Pets - News and Advice

Rare Turtle Found at Store Was Wash. Family's Pet

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. -- A rare western pond turtle, which materialized at a Hazel Dell pet store earlier this month, is a wild animal by most definitions.

It also appears to have a family that loves him.

Barry Mason immediately recognized the tiny green face in the photograph on the front page of The Columbian on Sunday: His family's pet turtle of the past 21 years.

"There was absolutely no doubt in my mind," he said.

The turtle, part of a species thought to be all but extinct in Western Washington, turned up earlier this month at a Hazel Dell pet store. An employee of the store turned it over to Clark College biology instructor Steven Clark, who, in turn, delivered it to a veterinarian for possible use in a captive breeding program at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.

Now, Mason would like it back.

"It's more sentimental value than just a turtle someone found along the road," he said.

Barry and Chae Yon Mason were first introduced to Mr. Turtle in 1988.

The couple was camping with their two sons at Lake Pillsbury northeast of San Francisco when the boys brought the wriggling baby reptile back to the campsite. Could they keep him?

Circumstances overcame any reluctance about pulling the turtle out of its natural environment. Two years before, 7-year-old Chol had been diagnosed as a hemophiliac in need of regular blood transfusions.

"I grew up in Michigan and lived on a lake," said Barry Mason, a retired master sergeant in the Marines. "We had turtles my whole life."

They decided to take the turtle home with them to San Diego.

Time marched on. Barry retired from the military, and in 1993 moved the family to Clark County, where Barry Mason could pursue a post-military career as an emergency room nurse - a career choice driven by his oldest son's medical condition.

"I had to learn how to take care of him," he said.

Chol, in turn, took care of Mr. Turtle - right up until the day Chol died five years ago.

Chol, which means "Strength" in Korean, died of complications stemming from a transfusion of HIV-positive blood. Barry and Chae Yon realize they can never bring Chol back, but said they continued to care for the small turtle as an enduring connection to their son.

"I guess we're sentimental people," he said.

The couple first noticed Mr. Turtle was missing when Barry Mason went out to clean a plastic tub on May 14. The tub, 10 feet long by 3 feet high, housed Mr. Turtle along with a pair of store-bought red-eared sliders.

They suspect someone picked up the turtle during a large gathering at their home for the 25th birthday party for their son, Shon, on April 19.

Getting the critter back won't be so simple, however.

Collecting, possessing or importing wild animals violates current state law in Washington. It's unclear whether the same edict would have applied when the family moved here in 1993, or whether it applied in California when the family adopted Mr. Turtle at Lake Pillsbury 21 years ago.

The western pond turtle is threatened with extinction in Washington, and, though more abundant to the south, it has been considered a species of special concern in California since at least 1994.

"You wouldn't be allowed to just pick one up," said Kyle Orr, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Dana Payne, animal curator at the Woodland Park Zoo, said the zoo is merely taking care of the turtle on behalf of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. State officials will decide whether it's released to a protected pond with other western pond turtles, adopted into the captive breeding program, or returned to the Masons.

Though no decision had been made, it seemed unlikely Tuesday that Mr. Turtle will be returning to the Ridgefield-area home of the Masons.

"The animals of this state are managed by the department for all the people of Washington state," agency spokesman Craig Bartlett said. "You can't just go take what you want for your own purposes."

Barry Mason is philosophical about it, and grateful Mr. Turtle appears to be alive and well.

"I understand the conservation value," he said. "If he was out there now, there's no way I'd pick him up. But he survived for 21 years with us, so we're doing something right."


Information from: The Columbian,

Spring Is the Time to Be Bear Aware
By Jack Carrerow -

Now that spring has arrived with its mostly sunny days, it’s time for the community to look out for those four-legged eating machines, known as Ursus americanus or the American black bear

“Bears are foragers and like most foragers, they are opportunists and will take the path of least resistance,” Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Bear Biologist Bill Kinyoun said. “That means they won’t waste time searching out roots and berries if there’s an easier food source like an unattended garbage can.”

Reedsport is one of the more common hangouts for the bears. And even though this year’s bears are coming out of their limited hibernation a little fatter than usual, that doesn’t mean they’re not hungry.

“It takes tens of thousands of calories a day to satisfy these animals,” Kinyoun said. “They will look for food 20 hours a day if need be and people have to take steps if they don’t want a bear hanging around the house.”

While garbage cans are one of the most common attractants, Kinyoun said there are several lesser-known items and circumstances that can draw bears to the neighborhood, or worse, your house or car.

“Items like scented candles, left out pet food, livestock feed and bird feeders are particular favorites,” Kinyoun said. “Compost piles and dirty barbecues will also bring in a curious bear.” Kinyoun said a person should look at their house and yard and try to imagine being a bear.

“Bears have an extremely keen sense of smell to go along with their large appetite and if you can see or smell things in your yard like fallen fruit or a hummingbird feeder, chances are they smelled it a mile away,” Kinyoun said. “And once they’ve had a meal around your house, they’ll be back. They are definitely creatures of habit.”

As for garbage cans are concerned, Trent Carpenter, Director of Operations for Southern Oregon Sanitation said there is no such thing as a bear-proof garbage can.

“There are a lot of cans on the market that claim to be bear proof,” Carpenter said. “But truthfully, if a bear wants what’s inside a can, it’s going to get it and that goes for raccoons and stray dogs.”

Carpenter recommends that people planning to throw out meat, fish scraps or other pungent leftovers first freeze the items.

“Sprinkling baking soda, ammonia or bleach in and around the can will also help,” he said. “The idea is to mask the smell.” Carpenter also advises that people put out the trash just before pickup where possible.

“Too many people put the trash out the night before and then it isn’t picked up until late the next morning,” Carpenter said. “Know when the trash pickup is so you can time it right.”

Kinyoun said people should also be aware of what’s inside their cars or trucks when leaving them parked.

“If you go to McDonald’s, eat in the car and leave wrappers or a half finished Coke or even crumbs, a bear will pick up on the sweet smell and destroy your car to get inside,” Kinyoun said. “Things like lipstick and makeup can also give off a smell the bear interprets it as something good to eat.”

Since Oregon’s bear population is so dense, Kinyoun said he does not relocate bears.

In Oregon, a fed bear is a dead bear. No if, ands or buts. We don’t tag anymore,” he said. “It’s unfortunate for the bears. They’re just doing what comes naturally. It’s people that cause it.”

Because bears have started coming into neighborhoods in the past few years, Carpenter said there’s a better chance of people encountering them. If you come across a bear, don’t run.

“You become game to him and he’s going to give chase. Make sure the bear has an escape route that doesn’t include running over you,” Carpenter said. “Stand up straight as you can and make as much noise as you can, while throwing anything handy.”

There are between 250,000 and 300,000 black bears in Oregon and while one must exercise caution, Carpenter said people and bears can get along.

“If we just use common sense and follow the rules. Everything should be fine,” Carpenter said. “Unfortunately, there are people who don’t pay attention and we have to put down a bear whose only crime was it was hungry. Believe me, that’s never a pleasant task.”

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Salt Water Fish Tank Filter Systems

Choosing the between all the various salt water fish tank filtration systems can be confusing to say the least. But, before you choose your specific system, there are a few points you must know no matter which system you choose. Keep in mind filtration is a very important part of your tank, so don’t rush through this step.

In natural habitats, the fish have an ample areas in which to live. In your tank, they are confined to a relatively small quantity of water. In your tank, waste products can quickly build up and spell disaster. That’s where the filter comes in.

Four factors have a huge impact on the success of your tank, and your filtration system. You must have an adequate biological base, the appropriate choice of animals, not over-populate, and don’t over feed. Get one of these factors wrong, and you most likely will have problems with your saltwater tank.

Biological filtration is the most important sector of salt water fish tank filter systems. The biological filters are living organisms within your tank. They consume oxygen and waste material within your tank. It’s not something you can add. They will occur naturally within your saltwater fish tank.

Mechanical Filtration

The second type of filtration for your tank is mechanical filtration. This is where you choose the type of salt water filter system you will use in your new tank.

Mechanical filtration strains the solid particles from your tank water. It will not remove solids trapped by gravel, or other items within your tank. A good mechanical filter traps enough solids to keep your water clear, without becoming clogged frequently.

Smaller openings catch finer particles and are clogged
faster than a larger opening. Keep this in mind as you choose your mechanical filtration system.

Types of Mechanical Filters

For years, the corner filter has been the least expensive and most used type of salt water fish tank filtration systems. These clear plastic boxes sit inside the tank. An air stone bubbles air through an airlift tube, which forces water through a bed of filter floss mechanically filtering the water.

Today there are better methods,that don’t take up space, look nicer, and perform well.

Power filters are used by many. You’ll find many styles of power filters. The most common hangs on the back of the tank. A siphon tube pulls water from the tank into the filter box and passes the water though a mechanical filter. An internal pump returns the filtered water into the aquarium. Power filters come in many sizes suited for small to large aquariums

Under-gravel filters work by slowly passing water through the gravel on the bottom, which sits on top of a perforated plate. The water pumped with an airlift, with bubbles air lifting the water in a vertical tube attached to the filter plate. One problem is that the gravel clogs up with waste creating a health risk for your fish.

Sponge filters are an efficient,cheap form of biological filtration. Water is forced through porous foam by air bubbling through an airlift tube. Water flowing though the sponge allows the growth of a colony of beneficial bacteria that neutralizes toxic ammonia.

Chemical Filtration

Chemical filtration removes dissolved wastes from aquarium water. The most popular chemical filtration is the carbon filter method. Your water is filtered through gas activated carbon. The best GAC for filtering water is made from coal and is
macro-porous (larger pores).
Cris Stanford is the publisher of where you’ll find money saving advice and expert tips on how to set up the perfect salt water fish tank filter systems.

Clipping Your Birds Wings
by Lee Dobbins -

Clipping a pet birds wings is a common grooming procedure and is necessary for training as well as for your pets safety. You might feel like you are being mean to the bird, but the fact is that it does not hurt the bird and can help to keep him from flying out of an open window or door and becoming lost. Most pet birds would not be able to survive in the wild, especially if your climate is not one that is natural for the bird.

You can clip your birds wings yourself at home, but it is best if you take him into the vet or pet shop and ask if they can show you the proper way to do it before trying it yourself!

Do not try to clip your birds wing until he is very tame and used to you holding him, otherwise the procedure will be very traumatic for you both. You need to make sure that your bird trusts you enough to hold him and open up his wings. Until your relationship has reached this stage, it is best to have this done by a professional.

Once your have your birds trust and are ready to clip the wings yourself, take your bird out of the cage and hold him for a while. You may need 2 people for this as it can be kind of awkward with only 2 hands. Spread the birds wing out and hold it out with one hand, have your scissors ready with the other hand.

You want to cut only the longest feathers ' the one on the very bottom layer. Cut halfway up from the bottom of the wing in a line that is parallel to the wing. Some people leave the very last feather intact so when the birds wings are folded in, you can't really tell that they are clipped.

This should be a quick and painless procedure. After you have clipped his wing, your bird will still be able to fly, but not for any distance. When he does fly, he will most likely, have a downward motion to the flight, so if he starts off at a high spot, he'll able to fly to a lower spot with no problem. Make sure that there are no other animals in the house that could hurt him if he lands on the table or floor as he may not be able to fly away from them to protect himself.

About the author: Lee Dobbins writes for where you can learn about all your pets needs. Learn more about birds and parakeets at http://www.epet-ce

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Pet Scoop: Help Make This a Safe Summer for Pets
By Cindy Wolff - Memphis Commercial Appeal

The Humane Society of the United States and other experts offer some tips to keep pets safe this summer

--Never leave a pet unattended in the car on a warm or sunny day. Cars quickly heat up to a dangerous temperature, even with the windows slightly open.

--Keep pets up-to-date on vaccinations and preventative medications. Fleas and ticks are most active in hot weather. Summer is also when animals are at highest risk of heartworms, which are transmitted through mosquito bites.

--Keep cats indoors. Cars, other pets, and wild animals can all pose risks to your cat's safety. By providing playtime, cat trees, and other enrichment, your cat will be happy and content to stay indoors with you.

--Beware of cocoa mulch and other gardening products. Cocoa mulch can be deadly if eaten and has an appetizing scent to some animals. Pesticides, fertilizers and other harsh chemicals can also be quickly fatal if ingested.

--Plan shorter walks during hot summer months. Change the routine to early morning or evening when it's cooler. Hot sidewalks can burn the pads on your dog's paws, so walk on the grass or dirt paths when possible.

--Keep pet rabbits indoors because they don't tolerate heat well. Keeping a rabbit indoors will also provide protection from predators that might try to attack a rabbit in an outdoor hutch.

--Never leave a dog outdoors unattended on a chain or tether without proper shade or shelter. Long-term chaining during the hot summer months can result in countless insect bites, dehydration, and heat stroke.

--Avoid putting dogs in the back of trucks, where the metal can overheat and burn their paws. Also, they can easily fall out of the truck on a turn or sudden stop.

Summer months are peak season for dog bites because so many kids and dogs are playing outside. Reduce the risk through training and socialization. Also have your dog spayed or neutered. Kids can learn to stay safe through good manners around pets and humane education.

Beagle bulletin

Several readers asked about Meggie, my red beagle who was recently injured while playing with the big dogs at my house. Her last bandage was removed last week and she's back to hunting squirrels. So far, no squirrel carcasses in the house.


Mid-South Spay/Neuter Services is offering a "No Father's Day" special during June. All male cats will be neutered for $20.

The group also is offering to spay the mother for free if you bring in a litter of puppies or kittens to be spayed/neutered. The group will perform surgery on animals that are as young as 6 weeks and weigh 11/2 pounds. Call -324-3202 or visit

American Kennel Club All-Breed Show, sponsored by Olive Branch Kennel Club Saturday-Sunday starting at 9 a.m., City of Southaven MultiPurpose Arena at 7360 U.S. 51. Admission for adults and children over 10 years old: $3.

Annual Putts Fore Pugs Golf Scramble, sponsored by Critter Sitters, June 13 at Cordova Golf Club.

Cost: $80 per person or $320 for foursome. Registration at 7:45 a.m. Shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. To pre-register:


All animals are spayed/neutered and current on vaccinations:

Dogs/cats: St. Francis Animal Rescue and Refuge, 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Petco-Cordova, 1250 N. Germantown. $95. or 482-9921.

Dogs/puppies: Tunica Humane Society, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Wal-Mart, 2630 McIngvale, Hernando. $50. Information: 662-519-1700 or

Dogs/puppies: Good Dog Rescue, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Wags and Whiskers, 5101 Sanderlin and Hollywood Feed, 2015 Union; 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Petco, 3484 Poplar. $150. 276-7751.

Contact Cindy Wolff, owner of three spoiled dogs, by e-mail at, or mail sent to The Commercial Appeal, 495 Union, Memphis, TN 38103 or call 529-5220.

Is Your Pet Ready For Hurricane Season?

The Atlantic hurricane season begins officially June 1

Many organizations are encouraging Virginians to prepare for the season by making a plan, creating an emergency supply kit and staying informed. The Virginia State Animal Response Team (VASART) has one more suggestion: make plans for your pets.

The national State Animal Response Team (SART) organization was created after 1999's Hurricane Floyd claimed the lives of millions of animals in North Carolina, with thousands more separated from their owners. Many of these animals could have been saved by a coordinated response plan. From this tragedy, SART was born. In 2006, Virginia adopted the concept to address its animal-related disaster response needs.

VASART serves as a unifying network of organizations, businesses, federal and state government agencies and individuals that supports the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for emergencies affecting animals. VASART works with organizations like the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and others to coordinate assistance to pet-owning evacuees to find shelters and facilities that will accept pets in response to the Governor's declaration of a state of emergency.

Realizing that disaster assistance happens most effectively at the local level, VASART is building Community Animal Response Teams (CARTs) across the state. Community coordinators will lead the development of teams of volunteers who will be trained and certified to assist with emergency response.

VASART and its partners will do everything they can to provide pet assistance during an emergency, but it offers this advice now: Prepare your home, business or farm before an emergency occurs by creating disaster preparedness kits and emergency plans for your family, pets and other animals. SART offers the following tips for protecting your animals in a disaster:

--Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit ahead of time - The kit should include a few days worth of medication, your pet's medical and vaccination records, a leash, collar, identification, water, food, toys, a picture of you and your pet, and bedding.

--Make sure that your animals have some form of permanent identification such as a microchip, brand or tattoo.

--Purchase a pet carrier and label it with emergency contact information.

--Store water and pet food for emergencies.

--Create a contingency plan for animals including horses and livestock that addresses transportation, water and feed resources and areas for confinement if needed.

Go to for more information. For information on community level teams, go to

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Things to Know If You’re Contemplating a Pet

From HealthDay News,

President Barack Obama and his family took their time selecting their new dog Bo, and that’s something everyone should do when considering a new pet, says a University of Maryland School of Medicine expert. “There are many health and safety concerns that should be addressed before bringing an animal into the home,” Mary Beth Bollinger, an associate professor of pediatrics and interim chief of the pediatric pulmonology and allergy division, said in news release from the American Osteopathic Association.

5 tips: Bollinger suggested that anyone thinking about getting a pet:

* Consider different kinds of animals and breeds and select the one that’s best for your home and your family’s needs. Carefully assess your family’s routine of work, school, social activities and travel and choose a pet and breed that can live comfortably in your home and neighborhood.

* Understand how to properly interact with your pet. Different kinds of animals and breeds have different traits and temperaments and need to be handled and cared for appropriately.

* Realize that there are no truly hypoallergenic furred pets. Even single-coated or hairless dogs promoted as being hypoallergenic produce allergens — allergy-triggering proteins found in the animal’s dander, saliva and urine.

* Remember that good hygiene is crucial for families with pets. Everyone should wash their hands after playing with or handling a pet. Homes should have pet-free zones, including bedrooms and any rooms where infants or small children are fed or left alone, such as nurseries and play rooms. Wash furred pets regularly to reduce the spread of germs and the amount of dander they produce. Reptiles can carry salmonella and other potential infections and shouldn’t be in homes with children younger than 5 years old or children with weakened immune systems.

* Buy pets only from reputable breeders or shelters. This helps ensure that you get a healthy animal that’s had all its recommended shots.

Once a pet has joined the family, remember that annual checkups with a veterinarian reduce the risk of fleas, parasites and infections that can spread in your home.

Economy Leaves More Pets Homeless

TRUCKEE — Foreclosures and financial woes are now responsible for the majority of local pet turn-ins, according to the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.

About 65 percent of the animals the humane society has received this year are directly due to the economy, the organization reported this week. In previous years, the leading causes of animal turn-ins were due to moving or pet behavior issues.

“Foreclosures, moving and job losses have forced people to give up their pets because they were left with no other choice,” said Stephanie Hiemstra, executive director of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.

“The vast majority of people relinquishing their pets are absolutely heartbroken, but they are left with no options because finding affordable places to live that are pet friendly can be a difficult and sometimes impossible task.”

The Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe has kept up with the increase in animals thus far because the community continues to adopt. Many of the animals turned in due to financial issues have lived in loving homes and are often trained, well-socialized and highly adoptable, which significantly increases their chances of finding a home quickly, Hiemstra said.

Animal shelters nationwide are struggling to accommodate the influx of animals due to economic challenges, and national organizations and corporations have responded accordingly. The Humane Society of the United States offered several Foreclosure Pets Grants of up to $2,000 per animal rescue organization. In addition, PETCO, a national pet supply chain, started the “We Are Family Too” Fund, which offers assistance to animal rescue organizations.

If people are contemplating giving up their pet, they are urged to contact the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe at (530) 587-5948 to discuss options.

Could Swine Flu Affect Our Pets?
By Daphne Reid

All birds and mammals can be infected with a form of influenza virus, of which there are three types (A, B and C). Humans can be infected by forms of all three, but most flu varieties in animals and humans that cause serious health concerns are Influenza Type A. Viruses can mutate rapidly, and because hosts' immune systems do not initially protect against new mutations, new strains can subsequently cause widespread infection. Often new strains result from the spread of an existing flu virus from one species to another, which provides the virus with the necessary tools to transmit between members of a different species to it's usual host.

Swine Flu

The latest flu strain to hit the headlines (H1N1) - known popularly as "Swine Flu" is a strain of Influenza Type A. While the normal version of "Swine Flu" causes outbreaks of influenza with low mortality rates in pigs, the strain which is currently causing human deaths is not the same virus. The new strain combines genes from human, pig, and bird flu and is similar to the strain that caused "Spanish Flu", responsible for a human pandemic in 1918. "Swine Flu" is an entirely different virus to the "Bird Flu" which was widely talked about last year, and among the most important differences is that "Bird Flu" infected humans who had direct contact with infected birds, where as "Swine Flu" is being transmitted from human to human.

Flu in Horses

Influenza is widespread in horses and is believed to have a nearly 100% infection rate in unvaccinated populations. Flu in horses is primarily caused by the H7N7 and H3N8 strains. In 2007, an outbreak caused the Sydney Races in Australia to be suspended.

Flu in Cats

An avian strain (H5N1) of Influenza Type A, which was given the popular name "Bird Flu", had until recently posed the greatest risk for a new influenza pandemic since it first killed humans in Asia in the 1990s, but it did not mutate into a form that spreads easily between people. H5N1 is unusual in being deadly to many species, including domestic cats which were never previously susceptible to any influenza virus. Aside from when infected with H5N1, the term "Feline Flu" does not actually refer to infection by influenza, but instead generally refers to the symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. Because cats have little exposure to influenza viruses, any case of flu which was able to transmit between humans or dogs and cats would probably lead to a widespread infection, since cats have no natural immunity to any influenza virus.

Flu in Dogs

Type A Influenza viruses also include equine influenza (H3N8), which in 2004 was discovered to be responsible for Canine Influenza. Because of the lack of previous exposure to this virus, dogs have no natural immunity to this virus.

Flu in Pigs

Although this new influenza is being called "Swine Flu," it is being spread from person to person, not from pigs to people. None of the infected humans in North America have had contact with pigs, and no pigs in North America have been found to be infected with this strain. Pet pigs are therefore not known to be able to contract the strain of "Swine Flu" which is being talked about in the news, however they are able to contract normal "Swine Flu", which does not normally have any more serious consequences than seasonal flu does for humans.


In general, influenza viruses are not transmitted from one species to another. For example, dogs and cats do not develop flu after exposure to owners with a seasonal flu virus. While it is theoretically possible for a new influenza strain to be transmissible between humans and other domestic animals, it is likely that such a strain would be transmissible between only humans and one other animal. Because the "Swine Flu" virus contains genetic elements of human, pig and avian flu viruses, it would seem very unlikely that this strain would have the ability to infect hosts which are not humans, pigs or birds. And, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA), "there is no evidence that pets are susceptible to this new strain of influenza; it appears to be transmitted solely from person to person".

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