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Pets a popular Christmas gift, but come with responsibility

December 17, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — With Christmas fast approaching, many people are purchasing gifts for their family and friends. A popular favorite is live animals.

“We do see a spike in pet adoptions,” said Christina Cortese, shelter manager and animal care and welfare officer at Bullhead City Animal Care and Welfare Shelter. “Last month we had 25 adoptions and halfway through this month (December) we are at 50 adoptions already.”

Swanty’s of Bullhead City’s Empty The Shelter program helps many orphaned animals get adopted, she said.

Throughout the month of December, interested pet parents can adopt a pet for a discounted price of just $30 at the Bullhead City Animal Care and Welfare Shelter, by bringing in the Empty The Shelter advertisement from the Mohave Valley Daily News.

“Typically we charge $100 to adopt one of our animals but with the fee discounted $70, that seems to be the magic number,” said Cortese.

All dogs and cats will have to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian before going home.

“The number one important aspect about spaying and neutering animals is that it limits the pet population and it also helps the health of the dogs and cats,” said Cortese. “If they’re not fixed, cats can end up with tumors in their mammary gland and dogs can develop testicular cancer. Having neutered pets can extend the life of our four-legged family members.”

The shelter primarily houses dogs and cats but once in a while it does get a rabbit or a guinea pig.

“We have actually gotten more cats adopted this time around and I think that’s because we had a couple of litters and they were adopted very quickly,” said Cortese. “The reason I think they go quickly is that cats are very low maintenance and easier to take care of.”

When one does adopt a pet, there are some tips that Cortese and the shelter share with people.

“We give them the obvious speech of this isn’t just a Christmas gift that you can forget about, they need to be taken care of all the time,” said Cortese. “Depending on the pet, some will integrate into their new surroundings quickly, others are timider and will take a longer time. Sometimes the pet will find a “hiding” place that makes them feel safe and secure. The best thing is to give them some space and let them get conformable with the surroundings.”

A popular thing to do is to surprise people with a pet but Cortese has some suggestions on how to increase the likelihood of success for both the pet and recipient.

“One thing that can be done is to come into the animal shelter and have a meet and greet with a couple of pets,” said Cortese. “That way the person who is giving the gift will know which pet made a connection with the one who is receiving the gift. After a little while, they can come back to the animal shelter and adopt the pet without the person so it can be a surprise.”

If the surprise is for a child, there are a couple things to remember, she said.

“People have to understand that a child is not ready yet to take responsibility, to look out for every need of the pet,” said Cortese. “With their parents/guardians’ help they can learn how to feed it, shower it, walk it and anything else the pet needs. It’s important to teach children the do’s and don’ts of owning a pet, such as where to pet them, how to walk them and shower them, etc.”

With the number of pets that get adopted, Cortese said the shelter will see some returned.

“If the number stays the same at 50 adoptions then we will see about five pets being returned to the animal shelter,” she said. “When the animal goes to a home they need to be retrained, some will need more training than others. But it will take time and patience.”

Once a pet has been adopted, it’s always good to remember the rules and regulations that Bullhead City has set forth regarding pets.

“In the city limits people can have a maximum of three cats and three dogs,” Cortese said. “People aren’t supposed to feed stray dogs and pets have to be licensed within city limits. All dogs have to be confined in a closed yard and regarding leashes, the minimum length is six feet. A big thing that dog owners like to do is have their dog with them when they are working in the garage. In that instance, it’s recommended that the dog is on a 10-foot leash. We recommend this for the dog’s safety.”

Cortese would like to remind everyone about a few holiday tips that can be overlooked when a pet is in the house.

“Make sure that you are not decorating with tinsel or string; also, cats love to chew poinsettias but that is bad for them,” said Cortese. “It’s also a good idea to have the poison control number on hand for pets because sometimes they can get into food that is bad for them. One big thing is that if pet owners are heading out for the holidays they need to make arrangements for someone to watch their pets. It’s important to have a collar on their pet with current information that way if the pet gets out somehow they can be reunited with their owner.”

The Bullhead City Animal Care and Welfare Shelter is at 2270 Trane Road, open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays until 8 p.m., and can be contacted at 928-763-6000.

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