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Growing up, having pets and keeping them safe was a big part of my family’s life and it still is to this day.

First, there was Fluffy. She was my first pet. To be honest, I don’t remember much about her, but I knew her long enough to remember that she brought joy to the family and put smiles on everyone’s faces.

In the end, isn’t that what pets do? They provide a sense of companionship that can make the worst days better and cheer you up when you are sad. It’s why we keep them safe and care for them every day.

I’ve had plenty of pets throughout my life that all provided something different.

After Fluffy, there was Lois Lane, the only cat I’ve ever owned. She taught me to always be on my toes. She was one of those cats that would crawl up on your lap, start purring and make you as comfortable as possible. Five minutes later she would take a swipe at your arm, or your face, and then run away to hide for the next few hours. I coined her nickname “Devil Cat” because of it. Despite her actions, Lois was a key piece of our household for almost 22 years and kept her unpredictability for all of them. She kept things interesting because she often was the smallest in the household.

Lois had to compete with two giant Schnauzers, Sasha and Velvet, at different times. Both were brought home while I was on a trip. Sasha came home when my brother and I were visiting my grandparents in Florida for Thanksgiving. Then, my mom brought Velvet home when I was on a school trip. Just like Fluffy and Lois, bringing Sasha and Velvet into our family couldn’t have been a better decision. They brought a sense of security into the household as there wasn’t a time when they weren’t barking.

If they saw a leaf move outside, they were at our front windows yapping non-stop. Imagine watching a football game in the middle of the fall, the dog is asleep at your feet and all of a sudden she is at the window because she thought she saw something.

Yeah, that was a common occurrence in our house and it brought a smile to my face every time. They also had a false sense of how big they were. They both weighed about 75-80 pounds and thought they were small enough to fit in your lap. They were those types of dogs.

But those are things you come to appreciate when you have pets. It brings a smile to your face and happiness to your heart. It’s what made me want to get my own dog when I had the means and time to do so. That is why my wife and I got Bentley, a Border Collie and Norwegian Elkhound, and he’s done exactly what all of my pets before him have done. He’s a happy guy who cuddles constantly, runs all over the place and provides a lot of early mornings. He’s just like his little brother Bleu, a mini Australian shepherd we brought home in August (my wife couldn’t have just one dog anymore). I call him “Bulldozer” because he’s a solid 35 pounds and he’s all muscle. Despite being smaller, he bullies Bentley often and their daily wrestling matches are a spectacle to watch.

All of my pets have had their quirks, but they have played special roles in my life. This is why I haven’t been able to comprehend why pets and animals often are left abandoned, abused or neglected. I was happy to see the measures that Struthers and Campbell put in place recently, or are in the process of discussing, to make sure that animals are better care for.

Campbell approved an ordinance that will work in conjunction with an anti-tethering law the city passed in June 2022. It is designed to crack down on homeowners who chronically abuse or neglect their companion animals. It also provides stricter guidelines for outdoor enclosures. Struthers is looking to stiffen penalties for those who chronically allow their dogs and other companion animals to run at large. First-time offenders can get a fine while second offenses could result in a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge that could carry a 30-day jail term.

I also must commend the work of Jason Cooke and the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project who consistently has stepped up to help animals in the area when they are in need. It’s the type of care that pets deserve.

Being a pet lover at heart, I hope these measures fulfill their intentions moving forward as pets deserve that extra care and love. My pets have brought so much delight to my life and I know that pets can do the same for others.

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