How to prepare your home for an adopted pet

If you are thinking of getting a pet, adoption should be your first option — this is one of the main thrusts of Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). According to PAWS’ head of Cat Adoption Alice Sarmiento, “We believe no animal should be bred for profit and that there is no excuse for paying money for a pet when shelters and government pounds not only lack funding for their daily operations, they are also filled to the brim with adoptable animals.”

Shelters like PARC (PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center) invest time, energy, and scarce funding on efforts to rehabilitate cats and dogs rescued from cruelty and neglect, so that they may be adopted into loving homes. This is why it is important to support shelters that have well-rounded adoption programs. For example, PAWS adoption goes hand-in-hand with rescue and rehabilitation efforts, in the sense that adoption is the ultimate goal for any rescued animal. 

Other facilities like the pound and independent rescuers also deserve our support. But when it comes to supporting independent and government efforts, it is important to note whether or not they spay and neuter the animals, and if they vaccinate them. 

All of PAWS’ adoptable animals are puspins and aspins (pusang Pinoy and asong Pinoy) — you’ll see this in the photo galleries of adoptable animals on the organization’s social media accounts and website. “As the most frequently rescued animals,” Sarmiento explains, “they are also the most vulnerable to cruelty and neglect.” To provide puspins and aspins with loving homes makes a strong statement about how, as far as animals go, we must see beauty beyond breed. 

She adds, “By adopting a pet, you are committing to caring for a living being; you are committing to the care of an animal whose survival has been invested in and ensured by a rescuer, a veterinarian, and a proverbial army of shelter staff and volunteers.” Sarmiento assures us that while it might seem like a daunting responsibility, it is not without its rewards. If you are interested in adopting a pet from PAWS, you can get access to more information here: http://paws.org.ph/adoption

Pet-proof your home

PAWS does not allow caging or leashing the animals in the long term. It is recommended for dogs to be kept indoors. Cats, however, should definitely be kept inside the home. Homes of adopters need to be “cat-proofed”, which means, for example, that windows and balconies need to be screened in, and doors need to be kept shut to keep the adopted animal from escaping.

Photos courtesy of PAWS

Sanitation

Pets are often not allowed in residential developments because they are thought to defecate where they shouldn’t, and they are also blamed for property damage. However, PAWS believes that this reflects on the owner rather than the pet, because pets can be disciplined or trained. For example, the shelter cats at PAWS are all litterbox trained. Cat owners need to be able to provide and maintain a clean litter box for their pet(s). As for dogs, owners must have the discipline to walk their pets regularly and clean up after them, as necessary.

Do not punish

Sarmiento stresses that it is the pet owner’s responsibility, as the human in the relationship, to adjust to the animal and make them feel at home. There is no need for scolding or punishing, because animals do not respond to reason the way humans do.

Prepare for emergencies

At the beginning of the quarantine, it became difficult for some pet owners to source adequate supplies of pet food and to find veterinary clinics that were open. It is therefore important to have these resources on hand at all times. Pet owners need to ensure that they have food supplies to last for at least two weeks, and that they have access to a veterinarian, as well as the means to travel there, in case the need arises.

New pets

If you live with other people, brief your family and housemates on the animal you will be bringing home. Let them know what to expect — whether the animal is playful, shy or skittish, for example — so that they can manage their expectations and behavior around the animal. When the pet arrives, do not force it (cat) out of the crate or tug its (dog) leash to pull it towards a place or person you want the pet to meet. Allow your pet to enter and explore spaces on its own terms. Once your pet is comfortable, show your pet where the dishes with food and water are, as well as the litterbox (for cats).

More tips from PAWS

PAWS’ Executive Director Anna Cabrera offers the following tips to those who are thinking of adopting a pet dog or cat.

1. Cats need scratching posts. if you have solihiya-type furniture, you can “say goodbye” to the solihiya. It is similar to having a toddler in the house — you know that everything will not be spick and span. If you have many expensive vases, glass sculptures and luxurious furnishing, know that it is a disaster waiting to happen. Rearrange rooms to keep the dog away from the area where the precious collections and breakables are kept.

2. If you live in a high-rise condominium, make sure that cats don’t accidentally fall off or jump off the balcony chasing after birds. For houses that have front doors opening up to busy roads, there must be a barrier to help prevent the dog or cat from accidentally rushing out.

3. Dog owners should have access to spaces where they can safely walk their dog. For condo owners, it is important to check the Master Deed if pets are allowed in the unit, because this might become a problem later on. Remember that walking and exercise are very important for dogs. They are not meant to be kept in a cage as they must share the home with their owners.

4. The “catio” (cat+patio) has become very popular with cat owners these days. The catio allows the cats to also get a ‘taste’ of the outdoor life without the dangers. One can use wire mesh matting to keep the cats enclosed within the outdoor space. Cat owners can also build shelves or perches for cats as these creatures love to be in elevated spaces.

5. Homes need to have poo or pee areas in case the dog cannot go outside because of heavy rains during typhoon season. They can be trained to poo or pee on a piece of newspaper. If the living space is small and there is a cat, it is very important to have a litter box to keep the smell away.

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