Tips for new pet owners: Charlotte Bass Lilly column for April 4, 2013

By Charlotte Bass Lilly

Special to The Advocate

Photo provided by ARNO -- Mama Ginger is a stunning chow with a big fluffy tail who has been going into foster care. Sweet and shy, she is housebroken and gets along with other dogs. Adoption fee is $150 and includes spay, shots, a chip and heartworm treatment, if needed. Contact adoptfromarno@yahoo.com.
Photo provided by ARNO -- Mama Ginger is a stunning chow with a big fluffy tail who has been going into foster care. Sweet and shy, she is housebroken and gets along with other dogs. Adoption fee is $150 and includes spay, shots, a chip and heartworm treatment, if needed. Contact adoptfromarno@yahoo.com.

So you’ve made the decision that it’s time for a dog or cat. Maybe you are living alone or with your better half, or you may have a family and you’ve decided it’s time to get that first pet.

Procure a pet when you know you will have the time to spend with the pet to acclimate it to your home and your schedule.

You should not be adopting a dog to be put out in the yard, or a cat that you put outside when convenient or when you are away. You are adopting a life that depends on you for its existence and health and for its lifetime as well.

Any trainer or behaviorist will tell you the quickest way to make a dog “dumb” is to leave it in your yard unattended. A smart pet is part of your family or your day to day life.

Cats belong inside. So-called “inside/outside” cats are subjected to fights and injuries from other animals, parasites in the ground, lead leached from houses absorbed through their paw pads,and even death by coyote, which are everywhere in our area.

Don’t get a pet if you rent your home and you might have to move, and might not have the wherewithal to find a place that takes animals next time.

Be aware that landlords often require a nonrefundable pet deposit, and some landlords tack an extra amount to the monthly rent to make sure any possible damage will be covered.

Forget about getting a pet if you are serving in the armed forces and know that you might be transferred and not able to take your pet with you. Make sure you have family members or friends who will take your pet if you do get deployed, or while you’re away on training exercises.

Still want a pet? Then don’t buy a pet. Go to your local shelter and adopt a pet. There is every breed imaginable for you to adopt.

If you can’t handle going to a shelter, go to Petfinder.com, put your ZIP code in, put the breed you are looking for, and, voila, a pet needing a home matching your breed, color, age or size will appear in your area.

There are 4 million to 6 million adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in our country every year. You can make a difference in one of those lives. Adopt, don’t shop!

Charlotte Bass Lilly is CEO of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed them since Hurricane Katrina. Contact ARNO at arno.advocate@gmail.com, http://www.animalrescueneworleans.org or leave a message at (504) 571-1900.