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Valeriani: How Are We Caring for Man’s Best Friend?
By Audrey Valeriani / The Accidental Expert / Wicked Local Malden

More and more I see reports on the news involving cruelty to animals, and I have to say, each time my heart aches. What is happening to the morals and compassion of people, and how are these examples affecting the next generation?

According to, “A correlation between animal abuse, family violence and other forms of community violence has been established.” They report that “Children who witness animal abuse are at a greater risk of becoming abusers themselves.”

So are we now grooming a generation of abusers and cultivating indifference and brutality?

A woman I knew once had her two cats put down simply because she was moving into an apartment that didn’t allow pets. I was horrified that someone I thought I knew (and who grew up with lots of siblings and pets) was capable of such hardhearted cruelty, all because finding her pets a new home was a bit time-consuming.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find out what she had done until after the fact, and needless to say, that’s when our friendship ended.

How is someone taught that an animal — especially one who has given unconditional love, affection and comfort — is expendable once it becomes inconvenient? How can someone look into the eyes of a furry, sweet, tail-wagging pet and intentionally cause them harm?

It’s bad enough when people do these things out of laziness, carelessness or for financial reasons, but remember Michael Vick, the NFL player who was busted for running a dog fighting ring? He was indicted for “executing approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in ‘testing’ sessions by various methods, including hanging, drowning and/or slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.”

Quite frankly, I don’t know how you can do something like that and look yourself in the mirror.

Like the Boston man, Luigi Epifania, who allegedly befriended a neighborhood cat, then in a drug-induced state, stomped the cat to death, put it in a bag and lit it on fire. The cruelty here brings to mind the old saying made famous by comedian Flip Wilson, “The devil made me do it.”

Only in this case, it’s not so funny, and in my opinion, not far from the truth.

And the latest story to surface involves Texas police officer Paul Stephens who stopped a couple who were rushing their choking three-year old teacup poodle to the vet clinic. After hearing the frantic pleas by the driver, the officer replied, “It’s a dog, okay? You can get another one, relax” and made them sit for 20 minutes for a ticket.

Their beloved dog died while they waited.
Pets are even abandoned now by people who are moving from their high-mortgage homes. To me, all of this is unconscionable and should not be tolerated in our society.

So what is being done? Well, from what I have read, animal protection actions are currently enacted on a state-by-state basis, however, there are now felony-level penalties for animal cruelty in almost every state, and at least half of our states call for professional counseling for anyone convicted of animal cruelty.

In Massachusetts, the animal cruelty law reads: “It is unlawful for an owner or custodian of an animal to fail to provide an animal with proper food and water, shelter or protection from the weather, veterinary attention to reduce or end suffering from disease or injury, a sanitary environment, or to willfully abandon an animal.”

It is also unlawful to “willfully permit an animal to be subjected to unnecessary torture, suffering or cruelty, to subject, cause or procure an animal to be tortured or tormented, or to be cruelly killed, beaten or mutilated.”

And in November 2004, Massachusetts made animal cruelty a felony, which can result in a sentence of up to five years in state prison, up to 2 1/2 years in a county jail and/or a fine of $2,500.

I wonder how often the maximum sentence is imposed, and is that even enough to make people think twice about their actions? But what more can be done?

The America Humane society recommends “cross-reporting and cross-training” among law enforcement, health professionals, veterinarians, and child protection and domestic violence workers.

They are also “helping to pass animal cruelty legislation… and testifying at both state and national levels.” They advocate tracking of and setting up a database of animal abusers, and getting communities more involved in education and awareness of all acts of violence.

Animals, like children, should be off limits to people who are irresponsible, neglectful, cruel, and sadistic. I believe we all need to step up and get involved if and when we suspect the occurrence of any violent or inhumane activities.

All it may take to save a life is a simple phone call or an act of intervention. To find out what you can and should do, log on to My heart just can’t take anymore.

The Incredible Appetite of the Labrador Retriever
by Ola Norrman

One of the reasons that Labrador Retrievers are so highly trainable is that they will do just about anything for food. If we ever figure out how to plug up the hole in the ozone layer, it will be because a Labrador Retriever was offered a triple cheese pepperoni and sausage pizza if he could fix it. However, their appetites have many Labrador retrievers into trouble.
Christmas Dinner

Usually every year out of England just after Christmas, you read about a dog who ate the family's Christmas dinner, desserts, decorations and some of the gifts. Almost without fail, the dog winds up being a Labrador Retriever. Christmas dinner in England is given even more hoopla than Thanksgiving in America. Although some Labrador Retrievers can eat such a massive amount of food with just a few belches, most just vomit it all back up. How festive.

Gucci Watches

Some dogs have incredible taste. Lulu the Labrador Retriever didn't just eat anything in April of 2002 - she chose her owner's $1500 (US) Gucci watch. Worried for both watch and dog (and about the inevitable puns in the press), Lulu was taken immediately to the vet, who confirmed that the dog was ticking. A successful operation removed the watch but not Lulu's appetite. She has also eaten socks, dice and almost swallowed a diamond engagement ring before she was stopped.

Cat Poo

Most dogs are attracted to cat droppings, although some prefer to roll in them while others eat them. Almost all Labrador Retrievers will not pass up a chance at "kitty pate". This is because cats cannot digest all of their food, so their droppings still has meat in it. This can be dangerous to your Labrador if your cat is on medication, which can also turn up in the poop.


Labrador Retrievers are like babies in that they explore the world with their mouths. They also think many poisonous substances like slug bait and antifreeze taste good. You need to keep these out of reach or stop using them entirely. You also need child proof locks on your cupboards, because Labrador Retrievers can learn to open almost any kind of cabinet door. Include your medications in on the list of poisons. Human medications are made to be taken by creatures that weigh a lot more than the average black Labrador Retriever. They will wind up getting a dose that may make them very sick. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your Lab has eaten human medication.


Labrador retriever training takes a great deal of patience to be effective and to be good for the dog. Professional trainers that do not exhibit patience when training the dog will not be an effective trainer for the animal and may be a danger to the dog if not watched carefully. Labrador retriever training has to be taken in measured steps and each step must be fully learned by the Labrador retriever before the next step in the sequence can be taught.

Labrador retriever training can be difficult and frustrating if the dog is taking longer to learn a certain task, but this frustration should never be taken out on the dog just like an elementary school teacher should never take out their frustration on the children in their class. Labrador retrievers must learn how to do the things that their owner wants them to do, but this will not occur overnight. With patience and positive reinforcement, Labrador retriever training can teach the pet to do almost anything

About the Author
From the website of labrador training Ola Norrman provides with special skills concerning the breed Labrador. Learn all about the highly trainable Labrador, good to know before purchasing this special breed,concerning methods and suggestions of personal Labrador training.


Dog Coat and Dog Fur Maintenance
By John Williams

Your dog’s fur is a very important aspect of your dogs life, keeping it clean and in good shape is a good way to keep your dog happy, healthy, and clean. If you don’t keep your dogs fur in good shape it will only be a mater of time before tangles and knots appear in your dog’s coat picking up insects, pests, and causing discomfort for your dog.

Different dogs have different types of fur and with so many cross breeds and different looking dogs, naming all the different types of fur would be impossible. There are many different types of dog fur, some will look after themselves more than others but the general rule is that a longer dog coat will normally tangle and know easier than others.

To maintain your dog’s fur and keep it looking as it should, lots of grooming may be needed so this should be taken into account when buying a new dog. But grooming does not need to be a chore you have to do for your dog because grooming is proven to be a great bonding between owner and dog and creates trust and comfort for your dog making them a lot easier to train.

Step one is to get a good comb for your dog ensuring that there are no sharp edges and that your dog is comfortable with you using it without hurting him/her. Your vet or local pet shop many be able to help you and give you advice with choosing the correct comb but this will be a deciding point in whether your dog will enjoy you doing it or not.

After you have chosen your comb, grooming should happen often and you should do it thoroughly each time, ensuring all knots and angles are removed, if you haven’t yet combed your dog’s fur then it may be difficult to start so do a bit at a time to ensure you don’t discourage your dog and make them not like the grooming process.

After the initial combing, the more often you groom your dog the easier it will be, leaving it for long periods of time is not advised because this means it is more likely to hurt your dog when it eventually does get done. If your dog is finding it tough going then maybe a dog bath is needed to make it easier to detangle and add to your dog furs health.

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Taking a Walk on the Wild Side - Taking Care of Exotic Pets
By Mark Angelo Encarnacion

Taking care of exotic pets is one of the biggest temptations for anyone, especially if you have the money to burn. But having an amazing looking pet that you can brag about to your friends isn't all that. It entails a lot of responsibility and sometimes owners just have to deal with the fact that some pets just aren't for them or their neighborhoods. One can, for example keep a big tarantula in an apartment, granted they have the right tools to keep it alive, but keeping something like a white tiger or eagle would absolutely never work.

The fact that exotic pets can be found everywhere doesn't really help to curb people's excitement. Pet stores everywhere are selling exotic pets like rare parrots, scorpions, big spiders etc. So really, there's nothing stopping the most excited child or adult from getting their very own piece of mother nature's wildest creatures. But then that also means that because of their excitement, many people also fail to recognize the responsibilities that come with taking care of such animals.

For example, when taking care of a spider or a big lizard, it's imperative to know what exactly you need to keep it alive. What for example, what do they eat and how do I get them? If a snake for example needs live prey for you to keep them healthy, how do you intend to buy or store such things? Does your pet thrive only in a certain kind of environment or only survive at a certain temperature? And if so, can your home meet the demands of having such a pet in it? If not, it certainly does both you and the animal a favor not to buy it in the first place. Trust me, you'll both walk away better because of it.

Bigger and rarer exotic animals come with much larger price tags and are almost always sold to private individuals illegally.

So it comes as an even bigger responsibility for those who own such magnificent and specialized animals. For more information on the care of exotic animals, visit:

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The Dumb Mistakes Most Owners Make When Caring For Goldfish
By Elijah Bitson

Do you know how to care for your goldfish? If you think that it is all about buying some bright colored fish from your local pet shop and then throw it in your aquarium then you are in for some surprises. Although goldfish is a sturdy fish, it demands some special care on your part. If you want to learn more on goldfish care then this article should really interest you.

First, you should make sure that you buy fish that are in excellent conditions. Before choosing, your fish watch them for a couple of minutes as they swim in the tank. If you find something unusual such as the tails are ripped or there are unusual swimming pattern then it is better to avoid these fish. It will be stupid to spend time caring for goldfish that is already suffering from diseases.

It is also important that you do not buy goldfish that have just arrived in a pet shop. Although some pet shops put their fish in some kind of quarantine when first received, others do not. These fish may be suffering from stress and are therefore vulnerable to diseases. Once in your home aquarium, they can develop any disease and then die unexpectedly. That is why it is important to wait for some time before buying your fish. This is indeed, where the actual goldfish care begins!

One thing to remember though. These new goldfish if already contaminated can cause havoc in your aquarium.

Once at home make sure that your fish is acclimated. You could do this by keeping your fish bag on your aquarium for about five minutes and then put some of your aquarium water in the bag and then wait for another five minutes. After that, you just remove the fish and put them in your aquarium taking care to throw away the water. Indeed one of the most important tips on goldfish care is water quality.

Most owners also like to feed their fish on the first day. It is advisable to avoid this, as the goldfish will definitely not eat the food. This will only cause your aquarium to become dirty. You can feed them as usual on the next day.

Goldfish is indeed a great fish but many enthusiast just give up when it comes to caring. However, this should not be the case if you only know some tips and some general information on goldfish care.

Did you know that most of the diseases that goldfish developed can be prevented? There are some small tips that can prevent you from losing your money. Find out how by visiting

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Eight Foods Your Cat Should Never, Ever Eat
by K.L. Bonfiglio

Most of us know that there are some human foods our pets shouldn't eat. Keeping our cats away from alcohol, for example, is a no-brainer. But did you know that onion powder can cause anemia in cats and dogs? Because of their different metabolisms, many common foods that are safe for human consumption are not safe for your cat. Reactions can range from upset stomachs to severe illness or death.
To help keep your kitty safe you need to know which foods to avoid. The following list spotlights eight common foods your cat should never eat:

Baby Food

It's hard to imagine that a food that;s safe enough for a baby's tender tummy would hurt our fur-kids. But what makes baby food so dangerous for cats is that it might contain Onion Powder (see below) which could lead to anemia. Also, baby food doesn't meet your cat's nutritional needs, and could result in malnutrition if she eats too much of it.


Most people know that chocolate is bad for dogs, but many of us don't realize that it's harmful for cats as well. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical compound that humans can eat safely. But cats and dogs metabolize theobromine more slowly; as a result, even small amounts of the compound can lead to theobromine poisoning, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excitability, panting, abnormal heart rate, tremors, seizures -- and even death. Theobromine poisoning is treatable if caught early enough. But to be safe, keep chocolate away from your kitty.

Coffee and Tea

Caffeine is toxic to both cats and dogs, and there's no antidote. According to ProVet Healthcare, it only takes about 8 teaspoons of coffee to potentially fatally poison a cat that weighs 3 kilograms (that's about 6.6 lbs). Signs of caffeine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, restlessness, muscle tremors, increased or decreased heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, increased body temperature. But most scary of all: caffeine poisoning can lead to seizures, coma and death.

Grapes and Raisins

Scientists aren't sure exactly just what substance is in grapes and raisins that make them so toxic for our pets, but according to the ASPCA Poison Control Center, dogs who've eaten large amounts of grapes and raisins have suffered renal (kidney) failure. Although it's unclear what effect grapes have on cats, to be on the safe side the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 'advises not giving grapes or raisins to any pets in any amount.'

Onions and Garlic

Raw, powdered and uncooked onions and garlic are especially harmful to cats because they damage red blood cells, which could cause anemia. Not only does anemia make your kitty pale and lethargic, it can be a life threatening illness.


The jury's still out on whether or not spinach is bad for cats, but scientists do know that spinach leaves contain a small amount of calcium oxalates (a chemical compound that makes needle-shaped crystals), which is a major component in kidney stones. If your cat eats enough spinach, it could lead to crystals in her urine. Cats with a history of urinary problems such as infections, crystaluria and kidney disease, should definitely avoid eating spinach.

Unripe Tomato

Everyone knows that tomatoes are good for humans. But did you know that they can be toxic to cats? Tomatoes are a member of the deadly nightshade plant family and contain a poisonous alkaloid called, solanine. Solanine is toxic to humans too. But you have to eat it in large amounts for it to hurt you. That's why you shouldn't eat green potatoes -- a potato that has gone green has higher levels of solanine inside it. And it can make you sick, causing a bevy of symptoms that range from nausea, diarrhea and vomiting to hallucinations, paralysis and in the worst cases, death. Unlike humans, however, only a small amount of solanine can hurt your cat. According to, 'traces of Solanin, like those found in just a 100g of cherry tomatoes, can be fatal!'

Yeast Dough

Raw or uncooked yeast dough should never be fed to your cat. What makes it so dangerous? Yeast (the single-celled fungi that causes bread to rise) isn't toxic per se, but if your cat eats the raw dough, it might continue to rise inside your kitty's stomach. And you can imagine what that could lead to: painful bloating, gas, and in the worst-case-scenario, possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.

Remember, the information in this article is for informative purposes only. If you suspect your cat has eaten something that is harmful, or needs medical attention, contact your veterinarian immediately! For more information about other harmful foods or toxins found in your home, check out these great references: ASPCA Animal Control Archives and

About the Author
K.L. Bonfiglio is a freelance writer and owner of, a website dedicated to connecting cat lovers with cute cat gifts. Looking for more information about cats? Visit our blog, which features informative cat articles, product spotlights, cat videos, funny cat photos and more.

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