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From the Archives: We Were Not Dog's Best Friend

Plenty has changed in pet ownership since 1976


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It’s no secret that San Diego is a pet-friendly city. This month’s cover story is a testament to how much we love our furry, feathered, and scaled companions.

In June 1976, it was a different story. San Diego Magazine ran a “Pet Survival Manual for Owners—and their Neighbors.” It starts off innocently enough with a column by William Sullivan, in which he lovingly writes about some of the quirkier sides to pet ownership, ending with an innuendo: “I once read somewhere that one way a woman could tell if a man would be a good lover was to take the measure of the way he stroked cats.”

But unlike this month’s cover story about all of San Diego’s perks for pet owners, the 1976 feature concerns less pleasant animal issues. One article, titled “Dogs and Cats in Court,” talks about the prevalence of animal abuse in the county. Another lists many of the diseases associated with pets, including rabies, toxoplasmosis (if you’re pregnant, “these communicable diseases could cause the fetus to abort”), parasitic infections, parrot fever, salmonella, and more. Elsewhere in the feature, the writer is appalled by how “tens of millions of fresh feces are deposited by dogs on our sidewalks every day.” That’s a good reminder even today—be a good neighbor; pick up after your pet.

The grimmest account of all is a full-page story titled “Death: The Gory Details,” which spells out all the different ways an animal can be euthanized. We won’t recount said details here.

A lot has changed in the past 40 years, including—thankfully—San Diegans’ attitudes toward pets. We welcome dogs to restaurant patios with water bowls and fresh treats. We bring them on vacation, where they get their own beds. We understand their therapeutic qualities in helping the disabled. We’ve even created teleconferencing tools so we can communicate with them from afar. Today we’re all about celebrating and appreciating our furry friends—and hopefully, taking better care of their health and hygiene.

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