The pets worth picking

Aesha Anderson of Grand Junction gets a kiss from Mike, a 1-year-old black Labrador mix, at the Western Slope Adoption Fair at PetSmart in Grand Junction on Sunday.

There are pets in 71 million U.S. homes, according to The Humane Society of the United States.

Western Colorado animal shelter groups have plenty of advice for anyone looking to add a home to that tally.

Picking a healthy pet is key, Kim Lindsey with Cats League and Assistance of the Western Slope said Sunday at the third and final day of a Western Slope Adoption Fair at the Grand Junction PetSmart. That includes making sure the animal has all needed vaccinations. Shelters provide these records. People who sell animals in parking lots, known as “backyard breeders,” don’t always share complete information about a pet, Lindsey said, even down to what exact breed a dog may be.

“When you get them from backyard breeders, you don’t know what you’re getting,” she said.

Amy Beaudet, volunteer coordinator for Colorado Animal Rescue out of Glenwood Springs, said anyone concerned about the health of an animal should look for a shiny coat, bright eyes, an attentive disposition and an absence of lumps or bumps on or under the skin, and make should sure the animal can walk properly.

Once its established an animal is in good health, a family must consider what animal fits in their home. Families with children will want to make sure the pet has a patient temperament, Beaudet said, and she doesn’t recommend puppies for homes with children younger than 8 because of their bounding nature.

Being able to afford a pet is also an important consideration, Grand Rivers Humane President Joe Maruca said.

“If the dog gets sick, treatments are very expensive,” Maruca said.

Families should pick a breed that matches their lifestyle, according to Maruca. If a family goes outdoors and exercises a lot, a spunky breed may be for them, while a more docile breed will suit a homebody.

Animals sometimes are dropped off at shelters because owners didn’t consider a certain type of dog’s needs before taking the animal home, said Mary Needham, volunteer coordinator for Roice-Hurst Humane Society. Needham said one of the dogs at this past weekend’s adoption fair, a herding breed, was given to the shelter by a family that didn’t like that the dog had been herding its sheep.

“We don’t want people to rush into it,” Needham said of adoption. “Spend time doing research, talk to people at shelters, and pick the right breed for the home.”


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