As you settle into your new home in the United States, you may find yourself wanting a pet. The most common pets in the U.S. are cats and dogs. Some other pets you may see are hamsters, gerbils, rats, birds, rabbits, iguana or fish. There are some things to think about before getting a pet:
Here are some of the things you need to know if you decide to own a pet.
If you are looking for a pet, you should look at your local animal shelter/humane society/rescue group/city shelter. Many times these animals belonged to someone else, so they may be housebroken (trained to go outside to go to the bathroom), calmer and easier to deal with. They are not there because there is something wrong with them. Many times there are sad family circumstances that force people to give up their pets. Find a shelter near you: http://adopt-a-pet.adoptapet.com/.
There are also breeders who only raise one specific type of dog or cat. Many of them advertise in the back of local newspapers.
You will need to identify a veterinarian (or “vet”) to help you take care of your pet. The vet will perform a first exam after you get your new pet to make sure it is healthy and to talk to you about how best to care for it. Almost all pets will need to visit a vet at some point, not just cats and dogs. There are vaccinations your pet will require at least once a year, and you want someone who knows about your pet’s health history in case it does get sick. A list of vet clinics in Iowa: http://www.4vetclinics.com/directory/IA.php.
It is a recommended that you have your pet spayed or neutered; this is a simple operation so it cannot get pregnant or make any other animal pregnant. There are low-cost spay and neuter clinics in Iowa. Here is a way to find out if there is one near you: http://www.spay-iowa.org/. You can also call the local animal shelter for information.
Every city has its own rules about how many pets you can have, and how old they are when you license them. You should find the rules for your city in the yellow pages, on a city website, or ask a vet or at a shelter. All pets must have an up to date rabies vaccine. You will need to register your pet every year as well.
Again, every city has its own laws about pets. As a general rule, all dogs must be kept in a fenced yard or on a strong chain or rope if it is outside, and on a leash when being walked. This is for the dog’s safety as well as everyone else. It is not a good idea to let your pets be outside animals. Cats have a much shorter life span when they are allowed to go outside, and they kill many birds and go into neighbor’s yards and cause problems. Dogs should never be allowed to run loose either.