There has been so much discussion lately about this everywhere, it seems. And many attempts by municipalities to legislate responsibility. But sometimes the definitions are a bit vague.
My definition of responsible pet ownership may be different from yours... here is what I believe:
A responsible pet owner
1. ...takes good care of his/her animals.
This includes all the basics like plenty of wholesome food and fresh water; appropriate medical care; plenty of exercise and socialization and clean living quarters.
2. ...is a good neighbor.
This means not letting your pets annoy, frighten or inconvenience other people and includes not letting your dogs bark excessively (and like it or not, the person who best defines "excessively" isn't you, but rather the neighbor who is trying to get some sleep); not letting your dogs or cats run loose; keeping pet waste picked up in your yard so it doesn't smell or attract flies; not letting your dogs rush the fence and bark at your neighbors when they are walking by just a few feet away.
3. ...doesn't expect the community to help take care of his/her animals.
This means planning ahead so that - barring something really catastrophic - you never have to surrender your pets to the local pound, shelter or rescue; not letting your pets breed accidentally or indiscriminately; not breeding at all unless A. you already have good homes lined up for all the offspring, B. you can give plenty of support to the new owners so the placement will be successful, and C. you can take back any offspring at any time if the home doesn't work out.
4. ...doesn't ever have so many pets that he/she can't meet the above requirements.
Notice that I DIDN'T include "a responsible pet owner spays/neuters his or her pets". That has become a major part of the responsible pet owner creed for many people but it isn't absolutely necessary. There is no doubt that it is much, much more convenient and easier for a pet owner to keep sterilized pets - especially where the requirements listed in #3 above are concerned. But if a pet owner can meet those requirements without spaying or neutering, more power to them. It IS possible, it just takes more effort and more knowledge.
Having listened to so many pet owners over the years who are totally clueless about animal reproduction ("But she's his SISTER/MOTHER, they won't mate, will they??") I do believe that the vast majority of pet owners are better off if they do spay or neuter their pets. Especially if they have pets of both genders in their home. And ANYONE who lets their pets run loose at any time MUST spay or neuter that pet, period.
But it is totally possible for a responsible pet owner to keep intact pets. That's my take on things anyway - what do you think?