Pet Advice: Top 10 Foods to Avoid for Your Pet

Pets Can Go Green, Too

Here is a list of five tips from on ways to make pet care more environmentally friendly.

Some are pretty good suggestions, but some are rather vague and don't do much but sow the seed of idea on green ways to care for critters.

I know a lot of people are skeptical about the whole green movement. My take on it is that no matter what you believe about global warming or the fate of the planet, using less stuff and finding alternative uses for the stuff we already have instead of wasting it is a great way to save money.

And that's the kind of green most of us are particularly interested in saving now.

My comments are bracketed in italics. Post a comment and share your ideas on how eco-friendly or money-saving pet care.

1. Spay today. Some 3,000 kittens and puppies are born every hour in the U.S. each year. As many as 8 million unwanted dogs and cats wind up at animal shelters and about 4 million of them are euthanized annually because no one will adopt them. What do the numbers have to do with the environment? Pet overpopulation is cruel to animals — and bad for the earth, too. Feral and abandoned pets suffer hunger and disease, foul waterways with their feces, and chase away or kill wildlife. Spaying is the best thing you can do to solve what many experts call a pet overpopulation crisis. Spaying is affordable, kind, and helps animals and nature in equal measure.

[Besides the impact on the environment, stray cats and dogs are a risk to public safety and a drain on tax dollars. Unless you are prepared to care for all the litters your pet will produce, get 'em fixed. And adopting a dog from a rescue group or a shelter is the best way to recycle.]

2. Green the chow.You won’t see these ingredients on the label, but conventional pet foods contain earth-hurting (and dangerous) additives like pesticides, herbicides and hormones. If you see "meat or poultry byproducts" or "reconstituted animal byproducts" on pet food packaging, what you could be getting is waste material from slaughterhouses, including hair and blood. Some pet foods even contain byproducts from “4D” animals: the dead, diseased, dying, or disabled. Buy natural organic pet foods. They’re produced in eco-friendly ways and free of harmful chemicals, additives, and drugs.

[ Actually, the only way I know to really feed your pet, and your family, a completely organic diet is to buy fresh food from local farmers or grow it yourself. It's a great idea, may be a little hard to implement.]

3. Go natural. Your pooch and kitty don’t need accessories made of vinyl, a major environmental evil (and instantly shred-able, to boot). Instead, pick up the natural alternatives, made with organic ingredients and produced in sustainable ways. Today’s marketplace is filled with dozens of green organic dog products and cat items, including everything from treats and beds to kitty litter and chews for that gnaw-happy puppy.

[ We try to avoid soft vinyl after Dexter got very sick from a toy chicken made of vinyl. I don't know how organic a Kong is, but since they are darn near indestructable, ours won't be in a landfill anytime soon.]

4. No pile left behind. Dog poop is, well, a mess. Left ignored, it winds up on people’s shoes, spreads germs and runs into storm sewers and local waterways. And, depending on where you live, leaving it behind can get you fined. So make sure to pick up — in a biodegradable bags. (You’ll find loads of green poop bags in stores and online, including some that might even be safe to flush down the toilet.) Avoid using conventional plastic bags, which only preserve the waste longer at the local landfill.

[OK, maybe using a conventional bag for dog poop is not the most green alternative, but it's far better than just throwing them away. If your grocery sacks are going to end up in a landfill anyway, it's better that they at least served more than one purpose. Produce sacks make great poop bags. They are also good for wet bathing suits.]

5. Here, kitty, kitty.Many cat litters are made from non-biodegradable bentonite clay, which involves eco-damaging strip mining. Even worse, when cats lick their fur and paws they can wind up ingesting silica dust, a carcinogen that can cause lung disease, digestive blockages, and other health problems. What can you do? Use natural, biodegradable litters made with pine or other materials that don’t harm health.

[Easy to say unless you happen to live with my cat Thai, who will make deposits anywhere but the litter box if there is anything but cheap Tidy Cat in the pan. Clearly he doesn't care about his carbon paw print.]

Healthy Diets = Healthy Pets
By Michelle Sathe - Senior Staff Writer -

Pets are members of the family, guard their health

If we are what we eat, what does that say about the health of the average American pet? With increased rates of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes and many other ailments that similarly affect humans, Fido and Fluffy's diet is becoming of paramount concern to their owners.

"The number one question we get from customers is what food is the healthiest, best, and most natural? Some people will pay for the highest quality product. Some can't afford that much, so they want a really good food at a great value," said Chris Hoeflich, owner of Saugus' Pet Supply.

Protein and fillers and preservatives, oh my!
According to Hoeflich, who's been in the pet supply business for more than a decade, there are three levels of pet food for consumers to choose from - supermarket or bargain brands, basic premium and super premium.

He suggested avoiding supermarket and bargain brands altogether, as they often include a high concentration of pet-unfriendly fillers such as corn and wheat, use animal by-products as their main protein source, and preserve the food with toxic chemicals such as BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquine.

Instead, customers should purchase premium or super premium brands that place meats like chicken or lamb at the top of the ingredients list, contain little to no fillers, and use only natural preservatives such as mixed tocopherols or Vitamin E.

"AAFCO, the FDA of the animal food world, makes food companies list ingredients by weight, so the higher those are listed, the more of it is in the bag. Ground corn as a second ingredient is way too much for your dog, but if it's the 20th ingredient, it's just a carbohydrate and not as big a deal," Hoeflich said.

Most basic premium dog food brands are fortified with functional supplements, while many super premium brands feature human grade ingredients, including vegetables, as well as skin and joint health support from essential fatty acids and glucosamine.

For cats, which are more carnivorous than their canine counterparts, an optimum ingredients list includes a high ratio of meat or protein along with Taurine, an amino acid derived from beef, lamb or chicken and essential oils.

U.S. pet food sales in 2008 were projected to reach $16.9 billion, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, with premium pet foods the primary growth driver in the market. The upper income pet owner, defined as making $70,000 a year or more, is fueling the demand, accounting for 44 percent of the U.S. pet food expenditure, an increase from 15 percent in 1994.

Whatever their income, most pet owners should be able to afford feeding their pets properly. "For a good quality, basic premium diet, you're looking at about $20 to $30 a month, or less than a $1 a day, depending on their size. That's goes for both dogs or cats," Hoeflich said.

The vet's perspective
Consider it an investment in your pet's health. Otherwise, nutrient-deficient pets can end up at the veterinarian's office with preventable ailments. Evelyn Vega, DVM, sees the results of a poor diet all too often at her Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia.

"Commercial food is creating a lot of diabetic cats, since it has so many carbohydrates. We also get a lot of patients with skin issues and diarrhea or irritable bowl syndrome that can be fixed by feeding a better quality diet," Vega said. "Before commercial foods were created, pets didn't usually have these issues."

Manufacturers are now catering to these issues with symptom-targeted blends, including rabbit, duck and venison versions for allergies, as well as special high protein blends for diabetic cats and stomach-soothing IBS varieties.

Like Hoeflich, Vega advises her clients to read pet food labels, looking for high quality meats as the primary ingredients and avoiding byproducts and preservatives. She recommends dry or a mix of dry and wet food for dogs and wet food for cats.

Feeding pets two to three times a day is optimal, according to Vega, for the same reason humans are advised to eat multiple small meals. "If your pet eats once a day, it can often lead to overweight or obesity. The body thinks it's starving and holds on to food. If they eat more than once a day, it helps keep them lean and in shape," she said.

Treats, which can be as delightful for owners to give as for pets to get, should be tailored towards your pets age and weight. Vega said young, thin or hyperactive dogs can be given commercial treats, using the same "quality ingredients" rule of thumb, while seniors and obese dogs can be given carrot or apple slices.

If you want to cook for your pet as a supplement to their diet, just remember to avoid salt, chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, nuts, and anything with caffeine, yeast, dairy, or alcohol. Keep things simple by boiling meat, brown rice and adding pet-friendly produce.
"If they were in the wild and forging, many pets would eat fruits and vegetables or kill a rat or rabbit, then eat it, so emulating a similar diet is fine," Vega explained. "You just don't want to give them potato chips or macaroni and cheese."

When changing food to a new brand or adding your own home-cooked concoction, wean your pets off slowly by exchanging one-quarter of the new food to three-quarters of the old food for a few days, then a 50-50 blend for a few days, and finally, a one-quarter to three-quarter ratio for the remainder of the week. Doing so will help eliminate stomach upset and diarrhea.

Replace what is missing
For pets with persistent skin, coat, inflammation or arthritis issues that can't be managed with premium pet foods, vets like Vega often recommend essential fatty acids and glucosamine supplements to her clients.

It was veterinarian Dr. Robert Collett who created The Missing Link, an essential fatty acid supplement manufactured by Valencia's Designing Health, in 1994 after realizing that skin, coat and geriatric issues made up close to 80 percent of his business. The culprit? Lack of nutrition.

"Dr. Collett started comparing all the dog foods to see what was missing in the modern pet diet. He saw at the time that many brands actually had damaging ingredients, shelf-life extenders that were detrimental to an animal's health. He began to develop these oil seeds and nutrients that would help to replace what was missing," said Nate Armstrong, vice president of Designing Health.

Now available in canine, feline, equine, and avian formulas, The Missing Link combines more than 20 human-grade ingredients such as flaxseed, rice bran, blackstrap molasses, sunflower seed, dehydrated alfalfa, barley grass, and dried carrot to increase the amount of Omega 3 essential fatty acids in a pet's diet.

"Omega 3s work at the cellular level, controlling inflammation, which is the root of all disease," Armstrong said.

The Missing Link is also available with glucosamine for canines and equines and is carried at 10,000 pet stores nationwide - a professional strength formula is available through participating veterinarians.

At a cost of approximately 11 cents per serving, the product is sprinkled on top of wet or dry food. It's not a replacement for a premium diet, as Armstrong said, but rather an enhancement.

"Pet food is kind of like the meat and potatoes, so we're the salad. You should still buy a good food, because that's the staple.

Missing Link is only about 3 percent of a pet's diet," he said. "We're adding high-quality nutrients, enzymes and fiber to properly balance things out."

Top 10 foods to avoid for pets:

1. Chocolate, coffee, caffeine. These products can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and death.

2. Alcohol. Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and death.

3. Avocado can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive.

4. Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs.

5. Grapes, raisins. These fruits can cause kidney failure.

6. Yeast dough. Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet's digestive system.

7. Raw/undercooked meat, eggs and bones. Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful .

8. Xylitol is used in gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure.

9. Onions, garlic, chives. These can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage.

10. Milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Pet Supply is located at 26831 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, (661) 296-2654. Happy Pets Veterinary Center is located at 27550 Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia, (661) 295-9972. For a free sample of The Missing Link by Designing Health, call (800) 774-7387.

Neglect, Abuse Dog Our Pets

The stories of human beings heaping lavish amounts of attention and money on their pets amaze us: New York hotel queen Leona Helmsley leaving her dog a $12 million trust fund. Diamond collars for cats. Gold leashes for dogs.

A little more down to earth and closer to home, we see the recent popular trend of pet-sitting services. In some instances, people truly treat their pets better than they do family or friends.

But not every case is like that. Some families balk at the idea of having their dog or cat neutered or spayed, leading to unexpected litters of homeless puppies and kittens in the neighborhood. Others routinely leave their pets chained outside, in all kinds of weather and without food, water or proper shelter. Still others are notorious for allowing their dogs to bark at all hours of the night, disturbing the neighbors’ rest.

Tragically, for every story of someone spoiling their pet, any St. Joseph resident probably can relate two or three stories of someone else abusing or neglecting theirs. That’s why a new educational program from St. Joseph’s animal shelter deserves special mention.

Over the past few months, humane educator Amber Harmeyer has spoken to school children, service clubs, neighborhood groups and church members about responsible pet ownership. That’s the overall theme, but there are several subtopics: The importance of having a pet neutered or spayed; city ordinances and potential violations; the connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence.

“We tailor our message to the group,” Ms. Harmeyer says. Neighborhood associations, for example, may want to know about city ordinances. On the other hand, she has discussed animal cruelty with teenagers. “If you can get just one person in the group to stand up and tell the others, ‘No, this is wrong,’ you could turn some things around,” she says.

“A lot of it just comes down to being kind. It seems as if we’ve forgotten that somewhere.”

Rick Smith, animal shelter director, says the program started because of the high incidence of animal control violations and because the shelter has been putting down more than 120 abandoned or homeless animals a month. That all costs taxpayers. Having violators pay a fine isn’t always the solution, Mr. Smith says. Maybe education can help make a difference.

The shelter is working with municipal court in developing a program for people who have received multiple animal-control violations. Meanwhile, Ms. Harmeyer is more than willing to talk to your group about how much joy a pet to bring to your life — assuming you treat it right. She can be reached at 271-4877.

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Tips: Don't Let Vet Bills Leave You in the Dog House
Linda Lombardi - Associated Press / Dallas Morning News

When her dog Liza starting having seizures, Alison Taub was alone at home for the first time since having major surgery – and her regular vet was closed for the weekend.

The problem turned out to be in Liza's heart. "The emergency vet was actually a specialist in heart problems and pacemakers which was really lucky," she said. "But they were also very expensive and demanded money upfront."

Taub had to leave a $2,000 deposit before treatment could begin – treatment that would eventually add up to almost $6,000. The only bright side of the otherwise bad timing? Taub had just signed up for a CareCredit health credit card to pay for her own surgery, a card that was also accepted by the vet.

"The emergency vet had a 3-month interest free option set up, so I knew I had some time to work it all out," said Taub, of Lake Forest, Calif.

Veterinary medicine can do amazing things nowadays, like implant a pacemaker though a dog's jugular vein – treatment that Taub said "had a huge effect." But the bills can be equally astonishing, especially when we're all worried about the economy.

It helps to plan ahead and know what your options are:


–Before you get a pet, make sure you understand what your expenses will be, says Anna Worth, president of the American Animal Hospital Association. The initial cost of a puppy or kitten – whether it's a thousand dollars for a purebred or a smaller fee from a shelter – is a small fraction of the lifetime care costs.

–Consider pet health insurance. A couple of places to start: the guide to plans recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association (, and the insurance plans offered by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (

The ASPCA offers options starting with an accident-only plan at $7.50/month for cats and $9.50/month for dogs, and part of the proceeds from each plan go to support the work of the ASPCA.

–A health credit card may help you manage you cash flow. Vets who accept the CareCredit card, for example, may offer payment plans with no-interest periods starting at three months.

Be careful to read the fine print for both of these options, however. All insurance plans have some exclusions, and if you don't make the payments on your CareCredit card by the end of the interest-free period, you will owe interest retroactively. You also need to qualify via a typical credit card application process.


–Vets do charge differently, so when first choosing a vet, you may want to factor this into your decision. But afterward, Worth recommends that you avoid shopping around for each procedure on the basis of price. Consistency is important to your pet's care, and what's more, a vet is more likely to be flexible when you're in a bind financially if you have a long-term relationship.

–Don't be uncomfortable about mentioning money – there is almost always more than one treatment option. "Talk to your vet and ask what are the simplest things that you can start with. Start with the least expensive. Maybe you don't need to test for everything at once," say Jim Monsma of the Washington Animal Rescue League.

–Don't neglect preventative care and medication, which can save you money in the long run. Spay and neuter your pets, which prevents health problems as well as unwanted litters: for referral to low-cost providers go to

–Have your vet show you how to do some routine care yourself, such as nail clipping and toothbrushing.


–Feed quality food, but don't overfeed – it's not only a waste of money on the food, but being overweight can cause costly health problems in pets.

–Keep cats indoors: it's safer and better for their health.

–Train your dog. A dog that comes when you call is less likely to run off and get into an accident. Your dog should also respond to a command like "leave it" or "drop it" when he's about to grab and eat something that might make him sick.

–Exercise your dog; it's good for him, and a tired dog is less likely to find ways to get into trouble. And make sure your home is always dog-safe. There's a good reason that ASPCA insurance excludes coverage for multiple instances of foreign object ingestion: It can happen to anyone once, but if your dog eats several tennis balls in a row, you're neglecting to keep him safe from eating tennis balls.


–If your vet is accredited by AAHA, he or she can apply to their assistance fund.

–Ask your vet if a payment plan is possible. But remember that most vets are small businesspeople and times are hard for them too.

–Call your local shelter. In a few lucky communities, there are low-cost clinics for low-income residents like the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, D.C. But even where these are not established, the shelter may be able to refer you somewhere, especially if the alternative is taking in a surrendered animal because its owner can't pay for its care.

–If all else fails, there is a list of small charities that help with vet bills on the web site of the Humane Society of the United States. But these may be overwhelmed with requests, so your best option is to start local.

Sure Fire Tips For Teaching a Dog To Retrieve Items That You Choose

Whenever we go to the park we see a lot of pet owners asking their dogs to fetch Frisbees or other things. And it all looks so cool and fun. We would all like for our dogs to fetch things on command. But most of us think that it would be a big hassle to teach out pets to do so.

On the contrary, “fetch” is a very easy command and you can not only use it in the park but you can also teach your dog to retrieve things like the newspaper or the mail. You will want to view this dog cage covers for your dog.

The first thing that you will have to teach your dog is to use your pointed finger as a cue to the direction in which he is supposed to go. You will have to do this by pointing your finger in a specific direction and teaching your dog to focus on the area that you are pointing to.

The easiest way to start this training is by using little pieces of your dog’s favorite treat. He will be every excited about retrieving his favorite snack or treat. So start by sprinkling a few pieces of the treat on the ground. Generally your dog will run to grab the treat as soon as he sees it so the first thing you will need to do is train him to sit and not move until you say so. Once he has learned this, proceed to the next step and ask him to retrieve the pieces with a simple command like “pick up”

Once he picks up the piece that lies in front, you will have his attention and he will be ready for more. Drop the next piece behind you and with your finger pointed at it give him the “pick up” command. Eventually your dog will start associating the command with retrieving and eating the treat. The training can be made simpler by doing it before you give your dog a big lunch or dinner. Using tasty treats will also help and make it motivating and fun for him.

Practice the command with the treats a few times then substitute a ball for the treats and use the “pick up” command. Your dog will generally run towards the ball and bring it back to you. Remember to use the same command and tone of voice as you did with the treats. If your dog successfully manages to retrieve the ball give him a small treat or praise him. This way you will motivate him to follow your command. Take a peek at these discount pet carriers and raised dog dishes for your pet.

Once your dog has mastered the first two steps that are to find the object and get it back to you the next thing to do is to drop this object in front of you. So when your dog runs back to you with the ball in his mouth expecting to be praised for his efforts use the “drop it” command. To help him understand pat his head with one hand and with the other remove the ball from his mouth and drop it to the ground. Do this a couple of times so that your dog can understand what is expected out of him. Also, do the entire processes in a sequence starting at “pick it”. Very soon your dog will be running behind the ball and getting it back for you every time you ask him to do so.

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.

Aquarium Hobby Myth-Busting, Part One
Karen Mittelman - Cleveland Fish and Aquariums Examiner

The Myth:

Fish only grow to the size of their environment.

As juveniles, these fish might have fit comfortably in this 180 gallon tank. Now that they've grown, it's just a disaster waiting to happen.

As pervasive as this myth is, if you think about it seriously for a minute, you’ll realize how ridiculous it sounds. What natural environmental factors would cause an entire group of animals from oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams all over the world to develop this particular evolutionary strategy? None. Very few species of fish naturally encounter circumstances in which they lack space to grow and the ones that do (such as some species of killifish) have developed more practical methods of dealing with these constraints.

The species of fish that are commonly kept in captivity have natural adult sizes, just like all other animals. There are variations from one individual to another, but the range is fairly predictable within each species. For instance, you will never see a foot-long neon tetra or an adult Oscar the size of a minnow.

That said, a fish’s growth may be stunted if it is kept in too small a tank. Stunted growth is not the same as a fish simply "growing to match its environment" and it is neither healthy nor natural. Think of it this way: a St. Bernard puppy that is housed in a tiny closet for its entire life will not reach its full potential size… and that is essentially what is done to a fish kept in a tank that is too small. Any animal forced to live in cramped quarters for an extended period of time will suffer from atrophied muscles and fat deposits around its organs as a result of insufficient exercise. This, in addition to the unsanitary conditions, poor nutrition, and chronic stress that tiny tanks often engender, will stunt a fish’s growth.

Please understand that the fish is not just magically staying small. It is weak, sickly, and suffering. Small size is just a by-product of general ill health. In addition to its size, the animal’s lifespan will also be greatly reduced. For instance, a betta housed in a small bowl will probably only live for a year or two, though its natural life span exceeds five years. To some people, a year might sound like a long time for a fish, but when you consider that it’s less than one-fifth of its life expectancy, that is like saying that a child who dies at fifteen has had a long life. This is utter cruelty and nonsense.

The few types of fish that are tough enough to keep growing, despite the unfavorable conditions, can and will outgrow their tank. I’ve seen this occur with goldfish and the common plecostomus many times in my years working in pet stores.

Solutions and Prevention

If you currently have a fish that cannot comfortably turn around in your tank (or if your fish is as long as the tank is wide) you should either invest in a larger tank or find a new home for your fish. Many area pet stores will take in fish as a “donation” and try to find a more suitable home for them. Don’t expect payment, though, because the store views this practice as doing you a favor (and they are). If you insist on making a buck off of your pet (or if you want to ensure that your fish is going to a good home), you can post animals for adoption on Cleveland Craigslist, which allows you to charge a “re-homing fee.”

This situation is easily prevented if you do your research before bringing any new fish into your home. Be sure that you can comfortable house a fish at its adult size before you purchase, even if the fish is small enough for your tank right now. Don’t count on being able to upgrade to a larger tank later. Things come up (especially in the present economy) and you might not be able to get the big tank you’ve had your eye on.


Fish are living things. If you choose to bring one into your home, be sure that you can provide it with everything it needs, including enough space. Don't fall for a convinient myth just so that you can get the fish you want. To do so is both irresponsible and selfish.

Who Gets The Dog After A Divorce?
Posted by: -

Pet custody battles are becoming more and more common. When married pet owners divorce, the animal they shared often finds itself at the center of their split. Monthly support payments, visitation rights, restraining orders, custody battles, and legal fees: Sounds like the usual bitter divorce battle, right? Not so fast. This time Kramer v. Kramer also stars Missy the Chihuahua, Sable the Keeshond, and Barney, a golden retriever-Lab mix. Welcome to the brave new world of animal custody law.

When Dr. Stanley and Linda Perkins began their divorce proceedings in San Diego County, California, it was unlikely that either of them anticipated a two-year custody battle over their dog, Gigi. And it’s hard to imagine that Jennifer Kidwell of Montgomery County, Md., ever thought she would wind up spending $20,000 to keep possession of Sable, her nine-year-old Keeshond, two years after her divorce. But pet custody battles are no longer a rarity.

New Trend
According to an article on the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) Web site, in a divorce, the law has traditionally regarded a pet as just another item of property, like a sofa or a lamp. Under this principle, to speak about custody of a pet is as absurd as speaking about custody of a lamp. Ownership, rather than custody, is the appropriate term. This is still the general rule. But in recent years, many courts have begun to recognize that animals are conscious, feeling beings who should not be treated merely as pieces of property. Accordingly, there has been a growing tendency among judges to consider the best interests of the pet in making custody decisions. And even when applying the traditional pet-as-property rule, some courts are coming to recognize that different criteria should be applied to disputes over pet custody than are applied to disputes over the ownership of a car or a coffee pot.

Are Things out of Hand?
Resolving these disputes in the context of divorce proceedings can lead to some extreme results. Some disputes over pet custody are fought with the same bitter determination—and high legal fees—as child custody cases. Veterinarians who specialize in animal psychology have been hired to testify as expert witnesses in order to persuade a judge that one or another spouse has the closer bond with the pet and should therefore be awarded custody. Adding the issue of pet ownership to the other emotionally charged issues of the typical divorce case is certain to make an already difficult, unpleasant, and expensive process even worse.

What Should I Do If …
The ALDF offers some practical advice for those who find themselves in a pet custody dispute. Here are some things to keep in mind:

* Divorce litigation is unpleasant enough without fighting over a pet. Talk to your spouse and try to work out an amicable arrangement.
* If you have children who are attached to your pet, it may be best for the pet to go where the children go.
* If the pet belonged to you before the marriage, you are more likely to be awarded possession.
* It will work to your advantage if you can show the court that you have been the animal’s principal caretaker and will have the time to properly care for it.

Above All
Consult an animal law attorney in your state who can properly advise you. The general remarks above are not intended as a substitute for expert legal advice.

The Mysterious Case of the Vengeful Crows
By Fawad Ali Shah -

* Can crows wait for seven months to take their revenge on a human being?... well here is one such case:

KARACHI: Contrary to their size, crows are a mindful and dangerous lot; when annoyed, they ruthlessly attack in flocks of hundreds. If you are trying to hurt a crow, you are surely cruising for a bruising.

To a layman, they may appear to be like any other helpless insignificant birds. But who could have imagine how revengeful these birds can get? Crows can bear whatever you throw at them but if you attack their spawn, your making room for a whole lot of winged trouble.

These birds never forget, they never forget a face or what that face did; they remember any enemy till the day they die and they take revenge in groups. “In the laws of crows there is no Supreme Court or Jirga system. They have one slogan and that is, ‘blood for blood’,” claims Dr Ahmad Shah, a bird expert and a well known researcher. According to him, crows are a sort of species that will let everything slide but will never forgive or forget an enemy. They follow the policy of ‘Jeo aur Jeenay do’, but if you mess with them, you mess with their whole family.

Muhammad Sadiq, 43, manages a restaurant at Pan Mandi. If you want to know the lengths crows can go to take revenge, ask him. “They have brutally killed the owner of this restaurant,” Sadiq says, erratically looking over his head into the tree. “Seven months ago, a baby crow fell from the tree and somehow managed to reach the table where the restaurant owner, Jalil, who hails from Lahore, was sitting,” he reveals.

Jalil, hit the small crow softly with a stick to push it to the side and out of the restaurant, unfortunately, the bird died. Then came the revenge.

“They gathered around the restaurant like a mass procession and started attacking Jalil,” Sadiq said, adding that somehow the restaurant owner managed to escape. He was so horrified by the incident that he flew to Lahore and did not return to Karachi for seven months and the day he did returned proved to be his last.

“When he came back, all the crows stretched their wings and started screeching. They attacked him, violently pecking, snipping, scratching at his head and chest,” said Sadiq.

“They only spared him after he lost his sense.”

Jalil remained in hospital for 34 hours and then succumbed to his injuries. “They remember their enemies for a dangerously long time,” said Sadiq with a shudder.

Zeeshan, a man from Quetta, got a piece of the same revenge. Once in order to get rid of the crows he and his colleagues caught one and took it to a hotel room where they were are working as waiters. “I get shivers every time I remember that incident,” Zeeshan said, adding that when they caught the crow, a large number of crows gathered around the maingate of the hotel and even began attacking the customers. “We freed the crow, but we ourselves, did not leave the hotel for five days.” Stay away from crows, that’s my advice, he adds.

Ahmad Shah, an expert on the matter, says that crows are not only an intelligent bird but also very revengeful. He advises parents to protect their children from playing with the birds or harming their offspring. “Crows can die but never let their enemy live,” said Shah. “Crows usually search for food alone; you see them fighting each other over food but when it comes to protecting their kind, they unite no matter what the cause.”

Woman Finds Dog Poo Worth $400
By Amy Lieberman -

APEX, N.C. -- A cash-hungry dog has taken his passion to a whole new, supremely dirty level.

Two-year-old Augie snatched $400 from a bedroom dresser and gobbled it down whole on Friday afternoon, unbeknownst to his owner, Kelley Davis.

Davis was upset when she realized the cash she planned to deposit in the bank had mysteriously vanished, says her husband Bill Davis.

"She just didn't know what had happened to the money and thought she might have dropped it," Davis said.

Kelley Davis' suspicion remained, however, that something -- or someone -- was behind the money's disappearance. On Saturday morning, her hunch was confirmed when she took Augie, a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, for a walk around the neighborhood.

The 100-pound dog's droppings gave his criminal mischief away, Davis said.

"He pooped it out, into little bits and pieces," Davis said of the lost cash.

Kelley Davis, a physical therapist, collected her dog's droppings and rinsed them off with a garden hose, hoping to salvage whatever bits of bills remained.

She continued the same routine for the following days, and her determination -- and lack of squeamish nature -- has paid off, her husband said.

"We have found around three halves of the $100 bills and then various other pieces of the $20s," he said.

Now the family plans to collect the pieces, clean them thoroughly and send them in a secured envelope to the U.S. Department of Treasury, which might be able to reimburse them for their mutilated cash.

"For $400, she decided that it was worth it to try and get it all back, that it was worth her time and effort," Davis said. "The first time he pooped, there were a lot of pieces and I think that gave her hope."

Augie has been known to "get into things," Davis said, noting that the pooch especially favors paper.

"Toilet paper, paper towels, anything," he said. "He loves it."

Now he can add a few crisp Benjamin Franklin's to the list.

Davis said that his wife took the ordeal in stride, and wrote to a local newspaper describing her messy tale.

"She wanted to find some way to laugh about it," Davis said.

Chances are, those smiles will only be broader if the Treasury returns some of that cash in whole, smelling like it came fresh off the press, rather than from less appealing places.

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores

No comments: