Pet Advice: Why Good Dogs Go Bad PLUS Pet Photos: Kids & Pets - Part I

Save Money on Vet Bills
by Kelly Russ, Orlando Pet Health Examiner

With the economic downturn, unfortunately many animals are suffering, too. Here are just a few tips on how to avoid expensive vet bills.

Surprisingly to many people, the same things you would do to keep yourself and your family healthy are things you can do for your furry friends, too!

1. Maintain daily health. Just as it's important to live a healthy daily lifestyle for yourself, it is also important to a family pet. Shoot for good nutrition, plenty of exercise and stress management. Some of the same problems we as people suffer are also horrible for our pets: obesity, high blood pressure, poor nutritional balance and not enough exercise.

2. Take advantage of nutritional supplements. Some people take multivitamins, fiber supplements or certain oils to keep them healthy. The same can be done for a dog! Check out this article on how to give your dog more nutritional supplements, and avoid expensive vet bills over the life of your pet.

3. Keep up with annual exams at your vet. Again, the same reason it's important for people to have an annual physical exists for animals, too. Annual veterinary exams to update vaccinations, check bloodwork and monitor weight will alert you to any problems down the road. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! While an annual exam may cost a couple hundred dollars, early detection of an injury or illness may save you thousands!

4. Use premium dog food. While you think you're saving a few dollars buying the cheap food at the grocery store, your dog or cat may suffer for it. These foods often don't contain quality ingredients, and frequently are the cause of vomiting/diarrhea, which are top reasons for vet visits. A couple dollars more per bag of premium food will outweigh the costs of a vet visit for a sick or malnourished animal.

5. Take advantage of three-year vaccinations. You can now get a three-year vaccine for both rabies and for distemper, parvo and hepatitis. While the three-year vaccines are slightly more expensive than the former annual vaccine, you won't have to pay for them as often. Since your pet only gets the vaccine every three years, you also reduce the risk of any adverse reactions to the injections.

Cocoa Mulch for Gardening Can Be Harmful to Pets
by Heidi Wiesenfelder, Tucson Pets Examiner

Many pet owners are aware that chocolate should not be given to pets, and is particularly dangerous for dogs. But would it even cross their minds to question the safety of using cocoa mulch in the garden?

Pure chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are both compounds called methylxanthines. They are hazardous to pets, causing seizures in severe cases. According to, cocoa mulch has one of the highest concentrations of theobromine found.

It actually smells like chocolate, and is attractive to dogs. Reportedly most dogs will not actually eat it though. Cats are at lower risk mainly because they are even less likely to eat the mulch than dogs.

One study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association confirmed that a dog died due to ingestion of a substantial amount of cocoa mulch. And in the Journal of Agriculturaland Food Chemistry, a scientist reports on the potential use of theobromine and caffeine for "controlling" (that is, killing) pest coyotes. Coyotes being close relatives to dogs, this should cause concern for anyone considering using cocoa mulch in an area their pets have access to.

For information about treatment options for an animal that consumes cocoa mulch, check out this ASPCA article. If you suspect your pet has ingested cocoa mulch, call your vet or an emergency animal clinic, or contact an animal poison control center. Note that it may be a few hours or even a few days before symptoms appear.

Food Bank for Dogs Gives Leg Up
by Reed Coleman, Portland Dogs Examiner

The downturn in the economy has forced some dog owners to make the gut-wrenching decision to give up their dogs at local shelters, simply because they can’t afford dog food. In an effort to keep dogs with their families and ease the strain on pet food bills, a local group started a dog food bank.

Friends Involved in Dog Outreach, or FIDO, is a volunteer support group for Clackamas County Dog Services. In 2005, FIDO started its AniMeals program. Working with Meals on Wheels, and linked to 9 senior centers in the Portland Area, AniMeals brings pet food to Meals on Wheels participants.

“We just want to help dog owners keep dogs in their family,” says Chip Sammons, Vice President of FIDO. AniMeals was looking to reach more families, more hungry pets. The dog food bank was born.

Financially strapped dog owners may get one month’s supply of dog food for up to four dogs. FIDO asks that owners be prepared to show proof of residency, and they ask that all dogs be spayed or neutered. Owners whose dogs are not spayed or neutered will not be turned away, but they will be given information on low-case spay/neuter programs, microchipping, and rabies vaccine clinics.

People coming to get food from the dog food bank should bring their own containers to carry the food. Dogs should wait at home. Food is distributed on a first come/first served basis. The dog food bank is located next to the Clackamas County Dog Shelter in Oregon City: 2106 Kaen Road.

Dog or Cat - a Single Person's Best Pal
by Terry Monaghan, Seattle Dating Over-40 Examiner

Pet ownership is not for everyone. If you are never home, can’t establish a routine, or don’t want to be tied down to the responsibility, don’t have a pet.

It is seriously like having a two year old, for a decade or longer. But for those who have the time and energy, having a pet can be one of the best things a single person can do.

According to the Providence Hospital Animal Assisted Activities/Therapy Program, numerous studies have shown that interacting with animals can have significant physiological and psychological benefits for people. The presence of a friendly companion animal can help to lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of anxiety and isolation, and foster a greater sense of well-being. In fact, simply petting an animal can trigger the release of beneficial hormones that enhance mood.

I know that my dog makes me laugh at least once a day. And don’t they say “laughter is the best medicine?” That picture to the left - that was taken in December when Seattle got a crazy snowstorm that lasted for weeks. I started to go stir crazy (just like the rest of the city), but watching Karma run around the yard covered in snow cracked me up every time. The flip side - when I’m having a bad day, just sitting with my dog and petting him calms me down. Recently I got some bad news that had me sobbing. Karma came running to me with what I can only describe as a worried look in his eyes. He licked my hand and put his head in my lap till I calmed down.
Pet ownership is not all a bed of roses (just like human relationships).

A pet, especially a stubborn one like Karma, can sometimes be frustrating. For example, Karma often decides midway through our walk that he needs to rest. And he won’t budge till he’s ready. He outweighs me, so I spend the next 10 minutes trying to bribe him with treats. On the same walk he might discover a tennis ball hidden in a bush, and he gets so excited he can’t contain himself. That always makes me laugh.
If owning a pet is out of the question for you right now, consider volunteering at one of the many shelters or rescue organizations in the Seattle area. And who knows, you might just meet that special someone who also loves animals while you’re at it!

You can walk or run dogs, help with cat adoptions, or even foster an animal, helping to save the animal by giving them extra time for a good adoptive home to find them. Fostering is also a great trial run for you to see what it would be like to have your own dog or cat. Awhile ago I fostered two adorable puppies named Logan and Gambit. That's them just above. Cute, huh? While it was a lot of work, it was also very fun and rewarding. Who doesn't love a puppy? They are totally a chick/guy magnet in the park. But believe me, an older (housetrained!) dog or a cat is a much easier commitment.
Here’s a list of a few organizations to get you started if you want to volunteer:
While having a pet is no substitute for a boyfriend/girlfriend, partner or spouse, a pet can help fill the void of the single life in the meantime. And make you laugh every day.

Feline Folks Cares for Cats, Educates the Community
by Bruny Hudson, Tampa Pet Rescue Examiner

Judy Stimson, Feline Folks’ secretary and treasurer, will give a presentation on the subject “How Pets Benefit Your Well-Being,” followed by a question and answer and a discussion session.
Everyone is welcome to attend the free program and has the opportunity to buy Paw pads and 2009 calendars. An additional cat food drive for all unopened dry and canned cat food and canned tuna will benefit the free-roaming cats, living in cat colonies managed by Feline Folks’ volunteers.

There are hundreds of cat colonies, varying in size from three to 30 cats, in the South Shore area alone. Monitoring the cats’ lives and preventing their breeding is the only humane way to fight cats’ overpopulation. Feline Folks’ volunteers care for the cat colonies, feeding the cats and keeping an eye on their health. Each cat in a managed colony is neutered or spayed, inoculated against rabies and ear-tipped as a sign of having undergone spaying or neutering.

Rita Bundas, who with her husband, Mike, is in charge of the Feline Folks’ operation, said they have 15 feline colonies registered and get daily notifications from friends about newly discovered stray cats. She said cats within a colony are very territorial and will chase off a newcomer that wants to join. An unneutered male, though, might fight its way into an existing colony and take over.

Once volunteers locate a new colony, they separate the kittens and try to find homes for them, handing them over to animal groups. Early socialization helps cats avoid spending the rest of their lives in the colony. The optimum age for pulling kittens out for socializing is when they are 6 to 8 weeks old, Bundas said. If they are older, they have hardly any chance of becoming house pets. Some of the older cats, though, accept petting, and a few enjoy it. Most volunteers taking over a cat colony give each cat a name. When volunteers notice a cat suffering from a serious health problem, they trap it and bring it to a vet.

Traps are also available free of charge for people who are interested in having stray cats spayed or neutered. Feline Folks has a contract with Critter Adoption & Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.), a no-kill animal shelter in Ruskin, to use the shelter’s clinic for the low-cost monthly surgeries, called Operation Feral Fix (OFF). Individuals pay $ 10 per cat and Feline Folks covers the rest of the bill.

Supporting managed cat colonies not only benefits the animals but also the community. Neighborhoods, prone to attract rodents and snakes, are clear of any infestation in the area where cat colonies, controlled by volunteers, exist. Chasing the cats off, on the other hand, is a welcome sign for mice, rats and snakes to overrun the otherwise protected area.

Pets' Dental Care Should Continue at Home
By Dr. LOREN NATIONS - Veterinary Healthcare Associates/NewsChief

Have you ever been on a camping trip or overnight business trip and forgotten your toothbrush? By afternoon, your teeth have accumulated plaque and a Shrek-like slime layer. Ever wondered what would happen to your teeth if you did not brush for a few weeks, months or years? Welcome to the world of veterinary dentistry.

In our last discussion for February's Pet Dental Health Month, we are going to focus on the most important part of disease treatment: Prevention. Once your pet's mouth has been sealed and polished, even before they are recovered from anesthesia, several steps can be taken to slow the inevitable attack of bacteria and plaque. Fluoride treatments should be done to help control plaque and dental pain in sensitive teeth.

Another product useful in maintaining dental health is a plaque barrier called OraVet, which is applied as the last step in the dental prophy process. When the tooth surface is scaled and polished, it is like the hood of your car. OvaVet Plaque Prevention Gel (Merial) is a bonding agent that acts like waxing your car so the bacteria beads off the hood of your tooth, so to speak. The treatment comes with an at-home prevention gel care kit. The gel needs to be applied once a week to maintain the plaque and calculus barrier created by sealant in the clinic. The gel is odorless and tasteless, and pet owners can usually apply the gel in less than a minute.

A dental vaccine has been developed by Pfizer to decrease the amount of Porphyromonas bacteria in the mouth. This type of bacteria is found in more than 85 percent of the cases with severe periodontal disease. The vaccine is another tool in prevention, but it will not replace home care or even the need for dental cleanings. Your veterinarian can help decide if the Porphyromonas dental vaccine should be part of your pet's preventative dental health plan.

Once your pet has left the clinic with their new pearly white smile, it is your responsibility to maintain that smile. At-home care is based on the use of dental treats, diets and tooth brushing.

Dental treats are products that encourage chewing and exercising the teeth, periodontal ligament and gums. Dental diets have been specially designed to scrape plaque from the teeth when eaten. Unfortunately, most hard or dry foods for cats and dogs are very brittle and explode when bitten. Their small size also allows them to be swallowed mostly whole. Dental diets are made with a much larger kibble so they must be chewed. They are also slightly softer so the teeth sink into the kibble and the mechanical abrasion prevents plaque and tartar buildup.

There are many products on the market that claim efficacy against dental disease. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) has established a set of standards in plaque and tartar prevention. A list of dental diets and products awarded the VOHC seal of acceptance can be found at

All of the previously discussed treatments and products are very important in maintaining dental health, but how effective would your mouthwash be without routine brushing? The most beneficial thing we can do for our pets' dental health is to brush their teeth. Daily brushing is best, but even two to three times a week will greatly reduce dental disease. Remember the Shrek slime layer that forms on your teeth? After three days, dental plaque hardens to form calculus or tarter. You cannot brush calculus away once it has cemented to the tooth. So, brush the slime layer away at least every three days and tarter will not be able to form.

To be able to brush your pet's teeth, it is important that the teeth and gums are healthy and pain free. Don't start a preventative plan until the existing dental disease has been treated. Select a toothbrush appropriately sized for your pet's mouth. Veterinary toothpaste should be used, as human products are fortified with fluoride. Pets may swallow toothpaste, and chronic ingestion could lead to fluoride toxicosis. Luckily, the veterinary toothpastes are flavored and chicken seems to be a favorite.

Actually brushing your pet's teeth can prove to be the tricky part. Start very slowly; most pets will accept brushing if they are approached in a calm and loving manner. Use a gauze or washcloth initially to gently wipe the teeth. After several sessions try using the toothbrush and then add the toothpaste when they are getting comfortable with the brush. Go slowly, be gentle and play a lot.

If you get discouraged or think you don't have time for your pet's or your own dental preventative health, remember a quote from our first president, George Washington: "Be true to your teeth or they will be false to you."

Dr. Loren Nations is the owner of Veterinary Healthcare Associates on Dundee Road in Winter Haven.

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10 Tips For The New Dog Owner
The Tampa Tribune

1. Deciding what kind of dog to get is as important as deciding whether to get a dog in the first place. Whether mixed or purebred, there are benefits to understanding your breed. Knowing what the dog was originally bred to do can determine how to structure life with it. For example, a herding dog will herd children if it doesn't have livestock, terriers will dig, and companion dogs don't like to be left alone.

2. You are going to be living with this dog for a long time. We often say, "You can't choose your family." Guess what? This is one time that you can choose. This is a family member. Make a checklist of the characteristics you are looking for.

3. Enroll your new family member in a puppy kindergarten class or basic behavioral training class. Temperament is inherited, but it can be modified or enhanced by the environment.

4. Consistency, consistency, consistency; it cannot be said enough. The more consistently structured you make the dog's daily routine, the more efficiently your new family member will adapt to his new life. Use the same door when taking your dog outside for potty breaks. Feed at the same time each day. Keep a consistent bedtime. A dog on a routine grows into a secure adult. You can be boring with dogs — do the same old things every time — they love it.

5. In general, there is no significant, consistent difference in temperament between male and female dogs. Most of the minor differences can be eliminated by spaying and neutering your pet.

6. All dogs need to be groomed regularly to stay healthy and clean. Long-coated dogs are beautiful to look at but require a lot of effort to stay that way. Short-coated dogs are easier to care for but may shed profusely. Decide how much dog hair you are willing to put up with, and how much time and energy you can afford, when you are deciding which breed is right for you.

7. Consider setting up a puppy-safe zone, a small, safe area in what you would consider an action center of your home. Kitchens often are a great place for a puppy-safe zone. You can use a baby gate to separate the area from the rest of the house. Keep water, toys, bed and wee pad there.

8. When you bring your new puppy or dog home, hand feed your new companion for the first week. It will strengthen and hasten the bonding process as well as establish pack order. A dog should be submissive to all the human members of your family, including children.

9. Always remember these three rules: Train your puppy with joy, not anger. Positive reinforcement is better than punishment. Love your puppy unconditionally.

10. Toddlers and puppies/small dogs have much in common, but the two must carefully mix. It isn't wise to allow toddlers and young children to play with puppies unsupervised. They can inadvertently step on puppies, causing arthritis and/or orthopedic problems in the pet's future. Allow young children to play with the puppy only when sitting down.

Why Good Dogs Go Bad

Study Shows Flaws in Aggressive Dog Disciplining

People who are overly zealous in disciplining their dogs will probably make the animals even more aggressive, not less, according to a new study by veterinarians at the University of Pennsylvania.

The study involved 140 persons who turned to the animal behavior experts at Penn because their dogs needed help. The findings are consistent with other studies showing that discipline may not be the best way to correct an errant pet's attitude, but some of the statistics are a little surprising.

It's not startling to learn that kicking a bad dog will probably make him or her angry and likely to bite, but it turns out that even yelling "no" can have the opposite of the desired effect.

"This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates," said Meghan Herron, lead author of the study, published in the current issue of Applied Animal Behavior Science. "These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression."

In other words, if you kick your dog because he tried to bite you, he might end up owning your foot.

The study involved dogs that were so problematical that their owners were willing to seek professional help. A high percentage of the dogs became even more aggressive when they were kicked (43 percent), or the owner growled at the dog (41 percent), or something was physically removed from the dog's mouth (39 percent), or the dog was rolled onto its back and held down (31 percent.)

In many cases it didn't take much to make the pooch more agitated.

The researchers found that 30 percent of the dogs became more aggressive when they were "stared down" by the owner. That's defined in the study as "stare at dog until he/she looks away." Only 13 of the owners admitted they actually "growled" at their dog, and nine of those dogs (41 percent) "responded aggressively."

Pitfalls of 'Confrontational' Training
The vets describe that type of treatment by the owner as "confrontational," and in all too many cases, it backfires.

An aggressive response by the dogs ranged from zero percent for pooches who had their noses rubbed "in house-soiled area" to 43 percent of the dogs who were hit or kicked.

Apparently, what it all comes down to is dogs, like children, are more easily trained when rewarded than when disciplined. The researchers point out that too much discipline leaves the dog frightened and riddled with anxiety.

Frightened animals are often self-defensively aggressive," the study notes, so "it would not be unexpected, then, that dogs respond aggressively to such provocative handling."

Of course, an owner may not be able to talk a dog out of biting the hand that feeds it, and when all else fails, the vets concede, a muzzle might be necessary.

The study is the latest in a growing library of research into human interaction with canines, which began around 15,000 years ago, according to studies published a few years ago in the journal Science.

That's when man first domesticated the wolf, or as some researchers believe, wolf first domesticated man, who had a tendency to leave tasty scraps around the campfire.

Eurasian wolves, according to those studies, accompanied humans into the new world around 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, and became partners in the hunter-gatherer social order.

The animals probably didn't change all that much until about 500 years ago, when selective breeding started an avalanche of changes in the canine world, leading to everything from powder puff pooches to Doberman pinschers.

They have found their niche in everything from cheering the elderly to making their owners get out and walk, which by the way, is as good for the owner as it is for the dog, which is likely to be less aggressive if it gets more exercise, according to the Penn study.

Somewhere along the way, of course, the human-canine love fest got a little out of hand. Seriously, folks, one study out of the University of California, San Diego, confirmed a widely held belief that dogs and their owners do tend to look alike. Especially if the dog is a purebred.

But unfortunately, as the Penn study shows, the relationship is not always that harmonious.

A bad dog can be a serious threat to humans, especially children, and the vets caution that when a dog goes bad, professional help is essential. Kicking the animal won't help, and could make things worse.

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Be Aware, Prevent Pet Thefts

Dear Pet Column readers, my name is Otis and I am currently awaiting my new love here at the Second Chance Humane Society Shelter.

As February is the Month of Love, and animals want to share in this love too, this month also marks National Pet Theft Awareness Day and Have a Heart for Chained Dogs.

Although these are both rather heartbreaking topics, Second Chance Humane Society and I ask you to take a moment to reflect on these issues so that you can educate others and become a force for change.

National Pet Theft Awareness focuses upon raising public awareness of a growing threat — pet theft. According to the organization Last Chance for Animals (LCA), nearly two million companion animals are stolen each year.

Some are taken under false pretense through "free to a good home" ads, abducted from their yards, or taken from animal shelters. These animals are then sold to research laboratories, dog-fighting rings, or puppy mills, where they are, at the very least, maltreated.

LCA states, "Researchers prefer to experiment on pets and other animals that have lived with people because they tend to be docile, accustomed to people and easy to handle." Check out to learn more about how you can help stop pet theft. And make sure you have proper identification on your dog and keep him or her at home.

As for the tragedy of tethered dogs, the organization Dogs Deserve Better is in the forefront of educating and activism around freeing chained dogs.

They are dedicated to bringing dogs out of the backyard and into the home as a part of the family.

Besides pushing legislation to prevent long-term dog tethering (meeting many successes, such as in California which has banned chaining dogs for more than three hours a day) they promote education of the physical, emotional, behavioral, and psychological damage that dogs suffer by being isolated and denied regular exercise. "Dogs are naturally social beings who thrive on interaction with human beings and other animals.

A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months, or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious, and often aggressive" – Humane Society of the United States.

If you are concerned about a dog in your neighborhood too frequently tethered or otherwise left outside without proper shelter, food, or water, please contact your local animal control agency. Additionally you can become more educated about this issue by visiting which provides information on how you can get involved in freeing chained dogs. Also visit the Humane Society of the United States website ( and read their "Facts about Chaining or Tethering Dogs."

In closing, I suggest you now take a moment to hug your dog, kiss your cat, pet your guinea pig, thank your parrot; the Month of Love is about so much more than chocolate and flowers.

It is about helping those who are feeling unloved to experience love (or adopting a lovable lover like me!). Remember, a pet's love will last longer than a box of chocolates and won't make you feel fat.

"Until you have loved, you cannot become yourself." — Emily Dickinson

Pet photo by Real Life Photographs. Call the Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS spay/neuter voucher, volunteer and foster care, or other Programs. Visit our shelter pets online:

Woman Sheltering Oodles of Cats Saved from “Concentration Camp”
By BRAD RHEN - Lebanon Daily News

ROCK — They’ve been through hell — what one official described as “kitty concentration camp” — and soon 46 cats being nursed back to health in a garage in Schuylkill County will be seeking homes.

The cats were rescued from a purported animal sanctuary in Pine Grove Township in late January after its operator and her boyfriend were arrested on drug charges. When investigators searched the sanctuary, known as “Cats With No Name,” they found dozens of dead cats and other animals, along with scores of malnourished animals.

Beth Hall, a volunteer with the Ruth Steinert Memorial chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said it was the most horrendous situation involving animals she had ever seen.

“They were frozen; they were laying all over the place — stuck to sides of the buildings,” Hall said yesterday. “Some of them were stacked in laundry baskets. There were dead cats stacked in boxes. There were dead cats in empty dog-food bags. The only way to put it is, it was like a kitty concentration camp up there. It was horrendous. Absolutely heinous.

“The worst part was when we went into the back shed after trying to get all the cats together, and there was pallet after pallet after pallet of food,” she said.

In all, 83 dead cats were found on the property, and 13 more had to be euthanized shortly thereafter. Additionally, two dead ferrets and a dead deer were found
on the property at 33 Walmer Lane, near the junction of Route 443 and I-81.
Last week, the shelter’s operator, 50-year-old Virginia Justiniano, and her boyfriend, Andy Oxenrider, 38, were each charged with 118 counts of cruelty to animals in addition to previously filed drug charges, law-enforcement officials said. Justiniano and Oxenrider are in Schuylkill County prison and have been unable to post bail, officials said.

The cats now have names, such as Sarah, Lazy, Party, Lil’ John, Houdini and Mistoffolees. They are being nursed back to health in a makeshift shelter set up in a two-car garage at the home of Rennie Miller near Rock, a small village east of Pine Grove.

Miller, the owner/operator of Rockroad Trucking, said she got involved after reading about the case in a newspaper.

“Like I put it to my friends, if you were on a bank with a hundred people and you had a boat and you saw somebody drowning, would you not take that boat and go get the drowning person?” she said. “This is not about me. It’s about the cats.”

Hall credited Miller for stepping up and volunteering the space when the rescuers found themselves in a pinch. Hall said the owner of the property where Justiniano and Oxenrider ran the sanctuary ordered them to leave.

“She said we had until Saturday to get out or she said we were going to be charged with trespassing ,” Hall said. “We had nowhere to go. I don’t know what we would have done (without Miller). We were in an absolute panic.”

The cats are being cared for by a group of about 20 volunteers, many of them members of the Ruth Steinert SPCA. Because several of the rescued cats had feline leukemia, none of the cats could be adopted for 90 days.

“Because we had four that tested positive, everybody had to stay here for a three-month period, and we’re one month into it now,” said Stephanie Willey, a staff member with the SPCA chapter. “In two more months, they’ll all be retested, and those that are still negative will be able to be adopted, given that their medical conditions are all stabilized.”

Hall said there is a waiting list, and seven cats already have homes lined up. There will be no adoption fee charged, but donations will gladly be accepted.

“We just want them to go to good homes,” Willey said.

In the meantime, Hall said, costs are mounting to care for the cats.

“We would love it if we could find some sponsors for the kitties,” she said. “People who probably can’t adopt but would like to help. Eventually, we want to place all of them, and we want to find good, loving, forever homes.”

Anyone interested in adopting a cat, making a donation or volunteering at the shelter should call Miller at (570) 345-2574 or e-mail her at Among the items needed are cat litter, garbage bags and firewood. Monetary donations are also being accepted.

Kids and Pets: Dogs
by Jana Lynch, Wilmington Parenting Examiner

Taking responsibility
You’ve heard the cries. “Mom, can we get a dog?” “Mom, I promise I’ll take care of it”. Eventually the pleas become too much to bear and you relent, choosing a dog or puppy to add to your home. But after the novelty wears off, it is often the parents who take the bulk of the responsibility for taking care of the dog.

However, it is extremely important that you sit down with your children prior to bringing the dog or puppy home and discuss these chores. If the child clearly understands what his responsibilities are with regard to caring for the dog, the transition will be much easier for everyone (including the dog).

All age groups (with the exception of newborn and infants, for obvious reasons) are capable of helping with dogs and puppies. Children as young as two can help with feeding the dog (my two year old gets a huge kick out of bringing the filled dog bowls to their crates).

As your children get older, they can help with such aspects of pet care as walking, bathing, grooming, administering preventative medications such as Heartguard, and participating in dog training. Make sure that your child participates in establishing the schedule for all of these tasks, and the schedule is posted somewhere in the house that everyone can see (such as the kitchen). That way, there’s no excuse of “I forgot”.

The Humane Society of the United States offers a lot of advice on how to prepare for bringing your new dog or puppy home. And by including your children in the preparation and care of a new dog or puppy, it helps the child learn to take responsibility for the animal and it helps to foster a bond between the two.

When bringing a new dog into a home, it is extremely important that you follow the following steps, provided by

--The dog should never be left alone with a child less than five years of age
--The dog should have a place he can call his own, a retreat, a private room, a den
--If the dog has access to a fenced yard, owners should make sure that neighborhood children cannot accidentally or intentionally tease him.
--If the dog does not like the children, the children must change their behavior
--Teach children to leave Ranger alone when he's in the crate, to pat him gently--no squeezing around the neck, please--and to leave him alone while he's eating
--Provide a crate where the dog can escape the attention of boisterous or overzealous children
--Teach children not to run past the dog and scream
--Never tie a dog in the yard

There are also some great tips on introducing your dog to your new baby.

There are lots of benefits for a child growing up in a house with a dog. It teaches the child responsibility, compassion, and can even help with allergies! As a bonus, pet ownership can also make for better parenting.

If you’re considering bringing a puppy or dog into your house, please consider adoption first. There are lots of animal shelters in the area, including the Delaware Humane Association, the Delaware SPCA and Faithful Friends. If you’re looking for a specific breed, also check out

Kids & Pets - Part I
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Pet News: Cat Kingdom - The Ancient Ruins of Rome

Recall: Carolina Prime Dog Treats
by Mia Carter, Boston Pets Examiner

Dog owners beware! Your dog's treats may be recalled due to the peanut butter salmonella scare!

In recent months, dog owners were rattled by pet food recalls involving brands like Pedigree, Special Kitty and Ol' Roy. These salmonella cat and dog food recalls were limited to pet food that was manufactured at one specific Mars Petcare US factory in Pennsylvania.

But this more recent pet food recall is much more widespread. Recalled dog treats include many different brands, which were contaminated with salmonella tainted peanut butter.

Carolina Prime Dog Treats Are Recalled Due to Salmonella Scare

Several varieties of Carolina Prime Dog Treats may contain recalled salmonella-tainted peanut butter. As a result, a handful of Carolina Prime Dog Treats are recalled.

The following Carolina Prime treat varieties have been recalled:

--Peanut Butter Hooves (2 pack) - Product Code 063725542000
--Rawhide Bone Peanut Rawhide (4-inch) - Product Code 063725542003
--Beef Shank Peanut Butter Dog Bone (6-inch) - Product Code 063725542007
--Rawhide Bone Peanut Butter Rawhide (6-inch) - Product Code 063725542005
--Healthy Hide Peanut Butter Beef Shank (6-inch) - Product Code 09109333479

These recalled dog treats are sold at major retailers including PetSmart.

It should be noted that the Healthy Hide Peanut Butter Beef Shank (6-inch) was not included in the list of recalled treats that was issued by PetSmart; it was included on the list of recalled treats issued by the manufacturer of Carolina Prime Dog Treats.

What Other Dog Foods or Pet Treats Are Recalled?

A handful of other dog treat brands are recalled due to the peanut butter salmonella scare. These recalled dog treat brands include Healthy Hide, Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits and Puppy Chow Snack Mix and Happy Tails Multi Flavor Dog Treats.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Salmonella in Dogs?

The most common symptoms of salmonella in dogs and other pets include:

--Vomiting and Diarrhea (often with blood present)
--Refusal to Dat and Drink

Where Can I Learn More About Pet Food Recalls?

For additional information on the what products have been recalled as a result of the peanut butter salmonella scare, visit the FDA's website or visit the Pet Food Recall Page to learn more about other recent pet food recalls.

For Girl, 8, Peanut-Sniffing Dog a Lifesaver
— McClatchy/Tribune Newspapers

COLORADO SPRINGS — - Riley Mers still has a scar on her foot from a time when a peanut shell slipped into her sandal at the park, burning her skin like acid. She's gone into hives and struggled to breathe from inhaling peanut residue too faint to smell. In her short life she has learned enough about emergency rooms to know she doesn't like the "dresses" they make her wear.

But the Monument, Colo., 8-year-old with the dangerous food allergy has a new ally that might restore some sense of normalcy to her life: a Portuguese water dog named Rock'O. The dog has been trained to detect the presence of peanuts before she can, potentially saving Riley's life while allowing her to get out in public. Riley received her dog this month after he underwent six months of training at the Florida Canine Academy under Master Trainer Bill Whitstine, who donated his services to the family. Although Whitstine has long trained dogs to detect bombs, narcotics, flammable materials and bed bugs, this was his first for peanut allergies. "This really is a bomb dog for this child," said Whitstine, "because the peanut is a bomb for her." While the new use of canines holds promise, it is not without potential problems. Chief is cost: The labor to train a dog to detect peanuts drives the price to about $10,000. And if a dog has an off day or is not properly trained, the consequences can be severe.

Minneapolis Gets After Dangerous Dogs Again
By STEVE BRANDT, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minneapolis looks to strengthen its laws controlling dangerous dogs and their owners.

For the second time in slightly more than a year, Minneapolis is putting more teeth into its efforts to ward off dog bites.

A package of changes applying to owners of the roughly 134 dogs that have been declared dangerous or potentially dangerous won City Council approval 11-0 on Friday.

The changes require that dogs or other animals deemed dangerous be sterilized, to conform with state law, and adds to the list of circumstances in which some people may be prohibited from owning or keeping dogs of the same breed for up to five years.

For example, that restriction would apply to anyone who has owned an animal declared dangerous or one that has been destroyed and who violates the dangerous animal ordinance. It would also apply to owners of more than one animal declared dangerous or destroyed within two years. The city last year limited ownership of some dogs by people convicted of a violent felony.

Council Member Don Samuels said the changes were proposed by animal control staff to plug gaps in the major changes that the council enacted in early 2008. The city recorded 423 animal bites in 2008, but Samuels said that the 2008 changes helped to reduce the severity of those bites. "I think people are feeling better," he said.

Samuels represents part of the city's North Side, which last year accounted for 43 percent of serious bites or orders for dogs to be destroyed, according to animal control officials. That's more than twice the area's share of city population.

The changes also require the owner or keeper of a dog declared dangerous obtain city permission before transferring ownership or custody. People may be cited for providing false information to the city.

Animals that previously were declared potentially dangerous now may be upgraded to the more restrictive dangerous category if the owner violates the requirements of the law. The changes also make it possible for the city to more quickly destroy dogs declared dangerous that go unclaimed and aren't kept in compliance with city ordinances.

Los Angeles Pet Store Goes Humane!
The Companion Animal Protection Society

Elaine’s Pet Depot in Los Angeles Agrees to Convert into Rescue Center for Abandoned Animals

(Los Angeles, CA) - The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) is pleased to announce that after five weeks of protests by animal welfare activists at Elaine’s Pet Depot in Los Angeles, the store has decided to convert to a new business model as a rescue center for abandoned animals. Elaine Binner, owner of Elaine’s Pet Depot, signed an alliance agreement and relinquished her puppies to Chance and Jocelyn White, co-founders of Good Dog Animal Rescue.

A group of Los Angeles activists organized by Carole Raphaelle Davis and Carole Sax conducted an investigation of the puppy mills that supply the Pet Depot Chain of franchise pet stores. The acquired evidence revealed that the puppies sold in the store were from inhumane commercial breeding facilities in the Midwest. Two other franchises of the Pet Depot Chain “Kirby’s Pet Depot” of Simi Valley and “Judy’s Pet Depot” of Westwood have also converted to the humane model and are currently holding adoptions.

“The evidence from Minnesota, Missouri and Oklahoma were enough to convince shoppers to not contribute to this sort of animal abuse. The parent dogs are suffering in USDA licensed facilities that are puppy mills. Right now, these dogs are exposed to extreme temperatures, confined to small enclosures and are being used like breeding machines. We are very happy that Elaine’s Pet Depot is going to be a place where shelter animals can now be adopted into loving homes. There truly is a rescue revolution taking place in the hearts and minds of consumers and as more and more pet shops join the rescue revolution to become rescue centers, consumers, retailers and animals will all benefit.

During this historic economic crisis, it is especially unethical to breed, sell or buy a pet while five million companion animals are killed in our nation's shelter system every year. The $1000 you would have spent on a dog should be instead given to a family in need. "- Carole Raphaelle Davis, CAPS Los Angeles Director and author of “The Diary of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife”

“The facts are in; they can’t lie anymore. We have the proof, photos and video footage from the mills where she bought the dogs. She had no choice but to go humane because she knew we were never going to go away. We have a wonderful group of loyal supporters in the fight against puppy mills and the pet stores that keep them in business.”

- Carole Sax, CAPS Volunteer/Coordinator

The Companion Animal Protection Society commends Elaine’s Pet Depot for helping the fight against puppy mills. Elaine’s Pet Depot is following the great example set by Judy’s Pet Depot part of the Pet Depot store chains. “When there are no longer any animals being euthanized at the shelters and the last dog has been adopted from rescue groups, then maybe people can think about selling an animal from a reputable breeder…” - Judy Robertson, Owner of Judy’s Pet depot

For more information please visit

About CAPS:

The Companion Animal Protection Society is the only national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to protecting companion animals, CAPS' foremost concern is the abuse and suffering of pet shop and puppy mill dogs. Founded in 1992, CAPS actively addresses this issue through investigations, education, media relations, legislative involvement, puppy mill dog rescues, consumer assistance, and pet shop employee relations.

Declawing Cats Is Not a Simple Manicure
by Linda Bloom, Cleveland Cats Examiner

According to The Humane Society of the United States, people choose to declaw their cats for a number of reasons: Some are frustrated with shredded drapes or furniture, some are worried about being scratched, and others simply feel that a declawed cat is easier to live with.

In many cases, cats are declawed done before somebody else has had an opportunity to act so as to make this action pointless or impossible, as a part of a spay/neuter package offered by veterinarians, even before claw-related problems occur.

Too often people believe that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat's nails, the equivalent of a person having her fingernails trimmed. This is far from the truth. Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe and, if performed on a human being, it would be comparable to cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.

Declawing can leave cats with a painful healing process, long-term health issues, and behavior problems. This is especially unfortunate, because declawing is an owner-elected procedure and unnecessary for the vast majority of cats. Laser Surgery may slightly reduce the duration of the healing process, nut it does not change the nature of the procedure.

Tenectomy is another procedure introduced more recently that effectively deactivates cats' claws by severing the tendons that extend the toes. The surgery retains the claws in the paws and is often thought to be more humane because of its shorter recovery time. Since cats are unable to keep their claw length in check through vigorous scratching, owners must continually trim nails to prevent them from growing into the paw pads and causing infections. And though tendonectomies are generally considered less traumatic because of decreased post-operative pain, a 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found the incidence of bleeding, lameness, and infection was similar for both procedures. Furthermore, the American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend tendonectomies as an alternative.

While there have been changes in the way that cats are declawed, it's still true that for the majority of cats, these surgical procedures are unnecessary. Educated owners can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows animal and owner to happily coexist.

Declawing and tendonectomies should be reserved only for those rare cases in which a cat has a medical problem that would warrant such surgery—or after exhausting all other options, it becomes clear that the cat cannot be properly trained and, as a result, would be removed from the home. In these cases, a veterinarian should inform the cat's caretakers about complications associated with the surgical procedures (including the possibility of infection, pain, and lameness) so that owners have realistic expectations about the outcome. There is just as much evidence to support the case against declawing as there is research to support it, with some studies finding few or only short-term adverse reactions to the surgery and others finding medical complications and significant differences in behavior.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization—backed by 10 million Americans, or one in every 30. Established in 1954, The HSUS seeks a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. They are America's mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation and neglect, as well as the most trusted voice extolling the human-animal bond.

For more information:

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Airplanes, and the Dogs That Fly in Them
by Chris Rodriguez, Denver Aviation Examiner

We all know the stories of dogs in pet carriers sitting in the cargo hold of airliners. What about dogs that fly in private aircraft? It happens more often than you might think.

I’ve seen these flying dogs while fueling up my airplane and watching them jump out of their airplane, or walking down a specially designed ramp. I’ve talked to pilots on frequency that often will include in the remarks of their flight plan that there is a dog on board. Why? Not because it makes the flight any different or require special handling, but because they are usually proud of it and love to talk about it.

One in particular comes to mind. I often work this one airplane that puts in its remarks something along the lines of “1 black lab that loves to fly”. I might have the breed wrong, but you get the idea. This of course often turns into an interesting and fun conversation on frequency. Most often the dogs just lie down and sleep, probably due to the steady droning of the engines and the sheer boredom they must feel.

Some of these aircraft are pressurized, so the dog doesn’t feel the effect of any lack of oxygen. They even have specially designed oxygen masks made for dogs! Obviously there is a market for this.

I took our dog flying once. While at first she was all excited and wagging her tail furiously, once the engine started and we started moving it was like giving her a tranquilizer. It was just a short flight around town, but we learned an important lesson. Just like with humans, the senses need to agree with each other or motion sickness will result. She was sitting in the front, but only could really see the instrument panel. The airplane was bumped around slightly, nothing serious, but to her the panel appeared to remain motionless. She kept it together in the airplane, but immediately after getting out threw up on the tarmac. Then she was happy again.

If you have any stories of adventures in flying with dogs, or if perhaps we’ve spoken on frequency about your flying dog, leave a comment below. Sadly, our pup “Lafayette, The Flying Basset Hound” aka “Lafayette Earlines” (Basset – Ears, get it?) flew west today - and this is dedicated to her. Blue skies and found bones, dopey dog.

The Final Goodbye: Facing the Loss of a Pet
by Lauren v., Dallas Pet Scene Examiner

It is the reality of life that at some point, you will have to say goodbye to a beloved pet. And when it's finally their time to pass on, the hurt felt by those who loved them can seem almost unbearable. But there are some ways to help get through the hardest times.

Everyone grieves in their own way and typically feel such emotions as anger, guilt, denial, and even depression. Losing a pet can feel especially ravaging when they are a close member of the family. Here are a few ways to deal with loss:

* Allow yourself to grieve

It's healthy to let out your emotions. You can do this by giving yourself time and space to cry, create a memorial, or join a support group (some are listed below).

* Talk about it

If you feel the need to share, find a friend with patience who is willing to listen. Some pet owners like to reminisce about happier times and fond memories surrounding the pet who has passed. This is a healthy part of the healing process.

* Volunteer

If you are able to be around animals during this time, it can be helpful to volunteer at a shelter or with another animal group. This could mean walking dogs, playing with cats, grooming, assisting with adoption days, or volunteering to help transport animals for rescue groups. By helping other animals in need, you can put your energies into helping another pet and focus on the animals still here who need you. Just be careful about getting another pet right away. It's often better for the grieving process to be completed before a family is ready to take on the responsibility of a new animal.

Here are some more resources for those grieving:

Pet loss support page- Lists support groups by state; tips on coping with pet loss

Pet loss- An online support community

The Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement- Events, chat rooms, online support, cards, and much more

Pet Memorials- Urns, stones, portraits, books, and more; Unique ways to remember your pet

Is Upper Manhattan Going to the Dogs?
by Damaa Bell, Upper Manhattan Examiner

How many times have you been strolling down the street just minding your own business when someone yelled out, "Watch it!" just as your foot was about to land into a huge pile of steaming brown goo.

This is the crap that happens on my block all of the time. As a matter of fact, I see plenty of people in my neighborhood with dogs - from cute little lap dogs to humongous hunting dogs - yet strangely enough I have never seen anyone take the time to bend over and scoop their dogs poop. It is one of the downsides of living in upper Manhattan.

A recent New York Post article reported that the worst offenders of the pooper-scooper law are uptown. Numbers one and two were Morningside Drive and Amsterdam Drive from 110th to 116th Streets.

Part of the responsibility of being a pet owner is that you have to deal with the unpleasant parts as well. Cat owners have to clean the litter box and dog owners need to scoop the poop.

Do you find that your neighborhood is among the crappiest in Manhattan?

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Oscar's Awarded for Best Animal Movies of 2008
by Sharon Seltzer, Pet Rescue Examiner

In honor of the Oscar’s, one animal welfare group has announced their “special” Oscar’s for movies that earned the coveted title, “No Animals Were Harmed - during the filming of this movie.” The American Humane Association awarded their Oscar’s in five movie categories, including one for Best Rescue Story.

Since 1940 the American Humane Association has overseen the use of animals in movies, TV shows and musical videos. They are the only organization that monitors their safety and awards the famous “No Animals Were Harmed credentials at the end of the a film.

The group came up with five categories for their 2008 Oscar’s that best exemplify the human-animal bond.

Best Movie Magic Featuring an Animal – The Dark Knight.
A scene in the movie shows several dogs attacking a man and in return the dogs are attacked and beaten. No dogs were harmed in the scene. Instead a combination of techniques was used such as roughhousing with the dogs, shooting the scene from odd angles and the use of a prop dogs.

Most Poignant Movie Illustrating the Human-Animal Bond - Marley & Me
The movie showed how a dog can become a true member of a family, even if he has a few bad behaviors.

Best Behind-the-Scenes Rescue Story – Beverly Hills Chihuahua
One of the starring dogs who played the role of Papi was rescued from a California animal shelter only one day before he was scheduled to be euthanized. The dog now lives with the head trainer from the movie.

Best Group Effort to Protect Horses – Appaloosa
One scene called for the horses to cross a stream and then gallop up a canyon. The American Humane Association guidelines wouldn’t allow this activity because of sharp rocks that might injure horses. The entire crew stopped what they were doing and cleared away any materials that could hurt the horses. They swept the entire stream and ravine.

Best Rescue by a Snake – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
In the movie, Indiana Jones finds himself sinking in quicksand and his sidekick hands him a vine that is actually a snake. The director used a real python for the easy part of the scene and then switched to a prop for the action shot.

My personal choice for best movie demonstrating the human-animal bond is “Bolt”, but it doesn’t qualify for these special Oscar’s because “no actual animals were used” in the animated movie. Have fun watching the Oscar’s.

Communicating with Your Pet
by Sharon Sakson, Pet Life Examiner

Our pets are so sensitive and intelligent that they make an effort to understand us as well as they can. Unfortunately, many of us don’t take the time to learn to communicate with them. Even well meaning owners sometimes don’t realize the importance of non-verbal communication in establishing a great relationship.

Communication comes in a variety of forms. Pets use certain movements of their bodies and body parts and different vocalizations to send signals. Dogs and cats communicate with movements of the eyes, eyebrows, ears, mouth, head, tail and entire body, as well as barks, growls, whines, whimpers, meows, purrs, and howls.

From your pet’s body language, you can learn whether he feels excitement, anticipation, playful, content or enjoyment; happy, self-confident, anxious, questioning, tentative, reassuring, uncertain, apprehensive, challenging or submissive.

Communication starts with the eyes. Teach your pet to look you in the eyes by showing him a small treat, and then hold it between your eyes. As soon as he looks at it, give him the treat. In a dog’s world, if he doesn’t have to look directly in your eyes, he doesn’t have to obey you. He will regard himself as the dominant partner.

Some dogs have strongly defined eyebrows, but all dogs raise and lower them, causing extra wrinkles on the forehead. Their movements usually express emotions similar to the way a human's eyebrow movements do. Raised eyebrows mean he is showing interest. Bringing the eyebrows down suggests confusion, concern or anger. One eyebrow up suggests bewilderment. If he draws his eyebrows together so his eyes are slitted, he is suspicious or angry.

Ear position relates the dog’s level of attention. Various breeds have different amounts of cartilage in the ear. A German Shepherd’s ears have strong cartilage to stand upright; a Cocker Spaniel has little cartilage and his ears flop. But whatever amount of cartilage they have, all dogs use it to bring their ears forward and upright when alert. You may have to look closely at a Golden Retriever or Lab, but you will see that the part of the ear closest to the head is pulled up when alert. Ears that are pulled back suggest the dog is uncertain or fearful. A dog whose ears are constantly pulled back is usually timid and needs encouragement to develop into a confident dog.

When dogs show their teeth, it is a sign of aggression. It’s usually accompanied with a growl. He is warning someone not to come closer. Properly socialized puppies do not show an inclination to bite. It’s not one of their natural responses. They prefer to be friendly.

It’s true that some dogs smile. But smiling doesn’t bare their teeth the way growling does. You won’t confuse the two actions.

A head carried high shows confidence and good health. A dropped head means the dog is not well, sad, or unsure.

Humans think it’s cute when a dog leans his head far to the side. Many dogs are photographed this way. The leaning usually indicates extreme curiosity or bewilderment. Photographers get a dog to perform this movement by making a strange sound, such as a meow or shriek.

Tails carried up indicate a confident, happy dog. A lower tail can be a sign the dog is submissive or feels insecure. But tail carriage is specific to each breed. A Whippet or Greyhound carries his tail between his legs all the time because he is constructed to do so. You’ll need to look at his head carriage and expression to gage his mood.

When the dog is happy or excited, you’ll see fast tail wags. Small, slow wags indicate he’s not sure of how he should react but is trying to show that he’s friendly.

Even though our pet dogs never lived in the wild, they still seem to remember that their ancestors lived in packs, where the hierarchy was clearly established. Dogs always establish who is dominant in their group. There can be different dominants in different activities; for instance, one can be dominant in eating, but another is dominant over certain toys; another is dominant in the backyard.

When a dog stiffens and seems to be standing on his toes, he is angry and aggressive. This posture is used to give a warning not to come closer. Interestingly, even bigger dogs will often submit to angry smaller dogs, dropping their tail or head to show they don’t want to fight. But it is dangerous for a small dog to challenge a bigger dog because he can easily be hurt. You must stop the behavior and separate them.

Some breeds, such as Dachshunds or Chihuahuas, are high reactors as house pets. They tend to vocalize every time they hear a sound. Other breeds, like Huskies or Pointers, rarely bark. Whatever the breed, when they bark, it’s possible to distinguish what each type of bark indicates. Dogs who barked would have been useful to early humans because they provided a warning that an unfamiliar tribe or a predatory animal was in the area. That’s the basis of their guarding behavior, which is welcome when it’s not overdone and the dog agrees to stop barking on your command. Whether or not he stops barking depends on whether or not you have successfully communicated that the stranger is not a threat. Until he’s convinced, he is sending a warning.

Play barks are often short and sharp. The dog is attempting to get a person or another dog to play. Dogs generally try to avoid conflict; their vocalizations are part of what communicates to other dogs whether they mean harm or are in a playful mood.

My dogs use a very straightforward bark to call me. When I hear it, I know I am to stop typing and go open the back door. My Brussels Griffon will often give a warning bark to something she feels needs my attention, such as, “Hey, somebody’s at the door!” or “A car just pulled into our driveway!”

The bark of a distressed or stressed dog is high pitched and repetitive. Barking can be a problem behavior if you have close neighbors. No one likes to be kept awake by a barking dog. It is important to realize that a dog who barks is attempting to communicate something, whether anxiety, discomfort, friendliness, assertiveness, loneliness, warning, alarm, deterrent, or something else. Different kinds of barking often require different kinds of training to stop.

Growls can be used to threaten, invite play or show dominance. When a dog growls, pay attention. They are telling you something.

Howling provides long-range communication with other dogs. Sometimes dogs howl in response to high-pitched or loud noises such as alarms, whistles, sirens, music, or singing. In Russia, people believe that a howling dog is a bad sign because it means someone is about to die.

Dogs whine to attract your attention. They whimper to let you know they are in pain or they are afraid of something, such as a bigger dog. My Dachshund, Lily, has a worried whimper she uses to tell me she wants to get back in the expen with her puppy.
Your dog is never going to talk. But he is trying all the time to communicate with you. He’ll never say, “There’s a stranger in the yard!” But an owner who pays attention will know when the dog is communicating exactly that.

My research with dogs can be extrapolated to all pets. People who are willing to listen communicate with their birds, rats, and even snakes. There is much in this world of pets to explore.

Roman Ruins a Haven for Cats

Felines Find a Sanctuary Set in the Heart of Ancient Roman Temples

Gazing into a huge, rectangular hole that contains four Roman temples, I'm searching for Nelson, the one-eyed king. I walk along the metal fence surrounding the archaeological dig, which is about the size of a soccer field. Somewhere among the crumbling stones 16 feet below street level, I hope to find the feline modern-day "ruler" of these ancient ruins.

Only a five-minute walk from the Pantheon, Area Sacra di Largo Argentina (an ancient Roman Square) rests at the heart of the Eternal City. Behind me, pedestrians bustle, vehicles rev, and mopeds blare. However, below me sprawls a world untrampled by humans. Wild grass grows under Italian umbrella pines, highlighting the travertine brick pavements. Stone steps ascend to the temples' roofless, pillared porticoes. Among them, a colony of cats is resting or playing in the sun.

My search for the felines began after seeing some calendars and postcards of Roman cats posing at the Coliseum, lounging near the colossal marble foot of Constantine, and napping atop a fallen Corinthian capital.

When Egypt became part of the Roman Empire, the cult of cat-headed goddess Bastet crossed the Mediterranean. Its worship became so popular, overshadowing the reverence of the emperor, that eventually an imperial decree banned all cats.

But some survived. The idea that a few of the descendants still live within the imperial ruins aroused my curiosity.

Thus I ended up at the largest cat colony in Rome, the Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, and to the story of Nelson.

At one corner of the ruins, I spot a one-eyed cat. He's perched on an old Roman wall. Near him, metal stairs lead down onto a small courtyard. A few cats saunter in the shade of blooming vines. The sanctuary occupies a cave, an excavated section of a temple buried under the bustling Via Florida.

Inside, Daniele Petrucci, an assistant veterinarian, tells me that the one-eyed cat I saw is not Nelson. "We have many one-eyed cats," he says. He shows me a children's book, "Nelson the One-Eyed King." On the back cover is a photograph of a white, long-haired, one-eyed cat that may have had a hint of Persian blood. Nelson died in November 2000. Today, about 250 cats call his kingdom their home.

About 14 years ago, Lia Dequel, a retired cruise-ship boutique director, and Silvia Viviani, a retired opera singer, started helping the abandoned cats. Over time, their acts of kindness grew into a nonprofit organization. Now, they work full time, supported by donations and volunteers.

Helpers who live in Rome handle the administration, conduct free guided tours of the ruins, and care for sick or injured cats. Other volunteers come from all over the world, some for a few days, some for weeks. They help with whatever needs doing around the no-kill facility and assist visitors.

New cats arrive at the sanctuary almost daily. Each is given a name, then photographed, registered, medically treated if needed, vaccinated, and spayed or neutered. If it has a right demeanor, it's put up for adoption.

Additionally, the sanctuary supports 40 other smaller cat colonies in Rome with food and medical needs.

But this main colony may have to move. "We are considered squatters," explains Ms. Dequel, as she prepares a shelter for a sick male cat just brought in. She hangs a plate with the cat's name, Zanche, on the cage. Then she drapes a thick cloth over the top because the cave turns cold and damp at night. "The city has plans to excavate the temple," she says, "and we're in the way."

A visitor drops by. Miesa Myrick, a flight attendant, hands Dequel an envelope.

A year ago, Ms. Myrick was on a layover in Rome. Not knowing anything about the sanctuary, she walked by Torre Argentina. "I saw a little tiger kitty playing on the stairs of a ruin," she says. "It had only one eye."

She adopted the kitten, Durer, and flew him back to her home in Maryland. Wanting to do more, she hosted a toga party. Guests came dressed in Roman garb and were shown videos and photographs of the rescued cats. The envelope she gave Dequel contains their donations.

I think that Nelson would be pleased so many people care. He, too, was an abandoned cat.

"It all happened 13 years ago," says Deborah D'Alessandro, author of the book "Nelson the One-Eyed King." "A big white cat arrived, its eye dislodged, shot by a kid with a BB gun." His imposing size and gentleness earned him a name derived from Lord Nelson, the famous English admiral.

Soon, as he perched on the Roman wall, his furry mane fluffed over his large body, he attracted the locals. Tourists, too, paused to pay homage. "People would come, calling out his name," Ms. D'Alessandro says, "with gifts of gourmet cat foods."

Nelson reigned for five years, but then became ill. A German family adopted him, so that he lived his last eight months surrounded by love.

Forgotten among the ruins, a white marble slab marks the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated. In time, this obscure marker may well be lost to memory. However, having been touched by the kind-hearted people who carry on in Nelson's feline kingdom, most visitors to Torre Argentina leave impressed by an experience they'll long remember.

from BarkBuckleUp

I was taking Cody, our large collie, to the veterinarian when a knuckle head pulled right out in front of my car from a driveway. I was only going about 25 mph, but Cody fell forward in the back of my Expedition (seats down, limo style). It wasn't until I got to the vet that I realized he had caught his paw during the "flight" and ripped a nail out of the nail bed. Blood was all over the back of the car. I am getting him a buckle as he LOVES his car rides and I don't want him to be hurt ever again!
Thank you Bark Buckle Up!
PH California


Traveling at 40mph
I was traveling at 40 mph when the other driver ran a stop sign. I broad sided him before I could hit the brakes. The car (a 1999 Honda CRV) was totaled. My wife spent 4 days in hospital and I spent 2. I was off of work for a month. The other driver had to be removed with the "jaws of life". When the fireman heard that there was a dog in the car he immediately asked for "the kit"; however, since our dog was buckled in he was unhurt and didn't need to be put down. In fact he didn't require any veterinarian care at all.
DB Washington


One day I got stopped by the police
I am originally from Canada and have been using a seat belt harness for 5 years now. One day, I got stopped by the police speeding 10 kms over the speed limit. When the police officer came to the vehicle and proceeded to write out the ticket, he asked why my dog wasn't jumping at the window. I told him that "she" was in a harness and attached to the seatbelt. I had to get out of my vehicle to show the officer how it all worked, as the officer had never heard of a seatbelt system for dogs. Unfortunately, he still gave me the speeding ticket!!!
TH Montana


We made the decision about a year ago
My husband and I do a fair amount of traveling in the car with our 2 year old Boxer dog, Kiara. We made the decision about a year ago to purchase a pet restraint and we had been using it consistently since then. In August of 2007, we were traveling home with Kiara from my in-laws' vacation house when we struck a deer (6-point buck) head-on. [It was a totally unavoidable accident - very sad for the deer] Kiara was strapped into her "seatbelt" and she stayed put in the back seat. There was $8000 in damage to our SUV. No damage to any of us because we were wearing our seatbelts!!
Please, please buckle up your pets!
AG Pennsylvania


Bad car accident
I used to let my then-kitten Bouncer run free in my car. My husband and I were in a very bad car accident and if Bouncer had been w/us at the time, he would've been thrown from the car. That served as a wake-up call. Since that day when I travel with my cats, they each have their own carrier. I use the plastic hard carriers, not the soft squishy style. They always ride in the back seat (away from airbags) and I use the safety belt to secure their crates.
LM Ohio


We have always used a seatbelt restraint that connects to the existing seat belt system of our truck for our miniature golden retriever whether we are traveling in town or on the highway. We got into a situation in one of the state parks where we had to "jump" two "ditches" in order to get our truck and trailer out of the site the campground had put us in. The roads leading out of each campsite were too narrow for a truck and trailer (or large rv)to turn the corners of the roads in and out of the park. (There was one way in and another way out - in was ok, but out was not.) Brandie was buckled up when we were attempting to get out of the site. If she had not been restrained she would probably not be with us today and may also have caused much harm to my husband who was driving. We escaped with only a blown out trailer tire and torn up steps and back corner of the trailer. God was truly watching over us that day. I believe that all children and pets need to be restrained for their safety as well as the safety of all the occupants of the vehicle. Thank you for what you do to make this safety issue known to the public.
PW Texas


I started using a vest type dog restraint years ago after an incident where my 15 lb. Norfolk Terrier was jumping from the front to the back seat of the car while I was going through the car wash. She was making a game of trying to catch the car wash brushes that she could see through the moonroof. Her leash tangled around the headrest and I was unable to reach it to untangle her without walking around to the other side of the car. She almost strangled herself. From that day on she wore a restraint and I felt much safer. I was in an accident a couple of years later and even though I was injured, she was fine.
CR Massachusetts

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Pet Advice: Should You Give Your Pet Prozac?

Every Dog Has Its Way of Greeting a Stranger

WASHINGTON - "Is your dog friendly?" you ask as we draw closer to each other on the path, our respective dogs' leashes in hand.

How am I supposed to answer that? Yes, Charlie is friendly -- really, he's a very sweet dog -- but how can I know your interpretation of the word "friendly"? Some people might construe energetic humping as extremely friendly. Others might be horrified. Charlie is a dog who likes pushing his butt into your knees in the hopes that you'll scratch it. Is that unfriendly?

What you really want to know is this: Is my dog going to rip your dog's throat out?

No, of course not. At least, I don't think so. I mean, can we ever really predict what an animal -- even a domesticated one -- will do?

And, you know, when we get right down to it, what if your dog does something that ticks my dog off? I don't speak canine, but Charlie is fluent, and your dog might be one of those dogs that just rubs other dogs the wrong way.

Leave them alone

Why don't we just take a chance? How about we let the two dogs work it out between themselves, like toddlers in a sandbox?

Ah, I can tell that you're not in favor of that. To paraphrase Animal Farm: Four legs good, eight legs bad. You're one of those people who fear that two or more dogs together spells disaster.

Charlie and I encounter these people every day. There's the owner who pulls her shepherd tightly toward her whenever we walk by. There's the woman who recently, upon seeing us standing with two other leashed pooches and their owners, made a big detour with her pet, shrieking, "Too many dogs! Too many dogs!" as if the dogs were just waiting for a quorum, at which point they would launch their nefarious plan to unseat the humans and take over. ("To the battlements! Sausages for everyone!")

Missing a lot

I feel sorry for these owners' dogs. All they want is to sniff and be sniffed, but they're owned by scaredy-cats. They shuffle by with a longing in their eyes.

A few years of that and they lose their ability to get along with other dogs and end up like this Scottish terrier Charlie and I see regularly. When we're about 20 feet away, the terrier starts emitting a low growl, like an outboard engine at idle. As we get closer, the growl rises in pitch and intensity. The little dog rises up on his hind legs, straining against his leash with every corpuscle of his compact little body, rigid with an unspeakable rage, Toto on crystal meth.

Even Charlie wants to avoid that dog.

I could have ended up that way (like the owner, not the dog). I had a lot of "bad" dogs when I was growing up. Not biters but bolters, dogs who, like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, studied the perimeter fencing, noting when the laundry truck made its pickups and deliveries.

Our dogs were always on the lookout for a poorly latched gate. I spent many afternoons walking through the neighborhood shouting "Handsome! Handsome!" Yes, that was one dog's name: Handsome. No wonder he tried to escape.

So when we first got Charlie -- a handsome black Lab with a shiny, fashion model's coat -- I was skittish. How exactly would he embarrass me? When would he bolt, leaving me to impotently shout "Come!" while other dog owners shook their heads in disgust? I would speed up or slow down to avoid other dogs, yank Charlie's leash in mid-pee.

But you can teach an old man new tricks, as My Lovely Wife did. The dogs of her youth were allowed to be dogs, to establish their pecking order in the household, to shed, to sniff, to hump, perchance to dream.

So now I allow Charlie to stop and smell the roses -- and the buttocks. It's really his only hobby, you see. His nose is his instrument, the world is a symphony and your dog is a violin solo -- or, ideally, a duet.

Rookie Drug-Sniffing Dog Helps Find Big Pot Stash
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Not bad for a rookie. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency says a drug-sniffing patrol dog on its first night on duty Tuesday helped its handler find a 477-pound load of marijuana.

The agency said Thursday that the drugs were found in nine duffel bags off a remote stretch of highway in Jacumba, about 75 miles east of San Diego. The route is popular with traffickers bringing drugs into the U.S.

The precocious pooch was described as a 2-year-old male German shepherd.

Agents arrested two suspected illegal immigrants who allegedly brought the drugs across the border.

The marijuana is estimated to have a street value of about $380,000.

People More Likely to Quit Smoking for Their Dogs Than Their Children
by Doctor Lissa, Health Care Examiner

A recent study by researchers in Michigan turned up some interesting statistics. It seems that one in three would quit smoking if they thought their pet would be adversely affected. This is interesting because in other studies, fewer than 2% would quit smoking if they knew their children would suffer harmful effects and 3.2% would consider quitting under family pressure. Clearly the pets win hands down..

Of course, it's hard to compare the studies but brings up an interesting question: why would someone be more likely to quit smoking for their pet than for their family member? Well, loyalty comes to mind. Many pet owners will do anything in their power to maintain quality of life for their beloved dog or cat. They're returning the favor. I know a tremendously devoted pet owner who had an elevator put in his house so his dog could safely go from floor to floor. He'd had hip replacement surgery and this was undoubtedly a huge help. (His pet, Bob, had surgery, not the owner).

Then of course, there's love. People love their pets in the U.S. to a tune of 10.5 billion dollars a year on over the counter medications and pet supplies. That's a lot of love. But then you get a lot back. Not that you don't love your children, but I guess pets are less demanding.

But is second hand smoke really that dangerous for pets anyway? I mean, is the risk worth all the fuss? Well, apparently it is. Studies have linked second hand smoke to oral cancer and lymphoma in cats and nasal and lung cancer in dogs. Even birds have health problems. A 2007 study found a link between second hand smoke and lung cancer as well as skin, eye, and heart problems in birds.

And with 50,000 human deaths each year in the U.S. from second hand smoke, it's a bet that there are a large number of premature deaths in pets for the same reason. So, it's good news that 30% of smokers will consider quitting if their pet is at risk and 20% will ban smoking in their home by other smokers.

Clearly your dog, cat or bird can't tell you to quit if you smoke, but perhaps this information will encourage some to kick the habit. If you have any thoughts on why more people would consider quitting for their cat or dog than someone in their family, I'd love to hear from you!

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Brushing Your Pet's Teeth
by Teri Webster, Pet Examiner (Video)

Say Ahhh-wooo.

February is Pet Dental Month and that means it's time for your pet to have his or her teeth professionally cleaned (if you haven't done so already).

Experts say regular dental care is just as important for dogs as it is for people.

Have you ever neglected your regular dental check-ups and then discovered you needed $3,000 worth of work? Humans know that a little prevention can save them a lot of money when it comes to their teeth.

The same is true for your pet' teeth.

Regularly cleaning your dogs teeth can promote good health and ward off periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can make like pretty uncomfortable. In some cases, it can cause serious health problems for your pet, such as heart or liver damage.

Some pet health insurance programs will reimburse you for the cost of dental cleanings. In an economic era where some pets have better insurance than their owners, why not?

Be sure to consult your veterinarian for advice on whether your dog needs his or her teeth cleaned. Generally, vets recommend starting at age 2.

You can also use pet toothbrush kits found at most pet stores. The toothpaste is flavored so that it appeals to dogs.

Ways to promote healthy teeth at home:

--Brush your pet's teeth every day.

--Have your pet's teeth professionally cleaned by your veterinarian.

--Feed your pet crunchy food. It helps remove plaque.

Possible signs of periodontal disease

--Persistent bad breath

--Tartar (yellow-brown deposits

--Red or bleeding gums

--Discolored teeth

--Loose or missing teeth

--Difficulty eating or chewing

--Excessive drooling

--Pawing at the mouth or favoring one side

--Facial swelling, irritability or depression


Should Monkeys Be Pets?
Kansas City Pets

I read the stories recently about the woman who kept a chimpanzee as a pet. It was killed after it attacked the woman's friend.

Do you think people should keep exotic animals as pets?

I'm not sure myself, but I think if you're going to keep an exotic animal as a pet -- say a tiger or monkey or something -- then you should have to pass some kind of exam that verifies you're qualified to provide care for that animal. I think that includes providing the proper habitat and understanding their behavior and diet.

What about mice and rats and snakes and lizards? When a mouse is in my house, it's not my pet. It's a rodent. And I'll be happy when my cats kill it. But some people enjoy them as pets. Some scientists use them for experiments. Where do you draw the line?

What about people who don't know how to treat cats and dogs? Should there be an exam for them to pass, too?

What about other pets, like horses? Or pigs?

Should money be the only barrier to entry? If I have enough money to buy a horse and keep it and feed it, does that mean I should be able to? Even if I know nothing about them, other than they're cool to look at?

What about zoos? Should they exist? I understand they help endangered species, but is that the best way to do it?

Where do we draw the line? I don't know.

Dining With Your Pet at a Restaurant? There's Still a Problem

These homeless pets are available for adoption from St. Johns County Animal Care & Control at 130 Stratton Road, St. Augustine. 209-6190. - This 3-year-old gray and white neutered male kitty has been at the pet center since last month. He is current on all of his shots and is very loving and playful. Visit him in kennel C8. - A 6-year-old tri-colored male beagle who has been at the pet center since last month can be found in kennel D21. He is heartworm positive, but loves to go for walks and play in the shelter's dog runs.

One mild winter day, before the arctic air paid us a visit, Gizmeau and I headed to Beaches Town Center to enjoy an al fresco lunch together. I had read that Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach has passed Doggie Dining ordinances and I was looking forward to enjoying a delicious lunch and chatting with Giz's admirers who coo over him everywhere we go.

I was sorely disappointed.

I was told by a Sun Dog diner patron whose dog was standing on the sidewalk as she ate lunch at an outside table that she was told her dog would have to stay on the sidewalk while she ate. A female employee at Caribbee Key turned us away and tried to blame the city. After I told her I had read that the city had passed the ordinance, she admitted the restaurant had not done what it must to allow pets. And when I asked an employee at Joseph's pizza, I was told we could sit at one of the outside tables, but not to tell anyone.

Among the things that one must deal with in these difficult times, not being able to enjoy an outside meal with your dog doesn't seem like much. But it disturbs me. Town Center was once so welcoming to pets and their owners. Being so pet-friendly set a tone, a laid-back friendly beach feeling for the area. But that seems to have evaporated and that's a shame. Having dogs lounging around our restaurants' exterior dining areas felt, well, cool. I don't want that vibe to be added to the long list of losses with which we must cope.

So I am asking all dog owners to help bring back the vibe. Keep bringing your dogs to the area and continue to ask to be seated outside with your dog. Maybe, when the restaurant powers-that-be watch you, your dog and your money walk away, they will jump through whatever hoops they must to allow us to dine with our doggies. If you do your part, I'm sure they'll do theirs; and I'll keep you posted.

- In training: Gizmeau and I have enrolled in a six-week pet therapy class to become a team that visits people in assisted living centers, hospitals, hospices, rehab centers and the like. My goal is to join the team at Baptist Medical Center-Beaches because I know firsthand how much the Comfort Care program there can affect a patient's state of mind, which is so important to the healing process.

Nine people and their dogs attended our first class. Two Italian greyhounds, one former racing greyhound, a golden retriever named Hannah who fell in love with me (and I her), a Chihuahua mix and two other mixed breeds. Gizmeau is the smallest dog in the class, which was held at the K-9 Club of Jacksonville on the Southside. We were taught some of the history of pet therapy, which began, believe it or not, in the late 1800s but wasn't really popularized until after World War II. All nine dogs were temperament tested and Giz passed with flying colors. That means if we fail, it'll be my fault.

In the second class we play-acted engaging with a facility's resident, played by our instructor. The dogs were also exposed to equipment we will probably encounter in our visits. Giz seemed more wary of the walker than the wheelchair or crutches, but on the whole did fine, our instructor said. Our next class will be held in a nursing home so we'll get experience almost immediately. Giz and I are very excited about our new adventure and I am sure there will be touching and funny stories to share with Pet Tales readers.

- Non-profit info: First Coast No More Homeless Pets has increased its feral cat spay/neuter surgery fee to $30 per feral cat. Call 425-0005 and leave your name and phone number and tell them you are inquiring about the feral cat program.

The Jacksonville Humane Society is challenging businesses to raise money for the animal welfare and education center's Trail of Tails: Pet Walk & Festival. The company that raises the most money for the event will name the adoption center's cat cabana. The winners could choose to name the room for their company or organization.

The Trail of Tails: Pet Walk & Festival will take place on Saturday, Feb. 28. Walkers can register at prior to the walk. Through, walkers can create sponsorship pages and invite friends to donate money for their walk.

The team that raises the second-highest amount of money for the Humane Society can name the puppy room. The team that raises the third-highest amount of money for JHS will name the cattery. Naming rights for this competition are good for the organization's current adoption center only.

The walk kicks off at 10 a.m. and will start and end at Friendship Fountain Park. Entrance is $25 per person for team members. Individual entry is $30 per person. Animals walk with their owners free.

- Funny face: Franki doesn't have a quirky habit or a particularly dramatic story. She and her litter mates were put in a box and dumped at a veterinarian's office in Arlington. Abandoning unwanted pets at a vet's office - and in general - is all too common.

Franki was adopted by my neighbors Lonnie Smith and Robin Alligood-Smith. They responded to an advertisement in the newspaper placed by a vet tech who took in the box of pups, got them shots and put them up for adoption.

Lonnie and Robin were looking to adopt a dog after Juna, their American Eskimo, died at the ripe old age of 21. Franki is a happy, energetic, loving little girl who loves to play ball and frisbee and likes to take an occasional swim.

None of this is extraordinary, but Franki's appearance is. At 14 months, she weighs 23 pounds, is a long dog with a possible beagle/dachshund bloodline. One third of one eye is blue, her ears are dappled, her hair is wiry and she has webbed toes. She is most definitely one of a kind.

If you have an unusual looking pet, please e-mail a photo to

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The Great Pit Bull Debate 2: A Writer Fires Back
by Amber Biddle, Houston Dogs Examiner

Yesterday, I posted an opinion based article on the subject of pit bull terriers. In the article I discussed many things that were debated, including whether media inspired dog viciousness should really be blamed on the dog or the owner. I discussed the many things I have read about pit bulls and whether or not they actually are vicious or docile as well as whether or not they should all be euthanized.

In said article, which you will note has been pulled, I as well as many of my knowledgeable readers, were attacked and even threatened for certain opinions. I pulled this article because I cannot and will not be privy to such childishness. People all over the world whom have experiences with this breed, like my 20 years, all have different opinions and are entitled to them especially here in our great country. The undertone of my article was intended to open an OPINION and EXPERIENCE based line of discussion, not to attack one another.

I read several comments that confused me and some that concerned me. Here is an example. “This writer clearly didn’t do her research. I would like to see her sources because she is promoting misinformation.” Since it was an OPINION my source was my own life, however, I will include my sources for why I feel the way I do to clarify for you. I think it is very important to inform possible future pit owners of ALL information, not just information that makes pits look good. This includes both negative statistics and personal stories as well as the many more positive statistics and expert opinions, both will be included here. True of any breed, a knowledgeable owner will be better prepared to take proper care of their pet and they both will live safely and peacefully together.

As I said in my previous article, I personally do not believe this breed is particularly more aggressive than any other breed, in fact both my extensive experience and what I have read suggest nothing but a very docile animal. In fact the pit bull terrier is one of my favorite breeds.

But I also find it important to report statistic. One in particular, which probably is relative to the fear people tend to feel, is that 67 % of dog bite related fatalities were committed by Rottweilers and pit bulls. The Clifton study of attacks from 1982 to 2006 produced a similar number. 65 % of all canine homicides during a period of 24 years in the US were committed by Rotts, pits, and Presa Canarios and their mixes.

Something else I discussed, for which some agree and some don’t is the theory of the lock jaw in relation to the pit bull bite. I happen to base my belief in this theory on the three pit bull bites I have experienced. They do lock on and they don’t let go. In fact the owner suggested I lay down and play dead and at that point the pit let go. I understand many people find this ridiculous, and no, pits aren’t the only ones, some say German Shephard’s do this too, but my experience is pits do. I will report to be fair, that I called ten local vet offices today. My own included though I already knew his opinion. Of the ten 6 agree and 4 don’t with this theory. So maybe it is fair to report this as a theory, however, I will NOT put it to rest because it would be irresponsible of me since I have experienced this myself. For those that disagree, tell it to my scars, respectfully.

Anyway, the common thread seemed to be that many hadn’t really read my article, they most likely skimmed it. Or my bio for that matter. They missed the whole idea of the article and misinterpreted my opinion completely. My whole point was to suggest, since we now know that this animal is quite docile, maybe what keeps them in the headlines is how powerful they actually are based on the damage they can do in particular, when mistreated. I included a story of a lady who allegedly loved her animals and treated them like her children and was killed by them suddenly. What I meant to convey is who knows why or how this happened really, but there are a few exceptions to the docile animal idea.

I again would like to point out that all dogs are subject to aggressive behavior especially when mishandled.

So why is it that I have been attacked three times by pit bulls and a few times by other breeds and still defend these animals? Well, I have been exposed to dogs and been involved in training more than most people so there has been more of an opportunity for me to be bitten more than most people, but also, when these events occurred, I didn’t yet know the dog, it’s owner or environment, or how to respect him. Now with twice the experience and 8 years of education, I do. I accept full responsibility for the incidents. But that’s just it. It is important before you adopt a new pet, no matter the species even, to do your research. Know the animal, ask questions, and know the facts.

As for the person who asked if I send a check to PETA every month, no I don’t but here is a charity I do support and you can too!

But my biggest concern and reason for firing back is the comments about hating this animal and the belief that they should all be euthanized. THIS, my friends, is in fact proof of a lack of knowledge and a misunderstanding of the pit bull terrier. They are all God’s creatures, go ahead and call me a Bible thumper again (frankly I am flattered), and I cannot support this idea any more than I can the desecration of entire races of people. It’s just sick.

And if people really hate dogs that much might I suggest a column on sports or politics or anything else but a dog column please? I will NOT retract my opinion, I think these animals are beautiful family pets that can live peacefully among men. I merely meant with my last column to make the point that problems arise when people don’t know their animal and assume nothing is possible.

Should You Give Your Pet Prozac?
by Teri Webster, Pet Examiner

Giving pets a pill may not be the best way to correct their behaviors.

Anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and Prozac are in higher demand now that pet owners believe the pills offer benefits, National Geographic News reported.

But using the potent drugs on pets can lead to other behavior problems. Most of the anti-anxiety drugs given to animals are the same ones taken by humans.

A pet chimpanzee that may have been given Xanax attacked and seriously injured a Connecticut woman on Monday.

Charla Nash, 55, is in critical but stable condition with severe trauma to her face, scalp and hands, the Associated Press reported. Nash was attacked at her friend's home in Stamford, Conn. She was flown to the Cleveland Clinic on Thursday.

Although it is not known how many animals are taking anti-anxiety drugs, dogs and cats are often drugged to correct aggression, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, separation anxiety, noise phobias and other problems.

But Xanax can reduce inhibitions and worsen aggression problems, for example.

Pets may also become drowsy, irritable, or excited from taking anti-anxiety medications.

Experts warn that owners must work with their pets, instead of relying on pills to change unwanted behaviors.

Source: National Geographic News

Rescue a Dog, Save a Life, Gain a Friend
by Maurice Aguirre, Dallas Pet Shelters Examiner

Shelters have all shapes and sizes of lovable mutts, purebreds, all-American cats, shaggy dogs, puppies and kittens, teenagers and oldsters. Your chances of finding a wonderful companion who matches your lifestyle, family, and home are excellent!

About 25 percent of these animals are purebreds. But if you're looking for a truly one-of-a-kind pet unlike anyone else's, animal shelters offer the best selection anywhere of smart, healthy, lovable mixed-breed cats and dogs. According to the Humane Society of the United States, mutts are America's dog of choice, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all pet dogs. And their numbers are increasing. It is for good reason. As dog lover I believe that mixed breed dogs are often healthier, longer-lived, more intelligent, and of more stable temperament than purebreds. This is due to what geneticists call hybrid vigor.

Shelter animals make great pets

A "second-hand" pet in no way means second-rate. On the contrary, shelter workers have often observed that many shelter animals seem to sense what they were up against and become among the most devoted and grateful companions.

Most shelter residents are healthy, affectionate animals. Many have already lived with a human family and have the basic training, socialization, and cooperative skills they need to become part of your household.

Dogs, cats, and small mammals like guinea pigs, rabbits, and rats end up in shelters because of circumstances beyond their control. They're victims of a death, illness, divorce, or a move that didn't include them. Or they were displaced by a new baby. Or their owners just didn't learn how to train them.

Some animals are relinquished at shelters because of a behavioral problem the owners gave up on. But the fact is all pets, young and old; need some obedience training or retraining, as well as patience and commitment, to become cooperative, enjoyable members of your household. And regular, positive training - as little as 10 minutes a day - will reward you amply, because it builds a strong bond between you and your pet as you learn to communicate with him, and he learns to live in your world.

Shelters have the animals' best interests at heart

Animal shelters are either government or private non-profit agencies. Their primary mission is to find the best possible permanent homes that suit the individual animals they shelter.

Most shelters, but particularly those well staffed with volunteers, become familiar with the disposition of each animal. If an animal has lived with a family before, then its history and behavior are also known. This knowledge helps the staff make optimal matches between homes and pets and helps you make you adoption decision.

Shelter pets are a bargain

For an adoption fee around $100, you can adopt an animal that would cost several hundred dollars through other means. The fee usually includes spay or neuter surgery, worming and vaccinations, and a certificate for a free health exam. Some shelters are now micro-chipping their animals which is a fabulous means of identification.

In addition, shelters offer free educational literature on all aspects of pet ownership, and they often provide ongoing advice and guidance at the shelter, over the phone, and through classes.

You save a life and help combat overpopulation

The simple fact is that there are many more animals needing adoption than there are homes for. So when you adopt from a shelter, you become part of the solution to the overpopulation crisis. You give a deserving animal a new home. You free up cage space for another animal needing to be adopted. And your money goes toward the shelter's education and spay/neuter programs, which help prevent more unwanted animals from being born.

Crate-Training Could Help Calm Anxious Pooch
By Steve Dale - Tribune Media Services

QUESTION: My 3-year-old Havanese is basically house-trained, except occasionally he’ll poop in the house. Twice a year, while we’re away, he spends a week with friends. He also poops in their homes and occasionally urinates there, too. I’m running out of friends to watch him. Any suggestions? — L.W., Tarrytown, N.Y.

ANSWER: “I wonder how happy your dog is to be dropped off at these homes,” asks Dr. Brenda Griffin, assistant professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, N.Y. “For some dogs, there’s tremendous anxiety being left in an unfamiliar place, even if the people are familiar. And it’s unclear if the people are familiar. If there are other animals in these homes, that makes matters more complex. Also, the dog has learned to pee and poo in other people’s homes. Now, we have to prevent that cycle from continuing.”

Griffin suggests crate-training your little guy. Restricting him inside a crate when you can’t supervise will prevent accidents because dogs don’t like to foul their sleeping area. (Only one caveat: If your dog is having accidents only when people aren’t home, the problem is likely separation anxiety and professional assistance is recommended). Ask your pet-sitting friends to take the dog out on a leash and reward him for going potty with praise and a special treat, as if he were a puppy. If he doesn’t do his business, back into the crate he goes.

Meanwhile, it can’t hurt to plug in a diffuser called Dog Appeasing Pheromone (a kind of relaxing aromatherapy for dogs). Play (Havanese generally love to play) is also a great antidote for stress.

Perhaps for your dog, another alternative to consider is to have a friend or professional pet sitter live at your house when you’re away. Your pup will likely feel more comfortable in his own surroundings.

QUESTION: My dog doesn’t lift his leg to urinate. This is a problem because he piddles on his own front legs. His beautiful cream-colored coat is turning yellow. Getting this 50-pound dog into a bathtub every day is getting old. The vet says everything is OK and my dog may catch on eventually. Any advice? — J.A.G., Peoria, Ill.

ANSWER: Invest in a doggy shampoo company’s stock, then buy lots of shampoo. At least the stock price will go up. Philadelphia-based veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall says your dog’s inability to cock his leg isn’t sexual so much as it has to do with social maturity, or lack thereof. Your vet might be right, though; some guys just mature slowly.

If your dog is generally submissive and shy (Overall’s guess), encourage him to be more confident and outgoing. Invite friendly dogs to your house for play sessions. Teach your dog tricks, and reward him with praise. An upbeat and fun training class could also boost his confidence.

However, some dogs just aren’t cocky enough to cock their legs.

QUESTION: I’m a 91-year-old lady with a cat I love. My cat has spasms, jerks and then licks at the area for no particular reason. My vet can’t find anything wrong. The spasms seem to be getting worse. What’s the problem? — F.B., Appleton, Wis.

ANSWER: If your veterinarian hasn’t already done do, Chicago feline veterinarian Dr. Colleen Currigan suggests checking for external parasites and determining if your cat’s anal sacks are full, which could cause discomfort. X-rays may indicate there’s a problem with the cat’s vertebrae. And if your cat is older, a simple test for hyperthyroidusm is advised.

From here, diagnosis is a bit more challenging. Your cat could be suffering from epilepsy, hyperesthesia syndrome or both. This syndrome is more a description of associated symptoms rather than a specific disease. The cat’s eyes may dilate, its skin may ripple, sometimes the cat may act manic and its limbs may twitch (as you describe). Hyperesthesia is little understood but may typically be an oversensitivity to touch, specific sounds, or even certain textures.

If your cat acts aggressive during these episodes, stay away from him. You don’t want to be scratched or bitten.

If the spasms are at all predictable, ask a friend with a camera to videotape your cat, then e-mail or take the video to your veterinarian.

Currigan says if your veterinarian rules out metabolic diseases, parasites and other likely causes, a prescription for Prozac or anti-seizure medication might offer relief.

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@SteveDale.TV. Include your name, city and state.

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