Fido and Kitty on Holiday

For vacationing Vineyard pets, summer can be a difficult season. It isn’t the pet, of course, that has decided on a country holiday. It is the pet owner. The city dog may be every bit as happy in its apartment with a walk two times a day as in the country, but most pet owners just assume that Aquinnah or Chappy likes the outdoors as much as he or she does. With that thinking, once they are on the Vineyard, they let their pet loose to enjoy the sights and smells of the outdoors. That may not be responsible or kind to the animal.

A dog that is left to roam unattended may stray too far and become lost or get into mischief at the neighbor’s farm where there are chickens and goats and horses to worry. A cat that is used to a city or suburban environment can also be overwhelmed by life in the country and get into injurious scrapes with racoons and other cats.

Over the last few weeks, notices of both a missing dog and a missing cat have been posted on Middle Road trees in West Tisbury. As the season progresses, such signs will likely proliferate. Sometimes a photo of the missing animal will be attached to the plea to keep an eye out for the pet. Sometimes there will just be a name and a description. Often the pet is found and all is well, but that isn’t always the case. It may come time for the pet owner to catch a ferry back to the mainland and the pet just isn’t around.

Ferry reservations are hard to come by. Some pet owners are callous enough to consider them more important than their house pets and they catch their ferry, leaving the family pet to fend for itself.

The substantial feral cat population on the Island is a testament to this behavior.

The best ways to avoid having a missing Vineyard pet are not to let the animal out in a strange new environment without supervision. And today you can have your veterinarian put an identification chip under your pet’s skin before you come to the Island so it can be traced by the police or the MSPCA if it should disappear.

Other tips for loving pet owners? Do not leave your animal in a closed car in the heat, and don’t run your dog behind your bicycle or car in the dog days of summer. And as soon as a pet is missing, notify your town animal control officer. If you’ve let your dog run loose, there may be a fine if it is caught, but paying the fine is much better than having an empty rug before the fireplace in the wintertime.