By Taylor Mundy

We know that an adorable picture of a dog or cat can tug at the heartstrings.  It doesn’t take much for those of us who love animals to want to bring those sweet critters into our families.  However, it is important to look beyond the cute photos and examine the circumstances those pets are coming from.  If you opt to adopt, not all shelters or rescues have the same approach or ethical standards.  Likewise, if you are looking to buy your pet, not all breeders or other sources adhere to standards, so it is important to ask questions and do research.

Beyond Cute is a new awareness campaign to encourage pet owners to look #BeyondCute photos to ensure their new furry family member is a puurrrrfect match.  The campaign was developed collaboratively with participants in the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture Minister’s Forum on Animal Protection, which includes representatives from animal welfare groups, breeders, trainers and veterinarians.

One of the hot topics covered in Beyond Cute is pet transport. For many animals, animal transport is a life-saving measure; however, it also poses serious risks.  The ultimate goal is to transport animals – not diseases… so it is important when implementing a pet transport program to take proper precautions to ensure the health and safety of the animals – both those being transported and those here in our province.  Groups or individuals transporting animals into Nova Scotia should be aware of past and future medical care required and carefully consider the behaviour of each pet.  Safe transport methods and guidelines minimize risk and maximize life-saving capacity.

And that’s not all Beyond Cute covers!  The campaign encourages you to do your homework and reflect on your own situation.  Before getting a pet, think about your life and ask yourself some key questions.  Do you have the time to take care of a pet?  Can you manage the ongoing costs associated with pet ownership?  What type or breed of pet would fit best with your lifestyle?  Asking questions about veterinary care, temperament and the animal’s background will ensure that you’re getting your pet from a responsible source and is one of the best ways to protect animals from harmful situations.

“While photos of dogs or cats can easily capture our hearts, I strongly encourage people to consider the responsibilities that come along with owning a pet before bringing it home,” says Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell.  “Too often companion animals end up neglected or in a shelter because people just weren’t aware of the responsibilities that come with owning a pet.  Doing your research is the best way to prevent any surprises.”

Check out the Beyond Cute campaign today!  Look beyond the cute pictures and ask the hard questions.  Visit www.YourNextPet.ca before you buy or adopt.

Taylor Mundy

Taylor is the Communications & Development Officer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Bonnie. She is passionate about raising awareness and funds for local animals in need.