MARTINEZ, Calif. – A new pet can be a great addition to a family or home during the holidays, and planning in advance can make the introduction successful, said Steve Burdo, community and media relations manager for Contra Costa County Animal Services Department.
“The holidays can be a great time to bring a new pet into your home, and giving pets as holiday presents is not a new trend,” he said.
However, the pet should be “the right fit for your family” and the family also may want to recognize that the heightened activity during holiday celebrations may be stressful on any animal, especially those who find themselves in a new place surrounded by strangers.
“If you’re thinking about adopting a pet for someone as a present, there are a couple of ways that you can set yourself up for success,” he said.
One approach is to accompany the recipient to make the adoption ahead of the holidays. “This way, there are no surprises, and you can ensure your home is prepared in a way to keep your pet free of the holiday stresses,” Burdo said.
Another approach is to give the adoption, rather than a specific animal, he said.
“That way, the person who you are gifting the adoption to gets to pick the animal that is best suited for them and can take the time to find the absolute perfect pet for them,” Burdo said.
For a present to open during the holidays, he suggested giving a stuffed animal or a coupon announcing the future adoption is the gift.
For those who already have pets, the holidays can be stressful for those animals, too, Burdo said. Director Beth Ward has supplied some ideas that should ease a pet’s concerns during this celebratory time, especially New Year’s, when loud noises can alarm some animals.
“Most animals have sensitive hearing, and the loud noises of parties, noisemakers and fireworks can cause them remarkable stress and discomfort,” she wrote in a recent contribution to the department’s site.
“They don’t understand what’s happening, and can often become scared and try to escape, which can result in the animal becoming lost, endangered or injured,” she wrote.
In fact, New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest times for Contra Costa County Animal Services, when they take in many lost animals. New Year’s Day is spent trying to reunite those animals with owners.
“Making sure that your animals are licensed, collared and microchipped helps tremendously in reuniting lost animals with their owners, and we cannot stress enough the importance of taking those measures to ensure the safety of your animals,” she wrote.
Those who know their pets are sensitive to loud noises can reduce the stress during noisy times, such as keeping the pet indoors, even if they normally spend time outside. “Bring them in New Year’s Eve,” she wrote. “It will help them feel safe and might save your pet’s life,” she wrote.
Pets should not be left outside tethered or chained, she wrote.
Another tip is to leave a pet at home, she wrote. “You may think it fun to take your pet with you to a party, but it is likely that your pet will not enjoy the fireworks, noise or large crowds,” she wrote.
Some may realize their pets may need a sitter, especially during New Year’s Eve, if the family is not going to be home, she wrote. The sitter not only is company, but also may be able to distract the animals from the noise.
If a pet is distressed by loud noises or outdoor celebrations, a considerate pet owner can close windows and curtains, and buffer the sound by turning on the television or a calming radio station. “your pet will still be able to ‘feel’ the fireworks, but the distraction will help alleviate some of the stress,” she wrote.
Residents may see a stray animal suffering outside during New Year’s Eve celebrations. In those cases, Ward said people should call Contra Costa County Animal Services to get the pet off the street and into a warm, safe place.
Those whose animals escape also may call the department’s lost and found department, 925-608-8400. Shelters will be open Jan. 2 to help pets and families reunite.
The department and its shelters will be closed Tuesday, Christmas Day and Jab. 1. The public spay and neuter clinic and community cat clinic will be closed from Christmas Day to Dec. 29 in observance of the holiday.
However, those interested in low-cost public spay, neuter and vaccination clinics may visit the website http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/811/SpayNeuter-Clinic.
Those interested in seeing all available animals and learning about the two county shelters and what Contra Costa County Animal Services offer may visit the site www.ccasd.org.
Contra Costa County Animal Services has two locations. The Martinez Shelter is at 4800 Imhoff Place, and the Pinole Shelter is at 910 San Pablo Ave. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. The Martinez location has Sunday adoptions from noon to 3 p.m.