Finding your new best friend
The decision to add a new furred pet to your home is a big one. You’re taking on the responsibility for an animal that might live for a decade or more (dogs and cats), and will need food, veterinary care, grooming, exercise and attention. Even “pocket pets” like hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits require special care, and it’s wise to educate yourself and your family so that you are prepared for your new friend long before you bring them home. The ASPCA offers some tips about things to consider before bringing a pet into your household.
Once you’ve decided to bring a new family member home, it’s important to take the time to train and socialize your new pet. Consider using a crate to train your dog, especially if he or she will be alone for long periods during the day. Crate training helps make your new dog feel more secure, and contains his chewing instinct, as well as helping him housetrain. The Alameda Free Library is a great place to find books on effective training and socializing of your new pet.
Alameda’s Animal Shelter houses cats, kittens, dogs puppies and rabbits. Birds and “pocket pets” are also sometimes available. By California law, all dogs and cats must be spayed or neutered before being released to their new adoptive homes. If you choose a pet that is not already spayed or neutered, you may need to wait until after the surgery to bring your new pet home. Pets that have already been altered may be brought home immediately. Each new pet comes with a health certificate, so you may be sure you’re adopting a healthy animal.
For pet lovers who don’t want to take on the responsibilities a dog entails, or may have an allergy or other reason for not wanting an indoor cat, the Island Cat Resources and Adoption Center offers the “Garden Cats” program. The ICRA is dedicated to rescuing and socializing feral cats. While many become loving house pets, some are simply too shy to live indoors or have regular contact with people. These “garden cats” need a sheltered yard they can call their own. Their loving owners offer them daily food and water, and the cats enjoy sunning themselves in the lawn or on the porch. Garden cats require less work than their indoor-dwelling counterparts, but allow owners who are allergic or away from home a great deal to enjoy the company of a pet who prefers a more independent lifestyle.
Wherever you find your new furred best friend, taking the time to consider the needs of your family and of your prospective pet will help ensure that the life-affirming choice to bring an animal into your home is one that brings joy to your entire family for many years to come.