Please, No Pets for Christmas!

Puppies for the Holidays are a Very Bad Idea

The Companion Animal Protection Society Explains Why the Holiday Gift of a Pet is actually no Gift at All

(Boston, MA) - A puppy under the tree with a big red bow around its neck seems like the perfect image for many families; but Deborah Howard, President of the Companion Animal Protection Society (The only national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals) warns that this only adds to the problem of shelters being filled with unwanted dogs.

Before you buy a puppy, Deborah Howard has created the following checklist to see if you are ready for the new member of the Family:

1. Did the companion animal you plan on bringing into your home come from a shelter, reputable breeder or from another location where you can trace its whereabouts

2. Have you prepped the entire family for the new member of the family?

3. Who will be responsible for the dog’s socialization?

4. Who will be accountable for the animals care? Feeding? Walking? House training?

5. Have you calculated the cost of raising your animal? Vet bills? Food? Toys?

Many breeders and pet stores are often motivated by money and the holiday craze. Such sellers are not likely to cut into profits with pesky screening for genetic diseases, nor are they likely to care about the importance of socialization. These attitudes may cost you in the long run, both in dollars and in heartbreak. The most important rule of thumb is to realize that puppies are not toys. They are living creatures that need a lot of attention and essentially should be regarded as a new member of the family.

“One should never purchase or adopt an animal as a present to be given during the holidays. There is too much excitement and stress during holidays for an animal that has to adjust and adapt to being in a new environment and home. Instead, give a gift card stating that there will be an animal after the holidays. Don’t expect children, even teens, to provide consistent care for this animal. The responsibility is going to be with the parents. Don’t ever buy a dog at a pet shop or online. Most of these puppies come from puppy mills – commercial breeding facilities that mass produce dogs for resale to pet shops or individuals. Potential animal guardians can make a difference by adopting an unwanted animal from a shelter or rescue organization. Most shelters and rescue organizations are listed on ” – Deborah Howard


About CAPS:

The Companion Animal Protection Society is the only national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals, CAPS' foremost concern is the abuse and suffering of pet shop and puppy mill dogs. Founded in 1992, CAPS actively addresses this issue through investigations, education, media relations, legislative involvement, puppy mill dog rescues, consumer assistance, and pet shop employee relations. For more information please click here.

At Camp Pendleton, Bison Are Home on the Range
by Steve Padilla - Los Angeles Times

Camp Pendleton is home to thousands of Marines, of course. But it turns out it's also home to 147 bison. Yes, bison. As The Times' Tony Perry reports, the woolly beasts give parts of the base an Old West ambiance:

Once, the bison surrounded a vehicle containing the commandant, blocking his way. The four stars on his collar gave him absolute authority over 170,000 Marines but meant nothing to the bison. He waited until the beasts, in their haughty, self-assured manner, slowly decided to move.

It all started in the mid-1970s, when the San Diego Zoo gave a dozen bison, which it did not have space for, to Camp Pendleton. Space was not a problem at the 125,000-acre base.

The federal Department of the Interior -- which features the bison on its seal -- manages about 7,000 bison in seven national wildlife refuges and five national parks. There's a smallish group in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and a herd at a nature preserve on Catalina Island.

The rest of the nation's half a million bison are mostly on privately owned lands. The Camp Pendleton population, given its isolation, may prove a genetic boon to species preservation efforts.

-- Steve Padilla

Photo credit: Don Barletti / Los Angeles Times

Thanks to Al & Sharon

Advice for Pet Owners
by Sue Steib and Lynn Buzhardt, authors of "Can We Have One? A Parent's Guide to Raising Kids with Cats and Dogs". (LSU Press) / Washington Post

Can Pets Join the Family?

Before pets are welcomed into the family, it's best to know which kind is the best match for your brood and the responsibilities involved in raising kids and pets. Veterinarian Lynn Buzhardt and Sue Steib help potential pet owners (or owners who are soon-to-be parents) prepare for a new addition to the household. They are the co-authors of "Can We Have One? A Parent's Guide to Raising Kids with Cats and Dogs". Buzhardt practices small animal medicine at The Animal Center in Louisiana and is an executive board member of the American Heart Worm Society. Steib is a policy and practice consultant to organizations serving children and families. They were online Wednesday, November 5, at 11 a.m. ET to answer questions.

Please join us again Wednesday, November 12, for another discussion on pet care with the Animal Doctor Michael W. Fox. And check out's Pets section anytime!


Sue Steib: Thank you all for joining in our chat today. We look forward to addressing your questions about successfully blending dogs and cats in a household with children.


Herndon, Va.: I obtained my dog from an animal shelter. He had an ear infection and a few days later kennel cough. I think he may have something else going on also. He eats everything! I have increased the amount of food from one cup a day to three cups. I have also changed his dog food. He has very loose stool now. Should I be concerned?

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: It is common for dogs to contract respiratory infections in a kennel situation. Also, realize that kennel cough will be contagious to any other dogs you may have at home. Isolate the infected dog and make sure your other dogs are adequately vaccinated against this respiratory disease. Rather than just increasing the amount of food you give your new dog, verify that the diet is of high quality. Sometimes quality is more important than quantity. Changing diets may actually contribute to loose stools but intestinal parasites may also be an issue. Why not see your veterinarian to address the cough, ear infection, and potential intestinal parasites? Your pet's doctor can also consult you on proper diet. Finally, thanks for adopting a pet that needed a home. Good for you!


Washington, DC: What kind of dog should the Obamas get?

Sue Steib: As is often the case, the answer to this question is "it depends". The Obamas will need to consider their personal preferences and lifestyle constraints in relation to breed characteristics such as size, energy level, and grooming needs. We hope they choose well because a nation of pet lovers will be watching. It is important that they set a good example.

_______________________ What kind of dogs are best for families with toddlers or babies?

Sue Steib: The short answer is "almost any tolerant, well-behaved one". In general, dogs that are medium sized and a bit older (beyond the puppy stage) so that they have had an opportunity to benefit from basic obedience training are probably best. The key, however, to successfully integrating toddlers and dogs in a household is good supervision of both pet and baby and setting realistic limits, such as training the dog to accept household boundaries and/or using physical barriers such as pet or baby gates. Babies or toddlers should never ever be left alone with a dog and no dog should be expected to tolerate the rough treatment that toddlers can sometimes unintentionally administer. Supervising pet-toddler interaction will get easier once you become accustomed to your dog's and child's behavioral cues. The effort you expend will be worth it both in household harmony and the fun of watching your little one enjoy his or her pet.


Olney, Md.: Our 4-year-old yellow Lab has recently lost some weight. It seems that he no longer likes his food and only wants to eat people food (this started after our 2-year-old son began to share his food with the dog). Is there a type of dog food that we should try (we are currently using Beneful)? Or should we mix wet food with the dry food? Will this disrupt his bowel movements? Any thoughts? Thanks!

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: It's traditional for toddlers to share their food with their dog. After all, the dog is a friend and we teach our children to share, right? The problem is that table food is not an appropriate diet for the dog, so it's best to teach your child that, while sharing is nice, we need to share the right treats. Try placing a few morsels of your dog's dry kibble in a snack-sized zip-lock bag and tell your son that he can share these treats at will. But when the bag is empty, there will be no more treats. This will teach your son moderation as well as generosity. If your Lab is losing weight, diet is one possible cause, but there are many others such as intestinal parasites, organ mal-function, infections, or hormone imbalances to name just a few. A physical exam is in order to rule out medical problems. Also, a consistent diet would help you monitor your dog's weight status. Beneful is a good diet, but should be fed dry. Dry food will help keep your pet's teeth and gums healthy. And yes, you're right on track. Changing foods or mixing wet food with the dry can certainly disrupt his bowel movements. Have your pet checked by his doctor, follow his dietary advice, and hug your very generous 2-year-old! He's a lucky boy to grow up with a friendly Lab. That's just how my sons grew up!


Somerset, Mass: My dog was recently diagnosed with plasma cell tumors on her front and back paws. They were removed and from what I read on the Internet, these are not usually malignant if in this location. Can you tell me anything about the condition?

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: Hearing the word "tumor" is frightening, but your dog is fortunate to have had tumors that were operable. Complete excision of plasma cell tumors usually results in a suscessful outcome for the patient. Being observant for the development of any further lesions will help you enjoy your dog for years to come.


Springfield, Va.: We're adopting, and hope to have our child here next year. S/he most likely will be between 9 to 12 months old. We're also big rescue dog people and will choose from the Washington Animal Rescue League. I know it's a general question, but any guidelines for choosing a dog, or tips on how to fit both adoptees in? Obviously we're limited to what dogs are at WARL at any one given time.

Sue Steib: Congratulations on both of your adoption plans! In general, you might look for a medium size dog that is a bit older so that it has lost that "puppy exuberance". Many animal rescue organizations carefully test the temperament of their dogs before placing them for adoption and this is something you should ask about, sharing with them your plans for bringing a baby into your home. The animal's history is also important. Did it come from a household with children and why was it relinquished? Remember, though, that any dog will require careful supervision with an infant.

While you are wise to consider your child's needs first, it is important to note that you and the other adult members of your household will be interacting the most with your dog, so include your own preferences in the decision. This should truly be a family dog. The data on dogs admitted to animal shelters suggest that those chosen only "for the children" are more likely to relinquished.

Remember, too, that time is on your side in making the decision about acquiring a dog to grow up with your child. The limited research on the benefits of children growing up with pets suggests that children have the strongest bonds with their companion animals during elementary school and pre-adolescence. So if your local shelter doesn't happen to have just the right dog for your family the first time you go, wait a while and try again.


Fernandina Beach, Fla.: I have a 15-month-old black Lab that just loves pieces of banana. She even likes the dried banana chips that I use for training treats. Two of the other three like the chips but not the fresh. Are fruits good for dogs like they are for us? Nobody is due for a vet visit for a few months, so I hope you can answer this.

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: Most fruits are good snacks for our dogs, but like everything else, even good things in excess can be bad. Limiting snacks, even healthy ones, is important to ensure that the pet eats enough of his dog food to provide essential nutrients. That said, bananas can be a healthy source of potassium and even help regulate bowel function. But, remember to avoid fruits that can make our pets ill such as grapes. Acidic fruits like oranges and lemons can also irritate sensitive tissues in the mouth. And let's be sure that our dogs do not ingest seeds or pits from fruits. Our hospital surgically removed a peach pit bacame lodged in a dog's intestinal tract.


Presidential dogs: Hi. Thanks for taking questions. Re: your earlier answer about which pets the Obamas should choose -- what do you think of the Bush's choice of Scottish terriers? Are they nice dogs? Thank you.

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: Scottish Terriers are fun-loving, active dogs as is common with any terrier breed. My experiences with this breed in our animal hospital have been positive ones. Like all dogs, they are nice, when well trained. But, they do require a little extra upkeep. They need to be groomed to keep them looking like "Scotties". With Christmas time approaching, I often envision Scotties decked out in plaid cute!


Washington, DC: We adopted our 3-year-old Labrador retriever about five months ago from a rescue organization. He is adjusting quite well to life in our home and is a happy, social dog. We are currently trying to get pregnant. This will be our first child. Since our dog is used to getting a lot of attention (and we love giving it to him!), we know that he will need to adjust to a new baby. He loves kids, but I am wondering what we can do to prepare him ahead of time for arrival of a child into the house.

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: You are wise to start early in preparing your Lab for the arrival of the new baby. Your dog sees you and your mate as his "pack" and he knows his position in that family unit. The addition of another member to the pack upsets the balance a little. To make the integration of a baby into a pet-owning household seamless and more organized, make a list of things to do according to tri-mester. In your first tri-mester, start obedience school so that your dog responds to voice commands. (Your hands will be full once the baby is born). Set household limits if your pet's normal territory will change, i.e. will you allow him in the nursery? (I hope you will). During the second tri-mester introduce your dog to the sights, sounds, and smells associate with the baby, i.e. set up the nursery and show him the baby bed, stroller, car seat, etc; play baby music or recordings of baby sounds (CD can be ordered online), let him smell baby lotion/powder. During the third tri-mester, stock up on pet food and medications, update vaccinations, have your pet's teeth cleaned if needed, and make sure your pet is free of intestinal parasites that may infect humans. After the baby is born, a gradual introduction in a controlled environment should aid an easy transition. While being new parents will keep you very busy, remember to share your attention with your dog and your baby simultaneously so that neither feels left out of your enlarged, but happy, family.


Virginia: Thanks for taking our questions today. We are owners of a 4-year-old Dachshund who is much like our "first child." He loves being with us, right in your lap, etc. Our dog is generally well behaved around people, especially strangers, but I have nieces and a nephew that he has become afraid of. Since they come right up to him (moving very quickly and generally petting rougher than adults) he now runs away and tries to either hide or stay behind our legs when they're around. He will not bite or snap unless they continue to poke at him, but you can tell the little guy is just generally distressed when he hears their little voices in the house. Well...we are also expecting our first child in January. After dealing with these experiences with our nieces and nephews, we're obviously concerned with how our Doxie is going to handle the new addition. Any advice on how to have everyone (parents, dog, and eventually baby) adjust to the new family?

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: You are quite observant in that the children in this situation, not the dog, need a little behaviour modification! Even the nicest, calmest dog needs a little down time, and no dog (or person) likes to be harrassed. So, how about trying to educate your neices and nephew a little on behaving respectfully around pets? Children are anxious to play, but may not realize that their quick, darting movements aren't appreciated by their canine playmates. Start by explaining to the children that they need to be gentle with Doxie so that she can learn to trust them and then when they gain that trust, they will all have more fun together. But sometimes, Doxie just may not feel like playing, so it's also important that Doxie have a quiet, safe retreat from the hectic household when the children visit. How about a nice, sizable crate in another room? Dogs often veiw crates as their "personal space" and voluntarily retreat here at will. It's important to teach children how to behave around our pets, since by doing so, you are essentially educating the next generation of loving pet owners. What a good aunt/uncle you are!


Charlotte, N.C.: We're expecting our first child in Feb. -- how do we prepare our three Dauschunds (two female, one male) and two male cats? I am going to work really hard so that they aren't shoved aside when the little one arrives. I want them to like or at least not hate the baby, but beyond bringing home a baby blanket so they can get used to the smell a day or so before the baby arrives, what else can we do? One of the dogs is already very protective of me and pretty needy -- and I think the cats sense that something is going on and they keep following me around the house. Anything I need to keep in mind to prepare them (or the house) so everyone will get along?

Sue Steib: Congratulations on your impending parenthood. There are many things you can do to prepare your pets to welcome the new arrival. Spend some time thinking about all of the changes that will take place in your household once the baby comes, and try to begin making some of them now. If possible, begin adding the baby furniture and other equipment early so that your pets become accustomed to it. Also consider the new smells and sounds that will accompany an infant. You may want to begin putting baby lotion on your hands and then petting the dogs and cats. Try recorded baby sounds, particularly crying, but also gurgles and coos. A baby doll may also help prepare your pets, although they will be able to tell the difference between it and the real thing.

Also consider what new boundary limits there might be in your household and begin now to teach you pets to adhere to them or install barriers such as pet gates. In general, the more you can do now so that your animals don't associate changes that may be disturbing to them with the arrival of the infant, the better.


Falls Church, Va.: A few cat questions -- should I give my cat wet as well as dry food, and should I let my cat go outside? Also, how best to minimize my daughter's cat allergy? We adopted a 3-year-old female cat who was used to being outside most of the time. We previously had two indoor cats, so an outdoor cat is new to me. I'm not sure how to let her outside in a safe way. (We've just had her for going on two weeks.) Also, I have heard that just dry food isn't good for cats. Should we give her both? Lastly, my daughter has a cat allergy but seems to be doing okay (a bit stuffy and occasional need to use her inhaler). Her room is off-limits to the cat. Any other ideas to minimize problems? She loves the cat of course.

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: First, there is no safe way to let a cat outside. Since cats are good climbers, even fences won't keep them safely in our yards. When cats roam, trouble often follows. Besides being threatened by cars and fighting cats, outside cats are exposed to a plethora of diseases such as feline leukemia, FIV (the feline version of HIV), intestinal parasites and heartworms. The fact that your cat left for two weeks is an indication that she is roaming and is at risk for all of the above. It's important for you child to enjoy the cats, but it's also important to safeguard her health and make every attempt to minimize her allerigies. Try keeping the cats well brushed to decrease dander and shedding. Keep their coats moist with an oral vitamin supplement on their food. Clean your daughter's room frequently and remove textiles that harbor pet dander such as curtains, plush pillows, and carpeting. Hopefully, she can enjoy her cats without a problem.


Washington, DC: Our toddler loves our Lab and our lab loves our toddler. However, being a toddler, our son is VERY excited when it comes to the dog. He understands petting and being nice, but sometimes he gets excited and will hit the dog or jump on him. The dog is fine with this. He normally gets up and moves away from our son, never any growling or snapping. I want to avoid the dog feeling like he has to snap at our son. Any ideas on how we can have the two 'play' or interact together without our son invading our dog's personal space?

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: Sounds like you have a pretty normal toddler and a really nice Lab! You are doing a good job of teaching your son to be gentle around the dog...just keep the instruction sessions going. Also, to avoid having the dog feel like he "has to snap" at your son, correct your son in front of the dog in the same manner that you correct your dog when he commits an infraction. Use your stern voice, reprimand the innappropriate behavior, then end with praise in a kind voice for good behavior. Luckily, positive and negative reinforcement works for both children and pets. Your dog shoud recognize your attempt to create a good situation for him and will appreciate it. But dogs shoud also tolerate inevitable toddler invasions, i.e. ear pulling, tail yanking, etc. without an aggressive response. It appears you're in good shape on this aspect. Remember that toddlers are eye level to Labs and eye-to-eye contact is sometimes discerned as an act of aggression to our dogs, so keep working with your son on the proper, non-threatening way to approach and play with dogs. Have fun!


Upper Marlboro, Md.: Dogs love peanut butter, but are peanuts safe to give dogs?

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: Peanut butter in moderation is usually OK, but it definately adds calories to the pet's diet. Over 40 percent of dogs and cats are overweight, and obesity shortens life spans as it contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and orthopedic problems. With that in mind, I advise a low calorie snack such as frozen vegetables (broccoli, carrots, green beans) or simply treating the dog with a few morsels of his dry dog food. Our pets want our attention more than they want the snack, so as long as we give them "something", they are usually satisfied. Back to peanuts...shelled peanuts are often swallowed whole and not chewed which can irritate the digestive system and peanuts in shells are a definite no-no. We often give our pets "treats" that we like ourselves...Bet you're a peanut butter lover, right???


Virginia: A pit bull just moved in next door. The owners are not very mature. It slams up against the wood fence and has already broken through the back gate. I am petrified it will break through or jump over my fence and harm my beagle. What can I do?

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: Even though there are many well-behaved pit bulls, no one should have to live in fear of the "dog next door". Try to talk to your neighbors about your circumstances. Perhaps they can kennel the dog or keep him indoors when they are not home to supervise it outside. If this doesn't work, call your local animal control agency and report the situation.


Cat Lover: How much should a cat be eating normally? I recently adopted a 5-year-old Siamese cat who is petite (she's only 6 pounds), and she is not a big eater. She tends to graze throughout day. I am feeding her a grain free dry food by Wellness and I give her about a 1/3 to 1/2 a day. Sometimes she does not finish all her food. She is healthy and very active. Is this normal for a cat? Thanks!

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: Cats are usually ad-lib feeders who regulate their caloric intake pretty well. A high quality, digestible diet may provid adequate nutritional value in very small quantities. So, even though it may look like your cat is not eating much, if she is maintaining her body weight and is healthy, she should be "well fed".

_______________________ How do parents know when the dog in their family is a bad match for those in the household?

Sue Steib: Take some time to answer questions about your relationship with and enjoyment of your dog. These should include: How much time do you and/or your children spend interacting with the dog? Do you generally enjoy being with your dog and, if not, why not? Is it too big and boisterous? Does it have exercise, grooming, or other needs that are difficult for your family to meet? If you are having problems related to the dog's behavior, are they simply annoying or are they dangerous? If the dog's behavior is the issue, what have you done or are you willing to do about it? School age children can sometimes be engaged in taking dogs to obedience lessons and working with them at home. This provides an opportunity not only to improve the animal's behavior but for your children to develop new competencies of which they can be proud and to forge a deeper relationship with their pet.

If, after thoughtful consideration of these questions, you decide the dog you have is not a good fit, then safely rehoming (assuming the dog is not dangerous) may be best for you and the animal. And should you decide to rehome your pet, remember that in today's busy families, the human members of the household often simply do not have sufficient time to spend socializing and interacting with a dog. In this case, the issue may not be so much whether the dog is a good match, but whether it is the right time to have a dog at all. Dogs are pack animals and they need time with "their people" to be happy and well behaved. Any dog that is not sufficiently socialized will be a problem although some may be more of a problem than others.

Regardless of what you decide, give yourself some credit for taking the time to seriously evaluate your relationship with your dog and its fit for your family. Such decisions can be difficult, but confronting them honestly and decisively is the right thing to do for your children and the dog.


Martinsburg, W.Va.: We have an old hound dog on his last legs. He still enjoys eating and drinking and is happy to see us when we get home, but he has trouble getting around and often falls (Old Hound has trouble controlling his back legs - Cushings Disease). We recently acquired a Brussels Griffon puppy who has lots of energy. Young Pup keeps trying to get Old Hound to play, which just serves to irritate Old Hound, and now seems to have evolved into Young Pup teasing Old Hound. Old Hound can't do much about it -- he falls if he turns or moves to quickly, and Little Pup is fast and evasive. Latest game is Little Pup playing with Old Hound's dog tags, and when Old Hound growls then Little Pup dashes in and licks Old Hound's teeth. Also, when Old Hound gets up to get a drink or something then Little Pup runs in and lays in Old Hound's bed. Or when Old Hound finishes his dinner and walks away, Young Pup goes and sits in Old Hound's dinner dishes -- I guess it's just to prove he can. It's pretty amusing, but sad too. We do try to separate them, and when it gets out of hand we confine Little Pup to his kennel to calm down, but do you have any ideas?

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: Congratulations! You must be good pet owners to even have a dog qualified to be called "Old Hound". While younger pups often stimulate older ones, they often exasperate them, too. You're on the right track trying to provide Old Hound some time without the annoyance of Little Pup, but we need to teach Little Pup a few manners. Simply, reprimand him when he invades areas that should be off limits, i.e. Old Hound's bed and food dishes, and praise him profusely when he stops. Make sure that Little Pup has a space that's all his own, too. How about a sizable crate that is his personal space, with boundaries respected by Old Hound? Respect is a two-way street, right? You may use treats and positive re-enforcement to encourage Little Pup to go to his crate and give Old Hound a break from the energetic youngster. It's a difficult balance, but when in doubt, side with Old Hound, who may have limited days ahead. You can make it up to Little Pup in the years to come.


Dr. Lynn Buzhardt: We've enjoyed chatting with you and hope that our responses have been helpful. The best lives are shared with pets, and we wish you all many years of joy with yours.


Lynn and Sue

Bad Economy Leads to More Pet Surrenders
By Kelly Onanian - Wicked Local Brockton

Economy forcing more people to surrender pets

“The family, with two small children, was sitting out on their steps, crying. The husband was even crying,” said Creeley, a Brockton attorney and founder of the dog rescue organization, French Bulldog Village. “Children are the ones that can’t understand why they’re losing a pet and the pet doesn’t know why it’s being taken from their home. It’s heartbreaking.”

Beefy is among a growing number of house pets to become the latest victim of the economic downturn. Across the region, animal shelters and rescue groups are seeing an increase in the number of people forced to surrender their pets because of job loss or home foreclosures.

In many situations, stay-at-home parents are heading back to work and some pet owners are getting second jobs, leaving no time to care for a pet.

Ann Thompson, owner of Plymouth-based Mayflower Mobile Veterinary Services, said the situation is the worst she’s seen in her 16-year career.

“Last week alone we had five pets surrendered from different families,” Thompson said. “We had a woman with five children come in needing to surrender her two cats. Her house was being foreclosed, car repossessed … It came down to either feeding her cats or kids. There have always been instances where people give away pets, but not surrender them because of the economy.”

Karin Barrett, co-founder of CeCe and Friends in Weymouth (formerly based in Quincy), said her phone used to ring off the hook with adoption inquiries. Now, her answering machine is filled with messages from people needing to surrender their pets.

“It’s a no-win situation right now for animals,” Barrett said. “People are losing their jobs … almost every shelter is full right now and (all shelters) are seeing the same thing — more and more surrender calls. No one has the money to adopt, and we’re having problems keeping shelters open.”

Middleboro Animal Control Officer Jason Tracy said that while he hasn’t seen an up-tick in surrenders due to the economy, there has been a slight increase in certain breeds.

“We are seeing more breeds that we typically don’t see, such as smaller, companion breeds like a Jack Russell or Lhasa Apso,” said Tracy. “We don’t normally see them because they are popular, expensive dogs.”

Stoughton Animal Control Officer Kristin Bouscuet said funding for shelters is dwindling.

“Donations are going down because people don’t have the money to donate anymore,” she said.

Bouscuet also predicted the animal population will continue to grow as people have less money to spay and neuter pets.

“It’s worse more so for cats than dogs. Cats are getting pregnant, having kittens, people are trying to get rid of the kittens and bring them to shelters, but shelters are at capacity,” she said.


Yes Pets? Renting to Pet Owners Without Ruining Your Investment
Author: Carolyn Capalbo

Even the words "pets", "dog" and "cat" can send cold chills down the spine of any landlord who has had a bad experience with tenants who thought that cleaning the litter box once a month was enough or let their dog tear up the living room carpet for amusement. However, accepting pets can mean better tenants who stay longer. Finding responsible pet owners to rent from you might take more time than a simple ad in the paper, but they can be worth it.

Any pet owner looking for a rental can tell you that "no pets" or "n/p" is one of the most common sights in the Rentals section of the newspaper. This is for good reason; any landlord can tell you horror stories about pet owners who don't clean up after their pets, prevent and/or repair damage caused by said pets, or keep their pets under control. People like these ruin it for the rest of pet owners, as many landlords feel that they can't take the risk of accepting pets into their rentals.

First, what are you planning to accept? Caged animals generally don't leave their cage for any length of time and their mess is confined to the cage and immediate area. Birds can be an exception; a medium to large bird can cause a lot of mess if not cleaned up after regularly. Many more landlords accept cats into rentals than dogs, since cats can be happy living in small quarters and are often cleaner. Small dogs are more likely to be accepted than big dogs for the same reasons.

No matter what kinds of animals you decide to accept, recognize that there is no such thing as a completely clean pet. Even fish need to be cared for regularly or their aquarium and area becomes a breeding ground for smell, mold and mildew. It's not so much the mess that the pet produces; it's the commitment of the owner to keep their pet and its surroundings clean and livable.

Some landlords charge pet deposits for pets, which is certainly an option for you. Most responsible pet owners realize that deposits are a part of real life and will be willing to pay one in exchange for being able to rent a decent home. If the pet owner complains that they 'can't afford' a pet deposit, reconsider renting to them - what is going to happen if there is some kind of pet-caused accident or damage to your property? Will they refuse to fix it, citing that they can't afford to?

When interviewing a pet owner, it is a good idea to see the pet(s) if at all possible. If you can interview the person in their present lodgings, you can see how clean they keep the place (of course, you may allow for packing/moving disarray), whether it smells of pet and how clean and well-trained their pets are.

Well-groomed pets usually indicate people who have a care for cleanliness and the quality of their environment. A pet should have no strong odors about it and should have a healthy, glossy coat. Watch for scratching or chewing that may indicate parasites. Inquire as to the type of pest prevention used for the pet. An indoor cat may legitimately be left prevention-free, but pets that access the outdoors should have some kind of preventative program in place.

Inquire into the training of their pets. If you are lucky enough to have a prospective renter whose dog goes to obedience classes and has won titles, seriously consider them. Dogs with temperament testing and obedience titles are more likely to be well-trained pets in the home. Other titles of achievement in the canine world are indications that the person is involved with their dogs and has a care for their welfare and living area.

Cats can be harder to ascertain whether they are being regularly interacted with. You can look for signs of scratching on the furniture and carpet. A cat tree and cat toys are a good sign that the owner is committed to providing their cat(s) with items to exercise their inclination to scratch and rub on instead of walls and floors. Cats that are 100% indoor, or only indoor-outdoor under control & supervision are less likely to pick up dirt, parasites and disease.

Ask for references, such as vets, groomers, trainers and other pet professionals the person claims to have interacted with. References from previous landlords can be a good indication of their treatment of rental property. References from the local SPCA or humane society can also be a sign of a good tenant, since most animal rescues have an interview process of their own for pet adoption.

Take the time to consider those people who have anticipated your concerns by providing an upfront plan of care, maintenance and reimbursement concerning their pets. The people who take the time to alleviate your concerns about their pet and who show themselves willing to take responsibility for any damage that pet may do are more likely to care for your property in the manner that will keep it rent able after they leave.

Renting to pet owners can be risky, but it can also bring great rewards for the landlord who carefully chooses a responsible pet owner. Pet owners who care for their animals are more likely to care for their living space and stay in a place that will accept their pet. With careful consideration and interviewing, landlords can find responsible people who take their responsibilities to their home as seriously as their responsibilities to their pet.

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About the Author:
Carolyn Capalbo is an expert military relocation specialist and real estate agent serving Northern Virginia real estate. Visit to find updated market information about areas in Prince William, including Chantilly VA real estate.

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Useful Tips For House Training a Dog
Author: Andy Ayres

House training a dog can be defined as a training or guidance which ensures a dog that it is too considered a house member and is liked by other home members. Start your house training a dog by making him free to wander here and there in the house. Do not tie the rope, or whatever you use in the neck of your dog all the time. A dog feels relaxed in this way and feels that it is too free like other members of house to wander here and there.

When your dogs do anything wrong, you should not scold it or punish it as the dog becomes afraid in this way and cannot be your friend and just hides itself when sees you. You should give house train the dog in the friendly environment. You should give toys to a dog at your home so that it may play with them and may feel happy. Give it a ball to play with, and you should yourself too play with your dog so that it may become your friend. Your dog must have seen all home members and should be able to recognize them.

A dog can remain healthy if it gets healthy food on time. Therefore, give it proper food for eating daily on time. Be sure that your food is healthy for a dog. There are many packed foods having necessary nutrients are available in the markets for dogs which help them to be brought up. You may buy any food from the shop and give it to your dog if it enjoys eating it. Always give food to a dog in a clean utensil and do not let your dog to throw its food in its surrounding area. In this way, you can develop habit of keeping clean surroundings in a dog during house training a dog.

If you go outside daily with your dog, your dog becomes able to recognize its own house if it goes outside the house alone, and you do not know about its absence. When it will have seen surroundings of its house, it will come automatically inside the house as soon as it recognizes its house. It is another important success factor for the successful house training a dog as your dog does not go at any unknown place but comes back in its own house.

In short, pamper a dog instead of scolding it, give it neat and clean place to take rest as a dog always like to take rest only on a neat and clean place instead of dirty place, spend some time with it daily, give it training in the kindly way about getting rid of its bad habits if it has bad habits, give healthy food to a dog, show it that you love it and can protect it from its enemies. If you will follow all these mentioned useful tips, you will become surely successful in house training a dog.

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About the Author:
Andy Ayres is a dog training specialist and helps dog owners solve problems with their pets. If you want to stop your dog's excessive barking then learn how a bark collar can help or look here for the most popular bark collars.

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Feral Cats Can Make Good Pets
Author: Angela Ralano

Many people feel that feral cats cannot be kept indoors as pets. This is not true. In fact, feral cats are happy being kept as indoor only pets if you don't attempt to treat them exactly like tame cats.

What are Feral Cats?

Feral cats are cats that haven't been properly socialized. What this means behaviorally is that feral cats are not tame toward humans. Very often, feral cats result from the offspring of cats that were once owned and then abandoned. As a result, the kittens are not properly socialized to humans and become feral.

There is a critical period during kitten development in which kittens must be exposed to human caretakers, otherwise they will be feral or at least semi-feral. This critical developmental period is generally from birth to 8 weeks old. If the first human exposure occurs past the age of 8 weeks this usually results in a feral or semi-feral cat. Sometimes older feral kittens can be tamed toward one or two human caretakers.

What to do if You Find a Feral Cat or Kitten

Many well meaning cat lovers will find feral kittens and take them to their local animal shelter. Unfortunately, feral kittens aren't very adoptable and most of the time animal shelters will destroy the feral kittens to make room for tame kittens that are more likely to be adopted.

Fortunately, there are some shelters that will spay or neuter the kittens and then return the kittens to their natural environment. This at least gives the feral cat a chance to live without the ability of producing more feral cats. This program is called Trap-Neuter-Return, and it is being implemented in many areas to control the outdoor cat population without having to kill the cats. It generally works like this: The kittens are caught in a humane trap, such as Havahart live animal traps. The animal is unharmed. Then the cat is taken to the vet or the shelter that participates in Trap-Neuter-Return and the animal is spayed or neutered and is usually given some vaccines. When the cat has recovered from the spay or neuter surgery the cat is returned outdoors in the same location where it was found. Trap-Neuter-Return is a much more humane way of dealing with feral cats and kittens than euthanasia.

Feral Kittens Can Also Make Very Rewarding Pets

Some people who find feral kittens take them into their homes as pets. This can be a very rewarding experience as you gain the trust of these special cats. It is also the best option for the well-being of the feral cat or kitten. Taking them into your home as a pet is even better than Trap-Neuter-Return programs. Taking them in as pets generally works best if you catch them when they are relatively young. The younger the better, although some people have taken older feral cats into their homes as pets and they have been fine.

It is also best to take in two feral kittens or cats from the same litter if possible. If this isn't possible it is best to have at least one other cat in the household because feral kittens and cats really enjoy the company of other cats.

Feral cats need to be kept as indoor only cats. Cats sometimes behave differently once they get outside. Because feral kittens and cats don't trust humans very much they may be fearful of approaching your house once they are outside and they may get lost. In general, they are very fearful of any humans other than the human caretakers that they have grown to trust.

I have four feral cats that have lived with me for about 2 years now and they have been very happy indoors. Three were caught when they were 10 weeks old and the fourth cat was caught when she was 12 weeks old.

For the first few weeks after I brought them in the house, all of the kittens used to hiss when I walked by them. Eventually they came to trust me and stopped hissing when they saw me. In fact, now they greet me at the door after work. When I wake up in the morning they come up on the bed to greet me the very first thing. They love playing with toys and with each other. They are still semi-feral, but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing how happy they are and knowing that they are indoors where it is warm and safe.

However, they aren't exactly like other cats. For the most part you can't pick them up. One of the kittens lets me pick her up and kiss her on top of her little head, but the other kittens don't allow it (Actually, they are no longer kittens, but they still seem like babies to me). However, they do like to play toys with me, and except for one of them, they do like to be petted and to have their fur brushed.

Feral cats and kittens would not make good pets for children. Basically feral cats that live indoors with humans like to do their own thing most of the time. They don't want to be held and will usually only let you pet them on a limited basis. Because of this they are likely to scratch a child that attempts to have more contact with them than the cat wants. The key to making a feral cat happy is to only have as much contact with the cat as it wants.

Also, you need to give the shy ones extra space when they are using the litter or eating. Sometimes it is best to keep their litter and food bowls in low human traffic areas so that they can feel safe while eating or using the litter box.

Vet trips can be difficult because they don't always allow you to pick them up to put them into the pet carrier. However, there are ways to do it. Sometimes you can throw their favorite toy into the carrier and they will run in to get it and then all you have to do is shut the cat carrier door.

Feral cats are well worth the extra work and they are the best pets ever! Also, because they only want limited contact with humans you generally don't have to worry about them walking on your keyboard while you are typing or laying across you newspaper or book while you are reading.

In my opinion there is nothing more rewarding then gaining the trust of these cats, especially if you don't mind taking their special needs into consideration. The reward comes in knowing that you are providing a loving, warm, happy home with plenty of food, water, toys, and veterinary care for these special cats.

For more information about feral cats and cat and kitten information please visit About Cats

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About the Author:
ngela has a master's degree in psychology and is currently working on her doctorate. She is a fitness enthusiast and cat lover. She also maintains the Web sites Official Fitness and and About Cats

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