February is Responsible Pet Owners Month: Learn How to Safeguard Your Pets


In recognition of Responsible Pet Owners Month, the Cougar Conservancy is launching an awareness campaign to highlight pet care practices. This initiative aims to underscore the integral role pet owners play in ensuring the well-being of their animals—a responsibility that holds particular significance in fostering coexistence with wildlife, especially in the City of Burbank.

“Taking responsibility as a pet owner means feeding pets a nutritious diet, bringing them to the vet for their medical care needs, and protecting animals in your care,” says Kelsey Bernard, Outreach Coordinator with the Cougar Conservancy. 

The non-profit organization, Cougar Conservancy, will be honing in on the last point all-month long.

Burbank’s Verdugo Mountains harbor a diverse array of wildlife, including cougars, coyotes, bobcats, gray foxes, and the occasional black bear. Whether residing in the foothills or exploring local trails like Stough Canyon, it is imperative for residents and recreation enthusiasts to be well-versed in responsible pet care practices.

The Cougar Conservancy is on a mission this month to prevent, reduce, and manage human-wildlife conflicts by taking proactive steps to actively collaborate with communities for coexistence support. Their team of biologists receive daily inquiries and assist residents and recreationists with all of their queries, from how to walk dogs safely on the trail to safeguarding pets while at home. The organization aims to share valuable tips for coexistence at home, in neighborhoods, and on trails—empowering residents and outdoor enthusiasts with insights into wildlife behavior and simple safety measures that keep people, pets, and wildlife safe.

Cougars living in the Verdugo Mountains and nearby San Gabriel Mountain range are currently designated as a candidate species under the state’s Endangered Species Act. California’s big cat faces numerous threats, including collisions with vehicles, poisoning, poaching, and depredation events.

Mountain Lion P-41 walking along a trail in the Stough Canyon Nature Area. Photo by Korinna Domingo.

“So many of the negative encounters that people have with our local cougars are preventable. Depredation events, where cougars prey upon unprotected animals, highlight the urgency of responsible pet ownership,” says Korinna Domingo, Founder and Director of the Cougar Conservancy and Burbank native. Domingo is an alum from Roosevelt Elementary School, Luther Middle School, John Burroughs High School, and Options for Youth. She grew up looking up at the Verdugo Mountains and noted that she feels privileged to be able to work in her hometown and provide information to locals about the animals that live there today, and what people can do to keep their pets safe.

In the two decades preceding the designation of populations of cougars as a candidate species, California witnessed an annual issuance of approximately 200 depredation permits for cougars. During this period, an average of 100 cougars per year were legally killed under depredation permits across the state. Notably, the majority of these permits were issued in non-commercial settings. This emphasizes the potential impact of everyday choices made by the public in caring for their pets and hobby livestock. Simple adjustments in daily practices could significantly reduce the number of permits issued, minimize cougar casualties, and mitigate the instances of pets being injured or lost due to inadequate protection provided by their caregivers.

“Throughout February we are aiming to get out the word: Protecting pets is part of the basics of ensuring animal welfare,” says Domingo. 

myBurbank joins the Cougar Conservancy in raising awareness about Responsible Pet Owners Month. You can explore resources and tips for coexisting safely at home and on the trail with your beloved pet companions at cougarconservancy.org/pet-safety. The myBurbank and Cougar Conservancy social media platforms will also be publishing educational videos throughout the month of February—including some by our very own myBurbank Reporter Ashley Erikson.

CLICK HERE to check out this video of Burbank cougar “Nikita” in grooming session. Credit: Johanna Turner/Cougarmagic.

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