The 10 Commandments of Pet Ownership

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1. All companion animals should be treated humanely -- with patience, compassion and understanding.

2. All pets have the right to have certain basic needs satisfied -- regular exercise, play, companionship and grooming. They also have the right to a clean and quiet place to live, rest, eat and sleep.

3. All pets have the right to receive fresh water and a complete and balanced diet each day. They all have the right to receive proper veterinary treatment if they are ill.

4. Like people, all pets have the right to fulfill their lives within the social constraints of responsible ownership, which may include the curtailment of certain needs and instincts -- such as the need to roam free or the instinct to breed -- for the ultimate benefit of the animal, of society and of the environment.

5. A caring owner (or more accurately, custodian or guardian) understands animals needs and provides those conditions most conducive to ensuring their physical and psychological well being.

6. No person has the right to exploit any animal inhumanely for profit, pleasure, or other selfish purpose, without regard for the animal's intrinsic worth, interests and needs.

7. Understanding owners respect and appreciate animals for themselves, independent of personal bias and selfish wants. Such owners attend and listen to animals, and even when they appear to misbehave endeavor to ascertain what the animals need or are trying to communicate. Animals should not be overindulged ('humanized") to the detriment of their physical or psychological well being.

8. No owner should physically or psychologically abuse, neglect or abandon an animal. The ultimate responsibility is to ensure that when the time comes, the pet will die painlessly and with dignity, if euthanasia is required.

9. Before obtaining pets or giving them to other people, all people have the obligation to the animals to assure that they will live in a home that will best satisfy their basic needs and also that their basic rights will be recognized and upheld at all times.

10. All pet owners and those who care for animals have the right and responsibility to share with others, especially children, the ten commandments of pet ownership and to intercede in defense of any animal when its rights are violated and when it is being treated inhumanely, either through intent or indifference (neglect). The same principles hold true for the custodianship of laboratory, farm and zoo animals -- indeed, all creatures under our dominion, including the wild creatures of the land, skies and water of our planet.

Michael W. Fox

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