Responsible Pet Ownership

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Responsible Pet Ownership 
We all love our pets, and there are some simple steps you can take to help keep them safe and also protect native wildlife 

Protect your Pets: The Florida Keys can be a dangerous place for free roaming domestic pets. We have large amounts of road traffic, steep-edged canals, alligators, crocodiles, coyotes, rattlesnakes and a variety of other things that can threaten the health and welfare of your pets. You owe it to your pets to keep them safe. An easy way to do this is to keep them indoors, on a leash, or in your yard. 

Protect Native Wildlife: Our National Wildlife Refuges are a national network of lands and waters set aside for the conservation and restoration of fish, wildlife and their habitats, for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. Crocodile Lake NWR is home to eight endangered and threatened plant and wildlife species, and hundreds of other birds, mammals, reptiles, and butterflies. Whether its cats, dogs, snakes, or lizards, pets that run loose on wildlife refuges can have devastating impacts on wildlife. On islands such as Key Largo, small populations of endangered wildlife, like the endangered Key Largo woodrat can be decimated to the point of extinction. Let’s work together to solve this problem!

A Simple Solution:My cat likes to be outdoors, but I don’t want it to get hurt and I don’t want it killing native birds, snakes or endangered species. What can I do? Have you thought about building a catio for your cat? Catios are essentially outdoor enclosures for your cats, kind of like smaller versions of screened patios or porches. They allow cats to enjoy the great outdoors, catch some sunshine and nap--all while safely enclosed. Check out these cool articles on catios. 

Never Release Pets in the Wild: Releasing an exotic pet snake, lizard, or fish might seem like a solution to a problem, however, it can have serious consequences to our natural ecosystems. For example- Burmese pythons are causing catastrophic damage to south Florida ecosystems, especially in the Florida Everglades. They eat virtually everything, and they have few natural predators, especially once they reach larger sizes. These non-native species can have harmful impacts on our Keys wildlife!
There are alternatives: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hosts annual Exotic Pet Amnesty Days each year where they will take your pet and find another home for it. Find out more information about the Pet Amnesty Program here.

With your help, we can work together to build a community where people, pets and native wildlife can co-exist.