There are few things more special than owning a pet.
For many, dogs truly are man’s best friends. For some, oftentimes finicky cats are the perfect answer. And for others, everything from fish to gerbils to hamsters to rabbits to horses provide the right solution.
As we all know, pets can provide a huge amount of love. We’ve seen many pet owners with signs on their cars or golf carts honoring their furry friends And one of our favorite stickers reads, “Who saved who?”
But as every pet owner should know, owning an animal also comes with a level of responsibility. You’ve got to make sure they’re well fed, have plenty of water and have a nice place to live. You’ve also got to visit a veterinarian on a regular basis and stay up-to-date with checkups and shots. And for those who own dogs and take them for walks, it’s essential to practice good pet etiquette and clean up behind them.
Unfortunately, there are many dog owners in The Villages who don’t like to adhere to that kind of common-sense and courteous policy. Problems clearly have been brewing in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown when it comes to dogs and the things they leave behind. And it apparently has gotten so bad that The Villages District Office recently had to issue a notice because too many residents allow their pets to become their neighbors’ burden.
By now, we’re guessing you’re shaking your head and saying, “Seriously?” That certainly was our first reaction when we read the notice. But we have no doubt that if District officials felt the need to post these guidelines, they were warranted in doing so.
In case you missed the District’s posting, we’ll recap it for you. It encourages all pet owners to be considerate of others. And it reminds dog owners that they responsible for picking up after their pets.
The notice also addresses a dog waste problem that has erupted across The Villages. Residents are being told that they must take all waste home for disposal, because apparently, some have used storm drains and postal or recreational facilities to dispose of their dog’s poop or the bags containing it. And it reminds Villagers to follow all county ordinances by making sure their dogs are on leashes.
It’s no secret that this notice addresses several longstanding and long-simmering issues in The Villages. Over the years, many residents have expressed frustrations and become fed up with Villagers using postal stations or recreation facilities as restrooms for their dogs.
Amazingly, some pet owners even take it a step further and actually toss bags containing their dogs’ poop into the storm drains. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that that’s a bad idea. Those bags can lead to clogs, or more likely, end up floating around in nearby retention ponds.
Villagers also have to keep a careful eye on their dogs and use common sense when they’re around other people or animals. A Villager recently sought treatment at an urgent care center after she was injured by a dog at the Atlas Canine Park. The condition of dog parks has long been a simmering issue with Villagers. But keeping those facilities nice starts with the dog owners who use them being responsible with their pets and cleaning up behind them.
Of course, we know that the majority of dog owners in The Villages are very responsible people. They keep their animals on a leash and they clean up their messes whenever they walk them. And they have loving relationships with those pets that mean the world to them.
But unfortunately, there are those who own dogs who simply ignore the rules. They leave behind stinky messes none of us should have to deal with. And they seem to think that the rules only apply to other pet owners.
Going forward, we sincerely hope all Villagers will take the District’s memo to heart and follow the rules. It’s not that hard to clean up behind your pet and take the waste home for disposal. And it makes the community that much nicer of a place for everyone to enjoy.
When you get down to it, Villagers moved here to take advantage of a pristine retirement community. If we all work together when it comes to following the rules with our pets, it certainly will help it stay that way and be a much more enjoyable place to call home.