By Janet McAfee

This week animal lovers and their four-legged companions ring in the New Year 2017. In 2016, our region made positive strides in the battle to reduce the rate of euthanasia of animals in our public county shelter.  More low cost spay and neuter programs reduce the flow of unwanted pets coming into shelters.  “Rescue” is becoming the favored route, as the public becomes more aware of the problems with pet stores and backyard breeders.  But there is still much work to be done.  

Our dream is that one year soon, the Coachella Valley will join the communities across the nation that have become “no-kill”.  While all cats and dogs provide affection and companionship, there is a special love and wisdom bestowed from rescued pets in their “second chance” home.  These pets can help us enjoy keeping our New Year’s resolutions.  Here are some ideas for your 2017 resolutions.   

  1. GET HEALTHY

Having a pet will improve your health, including reducing your blood pressure, stress, and loneliness.  If you decide to quit smoking this year, you are also taking a step to improve the health of your fur friends who share your home.  Obesity in pets and in their people is linked to cancer, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and decreased life expectancy of up to 14 years in humans and up to 2.5 years in their animals.  As you select healthier foods, make sure to provide better nutrition for Fluffy and Fido.  Avoid serving harmful human foods to pets. Fresh carrots, cooked green beans, steamed broccoli, banana slices, and apple slices are great diet options for both you and Fido.  

  1. GET FIT AND REDUCE STRESS

Walking a dog keeps you both healthy, alert, and happy.  Athletic folks can enjoy the outdoors jogging and hiking with their dog.  There is a proven link between stress with obesity, depression, heart disease and many other human ailments.  Scientific studies prove that a special pet can help reduce all these medical problems.  Dogs help our combat veterans and others cope with stress and anxiety related conditions.  Pet antics make us laugh, and laughter is the best medicine.

  1. MEET NEW PEOPLE, MAYBE A SPECIAL PERSON?

Having a domestic pet will open new horizons you did not anticipate.  Pets are natural ice breakers. That adorable dog you walk down the street or take to the dog park can result in your meeting new friends or even a new love interest.  You score extra points when they learn your dog is a rescue dog.   

  1. VOLUNTEER IN THE NEW YEAR

If you resolve to help other people in 2017, pets may also play a role.  If you have a calm dog who likes strangers, consider getting him certified as a therapy dog and bring joy to hospital patients.  Volunteer at a shelters or private animal welfare organization.  Walk a dog for sick or elderly neighbors, or help with cat care for someone who is hospitalized.    

  1. ADOPT A RESCUE PET IN THE NEW YEAR

The New Year is a time for new beginnings and second chances.  If you are still “petless” as 2017 arrives, go visit the hundreds of wonderful animals waiting at our shelters and rescues.   Adding a second or third dog usually works out well, as long as you thoughtfully plan and introduce them on neutral turf.  Email me for a copy of my article on “How to Introduce a Second Cat”. 

Visit our largest public shelter, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus at 72-050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms.  View their adoptable animals at www.rcdas.com

Call (760) 343-3644 for shelter hours.  Call Loving All Animals www.lovingallanimals.org at (760) 834-7000 for a list of all local shelters and rescues. 

Happy New Year 2017 to you and your 4-legged family members!

Jmcafee7@verizon.net

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