening and try to come up with a solution with your neighbor. If that doesn't work:
• Spray the perimeter of your yard with an environmentally-friendly dog deterrent spray, like LiquidFence or Nature's Miracle Pet Block.
• To stop dogs from digging up your flowers, spread ground chili peppers in your flower beds as a natural dog deterrent.
• If worse comes to worst, approach your neighborhood association with the problem.
• Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats).
• According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2 percent of cats and only 15 to 20 percent of dogs are returned to their owners from shelters. Most of these were identified with tags, tattoos or microchips.
• There are approximately 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States.
• Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog.
• Most owners (67 percent) own one dog; 24 percent of owners own two dogs.
• Nine percent of owners own three or more dogs.