Swimming Dog Rescued Mile from Land

Pilots Fly Doomed Dogs to Better Life
USA Today

Pilots are donating their time, planes and fuel to transport dozens of dogs a month from overcrowded shelters where they face almost certain death to rescue groups and shelters several states away that are committed to finding them homes.

The mission-of-mercy relocations are flown by general aviation pilots who have signed on with the recently formed Pilots N Paws, a Web-based message board where pilots can access information about animals in need.

Once the electronic connection is made, dogs plucked by rescuers from death row — mostly in the South where sterilization rates are low and pet overpopulation is rampant — are loaded onto small planes and flown one, two or six at a time to rescue groups and shelters that have available space.

"These are wonderful dogs that simply had the bad luck of winding up in a place where there are too many pets in shelters," says Pilots N Paws co-founder Jon Wehrenberg of Knoxville, Tenn. The retired manufacturing executive and weekend pilot has flown scores of dogs from high-kill shelters this year. Earlier this month, his mission involved six small mixed-breed dogs from Knoxville's Young-Williams Animal Center.

The happy half-dozen enjoyed a smooth-sailing, 90-minute flight to Greensboro, N.C., where they were met by radio station executive Jennifer Hart, head of Animal Rescue & Foster Program, who had arranged foster care. One dog has been adopted; the others are receiving additional attention, socialization and training and should be ready for new homes soon after Thanksgiving.

Beginning of the journey

"Pilots N Paws has given about 20 of our animals a second chance," says Tim Adams, executive director of the Young-Williams shelter, which euthanizes 70% of the animals that land there. "We take in 17,000 animals a year, and Knoxville simply isn't big enough… to get new homes for them here. Twenty animals saved may not sound like much, but every one of them matters."

Pilots N Paws started operating in February soon after Wehrenberg offered to fly a Doberman in Florida to his pal Debi Boies of Landrum, S.C., who is a retired nurse, horse breeder and long-time rescuer. He began asking questions about the rescue world and learned about the passionate underground railroad of animal lovers who orchestrate days-long road journeys to save some of the 4 million to 6 million animals destined for euthanasia in U.S. shelters annually.

"I'd had no idea of the number of animals being euthanized, and the ordeal people and animals were going through in transports," Wehrenberg says. "Pilots love to fly. I believed that if we created a means for them to discover situations where they could fly and also save animals, many would do it."

He and Boies joined forces to spread the word, and within months, 85 pilots had signed on. Nearly 200 dogs have now been flown from several shelters and rescue groups to welcoming arms hundreds of miles away.

"For most of these dogs, the next walk they would have taken would have been to death's door," says administrative assistant Dawn Thompson of Falconer, N.Y., who for 18 years has taken in, nursed, socialized and re-homed more than 100 dogs a year from various high-kill areas. In recent months 30 have arrived via Pilots N Paws, and she's learned the ones that arrive by plane rather than ground transport "don't have the stress that two days on the road creates, and that makes them almost instantly adoptable."

'Doggy kisses' are worth gas

Each flight costs the pilot hundreds of dollars in fuel alone, not including routine maintenance and other operating expenses. Boies and Wehrenberg are working to gain non-profit status for the group so pilots could declare the fuel costs a charitable contribution. But the pilots aren't exactly agitating for that.

"Doggy kisses are worth the $6 a gallon," says Westminster, Md., businesswoman and small-plane pilot Michele McGuire. She was recently part of a two-leg rely that flew a 110-pound skin-and-bones Great Dane from Arab, Ala., where a rescue group saved it from euthanasia, to a new family in Baldwin, Mass.

"I don't know what (the animals') opinion of flying is, but it sure makes their trip a lot shorter," says Nick O'Connell, a Williamsburg, Va., contractor who did his first such flight earlier this month. The two-leg hand-off involved two pilots, several hundred miles and two chow-mix puppies rescued from a dump near Atlanta and delivered to their new family in Chesterfield, Va.

The animals are almost always remarkably calm about the adventure, O'Connell and other pilots report.

"It's almost as if they understand that this is their chance for life," Boies says.

Sometimes pilots scroll through the "Transport needed" section of Pilots N Paws and find a plea to fly an animal to a town or city they already were planning to visit.

Most times, however, they study the requests, see a need that touches them and offer their services.

Broomfield, Colo., software engineer/pilot Mike Boyd was involved in a multi-state, multi-person transport of a German shepherd in October, and he's aiming to do more missions. "To take my hobby and apply it to help this situation, well, it's just a great feeling," he says.

Adds O'Connell: "It is rewarding beyond my wildest imagination."

Fishing Party Rescues Dog a Mile From Land
Mike Zlotnicki - The News & Observer

Dean Lamont is a professional fishing guide, plying the waters around Cape Lookout. Depending upon the season and local conditions, Lamont guides anglers to red drum, speckled trout, false albacore -- whatever species presents the best opportunity.
He can add Labrador retriever to the list.

On Nov. 8, while guiding Tim Wilson of Raleigh and Shingo Mutoh of Durham, Lamont and his party caught (and later released) a yellow Lab more than a mile from the nearest dry land.

Lamont and his party left his dock in Atlantic Beach about 7 a.m. intent on catching false albacore, small sporty tuna common to the area this time of year. They motored to Beaufort Inlet.

"It was real rough," said Lamont, who spends time in Raleigh when not in Emerald Isle. "The other guides took a look [at the seas] and didn't go out. We got out and looked for birds."

With no birds working bait pushed to the surface by marauding albacore and facing tough angling conditions, Lamont turned his 23-foot Hydra-Sport toward the Cape Lookout bight and then the rock jetty.

When the trio arrived, they targeted speckled trout but started catching bluefish despite 6- to 7-foot swells. The conditions were not worth catching blues, so Lamont headed back to the inlet.

Halfway between Harkers Island and the middle marshes, the trio moved along, no boats, no land, only water and waves. The next sighting was a first for Lamont and his crew, including Wilson.

"I'm a boater and fisherman, and I'm always looking for fish," said Wilson, who owns a construction management company in Cary. "I saw something big and blond and thought it was a person."

It was a blond all right, but it had four legs instead of two.

"It was unbelievable," Lamont said. "My whole life I've been on the water, and I've never seen a dog like that. I said 'Good grief.' "

Lamont said the dog headed for the boat when it spotted it, then veered off. Lamont and his party immediately decided to rescue the dog, but the pup had other ideas.

"You think the dog would just jump right in the boat," Lamont said. "When Tim reached for him, he started snarling and growling. When I tried, he did the same thing. At that point, I didn't think we'd be able to get him."

Wilson then picked up a mooring line, pulled one end through the cleat loop and created a makeshift lasso. His aim was true, and the rope tightened as the dog swam through it, snugging down behind its front legs.

They pulled the dog over the transom, and once on deck it, the pup was unsure of its situation.

"He was really disoriented," said Wilson, who owns a golden retriever. "When I did finally get him in the boat, he could hardly stand. He was so disoriented."

Lamont started searching for the owner immediately. A VHF radio call to the U.S. Coast Guard was fruitless, and only one boat responded, to the negative.

Lamont decided to go find the owner. A call on VHF channel 68 ("the local, everyday fishing channel") yielded nothing, so Lamont went cruising. The closest boat was a mile and a half away and was no help.

The next boat they found was a big cabin cruiser anchored in the sound.

They asked a woman aboard about the dog. She indicated that she wasn't sure but that the dog looked like "Jake."

"Once she said 'Jake,' I bent down to him and said his name and his whole facial expression changed and he let me pet him," Lamont said.

It turns out the woman's husband (Lamont did not ask her name) was with the dog's owner. The two men had gone fishing, taking the dog and the yacht's dingy with them. Lamont guessed that they left Jake in one boat while taking the dingy in the shallow marsh water. Jake evidently got bored or lonely or needed to answer the call of nature and swam off.

"We got lucky," Wilson said. "It was a feel-good story. It was one of the most emotional stories I've been around.

"The moral of the story is don't leave your dog unattended in the marsh."

Not every dog will be as lucky as Jake.

Q & A with Dr. Corey Shagensky of the Farmington Valley Veterinary Hospital


On the evening of Sunday, Oct. 26, photographer Cathy Kadaras and executive producer Tracy Furey went to observe what it is like on an average night in a veterinary emergency room in Connecticut. Well, it was no average night. We’re told it was the busiest night they’ve had so far.

Kadaras and Furey met with Dr. Corey Shagensky, co-director of the Farmington Valley Veterinary Hospital. His facility treats animals during off hours -- evenings, overnights, and weekends.

EWN: What kind of advice can you offer for someone trying to decide what warrants an emergency? When should you go to a vet? When shouldn’t you go? When do you worry about your animal and when don’t you?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: The best advice I have is to call. Call and ask. And try to ... Try to give us as much information about the situation as possible. One of the most common things we see is people call up and say 'my dog ate 'such and such' ... 'or 'this drug' .. Or 'some of this' ... And so the questions we need to ask are 'well, what kind of dog do you have? How big is your dog? How …big is your cat? What do they eat? How much of it?' That kind of stuff. to be a little bit prepared to answer some questions is the most important thing. But people should call. Calling is free. You know, we are happy to talk to folks. What we can't do is make a diagnosis over the phone. So a lot of times we'll suggest someone come in. If it sounds very straightforward, we'll give them something they can do at home. Maybe it's something they can follow up with their regular doctor about. But oftentimes we do have to have them come in just so we can see for ourselves what the … problem is.

EWN: What's the biggest mistake folks make with their animals?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: The biggest mistake they make is probably waiting too long on the things that they shouldn't be ... And conversely being too reactionary to things that might not be a big problem. But first ... The first big issue is probably the most important. A lot of the emergencies that we see are maybe not emergencies per se, but they're just chronic diseases that progress to such a point that they become emergencies because their animal is then acutely sick and so it's that waiting too long to have medical attention to their pet that's probably the biggest problem we see.

EWN: What are some significant symptoms to be concerned about?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: There isn't a lot of black and white in medicine but some of the more obvious things, you know, are obvious injuries, bleeding, unrelenting vomiting or diarhea. Some of the more chronic things that we've talked about: increases in thirst, increases in urination that have been going on for a long time. Complete unwillingness to eat would be another thing that we'd want to check their animal out. Inability to urinate or defecate, especially in cats can be a very threatening situation.

EWN: You have seen pets suffering with diabetic crises, including one dog tonight. Can you tell me about that?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: What sometimes happens is when diabetes goes undiagnosed for a long period of time, the body of a person or an animal starts to react and, and basically they'll have an overabundance of toxins in their body from being diabetic. And when that reaches a certain point, they get very, very, very sick very quickly and so they require very intensive nursing care or intensive care-type of treatment to get them out of that situation.

EWN: What are the symptoms a pet owner sees in their animal if they have diabetes?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: The same as in people. Dogs and cats with diabetes will drink more, urinate more and you'll see they'll have great appetites but be losing weight pretty rapidly. At that point people usually start to notice there's a problem. The only way to really diagnose it is with some bloodwork and a urinalysis that has to be interpreted by your veterinarian.

EWN: And do you do all that here at the emergency hospital?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: We can. We try to work in partnership with everybody's regular veterinarian. And make sure that that relationship is solidified by whatever we do. But typically we will see these guys come in on emergency and maybe … the people have been noticing that maybe something has been wrong for a long time, but they didn't have time to go to their regular doctor …. And we'll sometimes be the primary place to diagnose a disease like this.

EWN: You’ve had two dogs tonight who are being treated for seizures, including a puppy. Can you assume it’s epilepsy?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: When a young dog like this starts having seizures, typically we presume they're ... diagnosed with epilepsy. But in reality there are quite a number of different causes of seizures in young dogs, middle-aged dogs and older dogs. A lot of times their breed, their age, any concurrent physical problems will kind of lead us toward a diagnosis because for seizures we call it kind of the common cold of veterinary neurology because we see it so commonly and there are a number of different causes for seizures.

EWN: How does a seizure affect a dog?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: It can come in some different presentations. They can have a grand mal seizure where they'll have jaw chattering, paddling, kind of flailing on the ground. Some of the seizures you'll see animals just get really quiet and stare off into space. And some animals are kind of a combination of the two. Some of them will just lightly paddle and stare off ...

EWN: Would a person pick up that a seizure is happening?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: It's very jarring the first time you see a grand mal seizure. It can be very jarring, very scary to watch. But there ... isn't really a lot someone can do at home to stop the seizure. The thing that we suggest to folks is that they just prevent the animal from hurting themselves because they can injure themselves during their motions. But really it's after they've had a seizure or had more than one seizure is when we'd like them to call us or call their doctor and have the problem addressed at that point.

EWN: And seizures can be treated?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: Seizures can be treated. It's uncommon to be able to eliminate seizures completely. But we can reduce their severity, reduce their number. It depends on the cause of the seizure. If they're having seizures because they have a brain tumor, that's far different from an animal having seizures due to epilepsy or some kind of other disease.

EWN: How do you determine the cause of seizures in an animal?

Dr. Corey Shagensky To really diagnose every potential cause of seizures, you'd need to be doing bloodwork, urinalysis, checking for infectious diseases, doing a spinal tap, an mri, a cat-scan. I mean, you can really .. You can go as far as you want …

EWN: … but it's up to the owner? Dr. Corey Shagensky ... And it's up to the owner. You're absolutely correct. So we'll often counsel them on what's appropriate for them to do and unfortunately in veterinary medicine it always comes down to what are their... What does the financial picture look like, too? Because we can do all kinds of stuff , but when you start getting into more advanced treatments and more advanced diagnoses - diagnostic procedures, we're talking about a significant increase in costs of many of those things.

EWN: You have some thoughts about keeping animals here overnight …

Dr. Corey Shagensky: Yeah, it's not so much sometimes that animals can't go home or whatever, but .. You get to the point where we need to treat our clients as well as our patients, and so a lot of times I will keep an animal just ... You know, if it's reasonable to keep them medically, i'll often say to folks 'look, it's important for you to go home and get some sleep and rest so that you can make important decisions come the morning time.’ So, you know, we don't keep animals for no good reason, I'm not saying that, but oftentimes it's just as important for the animal to get some rest and have us do the caregiving, let us do the nursing care ... And let the people go home and get their rest and take care of themselves.

EWN: … because you're here all night?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: Because we're here anyway and so, you know, we can always regroup in the morning and decide on what the best thing to do then ... Whether they go home then or whether they go to their regular doctor then.

EWN: You were talking about how you treat seizures .. and what’s in the iv’s …

Dr. Corey Shagensky: Well, the fluids are just to make sure that if they're not eating and drinking well, that they stay well hydrated in the hospital. But for seizure cases, if we're just controlling the seizures, it just means we're giving them …anti-seizure medication: things like phenobarbitol, potassium bromide which are a little bit kind of old fashioned in terms of human medicine, but they're effective and safe to use in animals. And if we do need to use another drug, we can add in some of the newer drugs that are available on the human market. They're very effective. They're very useful. They're just a lot more expensive for us to use and so we add those in later on if necessary.

EWN: Now Rusty is here after being hit by a car. That’s something you probably have to deal with .

Dr. Corey Shagensky: The most important thing with Rusty is that he has some signs of head trauma. And that can be … that's one of the more common things we see in dogs who are hit by cars. So right now we're kind of deciding on the best course of treatment to try to reverse the signs of …neurologic damage and all the secondary things that come from some head trauma. And typically these guys do fairly well over the course of several days. There are some very severe cases where they need to be on ventilators. They often need very aggressive pain management and supportive care to let their body heal … over the course of a few days. But oftentimes we have very good luck treating these guys.

EWN: How do you deal with the pet owners? Do you call them if they leave the animal and go home for the night?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: What we typically tell people is that if we're really, really busy like this, we'll ... always call people if there's a problem. That's something I always tell folks because ... you know, it's hard to sleep at night when you know your animal is here. And you don't know us .. And you don't know what's going on. I tell people, 'you know ... If anything is ever going wrong ... If anything doesn't look good ... I will call you. If there's a problem at 4 o'clock in the morning, I will wake you up and call you. If you don't hear from me, that's good news.' Oftentimes i'll call people kind of before bedtime just to say 'hey, look ... Things are going well. You know ... Get your rest. ... Get some sleep ... And things will be okay. I will call you if something changes'.

EWN: Can you tell me a little bit about bloat? That was the initial concern for Abel, the Great Dane who was having vomiting/wretching issues.

Dr. Corey Shagensky: This is a very common in a lot of large breed, deep-chested dogs like great danes and golden retrievers and german shepherds. (With bloat) the stomach … blows up with gas and turns around on itself. When that happens it's a very acute emergency. There's a loss of blood supply to the stomach. It can cause very severe damage to the stomach and is typically fatal if not treated surgically right away.

EWN: You said you have a radiologist look at x-rays to diagnose the problem … and if you catch it ahead of time, it's a situation that can be resolved?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: Typically it is. It depends on how long they've been in that state. If it's been a long period of time, and there's a lot of damage to the stomach, sometimes they have damage to their spleen as well. If that's already happened, then the prognosis gets worse and worse depending on how long they've been in that condition.

EWN: Where are the radiologists who work with you?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: The x-rays we take are digital. So those are submitted electronically to a radiologist off site. They're available 24 hours a day and they'll give us an interpretation right away as to what they see on the images we send to them.

EWN: Do you consult with a bigger veterinary hospital for unique problems or consultations?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: We do. There's a hospital in Catona, New York that's part of the network of hospitals that we belong to. And so if there is a specific need for something, we'll give them a call or potentially we'll call one of the specialists there to see if they can offer us any assistance. We also use local practitioners as a resource, too. There are surgeons and internal medicine specialists and other specialists locally in connecticut that we work pretty closely with to get their opinion and advice on some cases.

EWN: We were in the waiting room with clients. It can be really emotionally out there in the waiting room ...

Dr. Corey Shagensky: When people come here they're ... very stressed out. They are in a situation they're not familiar with, oftentimes it's at a weird time. You know, they're coming here in the middle of the night. Or on a Sunday when they don't expect to be coming in with their animal. And sometimes they just saw something that's very jarring, too. Like a seizure. Or they've seen their dog get attacked by another dog, and that can be, you know, very traumatic experience emotionally. And it makes it more difficult to communicate to them what's going on.

EWN: And the ties they have with their animals are very strong ...

Dr. Corey Shagensky: Oh, absolutely. That's the reason why, you know, we're here. Essentially. Because people in that kind of emotional state don't want to wait another 12 hours, 24 hours. Or even the entire weekend. I mean, they are sick. Sick animals that we see on Friday night sometimes they ... a couple of decades ago may have had to wait the entire weekend before the doctor was back in the office Monday. Or the local veterinarians would have to see emergencies all hours of the day and night.

EWN: What kind of animals have you seen here?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: We primarily see dogs and cats, but we have seen a variety of other animals. Last week I saw a snake. A gentleman brought in a snake that had been hit by a car. And we took care of the snake. We don't routinely see and keep reptiles, but sometimes we can, we can help folks out. We will see pocket pets: ferrets and hamsters and guinea pigs and chinchillas and rabbits. We'll see some of those guys too. Very few doctors are available to see these animals after hours and so we're one of the few places that will ... give it a try. You know, I can't say that we have exotic animal experts here , but we certainly can help in a lot of cases. And there are some general practitioners in the area that are very good at handling exotics and so our job is to try to, you know, stabilize those pets and stabilize those animals and get them to the point where they can see some of the very talented exotic specialists and exotics doctors in the area.

EWN: What’s the difference between an emergency room veterinarian and a regular veterinarian?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: Two totally separate things. At this practice in particular, our mission here is to really enhance the relationship between regular doctors and the clients. We're here to bridge the gap so we can take really good care of all our local practitioners' clients and their patients so that we can get them to be in a state of good communication with their regular doctors. We want people to have an open line of communication with us and with their regular veterinarians.

EWN: And are the regular veterinarians happy to have this service?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: I think you'll get varying responses. But I think most folks are glad that we're here. It affords regular day practice doctors the time to have a personal life and know that their clients and their patients will be well taken care of by a well-trained staff nearby.

EWN: If your pet was hit by car and seems all right, are you still making phone call to the vet?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: At least making a phone call would be the ideal thing to do. There are quite a number of pets who are injured by an automobile and walk away from the accident and are fine. But there are some injuries, some internal injuries that cannot be ... They're not obvious when they happen. And we have had a few cases where the pet is injured by the automobile and walks or runs away from the scene only to collapse later on. And so there are some internal injuries that can happen that aren't readily apparent. So it's at least, it at least warrants a phone call. Usually it warrants at least a physical examination by one of our doctors to make sure that one of those problems isn't occurring.

EWN: What percentage of animals coming here for an emergency get here and don't survive ... you must have a to deal with the sadness ?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: One of the most important emergency functions that we serve is, unfortunately, euthanasia for pets who really require that. I would hate to think that a critically ill, injured or sick animal has no other option at 4 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday night. I'm very happy that we actually can be here to alleviate that suffering for these pets that don't have another option at that point. So .. euthanasia is something we commonly have to perform here because we're seeing very sick or severely injured animals. And it's just part of what we have to do. It's a necessary and very important, vital function of veterinarians and especially on an emergency service, because we see that .. That certain group of patients.

EWN: Do pet owners want you to go all-out to save their animals?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: I think the vast majority of people that are coming here to take care of their pets. The vast majority of them are really committed to the overall quality of life for their pets and we do not have ... we don't have a lot of people that I feel are going, you know, beyond what is reasonable. And there also isn't a black and white as to what is reasonable and what isn't. A lot of times when people come in for a consultation, we'll give them all the different options, all of which are reasonable options. We might say 'okay, you can do all these fifteen different diagnostic procedures and all these treatments and all this stuff’ ... We can always offer a medical option. But the real question is 'should you'? And that's when it's important to know, you know, how old is your pet? What have they been through? What is the likelihood that they're going to have a good quality of life if we do all these things? And so it isn't black and white. And so there are some people, no matter what, will choose each and every one of those medical options. And so is that right or wrong? It's hard to judge sometimes.

EWN: Do you make recommendations or just lay out the options?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: Most people will ask 'what would you do if it was your dog?' and I think earlier in my career I tried to stay away from that and just be very objective. But the longer I've done this, the more I've learned that people really do want to know what would you do? And so I will tell them what I would do with the disclaimer of 'you know, I would do this but it's ... I can't afford to do all that: ' the million things that I just recommended to you. But I always give them the promise that any plan I lay out to you is a reasonable one and it's coming from a place of compassion and a place that I think is responsible. I would never give someone an irresponsible option or something that I thought was inappropriate. So I always tell people 'look, anything that comes out of my mouth is something that would be fair to your pet.' you know, I would never offer something that isn't reasonable.

One of the most important things we do .. in some of the cases of animals that are very sick or very injured is ... you know, we may not be able to save them, you know, the way we think of saving a life, but a lot of times we can buy them some time to have the family spend some good quality time with their pet before the decision for euthanasia is made. Something like that. And that ... that end-of-life time can sometimes be some of the most valuable time they can spend with their pet. So that's a very ... another valuable service that I think we can provide and every doctor, every veterinarian can provide that.

EWN: Is having a hospital like yours a growing trend?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: It absolutely is. I think more and more communities are seeing the value of having an emergency clinic nearby because it's ... something that contributes to the overall quality of life for people living in a given area. You know, people have a bond with their pets and if they know there's an emergency service available for their pets nearby that's another reason to live in a community or to be in a certain community … it's just one more thing that can add to the kind of vibrance of a community along with good schools and a good library and a good hospital. Have a good veterinarian and a good emergency clinic for their ... pets.

EWN: Would you talk about costs of an e-r visit?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: One of the realities of a place like this and every other emergency or referral clinic across the country is that there certainly is a significant cost difference between a place like this and a regular veterinary clinic. The reason is because of the nature of the business. You know, we're open at crazy times and we have to stock specialized equipment, specialized drugs and keep them on hand all the time for any and all eventualities. And there's a significant cost to that. It's also important to hire the most highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated staff including doctors and technicians. And ... that comes at a cost as well. So, you know, we're able to provide a very high level of care, high level of medicine. But obviously in order to exist we have to have a way to pay for that.

EWN: You said three to five times more than a regular vet visit?

Dr. Corey Shagensky: You know, it depends on what service we're talking about. But it's certainly significant enough that we typically talk to people about 'well, this is something that may or may not be able to wait until you can talk to your regular doctor.' And we try to … kind of ... allow that to happen as much as possible. Obviously there are some things that need to be dealt with on an emergency basis and that's clear-cut. And there are some things that are a little more grey. And there are some things that obviously can be taken care of by a local practitioner. And we really try to reinforce that relationship between the owner and their regular doctor.

Pet Lovers Come Together as Community

By Stacy A. Anderson • The Journal News

WHITE PLAINS -- More than 230 felines are competing to represent the best of the best in 35 breed categories at the annual Westchester Cat Show this weekend.

The 33rd annual fall show by The Westchester Feline Club will hold the second day of competitions at the Westchester County Center today.

Sara McConnell, 15, of Lancaster, Pa., and her mom entered three of their Munchkin cats in the show.

"It's fun to compete and see the different breeds," she said. "You get really excited when your cat goes up for judging."

McConnell, who has entered 12 shows in the past two years, said she enjoyed teaching people about the Munchkin breed, which she said has only been around for about 30 years.

Westchester Feline Club Vice President Sandy Adler said the annual show educates the public about various breeds, raises awareness about cat adoptions and promotes cat care.

Adler also likes the camaraderie with other pet owners.

"For me, it's a giant party," she said. "People come back year after year and become friends."

Airmont resident Jeff May attended the cat show with his wife, daughter and son-in-law.

"It's a great show to come to," said May, who has attended the event for more than a decade. "We like the variety of animals and we like to watch the judging."

The show, co-sponsored by Nutro pet food, featured special events and entertainment including a "Meo Wear" fashion show, "Cat of the Year" award ceremony, paper cat sculpture workshop, discussion on pet bereavement and face painting for children.

Long-Island-based Rescue Ink, which has been featured on the TV show "Ellen," gave rescue tips to attendees. Purrsonals, a match-making online service, hooked up cat lovers for an evening gathering. Veterinarians and animal behavior experts were also on hand to give pet owners advice.

Four area shelters, including Ardsley-based Cat Assistance, brought animals available for adoption to the show.

"This is a fabulous event," Cat Assistance director Sarah Hart said. "You get incredible homes for cat lovers."

On average, the cat show facilitates about 50 adoptions every year.

More than 30 merchants sold treats for felines at the "Meo Marketplace." Vendor Priscilla Eldredge of Groton Long Point, Conn., sold cat tents, toys and beds. Eldredge, who has participated in the show for 20 years, didn't forget pet owners either. She sold jewelry, purses, luggage, socks, glass wear and more with images of cats.

"This show is the premiere cat show," said Eldredge, who also breeds cats. "It's the best show I do."

Reach Stacy A. Anderson at sanderso1@lohud.com or 914-694-5080.


In Life and in Death, Dog Part of the Family

Patricia Kleban

I have a confession to make. I love my dog. After years of feigning tolerance only for the sake of the kids, I openly admit that I love my big hairy yellow lab, Bailey.

My husband and I became anti-dog people after the “get a puppy before you have kids” routine. Although we loved that dog, we found out that managing babies and a hairy dog can be tough for new parents. In the ultimate act of kindness, we found her a good home and she enjoyed a happy, indulged life with the retired parents of one of my students. No regrets.

Our babies became kids who started the begging for a dog after a picnic where one of my colleagues brought their new Labrador puppy, Chili. They played with Chili all day and spent the next weeks pleading, “Can we get one? Please?” To my chagrin, my husband promised if Daughter No. 1 kept her room clean for 30 consecutive days and Daughter No. 2 read for 30 minutes per day, we would get a puppy.

His rationale was — wink wink — they would never do it. Yeah right. That bedroom was as sterile as an operating room, and we read enough books to earn a graduate degree. Thirty days later we were checking ads, buying puppy books and driving to Bellefonte to bring home our little yellow bundle — Bailey the yellow Labrador.

Fast-forward six months and Mom has a dog with whom everyone else has lost patience. Puppies who pee and poop on the floor are “gross.” Young dogs who chew Barbie dolls are annoying. It’s always someone else’s turn to take her out, clean up the yard or brush the pounds of hair that ended up all over our furniture and clothing.

But when no one else was looking, I fell in love with that hairy, peeing, pooping, chewing ball of energy.

Bailey quickly learned that I was the go-to person for meeting her needs. Hungry? Need to go out? Some snuggling? It was all me. I was her chauffeur to the vet and kennel. I looked the other way when she got up on the bed. We were so connected that she knew when I took an empty Wal-Mart bag from the pantry it meant we were going for a run. I could say “check your e-mail,” and she would run to sit under my feet at the desk. When the rest of my family was cranky or if I had a bad day, she would look at me with those big brown eyes, and I felt like the most important person in the world. She never talked back or gave me teen ’tude.

A lot has been written about the relationship between man and dog. Owning a dog has been linked to better coping skills, attachment, empathy, patience, and even the will to live. Stories of dogs saving lives, warning about danger, predicting health problems and responding to the needs of their humans underscores their value in our lives.

Fiction or reality? Rin-Tin- Tin, Lassie, Benji, Beethoven and Marley had nothing on Bailey. I still laugh when I think about a trip to the vet after she ate some insulation from the storage room in the basement. Stomach X-rays showed the insulation, a quarter and a Phillips head screw. There is nothing like a Labrador.

When Bailey’s health started going downhill this summer, our vets did their best but her issues were significant. Earlier this month, we were faced with that final decision that is the worst part of pet ownership. I was with her in the end.

Our toddler who cried at the breeder the day we got her because the puppies were jumping on him is now a pre-teener, and he is heartbroken; he started every day of the past eight years with a few minutes of floor time, warm fur and dog kisses. His teenage sisters are devastated. Even Dad, who always pretended not to like the dog, is having a hard time.

Others may have fallen for my anti-dog ruse, but Bailey knew the truth. She was my constant shadow, my running buddy and my best friend. I will carry this loss for a long time.

Patricia Kleban lives in Patton Township with her husband and three children. She would like to thank Dr. Jeff Miller and the staff at Centre Animal Hospital for their kindness and compassion. Please contact her at pkleban@comcast.net

New PetCareRx Writing Contest Allows Pet Owners to Share Their Best Pet Tales

Pet Owners can enter to win discounts and vouchers off pet related products.

Lynbrook, NY (PRWEB) November 24, 2008 -- PetCareRx the leading online licensed pet pharmacy in all 50 US States, is kicking off its very first pet stories writing contests. This is the premier competition in which pet owners and PetCareRx customers will submit their favorite pet stories and photo's to share with other pet owners across America. What makes this contest fun is that there are no losers in this contest - whenever a pet owner shares their stories, PetCareRx will thank them with special PetCareRx discounts and coupons*.

This writing initiative offers an opportunity to all pet owners to tell of a real life shaggy dog story or tell of a heartwarming tale about their beloved pets; to tell the world and other PetCareRx customers about the funny antics of their favorite pets. Pets can be silly, inspiring, goofy, loyal, heartwarming, and fun, and almost all pet lovers have a story to tell about their favorite animals.

This new PetCareRx Writing Contest is being launched in honor of our PetCareRx customers, as a chance to connect with each other through story-telling and share their pet stories with each other
We are giving our customers an opportunity to broadcast these great stories and we can't wait to see which one of their touching pet stories will win America's heart. In addition, those who submit stories will receive PetCareRx's Pet Points for the stories they submitted!

"This new PetCareRx Writing Contest is being launched in honor of our PetCareRx customers, as a chance to connect with each other through story-telling and share their pet stories with each other" said a PetCareRx spokesperson. He continued, "We are giving our customers an opportunity to broadcast these great stories and we can't wait to see which one of their touching pet stories will win America's heart. In addition, those who submit stories will receive PetCareRx's Pet Points for the stories they submitted!"

Once a pet tale is submitted, PetCareRx will credit the authors account with 100 bonus Pet Points once the story has been approved by PetCareRx's contest moderators! At the end of each contest period, the best story as judged by PetCareRx will receive EXTRA Pet Points! One submission prize is awarded per contest period, per customer.

*Contest Terms and Conditions apply.

About PetCareRx
PetCareRx is the leading online licensed pet pharmacy in all 50 US States. PetCareRx dispense the same EPA & FDA approved pet medications as regular veterinarians but up to 50% the recommended retail price. PetCareRx work hard to bring to their customers the highest quality EPA and FDA approved medications at the lowest prices available.

Ordering refills with PetCareRx is as simple as 1-2-3! If you have placed an order with PetCareRx in the past, you can simply log into your account, view your past orders, and add items straight to your current shopping cart.

PetCareRx's commitment to customer service is second to none and is happy to sell directly to the consumer through its 1-800-844-1427 toll free number and on the web at http://www.petcarerx.com.

4 Tips to Keep Your Pet Out of the Vet's ER this Holiday Season
Reported by: Jennifer Harrington - ABC15

Thanksgiving is a time to be spent with family and friends; not at the Emergency Animal Clinic with a sick dog or cat! This holiday season, make sure your home is safe for Fido and Fluffy!

Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe from Melissa Gable Executive Director of Friends of Animal Care & Control.

As tempting as it can be, don't give your pets leftovers from your Thanksgiving feast. Human food is too high in fat for our pets and can leave them with severe digestive problems. Plan on feeding your dog or cat their normal meal on Thanksgiving, but shower them with love, attention and some extra play time.

Be sure to keep alcohol, candy and human food out of paws reach. Candy dishes and appetizers are often left on coffee tables and can be very tempting to your pet. Alcohol, chocolate, sage and onions are just some of the Thanksgiving fare that can be deadly to your pet.

Curious cats and dogs often find creative ways to infiltrate the Thanksgiving Day trash! Take your garbage out as soon as possible. Don't leave trash cans or bags in places where pets can easily access them. The scent of food is too tempting for your animals. Turkey bones are brittle and can splinter; getting caught in your pet's throat or intestines.

Loud family festivities and playful children can stress out even the most calm dog or cat. If your animal is stressed, give them a spare bedroom where they can chill out and relax. Drown out noise by turning on a TV or radio and be sure to have your pets bedding and one or two of his favorite toys.

Dogs and Owners Need Right Training
By Amber Burckhalter - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As Atlanta’s love affair with dogs grows, so do the problems. I recently attended the yearly Association for Pet Dog Trainers conference and everyone who saw my Atlanta name tag had something to say about Atlanta and Michael Vick. Not what I want people to think about our great city.

Recently, many in the city have been shocked to learn about allegations of abuse and mistreatment at the Fulton County Animal Shelter, whose director resigned amid reports that pit bulls were caged with other dogs.

Few dog owners realize that within the professional dog community there is a varying degree of what is considered acceptable training and treatment of animals. Dog owners should aggressively seek out treatment guidelines, professional affiliations and certifications of everyone who comes in contact with their pet, just as parents do their due diligence on the qualifications of a potential child care provider. Owners should ask how the dog professional would deal with their specific situation to ensure that their practices are in line with an owner’s values. Owners should also ask themselves one basic question: Does this sound too good to be true?

Responsible pet ownership goes far beyond annual veterinarian visits and feeding. Owners should try to be more proactive with their dog and its behavior. All dogs should be able to socialize with other animals, children and adults in public to be considered safe. Working with a qualified dog trainer can give the dog and owner all the guidance needed to enjoy visits to the park and visitors at the home. It can also help with behavior problems such as aggression. Training is critical for dogs who have spent time in rescue homes, shelters or other arenas where the history of the dog is unknown.

There is no governing professional group for becoming a dog trainer even though there are associations such as the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), which offer continuing education updates for their members. It is frightening how many people complete an online course and hang out a shingle selling themselves as “dog trainers.” Just because a company has money and slick marketing, does not mean that it has the knowledge or experience to work with your dog.

Dr. Ian Dunbar, one of the industry’s leading experts in dog behavior and dog training, recommends positive training techniques to deal with all types of training issues from basic commands to aggression. His wife and partner, Kelly Gorman Dunbar, is the founder of Open Paw, a nationally recognized program designed for shelter and rescue groups to prevent and deal with problems associated with rescued dogs, including aggression and fear-related behaviors.

In December, these industry innovators will be in Atlanta training professionals in the dog and animal community on their humane and positive techniques. They will also be working with a local rescue, Atlanta Pet Rescue, to form the state’s first Open Paw shelter.

Now is the time for all of us —- trainers, rescue groups, veterinarians and the public —- to work together to take control of abuse and mistreatment of animals through proactive training, research and awareness.

> Amber Burckhalter is a certified master trainer and the owner of K-9 Coach.

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