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Easter pets need long-term care

Who hasn’t been tempted by the fuzzy little feathers on a baby duck or the fluffy fur on a bunny when looking for that perfect Easter present for a child or grandchild?

You picture the child’s smile as she holds the new little pet for the first time and imagine the two following each other around the yard, becoming best friends for life. It’s a picturesque image that helps sell thousands of animals as Easter presents every year.

But before you go out and buy a duck, goose or bunny this Easter, the Upper Guadalupe River Authority, the local government entity charged with maintaining the river and water quality, is asking residents to consider the long-term care and consequences of new pets.

A duckling purchased for Easter may be cute and cuddly but will be a full-grown duck by summertime. Ducks can live for more than 10 years, and once they have imprinted on humans, they cannot survive in the wild on their own.

These animals not only grow in size, but their temperament also may change. Geese, especially, can become aggressive toward humans and can peck if provoked.

Animals also may pose health risks to humans. Young birds often carry the harmful bacteria salmonella. Children can be exposed to the bacteria by simply holding, cuddling or kissing the birds.

Every year in the months following Easter, many people decide to release unwanted pets into the wild. Many ducks and geese have ended up in local parks as a result.

These pets are generally unable to survive on their own and end up congregating where people will feed them. While this has become a popular activity for some residents, the large groups of ducks and geese have contributed to water pollution in the river and have had to be removed at taxpayer expense.

Bringing any pet into the home is a big decision, and people are encouraged to consider all of the long-term care and needs of the animal before making a purchase. The Upper Guadalupe River Authority urges anyone who has purchased a duck or goose and no longer wants it to find the animal a new home or contact the Kerr County Animal Services rather than releasing it into the wild.

Before purchasing a pet this Easter, consider if you are able to give it a permanent home, and if you can’t, a stuffed toy bunny won’t ever outgrow its cute phase.

— Kerrville Daily Times