News from the Humane Society of Elmore County | News
Humane Society of Elmore County News – 22 Oct ‘12
While the vast majority of our intake is dogs and cats, we do also receive the occasional small pet like Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Ferrets, Hamsters, Mice, Rats, Gerbils, Birds, etc. In most cases these pets were purchased to teach a child responsibility and are brought to us when the child has lost interest in the pet and is not taking care of it. We have to wonder what kind of lesson is being taught to these children when the solution is ‘getting rid of’ that pet? Of course, we would agree that turning the pet into a shelter or re-homing it is a better solution than for the pet to be ignored, not cared for or discarded in an inhumane manner.
Teaching responsibility is a good thing, but when a living thing is involved, parents have a moral obligation to ensure that creature is well cared for at all times. Sadly, far too many of these pets die before their time from mishandling or when a child loses interest and does not provide the proper care for that animal. While mice and hamsters may only live a year or two, rabbits live 8-12 years, Guinea Pigs 5-7 years, and many birds can live 15-20 years or more. Since these little critters live mostly in cages, they are completely dependent on their human caretaker for proper care & nutrition. Failure to pay attention to an empty water bottle has likely caused the demise of numerous caged pets. And while you may think it is easy to tell if a pet has enough food, many a bird has starved because its bowl was full of empty seed hulls since the bird had eaten the nutritious part of the seed, leaving behind a useless hull.
While many of these animals are fairly cheap to purchase, their caging can be pricey and there will be continual expenses for their bedding and food requirements. Far too many small pets live in cages that are actually way too small for them which makes routine cleaning and ‘free exercise’ much more critical. While many dietary needs can be met with commercial foods, some species require fresh vegetables or vitamin/mineral supplements to keep them healthy. And knowing the sexes of the animals you purchase is especially important if you get more than one since they all tend to reproduce quite prolifically and you can quickly be overrun with babies that none of your neighbors will want and that no store will buy back.
Doing a bit of homework prior to purchasing a pet can help you decide if you want to make the commitment it will take to keep that animal happy and healthy. Probably the easiest way to do some research is to simply “Google” the animal species on-line. There you can read all about the needs of the particular animal to help you decide if a Hamster or Guinea Pig, Fish or Bird, Dog or Cat, or even a Horse or Pot Bellied Pig is the right pet for your family and your child. Another idea is to have your child do the research and explain to you all that they will have to do to care for that pet.
Before getting the actual pet for a child, try setting up a makeshift cage with a fake version of that pet and oversee your child’s care of it for a couple of weeks to see how they do. The fun usually wears off in just a few weeks, so best to be able to not only save some money, but only have to throw away a cardboard box and fake pet rather than figuring out what to do with a live animal and all of its accessories.
Having these little pets can be quite interesting and rewarding, but please think ahead since they deserve to be loved and well-cared for their entire lives. And if you do decide to add one of these pets to your family, check with your local shelter first as they just might have some in need of loving and lifetime homes. As we do have staff experienced in the care of many of these animals, feel free to give us a call at 334/567-3377 or check out links on our website at www.elmorehumane.org if you have any questions.
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