Pet News: Top 10 Cat-Friendliest Cities

Act Quickly When Pet is Lost
By Kelli Robinson Statesville R&L

When Mooresville resident Ashli Guglielmo's 15-year-old dog Croix went missing, she alerted her neighbors. All 1,000 of them.

Guglielmo contacted Find Toto, a national organization that helps find lost pets. Find Toto's automated calling system contacts thousands of neighbors in a specified geographic area within one hour. The automated message describes your pet, gives the date and area of disappearance, and provides the owner's contact info. People are also directed to the Web site,, where they can view a picture of misisng pets.

Millions of pets across the country go missing each year. While some stories have happy endings, many animals are never found or returned to their owners. What steps can pet owners take to prevent lost pet situations?

"Make sure your pet is properly contained," advises Stephanie Sterling, president of Lake Norman Animal Rescue. "We recommend a yard with a fence."
Sterling also emphasizes the importance of proper training.

"Learning to sit, stay, and come when called are basic commands every pet should know," she said.
Name tags can make a big difference. Be sure your pet's collar has a tag with its name, your name and contact information etched on it. Veterinarians can also micro chip animals, inserting a small information "chip" under the animals' skin. If the animal is found by a veterinary office or animal control, it can be scanned for your contact information.

Despite best efforts, however, pets run away. Owners can take certain steps to increase the chances of finding them.

Act Quickly
Animals can travel great distances over short periods of time. Don't wait a few days for your pet to return home on his own. Launching an immediate search increases the chances of being reunited.

Guglielmo immediately began combing the neighborhood, stopping anyone to inquire if Croix had been spotted.

Call and visit Animal Control
Immediately contact your local Animal Control. Follow up your phone call with a visit as soon as possible. Many black dogs and tabby cats turn up at Animal Control. It's imperative that you see the animals in person to determine if one is yours. Leave a recent picture of your pet at the facility.

"I was in contact with Animal Control every day for the entire time Croix was missing," Guglielmo said. She also contacted area veterinary hospitals and animal shelters.

Post Flyers
Post flyers everywhere: Your neighborhood, other neighborhoods, grocery stores, veterinary hospitals, etc. Laminate any outdoor flyers to protect against weather. Include only relevant information: A large picture of the animal, phone numbers, date of disappearance. Use a large font so the flyers can be seen by passing motorists. Be careful of scam artists. If someone calls claiming to have found your pet, ask questions to confirm that the call is genuine. Don't state a reward amount if one is being offered.

Sadly Guglielmo's story does not have a happy ending. A neighbor who knew Croix was missing found his body a few weeks after he ran away. She misses her companion but knows she did all she could to find him.

"Don't give up hope," Guglielmo said. "Even though my story is sad, I'm glad to have closure, rather than never knowing what happened to him."

Or Not to Clip (Your Bird's Wings)....
George Sommers - Boston Birds and Fish Examiner

"Flying is excellent exercise," asserts Dr. Jennifer Graham; avian veterinarian of Chicago. She does not have her own pet birds' wings clipped.

Some bird clubs in New York City and elsewhere have been known to rent out empty warehouses to allow their feathered charges some air time.

As stated in a previous aritcle "To clip (your bird's wings)...." two compelling reasons for wing clipping are to prevent escape to the cold, cruel outside world and to minimalize indoor hazards.

The key to who is right lies in the situation. If your bird is fortunate enough to have access to an aviary or otherwise large, enclosed and safe place to fly, you may very well wish to keep him unclipped. Beware, though; for an uncaged trip outside - no matter how bonded your parrot and no matter how content he is to sit on your shoulder could result in a birdy bye-bye if a sudden gust of wind lifts him away. You may wish to consider a tether/harness arrangement.

Dogs Search for Cash, Cows in Heat, Whales
By Ethan Trex -

(Mental Floss) -- A story surfaced about authorities finding $3 million in cash on a bus bound for Mexico recently. How did they find such a large sum of money hiding on the bus? With a cash-sniffing dog. Wait, dogs can sniff out cash? Specially trained ones can.

Since carrying giant sums of cash is often a good indication that chicanery is afoot, law enforcement agencies throughout the world use dogs to help catch couriers for drug, arms, and counterfeiting rings.

Last December a single cocker spaniel found around a quarter of a million dollars worth of nefarious cash at Milan's airport over just a two-day span.

Yes, dogs can be trained to find almost anything. Their noses contain far more olfactory receptors than humans' sniffers do, and the receptors are situated perfectly along the main airstreams of the pups' noses. Sure, you already knew that detection dogs were able to sniff out drugs, bombs, and corpses, but what else can a well-trained pooch find using only his nose?

1. DVDs

Take a walk in any major urban area, and it won't be long before you run across someone peddling bootleg DVDs. These black-market discs hit the street market so quickly that they might even hit a city before a film gets a theatrical release there, so movie studios and theaters take huge losses when patrons buy a flick on the street instead of shelling out ten bucks for a ticket. That's why in 2006 the film industry introduced the world to Lucky and Flo, the world's first DVD-sniffing dogs.

A broad alliance of film groups including the MPAA and the Federation Against Copyright Theft fronted the cash so the two black Labrador retrievers could learn the unique smell of a polycarbonate disc. At first, the pair had some trouble when they started work at the FedEx hub at London's Stansted Airport. A counterfeit DVD smells just like a legit one, so the dogs were alerting their handlers any time they found a package that had any DVD in it.

Gradually, though, they got the hang of finding the counterfeit loot. While on loan to the Malaysian and Philippine governments in 2007, Lucky and Flo uncovered 1.8 million counterfeit DVDs, a discovery that so enraged a Malaysian organized crime syndicate that the dogs allegedly had a $30,000 bounty on their heads. Luckily, they escaped unscathed and are still out there searching for bootlegged copies of Miss March. Mental Floss: What your favorite movies were almost called

2. Whether a cow's in heat

There's very little romance involved in commercial cattle breeding. For the most part, the cow is artificially inseminated, so the bull's not even around to make awkward excuses about why it's not going to call. Given this impersonal system, breeders need to know when the perfect time to inseminate the cow is, and dogs can help.

Since a cow's physical chemistry changes slightly when she's in heat, a dog can sniff out the differences and alert a farmer that the time is right to open the door to the semen freezer. How good are dogs at telling when a cow's in heat? According to a quote Professor Lawrence J. Myers of Auburn University gave the New York Times, the canines are even better at picking the right time than bulls are.

3. Insects

No one wants to buy a house, have it pass an inspection, and then find out the place is rife with termites, bedbugs, or another pest. Dogs can use their noses to help alleviate this problem. After extensive training that can run up to $15,000 per pooch, dogs can help homebuyers and pest control companies by sniffing around walls and baseboards to look for termites or bedbugs.

Once a dog has found the offending insects, exterminators can take care of the problem, then bring their canine friend back in for a second pass to make sure the bugs are really gone. Mental Floss: 5 deadly animals that might just save your life

4. Cell phones

We don't ordinarily think of cell phones as the sort of menace that needs to be rooted out quickly and efficiently, but they're a major headache for prison officials. Prisoners who have contraband phones can continue coordinating illegal activities from their cells, badger witnesses, and plot escapes.

Thanks to their various uses, inmates tend to be pretty crafty with where they stow their phones. These hiding places might fool a human official, but a dog can sniff them out with ease. According to an October 2008 news story, Virginia and Maryland have been using phone-finding dogs in their prisons, and Florida recently debuted Razor, a young Malinois who can sniff out prisoners' phones.

5. Cancer

This one's still in its early stages, but many researchers are optimistic that a well-trained dog can detect cancer in humans. The basic logic is very similar to the cows-in-heat example; a cancerous cell might excrete chemicals that aren't ordinarily found in the human body but can be detected by a dog. Theoretically, the dog could take a whiff of a person's urine or breath and figure out if the patient had certain types of cancer.

If the dogs could reliably make this diagnosis early on in a patient's illness, physicians would be able to better manage the disease. Marine, a black lab from Japan, is thought to be particularly adept at sniffing out cancer, so last year scientists starting cloning her to create a larger army of cancer-smelling canines.

6. Whale droppings

The population of Southern resident orcas is shrinking to the point where the animals are endangered, and scientists would love to figure out why. Unfortunately, it's tough to get close enough to a killer whale to take samples to test for changes in a whale's internal chemistry. However, when you're eating as much as an orca does, you're bound to leave quite a bit of excrement behind in the ocean. If scientists can find the droppings, they can test them for thyroid hormone levels and other telltale signs about the creatures' diets.

Slimy green whale droppings can be tough to find, though, so specially trained dogs are used. The pups sit in the front of a boat and bark like crazy when there's whale excrement nearby. It's a strange system, but it works for researchers at the University of Washington.

One of the dogs, a Lab named Tucker, couldn't cut it as a pet or a police dog, but he's got a nose for whale leavings. Another pooch, an Australian cattle dog named Gator, is a bit more diverse; in addition to whales he can track down droppings from wolverines, bears, jaguars, and cougars. Mental Floss: 6 unexpected uses for animal dung

7. Peanuts

Earlier this year, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported on the story of an eight-year-old girl with such a violent peanut allergy that if a shell touches her skin, it burns her. Riley Mers' allergy is so bad that she can go into hives from inhaling peanut residue that's not even detectable to the human nose. This sounds like a parent's worst nightmare, but now Riley has backup in her fight with the allergy - a Portuguese water dog named Rock'O.

After six months of training, Rock'O was able to detect even the slightest hint of peanut residue in the air, so when Riley goes out, he's always around to make sure the offending legumes aren't anywhere in the area. Additional peanut-sniffing dogs are being trained in Texas to help children like Riley lead more normal lives without the constant fear of allergy attacks.

For more mental_floss articles, visit

3 Money-Savers for Pet Owners
Steve Dale - USA Weekend

The nation's economic woes have trickled down to even our furry family members. Here are some helpful cost-saving tips.

Spaying or neutering now can avoid costly bills later.
Search for discounts on food. Use coupons, especially if Fido eats premium pet food. Or slowly transition your pet to a less costly brand (you'll avoid an upset tummy and potential vet bill) approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Seriously cash-strapped? Look for a pet food pantry, which offers low-cost or free food to the needy.

Find deals on medical services. Some shelters offer low-cost veterinary care, including low-cost or free spaying or neutering. Spaying or neutering is the responsible thing to do, and it may prevent costly medical issues. Also, big-box pet stores sometimes offer low-cost vaccinations. Know your pet's vaccine history to avoid over-vaccinating.

Apply for a grant. If you're in financial hardship and your pet goes to one of the nearly 3,000 American Animal Hospital Association-accredited clinics, you may qualify for a grant of up to $500 per year to pay for a specific procedure.

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4 Tips to Help You Save Money on Your Pets
Reported by: Denise Naughton -

We all love our pets, but let's face it, sometimes they can really be expensive. There is the food, the expensive vacuum cleaners to pick up the fur, and lets not even talk about the stains!

But there is help to cut those costs, use these 4 tips to save yourself some dough.

TIP 1: Save 25 percent or more on pet food

We all have overfilled our pet's pet bowl only to throw pet food away the next day. Start measuring per label directions on the back of the package and you won't be throwing money in the trash. Buy a Sunday paper to get coupons and go to get additional promo codes ad coupons from the manufacturer.

TIP 2: Save money on cleaning up pet hair

Use the groomer's number 1 choice for cleaning up pet hair. The NEW Swiffer Sweeper is an affordable option for removing pet hair versus expensive vacuums for hard floor surfaces, and it gets into the corners and edges to get a complete clean.

Another trick to pick up pet hair; is to put on a rubber glove and get it wet, then rub it across your furniture, you’ll be amazed at how the fur will ball up in your hand. It will save you.

TIP 3: Save money cleaning pet messes on the carpet

Don't use paper towels, use plastic putty knives, you can buy them for about 50 cents at any paint store. Make sure you buy a big one and a little one, that way you can use the small one to push the mess onto the big one without rubbing the mess into the carpet.

If your pet is going back to the same spot on the carpet, they have marked the spot and that means there is an odor embedded in the carpet. To get the smell out and keep your pet from returning, try these tips.

First, use some type of an enzyme cleaner to digest the bacteria, which is causing the odor. Spray it onto the carpet and let it sink into the fibers, which will eliminate the odors.

If you have recurring carpet stains, that means the stain is in the carpet pad. To get rid of them you’ll need to buy a syringe from the grocery store or pharmacy and fill it with the enzyme cleaner. Then inject the solution into the spot and press it down so it gets into the pad. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then pat it on top and use a blow dryer to prevent mildew from starting and the enzyme will keep the smell from returning.

TIP 4: Save money getting rid of pet odors

Start spraying and stop stressing. Febreze offers a full line of pet odor eliminators at a fraction of the cost. Spray it to eliminate pet odors at the core, it also has an allergen reducer.

Products featured:
Swiffer Sweeper
Odoban Odor and Stain carpet cleaner
Febreze pet odor eliminator

Becoming a Good Pet Owner
Maurice Aguirre - Dallas Pet Shelters Examiner

Whether you own a regal looking Afghan hound, an excitable Pomeranian or a family friendly Labrador, there are some basic dog care routines that all dog owners must adhere to. While some breeds that are rare or highly pedigreed may need a specially prescribed diet or special grooming practices, generally dogs need you to look after their health, diet, grooming, and exercise.

Here are some of the most basic things you can do to keep your dog healthy and happy.

Have a regular feeding schedule for your dog, and stick to it religiously. Feed him only high quality and premium dog foods. Economy dog foods are not just inferior in their protein sources, but they may also lack important vitamins and minerals that should be part of a healthy dog's habit. Economy brands can also be more expensive in the longer run since they are often designed to be less filling, so the dog needs more food. While buying a brand of dog food, take your dog's age, weight size, breed and activity level into consideration. Make sure your dog has a constant supply of fresh water in his bowl.

No matter what the size of your dog, he needs plenty of exercise, and not just in your yard. Many dog owners make the mistake of assuming that all a large dog needs is a large yard to bound about in. No. A large dog needs a long walk and some fresh air. He would be perfectly happy in a smaller house or yard. Some breeds of dogs need more exercise than others. When your buy a dog, take their activity levels into consideration. If you can't spare a lot of time to exercise your dog, go in for a breed that's comfortable with lesser amounts of activity.

Vet Visits

Your dog needs to have a periodic evaluation of his health by a veterinary doctor. Take your dog to a vet for complete physical every six months. Observe your dog's eating and eliminating habits, and look for changes in his skin and any discharge from his eyes and ears. If you notice anything strange, tell your vet about it.


Training a dog is not just for show competition purposes. You may not need your dog to display acrobatics, but you certainly need him to understand and obey some basic commands. Train your dogs to obey you through obedience training techniques. With a wealth of information available online, there's really no need for you to let your pet remain untrained. An untrained dog is not just a danger to others, but also risks injuring himself. Training your dog helps you control his behavior which is a vital part of responsible dog ownership.


Some breeds require more intensive grooming than others, but ordinarily your dog should be groomed everyday. Use a soft bristled brush to brush his fur daily. Keep his nails short, but not too short, and well trimmed at all times. Clean his ears with cottons swabs,and wipe off excess mucus from his eyes and nose. Don't forget his canines - a soft bristled toothbrush and a doggy flavored toothpaste will keep his molars looking sparkling clean.

Spaying and Neutering

Neutering or spaying your dog is an absolute must. There are too many dogs without homes or shelters for your dog to contribute to the canine overpopulation. Dogs should be neutered before they are 6 months old. Neutering a dog has many benefits - they become less territorial and less aggressive. Neutering also prevents the development of various cancers in your dog like cancer of the prostrate.

Females need to be spayed before 6 months too. You don't want your dog to go through a pregnancy and a stressful and hormone ridden delivery every three months. Moreover, the scent of a female in heat can attract unneutered males from miles around. Dogs attracted to a female have been known to try to enter yards, and indulge in bloody fights over the female.


Your dog is a social animal and needs company and companionship. Don't confine him to the yard or hide him away in a crate for a long period of time. Make the time to play with him and shower lots of affection on your loving pet.

Responsible dog ownership is about taking good care of your pet, feeding him, and exercising him, and helping him to assimilate himself into society through obedience training. The above tips will help you lay the foundation for a mutually affectionate dog -owner relationship.

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Use These Tips to Help Keep Your Animals Safe
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy gives the following tips to help keep pets safe from accidental poisonings:

Never leave toxic products where your pets may drink or eat them. Keep out of reach all household cleaning products, insecticides, fertilizers or other lawn care products. Discard empty containers safely in a place where your pet will not play with them.

• Gasoline, cleaning solvents and antifreeze are poisonous. Clean up spills and do not leave these liquids in a bowl or jar that a pet can drink from. Antifreeze is especially dangerous, as it tastes sweet, and even a small amount can be fatal. Always clean up spills.

• Pets will often eat a pill that has been dropped on the floor or knock over a bottle of pills left where they can reach it. Always pick up dropped pills quickly. Do not allow pets to play with pills. Most pain medications such as aspirin or Tylenol can be deadly to cats and harmful to dogs. Always check with your vet before you give your pet any medicine for pain.

• Know what plants are in your house. Many young pets play with house plants and may eat them. Unfortunately many house plants are poisonous and you may want to remove or secure plants that are especially dangerous. Any plant treated with an insecticide is treated with a substance that may be poisonous to the pet.

• Flea and tick sprays, shampoos, collars and dusts contain insecticides and should be used cautiously. If your pet becomes confused or does not act normally, discontinue the use of the product, rinse the animal well in clean water and call your veterinarian.

• Many poisons made to kill mice or rats smell and or taste good to pets. Always place these products where your pet cannot get to them. If they are poisonous to mice, they are probably poisonous to your pet.

• Pets will chew on almost anything. Give them safe pet toys to chew and play with. This not only helps to entertain us and the pets but also keeps them busy so they don't chew on toxic plants or other things they should not have.

• Do not allow or encourage your pet to drink alcohol, which may have very dangerous effects.

Pets chew poisonous plants
• Many plants found in and around the house are dangerous to pets that play with or eat them.

• Remove any plant parts remaining in the mouth and attempt to rinse around the mouth with water. Do not use a forceful stream from the hose directed at the back of the mouth as you may force water into the animal's lungs. Allow the animal to drink a small amount of water (one glass).

• Look for changes in the skin around the mouth, eyes or paws, such as swelling, reddening or blisters.

• Watch for excessive or foamy salivation.

• Identify the plant your pet ate.

• Call the poison center or veterinarian.

• Always take the suspected plant or remaining parts of the plant with you if going to the veterinarian's office or an emergency clinic.

• Never try to induce vomiting by sticking your finger down your pet's throat.

Dangerous foods
Many foods that are fine for people are not safe for dogs.

• Raisins and grapes can cause vomiting, diarrhea and kidney failure in dogs; the minimum amount that is safe is unknown, so keep these foods away from your pet.

• Chocolate is toxic to canines; the darker the chocolate, the more harmful. Eating chocolate can cause a dog to experience excitement, increased urination, muscle tremor seizures and rapid heart rate.

• Sugarless gums and candies with the sugar alcohol called xylitol can cause a rapid drop in your dog's blood sugar.

• Onions have a chemical that damages blood cells and can cause anemia in dogs. Even one small whole onion can cause death.

• Macadamia nuts have a compound that can temporarily paralyze a dog's hind legs. The dog will recover with no treatment and no long-term effects.

America's Top 10 Cat Friendly Cities - Me-WOW!
Arden Moore - Pet Training Examiner

Curious as, say a cat, to discover America’s top 10 feline friendliest cities? In an effort to tout the talents and draw awareness of the health needs of housecats, an organization called the CATalyst Council scoured the country to identify cities that cater to cats.
The Top 10 Cat-Friendliest Cities are:

• Tampa
• Phoenix
• San Francisco
• Portland, OR
• Denver
• Boston
• Seattle
• San Diego
• Atlanta
• Minneapolis

Honorable mention: Ithaca, NY. The reason: This college town is home to
the Cornell Feline Health Center, committed to educating people about cats and their health.

Yes, dogs may be regarded as man’s best friend, but in terms of sheer numbers, cats outnumber dogs in American households by nearly 10 million. If you’re into numbers, we’re talking roughly 82 million cats versus 72 million dogs.

But in terms of veterinary visits, especially wellness exams, dogs are more likely to be receiving care at veterinary clinics.

“Our goal is to recognize and celebrate why cats are such popular companions, says Dan Kramer, chair of the CATalyst Council and a top Pfizer Animal Health executive. “We applaud the efforts of these major metropolitan areas for providing a wealth of resources for cats and their owners along with their earned accolade of being one of America’s Top 10 Cat-Friendly Cities.”

The group created a campaign called “It’s All About the Cat.”

To learn more, visit the

Pet Experts' Advice
Most-Often-Asked Questions are Answered

Dorene Weinstein •

Pet owners are a passionate bunch.

But that doesn't mean they're always experts on their pets' care.

People are brimming with questions about their pets, says Todd Carr, veterinarian and owner of Prairie Creek Pet Hospital. Kids especially, have great questions, he says.

Here's a sampling of the most popular queries from area vets. Keep in mind that many questions have multiple answers, and the vets here are speaking in generalities.

Question: Why is my dog eating grass?

Answer: There's no definite answer here. "I wish I could know and publish a book on it and get rich and famous," Hanson jokes.

It could be that he's just taking care of nutritional needs, or he's getting a few greens into his diet.

Q: Yikes! My dog ate chocolate, is he going to die?

A: "If it's milk chocolate, dogs can eat quite a bit before it causes a serious problem. Eating one or two Hershey kisses is not a big deal," Hanson says.

Q: Why is my dog eating poop?

A: "The short answer? Because they're dogs," says Angela Anderson, veterinarian and owner of Heather Ridge Pet Hospital. "The long answer is that it tends to be a behavioral issue rather than a medical problem."

Unfortunately, "it's very common behavior. They like poopy snacks."

q: Why is my dog scooting?

a: They likely have an anal gland issue. Scent glands located near the anus get full and uncomfortable. The pressure leads to scooting, Anderson says. The behavior could also mean allergies or internal parasites.

Q: What kinds of parasites should I watch for?

A: "I recommend dogs get a fecal test once a year," says Anderson. Have them on flea and tick prevention and heart worm prevention. Heart worm is spread by mosquitoes.

Q: My dog cries and cries when I get ready to leave. What can I do?

A: It sounds like it's separation anxiety, and behavioral problems do not have a simple fix, says Carr. This is typically a long-term problem requiring changes in the way you deal with your pet. My advice is to have a consistent routine, do desensitivity training and consider signing your dog up for classes.

Q: What vaccines are necessary?

A: The rabies vaccine is required by law for every dog. We recommend distemper and parvo shots as well. Other vaccines to consider: kennel cough vaccine, giardia and lime disease vaccine based on their lifestyle risk.

Q: Why does my dog chase his tail?

A: There is no medical reason for that behavior, Hanson says. "Some dogs do it as a game. With some dogs they don't really know their tail is connected!"

Q: How often should I bathe my dog?

A: Give your dog a bath when he needs one, says Anderson. Even if that works out to once a week. "It's hard to over-bathe if you use a gentle shampoo."

Q: What foods should I feed them?

A: "You get what you pay for when you buy dog food," says Anderson. So don't skimp on pet food. "There's lots of high-quality food out there."

Q: Should I get my pet spayed or neutered? When should I do it and why?

A: If you're not going to use your pet for breeding, get the animal spayed or neutered between 4 and 6 months of age. There are many health benefits to spaying and neutering. You will prevent unwanted pregnancies, eliminate uterine infections, control roaming behaviors and prevent illnesses such as testicular, breast and ovarian cancer.

Q: I'm house training. Help!

A: "Consistency is key," says Anderson. We recommend crate training, maintaining a consistent feeding schedule and offering positive reinforcement with treats and verbal praise. Take them outside regularly.

You can start your puppy as young as 8 weeks, says Carr. By three to four months they'll start to catch on. But it varies with the dog.

Reach reporter Dorene Weinstein at 331-2315

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