Whiskers, fluffy tails and pink noses. Plenty of which residents will encounter at shelters in the county right now. One shelter in particular, the Galveston County Animal Resource Center, recently wrapped up a weekend of reduced adoption fees.
On average, the center houses about 50 cats and 100 dogs, Ashley Thompkins, communications director for the Galveston County Health District, said. Because it’s kitten season and other factors, the center is housing 100 cats and 120 dogs, she said.
The three-day sale yielded five cat and 13 dog adoptions, which is more than a typical weekend, Thompkins said.
“We are extremely thankful for the turnout,” she said.
Clearly, it’s a good time to adopt and also to remember a few of the necessities of pet ownership.
The most important part for the average pet owner to do is to spay or neuter the pet. Even if your animal is strictly an indoor roommate that never goes outside unaccompanied, spaying or neutering can help with temperament, as well as help prevent certain cancers.
Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Similarly, neutering your male pet prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
The ASPCA recommends puppies be spayed or neutered at about 6 months old. Kittens as young as a few weeks old can be fixed, but the ASPCA advises owners to schedule the surgery before the kitten reaches 5 months old.
Another absolute necessity is to get your kitties and puppies and even your exotic pets vaccinated at every interval. This is especially important, not only in keeping your fur babies happy and healthy, but also because if a hurricane hits and your family decides to evacuate, without proper documentation, you might not be able to get a motel room.
It’s hurricane season so we urge you to get your pet microchipped. In the chaos of a storm, it’s more common than most people think for your pet to get out and lost. The resource center offers a vaccine/microchip clinic. Check the website for details.
Now is the time to take your animal to the vet for a checkup or even just call your vet to make sure Fido and Fluffy are up to date on their shots. Also, while you’re there, ask your vet about pet insurance and truly consider your options because it might be cheaper in the long run.
Something to consider even before you adopt an animal is where it’s coming from. “Adopt don’t shop” refers to rescuing homeless animals rather than buying them from breeders or pet stores. Many shelters, especially in the county, are overcrowded with an overabundance of overwhelmed animals nearing capacity.
Every year, 6 million to 8 million dogs wait to be adopted from animal shelters — so many that millions are euthanized each year because of overcrowding, according to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. Adopting a shelter animal not only gives your pet a second chance in a happy home but can also save it from being euthanized in an overcrowded shelter.
Lastly, if you live on the island, you may have already encountered what is in fact an enormous problem here — fleas. When fleas get on your animals, not only will the little devils lay eggs and reproduce, but there are parasites that live on the fleas. Your pet will bite itself to soothe the itching and consequently ingest the fleas, which leads to tapeworms.
If you discover your animal has fleas, the best approach is to attack the pests at all angles. Use topical flea killer, parasite killer pills and spray around your house and property.
Pet ownership is truly a great responsibility but with the right pet, your life, as well as your furry friend, will be greatly improved just for knowing each other.
• Rene Schwartz