A week from this Saturday, on September 20th, the local chapter of the AKC will be sponsoring “Responsible Dog Ownership Day” at their club headquarters on Highway 10.

I know the presidential election is drawing near, and some people may be thinking that this subject doesn’t have as much importance as the election, but I think the necessity of having an event such as “Responsible Dog Ownership Day” points to a very basic problem that Americans should be considering:  stray dogs.

Okay, that was a joke. Kind of. Stray dogs are a symptom of a larger issue. The actual problem I’m talking about is the apparent inability of some adults to consider the choices they make and take responsibility for them.

We see this in the political arena, and we see it right here in our own backyards.

I live in the country and I see it on a regular basis when some pathetic half-starved puppy wanders into my yard and begs me to feed it.

It is not the puppy’s fault that I care about what happens to creatures who are less powerful than myself and will therefore use resources that I can’t really afford to take care of it. It is not the puppy’s fault that it is starving and flea ridden and smells like curdled milk. And it is not the puppy’s fault that it found itself in lost in the woods after being tossed out of a moving car.

When a stray dog shows up at my door, panting, emaciated, and frightened, it is the fault of some human who did not shoulder his or her responsibilities and expected somebody else to pick up the pieces.

Dogs are domestic animals. Humans domesticated them, and are therefore responsible for the fact that most dogs cannot survive in the wild and must instead depend on humans to take care of them.

Dog owners are responsible for the health, happiness, and general well-being of their dogs. They are responsible for making sure their dogs do not cause harm to other people, become nuisances in their neighborhoods, or play in the street and get run over.

I am glad we have an organization here in Northeastern Oklahoma that is willing to educate people about the true responsibility of caring for a domestic animal. Apparently it is an education that lots of people need.

I have lived in several other states, and I must say that my home state, Oklahoma, has the biggest problem with stray animals I have ever seen.

I once tried to adopt a dog at the Humane Society in Boulder, Colorado and was turned away because I didn’t have a fenced yard and they apparently did not believe that I intended to walk my dog on a leash several times a day. They do not have a no-kill Humane Society like Grove does, but they have not put an animal down for many years and can actually pick and choose to whom they adopt their pets.

At the time I was a bit upset, but it ended up being better than I ever imagined. Instead of adopting a stray, I got a purebred dog who fit my lifestyle perfectly and both of us got lots of good exercise walking around the neighborhood every day.

Now I see what a great thing it is for a community to have a Humane Society that will only adopt dogs to people under the right circumstances.

It indicates a community that takes responsibility for its pets.

In a community that takes responsibility for its pets, I had the opportunity to choose the ideal dog for my wants and needs without having to worry about hundreds of thousands of unwanted dogs that needed homes.

This in turn, gave me the freedom to choose what I wanted and easily take responsibility for it.

The main difference (pet wise), between Grove and Boulder, is that a majority of people in Boulder get their pets spayed and neutered.

This simple procedure cuts way down on the problem. It eliminates millions upon millions of unwanted animals that no one has the resources to care for.

Lots of people seem to think that taking responsibility means they lose their freedom. However, if everyone takes responsibility we all have more freedom.

Please, if you have a dog or a cat, get it spayed or neutered.

Also, please support the AKC’s “Responsible Dog Ownership Day.” It should be a fun and educational event.