Hope, the Three-Legged Cat

Beware of Foreign Pet Treats
The Norman Transcript

Dear Dr. Fox: I recently read in one of your articles in which you mentioned a dog treat made in China. I have two dog-treat labels -- one made in China and the other in Thailand. Are there any treats on the market safe to give to dogs or cats? -- H.McE., Flint, Mich.

Dear H.McE.: It is fortunate that at least some companies list where their products are made; but most don't. They simply say "distributed by" rather than "manufactured by X in the country Y." Labeling all consumables and household goods with country or countries of origin should be made mandatory.

Pet products manufactured in China, Thailand and Brazil have resulted in pets becoming ill and the U.S. government has no effective regulatory oversight.

My advice is to buy only pet foods and treats that clearly say they are manufactured in the United States or Canada. Alternatively, make your own. When you think of the carbon footprint of transporting imported products, along with all the packaging, buying local or making your own is an ethically responsible choice.

Dear Dr. Fox: My son owns a farm in Iowa and recently rescued a beautiful male English setter. The dog was roaming and probably had been deserted. He was skittish, fearful, dirty and covered with fleas and ticks. It took six weeks of treats and kind words to get the dog to come to my son, as he was that afraid.

Now, he is very sweet and loving, and things are going well. Except when he is chewing up the furniture at night while everyone is sleeping. The vet guesses he's about 2 years old. We've had to replace furniture and wonder what can be done to stop the destruction.

The family works all day and because of the chewing problem, he stayed in a large pen outside under a big shade tree until they got home. However, he managed to break through the chain-link pen recently, so he is now loose outside during the day.

We thought a large indoor cage at night might be the answer until he broke through the heavy-gauge metal pen outside.

Are there medicines or other methods that might reduce his chewing? -- N.T., Springfield, Mo.

Dear N.T.: Dogs become obsessive chewers and house wreckers when they fear abandonment. This separation-anxiety condition can be alleviated by a combination of behavior modification and a drug called Clomicalm. This drug (Clomipramine) is approved for dogs by the FDA, provided the prescription is coupled with behavioral therapy and counseling.

I would put a bed for the dog in the bedroom; act very cool when you come home and give the dog a hollow, rubber toy (like a Kong) stuffed with peanut butter or frozen cream cheese to chew on while people are gone from the house. Keep him in a safe room (all breakables removed) with a TV or radio on. Learn about desensitization therapy -- repeatedly leaving the house and quietly coming back over a weekend. Ignore the dog when you enter and give a treat when you leave. If he can be taken to work for some -- or all -- days in the workweek, so much the better.

New book for dog owners

Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Kay has written a dog-care book with a unique spin -- helping the dog owner assume a more informed role as their dog's advocate as well as caregiver.

''Speaking for Spot" has 388 pages, including an index packed with helpful insights ($19.95, Trafalgar Square Books), www.trafalgarbooks. com, (800) 423-4525.

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of this newspaper. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Pet Victims in Home Foreclosures
by Deni Goldman, Boston Animal Advocate Examiner

As the number of home foreclosures in America continues to grow, so does the number of pets that have become the victims of this ongoing predicament. At a time when nothing can possibly seem worse than the loss of a place called “home”, losing a beloved pet at the same time, certainly tops off this devastation.

So many families who are being evicted from foreclosed homes are left with no other choice than to surrender their pets to animal shelters. And some of these families aren’t even taking their pets to shelters – it is reported that numerous realtors are going into foreclosed homes finding animals still living inside, sadly mistaking an await of their family’s return. The majority of these pets have already depleted any food and water left behind.

Animal Control Officers, rescue organizations and shelter professionals can undoubtedly help by encouraging victims of foreclosures to “please take your pets to a shelter” in lieu of abandoning them in a dark, lonely house, and by reminding victims that leaving their pets behind is considered “abandonment” and that they can be charged for this crime.

But one thing these professionals cannot do, is take away the emotional pain of being forced to move on, and forced to part ways with a beloved pet.

What can you do if you are a victim of a foreclosure and you have a pet?

Contact your local Animal Control Officer or animal shelter for assistance in researching boarding facilities that may assist in temporary pet care while you look for a new home.

Log onto pet-friendly apartment guides such as www.apartments.com; www.PeopleWithPets.com.

Consider working with private landlords in lieu of just commercial properties, and negotiate instilling security deposits for having pets on the premises.

Be a proactive “responsible pet owner” by making your attentiveness to this responsibility (i.e. dog license, vaccinations, spays/neuters, cleanliness, adhesion to leash laws and other town bylaws, and pet health upkeep) obvious to a potential landlord.

5 Dogs Dead, 8 Rescued, in Pet-Grooming Store Fire
AP - Chicago Sun-Times

Eight dogs and a few birds were rescued from a fire that killed four puppies and their mother early Thursday at a pet-grooming store in southwest suburban Romeoville.

A passerby who was visiting a nearby 7-Eleven convenient store noticed smoke coming from the back of Suzette’s Dog Grooming at 209 W. Romeo Rd. and called 911 about midnight, according to Romeoville Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Robert Michalec.

Responding crews saw light smoke from the back of the building and forced their way inside and began to search for the fire, which appeared to have started in a storage or bathroom in the one-story building, Michalec said.

Four puppies and their mother in the room where the fire started perished. Firefighters did rescue eight other dogs and some birds that in a cage, he said.

The fire was fully controlled well within a half an hour and no people were injured, Michalec said.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but is not considered suspicious, Michalec said.

Jane Drummond: Pets are a Long-Term Commitment
The Joplin Globe

I’m hearing a familiar ring to what a lot of kids are asking for this year for Christmas! I hear it every year from lots of the families I see in Parents as Teachers. Kids want a pet. I say proceed with EXTREME caution.

Although a pet can be a wonderful addition to your family, each year I have seen new pets come at Christmas only to be given up on by January. In case your kid is hounding you for a pet this holiday season, I turned to local veterinarian Dr. Liberty Boyer for some advice and things to strongly consider before adopting a new family member.

First of all, Dr. Boyer points out that ALL pets are a commitment of time and money. A free puppy or kitten will cost approximately $200 to $400 its first year for basic veterinary care, including vaccinations and neutering. Then there are costs throughout the pet’s life such as preventive medicines, staying about the same each year IF the pet stays healthy.

You can add another $300 to $500 annually to a dog that requires frequent grooming. New puppies also require potty training, which is most successful when the new owners will get up in the middle of the night with the dog for the first few months, and a Christmas puppy requires you to do this in the dead of winter. A new pet is a major commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“The size of a pet does not need to correlate to the size of the child,” says Dr. Boyer. “Small children want pets they can hold and play with, but the idea that small dogs are always better for children isn’t always true, as small dogs can be more easily injured if accidentally dropped and the tendency to develop aggression and fear biting is more common in the smaller breeds.”

Dr. Boyer also notes that the theory you need to raise your dog/cat with kids to bond them is a common misconception. Young children are often upset by the nipping and rough-housing of a puppy and the biting or scratching of a kitten. She suggests starting with a calmer adult animal. With adult dogs you can also see how big it will be, how it will interact with your child and other pets, and how much energy it has. Adopting from a local animal shelter will also allow you to know some history on the dog before you get it, and most of these animals are already vaccinated and neutered.

Before you buy a pet on impulse, Dr. Boyer suggests sitting down as a family to decide what type of pet to add to your family and discuss issues such as how much money and time you want to commit to the pet. If everyone in the family is gone most of the day, then is it fair to ask a pack animal like a dog to spend the majority of its life in isolation? Research the type of animal you want to get on the Internet. Pay close attention to housing, diet requirements, average life span, common behavioral and medical problems and activity levels. Interview people who already have the kind of pet you are considering, or even offer to “pet sit” or foster an animal for the shelter as a test run before you fully commit to adoption.

Dogs live at least 10 years, with smaller breeds living up to 18. Most cats will make it to at least 15 years. Small rodents typically live up to two years, and some birds and reptiles can be a 25-50 year commitment! Keep in mind that reptiles will require larger cages as they grow and specialized environments including lighting, heating, ventilation and humidity monitoring. Most illnesses with reptiles can be attributed to their diet or environment. Small rodents can be fast and noisy, playing all night. Their cages also require a lot of maintenance to keep a clean and healthy pet. If your child can’t keep his/her room picked up, are they ready to clean an animal cage every few days?

Dr. Boyer warns of getting a pet from a breeder with sick or dirty animals, as the money you give them will only ensure they will continue to abuse and market animals. She suggests that if you want a purebred animal to contact a breed-specific rescue. These rescues are always full and will often be willing to travel great distances to help find a good home to one of their foster pets.

Also, please keep in mind that our local animal shelters will be overrun with rejected “gift pets” in January and February, and many have species in addition to cats and dogs. Your family can save a rabbit, guinea pig, gerbil, rat, ferret or who knows what else. But please, take the time to weigh this long-term commitment and make it positive for the whole family, pet included!

Jane Drummond is a parent educator for the Carthage School District.

Pet Lovers Protest Cats on the Menu in China

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — While animal lovers in Beijing protested the killing of cats for food on Thursday, a butcher in Guangdong province — where felines are the main ingredient in a famous soup — just shrugged her shoulders and wielded her cleaver. "Cats have a strong flavor. Dogs taste much better, but if you really want cat meat, I can have it delivered by tomorrow," said the butcher, who gave only her surname, Huang.

It was just this attitude that outraged about 40 cat lovers who unfurled banners in a tearful protest outside the Guangdong government office in Beijing. Many were retirees who care for stray felines they said were being rounded up by dealers.

"We must make them correct this uncivilized behavior," said Wang Hongyao, who represented the group in submitting a letter urging the provincial government to crack down on traders and restaurants, although they were breaking no laws.

The protest was the latest clash between age-old traditions and the new sensibilities made possible by China's growing affluence. Pet ownership was once rare because the Communist Party condemned it as bourgeois and most people simply couldn't afford a cat or dog.

The protesters' indignation was whipped up by recent reports in Chinese newspapers about the cat meat industry. On Monday, the Southern Metropolis Daily — a Guangdong paper famous for its exposes and aggressive reporting — ran a story that said about 1,000 cats were transported by train to Guangdong each day.

The animals came from Nanjing, a major trading hub for cats, the newspaper said. They were brought to market by dealers on motorcycles, crammed into wooden crates and sent to Guangdong on trains. A photo showed a cat with green eyes peering from a crowded crate.

Some people in Nanjing spend their days "fishing for cats," often stealing pets, the report said.

One cat owner in Guanghzou said people are afraid to let their pets leave the house for fear they will get nabbed.

"It's never been this bad. Who knows, it might be because of the bad economy. I've heard that there are cat-nabbing syndicates from Hunan that are rounding up cats," said the man, who would only give his surname, Lai, because he feared the cat business might be run by gangsters.

Animal protection groups have occasionally ambushed truck convoys loaded with bamboo cages filled with cats bound for Guangdong. In one recent case, hundreds of cats escaped after their cages were opened, though hundreds more remained penned in the vehicle.

Lai Xiaoyu, who was involved in the attempted "rescue," said authorities couldn't stop the cat shipment because the traders said the animals were to be raised as pets.

"The police did what they could, but there's little they can do to stop or punish those traders from shipping live animals," Lai said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, issued a statement Thursday decrying the cruel treatment.

"China has no animal protection laws, and throughout the country scores of cats and dogs are bred or rounded up, crammed onto trucks and driven for days under hellish conditions to animal markets, where they are beaten to death, strangled or boiled alive," said a spokesman for the group, Michael V. McGraw.

Guangdong is home to the Cantonese people, famous for being the most adventurous eaters in China. There's a popular saying: "The Cantonese will eat anything that flies, except airplanes, and anything with legs, except a chair."

Zhu Huilian, a nutrition and food safety professor at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangdong's capital, Guangzhou, said people usually eat cat in restaurants, not at home.

"There's a famous soup called 'Dragon, Tiger and Phoenix,'" Zhu said. "It involves cooking snake, cat and chicken together. In winter more people eat cats as they believe it's extra nutritious."

The wide-ranging Cantonese culinary tastes are on display daily in Guangzhou, also known as Canton, in the Qing Ping Market. Shopkeepers sit behind cages full of writhing snakes, tubs with turtles and plastic basins with mounds of scorpions crawling over each other.

That's where the butcher, Huang, sells her meat, sliced on a blood-soaked cutting board in a stall filled with cages of chickens and rabbits.

Hanging on a hook from its head — with its snout cut cleanly off — was a skinned dog with a long curly tail, paws with small clumps of fur still on them and black claws. The dog's jaw bone was displayed in a metal tray beneath the carcass.

"The cat meat we sell comes from legitimate sources," said Huang, who gave only her surname because her boss doesn't allow her to speak to reporters. "It's from cat farms. The animals are raised the same way cows are."

She said cat meat sold for about $1.32 a pound, while dog meat was cheaper, at about 95 cents a pound. Chicken was the best buy at 62 cents a pound, while lamb sold for about $1.32.

Huang said customers had to order cat meat a day in advance because it doesn't sell as well as dog.

"Cat tastes a bit like lamb. I don't like it much," she said. "Young cats are tender, but the meat on the older ones is really tough. Usually old people like eating it."

Associated Press writer Gillian Wong in Beijing, researchers Xi Yue in Beijing and Ji Chen in Shanghai, and Carley Petesch in New York contributed to the report.

Hope The Three-Legged Cat is Found After 7 Weeks
By Robert Paul Reyes - News Blaze

"A Cincinnati area woman has again found Hope, her three-legged cat with that name whose disappearance led to an extensive search. Hope's owner, Norma Meece, had hired a pet detective as part of a nearly seven-week search costing more than $500 dollars after the cat disappeared from Meece's home in suburban Green Township.

I own two cats and two dogs and I wouldn't spare any expense searching for a lost pet, but this article raises some interesting questions.

*What were the circumstances that led to the disappearance of Hope? My two cats never go outside, and I can't imagine any scenario that would result in their disappearance.

*Why were photographs of Hope plastered all over the neighborhood? How many missing three-legged cats are there in the small community of Green Township. Wouldn't a sign declaring "Missing three-legged cat. Reward." suffice?

*Pet Detective? You mean there's a real life Ace Ventura searching for lost pets?

*How did the pet detective escape injury? If I find an idiot looking under my porch, he's going to get some lead in his butt.

*Why was the pet detective searching for a missing feline with a bloodhound. A kitty is going to run away if he sees a fool, who calls himself a pet detective, approaching with a dog.

At least the AP story answers the question why Hope only has three legs, the poor thing had a leg amputated.

Karin Winegar's Book on Rescued Animals: Hard to Read, Hard to Put Down
by Amy Goetzman - Minnesota Post

At times, Karin Winegar's new book, "Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform," is nearly unbearable. Anyone with a tender heart for animals is going to find these 28 stories about animals that have been abused, starved, abandoned or slated for certain death more than a little wrenching. The book (Da Capo Press, $25.95) is also absolutely riveting, but I wasn't about to crack this one without knowing, going in, that each of these tales has a happy ending.

Winegar, whose byline you'll remember from her 1978-1998 tenure at the Star Tribune, spent five years meeting with "animal nuts," as she calls them (and herself) and recording their extraordinary stories. "I can talk to anyone about animals. People who care about animals come from every economic class, every race, political leaning, religious background. We might have nothing else in common, but if we both love animals, then we can talk," she said.

With photographer Judy Olausen, Winegar visited prisons, hospitals, rescue centers, animal shelters and homes. She heard stories about animals rescued, and about animals who rescued back. There's the classic story of the family saved from a house fire by their dog here, and numerous emotional rescues: People who soothed broken hearts and bodies by spending time with animals.

"You might think that rescuing animals goes one way, but the truth is, they rescue us. So many people suffer from depression, loneliness, seriousness, lack of joy. But living with a pet, or working with animals, can heal so much of what is hurt and broken in our society," she says.

Animals work wonders for inmates
It's well known that humans who abuse animals are exponentially more likely to become violent criminals. But Winegar reverses that equation in a profile of an amazing prison that gives inmates the opportunity to care for animals. Recidivism rates there plummeted. Another chapter is devoted to a man who braved flooded New Orleans to rescue his dog.

Winegar visits two white Great Pyrenees dogs in a Rochester, Minn., nursing home and hospice. They were rescued from a ditch they'd been thrown into after extensive abuse. Now they heal the sick. In another, a man who lost his son to a heroin overdose carries on with the help of horses. Winegar has six horses (as well as a dog and cats) herself, and a number of these tales follow hoofed heroes. They are among the hardest to read.

"It is absolutely shocking the way that some humans treat animals. We are far from humane in so many ways, and I heard many, many terrible stories," she said. "I just cried. And took notes."

Winegar hopes her book will help alleviate animal suffering; she's especially worried about how animals will fare in the hungry months ahead. "I saw people living in their cars outside of the Humane Society, begging us to take care of their animals," she said. "People can barely feed themselves, and yet it tears them apart to have to give up their animals. For some people, that's when they have nothing left."

Don't Ignore Your Pet's Abscesses
Danielle O'Brien - SF Gate

Q: We crate our 9-year-old dog because she's destructive when left alone. We discovered that she had broken some teeth while breaking apart the plastic liner of the crate. The vet suggested X-rays to determine if the teeth were damaged to the pulp. Several hundred dollars later, we found that those teeth were fine. Instead, the X-ray revealed she has two small abscesses in back lower molars. The vet suggested root canals or pulling the teeth. We can't really afford it.

Is it necessary? When I was growing up these kinds of treatments for dogs were unheard of.

A: Abscesses are nothing to mess around with. A dental abscess is basically a bacterial infection at the root of a tooth and/or in the gum tissue surrounding the tooth. And just as in humans, an abscess can cause throbbing pain for our pets. An abscess also can cause an inability to eat or drink, constant drooling and tendency to bite if touched on the site.

The infection will spread if touched. Abscesses won't go away on their own. If an abscess happens to rupture, infection could spread to other areas of your dog's body, such as her head and neck, and this can be life-threatening. I would heed your veterinarian's advice and take care of this situation as soon as possible, before things get even more complicated (and costly).

As far as veterinary fees, I agree. It can get very expensive. Veterinary medicine is advancing along with human medicine, and costs rise with level of care. Regular teeth cleanings, accompanied by dental X-rays, can detect problems before they become more difficult and expensive to treat. Talk with your dog's veterinarian about her dental plan.

This month's question was answered by Danielle O'Brien, DVM, and Antonia Gale, RVT, San Francisco Veterinary Specialists, 600 Alabama St., San Francisco; (415) 401-9200; www.sfvs.net. Send your pet questions to home@sfchronicle. com with "Ask the Vet" in the guideline, and each month a guest veterinarian will address a different subject. "Ask the Vet" is for informational purposes only. Readers should not act on information seen in this column without seeking professional veterinary advice.

Ribbon-Munching Can be Lethal for Pets

Q: When Christmas comes, our cats fight over their gifts because they each want the bows and ribbons. All of this ribbon reappears regurgitated on my carpet, or it comes out the other way in the litter box. Some of the presents under the tree have teeth marks on them, shredded ribbons, or no ribbons. I've tried to spray the cats but that has not helped. Any suggestions? -- L.W., Louisville, KY

A: Give the emergency vets Christmas Day off. It's true that sometimes bows and ribbons do come up on the carpet, or make their way through a cat to land in the litter box. However, ribbon can also cause an intestinal obstruction requiring surgery, which can be life threatening. Ribbon-munching should be avoided entirely.

You could try spraying a product such as Bitter Apple (available online and at pet stores) on the ribbons making them taste bad to cats. Some cats aren't deterred, however. In my view, you have three options: 1) Tell Santa to hide the gifts in a closed room until Christmas Day; 2) keep the cats out of the room where the gifts are currently kept, or 3) stop using bows and ribbons all together.

Sometimes pets are more stressed out around the holidays. This isn't usually because they're concerned about finishing their holiday shopping, but rather because of changes in daily routines of family members, and/or more company. For your cats, who are only fighting around the Christmas tree, the explanation may be stress. You might try a Feliway diffuser, which you plug in (as a sort of aroma therapy), and it will diffuse some tension. Catnip can also be stress buster.

Q: Our entire family is converging on our house for the holidays. Our daughter and son-in-law are also bringing what they consider the three "kids." Two are dogs. They're worried because I keep macadamia nuts around. I'm not a dog person, but they tell me these nuts are dangerous for dogs. Our other guests might like them, however. Any advice? -- C.H., Henderson, NV

A: Your daughter and son-in-law are informed pet owners. Veterinary toxicologist Dr. Steven Hansen of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has researched this issue. "Macadamia nuts present e a unique situation for dogs," he notes. "What happens is, a dog will often eat an entire bowl of nuts that have been put on a table during a party. And what develops is severe weakness in the rear legs; the dogs can't walk, and what happens is dramatic. The good thing is, the effects are not permanent and the dogs fully recover. It usually takes about 12 hours after they eat the nuts to start exhibiting the weakness. And then usually within two to three days they're 100 percent normal."

You can keep macadamia nuts around, just make sure they're out of reach. However, better safe than sorry. Why not stick with cashews?

Q: I'm a cat lover and I made a resolution to volunteer to help cats next year. Any ideas? -- C.D., Cyberspace

A: Contact your local animal shelter. I don't know of a single shelter with too many volunteers..

Stray and feral cat colonies need help, too. Volunteers serve as caretakers, trapping the cats so they can be spay/neutered and vaccinated for rabies. Each is then ear-notched for identification, returned to the wild and watched over. The entire process is called trap-neuter-return. Learn more at www.alleycat.org. You could join an existing local TNR volunteer corps, or begin your own.

If you can help financially, check out these websites and learn more about two initiatives: the Morris Animal Foundation's Happy Healthy Cats campaign, www.research4cats.org; and the Winn Feline Foundation, www.winnfelinehealthorg

Q: Oliver is a great dog most of the time, but I live with my grandma, and she can't control him. I work nights, so she tries to walk him but he's always pulling her, lunging ahead. Also, he sometimes barks when she takes him out. How can I get him to behave for Grandma? All he wants to do is to roughhouse. I hope you won't say we have too big of a dog to handle. -- G.O., Isanti, MN

A: "This is a common issue, and a fixable problem," says esteemed veterinary behaviorist Dr. R.K. Anderson, director of the Center to Study Human/Animal Relationships and Environments at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Minneapolis. "We control horses - certainly larger than this dog - with a halter, so why not a head halter for dogs?"

There are several brands of halters used for dogs, and Anderson invented the first of these, called the Gentle Leader. "Also, Granny can use treats in her hand to motivate the dog to stay with her, but the Gentle Leader will give her control," says Anderson. "I just received a letter from a grandmother using a walker who was able to walk her dog because she was using a Gentle Leader."

Oliver might be a lot of dog for Granny, but this can work. I suggest Grandma enlist hands-on help from a qualified dog trainer for further assistance.

You can see how the Gentle Leader works by watching video clips, and get lots of training tips from qualified experts on Anderson's website: www.abrionline.org


(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is www.stevedalepetworld.com; he can be heard Sundays on WGN Radio, 8 to 10 p.m. CST (www.wgnradio.com to listen live), and hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.

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