I remember an exciting Easter weekend when I was very young. One of my older sisters had received a pair of baby ducks from an admirer. For some strange reason, his university accommodation didn’t allow ducks on the premises. So, you guessed it. My sister moved back to Seattle this weekend and the ducks came to live in our family home in Yakima.
I was thrilled, because the only other pets I ever had were goldfish, and those creatures looked much more interesting! (I don’t remember my parents being so excited.)
Ike and Mike, as they were called, took up residence in a cozy box in our basement. Before long, however, I heard from my parents about some issues with our new tenants, including peeling paint in the basement. The ducks were moved to a low pen that my father put together in the garden.
Ike and Mike were shameless free spirits, and it wasn’t long before they escaped the pen and were no longer a problem for my parents. It was decided that the couple should find a new home, preferably away from home.
I didn’t want to see them go, but my father, a commercial realtor with a natural aptitude for persuasion, kindly convinced me that the ducks would be much happier on a ranch than friends owned. There they would have plenty of fresh air, space to roam, and maybe even a pond. They could live the life that all ducks dream of, he suggested.
So they left and that was the end of my duck days. It’s a classic example of why you really need to think ahead when getting a new pet, local experts say.
“Do your research, please!” says Suzanna Bray, pet manager for Petco in Union Gap. “All pets are a liability. Ask yourself if this will work in your environment.
For example, if you’re a couch potato, don’t get a husky that will require time, energy and frequent walks, she said. If you live in an apartment, a macaw may be pretty, but the noise can “drive you out of town.” Even a simple goldfish or two will require testing and water treatment, as things like chlorine found in drinking water can be toxic to fish.
If you’re meticulous with your home, keep in mind that a cat can be territorial, spraying or “marking” its territory (including your living room couch). And are you prepared to be woken up at dawn by a barnyard rooster, even if zoning laws would allow you to keep one?
A lifelong animal lover who as a child used to rescue injured ducks from the park, feed them and then bring them back to the park, Bray often saw well-meaning patrons who simply didn’t know what they were getting into. would embark. .
A woman was willing to spend $600 on a ball python for a 6-year-old grandchild. Bray quickly talked her out of it. She explained to the customer that the snake would grow to about 6 feet long, eat pre-killed frozen mice, and could cause illness (like salmonella) if the child touched the snake. It was not a suitable pet for a young child, Bray concluded.
Other people see a cute picture of an animal online, like a sugar glider (described as a “flying squirrel”), and place an order. Among other issues, these animals have “extremely sensitive digestive tracts,” Bray said, and their waste, which tends to fall everywhere, has a very strong smell. Bray said she had at least eight or nine sugar gliders brought to her, hoping she could find permanent homes for them.
Don’t rush out to buy a pet online just because it’s “super cute,” agreed Lesly Paz, customer engagement manager at PetSmart in Union Gap. Check reviews of the rescue or breeder, read policies about whether animals have had veterinary exams, and consider how far and what time of year that animal might come to your home. Be especially careful in the heat of summer and the cold of winter, she advised.
Animals coming from abroad and/or from a special breeder may have a higher cost. Keep in mind that an animal listed on a site such as Craigslist may already have outgrown a home and been neglected.
Customers who adopt pets from his store are often surprised by the many needs — and the resulting cost — of even the simplest pets, Paz added. A goldfish may cost less than a dollar, but by the time the customer purchases a container, food, and heaters/filters, he or she is likely to spend “a minimum of $60” to get out. The extra space a pond provides might be better for a fish (neighborhood cats considered), but again, seasonal temperature is a concern.
Pet owners who try to just dunk a goldfish in a simple bowl and use tap water often return to the store after a few days because the fish is dead, Paz said. The water was too cold or had chlorine. The level of waste in the water was too high. In short, the creature did not have what it needed to thrive.
Similarly, you can buy a “bearded dragon” (a type of lizard that may have a black underside of the throat) for around $60, but with a well-heated, decorated, etc. enclosure, it will probably cost $300 more. . to settle down, Paz said.
As you do your research, also consider how long this creature might be around, she advised.
“Do I want to take care of the animal for that long?” The birds usually live for about five years. Dogs and cats often live 15 to 20 years. A reptile can last 25 or 30 years.
The Yakima Humane Society offers a new way to get to know an animal before adopting it. The company’s office on Birchfield Road is open again for dog walking, said Sherri Haga, managing director. You can take a walk, describe the type of dog you’re interested in, then take an animal on a leash to explore the trails of the Yakima area arboretum. There is also a “socialization room” where potential owners can get to know the cats.
To adopt a pet from the Humane Society, prices range from $125 to $300 for dogs and $50 (or even $25) to $95 for cats, depending on the age of the animal. These prices include initial vaccinations, sterilization and microchipping, she said.
Haga agrees with the advice to do your research and consider your lifestyle before adopting a pet. While an animal like a baby husky may seem soft and cuddly, “it can get quite big and become an escape artist,” she warned. Conversely, a dog like a Great Dane can actually be a great apartment dog because they can have a gentler personality.
One final suggestion: allow any current pet to meet a potential new pet in advance.
The Humane Society Social Room is a great place for this. If an episode of growling, barking and hissing ensues, it might not be suitable.
So when considering adding a pet to your household, don’t forget the ducks – and plan ahead!