Springtime brings more people outdoors and thoughts about adding a pet to one’s life often occurs during better weather. Playing with a dog in the backyard, taking walks in the neighborhood and beyond, and opening windows to smell fresh air and hear birds sing conjure up ideas about sharing experiences – and life – with a four-footed friend.
Adopting a pet from a local shelter or rescue is a positive thing; oftentimes, adoption saves lives. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which promotes Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month during April, reports that nearly 6.5 million animals are brought into animal shelters across the nation each year, and about 1.5 are killed in those facilities, oftentimes due to lack of adoption and lack of space. Therefore, adoption does save lives.
However, before running out to your local animal shelter or pet rescue organization, there are five questions a person should honestly answer before bringing a pet home. They are:
Let’s take a quick look at each of these questions and hopefully, help you answer them.
Being ready for a pet means examining your lifestyle and family situation. Primarily, do you have enough time to devote to a pet? Is someone responsible enough to not just feed and water the animal, but also to spend quality time playing with and providing activity and companionship for the pet? How many hours do you and your family spend away from home, which would leave the pet alone, possibly bored which, in turn, could lead to destructive behaviors. Make sure you have time to spend with your adopted animal – before you adopt.
What pet best fits your lifestyle? If you are gone a lot, a cat would likely be better than a dog. Cats are often much more independent; not saying you should ignore your cat, but a kitty doesn’t require walking, running, or playing activities as much as a cat does. Still, all pets need friendship and companionship, no matter what type of animal you consider bringing home. Various breeds of dogs need more, or less, activity, so if you’re considering adopting a dog, research the breed’s activity level requirements as well as personality traits. A great place to go for such information is the American Kennel Club’s website:
Finding a place from which to adopt a pet is fairly easy. There are many organizations whose mission it is to help animals in need of new homes. Local animal shelters and humane societies, as well as a wide variety of rescue organizations make saving pets and re-homing them a priority. The best place to start is your local shelter or rescue. Petfinder.com is also a great resource and helps thousands of pets find new homes every year. At this website, you will find specific breeds and ages of animals simply by using the parameters, and your zip code, at the site.
Speaking of ages, does a puppy or kitten suit your lifestyle or is it best for you to adopt an older animal? Baby and teenaged pets often require much more attention, care, and training, whereas adults and seniors are likely to be already trained and able to spend more time alone without worry of soiled carpet or chewed/clawed up furniture. Carefully consider how much time you have with the pet before being swept away by puppy and kitten cuteness.
Another option for adoption is a pet with a disability. These are often the most overlooked, and therefore, most likely to die in shelters. Yet, they are loving, faithful friends when given the chance. Blind, deaf, three-legged, or diabetic, these animals need loving, dedicated homes, too, oftentimes more so than “normal” pets. Consider adopting a pet with a disability, but also carefully consider the pets needs and if you can meet those needs. Deaf animals can – and do – respond to training via hand signals, and blind pets need more safety measures in place. These things are doable, and not costly.
So, are you ready to adopt a pet? Find more information about pet adoption and pet care at https://www.aspca.org/adopt-pet/adoption-tips
With the warming of the earth, the shining of the sun, and the blueness of the sky, spring brings colorful flowers, green grass, and planted vegetables. This season brings great beauty …. it can also bring hazards for pets.
According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), there are many dangers lurking in people’s garages, yards, and gardens, perils that can harm our beloved animals. Here are a few tips to keep your pets safe this season:
If you suspect your pet may have ingested something potentially poisonous, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
Last week a friend of mine lost her dog. The black pug escaped out of a backyard gate that hadn’t been latched correctly. Her case is not unusual. Dogs frequently escape. Some dig. Some jump. Some look for those unlatched gates. And some dogs are just prone to wander. For example, the working breeds, from hunters like retrievers to herders like heelers, these types of dogs are bred for different jobs… and they may go looking for that work.
Cats also are known to roam. Many people don’t like to keep their cat “cooped up,” recognizing a feline’s instinct for hunting. However, whether cat or dog, a loose pet can be a dead pet. Every day, dogs and cats are hit by cars. Sometimes they’re caught in traps. Maybe shot, stolen, or fall prey to predators like owls, hawks, foxes, and coyotes. Therefore, the best idea is keep your pet at home. Cats can easily become indoor pets. Between carpeted towers, windows to look out of, toys that engage their stalking and hunting instincts, and healthy food, a cat will find contentment inside her home.
However, should your pet escape the house or yard, there are ways to increase its chances of returning home. A collar with id tags is very helpful. For those concerned that a collar will hang up on a fence, or for some other reason not a collar on your pet, then please consider a microchip. It's an easy procedure done by your vet; and sometimes shelters offer microchip clinics for reduced fees. iThat way, no matter what happens to the collar (perhaps someone takes it off or the pet slips out of it), you have another way for someone to help your pet get home. Many animal shelters have a microchip scanner and will check stray animals for a chip. Both id tags and microchips need to have up-to-date information – people can’t return your pet if the address and phone number are no longer valid.
To help find your lost pet, here are a few other ideas to consider:
Before you find yourself in my friend’s situation with a lost pet, take proactive steps, such as collar and id tags, microchip, and regularly checking your gates and fences for closure and holes. Also, be vigilant when opening the doors of your home as well as the gates in your yard. And, if your pet does go missing, do everything you can, employ all types of actions, to get your furry friend back home.
April is known as Volunteer Appreciation Month. Animal welfare organizations, from local shelters and rescues to larger, nation-wide groups depend upon volunteers. In fact, many rescue organizations are strictly volunteer-based. If not for the dedication of volunteers and their love for pets, most companion animal groups would not function well or even exist.
Volunteers help pets in need in many ways. Whether walking dogs, brushing and socializing cats, or assisting with transports and fundraisers, volunteers are vital to the health, welfare, and adoption of pets. Most rescue organizations, like Black Dog Animal Rescue in Cheyenne, Wyoming, depend on volunteers to foster animals in their care as these pets await adoptive families. Other groups, like MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue and Big Dogs Huge Paws rely upon people to transport dogs either into rescue or to their adoptive families, as oftentimes the distance the animal needs to travel is quite long. This is a role I enjoy fulfilling – transporting a dog into rescue or to its new adoptive family. Several times a year I’m called upon to help transport dogs through my state, usually up or down Interstate 25. Wyoming is a large state and there are great distances between towns; there aren’t a lot of people in the state (at least in the area where I live) who transport. Therefore, whenever I’m available during a time of need, I heed the call. I’ve transported Boston Terriers, Great Danes, English Springer Spaniels, even a Newfoundland for rescue groups in my region. I love every trip, for I know I’m helping a pet in need – it’s an amazing, humbling feeling!
I’ve also traveled to Utah’s Best Friends Animal Sanctuary where I volunteered with the cats. Spending time in their enclosures, playing with them, petting them, as well as taking them outdoors on leashes and in baby buggies, my heart has been filled by knowing I’ve assisted those kitties be more social and therefore, more adoptable. I’m hoping to return to that marvelous place again this year to once again volunteer.
There are many ways a person can volunteer with local, regional, even national animal welfare groups. Some of the endeavors take time, others just a few hours a week, and some just a few hours every few months (like transporting). Here are 10 ways in which you can help animal rescue organizations as a volunteer:
You’ll be amazed at the difference you can make in the lives of pets who need help by volunteering. Take this special time of Volunteer Appreciation Month and consider how you might be helpful to organizations that help pets in need – your service is greatly needed and will be genuinely appreciated!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.