By Laci Sutton / Staff Writer

Adding a new furry friend to the family is an exciting event.

Owning a pet takes a great deal of responsibility and a lot of planning. One must decide what animal would be best for their lifestyle, then decide if they want to rescue from a shelter or buy from a pet store or breeder.

Hutchinson Community College nursing student Lexie Karst, an Ellsworth native, has two dogs and one cat.

Two of Karst’s animals have been rescued and one came to her from a breeder.

“I think it is better to rescue than buy at pet stores, because it gives an animal in need a second chance,” Karst said.

Justina Patton, a Hutchinson freshman, has also rescued her companions.

“Both of our dogs have been rescued,” Patton said. “This is our preference because it is typically cheaper and we can give them good homes when their current situation may not allow for that.”

Patton has two dogs, a German Shepherd/Poodle Mix and a Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix.

Many families treat their animals as they are another family member, Patton and Karst included.

Jazzmyn Martinez is a HutchCC freshman from Hutchinson.

“Animals are best friends, family, and even therapists at times,” Martinez said. “They provide a happiness that nothing else can.”

Having pets can be very fun, but it also takes a lot of work. They are living creatures and must be cared for and nurtured.

“Take care of them how you would want to be taken care of,” Martinez said. “Feed them regularly, keep them hydrated, take them to play/exercise, care for them when they’re sick, but most importantly don’t ignore them. They’re living beings who deserve love, kisses, and cuddles.”

With the recent cold snap that sent most of the nation into below-freezing temperatures, many pet owners had to be extra cautious to keep their animals safe and warm.

“When the weather doesn’t allow them to be outside we will keep our dogs inside the house where the heating and air conditioning are,” Patton said. “We also keep their time outside limited by quickly letting them out, with just enough time to use the bathroom.”

For pets that spend the majority of their time outdoors, it’s crucial to ensure they have proper shelter.

The United States Humane Society recommends using dry, draft free shelters that are just large enough for them to move comfortably but small enough to keep their body heat.

It is recommended to cover the floor of the shelter with straw or cedar shavings to keep the shelter dry and warmer for the animals.

Owners should check the animal’s water dishes daily to ensure they haven’t frozen over in the night. The USHS recommends using plastic water dishes to help with this issue.

Drastic temperatures can have detrimental effects so owners should frequently check their animals for signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Before getting a pet, make sure to do research and make certain that they’re a good fit for wherever you live.

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