Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to All!

Code Blue: Protect Your Pet from Cold Weather
by Carla Kinney, Philadelphia Pet Care Examiner

Having worked for the Philadelphia Fire Department as a 911 Dispatcher for five years, I learned a lot about helping people and the extreme measures it takes to not only get the proper medical care to victims, but also to spread the word about preventive medicine as well. Preventive medicine means taking steps to see that an accident or illness does not occur, rather than having to treat it after it does occur. Many unnecessary illnesses can be avoided if we take the time and use the proper judgement to prevent them.

In Philadelphia, a "Code Blue" weather emergency is a term used to describe extreme cold conditions in the city. A "Code Blue" gives medical personnel and Philadelphia Police Officers the authority to go out on the streets and bring homeless people into shelters or other facilities that will house them and keep them warm, thereby preventing death or injury due to hypothermia or freezing.

Unfortunately, there is no such law that says pets must also be brought in from the cold. Every year around this time, the local news stations broadcast stories advising pet owners to take the proper precautions in protecting their pets from the harsh elements. Most pet owners will heed this advice and see to it that their pets are safe and warm, but all too often there are stories on the local news stations documenting cases where pet owners did not put into practice this valuable advice. Too many people are under the impression that dogs and cats are different from us because they have thick coats of hair that will protect them from the cold. This is a myth. Dogs and cats and other animals get cold just like we do and if left outside in cold weather too long, will suffer the same effects that human beings suffer from being exposed to dangerously low temperatures.

When taking your pet out for a walk in cold weather, or letting them out in the back yard for a daily romp, try to remind yourself that your pet is your child and ask yourself how long you would leave your child outside in the cold weather. If you know that you would not leave your child outside for more than five minutes at a time in harsh weather, then don't leave your pet outside any longer than that either.

If you are aware of anyone who has left a pet outside in extreme weather, or if you know of a stray animal on the streets trying to survive in harsh weather, whether it be hot or cold, or of anyone who is abusing an animal in any way, please report this incident immediately so that the pet can be removed from its harmful environment and placed in a caring home or shelter. You can do this anonymously by calling the Pennsylvania SPCA at 215-426-6300, or the Women's Humane Society in Bensalem at 215-750-3100.

Rules for Pet Owners and the Objections
The Telegraph (UK)

Pet owners and animal welfare groups have criticised the Government's proposed codes of conduct for pet owners. Here are some of the guidelines set out in the codes, together with the objections raised.

Litter trays

Guideline: Cats should have a litter tray, even if they have access to outdoors and opt not to use it. Cats who share a home with other cats must have their own litter tray.

Objection: Experts say there is no evidence this improves their welfare, and that they are not able to tell which one they should use.

Dogs in vehicles

Guideline: The code states "Dogs should not be left unattended in a vehicle".

Objection: Owners say this is too proscriptive. While leaving them for long periods and in hot weather causes suffering and even death, owners could find themselves under investigation just for leaving their pet in the car as they pop into the shops.

Dog collars

Guideline: The code states that a dog "must wear a correctly fitted collar and identity tag when in a public place".

Objection: There is no mention of the exemption that has previously been given to gundogs, who risk serious injury if they are forced to wear collars which can snag on undergrowth.

Dog mess

Guideline: The code instructs owners to use a plastic bag or "pooper scooper" to dispose of any faeces on their property in a waste bin.

Objection: While this is sensible in small gardens or yards, owners say it is not possible where animals have access to large gardens, fields or even whole farms.


Guideline: Owners are told to groom longhair dogs and cats once a day to avoid coats becoming badly tangled or matted.

Objection: Many owners say that overgrooming animals in winter will give them a thin coat and cause them to be cold.


Guideline: The advice to dog owners is that "Generally it is better to feed an adult dog twice a day rather than the traditional once", while cats must be fed at least once a day.

Objection: Experts say there is no evidence that dogs need to be fed twice a day, and while it is better for many dogs, some will only require one feed a day. Cat experts say some felines do not require daily feeding and can be fed less often – but owners who do this could now face prosecution.

Protesters: Adopt Dogs, Don’t Buy Them
By Scott Rochat - Longmont Times-Call

LONGMONT — A small group of Longmont protesters joined their voices Saturday in a multi-city demonstration in favor of adopting dogs and against buying them from pet stores.

Twenty cities nationwide took part in the protests, which were organized by the Companion Animal Protection Society. Longmont’s event drew about a dozen people outside the Pet Spot pet store, although a planned “dog parade” from Pet Spot to the Longmont Humane Society had to be called off on account of cold weather.

“We’re trying to tell people that they can make other choices with dogs and puppies,” said protester Mike Stabler, the executive director of Rocky Mountain Animal Defense. “Four (million) to 5 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year that could be adopted.”

Protesters have held several demonstrations outside Pet Spot in the last year. The store most recently came under fire in June, when co-owner Jeffrey Fortin was ticketed on suspicion of 34 counts of animal cruelty, after a police officer who checked on a burglar alarm at the store found several puppies crammed into backroom pens. All 34 counts were dismissed by the Longmont city prosecutor in October.

When the charges were first reported, co-owner Nick Karst said he believed an employee was rounding up the puppies at night and putting them in the pens so that the worker who opened the next morning would have fewer pens to clean — a practice that broke the store’s rules, according to Karst. Both workers quit after the ticket was issued.

Karst declined to comment about Saturday’s protest.

Stabler encouraged people to look for their pets at shelters such as the Longmont Humane Society or through “Every Creature Counts,” a no-kill pet sanctuary that works with PetsMart to offer dogs and cats for adoption.

“You have to be careful,” he said. “You want your animal to have been well cared for.”

Scott Rochat can be reached at 303-684-5220 or

Pet Sitter How To Find The Most Reliable & Trusting Pet Sitter Service

Locating a reliable pet sitter to watch over your dog shouldn’t be too hard to find because there are many college students and other dog enthusiasts who are passionate about animals and enjoy pet sitting as a part-time job. There are even full time companies in communities where dog watching is in high demand.

If you are new to hiring someone to look over your animals when you are out of town, the following questions are important for you to ask the person or organization you hired. Your goal is to ensure that they will watch over your dogs while practicing positive treatment and has a good history with their previous clients.

1. Ask them if they are bonded and insured. Although being bonded or insured does not guarantee quality service, it does however protect you against the possibility of theft with your personal belongings. Remember, these pet sitters will be in your home so it is important to ask this question.

2. Ask the organization what their experience levels are and how long they have been pet sitting. College students and other young adults are not the only people who enjoy pet sitting as a way to make money. In fact, there are quite a few men and women who have been involved with animals all of their lives and are considered professionals in their field. Such examples are ex dog trainers and veterinary assistants. If you are lucky enough to find a person with these qualifications then take advantage of their services.

3. As with any service you are after, whether it’s seeking someone to watch your dogs, paint your house, or prepare a catering dinner, asking for references is commonplace, so do not be shy about this request. Once you have references and contact information of those previous clients, be sure to give them a phone call and thoroughly check out the history of the pet sitter you are considering to hire. There is no better way to find out how a pet sitter has treated a customer and their dog in the past.

4. Every city and state has specific laws that pertain to the care of animals. Although many are common sense, it is always a wise decision to ask the pet sitter if they are themselves aware of the federal, state, and city laws that have to do with animal care.

Economy Forcing Some To Give Up Furry Friends
Kentucky Post

The economy is forcing Americans to cut back and some are being forced to part with their pets.

Nationwide more cats and dogs are being turned over to animal shelters as times get tough.

A new survey shows that one in seven pet owners have reduced spending on their pets this year. Of those cutting back, one in four say they have seriously considered giving up their pet.

The survey by the American Pet Products association says the yearly cost of owning a dog is $1,400 and a cat is $1,000.

As Economy Falters, More People Giving Up Pets
By MARGERY A. GIBBS – Associated Press

A growing number of Americans are giving up their dogs and cats to animal shelters as the emotional bonds between people and pets get tested by economic ones.

From the Malvern, Pa., man who turned his two dogs over in order to help pay for his mother's cancer treatments, to the New York woman who euthanized her cat rather than keeping it alive with expensive medications, rising economic anxieties make it increasingly difficult for some pet owners to justify spending $1,000 a year or more on pet food, veterinary services and other costs.

The population growth at animal shelters in Connecticut, Nebraska, Texas, Utah and other states shows how the weak economy is also shrinking the pool of potential adopters. And it coincides with a drop-off in government funding and charitable donations.

The effect has been cramped quarters for dogs and cats, a faster rate of shelters euthanizing animals and some shelters turning away people looking to surrender pets, according to interviews with several shelters and animal advocates. Of the estimated 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats sent to animal shelters every year, half are euthanized and the rest adopted, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

"It's definitely discouraging for us," said Adam Goldfarb, a Humane Society spokesman. "One of our major goals is to develop and celebrate the bond between people and animals. It's so tragic when families reach a point when they can't afford to care for their pets."

With two children, a husband on disability and a difficult job search of her own, 23-year-old Mel Bail of Worcester, Mass., had begun feeding leftovers from family meals to her three cats — Rory, Ozzy and Mudpie — before recently deciding to give them up.

"When I couldn't pay my gas bill, I knew I had to find another home for the cats," Bail said.

But it wasn't easy to find a shelter that would accept them. "They're completely full," said Bail, who ultimately turned to online classified ads to find homes for Rory, Ozzy and Mudpie.

There is no nationwide data being collected on the reasons dogs and cats are being abandoned by their owners, but shelter managers and advocates for animals say the trend is undeniable — and probably a bigger phenomenon than they are aware of.

"People are embarrassed to admit that's why they're giving up their pets," said Betsy McFarland, the Humane Society's director of communications for companion animals.

An Associated poll found that one in seven owners nationwide reported reduced spending on their pets during the past year's recession. Of those cutting back, more than a quarter said they have seriously considered giving up their pet.

The average annual cost of owning a dog is about $1,400, while the average annual cost of a cat is about $1,000, according to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. The survey suggests there are some 231 million pets — excluding fish — in more than 71 million homes in America.

In Omaha, Neb., the Nebraska Humane Society's shelter began tracking for the first time this year those pets given up because of financial constraints. Through mid-November, more than 275 pets were given up because their owners said they couldn't afford to keep them.

Among them are two 9-year-old miniature schnauzers, dropped off anonymously with a note that said their owners could no longer afford to keep them.

Humane Society spokeswoman Pam Wiese said the obedience-trained purebreds came into the shelter up-to-date on vaccinations and dental care and were well-groomed.

"It is really sad, because for these people, it is not an excuse. They are absolutely stuck, and they need to downsize and there is no one to take the pets," she said. "You can tell these have been much-loved pets."

In New York, Erin Farrell-Talbot recently made the decision to euthanize her 15-year-old cat, Buki, when she was told within days of losing her job that he would need thousands of dollars in treatment and medications costing $65 a month to live.

"When it came down to whether I was going to charge food for the month of September or give medicine to my cat, that was a clear decision for me," Farrell-Talbot said. "It was horrible. It killed us."

The Animal Humane Association in Albuquerque, N.M., saw 69 dogs and cats turned over through September because the owners couldn't afford to keep them. That compares with 48 in the same period in 2007 — a 44 percent increase, said executive director Peggy Weigle.

In response, Weigle's shelter began a program to open its emergency pet shelter — normally reserved for battered women needing a place to keep their pets for a while — to those suffering financially. So far this year 45 pets have been taken in through the emergency program, compared with eight the previous year.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Virginia Beach, Va., recently began a program called Help Out Pets Everywhere (HOPE) to provide food, medical care and temporary homes for pets belonging to families with financial difficulties. Eighteen applications were received within the first week.

The program received 18 applications within its first week. Some of those people have never experienced hardship until now, and therefore, neither have their pets, McNally said.

"It's been devastating," said Amy McNally, a spokeswoman for the program. "For somebody to say, 'I can't afford to feed my dog' — it's a humbling time."

On the Net:
Humane Society of the United States:
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

Finding a Lost Pet...on the Internet?
by Lindsay Barnett - Los Angeles Times

We can't think of much that would make us feel worse than having a beloved pet go missing. And we can't imagine how helpless a pet owner must feel when all they can do is hang posters on telephone poles, call the local animal shelters and hope for the best.

Luckily, a website called FindToto has emerged to make things a little easier for owners searching for missing pets.

When a pet is lost, owners can log into FindToto and fill out an online form with a description of the animal (the more detailed, the better, says the site's FAQ section). FindToto then makes automated calls to phone numbers in the area where the pet was lost (anywhere from 500 to 5,000 numbers in an approximately one-mile radius can be called, depending on the city population and how much the owner is willing to spend on the service). The automated call sounds something like this.

Baltimore's WBAL television network reports:

Website founder Dustin Sterlino said he guarantees that 85% of the calls will go through to a live person or an answering machine.

"The bulk of the calls go out within 15 minutes of when the alert is sent," he said.

Sterlino credited the national service with finding 800 lost pets this year.

"Just the other week we had a kangaroo! We've had birds, we've had a goat, we've had a tortoise. So, we don't discriminate here at If you lose your pet, we want to help you get it home," he said.

FindToto's pricing ranges from $125 (for 500 local calls) to $445 (5,000 local calls).

World's First Cloned Pet Dog Turns 1
Jim Staats - The Mercury News

With one ear flopped forward and her tongue dangling in anticipation of another item to fetch, Mira seemed like any other playful pup scampering around Eastwood Park in Tamalpais Valley.

But proud owner Lou Hawthorne of Mill Valley said Mira - the world's first cloned pet dog - signals a new horizon in genetics. The border collie/husky just turned 1 year old.

"I'm delighted we're here at this milestone," said Hawthorne, who spent a decade trying to clone his family's dog that died in 2002. "During the process of creating her, it was a goal. But once I had Mira in my arms she was an entity with feelings. She's real."

Hawthorne, 48, said Mira's home life provided "the first time we can say anything halfway intelligent about behavioral similarities" among clones. His dog was born in the same Korean biotech lab that created the first cloned dog in 2005.

In addition to a striking physical resemblance to Missy, a three-quarters border collie and one-quarter husky that died at age 15,
her clone shows the same athleticism, intelligence and mischievousness, but some differences as well.

Like Missy, Mira likes to play a game in which someone holds an item just out of reach; unlike Missy, Mira doesn't mind loud noises and bright lights.

Hawthorne, chief executive of Mill Valley-based BioArts International, which licensed patents issued in the 1990s after researchers in Scotland cloned a sheep, created three other Missy clones months after Mira. Missy Too lives with
other family members; Mani lives with a scientist in Phoenix; and Kahless lives with a linguist in Boulder, Colo., where she is being taught commands in the Klingon language from "Star Trek." (In the "Star Trek" franchise, Kahless was a legendary Klingon leader who was cloned in an episode of "The Next Generation" series.)
"We have four near-Missys," he quipped.

Their genetic makeup was confirmed to be Missy's exact copy by the University of California at Davis veterinary genetics lab.

Elizabeth Wictum, associate director of the school's veterinary forensics lab, said though the puppies were deemed genetically identical, "in terms of how identical the dogs would be, we don't entirely know how much genetics play in terms of personality."

"Their environment plays a role in developing the animal's personality," she said.

BioArts, which raised more than $700,000 in an online dog-cloning auction earlier this year, is Hawthorne's second commercial cloning venture. His Genetic Savings and Clone of Sausalito, which offered to clone customers' pet cats, closed in 2006.

In the past month, the firm cloned three dogs. Hawthorne declined to identify the customers, but he said they included clients from the company's auction - and possibly Trakr, the German shepherd search-and-rescue dog that found the last human survivor of 9/11 among the World Trade Center rubble. Trakr's owner has accepted BioArts' offer to clone the dog.

Hawthorne would only say of the auction clients that they were all couples or families wishing to clone their pets; four of them live in the United States, and cloning fees ranged from $130,000 to $170,000.

"Pet cloning is fun, but I think it's not going to be a huge business because the work is very complex," he said. "Most of the world is going to get dogs out of shelters, and that's a good thing."

Morris Animal Foundation Creates Campaign for Healthy Cats

Morris Animal Foundation has launched the Happy Healthy Cat Campaign to help ensure that cats get their share of health care and research.

Cats are America's No. 1 pet, with more than 80 million in U.S. homes, but they receive less veterinary care than dogs—and few scientists study feline health issues.

Morris has built a Web site for the Happy Healthy Cat Campaign at The Web site includes information on feline health, research success stories, and resources for cat owners. The site features a quiz as well as entries from bloggers who write about cats. A campaign DVD and brochure are also available for cat owners and veterinarians.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of feline health issues and increase funding for feline health research. Previously, Hill's Pet Nutrition donated $1 million and its feline genome database to Morris to advance research on feline health. Morris also supports the efforts of CATalyst, a new organization that seeks to improve feline health and welfare.

Administering Medication
Helping Your Dog Weather WinterAdministering Medication
Giving pills to your dog is simple when you know how. It's especially easy with dogs. You can fool most dogs most of the time by hiding it in a bit of food. Usually the dog won't even notice.
Most dogs will lick liquid medication right off the spoon! If that doesn't work, try disguising it in some applesauce or other food.

Taming Terrible Terriers: Dog Squad's Puppy Preschool Class Offers Owners Sage Advice on Puppy Training

For many households, the new year means a new addition to the family: a Christmas puppy. But this latest family member can be a handful without the proper socialization and training. The Dog Squad is fully deployed and ready to help owners corral their capricious canines with Puppy Preschool, starting in January 2009.

Oakland, CA (PRWEB) December 23, 2008 -- For families welcoming new pets over the holidays, 2009 could mean a host of puppy behaviors that come back to "bite" the owners. California dog trainers Steve Bettcher and Patrick Gibbons, known as The Dog Squad, advise pet owners to start off on the right foot with their dogs through early intervention. The two have announced a Puppy Preschool, starting January 19, that guides pet parents toward well behaved dogs and a better relationship with their pets.

This approach teaches the owner how to communicate effectively with their pet, so that their dog understands clearly what they want and expect.

The Dog Squad's four-week course begins Jan. 19, 2008, at the Redwood Animal Hospital in Castro Valley, Calif., and addresses a number of topics vital to good puppy training: biting, the puppy's place in the "pack," appropriate behavior around people and other dogs and crate training. A dog owner who desires effective and gentle advice on puppy training should enjoy the methodologies employed by the team, explains Bettcher.

"We teach pet owners how to train their puppies and dogs using a humane approach to dog obedience training," says Steve Bettcher, President of The Dog Squad. "This approach teaches the owner how to communicate effectively with their pet, so that their dog understands clearly what they want and expect."

Puppy Preschool participants learn how to set structure and rules that help puppies understand their place in the pack, proper behavior and manners. Pets are given the chance at each class meeting to socialize with other dogs and people, and offered opportunities to become comfortable in a variety of social settings.

"Our dog training programs produces dogs that listen better and respond to their owners even when distracted in real world situations," explains Patrick Gibbons, Director of Training.

Through training and socialization the San Francisco, California dog trainers solve typical difficulties with dog behavior - toy aggression, dog dominance aggression, problems with crate training dogs, and puppy chewing to name a few. The team uses a combination of lecture and hands-on experience to teach owners basic dog commands and other valuable skills, ranging from leash training puppy to how to stop a dog from barking.

The Dog Squad doesn't stop at small dog training; dogs of all ages, breeds, sizes and temperaments benefit from obedience training throughout the year. For example, for the owner of a Saint Bernard or Great Dane, obedience training is not only essential for a good dog-owning experience, but can solve obvious safety issues.

Pet parents can get advice on puppy training and adult dog obedience in a series of free articles on The Dog Squad's Web site, as well as read true stories about other pet owners and how their lives have improved through training.

For free training articles and information about the upcoming Puppy Preschool, call 510-582-DOGS or visit The Dog Squad at

About The Dog Squad:
California dog trainers Steve Bettcher and Patrick Gibbons have been helping East Bay Area dog owners train their puppies and dogs for more than a decade. As the Dog Squad, the two have worked with all types of dogs and puppy/dog training issues. More than 35 veterinarians from the Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda and Contra Costa County have recommended the Dog Squad as California's dog trainers of choice.

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