Lessons from the animal shelter can help your pets

Working at the shelter, I often am reminded of my mother’s advice, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

In that light, I thought I would share some of the things we see in hopes that it can spare others, perhaps even you, some heartache.

» Vaccinating your pet might save its life. Every few days now, we hear from a heartbroken person with his or her dog suffering from Parvo virus and often too weak to stand. It’s especially tragic when you consider that this potentially fatal infection could, in most cases, be prevented with a vaccination.

Cats, too, need the protection vaccination provides from Panleukopenia, a life-threatening feline virus. Both of these viruses can live in the environment for a long time and are fairly common. Your veterinarian can help you ensure that your pet has the best protection, but for those who are tight on funds, there are low-cost vaccination clinics.

» Identification is your pet’s ticket home. While a microchip is the most reliable form of identification for a pet, an ID tag on a collar could be your pet’s ticket to a safe return home. Be sure that your contact information is current.

If your pet is lost, keep looking. Check animal services and don’t give up. It could take a while for your lost pet to show up at the shelter. Tight on money this week? Animal Services will often work out a payment plan for fees and allow you to take your pet home.

» Plan ahead for a rainy day. Daily, we receive calls from people distraught because their pet is sick or injured and they cannot afford veterinary care.

Sadly, there are not sufficient resources to meet the tremendous need. The best thing you can do is set aside a little money each week or purchase pet health insurance. Check with your veterinarian to find out which plans he or she accepts.

» Leave your dog at home on hot days. The temperature inside a parked car rises quickly on a sunny day and can be deadly for an animal.

It is unlawful in Washoe County to leave a pet in a vehicle during temperature extremes — yet about once a week, animal services saves an animal from a life-threateningly hot vehicle.

It is often the most doting pet person who brings his or her dog along for the ride and then stops to run into a store for a minute, but this time of year, it is safest to leave your pet at home.

These small things can make a world of difference for you and your pet.

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