Crazy Things Your Pet's Swallow

Would You Rather Have a Pet or a Baby?
The Guardian (UK)

Family pet? Apparently, more than a third of Brits would rather have a pet than a baby. Pet insurance provider Petplan reckons many people are choosing to get a new cat or dog in place of starting a family. "A total of 37% of people said they would get their broody partner a pet instead of having children," says the company, while one in 20 married couples surveyed admitted to having already bought a cat or dog instead of starting a family.

Bow-Ow! Dogs Swallow Pins, Pens and More!

So that's what happened to the socks.

A Chelsea veterinarian has compiled a Top 10 list of items pets swallow the most. And yes, socks are No. 1.

They were followed by underwear, panty hose - and rocks.

"It tends to be things that smell like the owners," said Dr. Jennifer Mlekoday at the West Chelsea Veterinary on W. 26th St. "They start playing with them and then they wind up swallowing them."

In addition to solving a riddle that has perplexed mankind for as long as mankind has worn socks, Mlekoday has also given new legs to the "dog ate my homework" excuse - although she has not removed any from an ailing pooch.

"They will eat paper products if they find them in the garbage and they have food drippings on them," she said.

Chew toys were sixth on the list. "I once removed a rubber duck from a dog," the vet said.

X-rays have also turned up truly scary items like needles and razor blades, the kind of hazards city critters encounter daily on the streets.

"They'll also go after discarded wrappers, popsicle sticks and even half-eaten fried chicken meals," she said. "It just goes to show that pet owners need to pay attention to what your dog is exposed to."

One of the biggest hazards to pooches is something that can be bought at any pet store - rawhide and marrow bones.

Mlekoday said that if not digested properly, they can obstruct or cause damage to the intestinal tract.

"While some objects can pass naturally, others have a tendency to become compacted or lodged in pets' gastrointestinal tracts, resulting in pain, vomiting or internal injury," she said. "In those cases, surgery may be necessary."

Surgery Saves Fork-Eating Dog from North Carolina

And you're complaining about Rover eating all the leftovers?

A North Carolina dog swallowed a fork that sat in his stomach for days before it ended up nearly killing him.

Fortunately for the 10-year-old Husky, named Apachee, doctors at a local animal hospital performed a miracle procedure on the canine that got the cutlery out.

"All of us who worked on the dog were high-fiving each other the next morning because he was alive," said Dr. Gary Spodnick, chief of surgery at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas.

Apachee's near-fatal ordeal began three weeks ago when he somehow consumed the stainless steel utensil.

The fork sat in his stomach for several days without ill effects.

But Apachee's condition took a dramatic turn for the worse after the handle punched a hole through his stomach. The fork then traveled into his chest, penetrated his lung and lacerated his pulmonary artery.

The dog collapsed from internal bleeding. His worried and mystified owners took him to a local vet, where an X-ray left no doubt about what had caused the pooch to fall ill.

By the time he arrived at the specialty hospital, the pooch was near death and Spodnick was stunned by what he saw.

"We were all kind of puzzled as to how this thing got there and why it was causing him to bleed," Spodnick said. "A knife you could understand."

The dog went into cardiac arrest moments before a half-dozen doctors went to work on him.

Apachee was revived, given multiple blood transfusions and then operated on. The delicate surgery went perfectly, amazing even the doctors.

Apachee's quick recovery also brought his owners to tears.

"In the morning, he was offered food and he was eating some," Spodnick said. "That was pretty awesome."

Vets Warn About Giving Table Scraps to Fluffy, Fido
By Libby Cluett -

Keep a close eye on the pooch and kitties during the holidays.

A niblet here and giblet there can add up for pets during the holidays and possibly result in serious health problems and an expensive emergency visit to the local vet.

The biggest problem is pets don’t know what they should and should not eat and most dogs, sometimes cats, will scoop up anything that drops on the floor or sits on the table or counter within reach.

In today’s economy, it pays to be safe and prevent a situation that could send a pet to the vet’s office. Millsap Veterinary Clinic’s Dr. Dene Herbel said pet owners could estimate expenses beginning at $350 and going up to $1,000 if a pet has to be hospitalized for pancreatitis or another disease caused by eating too many holiday table scraps or from ingesting the wrong thing.

Local vets suggest that pet owners beware when entertaining guests at holiday meals, especially with young children around who may indiscriminately dole out food to Fido. They also offer advice for owners wanting to share table scraps and leftovers with animal inhabitants.

Table scraps and fat
Serious complications can result from pets ingesting too much fatty food or the wrong types of food, according to Brazos Animal Hospital’s associate veterinarian Dr. Lindsay Bailey. “They often cannot digest it well,” she said explaining that animals’ bodies aren’t geared for some foods humans can tolerate.

Bailey noted that dog and cat foods do not contain the same fats as turkey drippings and leftovers and warned that feeding these can cause gastritis and diarrhea and possibly lead to pancreatitis.

She added that pancreatitis could also develop when animals eat in excess or eat the wrong things.

“They have different mechanisms and receptors so their bodies can’t deal with things we can eat,” Bailey said, adding that the resulting inflammation from pancreatitis could lead to damage and major problems within other body systems.

Herbel also warns pet owners against serving drippings or fat from meats like steak, ham or turkey. He reiterated that this additional fat could result in pancreatitis, which could lead to diabetes. While he noted that some owners say their large animals seem to fare OK with scraps, small dogs are especially at risk.

If sharing a holiday scrap with pets, Herbel recommends offering occasional small pieces of lean white turkey meat, without the skin, and absolutely no bones.

“If you’re not going to eat it, your dog shouldn’t eat it,” he said as a rule to use when giving leftovers to pets.

Most vegetables – without salt, sugar or butter – are OK for dogs, Herbel said. A couple of tablespoons of plain pumpkin, a few cut green beans or cooked sweet potatoes are OK.

Herbel emphasized exercising portion control, saying that giving pets a large helping equates to a change in their diet and could cause gastro-intestinal upset and diarrhea. He said if this occurs, owners could give Pepto-Bismol – one teaspoon (5 cc) per 10 pounds of body weight every 12 hours. He said this remedy should only be limited to two-to-four doses then discontinued because Pepto-Bismol contains an ingredient similar toaspirin, which can build up in an animal’s system and become toxic.

Chocolate poisoning

Many owners know chocolate is toxic to Fido and Fluffy. Herbel explained that the chemical Theobromine, found in chocolate, tea and cola beverages, is a cardio toxin to pets. It does not typically affect humans like it does animals because they metabolize chocolate differently.

Many animals are susceptible to Theobromine poisoning. While cats, especially kittens, are more sensitive to chocolate, they are less prone to eat the delectable substance since they are unable to taste sweetness. Dr. Janet Tobiassen Crosby, a veterinarian who addresses pet topics through, says that dogs are most commonly affected by chocolate poisoning “due to their ability to find it and the common ‘sweet tooth’ they seem to have.”

Herbel said he is not as concerned when dogs ingest one piece of milk chocolate candy, but when clients call to say their dog has eaten chocolates, he will often ask what kind. “Theobromine is present in higher concentrations in bittersweet baker’s chocolate. If they eat enough of it, pets can die of a heart attack,” he said.

The Merck Veterinary Manual offers the following guide for Theobromine levels in different types of chocolate:

• Unsweetened (Baker’s) chocolate equals about 450 mg of Theobromine per ounce of chocolate.

• Semi-sweet and sweet dark chocolate is about 150-160 mg of Theobromine per ounce of chocolate.

• Milk chocolate is about 64 mg of Theobromine per ounce of chocolate.


Herbel suggests that pet owners to be mindful of meats like pork, which pose problems for some pets. He said he typically sees reactions to ham, hambones and pork chop meat and bones. If a dog is sensitive to pork, it can succumb to Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, a highly debilitating condition for most miniature and toy breeds of dogs as well as puppies.

This condition irritates the animal’s intestinal lining, causing pain combined with bloody diarrhea. Herbel said that he treats this aggressively with IV fluids. If allowed to progress, it can lead to death.

Macadamia nuts

Bailey said to keep table food away from animals and watch for kids trying to feed a pet chocolate or some nuts, like macadamias, which are toxic to many animals. The MVM states, “Ingestion of macadamia nuts by dogs has been associated with a nonfatal syndrome characterized by vomiting, ataxia, weakness, hyperthermia, and depression. Dogs are the only species in which signs have been reported.”

Grapes and raisins

Ingestion of grapes or raisins has resulted in renal failure in some dogs, according to the MVM. “Cases reported to date have been in dogs; an anecdotal report exists of a cat developing renal failure following ingestion of 1 cup of organic raisins. It is not known why many dogs can ingest grapes or raisins with impunity while others develop renal failure following ingestion,” states the manual.

Bread dough

The MVM cites that yeast in raw bread dough poses potential hazards when ingested by pets. “Although any species is susceptible, dogs are most commonly involved due to their indiscriminate eating habits,” the manual notes.


The warm, moist environment of the stomach serves as an efficient incubator for the replication of yeast within the dough, states the MVM, adding that this can lead to distention of the stomach, depression and possible ethanol intoxication causing the animal to become ataxic and disoriented.


Bailey said that when decorating for the holidays, avoid plants like poinsettias, which some dogs like to munch on and are poisonous.
Information for this article came from the Merck Veterinary ManualM

10 Ways to Keep Pets Healthy and Happy
By Dr. Don Palermo - The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss - The Seattle Times

Take time to treat pets with a little TLC during the holidays.

Make the holidays a healthy and enjoyable time for your furry friends with this list of 10 ideas:

1. Spend more time with your pets during the holidays. You usually have some extra time off at the end of the year, so resolve to spend a little more time with your pets. An extra rub on the head goes a long way in showing your pet how much you love him or her.

2. Get your pet caught up on vaccinations. Call your local veterinarian and make sure your pet is current on all required immunizations.

3. Resolve to exercise your pet more during the holiday season and the upcoming year. Exercise will help you as well as your pet.

4. Remember that some of us travel during the holidays with our pets. Keep your pet confined while riding in an automobile and always stop every 1 ½ hours for a water break and a stretch.

5. Take some new photos of your pet. It's always nice to have current photographs. Use the photograph as a Christmas card to friends.

6. Get your pet an identification tag or microchip.

7. Pet-proof your home during the holidays. Keep plants that may be toxic and electrical cords out of reach of pets.

8. Learn a new fact about your pet's breed and share it with the family.

9. Find a few healthy treats that you can make in the kitchen for your pet.

10. Finally, make a contribution to your local shelter in honor of your pet.

Dr. Don Palermo is a veterinarian at Bienville Animal Medical Center in Ocean Springs, Miss.


Owners Keep Pet Groomed Despite Economic Woes

Cindy Knoll is willing to sacrifice her own needs before scrimping on luxury items for her Shih Tzu, Titus.

"My dog would be the last thing I cut back on," said Knoll, 30, an interior designer from Manhattan.

She's hardly alone. Despite the bleak economy, the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association estimates Americans will spend $43.4 billion this year on their pets.

Still, many consumers are rethinking expenses, choosing quality and function over luxury and style on everything from treats and dog beds, to vet care and training.

"They're still spending, but they're spending differently," said APPMA President Bob Vetere of the estimated 71 million U.S. pet owners.

Pet food is one area where few will compromise. Last year's massive pet food recall caused concerned consumers to switch to higher-quality foods - and few are switching back.

Buying in bulk is the best way to save on pet food, says George Zimmerman, who runs Pet Health on the upper West Side. "The cost per pound of whatever you're buying is absolutely less expensive," he said.

Randy Doran, who works in publishing, won't skimp on good quality food for Cooper, her four-month-old Boston terrier. In order to cut costs, she buys heartworm prevention and prescription drugs through, an online retailer, which charges less than her local vet.

Cutting her pup's nails and washing him in the sink saves on grooming costs. And she hopes networking with other Boston terrier owners will help save on future doggie day care.

It's no surprise that services such as grooming and day care are also feeling a tightening of the leash.

At Kiki's Spa Boutique in Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, owner Saron Nurse is offering creative incentives to lure back wary customers. The "Economic Bailout" promotion offers a 25% discount on a full grooming package, which start at $40.

Home grooming is one alternative. Those with tiny bathrooms and big dogs, however, can head to the Dog Wash, on MacDougal St., where the cost to scrub your own pooch is $19, including shampoo and supplies. Visit the store's Web Site at

Services such as pet insurance and vet care are also seeing a shift in spending.

Laura Bennett, who runs Embrace Pet Insurance, says an economic downturn is when buying pet insurance makes sense to plan for a catastrophe, but fewer people are making the commitment.

Veterinarian Philip Raclyn of Riverside Animal Hospital says that while routine appointments are steady, more people are putting off elective surgery. He recommends trying to catch problems early, instead of waiting for them to become big problems.

Consider the following cost-saving tips:

Compare prices using online resources, such as, or

Buy pet food in bulk. If you don't have a car, find a store that offers a delivery service, to avoid buying from the closest store out of convenience.
Shop around for pet insurance. Many policies will discount if you pay in full for a year. If you don't want to invest in a plan, consider PetAssure, which offers a 25% discount on all care from participating veterinarians.

Use low-cost spay/neuter services at the Humane Society of New York (, which charges $75, or the ASPCA's free spay/neuter mobile van, available to eligible participants (

Don't be shy: Ask around for discounts and specials. For example, Biscuits and Bath's offers free Monday night playgroups for small and large dogs (

Adopt, don't buy a pet from a breeder or pet store. This weekend, Animal Haven Shelter is offering $25 off adoption fees. Visit

Watson and the Midnight Mouse
posted by cmoon - Minneapolis Pet Central

Every night, after we've gone to bed, my cat Watson likes to carry his small stuffed "green guy" toy around and make crying-mew sounds. We hear him mewing on the first level for a while until he eventually comes upstairs with the green guy and presents it to us by dropping it on the bed. He is so proud of himself.

"Good job buddy," I say and scratch him behind the ears before he snuggles into my side for the night.

As the weather has gotten colder, Watson's nighttime green-guy-hunting has evolved. Instead of presenting us with the green guy, one evening he dropped a half dead mouse in the middle of our bed.


I live in a very old house. It was built in 1895. So it's no surprise that every winter, Watson will occasionally find a mouse in the basement.

As my husband reached for the mouse, Watson snatched it up and ran away with it. The hunting trail is now lead by Watson, followed by my husband who is being chased by the dogs that are totally delighted by this impromptu midnight came of chase. I stay in bed and shut off the light. Eventually, Brian gets the mouse and everyone comes back to bed.

Recently, Watson presented us with another mouse. This time, however, he sat a few feet from the bed torturing the poor grey thing. Brian slowly crossed the room, speaking softly to Watson so he wouldn't bolt. As Brian got closer, Watson snatched up the mouse, leaving only its tail sticking out of his mouth. Brian grabbed the tail and Watson began to pull backwards. It was literally a game of tug-of-war that Watson was determined to win.

We don't want to scold Watson for bringing us his "gift." But we don't want to find the occasional dead mouse lying discarded on the living room rug. So we've worked out a system that when he brings us a mouse, we praise him and then feed him some soft food. Watson drops the mouse without a battle, we put it outside, everyone is happy. Except the mouse.

Watson's nighttime jaunts are certainly a way for him to fulfill his hunting instincts. I'm guessing that by bringing his half-dead kill to us, that is also fulfilling some nascent instinct. But I like to think that he is showing his affection—even if it is a tad gross.

Police: Dog Drives Van into NY Coffee House
Associated Press / Arizona Pets

ST. JAMES, N.Y. - A dog left inside a running van put the vehicle in drive, causing it to crash into a Long Island coffee house.

Suffolk County police say no one was injured in the incident, which damaged the glass window and some patio furniture at Cool Beanz coffee shop in St. James.

Police say a 60-year-old Port Jefferson resident left the van running while he went into the shop. His dog, Bentley, somehow knocked the controls.

Will Cat Medication Hurt My Dog?
Steve Dale • Tribune Media Services / Kentuckiana Pets

Q: I rescued an elderly Border Collie-mix. At the time, I was not financially prepared, but the dog was living in horrible conditions. I've tried to be a loving, responsible pet owner, but I can no longer afford to provide Rimadyl for pain relief. I located an over-the-counter product, a joint therapy for cats. I'm hoping this can provide transition relief until I'm able to look into getting my dog back on Rimadyl, or maybe Deramaxx, which I learned about in your column. Will this cat medication hurt my dog? -- B.E.G., Orlando, FL

A: "It's unlikely the over-the-counter cat pain reliever will hurt your dog. Unfortunately, it won't help, either," Stocking says.

Since money is tight for you (and most of us these days), wasting money seems silly. If you can't afford any of the prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Etogesic or Previcox, consider asking your vet about plain, old-fashioned aspirin. While any drug can create an adverse response, aspirin (also a NSAID) was creating too many serious GI problems in dogs, so lots of other drugs were developed and are being used successfully. While any of the NSAIDs specifically manufactured for pets can also cause side-affects, they are considered safer than aspirin. Depending on your dog's overall health, aspirin may be your only realistic option, however. Please don't make a decision about whether or not to use aspirin or the dosage without consulting your vet.

Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to Include your name, city and state.

Man Recovering After Being Shot by His Dog

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A man who was accidentally shot by a 12-gauge shotgun on Saturday after his dog jumped into a boat is recovering. Matthew Marcum's legs and buttocks were injured in the bizarre incident and he was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center in Portland.

Marcum's father, Henry, said his 23-year-old son was about to tie up an 11-foot open aluminum boat, when his 3-year-old Labrador, Drake, jumped into the boat.

Matthew Marcum said his dog, Drake, is a good dog and he isn't upset with him.

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Protect Your Pet from the Cold

Animal Charity Warns Pet Owners About Frostbite
The Telegraph

An animal charity is warning pet owners about the perils of frostbite with winter fast approaching

Veterinary charity, PDSA, is warning people that, despite their fur coats, animals are not immune to the cold weather, and can easily develop hypothermia and frostbite in the winter months.

"It's easy for us to wrap up warm and add on layers to keep us snug, but it's not that simple for our pets," said Sean Wensley, senior veterinary surgeon. "That's why, at PDSA, we are keen to give owners some important seasonal advice to help keep their pets safe and healthy as the cold winter weather sets in.

"Frostbite, which develops through prolonged contact with cold surfaces, can affect a pet's ears, paws, tail, scrotum and mammary glands. Affected skin will at first appear white and will be itchy and painful. In severe cases, the skin will turn black. Owners should check their pet over regularly as a pet's fur can hide frostbite damage.

Hypothermia (low body temperature) is another risk for pets and the charity wants pet owners to be able to recognise the signs of this potentially fatal condition.

"The first sign that a pet is cold is when they shiver," said Mr Wensley. "However, this stops if their temperature falls dangerously low. They can then become confused and subdued, with cold ears and feet. Their heart rate and breathing may also become slow or irregular."

Among dogs, hypothermia is more common in the small, old or sick animals. Some breeds with low body fat or thin coats, such as whippets and greyhounds, are also more susceptible.

Puppies and kittens have difficulty controlling their body temperature and should always be kept indoors during cold weather.

Mr Wensley advised: "The first thing you should do if you suspect your pet is suffering from hypothermia or frostbite is to make sure they are dry. Then, gradually raise their body temperature by placing them next to a well-covered hot water bottle or use a hair dryer, on a low heat. It is very important to call or visit your vet for advice. Don't ignore the signs of possible hypothermia and don't take any chances."

Small furry pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, often require special care during the winter. It's best to bring them inside in very cold weather, or put their hutch in a car-free garage.

Hutches and cages should contain warm bedding, and make sure there is lots of ventilation.

Prevention is the key to stopping hypothermia. Pet owners are advised to bring pets indoors during cold spells, dress vulnerable dogs in suitable dog coats when going for walks to protect them from the cold and clean and dry pet's paws after a walk outside in the cold.

Things to avoid include leaving pets outside for any length of time without access to shelter and warmth, or leaving them alone in a car, conservatory or caravan and taking dogs for long walks outside when it is cold and wet.

Advice on Family Pets: Praising Your Deaf Dog; Pet Grooming; PDSA Pet Fit Club
By Pete Wedderburn - The Telegraph

Our pet guru, veterinary surgeon Pete Wedderburn, answers your queries.

Weighty matter: diet and exercise are key factors for pets, too Photo: ALAMY
My daughter has just taken on a two-year-old English bulldog who is deaf. He is doing very well and is responding to hand signals, but do deaf dogs understand when you are pleased with them from your facial expressions as well as touch? It is hard when you can't use your voice to praise your dog when he has been good. AL, Manchester

When praising your dog, you need to smile and give him a reward, such as a tasty food treat. Dogs learn by association, so if he is given some food (sausage or cheese, for example), he will associate a smiling face with a treat. The food can then be gradually phased out and replaced with a pat on his head. At the same time, give a "good dog" hand signal, like a thumbs-up. He will eventually learn that a smile and thumbs-up mean that he has done well.

Hear, Hear! A Guide to Training the Deaf Dog, by Barry Eaton, a professional dog trainer, could be helpful. It is available from You should also see

My cat Fu, a neutered tom, came to live with us about three years ago after being rescued. He does not let me put flea treatment on the back of his neck, nor will he be contained in a cat carrier, so he has never seen the vet. I brush him regularly, but am worried about fleas. What can I do? FW, Sutton

If you brush Fu regularly, I can at least reassure you that you would soon notice if fleas were a problem. Fleas leave spots of dry blood, which appear as small black specks in the coat. If you come across these when brushing Fu, pick them out and put them on a piece of moist tissue. If they dissolve into an orange/brown colour, this confirms the presence of fleas.

If there is no evidence of a flea problem, you may be able to avoid giving Fu any treatment. If he does have a problem, you can buy a wide range of anti-flea spot-on products from a vet. It may be worth trying a few different brands. Some drops seem to cause more of a thickly sensation than others and you may find one that Fu does not mind too much.

We recently adopted a 35-year-old Mediterranean tortoise. How can we be sure that he is ready to hibernate? He has hibernated in previous years, in a small box approximately 14in x 10in and 10in deep, with a blanket in a cupboard in a shed. We have replicated these conditions, but we are not sure that we are doing the right thing. Can you help? SN, Surrey

Hibernation is not something to be entered into lightly: there is a high mortality rate if a tortoise is not in excellent health at the start. It is important that a tortoise is well hydrated and that its bowels are empty before it hibernates. Its environment, including ambient temperature, is also critical.

The safest course of action would be for you to have the tortoise examined by a specialist vet. If a tortoise is underweight or unwell in any way, it would be much safer for it to overwinter in an indoor enclosure, with a heat source and full-spectrum light for 13-14 hours to prevent hibernation. See or for detailed care sheets that include advice on safe hibernation.

* Send your pet problems to All sick animals should, of course, be taken to a vet.

The PDSA, one of Britain's biggest animal charities, is running its annual competition, the PDSA Pet Fit Club, with eight grossly overweight pets battling to be the best at shedding the pounds. But it's far better to keep your pet slim in the first place. Here are a few tips to help you to help them:

1 Ask your vet to weigh your pet and assess her body condition during any routine visit. It helps to have a baseline record to benchmark her against as she grows older.

2 Measure your pet's daily food ration rather than just giving her a "bowlful". If she starts to fill out, cut it back. If she becomes too thin, give her a little more food. You will soon learn what suits her.

3 Avoid scraps. If you can't abide throwing them out, add them to your pet's dinner bowl but reduce the measured daily ration by an equivalent amount.

4 Maintain a healthy exercise regime. Walk your dog for 20 minutes, twice daily. If your cat is an indoor animal, make a point of playing with her for a similar length of time.

5 If your pet does put on weight, you should get her checked by a vet. Some medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism) can lead to obesity and medical treatment is needed rather than a strict diet.

6 Obesity clinics, run by vet nurses, are a successful way of dealing with the problem if your pet's weight does get out of control. They are often provided free of charge.

Family Finds Pet Dog – After Three-Year Search
By Lisa Mehring • Windsor Beacon

A frustrating search for the Blackwell family pit bull has finally come to an end after three “ruff” years.

“We had just assumed that he had been stolen,” said Allison Blackwell, owner of Gotti and now a Loveland resident . “He’s gotten out before but we could always find him.”

But, this time, it appeared that Gotti, the eight-year-old blond pit bull, might have been stolen right off his chain in the backyard of their old home in Milliken.
“He’s never gotten off his chain before,” Blackwell said.

“That’s why it’s weird he did and that his collar and tags were lying on the ground.”
The search for Gotti began in October, 2005, after the Blackwell family came home one evening to a house with doors gaping open and no sign of the pit bull.

“We always lock our doors,” Blackwell said. “And, for good reason too. Once we even had the wheels on our trashcan stolen and a bike, so I had thought someone broke in.”

The Blackwell family drove around every day looking for their dog and even put up pictures. They checked for him at different animal shelters and even asked the police if they had any missing dogs at the station.

But, then three months after Gotti was first declared missing, someone found him and took to the K9 Bed and Biscuit, 14253 Colorado Highway 392, just east of Windsor. The dog remained unclaimed there for three years unbeknownst to the Blackwell family.

Then, while Blackwell’s husband, James, was at work one day he overheard a conversation between two of his co-workers about a dog. The story sounded familiar. They said the dog had been found at the K9 Bed and Biscuit.

After Blackwell’s husband relayed the information to her, she immediately called K9 Bed and Biscuit but was told she needed to look for him on the Web site and was given a description for a different dog.

“I was scrolling down on the Web site looking for the dog that they were talking about and it wasn’t him,” Blackwell said. “That’s when I saw a dog named Brad Pitt and, sure enough, it was him.”

That was on a Friday night in October, nearly three years after the Blackwell family first reported Gotti missing. The family was prepared to pay for the adoption papers but was told they had to wait until Monday of the next week to pick him up.

“The people at the shelter were really nice,” Blackwell said.

“They took really good care of him and even micro-chipped him and gave him his shots.

“It’s sad that he had to sit there that long.

“In his biography at the animal shelter, they even mentioned that he would be better as an individual dog and how he didn’t like kids. If the biography had been different, I’m sure someone would have taken him. It really must have been fate that we found him.”

The Blackwell family and Gotti are now inseparable.

“I’ve been taking him everywhere with me,” Blackwell said. “I don’t like to leave him home for even five minutes because I’m afraid that he’ll open the sliding glass door again.”

But, Blackwell is not the only one who missed Gotti.

“He’s really good with my daughter,” Blackwell said. “She can do anything to him and he’ll be fine. As for my son, this is a new experience for him. So far, they get along great. I’ll have my back turned and once I turn around my son will be sitting on top of Gotti and it doesn’t seem like he minds it.”

Small Business is Man's Pet Project

It may seem that a dozen years in industrial electrical sales wouldn't prepare someone to open a pet store, but Paul Baumann did it anyway.

His wife, Tammy, challenged him to open a pet supply store after he complained of his own shopping experiences.

So in December 2006, Baumann opened All Paws Pet Center on Maize Road near 21st Street.

He said simply being a consumer himself helps him understand how customers want to be treated.

"I get to be around dogs and happy people all day," he said. "Everyone who works at the store is happy to talk to our customers about their pets."

Baumann says common sense and great service help him be successful in the competitive pet supply business.

All Paws specializes in pet food, because Baumann says if pets are fed a higher-quality food -- even if it's more expensive -- they're less expensive to care for in the long run.

Baumann said his store sells 20 brands of dog food, which is the primary focus of his business.

"Good food does not have to be expensive," he said. "Pets are a part of your family and, ultimately, you decide what your dog or cat will eat. Also, with recent pet food recalls, people are more aware of what they're feeding and want a better product."

Baumann likes to shop with local vendors as much as possible, not only for pet food but all pet supplies. He buys baked pet treats from Derby resident Lea Bradley and handmade beds and bones from other Wichitans.

Baumann said he takes special care to explain to customers who are searching for the perfect pet that they should visit the Kansas Humane Society. He also offers financial support.

For example, pets can have their picture taken with Santa at All Paws on Dec. 13 and 14, and part of the proceeds will go to the Humane Society.

Baumann owns two rescue dogs, Bree and Molly.

One day, he said, he may consider opening an east-side store. For now, he's content until he finds the perfect location.


Treat Your Pet With Love This Holiday Season
By DON PALERMO - McClatchy Newspapers

The holiday season is here, and this is the time that we can do something special for our pets. Here is a list of 10 do’s to make holidays special for our four-legged friends.

1. Spend more time with your pets during the holidays. You usually have some extra time off at the end of the year, so resolve to spend a little more time with your pets. An extra rub on the head goes a long way in showing your pet how much you love him or her.

2. Get your pet caught up on vaccinations. Call your veterinarian and make sure your pet is current on what’s required.

3. Resolve to exercise your pet more during the holiday season and the upcoming year. Exercise will help you and your pet.

4. Remember that some of us travel during the holidays with our pets. Keep your pet confined while riding in an automobile and stop every 90 minutes for a water break and a stretch.

5. Take some new photos of your pet. It’s always nice to have current photographs of our furry friends, and you can use the photograph as a Christmas card to send to friends.

6. Get some sort of pet identification, be it a tag or microchip, in case your pet goes missing.

7. Pet-proof your home during the holidays. Keep plants that may be toxic and electrical cords out of reach.

8. Learn a new fact about your pet’s breed and share it with the rest of the family.

9. Go online and find a few healthy treats that you can make in your kitchen for your pet, and let the family in on the fun.

10. Finally, make a contribution to your local shelter in honor of your pet.

For all the good times that all of our pets have given us, let’s not take their love and companionship for granted.

Dr. Don Palermo is a veterinarian in Ocean Springs, Miss.

Two Pet Love Stories
By Linda Goldston - Mercury News

Somehow the holiday season is already here, and I have two love stories to get you in the mood — or at least take your mind off all the grimness in the world right now.

One is a love story between two dogs; the other is about a cat named Dewey that a whole town in Iowa fell in love with.

I know dogs fall in love because my dog Lucy had one true love: a German shepherd named Rocky, who reduced my bearded collie mix to giddiness every time he came by. She couldn't care less for other dogs; she much preferred people who could fawn over her, pet her and give her treats. But Rocky, that was her guy!

Dana Arbaugh of Milpitas said he had two male dogs. "But only one has ever fallen in love.

"Our big Bodie, a Lab-Rottweiler mix, went on almost daily walks with our friends' female golden retriever, Daisy. Bodie and Daisy were a couple for a good seven years before our neighborhood friends moved to Canada five years ago."

After the friends moved away, poor Bodie "would sit at the living room window looking for Daisy in the park across the street from our house," he said.

"Our friends would make an annual visit back to the Bay Area and often come by to stay with us. Bodie was always sad they didn't bring Daisy with them."

As happens sometimes in love stories, Daisy died in September.

"A few weeks ago, our friends from Canada returned to stay with us and explained to Bodie that Daisy was no more." But Bodie wanted to be sure.

"One morning as we took Bodie on his walk, we allowed him to lead the way. He took us through the park, over two streets to an adjacent park, up another two streets and finally to Daisy's old street. We were not sure he could remember the exact house as they all looked very similar — I had to look myself for the old house number to be sure.

"But somehow, Bodie stopped at the point just across from Daisy's old house, crossed the street and walked up to the gate. He sat there for five minutes waiting for her to come out. We could hardly believe what we were seeing.

"Big Bodie is 12 years old, and we will all miss him when he joins his true love, Daisy, in a few years."

The other love story I promised is chronicled in a lovely new book called "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World" by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter.

This one began on a bitterly cold night in Spencer, Iowa, when the temperature had reached minus 15 degrees "and that didn't take into account the wind," wrote Vicki, who was the librarian at the Spencer Public Library.

That was the night that someone put a tiny, sick kitten in the library drop box.

When Vicki and an assistant librarian found Dewey — named for the Dewey Decimal System, of course — the next morning, "it was huddled in the front left corner of the box, its head down, its legs tucked underneath it, trying to appear as small as possible. "... The kitten looked up at me, slowly and sadly. Then it lowered its head and sank back down into its hole. It wasn't trying to appear tough. It wasn't trying to hide. I don't even think it was scared. It was just hoping to be saved." That night he was placed in the drop box was the last sad night Dewey had. The rest of the book is about how he blossomed, becoming far more than an impish mascot for the Spencer Public Library; he was the reason some people went there, to wait their turn for Dewey to sit on their lap.

"Dewey's story resonated with the people of Spencer," Vicki wrote. "We identified with it. Hadn't we all been shoved down the library drop box by the banks? By outside economic forces? By the rest of America, which ate our food but didn't care about the people who grew it?" As articles were written about Dewey the Library Cat and family told family, friends told friends, people started coming from all over to see him. "They came from Utah, Washington, Mississippi, California, Maine and every other corner of the map," Vicki wrote. And, "whatever they were after, Dewey delivered."

If you love cats and frankly even if you don't, you can't go wrong with this book — for yourself or as a gift. Some pets are adopted and enter our lives by choice, some cross our paths when we least expect it and some are put right through the library drop box and win the hearts of a town.

Despite Economic Dog Days, "Pet Nanny" Business is Booming
Tealy Devereaux, FOX13 News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WHBQ FOX13 -- If pets are people too, can they have a nanny?

"Gidgette" and "Duchess" do. If the downtown dogs' owners are in town and at work or out of town on vacation, Gabrielle Dubois does it all.

"My range of services is so varied, it is absolutely like being a nanny for children," said Dubois.

At first pet sitting was just a part time job.

"I had lots of clients that I did in my spare time, nights and weekends," she said.

Now it's turned into a full time business of coming into people's homes to let out, walk, and feed your four legged friends.

"I don't just hang out downtown and in midtown. But I also go anywhere in Shelby County where I'm licensed to work."

Dubois says she's been virtually unaffected by the troubled economy. When she started her business 10 months ago, she had 10 clients. Now she's up to 100.

"Pets are members of your family and people make the provisions that they need to make for them regardless of the economy," Dubois said.

The "Mid-South Pet Nanny" business has grown so much; Dubois can afford to pay assistants, allowing her time to work in the office of a Memphis veterinarian practice. The assistants divide up throughout the city, and they don't just change a pet's water and put out food. They're house sitters too.

"Mail brought in, plants being watered. It looks secure. Someone is coming in and out of the house more than once a day usually." said Dubois.

Dubois admits her profession as a pet nanny does attract questions and the occasional strange look. But she says the joke's on everyone else.

"I love what I do and I am earning a living," she said.

Museum Exhibit On Presidential Pets Opens
The Associated Press - ZooToo

WASHINGTON -- The election is not over for museum visitors weighing in on what President-elect Barack Obama calls a "major issue" for his transition: selecting the first dog.

Seventh-grader Mary Grace Moran, visiting the Newseum with her class from Covington, La., cast her vote for a poodle by dropping coins in a clear, plastic tube.

"I have a poodle, and my brothers have really bad allergies," the 12-year-old said, expressing concern for Obama's sneeze-prone daughter.

Visitors are casting votes with pennies, quarters and a few dollar bills in a small exhibit on presidential pets at the Newseum, a museum about the news. (The museum, which announced a staff reduction this week, says it will use the cash for educational programs.)

Newseum is not without guidance on the puppy issue. Obama has said the family would like something hypoallergenic, and that the family likes the idea of rescuing a shelter dog, even though "a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me."

So the exhibit is offering the American Kennel Club's top five recommendations for allergy-sensitive breeds — poodle, soft coated wheaten terrier, bichon frise, Chinese crested (caution: It's mostly hairless) and miniature schnauzer — along with an unspecified shelter dog.

So far, a shelter dog appears to be the people's choice, followed by the bichon frise, a small, fluffy non-shedding breed, Newseum exhibits chief Cathy Trost said.

The exhibit, "First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets," opened Friday and also includes about 15 photographs and a video on presidential pets. It will remain open at least through January's inauguration.

If the Obamas are looking for doggy precedent, they could consider Scottish terriers, Labradors or mutts, all former first pets.

More than a few presidents brought odd critters with them, too. President Theodore Roosevelt and his family had a one-legged rooster and a pony named Algonquin that once rode in the White House elevator. President William Howard Taft had a Jersey cow named Pauline.

"Animals have always been a part of White House life," Trost said on Monday. "More than 50 dogs have lived at the White House, along with alligators, goats, raccoons, parrots, you name it."

President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace were responsible for the pair of raccoons, along with 12 dogs in their small White House "zoo."

Journalists helped make some of the pets national celebrities, Trost said. Fala, the Scottish terrier who lived with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was said to have his own press secretary.

Other pets were experts in their own right. In his race against Bill Clinton and Al Gore, President George H.W. Bush said his dog Millie "knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos."

The Obamas may not find a mutt with similar expertise, but experts at the Presidential Pet Museum in Williamsburg, Va., have recommended the Portuguese water dog for its "international appeal," noting that Sen. Ted Kennedy has two of them.

The American Kennel Club suggested a pair of toy poodle puppies that will be available in January. So far, though, spokeswoman Christina Duffney said they haven't heard from the Obamas.

Or the president could take it from Mary Grace, who voted for the poodle based on experience with her brothers: "It doesn't do anything to their allergies."

Tell us what you think about “Museum Exhibit Opens Dedicated to Presidential Pets” below. Share your favorite videos by clicking on the ZootooTV tab. Send us your story ideas by e-mailing us at or by calling us at 877-777-4204

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Pet News - Pet Advice - Pet Photos

In Tough Economic Times, Pet Gifts Keep Going
Alice Short - Los Angeles Times

While the economy tanks and media outlets fill with stories of displaced pets amid the foreclosure crisis, another trend in the animal universe has emerged, a phenomenon that leaves L.A. Unleashed slightly bewildered and bemused. These same media outlets also are producing stories about holiday gift giving for pets, and if there's a downward trend here, we have yet to see it.

Consider this Associated Press report from suburban Chicago:

Emilie Wilson’s menagerie includes 15 ferrets, two dogs and four cats, including a hefty gray feline named Tonie Stewart who rides in style inside a pet stroller during family outings.

Wilson spent $300 on Christmas gifts for her brood last year and figures she’ll exceed that sum this year. And despite the recession-like economy, the suburban Chicago woman has no plans to scale back pet presents anytime soon.

“I couldn’t care less if there’s anything under the tree for us, as long as there’s something for Tonie,” she said.

People associated with the pet products industry "are finding themselves in a veritable oasis among much of the gloom of American business." Sure, it seems counterintuitive, but for some folks, the family pet comes first, whether the "extra" is a mere chew toy or a case of organic cat food or a $1,000 designer bed for the canine who may very well be sleeping at the foot of your bed ... for now.

The AP report suggests this is a growth industry:

Market researcher Euromonitor International, which tracks sales of pet food and accessories but excludes the cost of animals, grooming, training and other expenses, puts this year’s animal expenditures at $23.9 billion. But the group forecasts the segment’s sales are still on pace to grow more than 13 percent by 2013.

Another AP report, published earlier this month, stated that "shoppers are scrimping on holiday gifts, but not when it comes to their pets."

Among those who plan to spend less on gifts this year, only 23 percent are doing so on their pets, according to a survey released by Consumer Reports. The vast majority (84 percent) said they plan to cut back spending on themselves.

One of the L.A. Times' newest blogs, To Live and Buy in L.A., recently listed an array of products for the dog in your life (and featured the star of the Heidi Chronicles herding sheep, a gift available for purchase). Other possible gifts included light-up collars and magnetic sleeping pads.

Your cat may insist on a new litter box or the world's most glamorous scratching post.

And don't forget the "traditional" holiday sweaters and, even -- dare we say it -- reindeer costumes. We're not sure if we should encourage this behavior, but it doesn't matter. You're bound to see it soon.

-- Alice Short

Photos: At top, a lounging cat. Above, a very festive pooch. Credits: Associated Press; Mario Tama / Getty Images

Baggage-Sniffing Federal Beagle Retires in Style at LAX
Bob Ward - Los Angeles Times

After that, Shiloh the beagle high-tailed it home to Long Beach to live the high life with his handler, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Canine Enforcement Officer Donna Kercher.

For nearly eight years Shiloh's keen sense of smell uncovered fruits, vegetables and other foods possibly infested with dangerous insects that were carried illegally into the United States by international travelers. He also scored drugs for customs inspectors.

Last month he intercepted 70 pounds of khat, an east African and Middle Eastern plant that contains a stimulant called cathinone. It wasn't the first time he had zeroed in on khat being sneaked in.

His nose for naughtiness made him top dog at the Bradley International Terminal, where LAX first employed beagles as sniffer dogs in 1984. But as a government employee, Shiloh always faced a mandatory retirement age--in his case 9. On Tuesday, he padded through the terminal arrival area one last time, giving bulging bags rolling off the huge luggage carousel the sniff test.

When he found something...

suspicious, he sat down, alerting Kercher that something was amiss. Sometimes it's a false alarm. Food or fruit brought onto the plane as an in-flight snack was eaten en route, but left its scent behind. Other times, apples or bananas tucked into carry-on luggage in Addis Ababa or Bangkok went uneaten and forgotten.

But the threat to U.S. agriculture from pests such as Medflies and guava flies, or of diseases carried in meats, is significant enough that incoming food and plants must be seized and destroyed, officials say.

Over the years, Shiloh has detected more than 20,000 prohibited agriculture items, said Kercher, 40. With his friendly tail-wagging, he's managed to do it in a non-threatening way too. Kercher will continue as an agricultural enforcement officer working solo, checking bags by unzipping each of them and poking around corners and into containers with her gloved hands.

What a trained agriculture dog can do in seconds takes 15 or 20 minutes for a human officer to do fully. "I'll miss the passenger interaction, parents teaching children about working dogs. That's really been fun," she said. "I'm so attached to Shiloh. I don't know if I could get another dog like him."

During his final rounds Tuesday, Shiloh wore buttons stating "It's my last day -- 'Bye" and "I'm retiring" pinned to his uniform -- a blue vest that bore the Homeland Security emblem and the motto "Protecting American Agriculture."

Attached to his collar was a tiny gold U.S. Customs and Border Protection badge with the number 58. A new plant sniffer is joining LAX's 10-dog beagle brigade starting today. But on Tuesday, seven members of the canine corps lined up with their handlers to say goodbye to Shiloh. About 25 other agriculture officers and border protection agency Port Director Carlos Martel joined them.

Supervising inspector Diana Verity laughed as she recalled how Shiloh once alerted Kercher to a luggage cart piled with numerous bags. Kercher "asked which bags? And he put his nose on two different bags. Turns out there was fruit in both bags."

"Another time he found a sausage hidden in a concealed place in a bag. He's awesome," said Verity, herself a former canine officer.

Shiloh and other baggage beagles never get to eat what they find. Instead, they are rewarded with doggy treats from their officer-handlers. But on Tuesday a canine cake was served in Shiloh's honor at his retirement party.

Another agriculture dog handler-officer, Leticia Hale, baked it with peanut butter, carrots, flour and honey. "He's allowed to eat it. He's a civilian," joked U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspector Michael Fleming.

As the other beagles watched with tongue-dripping envy, Shiloh eyed the cake and then looked at Kercher for approval. She said yes. Shiloh didn't turn up his nose at his one last airport treat.

-- Bob Pool

Photo: Bob Chamerlin/Los Angeles Times

Favorite Animal Flicks: What's Yours?
Amelia Glynn - SF Gate

With Disney's latest animated animal extravaganza, Bolt now in theatres and a long holiday weekend on the horizon, I was inspired to pay homage to a few of my all time favorite animal-related flicks.

Here are my top picks (in alphabetical order). Please add yours to the list!

Bambi: Remember Thumper and Flower?
The Birds: What begins with lovebirds ends in pecking pandemonium.
The Black Stallion: A feel-good to the finish.
Charlotte's Web: A veritable smorgasbord!
Homeward Bound: Shadow, Sassy and Chance make the trek and are reunited with their owners. Hooray!
Jaws: The modern-day Moby Dick.
King Kong: Who can resist an overgrown ape who just wants to be loved?
Lady and the Tramp: Eating spaghetti and meatballs will never be the same...
March of the Penguins: All for an egg.
Never Cry Wolf: The ultimate man-meets-beast story.
Ratatouille: Top Chef for animal lovers.
The Secret of NIMH: Based on one of my favorite books, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
Swiss Family Robinson: Ostrich races, anyone?
Watership Down: A dark rabbit's tale.
Winged Migration: A gorgeous film shot over four years on all seven continents.
The Yearling: Jody finally finds the love he seeks in Flag the fawn.

Posted By: Amelia Glynn

Iowa City to Discuss Pet Restaint Law
By Gregg Hennigan - The Gazette

IOWA CITY — Sophia Petunia was relaxing in the front yard by her favorite tree when the animal control officer came by earlier this month.

The schnoodle, a schnauzer/poodle mix, belonging to Katy and Matt Brown of Iowa City, may have looked like she was roaming free, but as Katy Brown told the officer, they have underground electric fencing that keeps their dog from leaving their property.

It doesn't matter, she was told. City law requires animals to be tethered or kept enclosed by a physical fence.

"I was completely shocked," said Katy Brown of 3222 Shamrock Dr., adding that the system has worked flawlessly since they installed it last year.

Brown is asking that the law be changed so that a dog is deemed under restraint if an owner properly maintains what often is called invisible fencing. The City Council will discuss the topic at a work session Monday.

Misha Goodman, the city's animal services supervisor, said there's no way to guarantee a dog won't endure the electric shock that results from crossing the fence to chase an animal or a person.

Also, many owners fail to properly maintain the systems, she said, and there is nothing to stop animals or people from coming into a yard.

In the past month, the city's animal shelter has seen six cases of dogs escaping their invisible fences. The animal control officer stopped by the Brown's home after capturing two of those dogs.

The city generally enforces the code only when a violation is reported, Goodman said.

Brown said responsible pet owners should be able to rely on invisible fencing. She said she wouldn't use it if her dog didn't obey or had an aggressive personality.

Alan Kemp, executive director of the Iowa League of Cities, said he has not heard of this topic coming up before. But a review he did of a few cities ordinances show some are very specific like in Iowa City and others are less descriptive and perhaps more open to interpretation.

Goodman said many communities have contacted Iowa City about its law. She also said it's common for animal shelters to deny adoptions to people who say they will only use an invisible fence to restrain a dog.


Cute And Cuddly Is Family Fun
By: Karen Rosenberry - Game Industry Family Titles Reviewer

Happy Tails Combines Style And Substance

The folks at Viva Media have practically cornered the market on family titles involving the care and feeding of animals. Over the past couple years I have reviewed all types of games from them built around this theme from running wild animal preserves to saving Australian outback creatures to running your own animal hospital from the ground up.

All of the games in the series have been great Family titles that parents and kids could play together. And they have all been sold at extremely reasonable prices, with most of them under $20. I don’t think any have ever gotten anything other than a perfect 5 GiN Gems for their Value score, because even with the reasonable price, they were games that offered a perfect way for parents and kids to play together and didn’t skimp on any of the details. Several have been nominated by GiN’s readers for Family title Game Of the Year, and a few have even won. So this is a fine family series.

But I did worry that perhaps we have done everything we possibly could with this genre. I mean short of visiting yet another continent like Animal Shelter Asia or something, what could be new? Thankfully Happy Tails Animal Shelter shows the way with a unique take where you not only heal animals, but find them good homes too. And each animal has a rich backstory now, so there is even an RPG element in the mix.

Previous games in the series had you managing a hospital or critical care facility. Owners would bring their animals into your hospital and ask for help. This brought up a process of deductive logic where you would use both general and specific methods to diagnose and treat problems. This process was not completely easy sometimes, but was just challenging enough so that parents could play with their kids to help out, yet not so frustrating that neither could figure things out. This was one of the biggest gems for the games, since there are not too many titles suitable for parents and kids to enjoy together.

But in the end, all of the animals had homes. Whether they were going back to the farm or house where they lived or whether they were wild and being made strong enough to return to the woods or ocean, everyone had somewhere to go. With Happy Trails Animal Shelter, you need to find the animals a home, which can be just as challenging as nursing them back to health.

Each animal has a story, and many of them are quite touching. You might have a stray cat who followed their owner home and was made part of the family, only to find out that their owner was allergic to them. [Note that I live with a cat that I’m allergic to currently, so it can be done.] You job is to feed and care for the animal, and nurse them back to health if needed, and then try to find them a good home. Whoever wrote the back stories for the animals (I have seen about 30 stories so far, though there are 99 of them in the game) did a great job.

You need to play and care for the animals until they are ready to be adopted. During their time with you, it becomes apparent what type of owner would be best for them. Then when you have people come in and look for pets, you can direct them to the proper animal based on what you know about both the visitor and the animal. If you have chosen wisely, a love connection between the two develops and it becomes obvious that they will be happy together.

This added step teaches a valuable lesson in responsibility and reality. The child player can’t hold onto 100+ animals at the shelter because you still have to make the place run smoothly. Feeding too many animals will not only drain your budget but also means there won’t be space for new animals in need.

There is a large mix of animals that come into the shelter like cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses and even wild fawns. Obviously the needs of a horse are going to be different from a guinea pig, and both will require different owners or caretakers. But all of the animals have great backstories, and all are extremely cute and cuddly.

Like the other games in the series, Animal Shelter is not just a pretty face. Sure you get to play with the animals, but you also have a job to do. Some will arrive sick and need care. Others will be shy around people and need to be socialized. Thankfully you have access to a complete library of facts about each animal, so you can lookup to see if rabbits really do enjoy carrots, or how horses like to sleep. This not only teaches about individual animals, but also about basic research skills as well as responsibility for the care of pets. It’s perfect if your child wants a pet, but does not fully understand what that means, and the consequences of not being a good pet parent. Let them play Animal Shelter for a while and then get a real pet for them once they understand that owning a pet is wonderful, but also carries great responsibility.

In a world where educational games are dull and regular titles are too violent or simply complex for kids, the animal games from Viva are truly a horse of a different color. They are fun to play and the addition of backstories for the pets will keep your kids stuck playing like magnets. And the good thing is that they will learn valuable lessons while there. Plus, it’s perfect for parents and kids to play together.

Looks like we have another winner on our hands with Happy Tails Animal Shelter, where all creatures eventually find good homes. Hopefully this game will find its way home to your family.

Karen Rosenberry is GiN's Educational Reviewer. She has a Masters Degree in Education and enjoys using computer games to teach her students while they're being entertained. She can be reached at :

Animal Doctor
Dr. Fox - Washington Post

Treat the Immune System, Not Just the Infection

Dear Dr. Fox:

Angus is my 9-year-old Labrador retriever adopted from Lab Rescue when he was 1 1/2 years old. At that time, he was about 100 pounds and had such severe infections in both ears that black goo would fly out of them when he shook his head. It took three months of constant cleaning and medication to get it under control.

In late 2005, Angus was found to have anal furunculosis (boils). He was on high-dose antibiotics, ketoconazole and Atopica, for nearly a year before it was under control. The drugs made him sick, and he was depressed. I asked my vet whether his diet had anything to do with his getting this disease, and she said no. He has been on Atopica since his diagnosis, and it seems to keep his rear from flaring into an infection. I give him one 100-milligram tablet three times a week and wipe his rear every time he has a bowel movement to keep the area clean. He tolerates the Atopica well, but I'd rather treat him holistically, if possible.

He eats 1 1/2 cups of Iams dry dog food twice daily. He also has a few small Milk-Bone-type treats and sometimes table scraps. I also give him one Pedigree Dental Styx every day (which he really loves), and this has improved his breath and keeps his teeth clean.

Do you think diet has anything to do with this disease?


A: Your poor dog has an impaired immune system that makes him prone to infections, unable to throw them off without medication, and he is experiencing harmful side effects.

I am not surprised that your veterinarian does not think that diet and nutrition have any role to play in your dog's chronic illness or in his recovery. Too many animal doctors believe pet-food manufacturer claims that all the nutrients cats and dogs need to be healthy are in their products because they have been "scientifically formulated" and are "complete and balanced."

I urge you to transition your dog onto a fresh, whole-food diet as per the recipe on my Web site at Your veterinarian should also visit and explore a more integrative treatment approach using beneficial nutrient supplements. Fish oil is one that tops the list for many conditions.

Dear Dr. Fox:

I have a 7-year-old Lhasa Apso that is a treasure. Last year, I began making your recipe for homemade dog food, and my dog loves it!

My vet has suggested glucosamine as a supplement to his food because one of his back legs goes out of joint periodically. Can I cook this supplement into his food, or will heat destroy its effectiveness?

We live in Florida, and I've given my dog Revolution for seven years, and he tolerates it well. Can you recommend a different prescription for heartworm and a more conservative treatment for ticks and fleas?

Fort Myers, Fla.

A: Supplements such as glucosamine, fish oil and flaxseed oil should not be cooked because heat can destroy and denature them.

For dogs with joint problems, the chondroitin glucosamine MSM supplement can work well, coupled with turmeric (one 250-milligram capsule) and half a teaspoon of cod liver oil (per 20 pounds body weight). Apply massage therapy as a routine over the afflicted joints and a general body massage. My book "The Healing Touch for Dogs" is a guide for all who wish to learn how to give a therapeutic massage to an animal.

If your dog has had no adverse reactions to Revolution, then I would stay with it. People living in such states as Florida and Texas where there is no significant winter die-off of fleas and other noxious insects are in a bind. The benefits of new-generation anti-flea and anti-tick drugs might outweigh the risks to most animals, provided the animals are not over-vaccinated and are on a good, healthful diet.

Dear Dr. Fox:

In one of your columns, you answered a question about hyperthyroidism in cats.

My 18-year-old cat was found to have this condition in 2005. I tried an oral Tapazole regimen, but she became very ill. I found out later that close to 20 percent of cats tolerate Tapazole orally.

My vet suggested a transdermal application of Tapazole (methimazole) applied to the skin part of the ear. She has been able to tolerate this, and it has lowered her thyroid for close to two years. The last blood work showed the T4 was slightly elevated, so I have increased the dose from once a day to twice.

I would suggest to your readers who have older cats with hyperthyroidism that can't tolerate oral Tapazole and are not candidates for surgery or radioactive-iodine treatment to ask their vets about transdermal application of methimazole. They'll need to find a compounding pharmacy to make the cream -- it's not that expensive.

Also, because kidney failure is usually concurrent, they might get the BUN and creatinine checked. My vet has put my cat on Epakitin, which is added to her food. Her last blood work showed BUN only slightly elevated and creatinine actually down.

St. Louis

A: Since this disease has reached almost epidemic proportions in cats today and is the most common endocrine disease afflicting the feline population, many readers will appreciate the knowledge that there is an alternative way to give the medication for this condition without causing some cats so much nausea and distress.

How to prevent this disease: Vacuum the house at least once a week to get rid of dust and carpet and upholstery particles that are probably imbued with flame-retardant chemicals that are implicated in feline thyroid disease; avoid giving cats food and water in certain kinds of plastic containers (use stainless steel or glass); and do not feed cats seafood contaminated with these and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals. All these might also contribute to this feline malady.

Dear Dr. Fox:

About five years ago, my daughter adopted a neutered 2-year-old large-breed shepherd mix named Max.

He is a sweet dog except when he is around another dog. He chases it and mounts it continuously. This is not a playful act. He snaps and snarls and forces the other dog to comply.

At a recent family gathering, he tried to force a smaller dog to comply, grabbing her at the neck and head, breaking the skin and making her cry. Then he mounted her.

My daughter has another dog, and Max mounts this one often throughout the day. My daughter thinks this is normal behavior -- Max is showing that he is the leader of the pack. I think my daughter should be the leader and stop Max from terrorizing other dogs.

His aggressive behavior is the same with every dog he meets: no running or playing, just forced mounting.

Shouldn't this behavior be stopped?

Grand Blanc, Mich.

A:Max is a bully of a dog and needs to be disciplined by being taught self-restraint and boundaries.

As you correctly assert, your daughter needs to assume the role of female leader of the pack and teach Max his manners. A behavioral counselor or good dog trainer should be called in. Max's aggressive behavior could some day get him into a serious fight that might result in great harm -- to either dog or humans trying to break it up.

Max should be encouraged to learn how to run and play with other dogs. He needs to learn how much he is missing.

Dear Dr. Fox:

I have a 12-year-old neutered half-Siamese black-and-white cat that does strange things. I have an idea why, but I want your opinion.

When I am sitting on my couch watching television, he will meow loudly, then jump on the back of the couch and start kneading with his feet around my head. Then he begins to make a thrusting motion. If I try to pet him when he does this, he meows loudly. He does this for a couple of minutes then jumps down and licks his privates. I think his affection for me is very strong. My hair excites him.

He also will pick up one of my slippers and, while meowing loudly, will bring it into the room I'm in, drop it near me, then walk away.

What are your ideas on these behaviors?

Red Bank, N.J.

A: Cats do many curious and seemingly bizarre things. They are copycats and are extremely observant of our behavior and creative in their game play.

Much of this creativity is partly their way of adapting to captivity. (Most domestic cats are still wild at heart.) Often, and regrettably, with no feline companion to interact with naturally, they will displace and redirect various instinctual behaviors toward their human companions.

What you are witnessing are elements of kittenish nursing and sexual behavior when your cat is by your head, and kitten or mate prey-giving behavior when you are in bed and given a slipper.

Such is the nature of feline affection in the distorted realm of domesticity. Some animal-derived products and scents in your hair may indeed trigger ancient longings and instinctual reactions.

Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. More pet care information is available at Dr. Fox's Web site, Write to Dr. Fox at United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Dog from Biting
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

No matter his size or breed, any dog will bite under the right circumstances, so it's up to owners to take steps to keep their dog under control. Some tips, from the American Kennel Association.

1. Research dog breeds before you bring one into your home. Some need considerable training and exercise if you're going to keep them under control. Do you have the time and commitment they'll require?

2. Don't let your dog run free. Keep your dog on a leash when in public. Keep him behind a secure fence at home. Sure, an electronic fence might keep your dog in your yard, but how will you keep people and their pets away?

3. Socialize your dog. Start socializing him from Day One so he's not uneasy with strangers. Even loving dogs may bite when they feel threatened.

4. Train your dog. He needs to respond to basic commands like "sit," "down," "stay," "heel," and "come." He needs to drop toys on command so you don't have to reach into his mouth to get a toy. Play non-aggressive games like fetch rather than with games that will teach him bad habits like tug-of-war.

5. Do not set your dog up for failure. Be cautious when introducing your dog to new situations, avoid situations where he might be teased, and remove him if there are signs he's

Top 5 Signs of a Healthy Cat
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

From the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine:

1. Clear, bright eyes with little or no tearing, and the nostrils should be clean. Runny eyes, sneezing or a nasal discharge can indicate a respiratory infection. The inside of the cat's ears should be clean and free of any discharge. A black, tarlike discharge in the ear canal usually indicates an ear-mite infestation; a puslike discharge may be visible in the ear canal if there is a bacterial or yeast infection.

2. The mouth and gums should be pink, with no evidence of ulcers or sores.

3. The cat's coat should be glossy, and there should be no bare spots, dry skin, dandruff or any evidence of external parasites.

4. The cat should not be too thin or have a protruding belly, because either condition can indicate the presence of internal parasites or some other medical disorder. If possible, make sure the cat's feces appear to be normal and well-formed.

5. Beware of a cat that frequently runs away and hides, or that appears lethargic and sleeps more than seems normal.

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A turkey named Pumpkin stands in the Rose Garden before U.S. President George W. Bush granted it a pardon during the annual White House Turkey Presidential Pardon presentation in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. Later today Pumpkin will be flown to Disneyland and be an honorary grand marshal of Disney's Thanksgiving Day Parade in California. The annual White House tradition that has held strong since President Harry S. Truman first pardoned a bird in 1947. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)(November 26, 2008)Getty Images

Mars Extends Pet Food Recall
By Lisa Wade McCormick -

Salmonella found in more pet food samples

Mars Petcare US is extending a recall of dry pet food after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported finding Salmonella in additional samples of the company's SPECIAL KITTY Gourmet Blend cat food.

The earlier recall, issued October 27, was for cat food produced at Mars' Allenton, Pa., plant on August 11, 2008. The recall is now being extended to cover all dry pet food produced at the plant with a "best by" date between August 11, 2009 and October 3, 2009.

The recall affects only products sold at BJ's Wholesale Club, ShopRite Supermarkets, and Wal-Mart locations in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia. No other customers and no other states are affected.

Retailers have been notified of the recall and asked to remove the products from their shelves. The recalled pet food should not be fed to pets and should be handled carefully by consumers. Consumers should wear disposable gloves and wash their hands carefully when handling any food product thought to carry Salmonella.

Mars makes a variety of pet foods, including Nutro dog food, which has been the target of hundreds of complaints from angry pet ownes who have written to

Eric of Lowell, Mass., said his dog became ill when he switched to Nutro.

"We rushed him to the vet who initially thought it might be leptospirosis, but those tests came back negative," Eric said. "After four days at the vet, with IV's, a negative Lepto test, and multiple medications, he was sent home and seems to be doing much better."
"Bottom line? He became sick after eating Nutro. He got better after stopping eating Nutro," Eric said.

Salmonella can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, experts say. People can also be infected if they handle the tainted food. Children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection in humans include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Salmonella can, in rare cases, cause such serious illnesses as arterial infections, arthritis, muscle pain, and urinary tract symptoms.

Pets infected with Salmonella may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets, however, may only have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.

Pet owners whose cats ate the recalled food and have these symptoms should contact their veterinarian.

Mars said it was trying to get ahead of the problem.

"We are continuously monitoring and updating our processes to be at the forefront of product quality, innovation, customer responsiveness, and manufacturing efficiency. In recent months, we have invested tens of millions of dollars in plant upgrades, new testing protocols, advanced associate training, and a new state of the art testing facility that will open in mid-2009," the company said in a statement.

For more information about the recall, pet owners can contact the company at 1-877-568-4463 or visit the company's Web site.

Surprising Dangers for Pets During the Holidays
By Melissa Tarkington - Special to CNN

Holiday food items and exotic plants can be toxic for your pets

Grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts are dangerous for dogs

Mistletoe, holly and Amaryllis bulbs should be kept out of reach of pets

(CNN) -- Our dog Tilly loves the holiday season. Turkey for Thanksgiving. Brisket for Hanukkah. Ham for Christmas and pot roast for New Year's. With so much food moving around the house and visitors who generously -- and covertly -- feed her under the table, Tilly has always been a happy dog during the season of giving.

Not anymore.

After we spent much of one holiday season at the animal emergency center trying to keep Tilly alive, our holiday celebration turned into a hunt for household toxics.

Tilly was diagnosed with severe anemia, which could have been caused by any one of numerous toxic items found in the refrigerators, cupboards and medicine cabinets of most homes.

Now, Tilly's kibble and treats practically need their own passport to reach her mouth; human food is out of reach; visitors are asked to put away any medications and shown where the "approved" treats are kept.

It may sound extreme, but veterinary medical experts say this type of preventative behavior can keep pets safe. This is especially true during the holidays, when family chaos increases and your pet's environment may change from day to day with the arrival of family and friends bearing gifts, holiday food items and exotic plants.

"Dogs and cats do not know what is bad for them," said Dr. Cynthia Gaskill, associate professor and veterinary clinical toxicologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. "If there is medicine on the bathroom counter or food left on the table, that is irresistible to them."

Keep out of pets' reach
• Antifreeze
• Chocolate
• Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
• Prescription or illegal drugs
• Rodenticides
• Xylitol
• Grapes and raisins
• Onions and garlic
• Lilies
• Macadamia nuts And unless your houseguests are conscientious pet owners themselves, chances are they aren't aware that they may be creating a toxic environment for your pet. Gaskill says it is important to let guests know not to leave their medications in an open suitcase or otherwise exposed.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications can kill small animals.

Because metabolic systems vary between species, a drug that may alleviate pain in humans can easily induce a toxic reaction in a dog or cat. For example, ibuprofen ingested by a dog can cause gastrointestinal damage and kidney dysfunction. Cats are especially susceptible to even small amounts of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol); ingestion of just one tablet can result in anemia and potential liver damage.

Dr. Robin Van Metre, a veterinarian at the Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Colorado, says that many of the emergency calls he receives involve pets that have accidentally ingested prescription medications or been given an over-the-counter medication by well-meaning owners who believe that their animal is in pain. Van Metre says these calls increase significantly over the holidays.

"Dogs will eat almost anything," Van Metre said, "and there is no such thing as a dog-proof cap."

Take care in the kitchen, too. Typical holiday staples such as grapes and raisins have been shown to cause renal failure when ingested by dogs.

Although small amounts of onions and garlic are often used in pet foods and treats to add flavor, ingestion of large amounts can cause severe red blood cell damage; cats are especially sensitive.

Macadamia nuts can cause a short-term hind-limb paralysis, and bread dough, if eaten before baking, can expand rapidly once ingested and cause ethanol poisoning.

Sweets, gum and hard candies are often problematic depending on ingredients. Chocolate contains a theobromine, a chemical that can affect the heart, kidneys and central nervous system. Dark chocolate and baker's chocolate contain higher concentrations of theobromine and are more toxic than similar amounts of milk chocolate.

Sugar-free gums and candies that contain the sugar-substitute xylitol can lead to quick onset of toxic clinical signs that may include a rapid decrease in blood sugar and possible seizures.

Think carefully before placing mistletoe or holly in low-lying areas, but put poinsettias anywhere you like. The effects of the poinsettia, long believed poisonous, are generally benign, says Dr. Anthony Knight, author of A Guide to Poisonous House and Garden Plants and professor of clinical sciences and toxicology at Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences.

Exposed plant bulbs such as Amaryllis and all species of lilies should be placed out of reach of pets not only during the holidays but year-round, Knight says.

Lily toxicity in cats can reach critical levels almost immediately after ingestion and lead to acute kidney failure within 48 hours or less.

"Lilies are one of the most poisonous houseplants that exists," Knight said. "It's not just the flower but also the leaves. ... If a cat eats any part of the plant, it would need to be treated immediately."

What should you do if your pet ingests a toxic holiday treat?

"Do not wait," Van Metre said. "Most people wait too long to call us, and that reduces our options for treatment."

Van Metre recommends calling a local veterinarian or animal emergency hospital first, or the ASPCA national animal poison control center (888-426-4435). The ASPCA charges a $60 veterinary consultation fee, but information about toxins is free on the ASPCA Web site.

Gaskill does not advise calling human poison control centers or attempting to diagnose your pet on the Internet.

Human poison control "is often not aware of the species differences and could inadvertently give the wrong advice," Gaskill said. "When doing a general Internet search, make sure the site is backed by a recognized veterinary organization or veterinary medical school. If it is not referenced, it is just someone's opinion."

Van Metre and Gaskill both warn against inducing vomiting in your pet before speaking with a veterinarian. Getting appropriate background information about the animal is critical to preparing a treatment plan for a particular toxin, they say, and every case -- every animal -- is different.

Tilly never recovered from her anemia, but she has been in remission long enough to create another toxic scare.

After learning that Tilly had ingested an entire bag of Hershey's kisses, we called our local animal emergency hospital in Atlanta. They did a quick calculation using Tilly's weight to determine whether a one-pound bag of milk chocolate would reach toxic levels in a dog of her size. It would not, but we were forced to clean up the silver-streaked evidence for many days afterwards.

Melissa Tarkington is a former journalist for MSNBC, and The Moscow Times. She is a second-year student in the professional veterinary program at Colorado State University.

Pet Pointers Include Choosing the Right Bed, Bird
JURA KONCIUS; The Washington Post / The News Tribune

Sure, you could cut down on the number of pet toys you buy, but there are many other practical ways to cut the cost of pet care in these challenging economic times.

We called California pet expert Warren Eckstein, who has a new Saturday radio show on Sirius, to get some ideas:

• If your vet prescribes medications such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs that are used for humans as well as animals, don’t always fill the prescription at the vet’s office. Try going to a low- cost pharmacy such as Costco or Walmart.

• Don’t forgo taking your pet for annual checkups. Early diagnosis of a condition or serious disease is so important for your pet’s well being and it can also save you big money.

• Consider feeding your dogs or cats a nationally advertised brand of dog food available in supermarkets or pet super stores instead of the more expensive or designer varieties. Check with your vet first, of course, before making any changes in your pet’s diet and get their advice. Look for the AAFCO label (Association of American Feed Control Officials) on the pet food packaging; they test the nutritional value of pet foods.

• Fresh air and exercise go a long way in saving money because your pet will be a whole lot healthier in general. Eckstein also likes to give dogs a daily massage.


Your pet deserves as nice a bed as you have.

Today, stores are filled with dog and cat beds made of trendy fabrics with cushy fillings. But what is really the most comfortable sleeping spot for your pet that is easy for you to keep clean?

A new book “Clean Home, Green Home” by Kimberly Delaney (Morris Book Publishing/Globe Pequot Press; $20) has some great common sense ideas for pet beds that also make good eco-sense.

• The most important consideration in choosing a bed is washability. Beds can harbor pets and also fleas and dust mites, so washing the covers frequently is important. Between washings, shake the bed outdoors on a regular basis. This can keep dander and dirt from spreading around the house.

• Try to find bedding that is filled with natural materials and covered with natural fibers. She suggests hemp, wool and organic cotton for exteriors. Natural fillings include kapok, buckwheat and recycled soda bottles. Avoid beds filled with petroleum based polyurethane foam – it is flammable and might contain formaldehyde.

• Cedar chips are a good choice for a filling because they deter fleas and naturally absorb odors.


More than 6 million American households have birds as pets. In fact, there are more than 16 million pet birds out there, according to the American Pet Products Association.

If you are considering buying a bird, here are some things to consider:

• Study the different characteristics of each breed and make sure the bird you choose will fit in with your lifestyle. Some birds like a lot of attention and need toys and interaction to prevent from becoming bored. Some love to chatter, and others love to scream, so decide whether you and your family (and neighbors) are comfortable with that if you choose something like a noisy macaw.

• Buy only from a specialized breeder or a reputable pet store.

• Make sure the bird looks healthy; check out if its eyes are clear.

• Take your bird for a checkup at your vet as soon after you get it as possible.

For more information, contact your local veterinarian and local clubs of bird fanciers.


Pet Project — These Animals Older, Wiser, Calmer

Older animals — especially the senior citizens of the pet world — often get passed by when people come to the Humane Society/SPCA of Bexar County to adopt.

And the shelter staff thinks this is a shame.

Mature dogs and cats have a lot of love left to give and many wonderful qualities that shouldn't be overlooked.

As a rule, pets that have celebrated more than a few birthdays are calmer, better behaved and easier to handle than their younger counterparts. Many snooze most of the day and, therefore, can make ideal companions for busy folks who work.

Training needs also are less because older dogs often know basic commands and older cats have long since learned to use the litter box.

Seniors are pros at being pets, in other words. They just need an opportunity to prove how loyal and loving old friends can be.

Here are details about the seniors shown here:

Kylee and Bear Fields: Kylee is a 10-year-old Labrador/Doberman mix. Bear, a purebred American blue heeler, is two years younger. The senior sweethearts are kennel mates who rely on each other and must be adopted together.

Bear's caretakers call him a “fluff ball” because he's so furry (and great to pet, by the way).

Kylee's coat is sleek and shiny, like smooth chocolate, and she sports stylish white markings.

Both dogs, though older, are playful and walk well on a leash. They respond to commands, are gentle creatures by nature and get along great with kids.

Hailey: This Maine coon cat has a mellow disposition and long brown/black/gray fur with white accents. Having her head gently scratched by a kind human is her idea of heaven. She also enjoys sitting in sunny windows and watching the world go by.

Hailey ended up at the shelter because her owner could no longer care for a pet. The pretty kitty hopes for a second chance — and, though 11 years old, still has plenty of purrs and promise.

Tiger: The orange and cream kitty with green eyes is 91/2 years old. He was brought to the Humane Society when his family moved and couldn't take him along.

An investigator, an explorer and the kind of pussycat who just can't get enough affection, Tiger thinks petting is the coolest. And he's quite the conversationalist. He likes to chat away with mews, asking people about their day and telling them about his.

Recently, Tiger learned to use a scratching post to rub hard-to-reach spots on his back. Caretakers say it's cute to watch this. Goes to show that older felines can learn new tricks!

Where to find the super seniors: Kylee, Bear, Hailey and Tiger are hanging out at the Humane Society/SPCA of Bexar County, 4804 Fredericksburg Road. Call (210) 226-7461.

To learn more about the shelter and its goals, visit

Rose Mary Budge

Christmas Puppy Scam Alert
4NI News

Consumers are losing out financially and emotionally to unscrupulous con artists, offering non-existent pets for sale online.

That was the message from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment's Trading Standards Service (TSS) today, as it issued a warning to any consumers thinking about buying a puppy from the internet this Christmas.

Kevin McNamara, Trading Standards' Inspector explains how the scam typically works: "An online advertisement will offer a puppy free for adoption, accompanied by a photograph of the cute pet.

"Upon responding, the buyer is provided with its background story, which normally states that the puppy is from outside Northern Ireland and so the buyer is required to pay its shipping costs.

"However, as soon as payment is sent, usually by wire, instead of receiving the puppy in the picture, the buyer will simply receive more stories, accompanied by more requests for money for necessities such as customs duties, vets' fees, inoculations and insurance.

"The scammers are taking the hopeful buyer for a financial and emotional ride over a puppy that never existed to begin with," he explained.

TSS has received a number of complaints about these online pet scams and as Christmas approaches, wants to warn consumers to be on their guard.

Kevin McNamara continued: "TSS have received complaints about these scams and some people have paid out hundreds of pounds, before realising the pet they thought they were buying never existed.

"With Christmas approaching, now is a good time for everyone to be aware of these pet scams and to be on the look out for their tell-tale signs. The emails are often written in poor English and there is usually a heart-breaking story behind the reason the puppy is being offered for sale or adoption in the first place," he said, noting that TSS advises everyone against buying a puppy, or indeed any pet, online.

"Consumers should ensure they see the pet in advance in order to satisfy themselves as to its general health and suitability. In addition, never, ever wire money to a stranger overseas."

KOLD Takes You Inside the Animal ER
Posted by Martha Serda - KOLD News

It's a place you hope you never have to take your pet, but in an emergency it's a life saver.

KOLD News 13 goes behind the scenes of an animal emergency room.

Our pets are part of our family and we'll do anything to protect them. That's where the professionals at the Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson come in.

Most pet owners only get to see the lobby, but now they can see the action as we take you inside the animal ER.

It begins with the welcome, "Thank you for calling Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson, this is Erica, how can I help you?

This 24-hour emergency room sees its fair share of trauma.

Audra Skiva, ER Swing shift Supervisor, "She was making noise with another dog like they were fighting outside and I ran out. And they looked fine. She came in to lay down and she's got this big hole in her chest."

Paulie is just one of the stories we encountered while inside the ER. After an examination the doctor determines the dog's reason for coming into the emergency room.

"Well she appears to be stable despite her impaling."

Technicians in triage take over to determine her vitals before a doctor can prescribe the course of treatment. On any given night, this emergency room is full and these professionals rely on each other and their love of animals to handle it.

"It's hard sometimes most of us are in this because that's what we want to do. We want to help."

There are no shortage of patients.

Rocco Deconcini was in and out. He has a virus and possibly a heart problem, but his owner is hopeful.

"The care has certainly been worth it. We have a whole new outlook that he's got a life ahead of him."

For this staff, it's on to another patient.

"She just has not been acting herself, she's a little older, she's been slowing down, she's tired. Not acting as perky as normal."

Little Susie's owner noticed something was not right at home. Susie will be staying overnight for observation.

"Every owner thinks of their pets differently, some owners it's a pet, it's a friend who's there. And some owners it's their children, they don't have kids, those are the ones it's the hardest."

Technicians here say,"It's not just about pets, its about owners."

Professionals at this 24-hour emergency room know how critical their job is. They comfort pet owners while caring for injured animals.

"We try not to get too attached because they're not gonna be here for very long and they're not coming back for regular checkups."

Pets checking into this facility typically are in and out, but they do get the occasional overnight guest for more serious cases and this one is about as serious as it gets.

Kandis Meinel, Cat Owner, "I went to pick her up and she just had a meltdown, just real agitated and I looked at her and saw the dried blood and her face was really puffy."

The ER Swing shift Supervisor asks, "Have you given her anything over the counter since you noticed her swelling at all? Owner: No."

Kandis Meinel brought her four-year-old cat Jete here today because of a predator near the yard.

"I just called them in like I normally do and she didn't come right away. I wandered out there and that's when I heard the rattlesnake."

Jete is taken to the emergency ward right away for stabilization. Then comes the consultation on treatment options.

"That we'd like to give the anti-venom and leave her in the hospital overnight."

Jete's owner has to make a serious decision about the treatment -- it's going to be cheap.

"Is this one fee here, this large figure here, is that a given is that something you determine is that staying her overnight and what she looks like in the morning?

But for this owner, the decision comes easily and with some humor.

"I understand she's gonna be here so I just have to leave her in your care

"Okay that's a lot of shoes and purses."

That's not all tonight -- meet Lucia.

This french bull dog went up against two bigger dogs and was outnumbered.

So during treatment, Lucia's owner sent in a sweater for Lucia to lay on.

Vets here say it's typical for owners to send in personal items -- it help them too while they wait.

"Their dog's favorite things. Their toys, their blankets, just to smell home to make them feel a little bit more comfortable."

Just when one crisis is averted, another set of doctors are handling another pet.

Heather Rowe inside the Animal ER, "It's 7 o'clock on Monday and they're getting read for a major surgery they see only 1 in a thousand, but to them it's an ordinary day."

That wasn't the only surgery going on here today.

Max is also going into surgery to remove a tumor, this invasive surgery will require some of his ribs be taken out.

After nearly two hours, Max's doctor comes out of the operating room and makes a call to his owners.

Dr. Shields, "Hi, Ms. Peters this is Dr. Shields at Veterinary Specialty Center. We just finished with Max. He's doing just fine. We got off to a little bit of a late start and it went a little bit longer, but everything went very well."

Then there's Katie. She's a Labrador Retriever with quite an appetite for metal.

Her owners brought here after she ate two sets of car keys, a coin, a magnet, a plastic toy and a thumbtack.

Doctors treated her and she gets to go home with only a thumbtack to pass.

The 24-hour Veterinary Speciality Center of Tucson is of the three in Southern Arizona.

Pets for Kids – “10 Essential Reality Checks!”
Author: Lesley Munnings

Essential Reality Check No. 1 – The Type of Pet for kids

The type of pet you can take into your household will depend on a whole host of things such as follows: How much will the pet costs be - not just to buy - but to care for on a daily basis? The ages of your kids - a two year old child will probably not be able to handle a pet gently and certainly won’t be able to care for the pet….. What size of pet does your child want? - What space will be needed? A hamster does not take up much space but guinea pigs, ferrets and rats need much larger cages. How much time do your kids and you as a family have to give to the pet? Will your family be safe with the pet?

Will the pet be safe with your family? If you have a larger pet such as a dog, cat, or goat what effects will it have on your family, friends and neighbours? How will your pet be cared for during your holidays. Will your family be able to cope with the eventual death of a pet? Some pets will sleep most of the day and be awake at night. Hamsters can be very noisy at night! If your child wants a dog you will need to look into the breed, size and exercise needs of the dog. Do you already have another pet, what effect will it have on that pet. For instance will your dog be ok with a cat or rabbit or bird? .

Essential Reality Check No. 2 – True Costs of Pets for Kids

Some pets are very cheap to buy for instance hamsters, guinea pigs, goldfish. gerbils, fancy rats, fancy mice and rabbits and even ferrets. You will still need to consider: The cage set up ( this can be very expensive when looking at the cage sizes that most pets need) in fact they need the largest cage you can manage Food costs per week Bedding Vets bills if your pets become ill. e.g. Ferrets need a yearly injection against canine distemper. Holiday care - you will need to pay for this of course if you cannot rely on friends and family.

Bigger pets such as goats, and dogs and pedigree cats are far more expensive to buy initially, some costing hundreds of pounds. You will need to consider: Bedding and a cage (if buying one for your dog or cat) Leads and collars for dogs. Food bills Vets bills (dogs should have yearly check ups with a vets) Toys Holiday care (kennels can be very expensive) Flea treatment Ongoing veterinary costs if your pets becomes chronically ill.

Essential Reality Check No. 3 – Ages of your Kids

As the parent or carer you will need to decide if your child is old enough to handle and care for a pet. How often have parents heard the cry “oh but we promise we’ll take it for walks everyday” Or “we’ll clean it out mum, we promise”. How will you feel in a years time when you find yourself caring for the pets because the kids are busy with friends or away on a school trip or inundated with homework or just plain bored with the poor thing You will need to decide on a pet that is suitable for the age of your kids. For instance in most cases it would not be wise to buy a hamster for a two year old child who is still adapting to the world around them and may not know or be able to handle the hamster gently.

Do you want to give your kids some responsibility in caring for an animal. Some kids are very responsible and will be able to manage this. Other kids, well the sight of a baby animal is just too appealing, after all who can resist a cute puppy or kitten or baby hamster? At first you may need to help your kids, as caring for a pet is a very responsible job. As a parent or carer you will always need to oversee a pet’s care.

,Essential Reality Check No. 4 – The Space Required

Even small pets for kids such as guinea pigs, fancy rats and ferrets need a lot of cage space for a happy life. They will need the biggest cages you can find space for. These pets also need space to exercise out of the cage. Cats take up very little space, as do small breeds of dogs. Dogs will need a decent sized garden as well as walks to keep them well exercised.

Essential Reality Check No. 5 – Time for your Pets

Do you and the family have time for a pet. For smaller pets for kids you will need to have them out of the cage and being handled daily for at least 2 hours a day. Do you have time to clean out your pet at least once or twice a week, or even daily? Some pets will certainly need the toilet corner of their cage cleaned more often to avoid a foul smelling cage and pet. Water bottles and food bowls will need cleaning and refilling every day.

Will you be able to walk your dog at least once a day? - dependent on the breed some need more! Are you willing to look after your pets for the many years some can live? (From 18 months to 2 years for a mouse up to 15 years for a dog) If you are out at work all day and the kids are at school all day your pets will need and will demand attention when you return home

Essential Reality Check No. 6 – Your Pet and Family Safety

You will always need to ensure your kids safety when they are spending time with any pets for kids. Even little pets can bite and leave a wound. Dogs should not be left unattended with your kids as they are unpredictable. Even a faithful dog will bite and even attack a child if they are in pain or afraid. It happens rarely - but it does happen. You will also need to ensure your pets safety: Is your child able to handle a pet safely without hurting it. Is your pet safe with any other pets in the home? - if you have young children and a dog …. you will need to make sure the dog cannot escape because a door is accidentally left open.

If you have a dog you need to ensure visitors safety as you can be sued if your dog bites someone on your property (or even off your property) Make sure that when pets are having free time out of cages that: Other pets cannot hurt them They cannot chew electrical leads They cannot fall into toilets or baths of water. They cannot escape through gaps in walls or floors They cannot get outside without supervision

Essential Reality Check No. 7 – Effects on Family and Neighbours

The whole family needs to be in agreement if you are getting pets for kids. Pets can be noisy and messy having an effect on family living. What effect will a pet such as a dog have on Granny who suffers with an allergy - will that mean she cannot come to visit anymore? If you get a dog will it bark and howl when you leave them for any length of time and will this annoy your neighbours. Will the dog bark when your neighbours are in their own garden. How will your neighbours take to having your pet cat mess in their garden? You will need to keep your yard free of dog mess to ensure it does not smell -particularly in summer months.

Essential Reality Check No. 8 – Holidays and Care for Pets

If you have pets for kids what will happen to them during your holiday times. Do you have family or friends who can care for your pets while you are away. If not you will have to pay for your pets care. This will be expensive for dogs, cats and larger animals. Even for little pets, holiday care can be expensive.

Essential Reality Check No. 9 – Loss of a Pet and Grief

Some children are really sensitive and will be distraught when their beloved pet eventually passes away, or is lost in some way. This is especially distressing if the pet has died as a result of an accident or illness. How will you manage this? The kids will need to grieve, grieving is a healthy part of a loss reaction. We can suffer losses every day in a small way such as not getting something we want, this causes a loss reaction and part of the healing for this is grief. If your child or other family member struggles with the grieving then look at the following and see if it applies. The grieving process has seven stepping stones through which people move. Your family member may not go through them in order or spend long on any one.

The stepping stones are: Shock, Denial, Guilt, ,Anger, Depression Bargaining, Acceptance Your child may want another pet this is called bargaining and is one of the stepping stones through the grief process. If your child cannot have another pet, break down the hidden losses that the death of their pet has caused. Could there be a loss of your child’s self worth or self esteem. Have they lost their only companion. Has your child lost the only one who listened to them. By chatting try to find out how your child is feeling and help them to work out their losses and then work through to acceptance by doing some healthy bargaining.

Would your child be able to regain their sense of worth or self esteem another way? Perhaps helping out with a friends pet for instance. For some children it may be helpful to have a burial service, so they can say goodbye properly. (My son kept some hair from his beloved dog) Our kids have managed the deaths of their pets really well and have gone on to have other pets, for other kids though it has more of an effect so you will need to decide when or if to replace your child’s pet.

Essential Reality Check No. 10 – Pets for Kids are GOOD FUN!!!

Pets for kids are for the most part a great addition to the family.. They are often good company for your kids especially if the kids are lonely. Kids can learn a lot from caring for pets and by having pets even when they are lost naturally. Dogs can encourage the family out to get exercise as they walk the dog. All our kids love their pets and they are an important part of the family. So whatever pet you decide upon have fun and enjoy

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About the Author:
Lesley and her husband are parents of 18years to four great kids and co authors of
For more information on pets visit best-pets-for-kids

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