Caitlin Rowcrow@gjfreepress.com

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March 28, 2013
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Think before you buy little pets for Easter

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Before you run out to buy cute, fluffy chicks and baby rabbits as Easter gifts for your kids, heed this warning: It's more work than you think!In fact, Mesa County Animal Services steadily takes in little animals, like rabbits and even roosters, all year long from people who hastily purchase pets without thinking long-term."We get a lot of small mammal-type pets on a regular basis," said Penny McCarty, the director of Mesa County Animal Services. "Like any pet purchase, impulse purchases are bad. You need to sit down and discuss who's going to take care of the animal, and the types of care needed. It's a long-term commitment."By having a discussion with the whole family first (including every child), parents may realize that it's a bigger commitment than they first thought, McCarty added. Plus, financial demands are always present when adopting any animal, whether large like a dog or small like a rabbit or hamster."All pets have specific demands that need to be met," she said. "For rabbits, you need a place to keep the animal. It is going to get larger. ... If you get two rabbits, realize that rabbits reproduce quickly. You need to understand what you're committing to."Salmonella infection is additionally something that needs to be discussed before chicks and chickens are adopted.Mesa County Health Department's Communication Specialist Tamara Capp said: "It's important for people to realize that salmonella can occur from baby birds and adult birds at any time of the year. Young children are especially at risk because their immune systems are still developing, and they are more likely to put fingers on birds and then into their mouths. The CDC recommends not letting children under the age of 5, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems handle or touch the chicks or ducklings or other large poultry."Capp also recommends regular hand-washing with soap when handling chickens. "Prevention is key," Capp noted. "It's in the best interest of both the family and the animal."That said, small-pet purchases can be a wonderful experience for children if approached with responsible planning measures.Happy Easter!


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The Post Independent Updated Mar 28, 2013 06:35PM Published Mar 28, 2013 02:55PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.