Pets now required to come with instructions |

Pets now required to come with instructions

Buying pets now takes more than a gesture from the heart.

Starting this year, Californians have been asked to use their heads when caring for an animal. And pet-shop owners are required to show them how by providing written materials on the care of reptiles, birds, dogs and cats, according to a new state law. The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Edward Vincent, D-Los Angeles.

Violators could be fined up to $1,000 or face up to 90 days in jail.

“At first we were concerned about what we should be telling them. But then we realized we were complying anyway,” Pet Supermarket Manager Marcelle Linkous said, while taking a 4-month-old cat, Zeppelin, out of his cage.

Catherine Kom, who recently picked up her dog from the Pet Supermarket, held the albino cat with one blue eye and one green.

Linkous heard about the new law during the holidays.

“It’s good for the animals and the pet-shop owners selling them,” she said. “If someone buys a bird, you get an idea of what kind of owner they are.”

The law was met with some criticism by pet-shop owners and their trade group, saying the legislation’s language is too broad and places undue liability on pet stores.

But Linkous welcomes the added intervention.

“Liability is always a concern. But first and foremost, we’re worried about the welfare of the animals,” she said.

In addition to a mandate for animal buyers, the law requires pet shops to provide proper heating and ventilation, nutrition, medical care, sanitation and adequate space for the animals.

National exposes have shown abuse within pet shops.

Caring for animals takes work.

For example, birds like to work out. That’s why toys and tools like ladders are recommended, Linkous’ hand-out literature states. A pet shop may also dole out information through a Web site, books, videos and compact discs.

Also, did you know snakes and lizards like to climb trees? Branches placed in their habitats satisfy this natural need.

As for fish, they are known to be sensitive to water temperature deviating more than 2 degrees of the preferred 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

With puppies settling into a new home, it’s advisable to attach a leash to its collar so the dog won’t resist when it’s time for a walk.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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