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Published on: News

Pet-demic! Tips for Responsibly Taking Your Pet Outdoors

published on: April 11, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to change our habitats and stay safer at home. Like me, you’re probably feeling a little stir crazy and tired of the endless “to-do” list of home repairs, homeschooling, and working from home. My response to the pandemic has been more of a “pet-demic!” 

Knowing that many animal shelters were closing their physical locations due to social distancing guidelines, I reached out to a few local animal rescue groups. I was thrilled that many had already found temporary or permanent homes for their pets! So I kept trying and sent in an application to a statewide lab rescue. Four days later, I was picking up a 1 ½-year-old black lab mix. Four days and 20 minutes later, I admitted failure – foster failure. I wanted him furrever.

So let me introduce you to my new adopted lab mix, Cooper! 

Me and Cooper take a walk in the neighborhood

He’s adjusting nicely to my active, outdoor lifestyle. While practicing social-distancing outdoors, we’ve already explored many of my neighborhood parks and waterfronts, including watching manatees in Tampa Bay. I can’t wait to take him backpacking and to the dog beach. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy waving at neighbors and fellow dog owners during our daily neighborhood walks. 

As you enjoy Florida’s beautiful spring weather with your furry friends, follow these tips on how to be a responsible pet owner and steward of our natural environment. 

  • Check restrictions before heading to a park or preserve. Wildlife preserves often prohibit pets as even well-behaved pets can disrupt native wildlife. 
  • Keep dogs on a leash and don’t allow them to chase wildlife.
  • Be up to date on vaccinations and flea/tick medications.
  • Check animals for fleas or ticks (especially around the neck and ears) after being outside.
  • Walk during cooler hours (early morning or evening) and avoid hot pavement that can hurt pets’ paws.
  • Bring water and a water bowl, as well as treats for training. 
  • Pick up and properly dispose of pet waste – it contains pollutants and bacteria that can wash into our waterways when it rains.
  • Use biodegradable pet waste bags or reuse packaging, like newspaper or produce bags.
  • Keep a safe distance from other people and pets. Understand that not all people are “pet people.”
  • Don’t ever leave pets in cars unattended!
  • Have fun! Pets pick up on your energy so make sure you set aside time every day to play.

Ready to turn this pandemic into your own pet-demic?  If back-to-back Zoom happy hours, baking, and 1000-piece puzzles aren’t enough, consider opening your home to a foster pet. Regardless of whether you’re a new or lifetime pet owner, following these simple suggestions will ensure that we all have a safe and healthy National Pet Day!

Aliki’s fluffy pup, Quincy
Pipin and Quincy, Aliki’s dogs