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:

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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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