Totally Useless (and funny) Pet Laws!

Patience and Love Will Help You and Your New Pet Adapt
Sharon Harkavy - The News-Observer

Pets are like children. They are not easy to take care of at times. They can and will create some chaos, especially when first coming home to live.

They require patience, understanding and love, but they are very much worth the efforts you will expend.

A new pet owner should expect to feel a bit overwhelmed at first, and maybe for a few weeks. That is normal and it will pass. No matter how prepared you think you are, no matter how much you have read, and no matter how much you are looking forward to bringing that new pet home, please remember that your pet will need an adjustment period.

A successful transition for a new pet will be possible if one is not expecting perfection in the first place. Your new pup will not act like your old dog did, and certainly not when the new pup is so young.

We seem to forget all the crazy and messy things that our beloved, older dog did when he or she was young and first living with us. We look at that old dog now and see a well-behaved pet with a routine and a deep trust and understanding of its family members and household. Forgotten are the days when old Fido had no idea who we were or what we were doing in this strange place called a house.

Every new pet is overwhelmed and has to adjust to all the many aspects of its new life. Also, please remember that some animals have been through very rough beginnings to their lives. They can't tell us about those problems, and we can't prove to them that all things will be right in their new life. We have to show them how much we love them over time, and that effort can be trying.

However, all the work will be well worth it when that pet realizes how safe and loved it is with its family. Mutual trust and understanding lead to a wonderful lifetime for people and their pets.

Sugar Gliders vs. Flying Squirrels: What Makes a Better Pet?
by Lauren v., Dallas Pet Scene Examiner

No, not this Flying Squirrel!

Sugar gliders have become more common as a household pet in recent years. And it's no wonder that their comical masks and soft eyes have attracted so much attention. You see them advertised in the newspaper and on the internet from breeders in every legal state. Their unusual characteristics and exotic appearance is appealing to those who want to buy something a "little different" in the animal kingdom. However, the comparable American flying squirrel has still gone mostly unnoticed by the general public.

Most people would tell you they had no idea you could keep a flying squirrel as a pet. President Roosevelt had a very tame flyer, but otherwise little reference has been made to their potential as a house companion. Breeders are few and wild-caught flyers are illegal. The range of breeders I've seen has been limited to as far west as Texas, but only slightly more common in the south and east. There is great debate over the fairness of shipping a delicate baby flyer by air to an expectant new owner, which adds to their difficulty to find.

Besides being somewhat rare in domestication, flyers generally make a better pet for a variety of reasons. First, their diet is much easier to prepare and find. A flyer survives well on a high quality parrot mix with additional fruit and vegetables. Additional favorites resemble what a healthy vegetarian would enjoy. Also, calcium supplement is recommended that comes in a powder form (such as rep-bcal for reptiles) that you can simply sprinkle over a piece of fruit. Nuts are also a favorite, especially pecans, which must be limited. (Note: If your flyer ever gets out or is difficult to catch, put a tiny piece of pecan out for him to see and hold the other in your hand. He'll be back within seconds!) On the other hand, a sugar glider requires a very specialized and balanced diet of nectar, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, 25% protein from something like a bug mix, boiled egg, or pinkie mice, calcium, and a special glider diet that can be bought packaged. The combination of foods must be changed for variety. Some breeders recommend having a "veggie" night or "fruit" night with a special selection of one or the other at different times. In addition to diet, flyers and gliders also vary in the experience you will have with their ownership.

Unlike the sugar glider, a flying squirrel does not have scent glands. A bonded glider will spray to mark its territory. The cage will have a musky smell, as well as YOU if you get a love spray out of affection. The flyer is a relatively scentless animal with no musk, even in the urine. Both tend to clean and will eliminate in only one corner of the cage, making it easier to clean up.

As for time commitment, sugar gliders need constant stimulation and human contact. It is best to get them in pairs and both will need additional time out to play with their owner. They don't like to be alone and will beg for attention. The flyer does well both in a solitary and paired lifestyle. It's always nice to have more than one, but if your flyer grows up alone, they will generally prefer it that way. A flyer loves the time you spend with him, but will not beg for attention or be worse off if his free time is cut short now and then. Without enough attention, a glider tends to become agressive, while a flyer tends to become shy.

Both animals need a large cage with room to jump and climb. Generally, the larger the cage the better. A minimum sized cage would be around 2'x 2'x 2' for one animal. Make sure that the bar spacing is no less than 1/2" or your pet could get out!

As with any small animal, safety is very important. Make sure that larger pets are not able to harm him, that the toilet seat is always down (drownings are far too common), and there are no spaces for your critter to get into where you wouldn't be able to get him out. Personally, I have taken apart a large entertainment center when my flyer jumped down suddenly and found refuge in an enclosed hole for electrical cords. It frightened both of us!

Ultimately, the time and care each of these pets requires is up to you and your lifestyle. Educate yourself and find a reputable breeder who will set you on track for sucessful bonding. The gift of ten to twelve happy years together will be your reward.

Pets Feel the Pain
By RAY DUCKLER - Concord Monitor staff

The animals at the local SPCA had little to say yesterday. Too sad over the economy and its affect on their lives, I guess.


"Me-OW," was all we got from the little charcoal-gray cat, behind bars near the front of the building.


"Ruff," was all the Plott hound, in a cage in the kennel area off to the left, would reveal before bowing his head.

Those two words, however, were enough to shed light on the problems animal shelters are encountering since the recent rise in foreclosures, rental costs and unemployment.

The recession has crept into every nook and cranny of our lives, including our ability to keep our pets. Often, they must go when people pack up or streamline. Call it a sign of the times.

"Almost every day we see people who have come in surrendering their pets who have lost their job or their house," said Bow's Cathy Emerson, the director of operations at the SPCA in Penacook. "They just can't afford to take care of their pets anymore. It's almost on a daily basis now."

The SPCA gets as many as 15 cats per week, 10 more than in recent years. It also receives an extra dog or two per week.

Emerson herself has two dogs, three cats and a pygmy goat named Zipper. She was a stay-at-home mom before her kids started school. She's been working at the SPCA for 19 years. She's seen all the trends, all the highs and lows connected with an organization like this one.

She remembers the days when euthanasia was more common. "We had high euthanasia rates when I first started there," Emerson said. "There wasn't a set time, but it might have been depending on personality and temperament of the animal. Some might have only been there a couple of weeks. Some with nicer personalities might have stayed there longer. We did euthanasia for age, space and time way back then."

The procedure is done for medical reasons and aggressive behavior only nowadays, but the odds rise with an increased population.

Still, the dogs and cats keep coming, a heartbreaking process that leaves a void in the hearts of animal lovers who no longer can afford to care for family members.

Family members? A bit dramatic, you say? Ask anyone who owns a dog or a cat or a bird or some other pet that looks forward to their arrival home. They'll tell you. They'll describe the attachment that evolves over time.

Emerson has her favorites at the shelter. She loves Sebago, a gray cat who lives at the nearby administration building. And Lewis, the 5-year-old Plott we've already met, who responded with one word only.

New Jersey May Tell Pet Providers to Tout Pet Insurance
The Cat

Measure would require customers to be notified about pet health insurance.

Under a measure recently introduced in New Jersey’s state Assembly, pet providers in New Jersey would be required to notify customers about pet health insurance.

Assembly Bill 3488 would require all licensed kennels, pet shops, shelters, pounds and anyone in the business of selling pets to provide written notice to customers regarding the availability of pet health insurance offered in New Jersey. The bill would require the notice be a separate document that a consumer may obtain at the “point-of-sale of the pet.” The commissioner of health and senior services is charged with determining the information required on the written notice. The only specified requirement regarding the information to be included in the notice is contact information of insurers currently offering pet health insurance in the state.

Another bill introduced in the state would increase fines to pet stores that violated certain laws and regulations, such as licensing requirement. Current penalties range from $5 to $50; the proposed penalties would range from $100 to $1,000.

According to the bill, the purpose of the measure is to “enhance the power of the state and its municipalities to enforce certain laws regulating the treatment of animals.”

New Jersey law defines a “pet shop” as “any place of business which is not part of a kennel, wherein animals, including, but not limited to, dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, rabbits, hamsters or gerbils, are kept or displayed chiefly for the purpose of sale to individuals for personal appreciation and companionship rather than for business or research purposes.”

Both bills have been assigned to the state Assembly Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources. No hearing date has been set for either.

Up, Up and Away
Lindsay Barnett - The Los Angeles Times

Fun fact: "disc dogs" entered the public consciousness here at our very own Dodger Stadium -- with Joe Garagiola calling the plays. Los Angeles Almanac tells the story:

Aug. 5, 1974: At the top of the ninth inning in the Dodger-Reds game, 19-year-old Alex Stein and his tiny Whippet, Ashley, dash onto the field and begin performing spectacular Frisbee tosses. The crowd is delighted and the two, caught on television cameras, initiate a Frisbee craze. Stein is arrested upon leaving the field. He had smuggled his dog into the stadium.

Fix Your Horse's Teeth? Not in Alabama, You Don't
Lindsay Barnett - The Los Angeles Times

Fox News reports on some shall-we-say-questionable laws are still on the books in the U.S., many of which concern animals. A word of caution, then, to any readers out there who may be considering equine orthodontia:

In Alabama it is against the law to alter the natural appearance of the teeth of a horse or mule to make the animal appear younger than it actually is.

(Alabama's no fun; it also outlaws bear-wrestling. OhMyGov rightly points out, though, that "If you're wrestling a bear ... the law seems to be the least of your problems.")

Oh, and if you're traveling to Kentucky, better leave the Easter chicks behind:

In Kentucky it is illegal to sell, exchange, offer to sell or exchange, display or possess living baby chicks, ducklings or other fowl or rabbits that have been dyed or colored. It is also illegal to dye or color baby chicks, ducklings, fowl or rabbits. And unless they are at least 2 months old, the aforementioned animals must be sold in batches of six.

Chicago municipal code prohibits poodles from attending the opera. Skunk-teasing is outlawed in Minnesota. And don't even think about catching a fish with a lasso in Tennessee.

Whew! Good thing we live in California, where (according to TotallyUselessKnowledge) it's illegal to set a mousetrap if you don't have a hunting license.

Microchip Allows Injured Dog Another Christmas
Associated Press - Dallas Morning News

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – When the police officer placed the badly injured dog in the back of a squad car, the dog's life had an expiration date measured in hours.

Police Sgt. Robert Burkhart found her motionless and cold on the side of Walton Boulevard near Bella Vista Road. The dog, hit by a car, was injured. He gently picked up the hound-based mutt, then took her to Sugar Creek Animal Hospital on Northwest J Street.

Without tags on the collar, the dog's future appeared certain: Police policy is to euthanize injured animals if they are found without a way to identify the owner.

"She came in and I said, 'This is somebody's dog," veterinarian Darlene Wier said. "No dogs are going to die on Christmas Eve."

With that, staffers pulled out a wand, scanned the dog's neck. They found the thing that would save the dog's life – a microchip placed just beneath her skin.

The dog – Coaster – belongs to Stephanie Comstock. The microchip was placed when Comstock adopted Coaster from the Bella Vista Animal Shelter two years ago. That tiny device, no larger than a grain of rice, was not only responsible for saving Coaster's life, it ensured she was able to go home to her family for Christmas.

The story of how Coaster ended up injured on the side of the road began at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

"I was taking her and the other dogs out just like I always do to walk them and feed them when (Coaster) decided to bolt," Comstock said. "Over the last several weeks she had been doing fine but she was a street dog and every now and then she gets a burr in her and just wants to run."

Usually, when Coaster decides to go for a run, she stays within a three-house radius of the Comstock home, then comes home. Wednesday morning, when Coaster did not return home, Comstock's children began combing the neighborhood in search of their beloved pet, Comstock said.

Sgt. Burkhart found Coaster in front a quarter-mile away from where Comstock had taken her for a walk that morning. Less than an hour after running off, Coaster had been run over by a vehicle and was a patient at Sugar Creek.

The children were still out looking for Coaster when Comstock got a call at work from Sugar Creek letting her know they had the dog and – although she was a little banged up – she was OK.

"This is the first dog we had that had a chip in it. Before, when you lost a dog, it was just gone. So to have the chip in there and to be able to get them back is just great," Comstock said.

The microchip planted between Coaster's shoulders meant that Comstock could tell her kids that their dog was alive and well.

"There is something to be said about living in a smaller town. I moved here from Los Angeles and the probability of somebody calling and going through the effort to find us – it just would not happen in a big town," Comstock said.

"I like the energy of a big city but there is not much that can beat raising your child in a small town where everyone looks out for you," Comstock said as she gently stroked Coaster's head.

Microchips containing a pet owner's contact information can be placed in dog or cat by local veterinarians or animal shelters.

"The main benefit of having the microchip is so (veterinarians) can easily locate the owners if a dog or cat is found. With the chips, the dogs can be found and returned home," Sugar Creek office manager Melissa Freeman said.

"Collars can get loose and fall off or if the dog is stolen, the collar can easily be taken off – but the microchip cannot be removed," Freeman said.

"(Coaster) is a lucky dog," Wier said, noting that all pet owners should have their dogs and cats microchipped. "We love a microchip."

Cats Rescued from Wall Doing Fine at News Editor’s Home
Greg Bailey - The Gadsden Times

My byline has appeared on many stories in The Gadsden Times through the years. However, I’ve never received the kind of response that I did in May when I described an unusual happening at the Bailey household.

A short recap: We started hearing scratching and cries coming from our kitchen wall one Friday night.

A day later, there were two holes in our wall and two small kittens, Boo and Waldo, had been added to our family.

Those kittens turned out to be a Mother’s Day present for my wife, Helen. I wrote about the experience in a Mother’s Day column for our Life section, accompanied by a photo of the kittens.

When that column hit print and the Internet, I got phone calls and e-mails from relatives, friends and acquaintances, some of whom (a) I hadn’t heard from in ages and (b) live completely across the country, telling me how much they enjoyed it. I got the same response out in public from folks who recognized me from my column photograph.

I guess it’s true that stories about and photos of children or animals are guaranteed to attract attention.

The kittens now are eight months old, so I thought I’d update all the folks who showed so much interest before on how they are doing.

First off, they were neutered at age six months, albeit with complications that turned the simple procedure into major surgery for both. (Editorial comment: If you are going to have a pet, even a house pet, have it neutered or spayed).

They aren’t so small anymore, although Waldo, the tiger-striped orange tabby, will always be the runt of the litter, even though he has an enormous appetite. He’s a wiry little cat, but very poised and graceful.

Boo, who had curly, dark gray hair in May, has grown into a beautiful, sleek, jet black cat with a couple of wisps of white in his coat.

Their personalities are different. Boo for a long time was pure energy, zooming through the house like an unguided missile with his eyes as big as silver dollars, running and playing until he collapsed in the floor, panting like a puppy with his tongue hanging out.

He still has his moments but is starting to settle down and show signs he might become a “lap cat.”

Waldo always has been a bit calmer than Boo, although he’s a sneaky cuss. He also has an especially loud purr that belies his runt status.

For a while, we kept the kittens segregated in a pet carrier because we were concerned about their interaction with our other cat, Seymour.

We didn’t think Seymour would try to hurt them deliberately because that’s not in his nature. We worried about him doing it inadvertently, though, since he’s rather large (12 pounds) and the kittens were quite small.

However, Seymour took to them immediately, and they have become best buddies. Seymour had some health problems about a month after the kittens came out of the wall, and it looked dire for a while, but he’s OK now, and we think it’s done him some good to have playmates.

Seymour insists on grooming the kittens at every opportunity, whether they want to be groomed or not. Being that he’s still much larger than the kittens, they don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.

Seymour, a Maine Coon/Norwegian Forest Cat mix, is a fastidious groomer.

It’s like he’s telling the kittens, “If you’re going to live in my house, you’re going to look your best.”

The kittens outgrew the pet carrier very quickly, so we housed them in a small kennel cage equipped with a litter box, taking them out periodically to let them run, play and exercise, until they grew to the point where we had to turn them loose in the house.

It’s taken some adjustments. We’ve had to cover the furniture and use plastic caps on the kittens’ claws to keep them from shredding everything. We weren’t able to hang breakable decorations on our Christmas tree this year because, to kittens, a tree is something to climb and explore and they aren’t particular about what they wreck while doing it (Helen cut out and hung paper snowflakes on the tree instead).

There are still frequent “crashes” when they either scream through the house while playing or decide it’s time to explore a shelf, dresser or bookcase, and we have to scurry to clean up the wreckage.

However, they are showing signs of growing up, in that they actually will sit quietly at times instead of constantly zooming around, and are discovering, “Hey, it’s nice to be held and petted.”

We think they are going to turn out to be two fine cats.

And we still don’t know how they got into our kitchen wall.

Dogs Find Haven at Lubbock Animal Shelter

This could be Edgar's heaven on Earth.

The sun is shining. His water bowl is full. Nearby is a lady he loves (his tail wags ferociously at the mere sound of her voice). Perhaps best of all, she loves him, too.

Edgar is an old beagle mix - 70 in dog years - with big brown eyes, a crusty black nose and arthritic joints. He's one of roughly 140 cast-away dogs at the Haven Animal Care Shelter, a no-kill, nonprofit facility on a nondescript farm-to-market road near Idalou.

The lady is Dalette Adams, a 53-year-old Lubbock resident and a loyal shelter volunteer who spends about three days a week at the seven-acre sprawl.

Most Friday and Saturday mornings, free from her obligations as the manager of a surgeon's office, Adams sips coffee at the shelter with Edgar and her daughter, another loyal shelter volunteer. The office manager already has two dogs at home (too many, according to her husband), so she "virtually adopted" Edgar through a shelter program. She showers him with affection, walking him, petting him, grooming him, buying him tasty dog snacks, even taking him home once in a while - like she did for Christmas.

"He's my buddy," she said as she paused from cleaning pens at the shelter on Saturday. Edgar lounged on a leash a few feet away from her, where she had positioned him so he could get some sun.

His skinny tail goes wild, moving in a circle like a helicopter rotor, when Adams bends down to pet his knobby head or stroke his concave back, disformed, she thinks, by age. But this is no one-sided relationship: Edgar gives, too.

Adams calls volunteering at the shelter the best thing she's ever done.

"It's very soothing to come out and work with these animals after you've been with people all week long. ... They're always happy to see you," she said.

Counting Adams, there about 20 or so steadfast volunteers at the Haven, said Alexis Atwood, the shelter's volunteer coordinator and Adams' daughter. The regulars tell similar stories of symbiotic relationships formed with lonely canines.

The Haven's most vulnerable dogs live in a custom-made dog shelter that looks like a small barn. Volunteers are in the process of setting up another such shelter, which will house five dogs, including old Edgar. But the majority of Haven's canines live in outside pens equipped with dog houses.

Nearly every dog at the shelter, even the old ones that are stiff and slow, perk ups when a human approaches. They stick dusty paws and crusty noses through metal cages, seeking the affection they've been bred to yearn. Volunteers give them that. In return, they earn reliable friends that are always overjoyed to see them and the satisfaction of doing good for the sake of good, they said. They've declared the first Saturday of every month "work day," an hours-long shift that can include any number of chores, including cleaning pens, painting property, walking dogs, talking to prospective adopters. Everyone's invited, volunteers stressed.

For the die-hard volunteers, seeing dogs adopted is the most rewarding part. Adams on Saturday gushed about Simon, a lively 10-year-old dachshund, that a family with three children recently adopted. They're also taking home a black lab mix with a deformed paw.

"A lot of people have a tendency to look away at dogs like that," she said. A few minutes later a family abruptly ended a jaunt through the shelter. "We're looking for a puppy," a man told Adams.

"I understand," she answered.

Like Adams, husband and wife Kathy and Mark Merrill and their daughter, Amy Dillon, 29, spend most of their weekends at the shelter. They've noticed a pattern: They lavish a dog with attention; shortly after, it's adopted.

"It's bittersweet. You're sad because you won't get to see them when you come, yet you're happy they'll go to a good home," Kathy said.

Naturally, considering the bonds that develop between the volunteers and the dogs, adoption isn't something shelter workers take lightly. They make sure prospective owners can cope with the dog ownership through an application process, Adams said.

"It's like adopting a child," she said.

As a matter of fact, Haven owner Brenda Wilbanks does think of the dogs as children. The licensed counselor and her husband, Joe, a retired firefighter, unwittingly established the non-kill animal shelter in the late '70s. The couple moved into a rural house on the city's outskirts and took in a pregnant, stray dog.

Word of the couple with a soft spot for animals spread. Dogs and cats kept coming.

Over the years, volunteers and private donations have kept the place humming, said Brenda, as dogs yipped around her and two volunteers packing away Christmas decorations.

"Some (dogs) have never been trained to do anything. They've just been dumped in somebody's backyard and nobody paid any attention to them," she said. "They need people to spend time with them."

But Haven volunteers don't have to work with the animals, Brenda added. They can do office work or maintenance chores.

Since the shelter is almost always at capacity, the Wilbanks are constantly looking for helpers, Brenda said. On average, about 30 dogs are adopted a month, she said. But some dogs - the crippled, bad-tempered and elderly - permanently live at the Haven, and, sadly, the stream of new arrivals never seems to slow, she said.

A sweet-faced, polka-dotted puppy lumbered around the shelter on Saturday. Haven workers guess someone loved and lost the pitbull mix because its toenails were painted pink when a trucker rescued it from the highway, they said. Not all shelter stories are so hopeful.

Occassionally, ashamed owners tie dogs to the barb-wire fence outside the Haven, Brenda said. On Thanksgiving Day, someone dropped off a litter of puppies outside the shelter. Brenda awoke to find one dead on the side of the road, hit by a car.

"We just have a throw-away society, and that's the sad part 'cause these poor animals, they don't know what to do," she said. "They're are just too many."

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

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