It’s the holiday season and, for some, a popular time to add a four-legged member to the family.
Adopting a pet this time of year is a great idea for many reasons, according to volunteers at the Castaic Animal Care Center.
“The season is a chance to cherish family and a time when everyone is home to help settle a new pet in,” said Larissa Barnes, who volunteers with cats at the center.
And, according to Steve Garetto-Barnett, who volunteers with dogs, it’s an ideal time for the center, as well.
“A lot of pets get surrendered before the holidays,” he said. “These are pets that have been in a loving home and have good manners. They just need another chance.”
Adoption is also extremely cost-effective and convenient. Adoption fees at Castaic Animal Care Center range from $30 to $100, plus a $20 county licensing fee. Each pet is spayed or neutered, current on vaccinations, and has a microchip.
So, whether you are considering a dog or a cat this holiday, here are the points to consider that will help you make the best match possible.
- Evaluate your lifestyle. Are you an active home looking for an equally active dog or are you looking for someone who’ll be more of an easygoing companion to help everyone relax?
- Bring the whole to the center when selecting a dog. “The more people the dog is exposed to, the better,” Garetto-Brown said. “For example, it’s important to ensure that the dog gets along with young children or that the dog isn’t too energetic for any older relatives.”
- If you already have a dog, bring them, as well, so that volunteers or staff can introduce them. Ideally, the dogs will exhibit either playful or indifferent behavior when they meet. If there’s growling or snarling, another dog will be recommended. “It’s like a blind date — you don’t know if they’ll like each other until they meet,” he said.
- Have an open mind about size, age, and breed. “Sometimes there may be a bias that a big dog is more aggressive and a small dog is more passive, but a lot of times a bigger dog is a cuddly and wants to cozy up, while smaller dogs can have a lot of energy and love to play,” Garetto-Brown said. “Seniors can be a really good option, too. They don’t typically have that excess energy that a puppy or young dog has, which is especially nice for older adopters.”
- Think about the desired energy level everyone is looking for in a cat, how much time the cat will be left alone each day, and how the cat may interact with any existing pets in the home.
- Make sure everyone is committed. “Adopting a cat should never be done on a whim. It should be a decision the whole family is comfortable with,” Barnes said. “We also recommend having basic supplies such as a litter tray, litter, food and toys already purchased before searching for your perfect cat.”
- Bring the whole family in to spend time with the available cats to really get to know their personalities.
- If a cat sparks your interest, ask questions. “Staff and volunteers are available to guide adopters through each cat’s individual characteristics to make the perfect match,” she said. “Sometimes cats are simply nervous in a shelter environment and will become loving and confident shortly after adoption.”
- Don’t disregard the senior kitties. “What many people see as old is really just middle age for a cat, as they can live for a very long time,” Barnes said.
- If you don’t find what you’re looking for at the center, ask about cats in foster care. “There is a cat for every person and a person for every cat,” she said.
Castaic Animal Care Center is located at 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road, Castaic. Open Monday to Thursday, noon to 7 p.m., Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (661) 257-3191 or visit animalcare.lacounty.gov.