Panties for Dogs? (Photos)

Dogasaur - Top 5 Grooming Tips for Dog Owners
by Dogasaur -

1) Regular nail trimming is essential for your dog’s walking comfort. Because cutting into the quick of the nail, the part with blood vessels, can hurt a dog, you should only trim your dog’s nails after learning safe technique with the proper tools.

2) Ear grooming helps keep your dog’s auditory organs free of infections. For short haired dogs, a regular bath may adequately clean their ears. Long haired dogs, though, are more liable to develop problems with wax build-up and in-growing hairs. Because a dog’s ears are so sensitive, and you could damage them with the wrong treatments, only undertake to clean your dog’s ears after an expert has taught you the safe technique for your breed of dog.

3) Haircuts. If you own a breed with fast-growing hair, it’s best to leave trimming and styling to professionals. If you’re very motivated to learn how to give your dog a proper haircut, however, you can acquire the proper tools and over time, the knowledge of how to cut your dog’s hair.

4) Bathing. Most dogs hate baths. Be sure to lavishly praise and fuss over your dog for every second it tolerates getting bathed. Only use vet-recommended doggy shampoos.

5) Brushing. Of all grooming activities, brushing is the one dogs tend to enjoy. Brushing your dog often not only strengthens the bond between you and your animal companion, it also helps to make your dog more receptive to other necessary aspects of grooming.

Two-Legged Dog Gets Help
from Celebrity Friends
By Sue Manning -

Like any good Hollywood transplant, Scooby-Roo went from a troubled past to rehab

The two-legged dog has celebrity friends such as Demi Moore and Alyssa Milano. He has a therapist and a personal trainer and can look forward to a masseuse and acupuncturist.

But it didn't start out that way. The 11-month-old mutt was born without front legs and dumped in South Central Los Angeles. He and his sister Sophie were found living in a wrecked, abandoned car near a freeway onramp. He was covered in blood from scooting around on the asphalt.

A pair of good Samaritans caught the dogs and took them to Sheila Choi, who runs Fuzzy Dog and Cat Rescue, Inc., in Santa Monica. While some shelters might have euthanized the dogs, Choi sent out a mass e-mail looking for donations and other support.

Demi Moore tweeted about Roo. Shannon Elizabeth sent money and tweeted for more dollars.

Alyssa Milano saw a YouTube video of the dog and fell in love, she said through her publicist. She called Choi, promised to help any way she could and became the dog's godmother. Their first get-together included a photo shoot.

Choi has also talked to the Jackson family publicist to try to work out a meeting among Roo, Paris and Prince.

The dog, named for his Scooby-Doo! coloring and kangaroo hop, got a therapist for his emotional scars and a personal trainer to help with the wheels. As he progresses, Choi said they are looking at hydrotherapy and massages. Milano thinks he should see an acupuncturist too.

With the celebrity help, Choi collected $2,000 for a set of custom wheels for Roo.

Top 10 Dog Medical Conditions of 2009
by Jennifer White -

Even the healthiest person can end up in a doctor’s office with an unexpected bout of stomach trouble or an ear infection. While these conditions are rarely life threatening, they can become chronic and expensive to treat. The same is true for pets.
Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), is the USA’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, receives more than a million claims annually for treatment of cats and dogs. This data reveals that just like people, many dogs in 2009 received treatment for non-emergency as well as ongoing disorders:

Top Dog Conditions
1. Ear Infection
2. Skin Allergy
3. Skin Infection/Hot Spots
4. Gastritis/Vomiting
5. Enteritis/Diarrhea
6. Bladder Infection
7. Arthritis
8. Soft Tissue Trauma
9. Non-cancerous Tumor
10. Eye Infection

“What we hear from many pet owners,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI, “is that nothing happens to their pet because the pet is with them daily and receives the right food and plenty of exercise, etc. Those things certainly go a long way in making for a healthy, happy animal. Despite a pet owner’s best efforts, however, VPI’s data shows that pets are still at risk for ailments that may require repeated trips to a veterinarian’s office.”

VPI received nearly 68,000 canine claims for ear infections in 2009 – with an average claim fee of $100 per office visit. The most expensive canine condition on the list (non-cancerous tumor) cost an average of $335 per visit.

A few of the top 10 dog and cat conditions can be associated with an animal’s natural aging process. However, many of the top 10 conditions can occur in any pet. No matter the age or breed, whether it be an indoor or an outdoor dog or cat, pet owners should familiarize themselves with their pets’ daily routine in order to identify abnormal behaviors that might indicate an injury or illness. In addition, regular semiannual physical exams can help prevent and identify certain conditions before they become serious or costly.

Hot Mess Amy Winehouse
Gets Rid Of Her 11 Cats
By Robert Paul Reyes -

"British singer Amy Winehouse has given away her 11 cats because they were getting out of control.

`Amy was pretty upset about it because she loved them dearly, but she had to give them up. They were climbing all over the place, breeding and generally getting out of control,` said a source."

*** Don't all cats climb, breed and get out of control? ***

How to Create an Evacuation Plan
That Includes Your Cats

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I recently had to evacuate my apartment temporarily, with my two cats, as a result of a fire in the building next door. It occurred to me later that even though I got the cats out OK and I have an idea of how you’re supposed to prepare for evacuating with cats, I don’t know everything. I think it would be a great service to your readers (and to me, if I have to evacuate with my cats again) to write about what cat caretakers need to do in order to be prepared for disasters.


Siouxsie: You make a very good point, Adrianna. This is really important information, and very few cat caretakers prepare for evacuating with their cats, even if they do think about it.

Thomas: You’ll need to do some crucial planning and preparation long before a disaster occurs, because once that disaster is happening you’re not going to have the time or the ability to get this stuff together.

Dahlia: First, make sure your cats have collars with tags that include your current contact information. Mama put our names on the front of our tags and her cell phone number on the back. Better yet, make sure your cats are microchipped; cats can easily lose their collars because cat collars are designed to break apart if they get hung up in branches or other dangers.
Siouxsie: Modern microchip scanners can detect most types of chips, and most animal shelters in the US have microchip scanners. If you do have your cats microchipped, you must be sure to register your cats with the company’s registry (a lot of people don’t) and that you keep your registry entry updated with your most current contact information.

Thomas: Plan ahead for a safe haven for your cat. Many Red Cross shelters don’t accept pets. Talk to family members and friends outside your immediate area to see if you can bring your cats with you in the event that you need to escape from a disaster. Check for hotels and motels outside your immediate area that allow pets or ask your vet for references to preferred pet boarding facilities.

Dahlia: Get a free pet rescue sticker from the ASPCA to put on your front and back doors. Local pet stores may also sell these stickers. If you’re evacuating and it’s safe to do so, please write EVACUATED on your pet rescue sticker with a permanent marker.

Siouxsie: Make sure you have one carrier for each cat. This carrier should have enough room for your cat to stand or lie down at full length, and some rescue groups say your carrier should be big enough to keep a litter pan inside. We think it’s more important that the carriers are easy to manage, especially if you have more than one cat. Each carrier should have your cat’s name and your contact information written on it in permanent marker.

Thomas: Put together a “GOD (Get Out of Dodge) bag” for your cats as well as for yourself. Your GOD bag should be easily accessible, as close to the exit as possible, easy to carry, and water-resistant or waterproof. This evacuation kit should include:

--A list of emergency contact phone numbers and addresses of pet-friendly hotels and motels

--Photocopies of your cats’ veterinary records — or, at the very least, proof of vaccinations (if you need to board your cat, proof of vaccination will be required)

--Description of your cats’ feeding and medication requirements
Recent photos and descriptions (including any special markings or identifying details) of your cats, preferably with you or your family, in case you become separated

--Disposable litter pans, either with litter or without (if you get the kind without litter, be sure to include a small bag of your preferred brand of litter in your evacuation kit)

--Collapsible food and water dishes for each cat

--A seven-day supply of food for each cat (canned food should be in pull-top cans)*

--A seven-day supply of bottled water for you and for each cat*

--A two-week supply, in a waterproof container, of any medications your cat needs to take*

--A pet first aid kit (these are available at pet stores or through the ASPCA) and first aid manual

--Extra bedding

--Paper towels

--Hand sanitizer

--Liquid dish soap

--A blanket and a couple of toys for each cat

--Garbage bags (for clean-up)

* Food, water, and medications should be replaced every two months.

Dahlia: We know this seems like a lot of preparation to make, but trust us — if you ever need it, you’ll be glad you did!

Siouxsie: The New York State Emergency Management Office offers a printable PDF flyer with an excellent guide to pet safety in a variety of emergency situations. It’s free, and we highly recommend that all cat lovers download and print this document as a reference.

Thomas: We hope you never need to use your evacuation plan, but especially if you live in a disaster-prone area, it’s critical that you be prepared to get your pets safe as well as yourself and your human family. If a situation is not safe for you, it’s not safe for your cats, so please don’t leave them behind!

Dahlia: Thank you for bringing this up, Adrianna. You’re awesome!

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Hey, What Happened to My Dog?
Did a Cat Eat It?
by Barbara Hijek -

Did you see that cat? We mean a really big cat

Several bobcat sightings in areas around New Smyrna Beach are making people a bit nervous.

Bobcats were seen prowling on empty property off A1A, and all they'd have to do is cross the street to get into neighboring high-rises, reports

Officials warn that bobcats are known to go after pets -- especially cats and small dogs.

Just so you know, bobcats can grow to about 3 feet and can weigh up to 30 pounds. Though the cats do have very sharp claws and teeth, they're also protected animals, and the state won't remove them unless they're a nuisance or have rabies.

We've had worse neighbors.

Ringo the Cat Back with Maryland Family
After Months on Pittsburgh Streets

Ringo the cat is finally going home

Ringo was reunited Friday with his family, eight months after he wandered from his suburban Baltimore home, hitched a ride to Highland Park in the back of a moving truck and survived on the streets.

"I started crying when I found out he was found. Lately, I'd been thinking I'd never see him again. It's so cold outside, and there's so much snow," said Megan Brantley, 18, of Reisterstown, Md. "I'm ecstatic."

Only Ringo knows exactly where he was since May. The Brantleys and others prayed for his safety. Megan checked lost pet Web sites nearly every day.

"I was starting to get more and more discouraged. People on craigslist told me to 'give up. Your cat's dead.' But other people would e-mail to ask if he had been found," Brantley said. "But I never once thought he was dead. Nothing in my gut said, 'Your cat is dead.' "

And he wasn't dead -- just cold, hungry and meowing when Paul DePasquale found him under a car Sunday on Portland Street in Highland Park. DePasquale coaxed the black-and-white tuxedo cat out from underneath and took him inside.

"It was really shivering, so I got some cat food, and he started eating it so fast. I didn't want to see it suffer, so I picked him up and carried him inside," said DePasquale, 46, who works for the Allegheny County Airport Authority. He said his co-workers in the tile shop all hate cats, but he has three cats of his own.

It was warm and sunny in late May when the Brantleys' neighbor, Lela Arnold, 50, finished packing her moving truck and headed to Pittsburgh. She had watched the Brantleys' animals when they vacationed, so she was familiar with their pets.

Three days later when Arnold opened the truck to unpack at her new Highland Park home, a cat darted from the truck.

"I was so upset. I went looking for him right then, but I couldn't find him," said Arnold, who phoned her former neighbors to deliver the bad news.

A June story in the Tribune-Review chronicled Ringo's plight.

"When I would go to sleep, I would always say a prayer that if I didn't find Ringo that someone would take him in," Arnold said. "I was feeling so guilty. I felt like I should have known he was in the truck. Whenever it was cold or raining or snowing, I would think, 'Oh Ringo, where are you?' "

Arnold continued to search, posting online descriptions and answering ads about found cats. None was Ringo.

Brantley and her dad traveled to Pittsburgh in June to pass out fliers and search.

"We had to give up," said Larry Brantley, 44.

DePasquale posted a description of the cat he found on the Highland Park neighborhood e-mail service, and Arnold, who lives a few streets away, saw it. She went to see if the cat was Ringo and was fairly certain it was, so DePasquale e-mailed digital pictures and a short video of the cat to the Brantleys. They recognized Ringo's meow.

Ringo's white boots were gray, and he had a bite wound with an abscess on one leg, but otherwise he was healthy, Arnold said. DePasquale and Arnold took the cat to a veterinarian for treatment, and the Brantleys picked him up there.

"It's unbelievable," Larry Brantley said. "The irony of the story is that just recently, with all this snow, my wife said she hoped someone took Ringo in. But the fact that we had a blizzard made it possible for that guy to find him."

Tips For Feeding Your Pet Snake
By Irene Waftler -

Does your idea of feeding your pet snake consist of tossing some food in the tank every couple of days, closing the lid and walking away? Continue reading and you'll find that there is a lot more involved, and you may just pick up some useful tips to make your snake a lot happier.

It is best to start using the right techniques as early as you can with your snake, hopefully when they are still a baby. Although it may be tougher to instill the correct habits as the snake gets older it is not impossible. These methods will help keep you and your snake healthy and happy while avoiding any unnecessary accidents.

The first tip is to always use a separate container in which to feed your snake instead of its primary habitat. This will condition your snake to know that it doesn't get fed while in the main tank. Why do we do this? This method will help prevent accidental biting when you put your hand in the tank to pickup your pet snake. After years of dropping in its food, there is a chance that your snake may one day mistake your fingers for a frozen mouse when you reach in to pick him up and give you a nasty bite. If you train them to know they only feed after they have been removed from the cage and placed in the feeding enclosure, you limit this risk.

You can use a variety of things to use for the feeding area; it doesn't need to be a separate tank. You can use a cardboard box, a plastic storage, container, or any number of similar items. As long as it is large enough and tall enough walls, it should suffice for your needs.

The second tip is to always use a pair of snake feeding tongs. These are usually a long set of metal tongs and you can get them at most pet stores. These keep your fingers out of reach of your snake's mouth. You simply grab the frozen rodent by its hind quarters and lower it in front of your snake. You never want to offer your snake the back side of frozen mice first. The legs can splay out and cause difficulty in swallowing and even injury. When your snake eats the feeder head first, the legs fold back naturally, and this is the way they eat in the wild.

Those two tips should get you well on your way to creating good feeding habits for your pet snake. Creating these habits early will save you time and trouble in the long run.

If you would like some more tips on feeding your snake frozen mice or finding suppliers of snake food, head on over to

Article Source:

View Photos of Singles -
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Pet Talk: Pants for Dogs,
Safe Paw Products Go with the Flow
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

For female poodles, the Pants for Dogs line has "thongs," inspired by the need of poodle owners to obtain panties that don't crush those hip poms called rosettes.

Dog lovers are a resolute lot when it comes to solving their pets' problems.

This is the tale of two of them: two dog lovers who got inventive — in very different ways — because of dog issues they were contending with; then they got entrepreneurial, and then the marketplace wound up with new products.

The results of their problem-solving imaginations have been on full display in recent days at two pretty darned high-profile events on either side of North America: one at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York this week, and the other at the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Pants for Dogs are "panties with panache" developed by Neena Pellegrini of Seattle. They come in many sizes for all breeds. The pants for English bulldogs and French bulldogs have no tail hole, because a tail hole is irrelevent for that breed.

Pants for Dogs: For protective purposes

First product up: cute, comfy and — of utmost importance — absorbent doggie undies and thongs.

Sounds crazy to anyone who hasn't had a dog with a bit of an incontinence/dribbling problem, or a female dog that hasn't been fixed. But those of us who have owned and loved such a dog have spent more than a few minutes wishing Depends came in canine configurations.

Neena Pellegrini to the rescue.

She's the founder of Pants for Dogs (, a little Seattle-based cottage industry filling hundreds of orders for tiny- to massive-sized panties for female dogs, and, for male dogs, items she calls cummerbunds (although the waist isn't, in a precise sense, the true target, of course). Each garment in its own way protects rugs, floors and whatever else needs protecting from the drips and streams we'd rather not contemplate (and certainly not discuss).

The business started four years ago when Pellegrini's little male dog kept marking her little female dogs. A training issue, most would say. But improvement doesn't happen overnight. How do you protect the girls?

She found some canine "belly bands" marketed for more or less that purpose, but the fit wasn't great, the elastic chafed, and the durability was less than ideal. So Pellegrini re-thought the concept, came up with some design specifications and found a seamstress willing to stitch some up.

Folks started asking about them, and Pellegrini, a journalist by trade, decided to perfect the cummerbund design even further, get a few dozen made "more as an amusement, really, just to see what might happen," and came up with a design for girl dogs. Pretty soon she was plying her attractively patterned creations — into which a sanitary napkin is slipped — online.

Many of her customers are owners of female purebreds that need a little something when they come into season. So in recent days, during Westminster, Pellegrini has set up a booth in the dog-friendly hotel across from Madison Square Garden, joining a handful of other dog-products vendors.

Pellegrini recently applied for a patent and began selling "thongs," little wisps of protection for female dogs inspired by the need of poodle owners to obtain panties that don't crush those hip poms called "rosettes."

You might imagine only owners of froufrou dogs have interest in these things. You would be wrong. There's big demand for her products — offered in a colorful array of patterns, including dragonfly, flags and bones — in sizes intended for Great Danes and bull mastiffs.

Show dog owners are only half her clientele. The rest are owners of "pets with medical or age problems who are desperate" to find something with the right fit and functionality, she says. "They've seen those pet diapers in pet stores, maybe tried them, and they're just not right."

The cummerbunds go for $20 to $25, depending on whether you're attiring a terrier or a Saint Bernard; the female ones go for $25 to $35 (and you can get panties with ruffles for a little more if you think your dog would enjoy something more obviously girlie).

Some owners buy them in several colors.

Pellegrini regularly tweaks something here and there to fine-tune her offerings. She devised panties minus tail hole, for example, for English bulldogs and French bulldogs, breeds that, well, have no need for such an opening.

"My basement is filled with pants for dogs," she says with a laugh. Something she never anticipated when she set about solving a personal pet problem.

Cathy M. Rosenthal:
Collar Shows Pet Who's Top Dog
Cathy Rosenthal -

Dear Cathy,
We have a 5-year-old, 130-pound German shepherd named Buddy. Buddy is one of the sweetest dogs and has been our family pet since he was 6 weeks old. I take him for walks every day. He is not neutered and has not been formally trained. He acts on command by my soon-to-be ex, is fairly good for my son, but he pretty much "walks me." I am recovering from a fall I took when he bolted for another dog. Should we get formal training? Would he be better off at a ranch where he can run and be active? I am afraid of getting hurt again and worry this could happen to my son, too.

— B.C.

Dear B.C.,

Don't get rid of Buddy because he pulls on a leash. Take a dog training class instead. Dog training will teach you how to work with Buddy in all sorts of situations, including walks.

In the meantime, I don't want you or your son to get hurt during walks again, so buy a Gentle Leader head collar. Unlike regular neck collars or shoulder harnesses, which allow the dog to pull from the strongest part of his body, the Gentle Leader loops around the dog's nose and applies gentle pressure around the muzzle in the same manner that lead dogs communicate with dogs lower in rank. Created by a veterinarian, it actually looks like a horse head collar. With this collar, your dog should immediately recognize you as the pack leader and respond to your commands.

I have used Gentle Leader collars on large breed dogs and the effect on their behavior is immediate. They cannot lunge or pull away, so walks are instantly wonderful. You can find the Gentle Leader ( at local pet stores.

Still enroll Buddy in a dog training class. You don't want the big lug knocking down someone else, not even in play.

My final two cents: Get him neutered. I have heard male dogs can detect a female dog in heat up to a mile away, and that can make any male dog pull on the leash.

Bella beats Max

For six years in a row, Max ruled the top spot in the list of the top 10 most popular dog names. But Veterinary Pet Insurance crunched the numbers on its more than 475,000 insured pets to determine 2009's most common pet names, and Bella beat out Max by more than 400 dogs.

Max may have slipped in the polls with dog lovers, but that name still rules No. 1 in the cat world. Tigger dropped four spots to No. 7 for cat names, while Bella jumped five spots to No. 3 in 2009. The newcomer Angel edged in at No. 10, bumping Charlie from this year's list. Sorry, Charlie.

Here's the list of the most popular pet names for 2009:

Dogs: Bella, Max, Bailey, Lucy, Molly, Buddy, Maggie, Daisy, Chloe and Sophie.

Cats: Max, Chloe, Bella, Oliver, Tiger, Smokey, Tigger, Lucy, Shadow and Angel.

What about wacky names? That list includes Blue Man Chew, Fuzzbucket and Sergeant Pickles. What unusual name you have bestowed on your pet? Send me your pet's unusual names (and the reason for the name) for a future column.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or Cathy's advice column runs every Sunday. You can read her blog, Animals Matter, at

Gary Bogue:
Do Cats Really Growl Like a Dog
and Guard Your House?
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

Dear Gary:

This is a new one for me!

My Maine coon cat Buffy was sitting in the front window next to me and she started growling. Then she jumped down and raced to the front door, still growling.

I thought what the heck and went to see if there was a cat there. No, it was someone passing out fliers on the door. If she knew how to bark, I think she would have done that too!

Anyone else out there with watch cats on duty?

Arlene, Concord

Dear Arlene:

Oh, yes, more than you would ever think!

A few cats (not all!) are just as protective of family members and the house as dogs, and even scarier. When a cat growls and threatens to attack, it really makes you think about it.

Longtime readers will remember my tortie point Siamese, Isis, bless her long departed heart. The two of us used to live together in a tiny rented house back in the early 1980s.

One morning the landlady brought by a potential buyer to check out the house (without telling me). Then I got a call at work from her saying Isis was in front of the door, frizzed up twice her normal size, growling like a BIG dog and refusing to let them in the house.

I had to drive home and spend five minutes calming Isis down before she'd even let ME inside the house.

Needless to say, my dear cat had fresh fish for dinner that night.

Dear Gary:

I was wondering if you've ever heard of some critters eating cymbidium orchid spikes and buds? This is the first year I have had this problem in over 30 years.

Once the buds open, the flower remains untouched. I have tried animal repellent pellets, with no luck. Am trying a live trap cage, using cat food as bait. The canned food goes untouched in the rear of the cage, but the cat treats have been eaten in the front, as well as leading to the cage. I have tried putting cymbidium buds inside the cage, front and back.

Where I live we have fenced yards, so it is not a dog or deer. I have seen raccoons, opossums, skunks and squirrels in the area, as well as cats.

The flower spikes are 1 to 2½ feet tall and plants are not damaged at all, leading me to believe he stands on hind feet to reach each spike. I have been given ideas to try, such as Listerine sprayed on the buds and cayenne pepper, but as I have over 500 plants, that would be difficult, especially if I have to reapply due to rain.

Any suggestions, please?

Debbie Brown,
San Lorenzo

Dear Debbie:

Don't be so quick to discount deer just because you have a fence. I've seen deer vault 6-foot fences as if they weren't there.

I get the feeling this is happening at night. If so, I suspect a roof rat. They like to nibble on fruits and garden vegetables and probably cymbidium spikes and buds. A lightweight rat could climb all over the plant to reach the buds without causing any damage. It might also be too small to get caught in your live trap. Call Alameda County Vector Control, 510-567-6800, or see

Dear Gary:

A few weeks ago, you said to give the dog a blanket on cold nights. I keep my house at 62 degrees at night and my dog sleeps on my bed. She has her own blanket that I toss over her but sometime during the night she ends up on top of it.

Would she still be warm enough lying on top of the blankets? She's a 50-pound boxer.

Leslie in cyberspace

Dear Leslie:

Not to worry. If she gets cold, she'll just roll up in all the blankets and get nice and warm. You, however, may have a problem keeping warm if she does that.

Cathy M. Rosenthal:
Wife Upset Over In-Laws' Pet Care
Cathy Rosenthal - Cathy Rosenthal -

Dear Cathy: My husband and I have been married for many years and have several "fur babies" that we give a pampered life. The problem is my husband's family keeps their dogs outside year-round in the heat, cold and rain. Some are infested with fleas. I can't stand going over there and seeing those poor animals. It not only depresses me, it infuriates me. There is little human interaction with the animals. I don't understand why they have them. My husband says he doesn't agree with it either, but says "that's just my family."

Granted his family does not have a lot of money, but where is the compassion for the animals they proclaim to love? I've brought the dogs bones and given the family information on low cost spay and neuter programs. I've mentioned bringing the animals in on extremely cold rainy nights, but they blow me off. It's driving me crazy and I'm about to go off on them. Even if the pet's basic needs, such as food, water and something that resembles a pathetic shelter is covered, should I report them? Please sign me .?.?.

Just another animal lover

Dear Animal Lover: I don't envy your position. If you say too much, you can alienate your husband's family. If you say too little, you harbor anger, which will result in a fight. Like you, I don't understand why they have pets if they don't want to care for them, but rather than judge the family too harshly, here are a few ways you can help these dogs.

First, advice needs to come from your husband, not you. Your comments will alienate them — his comments may not. If he truly believes the dogs should be treated better, he needs to speak up.

Second, offer to help rather than provide resources for them to act on. Most people don't like being told they "need" or "should" do something and their reaction is to close up. Instead, offer to bathe the dogs and apply the monthly flea treatment. Offer to take the dogs to get them sterilized. Offer to build the dogs a better outdoor shelter. Don't offer too much all at once. Take it step-by-step.

Finally, you and your husband should play with the dogs when you visit for two reasons: one, this may be the only play time the dogs get and two, people tend to imitate others. If they see you both giving the dogs attention and the dogs behave differently when you are around, they might eventually see the benefits of playing with their dogs.

They won't change their behaviors because you say so and they might not because your husband says so, but I do think your husband is the crucial link to helping these dogs out. As for reporting the family, if the dogs have the basic necessities, then there is not much an animal control officer can do other than offer some pet care advice.

However, if you feel they aren't listening, it might be an option for further down the road. You can't force people to play with and love their pets. All you can do is ensure these dogs have the basic necessities of life, which includes shelter, food, water and appropriate vet care. You may have to be the one that provides the love.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or Cathy's advice column runs every Sunday. You can read her blog, Animals Matter, at

Choosing The Right Pet Bird

Having a pet companion at home can certainly be rewarding. Having pet birds can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. Birds are intelligent and fascinating to look at. But it is important to choose the right bird for you and at the same time prepare yourself for the responsibilities. Birds when properly cared for can live for a long time.

Before getting yourself a feathered friend, there are some things you need to answer first

• Can you still care for a bird? Birds are social creatures, they also need time. So make sure that you or your family still have the time to care for a bird.

• Is your home and your neighbours okay with some bird noise? Birds can be extremely noisy in several occasions. And can disrupt some neighbours. But you can pick a smaller bird which can still make some noise inside the house but not disrupt the neighbourhood.

• Do you have other pets? Some pets interact with each other easily posing no problems at all. But also there are some pets who may harm the new pet due to jealousy. Your pet bird can easily be killed by a jealous cat or dog. These are some factors you would have to consider.

Giving some thought over these questions and still able to identify that you would still like to have a pet bird, then let’s go over to the selection process. When choosing the right bird, make sure to do some research about the birds. There are some birds which are overly demanding in terms of social and physical needs, these birds are better kept in the wild.

Some good bird choices would be canaries, finches, cockatiels, parakeets, and lovebirds. These breeds of birds have long been bred in captivity and have already resulted into some domestic breeds. The good thing about these birds is that the supplies they need can readily be purchased.

On the other hand there are some birds which are better left alone in the wild, like some breeds of parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and toucans. These birds have not undergone the breeding process that the domesticated birds have experienced. These birds tend to be demanding to live with.

When choosing your pet bird, consider the following factors:

• Size – the rule is that the bigger the bird the bigger the responsibilities. If you are just starting to be a bird owner, then it would be best to start with a smaller up until to medium size. The size of your bird will determine how big will the housing and other physical requirements.

• Nutrition- a bird fed accordingly can live up to fifty years! It is important to provide the proper diet to your birds. Bird not only feed on seeds, they also require fruits and vegetables and lots of water. Bird seed are not enough for your bird.

• Housing - let us apply the rule again, the larger the bird, the larger the cage it requires. A proper cage should have the bars spaced closely enough, close enough so that bird heads would not get caught between bars and for small birds to escape the cage. The cage should be spacious enough so that the bird can move freely and have enough exercise.

• Budget and finance – birds, as well as any other pet, can pose some financial obligations. For birds, the cage, accessories, maintenance, food and veterinary care can be costly. When looking for a bird, then you should make yourself familiar with the cost of raising one. You want to have a pet that you can afford.

• Time and maintenance- unlike to what other people think, birds are not really low-maintenance pets. There are some pet birds which would require daily exercise and constant social interaction. Time and maintenance would include feeding, cleaning the dishes and the cage. Some parrots show some behaviour problems if they do not receive regular attention from pet owners.

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Why Do Sled Dogs Run?

At 10 degrees, the Minnesota air is just cold enough for the dogs with heavier coats, like the left wheel-dog, who dips his snout in the snow more often than the dogs ahead of him. I am seated in the basket of the sled, as stiff as a quartered moose. Behind me, riding the runner, is the musher, Kelly Murphy. We slow now and then to let the teams behind us stay close, and when we do, the dogs — seven of them, right and left of the gangline hooked to their harnesses — look impatiently at us, haunches quivering, ready to pull and pull again.

We have been sledding down an old portage road, along the lip of a beaver dam, through a tunnel of young white birch with rosy bark, all within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Now we break onto the open ice, wolf tracks looping away to the low, wooded islands in the distance. I take my turn at the handle bow — riding where the musher rides, minding the brake — while Murphy jogs ahead of the dog team. They follow him in a wide curve, cutting a new track that will eventually lead us back to the place on the portage where, overnight, the wolves reduced a deer to a few scraps of hide. We are six miles out from where we started, so this is only a sprint for the team.

I listen to the one-way singsong between Murphy and his dogs, encouragement and caution and admiration. I watch the driving legs ahead of me — 28 of them — on dogs whose frames are small and light, nothing like the creatures I’d imagined. And as we cut through the white ash swamp, hissing across the ice, I find myself wondering, why do sled dogs run?

It is not a matter of driving them. All the work is in pacing them, restraining them. When Murphy stands on the brake and sets the snow hook — a two-pronged anchor — the gangline quivers with tension. The dogs torque forward again before he can shout, “Let’s go!” All the one-word answers to my question are too simple: love, joy, duty, obedience.

The dogs were out yesterday, and they’ll be out again tomorrow. They don’t run for a reward or toward a goal — the greyhound’s mechanical rabbit. They get yelled at when they chew on the gangline and petted when the run is over. They don’t catch or flee anything. They would keep running if the musher fell off his sled.

The start is a mayhem of yelping and baying and yipping. The finish is 21 dogs, three teams’ worth, silently lapping the air with their tongues. And between the two — start and finish — is a reason the dogs describe in the only way they know how, by running and running and never letting the line go slack.

Learn More About Durable Dog Toys
Posted by: Pet Blogger -

Durable dog toys are a big hit with your dog. Lots of dogs like to chew and the majority of dog toys you can buy cannot stand up to the abuse. It is important to choose a toy that is the right size and density for your dog. You certainly do not want to be throwing a large rubber KONG toy to a miniature schnauzer. Not to mention that if a larger, heavy toy lands on the dog, he or she could get hurt. You also want the dog toys you choose to be easy for your dog to carry and chew on or they will choose your favorite shoes instead.

My dog loves to chase a Frisbee type flyer toy but the ones meant for people tend to get chewed around the edges and then they cut his lips and gums. The cloth flyers are good for the dog’s mouth, but don’t usually fly well at all and that is half the fun of throwing it for him. There are some made out of rubber that don’t hurt the dog and fly somewhat better than cloth, but they don’t soar as well as I would like and are fairly heavy to throw so I get tired of it before he does.
The best option I have used is one that has a hard plastic center with rubber edges for the best of both worlds. It flies, soars and floats. It is safe for the dog and we both spend hours of fun playing with it.

If you are thinking of getting your first dog, here are some points to consider:

Dogs are a perfect addition to any family. Over the years I’ve had several. Right now I have long haired (or Irish variant) Jack Russell Terrier named Fritzie he is a great dog. I’ve had him since he was a puppy, which was 5 years ago. There are a lot of things to remember with dog ownership; early training, exercise, discipline, feeding, grooming, shots, health care, what to do when you are away, waste removal, kids, and travel.

Early Training:

If you get a dog as a puppy you will have to learn patience. It can take them some time to learn and you will need to have a good plan for their training.

Bathrooms are for humans; your house is your puppy’s bathroom until they learn different. Some dogs like my Jack Russell take up to six months to gain control enough go out side especially in cold weather. Punishment never makes the process go faster. I have found my dogs respond to praise. When you bring a puppy into your home you will need to watch them as best you can. Take them out frequently and when they do their business outside praise them. Block off carpeted areas if you can’t keep an eye on them. If you see your puppy sniffing areas they have gone in before, take them outside. You may not make it but they’ll get the idea.

Beginning other types of training when your dog is young helps too. I started Fritzie on sit, lay down, etc. with voice and hand signals so he knew both and now will obey both. Snapping your fingers can get your dogs attention, it worked with mine when he was young so if I want him to pay attention or come I snap my fingers.

Chewing is another puppy issue that a can carry on into adulthood with some dogs. Giving them chewable dog toys to chew on will usually save your furniture, shoes, clothes, etc. Don’t give them personal items because this can confuse them and they will think they can chew your good items. Don’t give your dog anything they can choke on.


Exercise is essential for dogs. If a dog doesn’t get proper exercise they occasionally develop issues like excessive barking, chewing, and some dogs can become easily agitated, aggressive and can become unmanageable.

Exercising your dog can be as easy as throwing a ball or going for a walk. How long or how many times you exercise them depends on the dog. My dog needs, on average, to be quite a few different toys out there for you and your dog. I have a couple of KONGs which are a strong rubber dog toys that have a stepped shape so when the toy hits the ground it bounces in different directions to keep my dog busy. They can also be filled with treats to keep your dog occupied. KONGs also come in small, medium and large to fit your dog nicely. They are made in USA.

Balls are another wonderful toy to keep your dog happy. Tennis balls are probably the most common ball used. The problem with many tennis balls is when your dog bites down a tennis ball breaks, then the dogs chew them up. My dog can field strip a tennis ball in under 2 minutes. An Orbee tuff glow ball is a great choice because in the winter when it gets dark early you or your dog can find it. The reason I say you or your dog is because if they are like mine they can’t always see it in the dark and then end up hunting for it and the object is to burn off some energy. Another good bunch of toys are made of Zogoflex, a special compound which is durable for dogs, it is used to make frisbees, balls, and other assorted shapes. I like to use a Frisbee in the winter because they usually land on top of the snow or skip off the snow so he can find it.


Discipline is helpful for the future of your pet owning experience. Never hit your dog. This can cause nipping, submissive urination, or your dog may avoid you out of fear. Try having your dog sit and stay in one place for awhile or put him/her in their crate. Smaller may be harder to break. For example my dog barks until he sees who is at the door, dogs like people can have their quirks. If it is something you can’t live with then you will have to keep working at it.


The type of food you feed your dog and how often depends on the dog. Most of my dogs eat twice a day. You can use dry food only or a wet and dry combo so he gets the tooth cleaning from the dry food and the variety of canned food. Some dogs will eat constantly like my old lab did. With Fritzie I feed him twice and if he gets hungry he goes to his bowl and I’ll give him some more, which usually only happens when he’s been pretty active.


Depending on the dog grooming can be simple or a chore. On average, you should bathe your dog every two to three months, or any time they roll in something bad. Frequent bathing can strip the skin and fur of oils and create dry skin. Some dog’s fur needs trimming especially around the face. My suggestion is if you don’t know what to do, take them to be groomed by a professional. If you can’t afford frequent professional grooming watch what they do and do it yourself. Bathing your dog keeps them clean and reduces the problem of fleas and ticks. You should check your dogs ears frequently for ear mites and infection, ask your vet what they recommend for cleaning your dogs ears. Nail clipping is essential for a healthy, happy dog. You can trim your dog’s nails with dog nail clippers or a battery operated nail grinder, always use care with dogs nails not to cut back too far. If you look at their nail you will see what is called the quick, which is hard to see on a dog with black nails. When cutting the nail take off the tip staying a little away from the quick. If you clip the quick it will bleed so have a cloth handy to stop the bleeding.


Rabies shots protect you and your dog from rabies. When your dog is a puppy he should get the shots required in your area. Ask your vet how often your pet needs shots and for what. You may even do some research on this because some injections that were considered annual are now only given once, ask your vet.

Health care:

Check ups for your dog are worth it. If you notice something out of the ordinary, ask your vet. Most of the dogs I’ve had have been pretty healthy. Check your breed for issues. I had Dachshund/Chihuahua mix and he had spinal problems and ended up paralyzed. Issues like this should be investigated because it took a long time for him to be able to become mobile again and I wouldn’t want to go through it again. So do your research.

Leaving your dog at home:

Leaving your dog alone is stressful for both of you. Putting them in a kennel is one option. You are very important to your dog, when you leave he may act out. I have heard of dogs peeing on furniture or in shoes. Some dogs chew any number of things. Mine gets in the trash. This is fixed by putting the trash away before we leave. Locking your dog in a room may help but the bathroom is a bad choice. I have heard of dogs chewing the water line to the toilet and causing it to leak. I have also seen them eat the carpet away from the door area, so use caution on where you put them any where when you’re away.

Dog Waste:

When your dog is a puppy it is good to them to do their business in a particular spot. The reason is dog urine may kill your lawn, and you don’t want to always be looking for land mines.


Many dogs like to travel. This can be a heated topic, dogs over heating in cars is a big problem and can lead to death. You can buy solar window fans to help with this but it is never a good idea to take your dog with you during the summer months. In cooler months, always leave a window open enough for them to get fresh air. It is best to have your dog stay in the back seat or with the passenger. Never drive with your dog on your lap hanging out the drivers window, this is unsafe for you, your dog and any one else if your dog distracts you and you have an accident.

A dog is a bit of responsibility but can be well worth it. My dog is a very welcome addition to my family. Dog ownership takes some work in the beginning but is well worth it in the long run.

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Chastity Belts for Dogs?

Wayward NM Cat Has
Free Flight Home from Chicago

CHICAGO – No one knows how a tabby cat named Charles traveled the 1,300 miles from his New Mexico home to Chicago, but he's set for a complimentary flight home on American Airlines in a carrier donated by an Albuquerque business.

Charles disappeared about eight months ago while his owner was out of town and a friend was caring for him.

"Oh, I was crushed, and I found out while I was away volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and I was so upset because I was in New Orleans so there was nothing I could do," said Robin Alex, of Albuquerque.

Then earlier this week, Alex received a call telling her Chicago Animal Care and Control had picked up her wandering cat as a stray.

Staffers reached out to Alex after finding that Charles had a tracking microchip embedded between his shoulder blades, said the agency's executive director, Cherie Travis.

But Alex said she could not afford the round-trip ticket to Chicago to bring Charles home, so she was afraid he might be euthanized.

Enter fellow Albuquerque resident Lucien Sims. Sims said he has a tabby cat who strongly resembles Charles, and was moved when his mother sent him an online story about Alex and her pet.

Most importantly, Sims was on his way to Chicago on Thursday for a wedding, so he said he would go to the shelter, pick up Charles and bring him back to New Mexico.

Sims has made all the arrangements for Charles' return, including getting a company to donate a cat carrier and American Airlines to waive the cat's travel fee.

Travis said Charles is definitely ready for his next adventure.

"He's in good condition," she said. "He needs a good brushing. He's got a little bit of a cold — a little bit of an upper respiratory infection — but otherwise he's in great condition."

A Park with One Tree? NEVER AGAIN!

Comfort a Canine:
10 Ways to Help Dogs in Need

Author Wendy Diamond shares her savvy guide for you and your furry friend

At the end of the day, everyone wants someone to come home to, even dogs. But unfortunately, not every canine has that option. Wendy Diamond, a pet lifestyle expert and author of “It's a Dog's World: The Savvy Guide to Four-Legged Living,” shares tips on how pet owners can help local animals in need. Here's an excerpt.

Every Dog Has Its Day
At the end of the day, a dog is a dog! And as much as we want to indulge our canine counterparts with the finer treats life has to offer, pure joy to a dog is socializing and playing at the local park or dog run, drinking plenty of water, consuming healthy meals, joining parents on a daily walk, and a cozy home where a sleeping dog can lie.

My hope and dream is that this book will help motivate every pet-friendly reader and animal enthusiast to get involved with animal rescue, find needy animals homes, and work to make every shelter a no-kill shelter. There are many ways to help in your own neighborhoods. Many communities have local SPCA’s (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a generic term for any group that wants to help animals), local Humane societies (Humane Society of America is a national group doing amazing things, but your local humane society does not have the budget or PR, and needs your support), and small shelters that are in desperate need of volunteers and donations. The easiest way to find your local animal aid organizations is to search for them on the Internet or ask your local veterinarian. Many of the shelters have lists of important items they need but can’t afford. Any donations of time, supplies, or money are greatly appreciated.

The most important action on the donor’s part is to do research before making a gift! Make sure you know where you are donating before pledging. Call the organization and ask as many questions as you need. It is your money and you have the right to know where it is going. Look for organizations that pledge to help the animals in your own community! By targeting each community one at a time, eventually the rescue outreach will create a huge wave from coast to coast. You can do your part by making informed decisions to save lives of innocent animals.

Here are some ways you can help local animals in need:

Consider being a foster parent to pet in transition. There are many local organizations that specialize in placing animals in loving, temporary homes.

Do you know how to sew, knit, or crochet? You could make and donate sweaters, blankets or even toys to help keep the animals cozy and entertained while awaiting adoption.

Throw a party! You can introduce your friends to your local Humane Society or SPCA and then ask for donations. You’d be surprised how generous people can be after a few glasses of wine ...

Use the power of your vote! Let your local and state representatives know that caring for animals is a priority for you. Write an email that clearly states your views and forward it to your friends and acquaintances to pass on.

Volunteer to use your special skills to support your local shelter. Can you design a flyer, write an article, or analyze a legal brief? These (and many other) skills can be invaluable to an underfunded and understaffed non-profit.

Be vigilant! Pay attention when you see signs of animal abuse and report suspicions to an animal protection agency.

Be generous! Monetary donations to the general operating funds of local organizations keep the shelters alive. The holidays are a great time to make a gift.

Consider adoption and check out your local shelter. Many of these animals have suffered terribly and desperately need your love.

Join up! Become a member of an SPCA, Humane Society or another local shelter in your community. Many offer newsletters and invitations to events where you can meet other animal lovers in your area.

Persuade your friends and co-workers to join you!
Lucky has truly entertained me this past decade and has definitely rescued me in many more ways than I’ve rescued her. With your help and the help of others, every dog in America can be lucky enough to find a safe and loving home. Dog Bless!

Excerpted from “It's a Dog's World: The Savvy Guide to Four-Legged Living” by Wendy Diamond (Ballantine Books, 2010).

Human Pacemakers Offer Hope to Ailing Dogs
By Maryann Mott -

The surgically implanted devices can add years to a hound's life

(HealthDay News) -- Pacemakers made for humans are giving older dogs a new leash on life.

The medical devices -- about the size of a quarter -- are often implanted to speed up a slow heart rate in dogs brought on by disorders such as heart block and sick sinus syndrome that, if left untreated, drastically shortens their lives.

Guiedo, a 12-year-old hound mix, recently received a pacemaker after getting diagnosed with heart block, a condition in which the electrical signal that makes the organ contract and pump blood is disrupted.

"It didn't even enter my mind not to do the surgery," said Maxine Mager, founder of Creative Acres Animal Sanctuary in Brighton, Colo., where Guiedo and 400 other companion, farm and exotic animals reside.

Guiedo's condition put him at risk of sudden death. So the day after the diagnosis, Mager drove the elderly canine nearly an hour to a veterinary cardiologist, one of only 230 in the United States and Canada, trained to do the intricate surgery.

The procedure is similar to the one done in humans. Under anesthesia, pacemaker wires are threaded through a dog's jugular vein to the correct place in the heart. A small incision, made in the back of the neck, then allows for insertion of the pacemaker under the skin and connection to the wires.

The hour-long procedure requires an overnight hospital stay.

Implanting the lifesaving devices in dogs isn't new. The first surgery took place in 1967 and has since become fairly common in veterinary medicine, with hundreds of pets receiving pacemakers each year.

Still, many owners are surprised to learn of it, said Dr. Henry Green, a board-certified veterinary cardiologist and an associate professor of cardiology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

About 20 pets are outfitted yearly with pacemakers at the university's veterinary teaching hospital. A few cats undergo the procedure, but most patients are older dogs, around 6 to 10 years of age, says Green.

A pacemaker extends an otherwise healthy dog's life about three to five years, although Green has had patients live almost twice that long.

Dog owners often detect a noticeable change in their pet's demeanor after the procedure.

"Sometimes owners don't think their dogs are showing clinical signs [such as lethargy] and then once the pacemaker is in, the dog is running around like a puppy again," said Green.

At Purdue, the surgery costs about $2,000. In private practice, the price is much higher, with clients paying $3,000 to $4,000.

Veterinarians rely on manufacturers to donate pacemakers past their shelf life and no longer appropriate for human use.

"They don't actually develop pacemakers specifically for dogs and cats so we have to use human equipment," said veterinary cardiologist Kate Meurs of the Companion Animal Pacemaker Repository at Washington State University, which distributes donated devices to animal hospitals nationwide.

New equipment isn't purchased from manufacturers, partially because it's so expensive, said Meurs, who is also professor of small animal medicine and research at Washington State. A new pacemaker can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, an industry spokeswoman said.

The pacemakers used at Purdue come from various sources, including a local funeral home that removes them from corpses. About 10 percent of the pacemakers the clinic uses were previously implanted in humans, said Green. The battery life must have at least three years left in order for the hospital to use them, he said.

Eventually, when the power runs low, a simple half-hour surgery is all that's needed to replace the old battery with a new one.

After undergoing surgery in December, Guiedo, the sweet-natured mutt at Creative Acres, quickly bounced back and is now full of energy.

As director of a no-kill sanctuary, Mager said she doesn't believe in euthanizing animals for treatable health conditions. In fact, a few months before receiving the pacemaker, Guiedo underwent knee replacement surgery.

She said the nearly $5,000 spent on the hound's medical fees was worth every penny.

"What an amazing thing to do with the money -- to give life," said Mager.

Dog Credited With Saving 3 From House Fire

Golden Retriever's Repeated Barking Wakes Owner

LAKE WORTH, Fla. -- A dog is being credited with saving the lives of three people inside a burning Lake Worth home.

The fire started shortly before midnight at a house in the 200 block of North J Street.

Bubba, this 7-year-old golden retriever, saved Charles and Lori McCauley from a house fire in Lake Worth.

According to the Red Cross, that's when Bubba -- a 7-year-old golden retriever -- alerted the residents to the flames.

Charles and Lori McCauley said they were sleeping in the back bedroom when Bubba began barking repeatedly. By the time they realized the house was on fire, they said they only had enough time to wake their roommate.

The residents and their canine savior all made it out safely.

"We don't have nothing," Lori McCauley said. "We have our lives. Thank God, you know, for Bubba."

The Red Cross provided them with a room at the Comfort Inn in West Palm Beach.

Firefighters were investigating the cause.

My Pet Speaker Lets Fido Listen to Your iPod
by Leslie Katz -

"Seriously, if you play 'The Cat Came Back' one more time, I'm finding a new home."
(Credit: Pet Acoustics, Matt Hickey/CNET)

Given that many cats and dogs can hear their owners coming from a block away, it stands to reason that they have sensitive ears. But sensitive enough to require their very own pet speakers? Apparently so.

On Wednesday, Pet Acoustics announced My Pet Speaker, which it calls the world's first sound system designed to support the hearing sensitivities of dogs, cats, and horses.

The 11-pound omni-directional speaker has a 4-inch drive unit and a cone reflector that apparently disburses music in 360 degrees to recreate how animals hear in nature. "By producing limited frequencies and featuring a soft bass design for listening comfort, your pets will not be startled or disturbed by jarring volumes and piercing sounds that put them on alert," the company says.

The speaker--on preorder now for $249.95--measures 12.5 inches by 9.84 inches by 12.6 inches and stands on a supposedly stable base so it won't get knocked down when your music-loving puppy starts pirouetting to your playlist. Backside buttons prevent pets from messing with the operation panel, though if you're going spring for a pricey speaker for Fido, the least you can do is let him turn up the volume when "You ain't nothing but a hound dog" comes on.

The My Pet Speaker works with any device that has a 3.5mm audio output, including MP3 players, CD players, iPhones, iPods, iPod Touches, and scratching posts. It comes on the heels of another Pet Acoustics product, an iPhone app that plays music specifically aimed at reducing sound-related aggression and anxiety in pets and may or may not include "Stray Cut Strut" and "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

. Leslie Katz, senior editor of CNET's Crave, covers gadgets, games, and myriad other digital distractions. As a co-host of the recently retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.

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Dating Services for Cat Owners
By Elizabeth Wasserman -

A variety of cat-themed dating Web sites and social networks have launched in the last few years on the premise that pet owners share a special something that they seek in a spouse. © Perez Veiga

"SINGLE FEMALE CAT OWNER: Seeks male companion who likes cuddling, playing ball and doesn't mind hearing the occasional "meow" in the middle of the night."

It used to be that lonely-hearted, pet-owning singles would take out personal ads, hoping a potential match wouldn't end up being allergic or averse to their cat. Now there's a way to cut to the chase: A variety of cat-themed dating Web sites and social networks have launched in the last few years on the premise that pet owners share a special something that they seek in a spouse -- or even in a good friend. That special something can be summed up by the feel of soft fur rubbing against one's leg, the purr after a satisfying neck scratch, and friendship of the feline sort.

"There are a lot of people out there who want to meet others who share a common interest like pets," says Robert Yau, who founded five years ago and more recently started the social networking site

Cat-themed Social Networking Sites

Joining a pet-centered Web site can help ease tensions on the dreaded first date. "Nobody can tell whether or not you're going to have chemistry based on something like a common interest in pets, but if you have a dog or cat, it's a great way to break the ice," explains Michael Carter, president of, a pet-themed dating and social networking site.

These pet lover Web sites also allow your sense of humor to show through -- in your profile and postings. asks members to describe their pet's perspective on the ideal date. "It brings out the tongue-in-cheek," says Yau. People sometimes write quips such as, "If I was a cat, I'd just want to stay in my bed" or "If a member of the opposite sex comes to the house, I would hope they would have a big lap so I could sit on it."

But, as with meeting any strangers, it's important to be cautious. Experts advise that you guard personal information and go to a public place for initial get-togethers. Here is a rundown on a few pet-themed dating and/or networking Web sites:

The Right Breed This Web site features instant messaging, chat rooms, topic forums, streaming video from webcams, and an online magazine about pets and dating. Singles can search for prospective partners by region, age, animals and even by cat breed. The service is free for the first 60 days. After that, it's $14.99 per month.
Pet Passions This free online dating and social networking site was started in 2004. It features photo personals, blogging, email, text chat, audio chat and webcam chat. Inside, the site is segmented so that cat lovers can stick with their own kind while fish and horse lovers mingle among themselves.

Must Love Pets Members use personals, chat, matchmaking services, forums and photo galleries to get to know other cat lovers. You can meet feline fans from around the country or those in your neighborhood. Basic membership, during which you can create a profile and post pictures of you and your pet, is free. If you want to contact other members, you can sign up for a premium membership, which costs a one-time fee of $44.95.

Date My Pet Members fill out two profiles -- one for themselves and one for their cat(s). The site can be used for romance or friendship. The basic membership is free and allows you to post a profile. The next level of membership costs $15 per month and allows you to initiate contact or a chat with another member.
Remember Your Cat

While searching for a new friend or date, keep in mind that your cat still needs companionship too. Consider adopting another cat, but if that's not for you or your kitty, make sure to set aside time each day to play games with your pet, enhancing the fun with soothing and comforting banter. Remember, cats can't directly post personal ads.

Elizabeth Wasserman is a Washington, D.C., area-based freelancer who has been writing about pets, among other topics, for more than 15 years. Her love of dogs, in particular, was handed down through the generations from her great-grandfather, Eric Knight, who wrote the book Lassie Come Home in the 1930s.

Hiding a Cat Litter Box in the Bathroom
By Jeanne Huber - Special to The Washington Post

Q: I plan to update my small bathroom and am trying to figure out how to hide the cat litter box. I thought of storing it under the sink. However, I am having problems finding a sink and base that would enable a litter box to be stored underneath. Any suggestions?


A: There are several ways to hide a cat box under a sink. Search "cat box" on the Ikea Hacker blog ( to see how a few people adapted stock sink cabinets to accommodate litter boxes. (These adaptations work whether or not you install a sink in the countertop.) The solutions show Ikea cabinets, but others should work, too. Basically, the owners installed a cat door on the side or front. Inside one sink cabinet, mounted drawer slides support a false bottom. When it's time to clean the cat box, the clever owner just slides it out. If you want to skip the base cabinet, search "Snalis cat" on the blog to see how one cat owner adapted a bin under an open-bottom sink.

The Refined Feline ( makes a ready-made cabinet that doubles as a stealth cat box, but it is not for sinks. Same goes for a Merry Pet model sold by numerous retailers (search online for "cat washroom").

Homeless Man Reunited with His Cat
Carl Nolte, SF Chronicle Staff Writer

Daniel Harlan was tearful upon being reunited with Samantha, his companion of nearly four years. Mike Kepka / The Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO -- Samantha, the pug-nosed cat, and Daniel Harlan, a homeless man who owned her, were reunited Tuesday.

Harlan wept when Tom Neville, who had the missing cat for weeks, gave Samantha back.

"I thought I'd lost her for good," Harlan said.

The cat and Harlan got together again after The Chronicle ran a story Tuesday, along with a picture, about the cat's disappearance. Neville saw it and recognized Samantha as the animal he rescued from life on the streets.

Harlan was convinced his Himalayan cat had been stolen and maybe sold for money. He searched all over for the cat and tried to file a missing cat report with the police and the SPCA, but had no luck.

As it turned out, the cat hadn't been stolen at all, only rescued. As Neville tells it, he was driving to work one rainy morning and spotted a wet and bedraggled cat tied on a leash under the freeway at a homeless encampment near Eighth and Brannan streets. Dogs were nearby and, to a stranger, the cat's situation looked desperate.

Neville said he asked around, but nobody knew anything. So he picked up the cat, put it in his car and took her to work.

Harlan said he put the cat on a leash while he went to get food at a nearby store. When he returned, Samantha - his companion for nearly four years - was gone.

Meanwhile, Neville had taken the cat under his wing. She was a mess, he said. Her hair was matted, and she had fleas and sores. He gave her a bath, fed her and gave her a warm place to sleep in his waterfront office, where he is a management assistant for a hotel chain.

The cat thrived, he said. "You should see her now," he said.

Neville was working on finding a permanent home for her, when a friend called and told him that the cat he'd rescued had its picture in the paper. Sure enough, the cat in the picture looked very much like Samantha, the homeless man's missing cat.

Neville was torn; he believed he'd given the cat a new lease on life. He didn't want to see the animal go back to the homeless life. "I wanted to do the right thing," he said.

He thought about it for hours, but then got Harlan's phone number from The Chronicle story and called. Harlan told him about his life with Samantha.

"He does love her," Neville said. "No question about it."

He invited Harlan to his office to see the cat to be sure it was Samantha.

"He cried when he saw her," Neville said.

Neville offered to buy the cat, but Harlan said he couldn't sell her. So Neville gave the cat back, along with some cat food and $40 to help out.

He also gave the cat a standing invitation to stay in his office, any night.

Harlan used the money to buy a new collar and leash for Samantha along with a cart with wheels for the cat, a sleeping bag and a few necessities.

He said he hoped he could find a place to live. Maybe a shelter would take them both in. He wasn't sure. He planned to spend Tuesday sleeping in the Transbay Terminal.

"They don't bother you too much there," he said.

Meanwhile, Harlan and the cat have become minor celebrities - their story got out on the Internet, on radio and television. He got hundreds of phone calls on his cell phone, some from faraway places like Kuwait, Germany, Korea, and Mississippi, he said. Some offered money.

"I appreciate all the help people are offering," he said. "But I can't take money. I've always tried to do stuff on my own, but it don't work most of the time."

Samantha, the cat, took a walk on her new leash, allowed herself to be petted, looked at Harlan with her startling orange-colored eyes and had no comment.

E-mail Carl Nolte at

Tips to Nix Pet Worms
Stephanie Myers -

Q: My new kitten has worms…I’ve seen them. I have an appointment later this week with my veterinarian; is there anything I need to do now? Rachel, Farragut

A: Rachel, if you have seen adult worms, please remember to take a sample of the parasite (‘worm’) with you to your appointment. It will help your veterinarian identify the parasite so the proper medication can be given. Your veterinarian will likely also test your kitten for other internal parasites, as some types of parasites are much smaller and will require microscopic identification.

Internal parasites can be transmitted several different ways. It is not uncommon for puppies and kittens to have worms, as some types can be transmitted through the placenta and through the milk when nursing. Parasites and their eggs can be ingested through the soil, water, and wildlife in the area. Cats (and some dogs) often hunt and ingest portions of rodents, birds, etc, and can be infected that way. Some fleas carry tapeworms, and thus a pet swallowing an infected flea will result in a tapeworm infection for that pet.

Once your kitten has been diagnosed, make sure you administer all the medication as directed by your veterinarian. Some pets with a high parasite burden may require multiple treatments.

As your kitten gets older, he or she may be placed on a monthly medication to control fleas that also provides a monthly dewormer for the common internal parasites. This is a great option not only because it’s simple and easy, but because some of these parasites are contagious to people.
And so, Rachel, until your kitten is examined and treated for the worms you are seeing, you and your family should be diligent with your hand washing.

Send questions to

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Chastity Belt Developed for Dogs
By Mike Morris - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Harking back to medieval times, a Louisiana man is marketing an alternative solution for preventing unwanted pregnancies in man's best friend – a chastity belt for dogs.

While spaying and neutering is the most widely used method of preventing litters among dogs, for someone planning to breed their female, those aren't viable options.

Enter Dexter Blanch and his "Pet Anti-Breeding System," or PABS.

"Most experts urge pet owners to spay or neuter their dog," Blanch says on his blog,

"While this definitely has its advantages, there are several disadvantages as well," he says. "As a breeder, you cannot fix every animal and expect to have a successful operation. You need breeding stock."

Previously, the only other way to prevent unwanted litters was to confine the female to a pen or kennel when she was in heat, a method that Blanch says "may cause your dog to feel depressed or neglected."

"She may also suffer from lack of exercise and socialization," he said.

The PABS belt slips between the dog's hindquarters and is held in place by a six-point buckle system and waist strap.

Blanch's company, Highly Favored Creations, sells the PABS unit in several sizes, ranging in price from $65 to $95.

But not everyone is buying into the device.

In a San Francisco Chronicle story on PABS earlier this month, veterinarian Dr. Kathy Gervais pointed out a couple of potential problems with using a chastity belt as the sole means of preventing an unwanted litter of puppies.

One of her concerns was user error in putting the belt on the dog. "It's only as good as it is easy to put on properly," she told the newspaper.

The other concern: "Male dogs aren't easily deterred," she said. "I've known dogs to chew through garage doors and leap over fences to get to a female dog in heat," Gervais said.

Dog Owner Fends Off Raccoon with Samurai Sword
Bay City News Service

A Fairfield man used a Samurai sword Wednesday afternoon to defend his dog from an attack by what appears to have been a large raccoon.

Marquel Dawson, 19, was walking with Stunna, a 2-year-old pit bull-German shepherd mix, near his home on Fairview Place when the dog, which was unleashed, noticed something, darted into the bushes and started tussling with another animal, Dawson said.

Dawson said he ran back to his home and grabbed a 3-foot, two-handed samurai sword that he had recently received as a gift. He ran back and hit what he described as "a large, brown animal" with the dull edge of the sword.

The animal ran away, and Dawson tended to Stunna, who suffered cuts to his face and legs, he said. Stunna was taken to a local veterinarian to be treated.

Dawson originally told authorities that the animal that fought with Stunna was a mountain lion, but officials with the California Department of Fish and Game notified him Thursday that the offending animal appears to have been a large raccoon.

Fish and Game warden Patrick Foy said that determination was based on "the absence of mountain lion tracks, the presence of very large raccoon tracks, and after we took a look at the wounds the dog sustained."

After being notified of the findings, Dawson said he was "relieved that the dog's OK and that it wasn't actually a mountain lion, because that would've been way worse than just a raccoon."

Foy said, however, that raccoons can often be "very, very vicious" and that the dog "easily could've been killed or suffered more injuries."

Fish and Game officials encourage pet owners to keep their animals on leashes and close by when walking outside, and to try to keep trash cans inside, since raccoons and other wild animals are drawn to discarded food.

Foy said a large raccoon in the wild usually weighs about 15 pounds, but that raccoons living near homes can be as heavy as 25 pounds because they have "a human source of food."

Hints From Heloise

Packing for Pets

Dear Readers: Through the years, I've learned a few hints when TRAVELING with our miniature schnauzers. We now have our third, Cabbie -- or should I say she has us as her people.

Being prepared can make road trips enjoyable for all! Read on for some helpful travel pet hints.

You will want to pack for your dog, too! Here are a few suggestions of items a dog will probably need: food and water dishes, collar (with tags and your cell-phone number so you can be reached), a leash, grooming items, vaccination records (if traveling far from home or to another state) and medications. We always bring Cabbie's pillow and blanket, and keep her bright-pink Cabbie bag ready to go.

Do some research before leaving, because there are many pet-friendly hotels out there. We always stay in one or two chains that welcome pets. When calling to make reservations, check on the hotel's pet policy.

Dogs should be in travel carriers during a trip, and be sure the carrier is the right size for your dog. Let your pet stay in the crate or carrier at home to prepare for the upcoming trip. Pet carriers need to be tied down so they can't shift around. Pets should not be allowed to roam loose or stick their heads out of the windows.

DO NOT leave your pet in a parked car, no matter the time of year. Hot or cold weather can kill! -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Phyllis Jeanne Caron-Valeriano of Willimantic, Conn., sent a photo of her goddaughter, Suzanne, with her son's service dog, Goldey, helping her read the paper, and her other dog, Little Buddy, curled up and sleeping.

To see Goldey and Little Buddy, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: When I read the headline for your column in the Erie (Pa.) Times-News, I thought I should share my hint for old, lidded containers.

I have a couple of long-haired dogs that need brushing frequently. When the weather is good, I do it outside, and even then I don't like to let the hair just blow around. I discovered that if I keep one of those containers handy, I can just shove the hair into the container, and it does not get away. -- Marie, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I had the scare of my life when my kitten cried strangely. I called him and got no answer. When I investigated, I found that he had gotten caught under the bed in the gauze lining attached to the bottom of the box spring. He and his buddy had ripped part of the gauze lining, and a piece of the fiber somehow got caught around his neck. I found him literally strangling from a thin, but very strong, piece of gauze fiber.

Please, please share this important caution with your other pet lovers. I would hate to think of this happening to another precious pet. -- Sharon, Alberton, Prince Edward Island, Canada

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The Age of Aquariums

Aquariums are soothing, says Joe Schinn of Joe's Aquariums, a company that sets up and cares for aquariums in the tri-state area. That's why you sometimes see them in dentists' or doctors' waiting rooms. In fact, Joe once met a psychiatrist who believed so strongly that pet fish lower anxiety, he insisted that all his patients have home aquariums.

Servicing hundreds of tropical and marine aquariums, as well as koi ponds, many in the Montclair vicinity, is not a low anxiety profession, though. In addition to scheduled maintenance of tanks and ponds, Joe has to be available for emergencies 24 hours a day. Fish are delicate, and a broken piece of equipment, or the sudden appearance of disease, may require immediate attention.

A graduate of Montclair State, with a degree in marine biology, Joe has been in business for five years, and employs two assistants. His interest in aquatic life began with a middle school science fair project involving goldfish. By the time he was a college student, he had a living reef tank. While a student he worked at the Clifton fish emporium, Absolutely Fish.

A portion of Joe's clientele are businesses, the closest being the Teaneck Marriott, but most customers have fish tanks in private homes. The cost for setup of a basic 55-gallon tank, freshwater or marine, runs from $600-$1200, with monthly service calls starting at $70, plus tax. Of course, if Joe has to remove one of the fish to apply an antibiotic, the price goes up. Yes, he acts as a fish vet, too.

Joe says that marine tanks are only slightly more difficult to maintain than freshwater tanks. Freshwater tropical fish are bred for sale. Many originate in South America and are bred in Florida. Saltwater fish are difficult to breed in captivity and must be collected. When questioned about the ethics of removing a fish from its natural habitat, Joe said that to his knowledge, none of the fish captured are endangered, He said that he doesn't see them as a commodity, but respects them as living beings, and has a very high standard for their care and quality of life.

Why do people keep fish tanks? Some parents buy the fish for their children. Sometimes fish are the only pets apartment dwellers are allowed to keep. Fish are also great pets for neatniks - no paw prints, fur, or mess. And, Joe insists that people become emotionally attached to their fish, and apparently some fish can recognize their owners. A client in Tenafly would come home and say to her Emperor Angel fish, who lived to be more than 20, "How's my baby?" and the fish would rush to the top of the tank, making a grunting sound.

Joe takes care of a number of koi ponds in Montclair, where he works in association with landscape architects. Koi definitely recognize their owners, he said, although he doesn't know if it's by their voice, footsteps, or something else. Apparently koi can live to 350 years, so they may get to know several generations of a family.

When Vets Make Mistakes, Pets Pay the Price
By JoNel Aleccia -

Owners outraged over botched surgeries, medication errors, misdiagnoses

Bad diagnosis nearly costs dog’s life
A pathologist’s report of aggressive bone cancer turned out to be wrong for Finnegan, an 8-year-old Greyhound. Three years later, he’s happy and healthy and his owners are glad they got a second opinion, though they worry about medical errors in other people's pets.

Jared Genser was a day away from euthanizing his family dog, Finnegan, when the Washington, D.C. lawyer discovered that the lab’s diagnosis of a painful and deadly bone cancer was wrong.

Jenn Diederich of Riverton, Utah, sent her dog, Ted, for surgery to repair a torn ligament in a right rear leg, only to find that the veterinarian had operated on the left leg instead.

And Stefani Olsen of Silver Spring, Md., returned from a weekend business trip to discover that the clinic where she’d boarded her elderly diabetic cat, Toonces, had overdosed him with 10 times the amount of insulin he needed, leaving the animal blind, wracked with seizures and suffering from severe brain damage that lasted until his death.

“It goes beyond heartbreak,” said Olsen, a 45-year-old health information technician who’d had the 15-year-old cat since he was a kitten.

If any of these mistakes had occurred in human patients, they’d be classified as medical errors worthy of investigation, public reporting and professional discipline, including dismissal.

Wrong-site surgery and medication overdoses, for instance, are among the so-called “never events” regarded as inexcusable in a human health care setting.

But because the errors occurred in animals, owners and advocates say they were ignored, minimized or outright denied by a system that devalues the bond between pets and their owners and fails to hold veterinarians sufficiently accountable when they make mistakes.

‘Woefully inadequate’
“When someone’s companion animal is injured by a veterinarian, their choices are between slim and none,” said Joyce Tischler, founder and general counselor for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a Cotati, Calif., group that fields several calls a month about pet medical errors.

“Action against veterinarians is woefully inadequate,” she added.

Owners of injured animals say they’re stunned to discover state veterinary boards that dismiss up to 80 percent of the complaints filed against their members, and a legal system that regards pets as mere property, with no way to recover damages for emotional loss.

Laws vary, but in most state courts animals are worth their market value, plus perhaps any economic value they generate for their owners, Tischler said. That could be a considerable amount of money for a high-value show dog or a racehorse, for instance, but for most household pets, it's not.

“If you have a 10-year-old mixed-breed dog, the value of that dog is generally considered to be under $100,” Tischler said. “It's a sad situation, it's an unfair situation for people who care about their animals and are quite shocked to find when their animal is killed or injured they cannot sue.”

But industry advocates and vets themselves say that such rhetoric overstates the problem. They contend that mistakes occur only in a tiny fraction of the nearly 190 million for veterinary visits for dogs, cats, birds and horses each year, and that there is adequate monitoring and discipline when they do happen.

“I guess I don’t agree that there is a lot of malpractice out there,” said Adrian Hochstadt, assistant director of state legislative and regulatory affairs for the American Veterinary Medical Association, which represents about 80,000 vets.

“If there are negligent doctors — and there are probably a few in every system — if it’s a big problem, it would have been addressed by legislation," he added.

No tracking of vet errors
It’s difficult to know how often medical errors occur in pets. The AVMA collects no statistics on veterinary malpractice suits, Hochstadt said, and the group’s associated Professional Liability Insurance Trust, or PLIT, which offers malpractice insurance for vets, refused to release numbers or outcomes of such cases.

One small study of veterinary errors, a 2004 paper published in the journal Veterinary Record, found that 78 percent of recent veterinary graduates surveyed in Scotland and England admitted making a mistake that could have endangered an animal. It’s not clear whether those results can be extrapolated to the larger profession, however.

In the absence of better data, most industry experts look to human medicine, where medical errors kill as many as 98,000 people a year, and likely more, according to a decade-old Institute of Medicine report widely regarded as a baseline.

“There’s no reason to think that it’s so different than what occurs in humans,” said Kathleen Bonvicini, chief executive of the Institute for Healthcare Communication Inc., a New Haven, Conn., nonprofit that had to add sessions on veterinary errors several years ago to address a growing demand.

Complaints on the rise
Still, the number of complaints against veterinarians seems to be going up, rising by about 14 percent between 2005 and 2007 according to a survey by DVM Newsmagazine, which monitors the industry.

A check of several states showed that many dismiss a large proportion of their complaints. In Texas, there were 469 new complaints in 2008, with 172 carried from previous years. Records show that more than 40 percent, 263 complaints, were dismissed without action.

In Alabama, 30 of 50 new complaints filed in 2008 were dismissed, or about 60 percent. And in Nevada, 65 of 79 new complaints that year were dismissed, or 82 percent.

But using numbers of complaints to gauge the quality of veterinary care can be misleading, noted Thomas Mickey, the executive director of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board. Some customers use complaints as a way to get out of paying what they regard as high vet bills.

“They have to justify a reason for not paying that bill,” he said.

The AVMA stands by the state discipline system, Hochstadt said. At the same time, the group has staunchly opposed efforts to allow courts to impose non-economic damages for animals, arguing that the move would drive up costs, push vets out of the profession and create many of the problems found in the medical malpractice realm for humans.

“Our position is that the current legal structure is working well,” Hochstadt said.

That sentiment outrages some pet owners, prompting them to take their plight to the Internet. Greg Munson, 44, a Mesquite, Texas, businessman created the Web site after the 2005 death of his beloved 8-year-old Shih Tzu, Stempy, from an alleged veterinary error after surgery for a bladder stone.

Munson's site, which features flaming letters and "story after story of EVIL Vets from HELL,” was designed to gain attention — and prompt action, Munson said.

“Vets in this country literally get away with murder,” Munson said. “Even when a vet board does hold a vet accountable, it’s nothing more than a slap on the wrist.”

Devastating mistakes
When mistakes occur, they’ve devastating to the animals — and to their owners.

Jared Genser, the 37-year-old Washington, D.C., lawyer, said he and his wife, Lisa, 32, a social worker, suffered “extreme distress” when a pathologist’s report from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine said their 5-year-old Greyhound, Finnegan, had osteosarcoma, an aggressive and deadly bone cancer.

“We cried for 24 hours,” he said. “They said we should probably consider putting him down to spare him the pain.”

Reluctantly, the pair scheduled the euthanasia. The day before the appointment, however, they got a second opinion from a Greyhound expert at Ohio State University, who ruled out cancer and said the dog was recovering from an injury. Three years later, Finnegan remains happy and healthy.

“It was either a spontaneous recovery or the pathologists at U Penn were wrong,” Genser said.

Jenn Diederich’s dog, Ted, a 7-year-old female Corgi-Blue Heeler mix, required four surgeries to repair the damage caused when Utah veterinarian Eric Bonder mistakenly operated on the wrong leg — and then botched that operation as well when a bone plate fractured during surgery.

“Her left leg, the one that had nothing wrong with it, had to have three surgeries because he did such a bad job on it,” said Diederich, 35, who works in law enforcement. “No dog should have to go through that.”

Stenfani Olsen said Toonces, her diabetic cat, spent the last two years of his life grappling with severe brain damage, while she spent $16,000 caring for him. It turned out that the vet who cared for Toonces, Marc S. Katz, of Silver Spring, Md., had allowed his adult son, who was not licensed as a veterinary technician, to administer insulin to the animal without supervision, records show.

The penalty levied by the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners against Katz was a $250 fine and 30-day suspension of his license, which was stayed. He was placed on six months probation, records showed. Katz did not return calls and e-mails from

“What would happen to a human medical doctor if that happened?” Olsen said. “What I’m saying is a $250 fine and a stayed suspension is completely inadequate as a deterrent.”

‘How do you sleep at night?’For many owners, that’s the worst part: They’re upset that the mistake occurred, but they’re outraged when no one seems to take it seriously.

When Diederich, who was upset, confronted the vet, Bonder, about the mistaken surgery, she said he told her: “By law, your dog is worth only $100 anyway.”

“You take your animal to a vet clinic and you just assume that they care about your animal,” she said. "I asked him, ‘How do you sleep at night?’”

Bonder, 45, of Salt Lake City, acknowledged that he did operate on the wrong leg, and that that operation went bad, too.

“I feel awful about it,” said Bonder, who explained that the original mistake occurred when a technician shaved the wrong leg. “Admittedly, I should have caught the error.”

But he said he never told Diederich that her dog was worth just $100: “I did not say it and I would not say it.”

He added that every vet who makes a mistake feels nearly as bad as the owners do.

“It’s more gut-wrenching than it is anything else,” Bonder said. “Once I realized it occurred, it’s ‘Oh my gosh, what happened?’ and then you go to ‘What do you do about this?’”

Diederich filed a complaint about Bonder with the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing last summer, but a spokeswoman said no action had been taken. Records show Bonder's veterinary license had been placed on probation for two years in 2002 after he "acted unprofessionally" while treating an injured cat. The move included stipulations that he submit to a psychological exam and retake the ethics portion of the state veterinary exam.

Bonder said he couldn't comment on the details of the case, except to say it didn't involve a medical issue.

In Genser’s case, the head pathologist at the U Penn vet school wouldn’t answer calls from the Greyhound's owner about the dog's incorrect cancer diagnosis. A letter to the dean of the school, Joan C. Hendricks, elicited a polite, but vague response, despite Genser’s demands for clear action to rectify the problem. Hendricks did not respond to calls and e-mails from

“I don’t expect perfection in my vets,” said Genser, adding that he did expect medical professionals to communicate with owners and to learn from their mistakes.

A culture change
Bonvicini, the health communications expert, said veterinary attention to medical mistakes probably lags human medicine by several years. In human care, a “mistakes happen” attitude has been replaced with concerted efforts to reduce errors. From Medicare penalties for hospital-acquired conditions to surgical checklists aimed at reminding doctors to follow protocols, the entire system has veered toward a new accountability.

“We’re talking about a culture change,” said Bonvicini, who teaches seminars on human medical errors as well. The PLIT, the liability insurance agency, has recently begun sponsoring the sessions.

Veterinarians are starting to feel the same pressures, said Mickey, the North Carolina vet board director.

“I think there’s a greater understanding in the profession that a mistake could happen to anybody,” he said. “We’ve got to be more careful. We’ve got to do a better job. I think the whole profession is on a gradual uphill.”

The change can’t come soon enough for pet owners, said Tischler, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. In a nation where 63 percent of people own pets and many regard them as members of the family, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, more animal lovers are paying attention to medical errors — and hoping to stop them.

It’ll take more aggressive enforcement by vet boards and, perhaps, a change in the way animals are regarded under the law, she said. Until then, pet owners are on their own.

“I never met a person who wanted money,” Tischler said. “Every single one of them has said, ‘I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s animal.’”

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