Your pets are not part of Florida’s natural ecosystem. Even though you may see your dog or cat as well behaved and harmless, many kinds of wildlife can be put at risk if an overly friendly dog or curious cat goes scampering off without any restraint. For example, unleashed dogs chasing nesting shorebirds can trample young chicks or cause parents to abandon their nests. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “A single individual free-ranging cat may kill 100 or more birds and mammals per year.” Outdoor cats are also the primary host for transmitting toxoplasmosis to wildlife, a disease which has killed manatees and other mammals. Plus, waste deposited by free-ranging pets is not only harmful to wildlife and people, but it can degrade our water quality. Read more on reducing feral and domestic cat and wildlife interactions.