Dr. S.L. Marbaniang:
Certain animals and birds possess characteristics which are very much liked and appreciated by humans. The affinity between them has an impact not only on health but even on the psychology of human beings, especially children and young kids. On the other hand, pets of the animal world as well as the bird species have grown so accustomed to the presence of human around them that, at times, they seem to be at loss if they are put back in the wild. If they get any opportunity, they will immediately seek their masters and to be near them.
Meanwhile, animal and bird lovers are so much concerned with the treatment accorded to them by cruel masters. So these have banded themselves into a group of society for Preservation of Cruelty of Animals (SPCA). It’s true that animals and birds are also creatures in this planet and, therefore, they too have a rightful place under the sun. Thus, people who rear them as pets ought to treat them kindly and nicely. If they cannot do so, they are to release them back to the wild. The other alternative is to send them to the Zoological Park or the bird sanctuaries where they will get proper food and treatment.
Pets kept by human beings may be of different species and categories, big or small. Of all the animals kept and reared by people as pets, perhaps dogs and cats are the most favoured and continue to occupy the preferred places around the family hearth. While the cat moves about freely in the house, the dog keeps sentinel out-doors.
There are more than 100 breeds of dogs from which to choose as pets. People who keep dogs to watch over their house and property ought to know well in advance which ones are the best and which will serve them well, depending the type of location and the climatic environment that they live in. City dogs are in general different from country dogs. Fir city life, smaller breeds are better like a terrier, miniature poodle, Pekingese, a local breed or even of mixed breed. Since city life is surrounded by fellow human beings on all sides, ferocious and aggressive dogs are to be avoided, otherwise they will create a lot of nuisance unnecessarily and thereby create bad blood between neighbours.
For those who live in rural areas, choice of dogs also further depends on the type of profession followed by the people. Shepherds may pick a Saint Bernard or a German Shepherd dog. Those who rear cattle may have suitable big dogs to protect them from wild animals. Alsatians are good watchers of the house in case owners have to work for long distances, away from home.
Hunters keep hound-dogs which keep track of the preys and subsequently push them to their owners so that they can easily shoot them. These hound-dogs are also helpful in carrying the carcass of animals and birds within their teeth which they grasp very strongly and they will protect such dear catches with their own life.
Most dogs are to be well trained and then given proper food. They are usually meat-eaters. However, nowadays, well-balanced and nourishing food meant for these animals are easily available in shops and stores. All dogs need medical care and treatment, like oral medicines to be administered to them for de-worming, stomache, etc. and also inoculation against distemper and hepatitis when they are puppies.
Cats belong to the family of tigers and lions. While the latter are comparatively big in size and possess a huge appetite for fresh meat, cats are very small and seem happy to eat what is left over from the members of the household. They usually are very fond of milk and milk product, including meat and fish. Among the Khasi families, they prepare a plate of rice and mixed it with meat or dry fish to be given to their domestic cats. But feeding for cats too has been made easy by the availability of balanced food prepared on a commercial scale. There are a wide variety of cats. Like dogs, cats too need proper medical care and at the right time.
Cats take care of the houses by preying on rats and mice which not only destroy household properties like food and grain at the storage and godowns, but they are also vectors of diseases which are quite dangerous and deadly. For this reason, cats and dogs are to be regularly given injections by a veterinarian to get rid of rabies disease which they may get from other animals.
Fleas, ticks, mites and flies are fond of settling in the hairy bodies of cats and dogs. To get rid of these insects which are dangerous to human health, they are to be bathed regularly and then suitable powder to be applied after drying their bodies. Any skin disease that these pets may develop should be treated well, otherwise they may also infect the members of the household, especially babies and children on mere contact. Asthma is one such disease people use to get from cats. Therefore, however, close children may be with cats, they should not be allowed to sleep together or to kiss them affectionately on the mouth. Similarly, the case with dogs too is to be carefully taken care of. After all, health of all members of the family is of prime importance.
Since cats and dogs are also vectors of diseases, it is essential for municipal authorities and civil administration to lay down strict rules and regulations not to let them astray. Dogs are to be put on leash. Cats are to be kept in-door and not to be allowed to roam freely in the streets. Stray cats and dogs are a nuisance to the society.
In this connection, the SPCA also keeps strict watch on the people who keep these animals as pets at home. Any ill-treatment by the house owners invites strong penalty action. It is highly essential for people who would like to buy pets, to first know the law of the land and then buy the suitable breeds. In advanced countries like the United States, citizens who are interested in having cats as pets ought to firstly attend a short-term training and then duly obtain a certificate before their own one.
Besides cats and dogs, there are also other breeds of animals which can be reared as pets or domesticated on the same pattern like cats and dogs. These are rabbits, monkey, deer, chipmunks, beavers, squirrels, etc. from the animals species. From the bird species, parrot, mynahs, crows, sparrows, hawks, falcons, etc. are the most popular. Hawks, falcons and eagles are mostly used in hunting.
A pet is not a top or a piece of amusement for children. It is also a creature and so needs all the love and attention as well from the owners. Food, rest and cleanliness are essential for the pets to grow and to be able to mingle with members of the family.