“Soap actor commits suicide after pup’s ‘forced’ euthanasia” The headline disturbed me on so many levels. First and foremost, every suicide invokes a common guilt for all, the feeling that we, as a society, failed the victim. However, I want to keep this story relative to all of us in the dog world.

First, who should own a dog? According to pollster Gallup 44 percent of Americans own a dog. Most of us would agree that many of those people should have never owned a dog. We can all agree that the people who are irresponsible, selfish, and/or cruel shouldn’t own a dog. I also believe that there are decent, responsible people who should not own a dog. Chief among them are the ones whose careers require them to be away from home frequently. Even if you have a trusted pet sitter or excellent boarding kennel, dogs genuinely suffer when separated from their human.

It seems somewhat ungenerous to say so, but I think people without the means or situation to house, feed, & care properly for a dog, should not own a dog. If you cannot afford a proper home, food, or health care for your pet, you should not take one on. The dog in this sad case was a mixed breed with “pit bull” characteristics. Even though the dog legally met the standards set by the home owners covenants of its building, the “dangerous breed” hysteria in our major urban areas led to the owner having to decide between his home and his dog. Now before you jump up and say you would never give up your dog, realize that life often deals us difficult decisions, especially in times like now.

That brings me to my next point. Every pet owner should have a plan to re-home their pets in the event of a major life transition. Who will take your dog if you have to move to a place that isn’t dog compatible, or if you become ill and can’t take of your dog? While you may hope neither befalls you, you won’t escape the inevitability of dying. Who will give your dog a home after you are gone? Most of the dog people I know have life insurance to take care of their loved ones. Do you have yourbeloved pet taken care of?

We like to wrap ourselves in the mantel of “Pet Lover”. Love your pet enough to make a plan to provide for them in the event you can’t. And that’s today’s Back Story.