Anant V Joshi DVM

Animals were here on Earth before the humans. Millions of years ago when hominids realized that they were hunting some of the same game that wolves were hunting, hominids wizened up and probably followed the wolves for capturing their kills. Well, I think over millennia the relation between hominids and hunting animals evolved and so did the species. All dogs are evolved from wolves. And we humans? We are of course an offshoot of early Hominids, and we are the species that now rules the planet.

Today, Homo sapiens all over the Earth speak thousands of languages, live in hundreds of nations, and follow a million customs. They have a thousand relations with the animal species. But no matter what, Homo sapiens is the Alpha species on planet Earth. Humans use and abuse animals for all kinds of reasons, right or wrong. Eventually, it is the responsibility of Humans that all animal species are protected.

Most humans love animals. Most people including even the meat-eaters do not want to hurt the animals. A human may consume a burger in McDonalds and have a chicken sandwich as well, but when he sees a bunch of chickens crossing the road he may stop his car to let the chickens safely cross the road. Paradoxical? Sure!

Same with how we view dogs. Many human cultures keep dogs as companion animals, many cultures eat dog meat.

Humans are a real complex species. If native animals were exposed to different human cultures, animals would probably be quite confused!

Animals have their instincts, they have certain behaviors that have evolved over millions of years. They can fend for themselves in many natural conditions. And 'natural conditions' have changed rapidly all over the world in the last 200 years. Today's world is absolutely nothing what it was 200 years ago. Can animals evolve fast enough to be perfectly alright in the present world, without human help? Probably not. And what about the animals we bring into our modern homes? One thing is certain: when an animal is brought into a human dwelling and kept there as a pet, a definite human-animal bond develops between the two. Bond of love, caring and affection. A subtle facet of this bond is that the human becomes the owner of the pet animal. The animal loses a lot of his natural instincts to defend himself in the wild, and starts to rely on the human for food, shelter, cuddling and relief. This subtle aspect can be easily lost on many humans if they do not conscientiously think about it.

I see thousands of pet animals every year in my veterinary practice. I am, for the most part, delighted to see the wonderful rewards of the beautiful human-animal bond that I see amongst humans and their animals. But also, I am sometimes shocked to see a human abdicate or delegate the responsibility of his/her pet's health to the pet itself. I hear something like "The dog has been losing weight for the last several years, he is obviously getting old. He now hates to use the stairs. He may be painful in his joints. Aging, I guess."

Yes! Aging! But the dog needs to get some medical tests and probably some treatments. Sure he would not get medical veterinary care if he was a wild dog living in wilderness, but now he has been living for 13 years with a human being and he deserves some medical attention!

And neither is the responsibility to medically treat your dog that of the society. Or of your local shelter. Or of your government. Or of your local animal hospital. It is yours. You may have your culture, religion, fashion, morality based on who you are, but once you bring an animal home and keep him with you for 16 years (or 16 days), it is your human respondibility to address your pet's needs. 

Most of us love animals. Most of us love dogs and cats. But for them, love alone is not enough. They need food, water, shelter, companionship and medical veterinary care. And that is where you come in, my dear Homo sapiens! Have fun with your animal companions, but don't forget you are also their "owners" and that they depend on you for almost EVERYTHING. They depend on you, and they did not choose to become dependent on you. But now that they are dependent on you thanks to you, you need to become a true human, a true human companion to your beloved animal.