Responsible Pet Ownership: Caring for Your Pets

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Benefits of Adopting Adult Animals

When selecting a new pet, many people choose a puppy or kitten. Young animals make great pets, but there are a lot of mature animals from shelters that go unnoticed each year. More than likely, most of these animals will go unclaimed and will have to wait for an adoption. Then, when it comes time to adopt these adult animals, a puppy or kitten is picked over them. There are many advantages to adopting older pets who are in need of a loving home.

Less Expensive

The veterinary expenses of an animal two to five years old can be cheaper than the expenses of a puppy or kitten.

Spay/Neuter Surgery

The spay/neuter surgery of an adult dog or cat is included in adoption fees at most Humane Societies. Dogs and cats that are under four months old usually aren't "fixed", so an additional fee or deposit will be required for adoption.


Full-grown dogs and cats need vaccination shots only once a year. Puppies and kittens must visit a veterinarian at least three times for vaccination shots.


Many adult animals at Humane Societies have been house or litter box trained in previous homes. During an animal's stay at the shelter, it may temporarily forget the housebreaking rules due to the stress of being kenneled. But, once such an animal is placed in a new home, it may only need some "reminder training." This is much easier than starting from scratch with a young animal that has never been housetrained.

Less Destructive

Adult dogs and cats are often less destructive than puppies and kittens. Many young animals are very curious and chew, scratch, or play with many things in the house. As the animal mature, it tends to curtail or stop its behavior of "getting into things".

Physcial and Behavioral Characteristics

"What you see is what you get." This old saying usually applies when you adopt an adult animal. Although behavior can change, and adult animal's personality is generally more stable and predictable than that of a puppy or kitten. The physical characteristics of most adult animals cannot be predicted from their looks when they are young. Owners of puppies and kittens often play a guessing game of how big their pet will grow, and what its looks and personality will be.

Training your Dog or Cat

The attention span of a puppy or kitten is generally shorter than that of an adult dog or cat. This makes teaching the household rules to a puppy or kitten more difficult than to an adult dog or cat. Also, adult dogs and cats require less attention and can stay alone for a longer period of time than puppies or kittens can.

Resistance of Illness

Adult dogs and cats have a more natural resistance and a stronger immune system than puppies and kittens. Thus, an older animal is less susceptible to diseases common among puppies and kittens.

Exercising Your Dog

Full-grown dogs are immediately ready to exercise with their owners who run, hike, cross-county, ski, etc. On the other hand, puppies need time to grow and develop their muscles before being included in these activities.

Playful Kittens

Kittens are often regarded as the most playful animals on earth. Although fun to watch, supervising a kitten who thinks everything is a toy requires a lot of time and patience. Older cats tend to be more sedate.

If people become aware of the advantages of adopting adult animals, maybe more older pets will find loving homes.

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Problems on the Wing

Public Health Danger

Pigeons may carry and transmit several diseases, including encephalitis and salmonella through their droppings. Fungus spores in the droppings may also cause histoplasmosis. These birds and their nests can also harbor mites, fleas and other insects which can bite people or invade their homes.

Economics & Esthetic Damage

Pigeon droppings not only deface structures and produce objectionable odors but will accelerate the deterioration of wood, iron, and stone. These birds can also cause damage by picking the grit off of roofing materials.

Food Control

Without a nearby source of food, pigeons will move to a new area. Grain spills in railway yards should be cleaned up, weeds controlled before seeds form, and garbage properly contained. Well-meaning people can contribute to this problem by feeding the pigeons or by improperly feeding song birds. Bird feed should not be placed on the ground. Properly designed bird feeders will allow song birds to feed while denying access to pigeons or rodents.

Pigeon Proofing

Before pigeon proofing, removing nesting materials and clean all surfaces. Pigeon proofing a building begins by repairing broken windows and defective roof eaves: Opening to vents and balconies should be block with rustproof wire mesh, called hardware cloth. A mesh of 1/2 will exclude pigeons and other bird pests. Hardware cloth, when shaped and nailed into place, can prevent access to sheltered areas provided by roof or dormers, overhanging, ledges, or rain-gutter down spouts.

Do not use chicken wire, as the mesh is too large and the wire will rust away with a year. Pigeons can be prevented from roosting on ledges by changing the angle of the ledges to 45ยบ or more. Sheet metal or aluminum role valley flashing can be bent and fastened into place. Close the ends of the angled area to prevent small birds from nesting inside the closed off area.

A wire "porcupine" is a metal strip containing needle sharp pointed wires. The strip can be fastened to ledges and window sills. In some cases, pigeons may cover the wires with nesting materials circumventing this expensive pigeon-proofing method.


There are a variety of non-toxic chemical-roost inhibitors on the market. These materials are usually non-drying, sticky substances that come in a tube. This make pigeons uncomfortable when they alight on a treated surface. To be effective, all roosting and loafing surfaces on a building must be treated following the manufacturer's instructions. Effectiveness is lost over time, especially in dusty areas. Most of these products last less than six months when applied outdoors.

Pigeons can be controlled by limiting food sources, scaring, pigeon-proofing buildings, and through the use of repellents and traps. In Lincoln, the shooting of pigeons is illegal, and poisoning of birds is prohibited.

While pigeon-proofing, installing repellents, or moving pigeon droppings, workers should protect themselves from disease organisms by wearing rubber or other non-porus gloves, coveralls, and dust masks.


Noise making devises, ultrasonic devices, rubber snakes, revolving lights and flags are not effective for pigeon control. Streams of water and nest destruction may be effective if used persistently until the birds have established themselves elsewhere.

Trapping or Shooting

Feral (wild) pigeons are not protected by federal, state, or city laws and can be lived-trapped. (Plans for building live traps can be found in wildlife management publications.) Several weeks of feeding the pigeons may be necessary before the traps are set out. Decoy birds may also help attract the pigeons. Trapped pigeons must be removed daily and disposed of humanely to prevent a recurring problem. Because the firing of guns is unlawful in Lincoln, shooting cannot be used to control the urban pigeon population.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prohibits the use of most poisons for nuisance-bird control. The label directions on poisons must be followed. The poisoning of birds is prohibited in Lincoln.

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How to Introduce a New Baby to your Pet

It takes a lot of love & patience to introduce a new baby into your family, especially when there is a pet involved. You may have some reservations about how your new baby and your pet will get along. But with a little guidance these two can develop a loving relationship right from the start. Experts say the best time to begin preparing your pet for the baby is while you're still pregnant. But, if you've already brought the baby home, it's not too late to begin promoting the relationship.

Here are some ways you can ease the transition of your new baby's arrival for your pet:

  • If your pet hasn't spent much time around children, invite friends who have children to your home or introduce your pet to the neighbor's children. You'll want to give your pet a chance to check out these little people and begin to get used to the way they sound and move. Watch your pet's reactions with these children and see if it can be trusted with other children besides your own.
  • Try to establish a daily routine with your pet before the baby is born. This is very important because most pets like routine and not change. For example, if you have a dog, make sure you have time to walk it. However, if you don't have time to walk the dog after the baby is born, hire someone to walk the dog or ask a friend or family member.
  • Introduce your baby's scent to your pet. Bringing a blanket or other items with our baby's scent on it will give your pet an idea of the new addition to your family.
  • After you've had a chance to get settled, take some quiet time to let your pet get acquainted with the baby. sit in a comfortable chair and let your pet sniff, watch and listen to your baby.
  • As your baby's collection of things grows, make sure they don't take up space your pet has claimed as its own. For example, if your pet has a favorite sleeping spot in your bedroom, choose another place to put the baby's bassinet. Also be sure that your dog is able to eat and sleep in peace. Remember that your pet may be upset with the household changes and some unacceptable behavior may occur. Just make sure you give your pet a little attention if the unacceptable behavior happens and don't get angry with your pet.
  • Never leave your child and pet alone together, no matter how much you trust your pet. Children don't know enough about pets, and may do something to frighten or anger the pet. If this happens, the pet may feel it needs to protect itself.

Your pet and your children can become best friends with a little guidance from adults. Teaching your child to respect the pet will lead to a good relationship and will help the child learn how to respect other people as well.

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Potentially Dangerous, Dangerous & Vicious Animals

Potentially Dangerous

Potentially Dangerous is a warning stage where the owner is notified that he or she needs to control their dog's behavior and keep it confined or on a leash at all times.

Defined as:
  • Inflicting a non-severe wound on a human or domestic animal on public property or private property in an unprovoked manner.
  • Chasing or approaching a person upon streets, sidewalks, or any public property in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack without having been provoked in any way.
  • Has a known tendency, disposition, or propensity to attack, injure, bite, chase, attack, or threaten the safety of humans or animals.

Possible citation for:

  • Animal running at large if the animal was not confined or under proper control to prevent incident
  • Injuring another person's animal
  • Other violations of the municipal code

Registration: $5 fee


Dangerous is a serious stage that requires fencing and signs to protect citizens, especially children.

Defined as:
  • Killing or inflicting a severe injury on a human being on public or private property
  • Having killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner's property
  • Having been previously declared a Potentially dangerous dog

Possible citation for:

  • Animal running at large if the animal was not confined or under proper control to prevent incident
  • Destruction of another person's animal, if the animal was killed
  • Unlawful bit if the dog was previously declared Potentially dangerous
  • Other violations of the municipal code

Registration: $25 fee

  • Spay or neuter, tattoo, special enclosure or fence, signs and muzzle


Vicious is a very serious stage in which the animal creates a danger to the health and safety of the community due to its vicious propensities.

Defined as:

Has bitten a person or persons and the bite or attack was unprovoked, or that the animal exhibits vicious propensities in present and past conduct such as that it:

  • Has killed a domestic animal, without provocation, while running at large
  • Has bitten a person or person's in a consecutive 12 month period 3 times
  • Did bite or attack causing a severe wound
  • Could not be controlled or restrained by the owner at the time of the bite or attack to prevent occurrence
  • Euthanasia or destruction of the animal

Possible citation for:

  • Animal running at large if the animal was not confined or under proper control to prevent an occurrence
  • Destruction of another person's animal, if the animal was killed
  • Unlawful bite if the dog was previously declared dangerous
  • Other violations of the municipal code

Severe wound is defined as a physical injury to a person causing any of the following: disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple stitches, cosmetic surgery, one or more broken bones, or potential danger to health or life.

Protect your animal from causing harm to others by:

  • Observing the leash law
  • Secure fencing or confinement
  • Not chaining your dog in the yard in such as way that people approaching the door would have to cross the dog's path
  • Obedience training

There are state and local laws that protect the public against animals that are defined as potentially dangerous, dangerous and vicious.

Remember: verbal control is not adequate with some dogs.

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Winter Pet Care

When the temperature falls below freezing, your pet will need extra care. The following list provides you with some things to keep in mind during the winter season. Following these guidelines will help you keep your pets happy and healthy during freezing weather.


Animals like the taste of anti-freeze and will lick up spills and leaks in the garage. Anti-free is poisonous to your pet, so be sure to clean up all leaks and spills thoroughly.

Beware of cats under your car

During the cold weather, cats may seek warm shelter under your car. They like to crawl up by the engine, where it's warm. Before starting your car, make sure there aren't any cats under your engine by lifting the hood of your car, honking your horn, or by slapping the hood hard enough to frighten the cat out. If you start your car with a cat under the engine, it could get caught in the fan and become seriously injured.


Even though pets have a coat of fur to protect them, they can still get frostbite. Cats and small dogs should be kept indoors during freezing weather. It's still important to make sure your pet gets exercise by doing on walks, but at this time of the year the walks should be shortened.

Rock salt and de-icers

These ice-melting products will irritate a pet's paws. Before going out onto sidewalks that may have these products on them, you may want to rub a little baby oil on the pads of the paws and sprinkle baby powder on them. This will help protect your pet's paws from becoming sore. When you come back from being outside, be sure to rinse off your pet's paws.


The change of your pet's metabolism during cold weather demands different eating patterns. If your pet is staying outdoors, it will need more calories to help it produce enough body heat to keep itself warm. If your pet is staying indoors during this time, it may need fewer calories because of its more relaxed lifestyle. You may want to check with your veterinarian before making drastic changes in your pet's diet.


If your pet stays outdoors during the winter months, be sure that your pet's water supply doesn't become frozen. Water is very important to the survival of pets. If needed, change the water frequently throughout the day.


If you pet is accustomed to being outside a lot but is indoors during the winter, it may have a problem with its toenails growing longer than usual. This is because it isn't walking on hard, rough surfaces outside that wear them down. You may need to clip your pet's toenails more often.


The harsh winter weather can cause your pet's skin to become dry and develop dandruff. To control this problem, try brushing your pet frequently. This will get rid of some of the dead skin.

Holiday Hazards

Secure your Christmas Tree

During the Christmas season, some people don't secure their Christmas trees very well. Many cats like to climb the trees, which usually results with the tree falling over. Trees may also fall over from large dogs bumping into them. To prevent this from happening, you may want to secure the top of the tree by tying a rope to it and attaching it to the ceiling or the wall.

Holiday plants

Many of the plants use to decorate your home during the holiday season are poisonous to pets when eaten. Be sure to keep plants such as mistletoe, poinsettias, and holly out of your pet's reach.


Many ornaments and decorations can be bad for your pet. Tree ornaments can break and cut your pet. Icicles, yarn, ribbon, and angel hair can get caught in your pet's mouth and possibly suffocate it if it tries to swallow them. Keep these types of decorations away from your pet.

Candy and Chocolate

Giving too much candy to your pet can give it a stomach ache and cavities. Too much chocolate could be fatal for your pet. This is because chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical which is toxic to pets.

Electric cords

Another time to keep away from your pet is electric cords. Due to the many holiday decorations and Christmas lights, there may be more exposed electric cords in your home. Many puppies and kittens will chew on them and could get electrocute themselves.

Pine Needles

As Christmas trees begin to dry out, their pine needs fall off. Be sure your pet doesn't eat these needles as they could puncture its intestines.

Proper Shelter

It is very important for pets to have adequate shelter during the winter months. Cats and most small dogs should be kept inside during the winter months. Large dogs can survive outside if they have adequate shelter.

The shelter should be large enough for the dog to move around, but it shouldn't be more than three times the size of the dog. Dog houses that are too large are difficult to keep warm with the dog's body heat.

It's also important for the shelter to be dry. Elevating the dog house will help keep the floor dry. A clean, dry blanket and a flap over the entrance of the shelter helps keep the dog warm.

If your garage is insulated or heated you can install a dog door and let your dog sleep with a blanket. If your garage isn't insulated you should include a box or some shelter similar to a dog house for warmth.

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You, Your Pet & the Law

The Animal Control program, part of the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, helps protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community. Each year, hundreds of people in Lincoln are bitten by animals. In addition to the pain and health problems associated with bites, there is a possibility of rabies infection. Animal Control helps to prevent the spread of this dangerous disease.

Also each year, Animal Control picks up thousands of animals running loose. These animals pose health problems. They knock over garbage cans and may eat contaminated or poisoned food. They leave droppings in people's yards and on public property. They run out into traffic, making accidents more likely. Stray animals may also contract dangerous diseases which can be passed on to other animals and people.

Animals running loose also cost the community money. They must be caught and transported to a shelter, where they must be kept for a certain period of time. Only a minority of these animals are claimed. The rest must be destroyed. All of this cost the community money.

More than 2500 animals noise-related phone calls are received year in Lincoln. A dog's barking can quickly annoy a neighbor and cause bad feelings. Keeping a dog that barks excessively disrupts the quality of life for your neighbors and is against the city ordinances. Because of these and other animal-related problems, the people of the City of Lincoln, through their elected officials, have established Animal Control laws and set up the Animal Control Program to enforce them.

Cruelty and Neglect of animals is against the law


Persons who abuse or abandon animals are violating the law. Report cruelty instances to Lincoln Animal Control at 402-441-7900.


Animals must be provided with the items below:

  • Food - Nutritional or wholesome food items (table scraps are not always nutritional) at least once every 24 hours as the animal species may require.
  • Water - Fresh drinking water should be available at least once every 24 hours or more frequently depending on animal species and temperature.
  • Shelter - Must be structurally sound and accessible year round.
  • Shade - Should be available at all times during the warm weather to prevent heat exhaustion.
  • Veterinary care - Animals must be provided with care if they are sick or injured.
  • Parasite free - All animals should be free from fleas, ticks, worms, and other transferring to humans and other animals.
  • Exercise space - A yard or tie-out should provide enough space to allow adequate exercise, prevent strangulation and entanglement with objects.
  • Collars - Make sure there is 2 finger width between the collar and neck. Choke type collars are for training only.
  • Ventilation - Do not leave an animal in a vehicle or enclosed space.
Rabies Vaccination

Any dog or cat three months of age or older within the State of Nebraska must be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.

After the first rabies shot, each rabies shot thereafter is good for three years.

Anti-rabies treatments are costly, and you might have to pay for them if your dog bites someone.


For information of animal licenses, check out the Permits & Licensing page.

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