Springtime safety tips for pet owners

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Yay! It’s sunny. It’s 70 degrees. It won’t get dark here until 7:29 p.m. And I’m… stuck inside, working. Actually it’s taken me the better part of an hour to come up with an idea for today’s post.

So I decided to go with the obvious. Warm weather and springtime safety tips for pet owners.

Exercise some common sense

When it comes to warm weather, pets and people aren’t all that different. We all want to be outside, having fun. And we can all get a bit carried away.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

But while we are responsible  — and know there are consequences for — rash decisions, our pets don’t. So it’s up to us to look out for them.  It’s our responsibility to learn the signs that our furry friends are in physical discomfort or distress. Some of the symptoms are obvious, but because dogs and cats are also adept at hiding weaknesses, some aren’t so obvious. Don’t leave anything to chance… talk to your vet about what to look out for.

While you’re at it, have a frank discussion with the vet or another expert about your pet’s outdoor activities. If you’re going to let your cat romp around the neighborhood or leave your dog outside on its own for prolonged periods (something I personally recommend against) learn how to make the environment as safe and comfortable as possible. Find out:

  • How to create an “escape proof” yard.
  • What type of shelter to buy or build.
  • How to mitigate any hazards posed by other animals.
  • How to ensure your pet has access to food and water.
  • How to make sure your pet can be readily identified if it goes missing.

Taking these precautions is largely a matter of common sense. On the other hand, failing to take them could cause a lot of trouble. In Connecticut, for example, failing to provide proper shelter for an outdoor pet can result in animal cruelty charges.

Keep hazardous items out of reach

According to the ASPCA, a litany of springtime items pose a threat to our pets. These include:

  •  Easter candy and decorations
  • The ingredients in lawn and garden chemicals,
  • The plants and flowers that will soon appear in our gardens
  • household cleaning products that we’ll use to get rid of winter funk

Keeping these items out of reach is key to keeping our pets safe at this time of year. But if you do have reason to believe your pet has swallowed a harmful substance, it is crucial to call your own vet or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

A cat may be able to land on its feet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get hurt

Before you yield to temptation and throw the windows wide open, the ASPCA also recommends checking all of the screens. Make sure they aren’t ripped or torn, and make sure they are well secured, the organization recommends. This is especially important for cat owners — after all, your cat may be able to withstand a fall from a significant height — but that doesn’t mean he or she will come out of it completely unscathed.

Move over, damn it! Bicyclists state their case

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Springing forward

With temperatures soaring into the 70s in the New York metropolitan area this week, it’s beginning to feel a lot like springtime around here. And you know what that means.

We’re going to lose an hour of sleep but gain an hour of daylight (allegedly). The flowers will bloom, the grass will grow and some of us will get wicked allergies. As if all of that isn’t annoying enough, we’ll be forced to share the roads with bicyclists, joggers, people on roller blades and maybe even people on hover boards. Oh, joy!

But let’s focus on the bicyclists for now. Yes, those weekend warriors who ride in packs and hog the roads, effectively turning them into treacherous slalom courses for motorists. Honestly, is there anything more aggravating than getting stuck behind a bunch of bicyclists on a Saturday afternoon?

That’s a rhetorical question — but that’s not to say there isn’t another side to the story.

Going to bat for the bicyclists

Urban bicycles. Photo by In Brief Legal Services Founder Alexandra Bogdanovic
New York City bikes. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

According to a recent Hartford Courant report, Connecticut groups that support cyclists want stiffer fines for drivers who don’t play by the rules. Specifically, they have asked state lawmakers to approve a new measure that would level harsher penalties against drivers who don’t “yield to pedestrians or bicycles that are legally using the road.”

Advocates say the measure would improve overall safety. But critics say the wording in the proposed bill is too vague. Critics also claim that the proposal fails to address careless behavior by pedestrians and bicyclists.

Reaching a compromise

Personally I think there are better solutions, some of which have already been implemented elsewhere. Designated bike lanes are fine — as long as the roads are wide enough to accommodate them. I also know of a few places where officials close the roads to regular traffic and let bicyclists take over for a set amount of time on certain days, weather permitting.

I’m not sure if there are already laws on the books prohibiting bicyclists from riding in groups or at least preventing them from riding two abreast. If not, I think there should be.

But of course, that’s just my humble opinion. What do you think?