Keys to Responsible Pet Ownership

Have a pet? Thinking of getting a pet? Always remember that your pet is a four-legged member of your family. They need food, water, a warm place to sleep, and plenty of love. Sometimes, they even need to go to the doctor, just like us.

Here are some key things you should know about as a responsible pet owner:

Spaying & Neutering
SPAY refers to the surgery performed on female animals so they can not become pregnant. NEUTER refers to the surgery on male animals so they can't make females pregnant.

Why spay and neuter?

In Houston and Harris County, tens of thousands of dogs and cats must be euthanized every year because they are unwanted.

You can be a responsible pet owner by spaying or neutering your pet to help reduce this number.

Spaying/neutering is good for your pet. It reduces the chances of reproductive cancer; prevents females from having heat cycles; reduces chances males will spray or mark their territory; lessens a pet's urge to roam and get lost; reduces the pet overpopulation problem.

Contact your veterinarian for more information.

What if I can’t afford to have my pet spayed/neutered?

The Spay Neuter Assistance Program - (SNAP) ... 713.522.2337 ... operates a free spay/neuter program for pets of low-income households.

BARC’s pet adoption fees include spay/neuter. BARC does not adopt out unsterilized animals.

Many loved family pets end up in animal shelters. Shelters do their best to locate owners, but often cannot find the owner because the pet has no form of identification. Microchipping is a technology that is virtually painless for your pet and creates a permanent method of identification. A small computer microchip is embedded under your pet’s skin, usually between the their shoulder blades. The chip contains a unique ID number that identifies your pet and is a permanently record. BARC recommends microchipping for all dogs and cats. Having a microchip does not mean your pet shouldn’t also wear an ID and license tag; lost pets that have all these forms of ID and a microchip have the greatest chance of being returned to their loving homes and families.

How is the Microchip Inserted?

The chip is very small, comparable to the size of a grain of rice. It fits into a veterinarians hypodermic needle and is injected, just like a vaccine, under the skin of your pet, where it remains for the duration of their life.

How Does The Microchip Work?

A special scanner reads the microchip number, which is then called in to a data bank that has your contact information. It is important to keep your contact information current.

What Types Of Pets Can Be Chipped?

Microchipping is safe for all types of pets including dogs, cats, horses, birds, reptiles and exotic pets.

Where can I get my pet chipped and how much does it cost?

Microchips are inserted by most veterinarians and a number of animal facilities. Fees can range anywhere from $25 on up, depending on the location. In general, facilities that do large numbers of animals may be able to offer the service at lower cost. There is a fee for having the chip registered with the appropriate data bank. Sometimes this is included in the insertion fee; always make sure to ask about the details.

Pet Licensing & Vaccinations
An animal may not be adopted from BARC without a rabies vaccination. Licensing is required by law in Houston and a rabies vaccination is required to get a valid license. Licensing prevents the spread of rabies, which is a constant health threat. Annual vaccinations keep your pet healthy. Licensing also allows BARC animal officers to return your lost pet safely to you.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease of the central nervous system. The virus can infect animals, which in turn, can transmit the virus to people by biting or scratching.

Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans. A person who has been infected with the virus, but who has not yet developed symptoms, may be treated. There is no treatment once an animal or person exhibits symptoms.

What animals get Rabies?

All warm-blooded mammals including humans are susceptible to rabies. In Texas, rabies is present in many wild animal populations, especially skunks, bats, coyotes and foxes. Domestic dogs, cats and livestock usually acquire rabies from wild animals. Rodents such as rats and squirrels are not infected in Texas.

BARC and Rabies control:

The State of Texas closely regulates the enforcement of laws preventing rabies. BARC is the state's designated Rabies Control authority for Houston. If an animal bites, scratches or attacks humans, it must be quarantined for ten days for rabies observation, even though it may have been vaccinated.

Your Vet and Rabies control:

Only a Texas licensed veterinarian may vaccinate your pet against rabies and give other shots to protect your pet from diseases. Visiting a veterinarian each year is one way to make certain your pet stays healthy.

State Quarantine - Important travel information:

In 1995, the State of Texas issued a quarantine for all domestic dogs and cats. If you travel with your dog or cat, proof of current rabies vaccination must be with you. You can obtain an approved travel certificate for your pet from your local veterinarian.

Flea, Tick & Heartworm Prevention
The three most common pet pests are fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.

Environmental conditions favorable for fleas are moisture, warmth, shade, and lots organic debris. In Houston, that means our conditions are almost always favorable for these pests to thrive. Pets can develop flea allergy skin diseases, tapeworms, and other diseases from fleas. Fleas can also bite and transmit diseases to humans. In some severe cases, life-threatening Anemia can be caused by untreated flea infestations. Ticks can transmit debilitating diseases like Lyme Disease and are usually found in leaf litter, brush, and tall grass. Mosquitoes cause heartworms and they are found in greatest concentrations near their breeding grounds...any body of standing water.

If you haven't done so already, use the right medicine to protect your pet. Your vet or a member of the BARC veterinary staff can recommend many topical and internal options for your pet. Most of these medications control adult and juvenile forms of fleas and flea eggs, as well as ticks and mosquitoes. Be diligent about flea and tick control on your pets throughout the year and maintain a healthy, flea free environment. Once your pet is protected, you can maintain and increase your efforts by treating your lawn and yard where infested animals may travel and expose your pet to fleas and ticks.

Keep your home and yard clean. Get rid of leaves, straw, and grass clippings and sweep up pet hair to prevent potential flea habitats. Keeping areas around doghouses, pet beds and kennels neat and free of dust, tall grass and brush, will make it more difficult for ticks to come in contact with your pets. Regularly inspect your property for trash and containers that could hold standing water where mosquitoes may breed.


Responsible Pet Ownership Begins With the “4 L’s”

LICENSE, LEASH, LATCH, LOVE. This is what BARC calls the 4 L’s, we believe it, we practice it, and we promote it. The “4 L’s” are the basis of responsible pet ownership and the key to creating a safe, secure environments for your pets to live in.

License your pet. Leash your pet. Latch your gate. Last, but certainly not least, give your pet lots of love and attention.

BARC promotes safe animal human encounters. Here are some general tips about animal safety:

  • Do not pet unfamiliar animals.
  • Always ask the owner before petting an animal that is not yours, teach children this rule as well.
  • Never tease animals.
  • Do not surprise any animal.
  • Do not touch a sleeping animal.
  • Do not turn your back on a dog.
  • Do not bother a dog while it is eating.
  • Do not leave small children alone with a dog.
  • Do not stare into a dog's eyes.

Learn and watch for signs of aggressive and fearful animal behavior:

  • Ears are erect or back
  • Body is stiff
  • Tail is stiff or moving rapidly
  • Body is crouched with head down
  • Tail hangs down or is tucked between legs
  • Growling
  • Staring straight ahead
  • Hair standing on end

How to treat an animal bite:

The following precautions should be taken immediately when an animal bites or scratches a person:

  • Wash the wound with warm, soapy water.
  • Consult a physician and make sure you have a current tetanus shot
  • Confine the animal if possible, without endangering your safety. If you cannot contain the animal, make every attempt to find the owner of the animal or keep the animal in sight to help the animal control officer who will do the investigating.
  • Contact BARC's Rabies Suspect Investigations Section at 111.
  • Report all animal bites:
    • If you live inside the city limits of Houston call 311
    • If you live in Harris County call 281.999.3191

BARC Information

3200 Carr Street,
Houston, TX 77026
Call 3-1-1 for more information

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