Wide World of Pets

Pets Breathe Easier After Group's Gift to Firefighters

Volunteers donate oxygen masks designed to fit over animals' snouts

After years of trying to fit oxygen masks made for humans onto pets or pushing plastic tubes down animals' throats, the Columbus Division of Fire will receive 21 masks to help resuscitate pets rescued from fires.

TelecomPioneers, a volunteer organization made up of telecommunication employees, is donating 150 air masks to firefighters across Ohio. Each set costs $55.

Each of Columbus' seven fire battalions will get three masks - two for dogs and one for cats - Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Mason said.

"We wanted to address the need of the pets but never had the funding," said Mason, adding that the city will not spend any money on the masks.

The project began after Toni Muntean, Ohio president of TelecomPioneers, saw a news report about the oxygen masks. Fellow member Alliss Strogin, who volunteers as an animal rescuer, found H.E.L.P. Animals Inc., a Florida group that distributes the pet masks at discounted prices to nonprofit organizations.

"You get someone passionate about a project and it just spreads," said Linda McCreary, a life member of the Columbus AT&T Telephone Pioneers. "It was a totally different avenue for us."

McCreary hopes to distribute the masks to Columbus firefighters by early January.

"Just giving some out makes other departments aware of them," said Strogin, of Medina.

"I think it's wonderful that AT&T is making sure (Columbus firefighters) have proper tools," said Jodi Buckman, executive director of the Capital Area Humane Society.

In an emergency, firefighters need to protect the entire family, including the animals, Buckman said.

Carbon monoxide and other chemicals inhaled during a fire can burn animals' throats or the lining of the trachea and lungs, said Edward Cooper, an assistant professor at the Ohio State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Damage to the lungs can predispose pets to pneumonia and lung infection, Cooper said.

Firefighters used mouth-to-snout resuscitation or adult human oxygen masks to help animals breathe, but the makeshift methods were "very ineffective," Mason said.

A well-fitted mask can provide the oxygen necessary to offset carbon monoxide, Cooper said.

Telecom Pioneers, founded in 1911, is the largest industry-related volunteer organization in the world, with 620,000 active and retired members. The southeastern Ohio region of AT&T Telephone Pioneers, which includes Columbus and Zanesville, has 550 members.

The group, which also volunteers in schools and at Special Olympics events, funds projects through dues, raffles and interest on certificates of deposit, said Diana Reckart, Northeast Council president.

AT&T Telephone Pioneers donated the Columbus Division of Fire's first "Jaws of Life," a hydraulic rescue tool, in the 1980s, Mason said.

"We are very grateful," Mason said. "I applaud their efforts to help animals."

Meet Simon’s Sister’s Dog! Does he look familiar? That’s because he’s been produced by the creator of the hugely successful animation Simon’s Cat, in support of the RSPCA’s campaign to tackle pet obesity.

Simon’s Sister’s Dog has got his eye on one thing, and one thing only – food! And he doesn’t stop until he’s devoured every tid bit and scrap of dropped food from the Christmas dinner table and has reached bursting point.

There is of course a serious message to this animation. According to leading vets, pet obesity is one of the biggest issues affecting pets’ health and one in three of the UK’s dogs and cats are now overweight. Fat pets can develop serious health problems – including diabetes, arthritis and even organ failure.

The RSPCA has created 'Pets Get Slim' - an online community to help people help their pets lose weight.

We claim to be a nation of animal lovers but are we actually guilty of killing our pets with kindness? The following video is both funny and sad, please watch it.

Cut Out the Stuffing!

Your “Pet”-scription - Identifying the Perfect Pet
Kijiji.com - Free Local Classifieds

The holidays are a time to bring families together, and a new pet is often considered a wonderful addition to a family. To ensure that during this hectic season families understand the responsibility involved with bringing a pet into their homes, Kijiji and The Animal Medical Center, New York’s largest facility for animal care, research and education, have teamed up to spread the word about the importance of identifying the pet that suits your lifestyle. Not only do you want a pet that fits in to your family, you want your family to fit the pet.

10 Things to Consider Before Giving a Pet a Home

Tips from Dr. Ann Hohenhaus of The Animal Medical Center:

1. Consider All Your Options: Think about why you’re searching for a pet – someone to run in the park with, cuddle up with at home, or to teach tricks to? A site like Kijiji, which fosters local connections, allows you to search for many different types of pets in your area, making it easy to welcome the perfect pet into your home. Kijiji also hosts a Pet Adoption category, where many local shelters advertise pets.

2. Daily Responsibilities: This is probably one of the most important things to consider before inviting a pet into your home. Discuss how much time each family member is able to devote to your new pet. Create a daily schedule with responsibilities assigned to each family member before your new pet arrives. Think about responsibilities including feeding, exercise, cleaning and play time.

3. Budget: Welcoming a pet into your home is like welcoming a new family member, and making sure that your new pet is an integral part of your life also comes with financial responsibility. Pet owners need to consider the ongoing costs for pet health, such as food, toys, regular checkups and vaccinations. It is also a good idea to investigate pet insurance or set up a savings account reserved for unexpected pet expenses like emergency care.

4. Age of Your Family Members: Consider your children’s ages before you decide on a pet. Think about how they will want to interact with their new companion and how the companion will respond. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children around the ages of five or six are mature enough to handle and care for a pet.

5. Space Requirements: Consider the amount of space your new pet will require in your home - a collie requires much more room than a hamster. Also remember that your puppy or kitten is not yet fully grown, so you will want to be sure that you’ll still have room for your pet as it matures.

6. Layout of Your Home: Where will your pet eat, sleep and play? Are there any rooms or pieces of furniture that will be off-limits to your pet? It is best for your family to agree on those rules before you introduce your new pet into your home.

7. Location of Your Pet’s Former Home: It’s often best to adopt a pet from a local owner. By using a local classifieds website such as Kijiji, you can connect with multiple owners to visit your potential pet. This way you can consider their current environment and determine if you can provide a similar atmosphere. Additionally, by connecting with a local pet owner, it will be easier to get in touch in case you have any questions after the pet has come home with you.

8. Pet’s Abilities: If you’re looking for a companion that will play fetch, a goldfish is probably not the best match for you and your family. Think about how you would like the pet to be incorporated into your family. Are you looking forward to taking it with you on weekend hikes, or would you prefer a companion that will cuddle up to you when you’re watching TV at night?

9. Allergies: It’s important to make sure that no one in your family has any allergies to pets before you welcome them into your home. Both you and the pet will be disappointed if an allergy is detected after you have brought it home.

10. Health History: Check with the previous owner to find out which vaccinations and shots the pet has already received, and if it has any pre-existing health issues.

Once you have considered each of these items, you will be able to narrow down your pet search so you’ll be more informed once you visit Kijiji.com to find the perfect pet to add to your family!

Click here to visit The Animal Medical Center.

Editorial: Punishing Irresponsible Pet Owners
The Dallas Morning News

After receiving thousands of complaints about the stray-dog menace in the southern part of the city, Dallas Animal Services is cracking down with a vengeance. In the first two weeks of a SWAT-style operation this month, 900 stray animals were rounded up.

That's exactly what southern Dallas needs to see more of – year-round. Residents there cite stray dogs as a top reason why they feel unsafe in their neighborhoods. Getting rid of these dogs will help make streets walkable, raise the quality of life and reduce a major eyesore contributing to the blighted image of many southern Dallas neighborhoods.

Sadly, most of these captured animals will be euthanized. Of the 36,000 animals received by Animal Services last year, nearly 30,000 were put to sleep.

For owners who don't want their pet to suffer a similar fate, this serves warning: Never let your pet run free. Make sure your pet is embedded with an identification chip so that, if he is captured, Animal Services might be able to notify you. Have your pets spayed or neutered so they don't contribute to the exploding population of unwanted animals.

As Dallas Morning News staff writer Jessica Meyers reported last week, the stray problem is particularly bad in southern Dallas. More than 7,000 people in this part of the city called the 311 code-enforcement hotline to complain about belligerent animals during the last fiscal year, compared with 567 for north-central Dallas.

It boils down to "irresponsible pet owners allowing their animals to breed and run loose," says Kent Robertson, Dallas Animal Services manager.

The Dallas City Council should have seized an opportunity earlier this year to dramatically toughen its animal ordinances, crack down on dangerous dogs and make negligent pet owners pay for breaking the law. Unfortunately, the council passed an ordinance that was tepid and failed to make full use of available enforcement measures.

Better still, the state Legislature needs to grant cities broader authority to go after owners of particularly aggressive breeds, such as pit bulls. Owners must understand that they will suffer the severest consequences – including criminal prosecution and jail time – if they allow their pets to roam free and attack. Dozens of maimed Texas children can attest to the need for tougher laws.

It's satisfying to see stray dogs being yanked off the streets, but residents also need to see images of irresponsible owners being hauled off in handcuffs and made to feel the full bite of the law.

Summit County: It’s a Coyote-Eat-Pet World Out There
by Robert Allen - Summit Daily News

Wildlife officials: Do not feed the coyotes

Summit County, CO Colorado

A 15-pound cat named Sammy lived 11 years in French Creek before he was taken from Cary Piecoup’s backyard — and killed.

Piecoup’s other cat, Toulouse, was slaughtered in her front yard less than a year later.

A wily coyote is the primary suspect in both unfortunate deaths.

Piecoup said a neighbor “saw a coyote running with something big” and the description matched Sammy.

And she heard Tolouse fighting for his life: “What I thought was wind blowing our chairs over was him trying to get away from whatever got him,” she said. “I can’t prove it was coyotes — it’s assumption — but we’ve got a lot.”

Piecoup said it’s “pretty odd” for an animal that’s ordinarily shy to be entering peoples’ yards.

“I’d say just in the last year, probably about 20 cats (were) killed just in our area,” she said. “Our next door neighbors had a dog killed last winter by a coyote right in their backyard, a little poodle-type dog.”

“Brazen coyotes” have become an increasingly serious problem from metro Denver to Summit County and Grand Junction, said Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.

A coyote was shot at Copper Mountain in February after it had become increasingly aggressive around skiers.

Earlier this month in Erie, a fourth-grade boy fended off a coyote with a snowboard after the animal bit his arm.

He said that as human populations increase, the animals appear to be growing more comfortable with them and are growing up in urban environments.

“Coyotes are very adaptable animals, and they quickly adapt to their surroundings,” Hampton said.

There have been several encounters along the Front Range, especially in the foothills.

“Coyotes come and take pets right off the end of the leash,” he said.

Certain traps, snares and poisoning methods for controlling the animals’ population are illegal because of a state constitutional amendment passed in 1996.

The best option for municipal residents with coyote problems, Hampton said, is to contact the division of wildlife.

Shooting coyotes also is an option for people holding small-game licenses.

“The coyote season is year-round, and take of coyotes is unlimited,” Hampton said.

A coyote took Breckenridge Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron’s 11-year-old dog, Robby, while he and his wife were cross-country skiing earlier this month.

“In a lot of ways, I can be vindictive,” Bergeron said. “When it comes to this, they (coyotes) were probably here before Cairn terriers in Summit County.”

The dog was attacked on the Peabody Trail off Gold Run Road, about 50 yards from the trailhead.

Bergeron said he’d seen about 15 people and 10 dogs on the same trail that day.
Signage has since been posted at the trail, warning of the coyote danger.

“Even a tough dog probably doesn’t stand a chance against a coyote,” Bergeron said. “There’s tough guys in bars and there’s tough guys in prisons ... These coyotes are pros. They kill for a living.”

Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson, who lives in Silverthorne, takes no chances with her beloved felines.

She’s installed a galvanized-steel enclosure made in Canada to protect them.
“This way, they can go outside, and I can feel safe,” she said, adding that Summit County is “in nature’s backyard.”

The cage device from Habitat Haven is claimed to be even bear-proof, she said.

Hampton said one of the best ways to prevent coyotes from growing comfortable near people areas is to “not ever, ever feed those animals.”

Coyotes go through a phase of trying to figure people out, he said, and when people are loud and try to scare them off, it can help the animals decide it’s not worth the trouble.

“Try to yell, scare it off, make it uncomfortable,” he said of a coyote encounter. “It’s OK to throw a rock at it.”

Hampton added that the animal should not be cornered.

To help deter a possible coyote attack, pets should always be kept on leashes — especially when in the backcountry, he said.

Coyote management from a biological and social perspective, Hampton said, involves a balance between two schools of thought:

“First, (there are) people that believe coyotes are a nuisance and potentially a danger — these are the people that say: ‘Kill them when they come toward town.’”

The others, he said, recognize that coyotes were here first and believe we should live in unison.

“It’s a difficult balancing act,” Hampton said.

Wildlife officials constantly work to educate the public about the danger of coyotes and other wildlife.

Nancy Ring, director of Summit County Animal Control, said her office has received no recent reports of coyote attacks, as the state typically handles such incidents.

However, the office received reports last year of coyotes following hikers and their dogs along a trail near Dillon Cemetery.

Hampton said that when a coyote becomes a nuisance around people, relocation is not an option.

The relocated animal inevitably will be attracted to move near people, so the most likely DOW procedure in such situations is to put the coyote down.

For more information on coyotes, visit the Division of Wildlife website at http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

Animal-Loving Japanese Face New 'Pet Tax'
By Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo - The Telegraph (UK)

Japan's booming pet industry may face a new "pet tax" in a bid to protect domestic animals from mistreatment.

Politicians are about to propose a unified tax on the purchase of pets that would enable the authorities to improve pet safety and minimise the number of abandoned animals.

While the government is struggling boost the nation's dwindling birth rate, the pet industry is booming across Japan.

Worth an estimated one trillion yen (£7.5bn), the number of pet dogs in Japan has doubled to more than 13 million in the past decade -­ a figure that eclipses the number of children under the age of 12.

Japan has a host of pet-friendly services for the nation's four legged friends; from dog cafes, fashion shows and yoga classes, to cat reflexology, dance sessions and on-line pet networking sites.

However, the rise in pet ownership has gone hand in hand with a surge in cases of mistreatment and abandonment, with 374,000 pets taken off the streets last year by local government authorities, 90 per cent of which were put down.

As a result, Kunio Hatoyama, the internal affairs and communications minister, has led a group of politicians to tackle the issue by formulating a proposal for a nationwide pet tax.

Funds raised from the pet tax will be used to finance the promotion of animal ID tags and internal microchips, the operational expenses of animal shelters and a campaign to highlight animal welfare among pet owners.

A new policy limiting the number of abandoned pets taken in by local authorities to around 210,000 by the end of 2017 has also been imposed by the Environment Ministry.

Book by Veterinarian Well Worth Every Pet Owner's Gift List
By Suzanne Sparhawk - Fosters.com

I do not recall ever devoting a column in this paper to the subject of one book, but that is what I will do today. I have never happened upon a book written for the general public that offered so much vital information for every person who owns and loves a pet, whatever the species, and it is because of the importance of this book that I will describe it for you, in hope that each of you will seek a copy at your local library or book store and sit down for a good read that is also immensely informative.

"Tell Me Where It Hurts, A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon" (Broadway Books, New York 2008) by Dr. Nick Trout, is one of those rare books any writer will wish they had authored. It is funny (Trout exhibits a Yankee sense of humor, despite his origins in England) and sad, helpful and irritating, and crammed full of explanations for all those things pet owners question about the practice of veterinary medicine and the role it plays in their life with a pet.

Trout is a surgeon at Angel Memorial Medical Center in Boston. Angel is a referral hospital, often the place of last resort for difficult cases. Other than animals brought to Angel's emergency ward, all patients are sent to Angel by a referring veterinarian. According to Trout, that means that, while one will have had the opportunity to select their pet's primary care physician — who they meet with at Angel can sometimes feel like the luck of the draw. This can lead to some entertaining, frustrating or heart warming encounters between pet owner and doctor.

"Tell me Where It Hurts" is framed as a "typical" 24 hour period, beginning at 2:47 a.m. with a phone call that brings Trout from his bed to the hospital for emergency surgery on an 11-year-old German Shepherd bitch that had several symptoms including "bloat" — a terrible and life threatening medical crisis. The question is whether or not to perform surgery on a bitch that is already past her prime; is the risk worth it for a dog of this age? Is the cost worth it for the elderly owner?

We follow "Sage" throughout the book, finally learning her fate in the last chapter. The problem of Sage is complicated, as are all the incidents recounted by Trout, by her owner and his family situation. Trout has the amazing ability to describe and explain most of the major questions facing pet owners in a society where it is now possible to perform organ transplants, joint replacements, and where state-of-the-art cancer treatments are all available, at a cost.

How does one justify spending a few thousand dollars on a "useless" animal when people are starving in the world? Is it simply a case of vets working to pay for their new boat? Do vets become wealthy on the back of our love for our pets? Not so much. As women have become the prevailing gender in veterinary schools, the income for veterinary practitioners has declined. Clearly not a cause-and-effect situation, but one now common to other professions.

Current incomes have not declined by much, veterinary medicine was never the road to riches. But as the cost of veterinary training has increased, leaving most graduate vets with a large debt burden, and the cost of establishing an animal hospital has grown exponentially to pay for all those wonderful gadgets (oxygen tents, special X-ray machines, ultra sound equipment, tricked-out surgery suites that would easily fit into a major hospital for humans, trained and certified nurses, on-site laboratories, etc.) the resulting net income of most veterinarians hardly exceeds $50,000 five years out of school. How many physicians would accept that level of pay?

One of the most difficult decisions pet owners have to make is how to deal with the end of their pet's life. Does one take the "natural" course, or does one "interfere" and opt for euthanasia? Trout deals with this difficult situation with tenderness and honesty, a hard balance to make. Along the way he explains the whys and wherefores that should help each of us to make the best decision for our own situation.

Ultimately, the reason I so strongly recommend this book to all of you, whether you live with a guinea pig, a Schnauzer or a horse, is that while taking the reader along for the ride of a typical day in the life of a veterinary surgeon, Trout gives the reader the answers along with the reason for the answers, to help you understand and work more effectively with your own animal's doctor to improve your animal's life and yours. I have been living and working with animals of one sort or another for more years than I care to admit. In the process I have known and worked with over a dozen veterinarians. Yet, in all these years, I never understood as fully as I do now, after reading Trout's book, how these doctors thought and what they believed. Read this book. You will like it. And your pet will be glad you read it.

Your Dressed-Up Pet Photos - Part IV
The Boston Globe

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

5 Myths of Pet Behavior

Exotic Pets and Children: Handle With Care
By TERI KARUSH ROGERS - The New York Times

While cats and dogs pose certain health issues for humans, most are well known and well mitigated by veterinarians and doctors — unlike the risks posed by certain other pets.

Salmonella, for example, can be carried by a wide variety of animals, not just the cute little turtles under 4 inches long that are officially banned but available nonetheless. The list includes gerbils, hamsters and other rodents; reptiles; and chicks.

In the October issue of the journal Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended keeping these and other nontraditional pets out of homes with children under age 5. In addition, children and adults alike should avoid kissing animals and take care to wash hands after handling; cage-cleaning duties should be assigned to adults or older responsible children.

To further minimize the risk of acquiring a pet with salmonella, consider using a breeder or a very reputable pet store. “Extreme stress and crowding raise the risk factor for stress-induced bacterial shedding,” said Dr. Nina Marano, a co-author of the Pediatrics article and branch chief of the C.D.C.’s geographic medicine and health promotion branch, division of global migration and quarantine.

Animals brought from other parts of the world can also bring along diseases that pediatricians and veterinarians are unaccustomed to seeing. For example, wild chinchillas in South America have been associated with hemorrhagic fevers. Using a domestic breeder can cut down on these types of risks, Dr. Marano said.

Experts suggested some good choices for children.

“For parents, I recommend guinea pigs as a first pet for children because they don’t really bite, they’re relatively sturdy and they don’t run very fast,” said Stephen Zawistowski, an animal behaviorist who is the executive vice president and science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “And they’re interactive and don’t need a huge cage.”

He also recommended “fancy” mice (mice selectively bred as pets or show mice) and domesticated rats, which resemble lab rats, not the ones outside ransacking your garbage.

“They are very hardy and intelligent,” he said, “and if you’re looking for something to cuddle, they’ll sit on your shoulder.”

In the reptile family, he suggested chameleons for children around age 10 or older who know how to hold rather than squeeze. “The big ones only grow to about six inches, and they can run up and down your arm.”

Rabbits, too, make good mobile pets for children of parents who don’t mind putting their furniture, baseboards and electrical cords at some peril. (Tip: Male rabbits tend to “spray” outside the litter box, though neutering may limit this behavior.)

Finally, don’t overlook fish: “There’s work to be done,” Mr. Zawistowski said, “but the new equipment available for filtration and everything else is remarkable. And depending on the type of fish you get, you can actually do some training. The Hammacher Schlemmer catalog actually has an agility course for your fish.”

Getting Past a Few Myths on Pet Behavior
by Michelle Posage D.V.M. - Nashua Telegraph

Dominance theory is often referred to as an explanation for the behaviors of dogs and as an approach for training dogs. It assumes the motivation behind pet behavior – and misbehavior – is related to a drive to achieve the highest possible social ranking.

This type of thinking is limited and outdated, according to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

AVSAB, an organization of veterinarians with a special interest in animal behavior and the human-animal bond, has recently announced a position statement on the "Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals." It advocates the prevention and treatment of pet-behavior problems using techniques based in scientifically studied theories of animal learning rather than those based on the dominance hierarchies of wolves.

The authors explain the difference between "leadership" and "dominance," as well as the difference between wolf social structures and dog-human social structures. The statement also debunks common misconceptions about dominancy theory as it relates to dogs. The following are a few of the myths addressed in the position statement:

• Myth No. 1: My dog climbs on top of my shoulders when I pet him, so he must be dominant.

Your dog has probably learned that he can get your attention by climbing on top of you. Attention is his goal, not dominance.

• Myth No. 2: I need to act like a dominant wolf to make my dog behave.

You are not a wolf, and neither is your dog. The relationship you have with your dog will benefit by you taking a leadership role, which is not the same as behaving like a dominant wolf. Leadership is achieved when the dog owner has effectively taught the dog to obey rules through the use of rewards and removing rewards.

• Myth No. 3: Forcing a dog into a submissive position when he misbehaves is an effective correction technique and will let the dog know you are the boss.

Pinning your dog down will increase stress and may lead to aggressive behavior.

• Myth No. 4: Dominance is the main cause of aggressive behavior in dogs.

Actually, it is anxiety and fear. Confrontational techniques designed to communicate human dominance do not address the dog's fear and can worsen fearful and aggressive behaviors.

• Myth No. 5: You should always be the first through the door, and eat before your dog so you can be the leader of the pack.

This is too simplistic to be true. Teaching your dog to wait politely is a useful training exercise, but leadership involves more than eating first or getting out the door before your dog.

In my own experience as a veterinary behaviorist, it is clear that many behavior problems in dogs stem from a lack of consistent owner guidance, and in the case of aggression, from an underlying anxiety problem. Our dogs are often expected to just be good because we love them as family members. They are not always given the tools to be successful pets, thus they are set up for failure.

Leadership is an essential part of rearing a good pet. Teaching a dog to look to the owner for direction and rewarding good behavior will always help any type of dog behavior problem. On the other hand, confrontational techniques, particularly with aggressive dogs, are filled with risk. I have personally heard too many firsthand stories from pet owners that attempted confrontational techniques such as "dominance downs," hitting/tapping and "alpha rolls" only find themselves in an escalated situation and a problem that has worsened over time. It is also disturbing to see children being bitten by dogs while applying "dominant" behavior modification techniques they learned on television.

My suggestion is to strive to understand your pet's motivations and to approach training and problem solving with a good understanding of how animals learn. You can find more information regarding dominance theory at www.avsab online.org or by asking your veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist for their favorite references.

"Your Pet" is published on the second and fourth Fridays of each month. Michelle Posage, DVM, is a veterinarian who deals exclusively in pet behavior diagnosis and treatment, and accepts referrals from other veterinary hospitals throughout New England. Posage is associated with the Animal Medical Center of New England in Nashua. The Animal Medical Center also provides emergency and specialty care. Call 880-3034 or visit www.amcne.com for more information or to make an appointment.

Hints From Heloise
Washington Post

Caught in the Collar

Dear Heloise: We had an incident today. My beloved little Alley Cat was grooming herself. Somehow, she managed to grab her COLLAR, and it ended up around her ears and in her mouth. Thank goodness we were home at the time. She was choking.

Please let all pet owners know to check the collars on their pets. Who would have thought that a collar could pose a choking hazard? I adjusted it to a tighter fit, and hopefully she won't be in danger again. -- Deb H., Farmington, N.M.

Meow, and so glad your kitty is OK. We have received and printed many letters about the potential dangers (and benefits) of collars. It is very important to make sure collars are not too tight or too loose. You can check with your pet store or on the Internet for breakaway or elastic collars. Some readers suggest leaving the collar off while at home, but others disagree, because if the pet gets out, it doesn't have a collar on! So, the decision is yours. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Many times, birds would fly into my windows because of the reflection of the trees and would injure or kill themselves. I would put "sun catchers" on the outside of the windows, and that would help some. However, my neighbor came up with an idea that took care of the problem.

During the Christmas season, she purchased a package of shimmering white tinsel, and with a few tacks, she hung a small clump of strands across the top of the outside window frames. This has totally eliminated the problem. A small price to pay to save the birds. -- A California Reader, via e-mail


Dear Readers: Elaine Persico of Amsterdam, N.Y., sent a photo of her fluffy, white-and-brown cat, Cinnamon, with a pretty blue scarf around his neck. Elaine says: "Cinnamon had dental work done and was drooling quite badly. I tied this scarf around his neck to catch his drooling." To see Cinnamon, visit www.Heloise.com. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have three small dogs, and they love their treats! But the cost was quite significant. A friend said I should check the stores that sell stuff for a dollar. I was able to buy almost the same type of treats for only $1 as compared with $4 or $5. I am saving money, and the dogs are still happy! -- Joy Grabowski, New Braunfels, Texas

Just be sure to check the expiration date, and you are good to go! -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Cats love to play with window-blind cords! To prevent accidents, tie cords out of reach and sight, plus cut any loops or untie loose knots that might tighten if pulled. Take a minute to check all of your blind cords so you can help keep agile and curious pets (and small children) safe from harm. -- Heloise

(c)2008 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

UPDATE: '1 in a Million' Pet Fights for Life
By Michael Woyton • Poughkeepsie Journal

PLEASANT VALLEY - Area residents have opened their hearts and pocketbooks to help a Pleasant Valley family save a beloved pet.

Over $690 has been contributed as of Friday afternoon to offset the cost of medical treatment for Sweetie, a terrier mix diagnosed with leukemia.

Her owner, Ron Lipton of Pleasant Valley, said the dog needs medicine and blood tests costing $200 every 21 days to combat the disease.

That is an expense Lipton, who has fallen on difficult financial times, cannot afford.

Sweetie is a rambunctious, 46-pound terrier mix, who greets visitors with whimpers and cries, wanting only to smother them with affection.

"She is one in a million," Lipton said Wednesday. "She is a very, very special animal."

By looking at her, you'd never know 12-year-old Sweetie could be dead in a month - from lymphoblastic leukemia.

Lipton would do anything he could to prevent that from happening.

With the proper treatment - a chemotherapy drug taken every 21 days, along with blood tests - she could live another two years.

The problem is, the treatment and the blood tests combined cost about $200.

That is an expense Lipton, who has fallen on difficult financial times, cannot afford. He's asking people to open their hearts and help him keep a beloved member of his family from dying.

"I want to give her a fighting chance," Lipton said.

"She's not just a dog," he said. "She's God's blessed creation."

On Nov. 10, Lipton found Sweetie in a living room easy chair, not moving, uninterested in food.

A trip to Pleasant Valley Animal Hospital brought a diagnosis of Lyme disease, and Sweetie was given a shot of penicillin and an oral medication.

She seemed to get better, but 15 days later she was lethargic again.

Lipton took her back to the hospital where a second blood test found an elevated white cell count. Specialized tests confirmed the diagnosis of leukemia.

CeeNU, which is a brand name for the drug lomustine, was prescribed, along with prednisone and Pepcid AC.

Lipton, a retired policeman, teaches two boxing classes at Marist College, but is otherwise unemployed.

His son, Brett, who lives with him, is a part-time employee with the county Office for the Aging and is looking for other work.

Both men are state-licensed armed guards, but neither has been able to find work.

"No one is hiring," Lipton said.

Money is scarce, and the family, which includes Lipton's fiancee Gabrielle, is having a difficult time paying the rent and mounting medical bills for themselves.

"We took our last food money and paid the vet bill," Lipton said, but that wouldn't cover the treatment and subsequent tests.

Lipton contacted Partnership for Animals Needing Transition (PANT), a Salt Point-based volunteer organization that fosters rescued cats and dogs.

"Ron reached out to anyone who might be able to help," PANT Vice President Connie Price said.

The group put a plea for donations to cover the medicine and blood work on its Web site and was able to contribute $200 toward the first treatment.

Price said not a week goes by where she hears of people who can't afford their pets.

"It's very sad," she said.

An option for Lipton would have been surrendering Sweetie to PANT because he couldn't provide medical treatment.

"But taking his pet?" Price said. "That was never a possibility for Ron."

Mary Lictro, the hospital's practice manager, said Sweetie's spirits are good, even being as ill as she is.

Lipton, she said, loves his dog dearly.

"It's tearing his family apart that they can't do what they want to do for her," Lictro said.

Lipton tells stories about walking Sweetie in parks around the area. He has a video of deer coming up to her, unafraid. Rabbits and squirrels approach her in the yard.

"God came down and created an animal that every other animal loves," Lipton said.

"I know everybody loves their dog and thinks their dog is special," he said.

"I've never seen any dog like this," Lipton said. "I would fight death itself to save her. If we don't do this, she only has a month."

Support Group Allows Pet Owners to Grieve for Death of Companions
By Mary Pickels - TRIBUNE-REVIEW

For 11 years, Ron Sadowski and Miss Lucky were constant companions.

He adopted the Labrador/collie/shepherd mix from Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley, where he has been a longtime volunteer.

"We just took a liking to each other," said Sadowski, a resident of Tarentum. "I said, 'You know what, you are coming home with me.'"

"She was a sweet dog," said Sadowski, 64.

"This dog, she was just like one of a kind that comes along," he said. "Other people who don't have animals don't understand how this dog would wait for me to come home from work. She went in the car with me. She went everywhere with me."

So last July, when Miss Lucky became ill, he faced a hard choice. His veterinarian told him surgery would be difficult on an older dog. Unable to see her in pain, Sadowski opted to put her to sleep.

"Really, it took its toll on me for a while," he said. "I had animals before, and you can adapt to the loss. This one just hit me really bad."

Sadowski called around to see if there were any grief support groups available for pet loss. That's how he heard about the pet loss support group veterinarian Dr. Henry Croft Jr. helped to form last year through a collaboration with Seton Hill University's Center for Family Therapy.

The group, free and open to the public, meets monthly, and typically attracts about half a dozen owners grieving the loss of a pet.

"I went for three months," Sadowski said, "when I really needed some help.

"I just couldn't wait to get down there and talk to other people who understood," he said. "It was wonderful to tell my story and listen to other people whose hearts were hurting and aching just like mine."

Croft posts information about the support group on his Loyalhanna Veterinary Clinic's Web site, and staff members at the Stahlstown practice give fliers to clients they think might be interested.

"I have clients who, after five or 10 years, still can't come to grips with the loss of a pet," Croft said.

The holiday season, with its focus on joyful reunions and gatherings of family and friends, can be particularly difficult for people facing the recent, or impending, loss of a pet, he said.

Croft said a few of his clients have attended the support group. Some have made it as far as the door and turned around, embarrassed at their level of grief, or fearful that no one else will attend the meeting.

"Sometimes people think, 'Gee, I didn't know anybody else would be this devastated,'" Croft said.

"There is still a little stigma," Croft said. "People aren't allowed to grieve for pets."

Research from the American Veterinary Medical Association shows that the grieving process after the loss of a pet can closely resemble that experienced by people who have lost a family member or close friend.

The support group was established with a $5,000 start-up grant from the Richard King Mellon Family Foundation.

That funding will enable the group to continue through next semester, said DeMarquis Clarke, center director of clinical training for the Marriage and Family Therapy Program.

"We re-evaluate every semester to see if a program has been beneficial and if we feel the service still needs to be out there," Clarke said. "As of now, we plan to continue."

Lisa Johnson, a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, is the program facilitator.

"Pets are one area in our lives where we can receive unconditional love," Johnson said. "People who come in are typically grieving for one individual in their life who happened to be an animal."

"Pets are a part of our family," Johnson said. "We need to respect the relationship our loved ones have with their pets and allow them to do the grieving they need to do."

Sometimes, she said, it can help to refocus a person's energy. They may be interested in becoming an advocate for animal rights or enjoy working with an animal rescue league.

Others find ways to memorialize their lost pets, she said, including with Web sites such as Critters.com.

Sadowski hopes to attend future meetings to let members know they will recover from their loss.

He has a new companion, a dog named Susie.

"She can never take the place of my other dog," he said. "But she's a sweet girl, too."

For more information about the support group, call 724-552-0339.

Pictures That Make You Smile
Thanks to RedKat

Give Pets A Happy New Year
Scott Miller - The Sunday Mail

Here are a few New Year resolutions to get your pet in tip-top shape for 2009.

Start a weight loss programme. Half of all dogs and cats in the UK are obese - more than 30 per cent above their ideal weight. If you think your pet is more than just "cuddly", ask your vet or vet nurse for advice on diets and exercise regimes.

Play with your pets. Actively playing with your pet is not as silly as it sounds. Enjoying two 15-minute sessions daily with your cat or dog is a great way to get its heart rate up and stress levels down.

Pet-proof your home. Put screens on high windows to avoid falls, fix holes in flooring and loose wires in electrical equipment, and walk around your garden to find potential dangers. Never leave candles burning, oven rings on, or sharp tools on surfaces that a cat may leap on to. Avoid lilies or other toxic plants in your home.

Pamper your pets.

Grooming your dog or cat regularly helps give it a sleek, shiny coat - and allows you quality time together. Visit a professional groomer for advice on ways to carry out this task in a way both you and your animal will enjoy.

Do a weekly health check.

Performing a nose-to-tail check on your pet once a week is a good way to pick up signs of injury or illness. Assess its weight, skin, teeth, eyes, ears and general condition.

Be open to your pets' feelings. Some dogs or cats will hide when feeling low. A nervous or reticent cat might need a visit to the vet for a check-up. Dogs are more attention-seeking, demanding you check an injured paw or sore eye immediately.

ID me. Ensure your pet is microchipped and check the chip regularly with a scanner.

Identification tags and collars are also an excellent idea.

Visit your vet annually.

Many owners decide not to put older pets through the stresses of yearly jabs...this is folly. Older animals, with failing immune systems, need to be vaccinated against serious illnesses.

An annual check by a vet could catch signs of chronic disease early, allowing for treatments or diet changes to be implemented and so prolong your pet's life.

Don't Skimp on Pet's Preventive Care
By Dr. Tracy Acosta - McClatchy-Tribune

Everyone during these challenging economic times is looking for ways to cut back on expenses. One area you don't want to cut back on is the basic preventive care for your pets. So, how do you define basic preventive care? First, keep in mind that prevention is worth a pound of cure and that prevention is always less expensive than treatment.

Depending on how dire your economic situation is, will help to determine where you should trim the budget. The best place to look for help with those questions is your pet's personal veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows your particular pet and its health status best, and can definitely help make critical decisions with you. Be honest with your veterinarian about your situation; while at the same time explain that you don't want your pet's health to fall to the wayside either.

The bottom line for most pets' basic requirements include good nutrition, parasite prevention and necessary vaccinations.

As you can see, a fancy bed or collar is not on that list. Not that those items aren't nice, but they can be added later once the basic health care needs have been met.

In regard to good nutrition, this is one area you can truly make a difference in the quality and length of your pet's life. You get what you pay for. I do not encourage any pet owner to ever skimp when it comes to feeding their pet a good quality food. At the same time, I don't believe you have to pay a fortune for quality food. Now,
with so many different foods and choices, any pet owner can be easily overwhelmed and find it difficult to make a good choice. Remember, quality commercially produced pet foods are available. Ask your pet's veterinarian to give you a couple of brands they think would be a good choice for your particular pet's needs. Remember, with the better quality foods, you actually will have to feed your pet less, because it has less fillers, which in the end means less fecal output.

As far as parasite control goes, no owner can fail to do their part to provide their pet proper external and internal parasite prevention. The paramount reason is many parasites can pose a health risk to the humans who live with them. The Centers for Disease Control encourages veterinarians to be vigilant against any disease or parasite that can have a zoonotic potential, which means can be passed from animal to human. Most pet owners are aware of the dangers of ticks on their pets as a source of a zoonotic threat, but most, unfortunately, are unaware of the serious dangers their pets' intestinal parasites can pose, especially to young children.

Where you and your pet live in the United States, will determine what types of parasite prevention will be necessary. Some of the top parasites of concern: fleas, ticks, heartworms, roundworms and hookworms. Consult your local veterinarian on this area of preventive care for your pet. Not only will your pet be healthier, but you will also assure the health of your entire human family.

Vaccinations for your pet are another critical aspect of a healthy pet and a healthy human family. We have come too far in absolute preventive care with the use of proper vaccinations in both human and veterinary medicine to let this aspect of care be ignored.

Where you live and the lifestyle of your pet, help determine the best vaccination protocol to keep your pet healthy. There is no "blanket" approach to vaccination protocols, so discuss with your pet's veterinarian what your particular pet needs.

Every pet has its own special needs and should always at least have an annual physical exam by a veterinarian. Veterinarians believe prevention is imperative when it comes to every pet's health. I encourage all pet owners to provide the best they can for their pet's health since it not only promotes a healthy and happy pet, but also promotes a safe environment for its human companions.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season and Happy New Year!

Your Dressed-Up Pet Photos - Part III
The Boston Globe

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

Your Dressed-Up Pet Photos - Part II

America's Most Pet-Friendly Cities
Tom Van Riper and Robert Malone - Forbes.com

Americans love their pets, shelling out more for food, supplies and veterinary care than they do on consumer staples like beer, ice cream, cosmetics and golf--some $36 billion annually. The combined total of cats and dogs in the U.S. is estimated at 163 million, or more than one for every two people.

But how many owners factor in Fido's or Fluffy's happiness when it comes to choosing a place to live?

For those who do, some cities measure up better than others. And Colorado Springs, Colo., tops our list of America's Most Pet-Friendly Cities. Generous public space, ample veterinary care and wealth of pet-friendly retailers all added up to heaven on earth for this small metropolis of just under 400,000 people and their estimated 61,000 dogs and 54,000 cats.

To find out where pets and their owners are most welcome, we measured the country's 50 largest cites to see which had the most public park acreage, including those parks tailored specifically for dogs (the second most common pet after cats and the ones that require the most outdoor facilities), the most pet supply and service businesses, and the most veterinary facilities. We also looked at which cities typically charge the least for veterinary care. We measured the statistics on both a per capita basis, or against each city's human population, and on a "pet capita" basis--against the city's estimated pet population. Those cities with the most vets, public parks, dog parks and pet businesses, both per person and per animal, shot to the top of the list.

Colorado Springs ranked in the top 20 in all the categories. The city has more than 10,000 acres of public park space, or almost a tenth of an acre for every pet. It also features seven dog parks and 113 veterinarians.

Colorado Springs fits a profile common to the top 10, a list of small- to medium-sized cites with a median population of 507,000 people. The list includes Portland, Ore., Albuquerque, N.M. and Charlotte, N.C., cities with a sought after sweet spot: They're large enough to draw lots of pet shops, vets and public parks, but small enough not to drown out such amenities with overly dense populations.

While large cities like New York and Los Angeles rank very high in total park space, for example, both are near the bottom on a per capita (and "pet capita") basis. New York is also the most expensive city in which to care for a pet, followed by major metros Boston and San Francisco.

The most pet-friendly among cities with populations of over a million is San Diego, which ranks 13th overall and sixth in public park space per capita/pet capita.

One factor that was considered but ultimately not included in the rankings was air quality. While cleaner air would seem inherently healthier for cats, dogs and birds, their relatively short life spans and their ability to make do in most any climate makes the issue moot, according to experts.

"Animals can generally adapt to anything humans can," says New York City veterinarian Richard Green.

And while no official statistics exist that track the number of pet-friendly rental dwellings in various cities, those in the apartment business say the trend is going the pet owners' way. The roots go back to the last real estate slump of the early 1990s, when building owners fought off low occupancy rates by allowing pets.

"People were almost desperate to fill their apartments, so they decided to either take pets or to relax their restrictions somewhat," says Lisa Trosien of Apartmentexpert.com.

No doubt, the relative lack of high-rise buildings in smaller cities also plays to pet owners wishes, since smaller, lower-to-the-ground units usually have more lenient rules. Throw in a nearby park and a pet store on the corner, and life is good for small city pet lovers and their furry friends.

Sports Illustrated on the Vick dogs: Has the Tide Finally Turned for Pit Bulls?
By Christie Keith - Pet Connection

“Did you see the Sports Illustrated article on Michael Vick’s dogs?” a friend asked me this morning.

“Not yet,” I told her. “Is it good?”

“No,” she said. “It’s perfect.”

In a year full of bad news, what’s happened to the dogs of the Bad Newz Kennels is turning out to be the best news of all for pit bulls. I don’t just mean for the 51 Vick dogs themselves, although certainly the 47 surviving dogs’ lives are better than they were.

No, it’s every pit bull in America who will benefit from this massive PR overhaul. It will be more and more difficult for “shelters,” animal control agencies, and courts to condemn these dogs to death simply because they’re pit bulls or ex-fighters. Too many of us have heard about the Vick dogs now — the therapy dogs, the loving family pets, even the dogs living out their lives in a sanctuary on Michael Vick’s dime.

And while many of us in the pet media have been singing this song for a long time, there may be no better audience for this message than the readers of Sports Illustrated — a magazine that had previously made the problem worse with a sensationalistic 1987 cover featuring a snarling pit and the headline “Beware of this dog.”

But I just forgave Sports Illustrated for that, because this story is beautiful. I read it with tears pouring down my face, not because the dogs were abused, but because they were saved, and how, and why.

I expected a basic rehash of articles we’ve seen before: the successful adoptions, the former fighting dogs who now do pet assisted therapy, the ones still in sanctuaries, some of whom will never leave. And that would have been wonderful, it would have been a cause to celebrate. It would have made my day.

That’s not what S.I. Senior Editor Jim Gorant wrote. Not at all.

The dog approaches the outstretched hand. Her name is Sweet Jasmine, and she is 35 pounds of twitchy curiosity with a coat the color of fried chicken, a pink nose and brown eyes. She had spent a full 20 seconds studying this five-fingered offering before advancing. Now, as she moves forward, her tail points straight down, her butt is hunched toward the ground, her head is bowed, her ears pinned back. She stands at maybe three quarters of her height.

She gets within a foot of the hand and stops. She licks her snout, a sign of nervousness, and looks up at the stranger, seeking assurance. She looks back to the hand, licks her snout again and begins to extend her neck. Her nose is six inches away from the hand, one inch, half an inch. She sniffs once. She sniffs again. At this point almost any other dog in the world would offer up a gentle lick, a sweet hello, an invitation to be scratched or petted. She’s come so far. She’s so close.

But Jasmine pulls away.

PETA wanted Jasmine dead. Not just Jasmine, and not just PETA. The Humane Society of the U.S., agreeing with PETA, took the position that Michael Vick’s pit bulls, like all dogs saved from fight rings, were beyond rehabilitation and that trying to save them was a misappropriation of time and money. “The cruelty they’ve suffered is such that they can’t lead what anyone who loves dogs would consider a normal life,” says PETA spokesman Dan Shannon. “We feel it’s better that they have their suffering ended once and for all.”

That’s how his piece opens, and that’s when I knew he got it, really got it. I don’t know how, but this guy, who mostly writes about golf, found the heart of this story and never once let go of it.

He told the individual stories of Jasmine and the other dogs. He made you see them and care about them. He made you want to chain Michael Vick to a tire axle in the woods for the rest of his life. But he went beyond that, and questioned every lie and myth about these dogs, made his readers feel and see and believe what writer Vicki Hearne so famously said, “It is true that Pit Bulls grab and hold on. But what they most often grab and refuse to let go of is your heart, not your arm.”

And then he went after PETA and HSUS for wanting to see these dogs die, for even now refusing to believe their salvation was a good thing for them, and for all pit bulls. And for us.

He also went after the people responsible for what happened to the dogs after they were “rescued” from Bad Newz Kennels:

After being taken from the Moonlight Road property, Vick’s dogs were dispersed to six animal-control facilities in Virginia. Conditions differed slightly from place to place, but for the most part each dog was kept alone in a cage for months at a time. They were often forced to relieve themselves where they stood, and they weren’t let out even while their cages were being cleaned; attendants simply hosed down the floors with the dogs inside. They were given so little attention because workers assumed they were dangerous and would be put down after Vick’s trial. The common belief is that any money and time spent caring for dogs saved from fight rings would be better devoted to the millions of dogs already sitting in shelters, about half of which are destroyed each year.

But those dogs had something on their side, Gorant says: Michael Vick. Not the man, but the name. The notoriety. Because suddenly a whole lot of people didn’t want to see these dogs pay the final price for what had been done to them. Wondered, can’t any of these dogs be saved?

Letters and e-mails poured in to the offices of Judge Henry E. Hudson and of Mike Gill, assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Gill had worked on several animal-related cases and still had ties to the rescue community. He reached out to, among others, [certified applied animal behaviorist and ASPCA executive vice president Stephen] Zawistowski. Could the ASPCA put together a team to evaluate the animals and determine if any of them could be saved?

Around the same time Donna Reynolds, the executive director and cofounder, along with her husband, Tim Racer, of BAD RAP, sent Gill a seven-page proposal suggesting a dog-by-dog evaluation to see if any could be spared. The couple, who have placed more than 400 pit bulls in new homes during the last 10 years, knew it was a long shot. It’s faster and easier to judge the entire barrel as rotten. Zawistowski put together a team composed of himself, two other ASPCA staffers, three outside certified animal behaviorists and three members of BAD RAP, including Reynolds and Racer.

On Aug. 23, 2007, Vick appeared in U.S. District Court in Richmond, and Judge Hudson accepted a plea agreement in which the former quarterback admitted that he had been involved in dogfighting and had personally participated in killing animals. The agreement required him to pay $928,000 for the care and treatment of the dogs, including any humane destruction deemed necessary. “That was the landmark moment — when he not only gave the dogs the money but referred to it as restitution,” says Zawistowski. “That’s when these dogs went from weapons to victims.”

Assessing the dogs wasn’t easy. No one really expected much; even the “care” they’d had in “shelters” after being taken from Bad Newz could have turned a lot of dogs into unstable basket cases, to say nothing of the rest of their lives before that. Bad Rap’s Reynolds told Gorant, “If we can save three or four, it will be fantastic.”

What they found was heartbreaking:

Many of the dogs had all but shut down. They cowered in the corners of their kennels or stood hunched with their heads lowered, their tails between their legs and their feet shifting nervously. Some didn’t want to come out. As far as they knew bad things happened when people came. Bad things happened when they were led out of their cages.

One dog was so scared that even the confines of her kennel offered her no comfort. Shelter workers used a blanket to construct a little tent inside her cage that she could duck under. Remembering that dog, McMillan says, “Jasmine broke my heart.”

In the end, all but four of the 51 dogs were saved. Two died in shelters, one was euthanized for medical reasons, and one for aggression.


The rest are farmed out to rescue groups like Bad Rap, foster homes, and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which will rehabilitate the dogs they can, and give lifelong care, attention, and affection to any they can’t. Some are already in loving new homes, where a few are even working as therapy dogs and with troubled kids.

So was it worth it? All the money and effort, PETA still saying they’d be better off dead than living the lives they have now? Gorant lets Jasmine’s story be the answer:

Despite a promising start, Jasmine had a long way to go. For months she sat in her little cage in Stirling’s house and refused to come out. “I had to pick her up and carry her outside so she could go to the bathroom,” Stirling says. “She wouldn’t even stand up until I had walked away. There’s a little hole in the yard, and once she was done, she would go lie in the hole.” It was three or four months before Jasmine would exit the cage on her own, and then only to go out, relieve herself and lie in the hole.


Around people she almost always walks with her head and tail down. She won’t let anyone approach her from behind, and she spends most of the day in her pen, sitting quietly, the open door yawning before her. Stirling works with her endlessly. “I feel like what I do for her is so little compared with what she does for me,” she says, welling up.


“Vick showed the worst of us, our bloodlust, but this rescue showed the best,” [Bad Rap's] Reynolds says. “I don’t think any of us thought it was possible to save these dogs — the government, the rescuers, the regular people — but we surprised ourselves.”

It’s Christmas time. I suppose some people might think it’s a time for forgiveness, but I can’t find any of that in my heart — not for Michael Vick, and not for the mean-spirited, propaganda-spewing, self-serving spokespeople at PETA and HSUS who care more about their own agenda than really helping these dogs and all those like them. Certainly not for the city of Houston and the Houston SPCA, who ignored all the lessons of the Vick dogs and slaughtered 187 dogs “rescued” from a fighting ring in Texas last month.

But for the people at Bad Rap, Recycled Love, Our Pack and Best Friends, who gave these dogs a chance and a home? For Judge Henry E. Hudson and U.S. assistant district attorney Mike Gill, who let this happen, and the ASPCA-led team of experts who looked every one of these dogs in the eye and saw him or her as an individual to be evaluated and, if possible, saved?

For every one of you who wrote a letter or made a call? For the foster homes and rehabbers?

For the people of Kay County, Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Animal Alliance, who saw what was possible with the Vick dogs and tried to do the same thing for 106 fighting dogs discovered in the woods outside the town of Newkirk?

And for Jim Gorant who got it all so right?

Public Can Help Save Pet Rescue Animals
Daily Herald

Operation Mia is a group that has been trying to save the animals at Pet Rescue. There have been countless complaints filed against the shelter for animal cruelty and neglect.

Volunteers and former staff have stepped forward to tell the truth about pets suffering as prisoners.

We have tried to do everything right by appealing to government organizations responsible for protecting animals from harm. We have written, phoned, e-mailed, met with The Illinois Department of Agriculture officials, DuPage State's Attorney Joe Birkett's office and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's representatives, Bloomingdale Police, and the village board. Operation Mia has pleaded with these agencies to fulfill the mandated legislation to save the pets to no avail. All of these agencies have been supplied with reams of documentation and incontrovertible evidence of severe neglect and abuse.

Attorney fees to save the pets are being paid for by former volunteers who can ill afford to pay. It seems unfair to have government agencies that are mandated to oversee the welfare of these animals shirking their responsibilities forcing Operation Mia volunteers to look to outside resources to save the animals.

The media particularly The Daily Herald, Fox News, Tribune, and has been sympathetic to the plight of pets and exposed our incompetent IDOA and the slow-moving court system.

A standard aphorism uttered repeatedly by workers at PRI was "Penny and Dale can't take care of the animals because they have to spend too much money on attorney fees." This is why we are appealing to the public for advice or help that can save the pets. How long do these animals have to suffer and die in silence?

Ethel Lillis


Doggie Must Haves: Ten Essentials for Your Four-Legged Friend
By Lisa Acho Remorenko - Santa Barbara Independent

If your dog didn’t receive everything on his wish list this holiday season, at least make sure he has the essentials. Here is a list of the 10 things your dog should have.

1. Outfit your dog with an identification tag and collar. Your dog should always be wearing a collar with an ID tag that includes your name, address, and telephone number. Another good idea is to have a microchip implanted by your veterinarian. This will increase the chance that your dog will be returned home safely. For tips on finding your pet should he become lost, check out previous Pet Chat column Homeward Bound.

2. Obey your local laws for licensing. Dogs require a license in Santa Barbara County and to obtain this license you must have a current rabies vaccination. Check with your local animal control to find out more information about licensing.

3. Watch over your dog. A fenced-in yard is a bonus for dog owners, but be careful not to leave your dog outside unsupervised for too long. Dogs crave companionship and prefer to be with their human family, plus you never know what they can get into when they’re not being watched. Be especially careful with your dog if you don’t have a fenced-in yard. There is a leash law in Santa Barbara County that requires your dog to stay on your property, so always keep an eye on your pooch.

4. Take your dog to the veterinarian for regular checkups. Prevention is the best medicine. By taking your dog to the vet once a year for regular checkups, you will catch diseases in their early state. For more advice on veterinary care, visit Pet Chat column Vet Visits.

5. Spay or neuter your dog. Spaying or neutering helps your dog live longer, it eliminates many undesirable behaviors, plus it helps prevent animal overpopulation. For more information on spaying and neutering, check out previous Pet Chat column Preventing Overpopulation.

6. Give your dog a nutritionally balanced diet. When you purchase dog food, make sure the ingredient list contains “meat” and not “meat by-product.” This will ensure your dog is getting the best nutrition.

7. Become the “pack leader.” The energy you project internally is the message you’re sending to your dog. Utilize your dog’s energy in a positive manner. If you haven’t read Pack Leader by Cesar Millan, you need to. For more information on becoming the pack leader, check out Pet Chat column Pack Leader.

8. Walk your dog. Ideally, you should walk your dog twice a day. If you don’t have time for this, consider hiring a neighborhood kid to help. Of course you’ll want to make sure your dog can walk well on a leash before you do this. For more advice on getting your dog to walk well on a leash, visit previous Pet Chat column Good Doggie.

9. Set aside time to play with your dog. While walking is great exercise for your dog, playing Frisbee and fetch help keep your dog’s mind engaged. Try taking your dog to the beach or park on the weekends and play a game of fetch.

10. Be patient with your dog. Make sure the expectations you have of your companion are reasonable and keep in mind that the vast majority of behavior problems can be solved. And remember that the best pet owner is an informed pet owner. The Natural Dog: A Complete Guide for Caring Dog Lovers by Mary L. Brennan and Norma Eckroate is one of my favorites. Bookstores have entire sections on just pets, so there are many to choose from.

By taking care of these 10 essentials, you’ll not only keep your dog healthier and safer, but also develop an even more rewarding relationship.

What is VIP Pet Insurance Really?

Before I’ll dive into what VIP pet insurance really is then I’ll like to take a moment to discuss what pet insurance is in the first place.

I’ve been running this site for quite some time now and from the comments that people have made on the different articles I’ve written I can see that most people are really confused when it comes to what a pet insurance really is.

So what is an insurance really
As I said above it seems like there are a lot of people that thinks that if they pay for a pet insurance for their pet then the insurance company will pay for any damages, injuries or illnesses that their pet will acquire. That is NOT so!

A pet insurance is no different from any other insurance that you can have. What is means is that you pay a premium that will cover specific incidents that will happen. The key is the word “specific” and that is where I find that most people are mistaken. It is far from all possible happenings that will be covered by the insurance and that applies to pet insurance as well.

Pet owners has to realize what an insurance is
If you want to be free of all future bills for VETs, medicine etc. then it’ll likely cost you a little fortune (if not a big fortune) and I’m not even sure that you’ll find an pet insurance company that will take on a policy like that. Some of them have created something called a VIP pet insurance package which will cover more than regular insurance policies but they still won’t cover everything and as a pet owner you need to realize this.

Pet insurance companies run businesses as well and if they pay out more than they get in they’ll go bankrupt. It is a simple as that. That does not mean that they should cheat you out of something that you have paid them to cover (and I know that they’ll try that at times) but you’ll also need realize that even though you want them to pay the bill (because otherwise you’ll have to pay it yourself) then it might not be their obligation to do so.

If they turn you down you might become angry, scream and yell but instead you should rather spend your energy trying to figure out whether they are mistaken in turning your request down. Seek out experts that have nothing to do with the company and pay for their advice.

So even though you would like a VIP pet insurance to cover everything that you could possibly imagine could happen to your pet an insurance policy like that would cost you a fortune and would definitely be a poor investment on your part and you’re not likely to even be able to find a company that would let you sign such a policy.

Your Dressed-Up Pet Photos - Part II
The Boston Globe

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Keepers of the Wild Nature Park

Purchasing a Pet
By Sue McGuire - The Press-Democrat

Avoiding common mistakes

Sonoma County’s animal shelters are full of perfectly wonderful animals waiting for a forever home. That is the first place Sonoma Pets encourages people to look for their new family member.

Top Five Tips for Purchasing an Animal:

1) Meet the parents; often the sire is offsite but insist on meeting the dam. If she is cowering under the table, hissing, growling; leave. It’s not the temperament you would want in a pet.

2) Avoid breeders who breed more than just one or two breeds or have more than three to four litters a year. Anything more than that and it likely a puppy mill, where profit can often take precedent over the health of animals.

3) Demand Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) clearance of any adults in the breeding line. X-rays are used to review joint issues, like dysplasia, on adult dogs. Don’t let the breeder say the puppies have had OFA clearance because they’re too young! Dogs must be at least nine months old before getting OFA x-rays. That’s why you need to get clearances on several generations of the parents.

4) Make sure your breeder has a long track record of happy customers and healthy dogs. Most dogs/cat hobbyists regularly compete in professional events.

5) Never, never buy an animal, sight unseen, off the Internet. Buy locally from people, who have a reputation to uphold.

But for people seeking a registered breed dog or a purebred cat, the advice is to do some homework first. Buyers should bring a healthy dose of skepticism before making a purchase.

“More people put more thought into buying a car than they do a living being, like a dog,” says Linda Giorgi of Petaluma. Giorgi has been showing Golden Retrievers since 1970. One her puppies became the family dog for President Gerald Ford.

“A lot of people have no idea what they are getting into,” says Giorgi, owner of Foxfire Golden Retrievers. Giorgi has show dogs, Golden Retrievers and Papillions, whom she occasionally breeds. “Unrealistic expectations are the big thing,” she says. Potential adopters must fill out an extensive questionnaire before they are considered for a dog. “You’re not qualified if you can write a check. It’s not that kind of thing.”

Giorgi and other hobby breeders cringe at people who, because they have a “purebred” dog, they decide to breed with a friend’s purebred dog. These so-called backyard breeders often unknowingly pass on genetic issues in breeds, which result in a poorer outcome for the breed in general. In Goldens it’s hip issues and with Boxers for example, it’s often eye related issues.

Dennis and Beth Kirwan of Sebastopol rescued Daisy, a McNabb mix, and were looking for another dog. After researching breeds, they liked the energy and intelligence of terriers. Nervous about going to a breeder alone, they hired a canine behaviorist to accompany them. The behaviorist insisted the sire and dam be available for inspection, and the puppy undergo a complete health exam by a veterinarian of their choosing, before agreeing to the purchase.

Same Goes for Cat Breeders

Barbara Redalia of Tuleberg Cattery in Sebastopol occasionally has some kittens available after breeding her show cats. “When purchasing from a professional breeder, one should expect to receive a record of the kitten's vaccinations, as well as pedigrees of its parents, a registration form, if it is to be registered, a description of what it has been eating, and where that food can be obtained, and any pertinent information about previous illnesses or inherited genetic traits that might impact its health,” she says.

Adopters interested in a particular breed should attend dog shows held in Sonoma County throughout the year, to learn more about their breed of interest.

Purchasing a pet as a holiday gift is never a good idea say adoption counselors at Sonoma County animal shelters. It’s recommended people instead purchase a collar or a pet-related gift package, and after the holidays, take some time to decide on the new family member.

Packing Some Bite

Even if marveling at "Marley & Me" on the big screen is still on your to-do list, here is a roundup of animal-centric books to curl up with during the holiday season:

"Izzy & Lenore: Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me." Author Jon Katz returns with another powerful memoir that chronicles his life on his upstate Bedlam Farm. He introduces us to an unruly border collie named Izzy, whose owners moved away. Izzy's metamorphosis into a service dog that helps hospice patients is deeply moving.

"Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," by Gene Weingarten, with photographs by Michael S. Williamson. This is a heartfelt, upbeat tribute to the wisdom and joy of senior dogs. Each photo is accompanied by a story that captures the essence of each subject.

"Happy Cat Happy You: Quick Tips for Building a Bond with Your Feline Friend." Many owners find themselves confounded by common feline behaviors, like scratching, biting, stalking or yowling for attention at 3 a.m. Author and pet expert Arden Moore offers hundreds of playful tips and practical advice for living harmoniously with your cat.

"Wild Horses: Endangered Beauty." Photographer Traer Scott turns our attention to the current plight of wild horses in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. For centuries, the wild horses of North America have figured prominently in art, history and folklore as symbols of beauty, strength and freedom. But today many of these creatures are fighting for survival.

"Bird Brain Teasers: Puzzles, Games & Avian Trivia." Does the early bird really get the worm? Find out from The New York Times crossword puzzle creator Patrick Merrell's 324-page book filled with bird-themed crosswords, visual puzzles, and the first-ever Birdoku challenges.

"Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World," by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. On a bitter-cold night, someone stuffed a kitten into the book dropoff box at the Spencer, Iowa, public library. He was rescued and raised by Myron, the library director, and stayed for 19 years.

"Eco Dog: Healthy Living For Your Pet," by Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich, is packed with do-it-yourself projects and natural alternatives to conventional pet food, grooming products, household products and toys.

"Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life." Dr. Nancy Kay offers guides to selecting the right veterinarian, when to ask for a second opinion and tips on choosing the right treatment option. Much of the information can pertain to cats, too.

"Bliss to You: Trixie's Guide to a Happy Life," as told to Dean Koontz. The best-selling author says his 68-pound dog changed his life and made him a better, happier person. Trixie shares her secrets on how to achieve not merely happiness, but bliss.

"Heritage of Care: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals," by Marion S. Lane and Stephen L. Zawistowski chronicles 142 years of the ASPCA and its commitment to companion animals.

"The Ultimate Cat Lover", Marty Becker, D.V.M., America's Favorite Vet. "The Best Experts' Advice for a Happy, Healthy Cat with Stories and Photos of Fabulous Felines." HCI Books.

Keep Pets In Mind During Winter
Kim Dacey Reports - WBALTV.com Pets Section

BALTIMORE - The bitter cold weather can wreak havoc on everything from cars to pets -- depending on the breed of animal you have.

People in the Baltimore area and across the country are bundling up to brave the wintry weather, but a pet can't do the same. Officials at the Maryland SPCA said pet owners need to make sure their animals are safe this time of year.

"You need to know the breed of animal you have. A lot of the smaller breeds like your daschunds, your Chihuahuas -- they don't deal with the cold as well as some of the other breeds do, so it's very important that you put a jacket on them or put a sweater on them to keep them warm," said SPCA spokeswoman Katie Flory.

Flory recommended pet owners bring animals inside as much as possible, especially at night. If they are outside, check their water frequently to make sure it's not frozen, check their paws for damage from ice or salt on sidewalks and use pet-safe antifreeze and sidewalk salt this winter.

Flory said signs that a pet is in trouble include excessive shaking or panting and acting unusual.

"My first suggestion would be to call your vet to make sure that you're getting the professional help you need. Don't try to do it on your own. Get their advice for each specific animal," she said.

Flory said a good rule of thumb is to think of pets as people and use common sense.

"The things that you'd do for us, you'd do for your pet. So, when you're thinking, 'Hey, is this the right thing to do?' Think about it from a human standpoint," she said.

Thanks to Kathy from Bhc,Az

New California Pet Store Standards
By Eric Syverson - The Reptile Channel.com

The Pet Store Animal Care Act sets requirements covering everything from caging to animal handling to enrichment in every pet store selling live companion animals, including reptiles and fish.

California pet stores begin 2009 with new standards. An industry initiative to provide clearer guidelines for pet stores and animal-control officers takes effect Jan. 1.

Called the Pet Store Animal Care Act, California Assembly Bill 1347 sets requirements covering everything from caging to animal handling to enrichment in every pet store selling live companion animals, including reptiles and fish, in the state.

Some new recordkeeping requirements stand to benefit customers. Stores must note information such as veterinary treatment records and who provided them with the animals, and they must supply it upon request to people purchasing individually housed animals. Pet stores are also responsible for either providing an animal-return policy at the time of sale or informing customers about no returns.

The new law also sets some operating standards. Stores must establish and maintain a documented animal-care program in consultation with a licensed veterinarian, and they must make written animal-husbandry procedures available to all employees.

According to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which helped craft the bill, many pet stores are already operating within the scope of most of these criteria. But for stores without the required written procedures, spokeswomen Kari Ardolino Rudgers said PIJAC has developed guidelines regarding what the law covers, including sample checklists and forms. One free copy has been mailed to independent retailers in California, she said, and additional copies and a Microsoft Word version on CD are available for sale at pijac.org.

No More Room for Pets at Nature Coast Humane Society
By Beth N. Gray, St. Petersburg Times correspondent

BROOKSVILLE — This may be a terrible time to mount a capital fundraising campaign, but officials at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast say the depressed economy is one reason they need to expand their animal shelter.

Pets that need a roof over their heads, good nutrition and love are being turned away for lack of space.

"The need is greater than ever due to loss of jobs, and the number of (home) foreclosures is staggering," said executive director Joanne Schoch.

"We have staff in tears, saying no to people lined up at our door who have nurtured their pet. 'Help me; help my pet,' " they lament, Schoch said.

The local alternative to the Humane Society and the overstocked Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter, both no-kill facilities, is Hernando County Animal Services, which employs euthanasia.

The pet owners descending on the Humane Society are either cash-strapped or are moving in with relatives, moving to smaller homes or renting apartments that do not allow pets.

"Our kennels are always full," Schoch said of the facility at Wiscon and Mobley roads.

"We're seeing more dogs," the director noted. The shelter has 17 individual dog kennels. "It's easier to take a cat with you than a dog. A cat is a lower-maintenance animal."

The cageless environment in the Humane Society's cat cottage, which opened five years ago, can comfortably accommodate some 30 felines.

The society has $100,000 earmarked already for its capital campaign. But the goal is $650,000 to $750,000 for the first phase of expansion, a 40,000-square-foot accommodation for dogs that will mimic the cageless facility for cats and include a clinic, education center and a conference room that will double as an indoor play area for pets.

The numbers seem daunting, but Schoch has some ideas on raising it.

"If we could get a majority of the population to donate just $10, we could raise it," she said. "If we could get a major corporation (to give a considerable contribution), they could jump-start this campaign." Grants are also being pursued.

Coastal Engineering Associates of Brooksville has provided gratis a site design and rendering for the new service area.

Another option costs not a penny and offers an opportunity to immortalize one's pet.

The online group zootoo.com is featuring a contest whose winner will receive a $1-million makeover of its shelter. Contestants register on the Web site, post stories or photos of their pets, and the shelter receives points for every submission. There is no limit on submissions. From the highest point gatherers — a panel will determine the most needy and worthy — the public will vote online.

Says Schoch: "What a great way for kids and families to participate."

"I think we have a good chance," she added. "We were No. 40 on their list at last count."

This month, the Humane Society dedicated several projects at its site, primarily a new dog play area that has a stone base and is topped with a dig-proof artificial turf that can be sanitized.

"Dogs roll on it. They absolutely love it," Schoch said, noting that a lot of shelters provide mainly dirt pits for canine play. The state-of-the-art installation was financed by a small foundation that prefers to remain anonymous.

Also dedicated were Cemex Lane, honoring the company for its longtime support; Cori Court for Cori Messenger, a veterinary technician and the longest employee with the society; and Edythe Way, honoring the longest active volunteer, Edythe Cook.

"While raising the funding for the new care center, the Humane Society needs to rely on the generosity of the community to fund the daily operations of the current facility," Schoch said.

Your Dressed-Up Pet Photos - Part I
The Boston Globe

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