LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Would you be able to tell the difference if your dog, cat, or bird was sad or upset?
Lee County Domestic Animal Services is helping new pet owners do just that with this weekend's annual pet safety program.
“We all have signs that we’re in a bad mood- so do animals.”
At the Lee County Domestic Animal Services, efforts are underway to help pets feel safe around new owners.
“We try to teach them how to handle their own pets, pets around the neighborhood, friend’s pets," says Karen Fordiani, public information specialist with the Lee County Domestic Animal Services. "We want to try to teach them how to handle them, how to interact with them, how to prevent bites essentially from happening.”
The organization says about 95% of dog bites are preventable. A lot of it comes down to owner or human error. But most dogs, as Fordiani says, will usually give warning signs to protect themselves.
"Let them acclimate to the home, not to go near them when they’re with their food, with their toys, how to play with them," she says. "Puppies- we teach them when they bring home a puppy, you want to pet them from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. Things like that. There’s a lot of things that you think people would know that they don’t.”
People, like dog owner Arlene Cleland.
"Just making sure they’re happy, like taking them for walks," said Cleland. "I mean the dog will tell you what it wants. They have their own language.”
Cleland adopted her dog, Dixie, from the humane society. Something that required a little bit of time.
"She came in and she just adapted very fast. Very fast. Now she won’t even let me out of her sight and I love her.”
Something fellow dog owner Dawn Tobin agrees with.
"We spent a lot of time with Sam socializing him," said Tobin about her dog. "Early training, lots of playgroups, dog parks are a big thing, and just letting other dogs teach them how to behave around other dogs is another really important part I think of dog ownership.”
And if there’s one thing any dog owner can rely on…
"If you have a dog that’s not well behaved, get them to a dog park," said Tobin. "They’ll be good at home.”
“This is their place," said Cleland. "If they want to roll in the mud, let them roll in the mud. There’s a dog wash here, shampoo, it’s no big deal. This is their world and if it’s what makes them happy, it makes me happy."
The pet safey program will be taking place Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Lee County Domestic Animal Services, located off of 6 Mile Cypress Parkway. You can find more information online here.