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Fall has arrived and this will be the first time since spring that our nights will be dipping into the 40s.

There are a few things I want to touch upon this week, so let’s start with preparing your outdoor pet accommodations for cooler temperatures. We’re not talking about freezing weather yet, but it is time to winterize both cat and dog shelters. As long as any existing housing is sound, watertight and has a windbreak, you’ll just need fresh straw bedding.

Although it’s been mentioned many times in this column, the next thing I wanted to mention was the need to have proper identification for your pet. This is a CONSTANT issue for dogs and cats coming into the shelter after being picked up as strays.

Although many dogs come in with collars on, the vast majority have no tags. Even if you don’t have tags on your pet’s collar, you can take a permanent marker and write your information on it.

Cats rarely, if ever have any form of identification or collars on when they come in. The safest, surest form of identification is a microchip, which can implanted either at your veterinarian’s office or here at the shelter.

However, and this is a very important “however.” If your chip isn’t registered or the information isn’t current, it is of no use in reuniting you with your pet. Here at the shelter we register all microchips with the contact information provided by the pet owner, but that is not normally the case at a veterinary office or with a pet procured from a breeder.

In those cases, you must call or log onto the website of the microchip manufacturer to supply your name, phone number and address. Once the chip is registered in your name, you needn’t do anything else other than update that information if your address or phone number changes. Sadly, a large percentage of the microchipped animals we receive don’t have properly registered chips, which greatly reduces their chances of getting home.

The last thing this week is for those of you that have very large or giant breed dogs. I recently received a late night phone from a friend who needed emergency vet care for a Mastiff that they couldn’t get up off the floor.

I found myself in that exact situation with my 170-pound dog a few years ago, late on Christmas Eve of all times! I can’t emphasize how important it is to have a plan if a big dog goes down and you need to get him to a veterinarian. It’s a terrible thing to have to think about, but the last thing you need during such a crisis is to be searching for help in picking them up and getting them into a vehicle.

Although there are vet offices that have mobile services, they were curtailed during the pandemic and most are not back up and running. Those services are normally only available on a limited basis anyway, so I wouldn’t rely on that option. It’s best to have a plan with friends or family that are close enough to respond quickly if called upon and to have access to a large enough vehicle to slide the dog in easily.

Pets are a great source of joy, but they’re also a big responsibility; being proactive about all aspects of their care lets you spend more time enjoying them and less time stressing over them.

Shelter needs: Canned dog and cat food, dry cat and kitten food, dog treats, cat nip, hot dogs, cheese singles, paper towels, and gift cards for pet supply and grocery outlets.

Source: Have you checked your pet’s outdoor accommodations? Will your lost pet be returned to you?

Posted in 2021, SJRAS Articles