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Thu., Sep. 3
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Welcome to the Critter Corner


We want to start our new feature in The Journal by thanking its editor, Elizabeth Lyons, for including us in the newlyformatted paper. We hope as we develop this column that we can provide essential information to people who do not have pets, those considering adopting pets, and those who have pets in their homes.

As with our website, we will try to provide information that will make having animals in your life, whether they are yours or not, a pleasant and positive experience.

Are you considering adopting an animal?

“Adopting should not be for instant gratification or entered into spontaneously,” says Maria Dales, director of German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County,southern California. “It should be contemplated long and hard before the animal comes home.Adopting is for life, not for while it is convenient or fun or trendy or until the kids leave for college.”

No matter what species you are considering, you must be prepared to provide the necessary attention and care required.This includes basic needs for survival (food, water, shelter), veterinary needs (including the possibility of an animal developing a chronic illness or having an injury that results in substantial costs), and having the time to provide training and attention to have an animal that you enjoy having in your home.

If you cannot provide the attention and have the financial resources to properly care for an animal, you should not adopt a pet.

The estimated annual costs for small to large dogs range from $355 to $650. The grooming required for several canine breeds range from $264 to $408 annually.For a cat the estimated annual cost is $495.To reduce animal overpopulation, it is recommended that every dog/cat should be spay/neuter as they reach maturity (4 to 6 months) and the estimated cost for dogs is $190 to $220 and cats $145 to $160, but no matter what the age, cats and dogs should be spayed or neutered.Additional expenditures are required for training and equipment.

These estimates may vary depending on where you are residing.

A complete listing of pet care costs for a variety of species is provided by the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at

The lifespan of a pet varies with each species but any animal lives longer with proper care. The average lifespan for a dog varies from 8 to 16 years depending on the breed type, size, genetics, and care. The average lifespan for an indoor cat is 13 to 17 years but 20 years plus is quite possible. Cats that are indoor/outdoor or outdoor cats have shorter lifespans on average because of the possibility of contracting illness when interacting with other outdoor cats.

Small mammals (guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, etc.) have an average lifespan of 4 to 7 years. Aviary pets average lifespan varies with the species with parrots living from 60 to 70 years. Equine pets may live 30 to 35 years.

Karen Cunningham is president of the St. Lawrence Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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