What is Adopt-a-Pet.com? PLUS Summer Safety Tips for Your Pet

Cats vs. Churchgoers
By Jill Rosen - Baltimore Sun

N.E. Baltimore congregation says feeding feral animals has gotten out of hand

For the past two Sundays, Denise Farmer has been protesting Northside Baptist Church's attempt to stop her from feeding feral cats on church property, as she has done for two years. "It's completely unbelievable how cruel these people are," she says. (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. / July 13, 2009)

The cats know her motor's rumble.

As Denise Farmer pulls her truck down the alley behind Northside Baptist Church in Northeast Baltimore, cats materialize from the scruffy woods, first a black one with a white ruff, then another, and suddenly there are five hovering by a feeding stand, waiting for kibble that Farmer has brought them every weekend for two years.

Church officials, however, wish Farmer and the others who feed the approximately 40 feral cats in the area would stop bringing food because, they say, the animals are out of hand, leaving droppings across the religious organization's expansive, grassy grounds and unnerving parishioners.

Two weeks ago, the church forced Farmer to dismantle a feeding station on its lot. Since then, Farmer, a chemical engineer from Parkville, has picketed the church during Sunday services, parading back and forth with one sign reading "Northside Baptist Denies Food to Animals," and another saying, "Practice What You Preach: Compassion for All God's Creatures."

This Sunday, she's hoping animal advocates from across the city will join her. Cat rescue groups have been spreading the word to hundreds of their followers on Facebook and through e-mail messages.

Since the church ordered the feeding station dismantled, Farmer isn't sure what has become of the cats. There is another feeding area nearby that belongs to another colony but, she says, that colony wouldn't welcome new cats. She fears "her children" are starving.

"It's heartbreaking," says Farmer, who has six cats of her own, tearing up while talking and leaning against her kibble-strewn SUV. "It's completely unbelievable how cruel these people are."

The Rev. Reginald Turner, Northside's pastor, disputes the cruelty tag. He says he tried for two years to work with Farmer's program, which aims to trap the cats, neuter them and then return them to their territory. But now, with cats "running rampant" across church property, he has lost patience.

"I've got members who are not cat fanciers, and we're trying to be as patient as possible," the pastor says. "Yet we're the bad guys in all this."

Animal control officers estimate about 185,000 cats roam Baltimore's streets and back alleys, taking refuge where they find it.

Just two years ago, the city passed a law making "Trap-Neuter-Return," commonly known as "TNR," Baltimore's official policy for dealing with these feral cats. That's what Farmer says she was doing on the church property: trying to keep the feline population from expanding, but caring for and feeding the existing cats.

"There's no other way to address feral cats," says Lizzie Ellis, the founder and president of Feline Rescue Association in Baltimore, a group that spayed and neutered 600 cats last year and found homes for 450 of them.

Darlene Harris, a Glen Burnie software consultant who belongs to Baltimore City Animal Response Team and also volunteers for TNR projects, has been trying to spread the word about the situation at the church.

"These poor cats," she says. "This is a church and we want to respect that, but we also want them to have some respect for animals."

Turner insists the church has tried to cooperate - even offering, to no avail, Farmer and her helpers an area farther away from the main building and the parking lot to place the feeding station. Farmer says she doesn't know of the alternative location.

He and McKinley Watson, a church deacon and trustee who also handles the grounds, say they thought that with TNR, the cats would eventually die off.

Now, they fear as long as people in the neighborhood keep dumping cats, new cats will join the colony.

"We were told we would be feeding them for our lifetime - I'm like, 'That's a scary thought,' " Watson says.

"They're only here to feed the cats and protest. They don't care about this place," he says. "What happened to love your neighbor as yourself?"

Not everyone in the neighborhood dislikes the cats, though.

Greg Eames, who allows the second cat feeding station on his property, calls the cats "a blessing."

"We don't have a mice problem anymore - in the entire neighborhood," he says.

Mailbag: Good for Birds and Cats

Every spay a cat fixer does reduces the future population of cats by thousands. Limiting the cat population is the best answer for both birds and cats.

Linn County has no shelter to deal with unwanted or stray cats. Linn County Animal Control refuses to take calls about cats.

Trap-neuter-released cats are not released “into the wild.” TNR’ed cats are brought in for fixing, then returned to people who feed them. Cat feeders usually feed a mix of tame strays, and semi-feral and feral cats.

Many people let their house cats and dogs roam outside, making them vulnerable to accidents, illness and predators. Should all of these be killed, or left to starve?

I volunteered for years at a wild bird rehab facility. Our house has 31 birdhouses. I have no cats. And I assure you: TNR is not the enemy of the wild bird.

Bird lovers should advocate for spay and neuter laws, such as many cities in California are passing, where all cats and dogs 4 months are older must be fixed — or the owner pays a fine. Bird people should advocate for laws that forbid shelters from adopting out unfixed cats and dogs.

Rita Castillo, Springfield

Do Tortoises Require Distilled Water?
by James Glover - PetPeoplesPlace.com

Q: What water conditioners are best suited for our Red Footed Tortoise? Is distilled water necessary? (DEANNA MASEY - Missouri)

A: Both red-footed and yellow-footed tortoises have a diet unusually rich in protein and as such they must always have access to fresh drinking and soaking water, and must be provided with high humidity in their enclosure. It is no coincidence that all tortoises who have these dietary requirements occur in very humid ecosystems. Dehydration is always a very serious danger to tortoises with a high protein diet, and if untreated tap water is all that is available it is certainly better than none at all. However, distilled water is preferred and I would also advise you to use a conditioner such as ZooMed ReptiSafe or JurassiSafe to remove excess chlorine and ammonia. If this is not possible, water should be left to stand for 48 hours before use for excess chlorine to dissipate.

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What is Adopt-a-Pet.com

Adopt-a-Pet.com is the world's largest non-profit pet adoption website. We are like an ad agency for shelters and shelter pets. Sadly there are 4 million healthy adoptable companion animals killed in shelters each year due to overcrowding. We do our best to relieve that problem and put pets from shelters in the homes of pet seekers all over the country.

Our website makes it easy for anyone with an internet connection to find profiles and pictures of adoptable animals by location, breed, gender, age, size, and color. Over 8,000 shelters posts pets on our website displaying over 125,000 pets available for adoption at any given time. We also help volunteers connect with shelters, and currently host over thousands of people listed in our volunteer database for shelters. What Makes Adopt-a-Pet.com Unique:

- On our website, people can use something we call “Search Saver.” This feature will notify users by e-mail when a particular pet of their specifications in available for adoption. For example, I can tell “Search Saver” where I live, and what type of breed I am looking for. When that animal is available, I am notified the next time a pet matching my search is added on Adopt-a-Pet.com.

- As of this summer we have now made it easy for our visitors to find pets and then recommend them to friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and other social applications. We are calling the idea “Social Petworking.” Here is how it works; once you have searched and found a pet in need, on the pet details page simply hover over the button labeled “SHARE,” there you can send the pet details page to any of your friends. For more information visit this page.

- In addition to dogs and cats, we now feature all kinds of pets for adoption, including rabbits, farm animals, ferrets, hamsters and other small animals, horses, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and even fish. This was a major initiative that took many months to research and program into the site, and it is being well-received within the shelter community.

- By teaming up with the renowned street-artist Shepard Fairey, who designed the iconic Obama "Hope" image, we have available a number of stylish ways to promote pet adoption. Shepard was able to translate his work with Obama to an image that can be used to represent pet adoption support. Merchandise can be found at www.muttslikeme.com

- We have begun blogging and created a Twitter Page along with a Facebook Page. Our blog is located at "http://blog.adoptapet.com/", there you can join our Facebook Group, or follow us on Twitter.

Blog Highlights:
Adopt-a-Pet.com has recently begun blogging, and every week we publish posts from two separate columns. On Tuesday we blog about pet care tips, and on Fridays we do our best to find heartwarming stories about adopted pets all over the country. Here are a few highlights from our blog:

10 Ways To Help Homeless Pet, Even If You Can’t Adopt
What To Ask Your Veterinarian
Good News In Pet Adoption – A Weekly Post
10 Things To Consider Before Adopting

Common Questions About Pet Adoption

Q: Although there are literally millions of pets in shelters, pounds and other ‘temporary housing’, many pet-owners-to-be don’t think about pet adoption when they’re looking for their new four-legged friend. Why do you think this is, and what can be done to turn that around?

A: Many people who want to get a pet just are not aware of how many pets are available at shelters. They might also have the misconception that pets are shelters might be there because there was a problem with the animal. In fact, most pets end up in shelters not because of any problem pet behavior, but because an owner died, moved, or simply didn't have the time or money to care for the animal. In some cases animals are lost and never found by their owners. These animals are healthy and very eager to please. Rescues pets are wonderful- just ask anyone who has one.

Some people are seeking purebred animals or puppies and think these are not available in shelters. In fact, nearly a quarter of all animals in shelters are purebred. Often someone buys an expensive purebred animal and then attempts to breed that animal to recoup their money. Often these puppies or kittens are not placed in homes, and end up in the shelter. Puppies and kittens often up in shelters as well, but it is important to note that your animals, especially puppies, require a lot of work and training and can be quite destructive (peeing on the carpet or chewing shoes). Puppies are great but often people are much happier getting a dog who is older, and whose size and temperament is a known quantity.

With Adopt-a-Pet.com and without even leaving their home, people can search all their local pets and see pictures and descriptions of the animals. This way, they can find the exact pet they want, call the animal shelter or rescue group, and get information on how to adopt that specific animal.

Q: What are the 5 most important things a potential adopter should consider when choosing their new pet?

A: We actually have a blog post on this highlighting the top 10 things we believe are important when adopting. Here are five, the rest can be located by visiting this page.

1. You need to make a real commitment to care for your pet for its entire life.

2. Verify in advance that you’re allowed to keep a pet where you live.

3. Never adopt a pet on a whim or because you feel it’s love-at-first-sight

4. Provide sufficient exercise and stimulation during the first few weeks, this will help the pet adjust.

5. Make any necessary modifications to your yard and fence to provide for your pet’s safety.

Q: What are 5 positive aspects of pet adoption, and why it’s a good option?

1. When you adopt an adult animal, you can see his/her size and temperament. This helps ensure that the pet is right for you and your family.

2. It feels great to know you have saved an animals' life and everyone you meet will give you kudos for that for years to come.

3. Adopted pets are very loyal and know they have been given a new home.

4. Adopting a pet can be an important lesson to teach your children-- both about the value of life, and also about civic responsibility and even recycling- in this case recycling a living and loving animal into a new home.

5. Choosing a mixed breed animal can help avoid many of the genetic health problems that have developed in purebred animal due overbreeding and inbreeding.

Q: If someone reading this isn’t in a position to adopt a pet right at this time, but still wants to help homeless pets, what are 5 things they can do to get involved?

1. People can do Social PETworking! They can run a search on Adopt-a-Pet.com, find a pet they want to help get exposure for, and use the share tools on our site to post the pet link on their Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or other social network page. Or, they can email the link of a pet in need form our site to their friends.

2. They can place a link/grpahic or even a search widget for Adopt-a-Pet.com on their personal website to encourage their users to see pets in need at local shelters.

3. People can add their info to our volunteer database (link) so shelters who need volunteers can find them.

4. People can search Adopt-a-Pet.com to find a local shelter, and make a cash donation to that shelter to help them with the costs of housing, feeding and medical care of shelter animals.

5. People can encourage other pet owners to spay or neuter their pet to help prevent unwanted births.

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Pets Comfort and Teach Children Responsibility
by Whitney Gates - Seattle PI

When I was growing up, we had a black Labrador retriever named Lucky. She was my first pet. She would sit beside my high-chair and wait for my sticky hands to get within licking range or for me to drop something on the floor for her. Having her around at such a young age made me love animals, and dogs especially, because I had such fond memories of Lucky.

When I turned 7, after a lot of begging, my parents got me a Chocolate Labrador puppy that we named Brandy. Since my siblings were much older than me, Brandy and Lucky were like siblings to me. When I wasn't with friends, I was dressing up the dogs in costumes, taking them on walks and playing pretend.

It's important for children to have responsibilities that relate to activities they enjoy and pets are a great way for kids to start taking responsibility. It gives them a positive environment for teaching them to respect their belongings and to take charge. Bathing the dog, taking the dog for walks, cleaning up after the dog, and feeding the dog are all character-building responsibilities that can make kids feel good about themselves. These things also give them a sense of pride in what they're doing to help. I didn't always enjoy all of the responsibilities that came along with owning pets, but it made me appreciate my animals more.

Pets are also a great comfort for children whose parents may travel a lot or have busy schedules. My parents went on a lot of business trips, so I had a lot of time at home with babysitters and I remember how much having my dog, Brandy, there helped. She was very attached to my mom, so I felt like we were always in it together for the time that we had a babysitter. Other times, when I would spend the night at my babysitter's house, my babysitter would put her Poodle in a crate and leave it in my room at night, because it was comforting to have the dog there.

Even if you can't own a pet, there are lots of other ways for kids to benefit from animals. I went to horse camps every summer, some were day camps and others were a week long. We had to clean out the stalls, the horse's coat, tail, hooves and feed them. When I was in High School, I started volunteering at the Humane Society; that was a rewarding experience because I got to play with the dogs and they were always so excited to see people.

Delta Society further explains the benefits of owning a pet on their website.

Here are some more facts.
Research studies have indicated that:
•Owning a pet enhances a child's self-esteem.
•Having pets teaches children responsibility and respect towards other living beings.
•Children owning a pet are more involved in activities such as sports, hobbies, clubs or chores.
•Having an animal during therapy sessions or other animal-assisted activities/treatment shows significant improvements in the treatment procedures of a child suffering from an ailment.

Having a pet can be a wonderful addition to the family, providing you with great memories, and lots of stories to tell. Its fun being able to look back now at pictures and see a big brown or black dog sitting next to me. It'd be great if every kid could grow up with a similar experience of having two best-friends.

Dog Dies After Left in Car at American Idol
Audition on 90 Degree Day!
by Liz L - Gather.com


Thursday in Denver a man left his dog to die in his car while he waited in line with his girlfriend who was auditioning for American Idol in Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.

Quincy Vanderbilt left the small terrier dog alone for nine hours in the car on a 91 degree day. He was just asking to give his pet a death sentence! According to Sgt. Aaron McSpadden of Denver Animal Control, “In the summertime cars act almost like an oven. Best advice: don't bring your dogs with you in temperatures like this. It's just a death box.”

Vanderbuilt has been charged with a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge.

I’m heated. It amazes me that people continue to do stupid things like this to their pets. It is common knowledge that you cannot leave your pet in a car with no air conditioning. How many news stories have you heard that ended in this type of tragedy?

Too many people who neglect, abuse, and kill animals get a slap on the wrist. I say this guy should not be allowed to own another animal until he takes some sort of training course, proving he can care for an animal.

How do you feel about this?

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Summer Safety for Your Pet
Posted by Julie Cardinali - Syracuse.com

Rising summertime temperatures and blue skies are as freeing for Scooter and Spot as they are for you and me. However, while summer beckons pets and people alike to get out there and play, this freewheeling season also poses its own risks for four-footed adventurers. Fortunately, forewarned is always forearmed. So here are some of our safety tips for the pet who is ready to take on the world this summer, but has that twinge of thunderphobia and certain attraction for fleas and ticks.


Summer invites free-roaming playtime for Fido, which unfortunately exacerbates the likelihood that your pet could stray too far from home while chasing that runaway kite. Microchipping acts as a high-tech form of insurance that your four-legged family can be safely reunited should you become separated. Not all microchip scanners read all microchips, however. So before having the chip implanted, be sure to check with your local animal shelters to ensure that the type of microchip your vet is implanting is compatible with their scanners.

Poolside Protection

Don't assume that your dog will take like a duck to water. Not all pooches are natural swimmers, so keep close watch over Squirt as he'd lounging pool- or lakeside. Pool water is also a far from nourishing way to relieve your pet's thirst, as it contains chlorine and other chemicals that can cause stomach upset. And when you bring Fido along for the ride on your motorboat, be sure to outfit him with his very own fitted flotation device.

Heat Protection

Summer heat is as redundant as ants at a picnic. But the danger of heat without sufficient relief to your pet is a real one. A dog, for instance, can withstand an elevated body temperature for only a brief time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage, or even death.

Possibly nowhere are dogs so endangered by the heat as when trapped inside a car. A study by Stanford University found that even on a mild 72-degree (Fahrenheit) day, the internal temperature of a car can skyrocket to a suffocating 116 degrees within an hour, even with windows cracked for ventilation. On an 85-degree day, a mere 10 minutes is necessary for the temperature inside a car to soar to 102 degrees, and 30 minutes for the thermometer to hit 120 degrees. The website MyDogIsCool.com allows you to type in your zip code to find out if it's too hot in your area to take Rover on the road with you.

Even when Chewy is comfortably placed outside the car, the heat can still catch up with the most energetic of pooches. So give your pet extra water when temps are topping 80 degrees and make sure Fido has a place of respite in the shade at all times when out and about.

And when you're pounding the sun-baked pavement in your sandals, don't neglect FiFi's tender, heat-sensitive paws, which can burn easily on hot asphalt and concrete. You may consider buying protective canine shoes if you can't confine your pooch's playful footsteps to the cooler grass.

Pets are also susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, so keep Fido's workout to the cooler early morning and evening hours on days that get your sweat on before you even get going. Signs of heat stress include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heart rate, unsteadiness, vomiting, and a deep red or purple tongue.

And remember that pets can sunburn too. Sun-sensitive doggie noses and ear tips warrant pet-friendly sunscreen protection. Felines fond of windowsill perches can also benefit from sunscreen on their ear tips.


Fear of thunder and summer sounds like 4th of July fireworks similar to thunder-otherwise known as thunderphobia-can take even the bravest of pets by surprise and make them want to hide under the covers or picnic table, as the case may be. To combat stress occasioned by the sounds of patriotic fervor and nature alike, consider the following tips from Dr. Debra Horwitz, veterinarian and canine-behavior expert:

1. Divert your doggie's attention with sweets: Keep Fido's attention off the thunder or the fireworks by presenting something even more engaging: food! If your pooch is more easily engaged by play activities, give his favorite game a gander.

2. Reassure without rewarding negative behavior: Be careful not to reinforce the thunderphobia at hand through well-intentioned sympathetic behavior, such as petting. This can make your dog feel like there really is something to fear. Instead, use a happy, energetic tone of voice and engage in playful movements that pair these frightening noises with positive, engaging behavior.

3. Desensitize: Anything, even the boom of fireworks and thunder, becomes less frightening with familiarity. So familiarize your dog-and gradually desensitize him or her to its shock value-with audio recordings of the summertime "kabooms." Start by playing the recordings fairly softly, and then gradually increase their volume as your pooch reacts less and less to the noise.

Homeopathic remedies are also widely available, increasingly popular, and have shown promising results among some of the shyest of dogs when thunder strikes. Many guardians of thunderphobic pooches swear by Rescue Remedy, one of the Bach Flower remedies known for treating stress and anxiety in dogs. And calming collars containing aromatic herbs such as lavender and mint can assuage the fears of some of the most high-strung of canines. Anxiety wraps, such as the Thundershirt (Thundershirt.com), mimic the swaddling sensation for your furry friend-the sensation of light pressure on Sassy's skin has a calming effect. Before beginning a homeopathic or prescribed regimen, however, it's always best to consult your veterinarian.

Flea and Tick Bites

Pets and pests intermix in the summer all too frequently for Muffy's liking, especially if she's one of the millions of four-footed citizens with flea or tick allergies. Products designed to keep your pet flea- and tick-free run the gamut from sprays to collars to shampoos to ingestible tablets. Herbal remedies also pose an earth-friendly, nonchemical solution to one of nature's biggest summertime annoyances. Herbal flea collars featuring various scents designed to repel fleas are widely available. Keeping your pet closely and regularly groomed also helps to eliminate the possibility that fleas and ticks have a safe place to hide.

If you notice red welts on your pet's skin post flea or tick encounter, immediately clean the lesions with an antiseptic cleanser such as witch hazel before applying triple antibiotic ointment. You may also want to make a visit to the vet to ensure that your four-legged friend doesn't already have a secondary infection.

And because ticks flourish in shady, humid areas, you can also reduce your pet's risk of confrontation with these pests at home by keeping your yard a place of minimal shade with short grass and little brush. Frequent vacuuming inside your home also serves the same purpose indoors.

High-Rise Syndrome

Doggie summer revelers may encounter the threat of ticks and fleas at picnics, but felines face their own unique summertime danger at home. With climbing temperatures naturally come open windows, often unscreened to facilitate fresh breezes the more easily. Open windows can also be an invitation to your cat, however, to leap before looking, a phenomenon so widespread that it has been dubbed by veterinarians as High-Rise Syndrome.

Contributing to the prevalence of this syndrome is the fact that window surfaces are often difficult for cats to cling to and cats can easily become distracted while gazing outside, lose their balance, and fall. In contrast to the common supposition that cats always land on their feet, felines can easily lose their balance and experience pelvis and head injuries from falls. They can also become injured just as easily from short as from long falls, as shorter distances give cats less time to adjust their body position.

To protect your cat from life-threatening falls this summer, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends taking the following precautions:

• Install tightly fitting and sturdy screens in all of your windows.

• Make sure that adjustable screens are wedged snuggly into window frames.

• Don't rely on childproof window guards to keep Fluffy from jumping or slipping.

Snake Bites and Bee and Wasp Stings

Pets enjoy snake bites and bee and wasp stings about as much as you and I do. And if your pet happens to be allergic to those buzzing insects' bite or is bitten by a venomous snake, this common summertime hazard could prove life threatening. You can safely assume that a stinging insect or snake got the best of your pet if you notice immediate swelling on your pet's body and Sassy just won't stop itching. Following is a basic course of action in case your four-legged friend meets with an unsought natural foe while out and about.

Bee and wasp stings

1. Try to identify the bee or wasp's stinger, and then scrape it away using a blunt object. Do not try to pull out the stinger with tweezers or your fingers; doing so could release additional venom into your pet's body.

2. Although it's not safe for all pets, Benadryl (1 mg per pound of your pet's body weight) can help combat swelling and itching associated with allergic reactions. Ideally, you should check with your vet to see if your pet could safely benefit from Benadryl before you and your pet find yourself in this situation. An ice pack should also be applied to assist in reduction of swelling.

3. Closely monitor your pet, especially the area on your pet's body where she was stung, for the next several hours. If you see an extension of swelling beyond the sting site or notice that FiFi is having trouble breathing or seems more than ordinarily fatigued, bring her into the vet immediately.

Snake bites

1. Keep your pet as still and as calm as possible. The slower your pet's breathing and heart rate, the more slowly he will absorb the snake's venom.

2. If the bite was on the neck, remove your pet's collar. If the bite took place on a limb, keep the limb below heart level.

3. Call your vet or animal emergency clinic and tell them that you need antivenom for a snake bite. (Note: Not all veterinarians keep this in stock.) Ask if you should administer Benadryl to your pet in the meantime (normally, 1 mg per pound of your pet's body weight).

4. While you are still on the phone, do your best to identify the type of snake without getting close to it.

5. Transport your pet to the vet or emergency clinic immediately.

6. Under no circumstances should you try to cut the wound, suck out the poison, or apply ice or a tourniquet to the bite wound.

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