This week's pet of the week is Coco, a turtle available for adoption at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter

Hi I’m Coco, a female Red Eared Slider. I fly in the face of stereotypes that assume turtles are indifferent, sluggish, and even boring! I’m a vivacious and graceful swimmer, with elegant moves that are fascinating to watch. With mighty strength, I can pull myself onto tall rocks, and I’m assertive in my choice of logs. Uninhibited when approached, I’ll pop my head out of my shell to greet you with a wondrous gaze. Among these irresistible qualities, I’m easy. No snob about food, I find anything in my normal diet thrown into my pond to be simply divine. But I confess, I favor the delicacy of a live goldfish to chase down and fill my belly. The usual fawning over me is welcomed, but not necessary. We can skip petting and picking me up. And just in time for the chill of holiday season, under the light and warmth of a UV lamp, I still adore basking, and taking long dips in clean water. Coco ID #A059748 is available for adoption at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter located at 1640 9th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404. The shelter is closed to the public and adoptions are by appointment only by calling the shelter at 310.458.8595. You can also learn more about Coco online at


‘Tis the season to be thankful to loved ones! While you may not be able share this Thanksgiving with family and friends due to COVID-19, it’s a great chance to have your cats and dogs in on the festivities, while also avoiding holiday pet hazards.

Plan extra activities with them before you start the busy day of cooking. Cats are at their prime at dusk and dawn. Engage in flattery, playtime, petting, and grooming in exchange for their purrs, headbutting, kneading, and chatty meows. Play with your dog, take them on a long and leisurely morning stroll, and provide them lots of cuddles.

When it’s time to cook or catch the football game, give them their own chance for a good time. Find toys and games that stimulate their unique drive. Cats can pounce on squeaky mouse toys, chase battery operated lasers, and with their quick reflexes, invigorating puzzle toy boards make way to capturing prey! For dogs, treat dispensing toys stimulate hunting, and interactive games require problem-solving that utilizes their keen sense of smell and desire to chew.

For cats and dogs that want to be with you at all times, increased action in your home may create opportunities for them to escape. Their ID tags should be worn at all times. Close all windows, and keep them away from entrances and exits.

Keep festive decorations and plants out of reach. Redirect their curiosity by providing them with new holiday themed pet toys to romp instead. Hazardous plants include amaryllis, some ferns, chrysanthemum, and more. The ASPCA and Humane Society offers lists of plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs. Tipped over candles can cause burns and fires, and acorns can cause injury and be toxic when consumed.

Add cat and dog dishes to your thanksgiving recipe list. Whip up your own homemade pet meals and deserts with pet safe ingredients, their own kibble, wet food, and treats. Cats can indulge in tuna crackers, kitty bruschetta, and holiday cheese balls. Dogs will devour canine casserole, meatballs, and pumpkin dog biscuits.

Avoid sharing your dinner with them. Many common thanksgiving dishes can cause serious gastrointestinal illness in cats and dogs like fatty foods, and raw and undercooked turkey. Small bones are choking hazards and can cause gastrointestinal injury. The yeast in raw bread dough can be life threatening. Raw eggs in pie and cake batter can lead to food poisoning, and deserts that contain xylitol and chocolate can be fatal.

Accidents happen! Have an emergency plan for your pet. Contact your veterinarian to inquire about special holiday hours, and keep a pet first aid kit handy. If you suspect that your dog or cat has consumed a poisonous substance, or you observe any signs of illness, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary hospital immediately. Set up cat carriers in advance, and put dog leashes by the front door in the event you need to transport them quickly. Contact your local animal control about their protocols in helping you find your cat or dog if they escape.

Most important, giving thanks to your pets and having a happy and safe Thanksgiving should be at the top of the list!

Pet of the Week is provided by Carmen Molinari, a long-time volunteer at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter and founder and CEO of Love At First Sit, a pet care and dog training company in Santa Monica. Learn about her, pet tips, and Love At First Sit services at