Getting a pet can fun, but also costly and time consuming

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Bringing a pet into the home can bring lots of fun, but proper planning is required to create an atmosphere that makes the

relationship beneficial to both pet and owner.

Wyvette Pryor-Cousin, assistant director of Calcasieu Parish Animal Services, said time and fiscal considerations must be

taken into account before adding a pet to the household.

“One of the main things is to evaluate your financial situation, because owning a pet could be costly,” Pryor-Cousin said.

“Costs include vet care in the event it

gets sick. Sometimes that can be costly. There are also costs for

grooming, a kennel

for transporting, food, boarding if you are away. You will have to

pay for yearly rabies license and vaccination. Heartworm

prevention medication is a monthly expense. Training may be needed

to curtail certain behavior. Bedding, water bowls, toys,

collar, leash for dogs and a litter box for cats must also be

provided. You want to look to see if you have the time and energy

to devote to a pet.

“Most people don’t realize how much

time and energy goes into having an animal. You are going to have to

devote time to spend

with them, walk them. You want to make sure you have the time to

do that. You do not want to adopt an animal and then put

it off in the corner somewhere for it to fend for itself. One of

the things we run into is the pet is not walked enough; they

need to have that exercise. If not, you may get a lot of barking

and other things. Make sure they get exercise. We have a

dog park here that is open to the public, you can walk the dog,

and there is space to allow it to play.”

Finding a perfect fit for the family requires research.

“You want to see what temperament it’s going to be — if it is going to be good with children,” Pryor-Cousin said.

“One of the things we do here in our

adoption program is giving the option of coming in and seeing if the

animal is going

to be a good fit for you, and even bringing in your other pets to

see if they are going to work out together. You can talk

to dog trainers. There is a plethora of information on the

Internet; ASPCA has information on their websites. Our adoption

counselors here are very knowledgeable on that subject. We

typically do an extensive evaluation of the animals that come in

to see whether or not they would be good with children. There are

certain dogs that may not be conducive to children.”

Precautions should be taken to ensure the pet’s safety.

“If the pet is going to be inside, you want to figure out where it is going to sleep, where it is going to eat,” Pryor-Cousin

said.

“In the case of a cat, you want to

decide where to place the litter box. You have to secure any electrical

cords or breakable

items. You want to make sure you store any household chemicals on

high shelves and install gates for areas you don’t want

the pet to enter. If the pet is going to be outside, be sure that

fencing is adequate and that no portion of it needs repair.

If the area is not fenced, be sure the pet is legally tethered.”

For more information, call Animal Services at 721-3730.

Factbox

Animal Services’ adoption requirements:

• You must possess a valid ID and be at least 18 years old.

If you are renting, you need permission from your landlord to have a pet.

The fee is $90 for dogs and $80 for cats.