Pet Owners: How to Get Your Pet into Movies and T.V.

Pet Owners Struggling With
Economy Have Options
Kate Sullivan -

With no job and lots of bills, Kathy Partak says her dog Riley's care is on the list of things that will have to wait a little longer to get attention.

"Riley has an incessant itch, and so he just scratches and scratches, he basically needs to get his ears irrigated," Partak says.

Partak is not alone. A recent survey shows nearly half of the pet owners questioned say they are now waiting until there are obvious, visible issues before taking their pet to the vet.

But as the tight economic times force pets to pay the price, the Humane Society says there are affordable alternatives.

Patrick Kwan, New York state director for the Humane Society, says that there are places to go that can save pet owners money.

"Look into the non-profit animal care hospitals that are available in New York City," Kwan says. "There is the Humane Society of New York; there is the animal medical center, and also the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Hospital."

All of these places can provide free vaccinations, free or low-cost spaying and neutering, and other procedures often at much more reasonable rates.

"It's a case by case basis," Kwan says.

Even the local animal shelter may operate or known of subsidized clinics or assistance programs.

If pet owners have a specific breed of dog, the national club of that breed may have a veterinary financial assistance fund.

You may also qualify for assistance from the American Animal Hospital Association's "Helping Pets Fund," which will pay up to $500 a year in bills when you visit a participating veterinarian.

Pet Trend expert Charlotte Reed says the best way to avoid paying large vet bills down the road is preventive care.

"You want to make sure that your pet has a healthy diet, your pet's getting exercise," Reed says. "You also might want to do things like brush your pet's teeth on a regular basis."

To further avoid large bills, owners should also ask veterinarians about possible payment plans.

"Many veterinarians have payment plans available that will allow you to pay on a monthly basis or bi-weekly basis," Kwan says.

There are also a number of independent, private organizations that will provide assistance to pet owners in need, and as part of the Humane Society's "Pets For Life" program, temporary foster care is also available if you're going through tough financial times.

If you are having trouble finding affordable health care for your pet, click here for more information on how to get help.

The following is a list of organizations that provide financial assistance to pet owners in need. Please keep in mind that each organization is independent and has their own set of rules and guidelines. Therefore you will have to investigate each one separately to determine if you qualify for assistance:

IMOM Inc.,
The Pet Fund,
Good Sam Fund,
United Animal Nations LifeLine Fund,
Angels for Animals,
Brown Dog Foundation,
Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program,
Feline Outreach,
Cats In Crisis,
The Perseus Foundation (Cancer specific),
Canine Cancer Awareness,
Cody's Club (Radiation treatments),
Diabetic Pets Fund,
The Mosby Foundation,
Magic Bullet Fund (Cancer Specific),
The Binky Foundation,
God's Creatures Ministry Veterinary Charity,

No Hungry Dogs:
New Pantry to Help People Afford Pets

People who might be down on their luck and can't bear to part with their animals are getting a break in Cincinnati.

The Associated Press reports dozens of pet owners lined up over the weekend at the Cincinnati Food Pantry to receive a two weeks' supply of pet food, treats, cat litter and other items. Two local nonprofit animal-rescue groups teamed up to obtain donations to supply the first giveaway.

"People lose their jobs and can't afford to keep their pets, or they have to move from their house to an apartment that doesn't allow pets," said Shannon DeBra, founder of Recycled Doggies, which is working with Pet Alliance on the pantry.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimated in November that 1 million to 2 million pets had been abandoned nationwide since the recession began in December 2007.

Cyndi Loveless was among 140 families on the first distribution day, when more than 5,600 pounds of pet food was given out.

"I'd die first before I let them go," she said of her four dogs and two cats. "They're part of the family, and you can't get rid of your family."

Some Birds Make Better Pets Than Others
By Hawaiian Humane Society

QUESTION: My daughter wants a pet bird. Does the Humane Society have a recommendation on what kind?

ANSWER: Budgies and cockatiels make great pets for families. Budgies are the most popular avian species kept as pets. This gentle friend will enjoy perching on your shoulder, and can be taught to mimic words and household noises. At 11 to 14 inches long, cockatiels are about twice the size of budgies and have an average life span of 12 to 15 years. They're smart and love to be doted on.


The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.

My Pet Camera:
Fujifilm Releases Special Camera
for Dog and Cat Lovers
Richard Metzger -

Pet lovers know what I'm talking about when I say it's really difficult to take a picture of your pets and accurately capture just how darnn cute they are. Perhaps my dog hasn't mastered the red carpet poses of masters like Beyonce, Paris Hilton or even the cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore," but it's still frustrating when every single picture we take of the little guy comes back with the "red eye" syndrome and with our 9-pound pooch looking like he's part of a police lineup. And just try to take a picture of a black cat. Your cat may look all panther-like to the naked eye, but make an attempt to grab a shot that shows how truly gorgeous that sleek kitty is and, well, you just can't do it. Trust me, I've tried. A lot.

The fine folks at Fujifilm in Japan must have some frustrated pet owners on their development team because they've launched a 12 mega-pixel camera, the FinePix Z700 EXR, that recognizes when it's being pointed at a dog or cat (using the "Auto Dog / Cat Detection" function) and instantly optimizes the focus and exposure. In fact, you can actually program it to store the parameters for up to 10 dog and cat faces. There is also an auto-release function that will automatically get the shot when the pet is looking directly at the camera.

These nifty options should really come in handy for animal rescue groups posting to looking to amp up that "Please adopt me!" appeal.

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Pet Food Advice:
'Chow Hound' is a Guide
for Loving Owners
Janice Lloyd -

If there's one thing that's pounded into us about our own diets, it's about how unhealthy it is to eat processed foods. Stay away from the middle aisles of the grocery store, right?

In his new book Chow Hound (Health Communications, Inc., $14.95), veterinarian Ernie Ward looks at the processed foods we give our pets. He's not trying to rush anyone into putting their dog on a fresh or raw diet (he even warns of contamination issues with these foods), but he is urging people to learn more about what they're feeding their dogs. His explanations about how commercial foods are produced, what they're made up of and how they're regulated are thorough. He tries to take readers through the gibberish on the labels and points you toward good choices.

The biggest problems facing owners: we don't know how much to feed our pets or how much they should weigh -- and the pet food companies aren't helping us with these decisions. Some lean foods might not really be all that lean. Some low-fat foods might not really be that much lower in fat. And none of us -- human, dog or cat -- is getting the exercise we used to get ...

End result: Obesity is common in pets. The subtitle of Ward's book is Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter - A Vet's Plan to Save Their Lives. It's not all dry as kibble. He tells the story of the 22-pound obese dachshund who lost 12 pounds and the steps they took to make him healthy again.

Ward heads up a group called the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. In a report they issued this week, findings show more than 45% of dogs and 58% of cats are now estimated to be overweight or obese in the U.S. When asked, 33% of dog owners and 46% of cat owners with overweight pets incorrectly identified their pet as a normal weight; 25% of dog owners with obese dogs reported their dog was normal while 40% of obese cat owners thought their cat was a normal weight.

Ward writes in the book about how Kibble crack (sugary formulas in some commercial foods are appealing to pets) is a big part of the problem. He's biggest sin in this undertaking is he's no softie. He's serious. Treats are bad news. He writes "throw out treats unless they are low calorie (less than 15 calories) and low in fat (less than 10%)." They're more for the humans anyway," Ward says.

Full pet food bowls are a problem. Do you know how many calories your pet gets daily? Chances are you don't, and Ward says the labeling makes it nearly impossible to know how many are in a cup of food. He explains how to figure it out. But it shouldn't be this hard. Remember, they're in the business to sell food. It's your business to find out what's in the food and what diseases your pet can get from being overweight.

In closing, he asks readers to write to their local representatives to put pressure on the groups who regulate pet food and demand they use better food labels and clear nutritional guidelines. You undoubtedly will want to learn more about what makes up your pet foods after reading this book -- and after that pet food scare in 2007.

Staying Safe on Rainy Days
by Paris and John -

We live in a part of Texas that’s known for its flash flooding because of all the rocky surfaces (and lack of dirt). A sudden rainfall will pour off the hills and can turn dry creekbeds into dangerous rivers that sweep cars off the road.

So we’re always very aware of the dangers of a sudden rainfall (and, if you saw the recent video of a brave firefighter saving a dog from the Los Angeles River Basin, we know you are, too!) Today we received some tips from Christina Selter, known as the “Pet Safety Lady,” to steer clear of walking dogs close to rushing water. Her tips are perfect with spring rains just around the corner:

--When out walking your dog, stay away from rushing, rising and dirty water. Staying on neighborhood sidewalks and bringing along treats will keep your dogs from the temptation of wanting to jump into the water.

--Leads that are 6 feet in length or shorter make controlling your dog much easier; updated dog tag information is also important and purchasing a doggie rain coat can help keep pets warm and dry.

--A great alternative during hazardous weather conditions is the PottyPatch, an indoor bathroom for dogs that offers a dry substitute to your backyard tundra. Supported by the American Kennel Club, the PottyPatch is a necessary item for pets and pet owners to avoid problems during bad weather conditions.

--In the case of rain, plan a shorter walking route than normal and stick to streets with trees to help shield off the rain. A little rain shouldn’t stop you from walking your dog; they need the exercise and to release some energy.

--Staying hydrated during the walk is essential for both you and your dog. Don’t let pets drink dirty water from the ground or gutters; it could be contaminated and very harmful to your pet.

--Also make sure to have an escape plan if the rain storm gets worse; the safest thing with pets is to have a quick way to get back home.

--While dogs do have fur, its not any more protective than a light layer of clothes. Walking near tress, awnings, homes and bushes block out the rain. When you get home, wipe off your dog’s body, give him treats and a warm bed to rest in.

View Photos of Singles -
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It’s a Big Scary World for Little Lost Pets

Animal Services hears the same story from distraught pet owners every day: “My pet lives indoors. I never thought he/she would run away and get lost!” The sad fact is that millions of lost pets arrive at U.S. shelters as strays each year.

"A micro-chip is a quick and easy way to help ensure your pets' safety," said Stephanie Sikorski, interim director for Animal Services. "Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of the 11,000 animals that enter our facility each year are ever reclaimed. Our goal is to reunite pets and their owners and eliminate the 'lost pet' signs you see in parks, newspapers and around town."

Pets of all species, breeds and ages can be microchipped. Small pets must be in a pet carrier, and dogs must be on a leash. The cost is $10 per pet, which includes the microchip and registration with AVID's PETrac Recovery Network.

Getting a microchip for your pets helps protect them should they go missing. Pet ID tags can fall off or be removed. Microchips provide your pet with a simple and permanent form of identification. The microchip (about the size of a grain of rice) is inserted by a trained professional below the pet's skin, generally between the shoulder blades. The process takes only a few seconds and is relatively painless for your pet. Each microchip is encoded with a unique number that will be kept on file with AVID's PETrac Recovery Network. Once a lost pet arrives at an animal shelter or veterinary clinic, a handheld scanner is used to identify the unique number on the implanted microchip, and then owner is identified and contacted.

Here are some tips from Animal Services to help prevent your pet from becoming lost.

· Tags save lives – Always keep current identification and rabies tags on your pet’s collar. Update the information if you move or your phone number changes.

· Permanent ID – Have your local veterinarian or Animal Services microchip your pet as a backup should the collar or tags become lost.

· Spay or neuter your pet – This reduces an animal’s tendency to roam and has many other health benefits for your pet.

· Secure your property – Fence your yard and routinely check for new escape routes. Be sure to keep gates locked as well.

· Safe transportation – Leash your dog when you take it off your property. Always transport your cat in a carrier.

· Have photos ready – Always keep a current photo of your pet handy for identification purposes (both close-ups and full body shots).

If you do lose your pet, take the following steps:

· Contact local animal shelter and animal control agencies.

· Search the neighborhood.

· Advertise by posting fliers.

· Check the lost and found column in local papers.

· Inform your veterinarian that your pet is missing.

· Be wary of pet-recovery scams.

· Don’t give up your search. Animals who have been lost for months have been reunited with their owners.

The Tallahassee Animal Shelter Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides support to the homeless animals in the care of the ASC. The ASC is operated and maintained by the City's Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs Department. For more information on the Animal Service Center, call the 891-2950 or visit

Feline and Feeling Fine:
Tips for Keeping Your Cat Healthy
By Zootoo Pet News Staff

Regular vet visits are a key part of maintaining your cat’s good health.

Our cats provide us with comfort, companionship, and fun. And in return, they depend on us to help keep them safe and healthy. To maintain your cat’s good health, regular visits to the vet are a must.

But recent studies show that one-third of cat owners only take their animal to the vet when their pet is noticeably sick. While cats have a reputation for being very independent, our feline friends need regular checkups to avoid allowing small problems to grow into major ones.

Dr. Michelle Gaspar, the veterinary advisor for the all-natural cat litter Feline Pine, urges owners to make these vet visits a priority. “Contemporary clinical practice considers a thorough physical exam as the cornerstone of feline veterinary care.”

Regular vet checkups can also uncover hidden medical issues that have the potential to develop into larger problems. “As we know, cats who appear healthy to the clients aren’t necessarily so,” Gaspar adds. “Providing feline patients our medical expertise on a regular basis beneļ¬ts the kitty, client and our hospitals.”

Remembering annual checkups can be a challenge, so Feline Pine offers a page on their website where visitors can sign up for an annual reminder e-mail. This service is part of National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week, which the company began promoting last year.

Between vet visits, here are some simple ways that cat owners can keep their pets healthy and happy.

Establish regular feeding times. Scheduling meals of equal proportion can help prevent obesity in cats. Studies have shown that between 25 and 40 percent of cats are overweight, a condition that can lead to more serious health problems. When you help your cats become accustomed to a regular eating routine, you help them maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Better grooming, better health. Brushing your cat’s fur and trimming his claws are more than just beauty rituals. Keeping your cat’s coat free of excess hair can help to prevent hairballs — a benefit for both pet and owner! And to prevent ingrown nails, make sure your cat’s claws are not too long. When trimming, be sure to clip only the sharp tip, never the pink section — and if you’re not sure how to trim, ask your veterinarian to show you.

Know your cat’s patterns. Living with your pet daily means that you are in the best position to notice any problems that might arise with his health. Be aware of signs that indicate your cat may be experiencing a medical issue. Emergency symptoms such as vomiting or bleeding are obvious indicators that something’s wrong, but subtler signals can also be important tip-offs.

Owners should watch for significant changes in cats’ behavior — a social kitty spends the day under the bed, a pet with a previously healthy appetite turns away from food, or an active cat no longer seems interested in playing with favorite toys. All of these could be signs of more serious problems.

Be prepared. Many organizations, such as the Red Cross, offer DVDs and books with valuable first aid information for cat owners. Also, don’t be hesitant to ask your veterinarian to show you how to administer any prescribed medication or recommended care.

To celebrate good cat health, Feline Pine is donating 50 cents for each Zootooer who joins their fan club. To become a fan, visit:

And to cast your vote in Feline Pine’s video contest before the final votes are tallied, visit:

Tell us what you think about “Feline and Feeling Fine: Tips for Keeping Your Cat Healthy” below. Share your favorite videos by clicking on the ZootooTV tab. Send us your story ideas by e-mailing us at

Small Pet Turtles - 3 Tips to Keep Them Happy
By Michael Fisher -

I really love my small pet turtles. They are so much fun to watch, as they swim and play in their new aquarium that I set up for them. But I later found out they have special needs that must be met to keep them happy and healthy.

So lets discuss some of the things that are necessary to keep these small reptiles healthy so they can live a long and happy life.

1) The first and most important thing is that they must have to have clean water to swim in. Turtles spend a lot of time in the water, so make sure you have a good filter. Dirty water is one of the main reasons that a turtle will become ill.

2) Every turtle is a bit different, some spend more time in the water and others like to bask on a rock for hours. Get to know each of your turtles and their different likes. They really do have different personalities, so get to know your pets.

3) Make sure that your turtles have enough room to swim and play. You have to remember that if they are cared for properly, they will thrive and can grow quite large. You need to know this so you can plan ahead and get the right size habitat for them. The larger the set up the better, you do not want them cooped up in small living conditions. They will not be very happy if they are cramped and don't have much room to swim.

There are many other things to know about raising small pet turtles such as water temperature, aquarium setup and feeding. These are some of the many things that must be done correctly to keep them thriving and happy.

After getting my new pet turtles my kids fell in love with them. I had to make sure they were happy and healthy, so I learned all that I could about these cute little guys and gals.

8 Tips to Getting Your Pet
into the Entertainment Biz
Written by Mary Gormley for

As a talent scout for music, I’ve worked with the likes of Sinead O’Connor, Death Cab for Cutie and James Blunt, but it wasn’t until a stint of unemployment back in the mid 90’s that I figured what the heck, maybe I can discover some canine talent as well. My New Yorkie Gidget, has been a model and actor for 13 years. From Bloomingdales to dog food, Conan to Letterman, Cosby to Mad about You, and “Baby” from Sex in the City, here are 8 tips I learned along the way.

1. Safety first. If your pet seems stressed out he/she shouldn't be there.

2. Socialization. If your pooch doesn’t like people, other pets, or is scared by noise this is not for them. On the Sex and the City set there were geese and swans—tempting to dogs not used to play dates with other creatures!

3. Ask for a doggie double. Gidget is 15 years young but still, there were some long shooting days that went into the wee hours of the morning. I used the other dog for a few angles during a scene when Kim Cattrall was holding the dog in a bag. No acting required but Gidget had just been on set too long and was tired.

4. You’re not a stage mom. More like a choreographer. You study the scene, rehearse at home and work out the action on set with the director and actors.

5. Set expectations. Be clear with the director or photographer what your pet’s limitations are. The worst thing you can do is show up unprepared and waste time, money and put your pet in a stressful situation. If you want future work, be honest if it’s not in your pet’s repertoire.

6. Command with a click. Train by rewarding a behavior with a click and a treat. Gidget is trained to sneeze, hump, dig, beg, retrieve, sit and bark.

7. Getting paid. Sometimes we get a gig and have to prep for weeks. In that case we get paid for every prep day and travel day. If we're away, I get a hotel and am paid per diem.

8. Register with multiple agents. Some pay more than others and some get more work than others. Dawn Animal Agency is affiliated with a sanctuary that has over a 1,000 animals, including the camels and the rest of the animals in the Radio City Music Show. All Creatures Great & Small uses all "Reel" pets for TV, film and advertising as does Animals for Advertising, who has Saturday Night Live and Project Runway among their clients.

Gidget was treated like a rock star on the set of Sex and the City 2! This hat was made by the Muppet costume designer. They sent paper hats to my house for size and then it was custom made for the film. Kim often joked about Gidget always getting her close ups first!

Careers in Entertainment: Acting, Music, Dance and More. Click on banner to view opportunities.

Pet Talk – First Aid for Pets

‘Be prepared’ is good advice especially if there is an emergency. To be better prepared in a pet emergency, a pet first aid kit is beneficial.

“The biggest advantage for having a pet first aid kit would be so that you can concentrate on what you can do for your pet constructively rather than looking all over the place for something that might ‘work’ but is less than ideal,” notes Dr. James Barr, clinical assistant professor, Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The preparation of a pet emergency kit will allow you to mentally prepare for a problem,” says Barr. “A waterproof plastic bin is the perfect container as it will keep the items in it from being ruined so that they will be available in an emergency.”

Barr explains that ideally pet first aid kits should be kept at home and in your car. Then you can help your pets in case they are injured at home or one that might have been injured in the street. He notes that one of the most common injuries of pets is being hit by a car.

“There are commercial first aid kits available for pets,” Barr notes, “and some of the essentials would include: cohesive bandage/ACE bandage, assortment of bandages, burn gel, instant cold pack, emergency blanket, gauze pads, roll gauze, medical vinyl gloves, hydrogen peroxide, triple antibiotic packets, alcohol wipes, antiseptic wipes, slip-style leash, lubricating jelly, safety pins, bandage scissors, one-inch adhesive tape, tongue depressors, tweezers/forceps, and hand cleaning wipes.”

He suggests that a deluxe pet first aid kit would also include sterile eye/skin wash, sterile gauze pads, roll conforming gauze, 10 ml and 30 ml oral syringes, cotton swabs/applicators, digital thermometer, tick remover, and sting relief wipes.

“Be sure to include the phone numbers for your local veterinarian and emergency hospital that is open after hours in your area,” Barr says. “Additionally, the Animal Poison Control Center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at (888) 426-4435.”

“First aid is not a substitute for veterinary care,” Barr stresses. “First aid implies there is at least second aid and the second aid should be your veterinarian.”

Depending on the emergency situation, a restraint may need to be used when working with an injured pet. “One must be very careful with injured pets because they are unable to communicate with us and us with them, they are often afraid. That fear is translated into aggression and pets can injure even the best meaning bystander because they are in pain,” explains Barr.

He notes that you should not try to restrain the pet at all, if possible, but in times of respiratory distress (difficulty breathing) it becomes critical that the pet not be stressed. Holding pets sometimes creates more stress. This should be balanced with the recognition that the pet be prevented from harming themselves further.

“A pet with spinal injuries needs to be restrained much the same way that a person should be restrained after what is suspected to be spinal trauma,” Barr states. He notes that instead of being on their back, it is helpful to have the pet on its side, taped to a rigid board so that its head and legs cannot move around.

In cases of poisoning, Barr explains that choosing to cause the pet to vomit the offending poison should not be standard procedure to treating poisoning of a cat. There are circumstances when this is a bad decision. You should always contact your local veterinarian or the pet poison hotline for instructions.

Barr says that if you, as a pet caregiver, are tempted to dispense human medicines to your cat or dog you need to know that any product containing acetomenophin should never be given to a cat. It is poisonous to them. Most of the over counter pain relievers, especially ibuprofen and naproxen, should not be used in dogs as they are very irritating to the stomach. Please, call your veterinarian with any medication questions.

Pet medical emergencies can be trying times, but with prior preparation, the situation can be less stressful.


Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at

Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

How to Find a Purebred Rescue Dog
Melissa Bell and Sarah Ruckelshaus -

Sarah Ruckelshaus, executive director of Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue, joined Post staff writer Melissa Bell to discuss how prospective dog owners can find a rescue in the breed they want.


Melissa Bell: Hey, everyone, welcome to our chat! My guest is Sarah Ruckelshaus, the Executive Director of Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue. We're here to answer your questions on pet adoption. If you have any stories about your own experience, please feel free to share! Thanks for joining in the conversation.


Anonymous: Why do people need a specific breed, especially as many breeds have been artificially perpetuated through the years, perpetuating traits that wouldn't otherwise survive natually? Why not adopt a mixed breed dog? Those so often get overlooked in animal shelters (I volunteered at one for years).

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Breed specific rescues are needed because specific breeds have been bred to do specific jobs and often have specific needs. Those dogs can then be matched up to humans wishing to acquire that specific breed. In my case, Border Collies are bred to work all day and really need someone able to handle all of that energy.

I do agree with you, in many, many cases, a mixed breed dog is the best dog for a home. They make the most excellent companion dogs and forever friends, but in some cases, people desire the specific breed for many reasons. I actually use my dogs to help me with my sheep on my farm, and a mixed breed dog would not be an appropriate choice. I hope that helps answer your questions!


Lovettsville, Va.: My friend has a Border Collie that doesn't have American Kennel Club papers, but she says it's a purebred anyway. She says her dogs belongs to a "Working Dog" registry. Are dogs without AKC papers any good?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: AKC papers are not any better or any worse than any other papers. If you are not showing your dog, you have absolutely no need for papers.


Lovettsville, Va.: Where can I watch real sheep dogs working sheep? Are there any events coming up in this area?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: There are sheepdog trials (sometimes called stock dog trials) all over the eastern seaboard, and throughout the country. If you go to the USBCHA or the NEBCA websites you will find trial listings where you can see our dogs do what they were bred to do. This coming fall, the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals will be held in Virginia and you will have the opportunity to see the cream of the crop compete for the highest honor or nation has to offer!

Melissa Bell: Here's that Web site. Sounds so fun!


Silver Spring, Md.: How is a purebred rescue different from a local humane society?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: A purebred rescue handles a specific breed of dogs (or group of breeds such as toy dogs). A humane society generally will accept any type of dog or cat in need. Within Humane Societies there may be more specifics, each organisation is different and works under their board's guidelines.


Dog lover in Vienna again: I'm a little concerned about the article's blanket assertion that all dogs in rescue are house-trained. With a dog that comes from a puppy mill, that might not be the case, because such a dog has often lost -- through no fault of his own -- the instinct to keep his den clean that is so important to house training. Also, I've heard of several cases in which rescue groups have claimed that a dog is housetrained, only for the adopter to find that that's not the case at all. This is particularly prevalent among small or toy dogs. Comments?

Melissa Bell: Thanks, Dog lover. The dogs are usually house trained. Most groups work with the dogs, particularly puppy mill rescues to try and socialize

Melissa Bell: the dogs as best they can. However, in some cases, the groups find families that are willing to continue working and training the animals after the adoption. It also takes a few days for dogs to adjust to their new surroundings. So they may act out a bit when they first arrive at their new home. The Yuns said their dog was house trained, but it took them about a week before he started acting that way.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Many, many dogs ARE indeed housebroken while in fosters awaiting their new homes. There is ALWAYS an adjustment period where dogs will make mistakes while the communication builds. It takes time for dogs and their new families to become acclimated to each other.

You are sadly correct that it can be extremely difficult to housebreak small dogs, but with time, patience and consistency, it is possible.


Washington, D.C.: What if you're not quite sure of the breed you want? Is it better to approach a handful of breed rescue groups or just go to one first to see if it's a fit?

Melissa Bell: Each breed has particular qualities to it that really make a difference. There are good and bad qualities. For instance, Great Danes have joint problems and may need more medical care in their older age. But Danes are also super people-lovers. They're not extremely active--which can be a plus or a minus. Take some time to read up on the breeds and find out about their quirks. A good rescue organization should also be able to tell you if a breed is the right match for your lifestyle.


Washington, D.C.: I am looking for an English bulldog? Can you help?

Sarah Ruckelshaus:

(google search English Bulldog Rescue, then do the research on the rescues listed)


Sarasota, Fla: I think is a great place to start. I adopted a wonderful poodle/Shih Tzu mix from a local rescue group six weeks ago, and I found her initially on PetFinder. I originally looked for a Shih Tzu, since that's what my previous dog was, but this particular dog turned out to be perfect for me and my home situation. The best thing about PetFinder is that it shows available dogs in a widening circle from your own zip code, so you're less likely to fall in love with a dog that is 800 miles away.

Melissa Bell: is a great centralized location for rescue groups and many of the organizations use it to advertise. They are also starting a new program this week called Fur Keeps to help cut down on pet relinquishments. Pet owners can get the best advice on how to take care of their dog, especially in scenarios such as during a move, or during a medical problem. There web site has more information:


Silver Spring, Md.: No real question. Just wanted to say how much I love my rescue greyhound. She came off the track at about four and half. She had to learn about stairs, car rides and everything else about living with people. But she settled in grandly and is a fantastic pet. I wish all dog adopters could have the support network our rescue group (Greyhond Welfare) provides. I hate to think that the wonderful little mutts out there being adopted from shelters might be more likely to be returned because there was no one there to say, "the better you are at ignoring the early adjustment whining, the sooner it will stop." Or, "a tired dog is a relaxed dog -- longer walks fix more problems than you might imagine."

Melissa Bell: Thanks for sharing!


Greyhounds: Hi, I just wanted to share how great adopting a retired racing greyhound has been for me. I worked with Virginia Greyhounds, who selected my first dog based on my needs and preferences. He was so great that I ended up getting a second one who learned the house rules simply from watching the first one. Greyhounds are great house pets because they sleep all day while I'm at work and are very sweet when I'm home. My cat loves them, too.

Whatever the breed. I stongly advocate adopting a full grown dog for most people. They are so much less work and bond so strongly with their new owners. Puppies, while cute, require round the clock attention and training, which few people have the time and patience to provide. Any new pet needs some adjustment to a new home environment, but adult dogs adjust much more quickly.

Melissa Bell: I've heard this a lot from people who adopted adult dogs, especially for people with hectic, full-time jobs, the training is a big plus. I'm glad you have such a happy pet family!


House broken rescues: The bottom line is that a dog in a kennel is not getting any kind of housebreaking training, whereas a dog in a foster home is certainly getting something!

Melissa Bell: Agree. Thanks.


Alexandria,Va.: What is the best way to find a Web site for a particular breed? How does one know if a particular site is reputable?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Choose the breed...then do your research, ask around, speak to others who have that breed. If you are looking for a rescue, ask for references. most of all, do the research!


New Haven, Conn.: I tried to rescue a small dog from a breed specific group and, after applications, interviews and general excitement about my new friend, they rejected me. Why? Not because of long work hours, small children or concern for the health, safety or happiness of the dog. They rejected me because I don't have a yard -- despite the fact that I live 10 feet away from a lovely park with an enclosed dog run.

I have heard this from others, too. I understand that these groups don't want dogs bouncing in and out of homes but I had my last dog for 12 years. Long story short - bought a puppy from a breeder.

Melissa Bell: I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out for you. I have a sad story to admit to: I am a rescue group reject too! The groups try their best to match dogs up with owners, but they are really careful about the selection--in some cases, maybe too much (I'd like to think in my case definitely too much. Hmph!), but they often see dogs in really poor conditions and are trying to find the best possible scenario for the dogs. I hope you're happy with the breed dog!


Alexandra,Va.: When mentioning purebreed adoptions, don't forget Greyhounds. They are great dogs, lovable, calmer than most people realize and as well-bred a dog that you can get for next to free.

Melissa Bell: We seem to have a lot of Greyhound lovers on here today. Thanks!


Finding the right breed: If you Google "what dog is right for me" you will find a bevy of online "personality tests" that would help you narrow your search.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: I would recommend taking more than one of those tests to get a sampling of answers.....once again, do the research!


Alexandria, Va.: We have a rescued Border Collie and love him to death -- in fact we now say we could never live without a BC in our house because he brings such joy with him whereever he goes. Oh, and he's a great watchdog because we are his herd! BTW we also have two other mixed breed shelter dogs, so they are not mutually exclusive. Keep up the good work!

Sarah Ruckelshaus: That is wonderful! So very glad to hear it! I couldn't live without a Border Collie (or eight) in my life either!


L'Enfant Plaza: My brother is looking to adopt a purebred Welsh Corgi. Is there a good way to find one in need of rescuing rather than buying from a breeder?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: google Corgi Rescue, contact one (or a few) and go from there. Be forewarned, patience is needed with special breeds like Corgis, rescues can be scarce, but the patience adopter will win with a wonderful new friend!


Lynchburg, Va: I have a critique/question for the rescue. I have a rescued Great Dane from MAGDRL. She's wonderful. I have been trying to convince my parents to go the rescue route for a new Golden Retriever. In the past they've bought from backyard breeders and puppy mills. Are they perfect pet owners? Unlikely, but I think they're very "average" pet owners. They applied to a rescue and were denied because they did not do annual heartworm tests. Now they're just going to get a dog from a backyard breeder. This seems to me to be against the very long term goals of most breed rescues. It seems to me that most rescues want to be so sure about an adopter, that they're hurting the long term goals of eliminating puppy mills and backyard breeding. I suppose there's no right answer to "how sure do you need to be?" Your thoughts?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Is there a reason they did not do annual heartworm checks? If their vet didn't recommend it, and they do keep their dogs on heartworm preventative, I would suggest they try another rescue. If they are simply not caring for their dog by putting the dog on preventative, most rescues will not adopt to them...Remember, we are looking for homes where the new owners will provide great care for their new friend. Not using recommended treatments is considered to be substandard care...


Chestertown, Md.: What kind of exercise do Border Collies need? How often? I don't have sheep!

Sarah Ruckelshaus: You don't need sheep, but you do need to provide a border collie with plenty of activity and a JOB! Running, playing ball, therapy work, agility, tracking...the list is endless!


Kensington, Md.: Just started thinking about getting a dog for our family of 4- two kids (5 and 2). We live in a house with a fenced-in backyard and we could possibly come home during the day to walk.

Not a huge fan of dog hair (who is?) and I love English bulldogs but I think my husband would want a more active dog.

There are so many breeds and it seems the ones that would not shed are a poodle mix, and I don't like poodles.

Any suggestions?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Have you ever met a Standard Poodle?? They are wonderful dogs, and nothing like the little guys that many people love.

The best thing to do is RESEARCH! I cannot say that enough. Read about dogs, what they were bred for, and what their temperaments are like. See what might fit in your home, then talk to people who have that sort of dog.

One thing to keep in mind is that NO DOG will be perfect, it will take time and training to have the dog really fit into your home. There is good and bad about every breed of dog...

Melissa Bell: Here's a list I found of dogs that aren't big shedders:


Washington, D.C.: Hi Sarah, I know we have e-mailed and possibly met in person at Pet Expo. I think it's worth it to explain that Humane Society and other rescues work with breed rescues because of what you said about each breed being different. You helped our Rescue find a home for a Border Collie maybe a year ago, and I just wanted to thank you again.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: You are so welcome! Maybe we will meet again someday!


Woodbridge: Does no one care about cats?

I help feed and care for homeless felines along Rt. 1 in Woodbridge, of which there are many. We really need assistance from others and it doesn't take much.

Please send a little love to cat caregivers, owners and lovers. Thank you.

Melissa Bell: I do! I do! I love cats (I'm a cat person, don't tell everyone else on here...). There are a ton of great cat rescue organizations around and they do need just as much adoption love as dogs. I just got this reader note: "I volunteer at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, a no-kill shelter. This winter, we have gotten Siamese, Persians, Abyssinians, and more, as well as many pets whose owners have lost their homes. There are always more cats needing homes than dogs in shelters."

Sarah Ruckelshaus: As someone who rescues cats along with dogs, the difficulty is finding folks willing to adopt those cats. Sadly, cats are so common and are easily found as kittens in the newspaper, vet's offices, etc, that rescuers have great difficulty finding adopters. There are loads of cat rescues out there though, one in the DC area is called Alley Cat Rescue, we actually helped them with a dog!


Alexandria, Va. : I wanted to add to the sheep dog watching - there are plenty of farms in Northern VA out near Leesburg that train sheep dogs for both competition and just for the fun for the dog and its human. If you Google it, they are there.

Melissa Bell: Thanks so much! I want to go check this out.


Puppy Mill Dogs Follow up: I have a puppy mill dog I got from Potomac Lab Rescue who has never had an accident in the house. He seemed to know he was not to go in the house. Sure he tried marking a bit, all dogs do. But in 1/2 hr, he was over it. He learned quite quickly what he could and could not do in the house. He is now a perfectly trained house dog.

Melissa Bell: Great! Thanks so much for sharing.


Washington, DC: Can you discuss what a "home visit" prior to adoption or rescue involves? I'm reluctant to go down the road of adopting a breed from a rescue group because I've heard bad reports of the degree of intrusiveness involved. Thanks.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: A home visit is sort of like coffee with the new neighbors. Of course we do it to ensure a potential home is not a hoarder, but we also do it to uncover the tone of the home. Is it quiet? Noisy? busy? laid back? We want to know so we can be SURE that the dog we place into your home can handle your home, and that you get off on the right foot...don't be nervous, it is the last step (with us) before you meet your new family member!


Bowie, Md.: I would love to get a rescue dog, for all the right reasons, but the application and review process is daunting. I've heard some horror stories about it. What advice can you give me about preparing to start this process?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Go in with an open mind and be patient.

Do your research up front. Find a group with an excellent reputation and success rate. Chances are their process is built to find you the best possible dog for your home. Their process is designed to learn enough about you so they can place a wonderful new friend in your home and have the fit be as good as possible.

A good rescue will answer your questions and will explain their process so that you can understand...and don't be put off please. We have you, and your new friend in our best interest!


Greyhound USA: I'd like to give a shout-out to Greyhound Rescue. Greyhounds are great pets who need loving families. As more and more racing tracks close the need to find homes for these retired racers increases. We adopted our greyhound last July and he's been a joy. This breed has a great disposition and contrary to popular perception is not high-strung. In fact, they sleep up to 18 hours a day! Here are links to two local rescues that have more information about the breed and the adoption process: Thanks for posting!

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Greyhound Rescue is AWESOME!!! Glad to hear you have had success adopting through them!


Tampa, Fla: I can certainly second the motion about the benefits of adopting a rescue dog. Here in the Tampa Bay area, there is a very active organization, Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue, that sponsors adoption "meet and greets" about once a month at a local park. We found our 2-year old Beagle, Lady, at one of the rescue events about a year ago, and she is the sweetest thing in the world. Her previous owners were divorcing and neither wanted her (although she is so sweet, I can't imagine why neither of them wanted her). Not only did we get a great dog, but they also gave us her crate, her food bowls, a bag of food and some chew toys, which saved us about $200. They also had her previous vet records, which was so helpful when we took her for her first visit with our vet.

The rescue also required us to send them a copy of her vet visit with us, proof of current shots and contact information. We also were required to sign a contract that if we eventually couldn't keep the dog, that we would return her to the beagle rescue, not a shelter. Not bad for an total expense of $400 and a great family dog.

Melissa Bell: Great! I've heard so many happy stories from satisfied rescue "customers". Glad you found a great addition to your family.


Arlington, Va.: Is there a vetting process for potential foster homes? If so, what is required?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: The vetting that MABCR does is similar to what we do for adoptive homes...we do an interview, go over our procedures and ethics, and we conduct a home visit. We have no requirements, we take every application (adoptive and foster) on its merits.


Boston, Mass.: I've got 3 rescues -- 1 Greyhound and 2 Iggies and the animals are great family member additions. Rescue leagues are all over the net. Just keep in mind that they may have been abused or neglected by their prior owner and it takes a little work and time to gain their trust. If you don't have the time to devote to the animal, don't get one, but instead leave a donation to the shelter.

Melissa Bell: Good advice, thanks! Most of the organizations are volunteer-based and non-profit. The groups do charge for the animals (anywhere from $50 to $500) and that usually goes to pay off medical costs and food. They rely on donations to help cover other costs, such as unexpected medical care.


Washington, D.C.: I have had a German Shepherd from the Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue for about a year. He is great to the "parents" in the family, great to the younger boy, but he has decided that our 12- year-old boy must be some kind of a threat because he "announces" his presence anytime the 12-year-old comes into the room and wants to protect us from him getting too close. He seems to be in competition with him. Any ideas to help put the GSD back in the pecking order where he belongs?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: You should contact a trainer with experience with GSDs. You may also want to contact MAGSR for support as the rescues can often help in cases like this...


Yards and HW tests: Heartworm is a very painful death for your dog. There are basically no symptoms and once it gets past stage 1, the dog is almost certainly doomed. Your parents should be giving this care to their dogs. Mosquitos are everywhere.

Not having a yard as a reason for the rejection may have been about the dog you were specifically looking at. Some dogs in rescue need yards, or so their fosters feel, and some dogs don't. I live in a condo, so I understand. I do think that some of our dogs (min pins) in rescue will do better in a home with a yard. I do imagine that line was just a line, and that they just liked a different applicant better; because they knew you did not have a yard from jump, and still put you through the process. Maybe that other applicant did have a yard, and therefore that was the reason they decided to use in the decision making.

Melissa Bell: Thanks for your thoughts on this.


Arlington, Va.: Sarah - you do a wonderful job. Eight years ago, you paired us with Dillon/Dylan (formerly Diablo!). Just as you predicted, he really settled down with the boundaries and discipline we provided and proved to be an incredibly laid back dog. Last week he was diagnosed with cancer. :( We've had three rescues so far of different breeds and think it is totally the way to go. We bonded with each and every one of them and I'm sure will bond with the next one too. Thanks for all you do.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: I am so sorry to hear about Dillon. It is so sad when our guys get sick or old. Can you send me an update privately?? I would like to put his photos and story on our blog. Thanks so much for giving him a great life and a wonderful forever home! Virtual Hugs to you.


Arlington, Va.: How do I find reputable rescue organizations? On some of the websites, I've noticed a reference to "CFC numbers." What is that?

Melissa Bell: The best way is to do your research online and talk to other people who have adopted from the groups. And really trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable with a group, or do not like the way they proceed, then something is probably fishy. A CFC number shows that it's a charity listed with the government. You can find more information about the group at


Thank you, Va.: Just wanted to say thank you for what you are doing. I know fielding questions is one of the harder parts of rescue, especially since people tend to get heated about purebred dogs. From one volunteer to another, thank you.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: You said it! Fielding questions is something I love, but it is challenging!


Washington, D.C.: Where do your rescues usually come from? Do rescues generally have older dogs, or do you get puppies, too?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Our dog ages range from newly born (with their mums) to very old (last year we took in a dog we believed to be 16 or 17, she lived with her foster until she passed away die to age).

Our rescue dog's stories are as varied as the number of dogs. Strays, owner relinquishment, too much dog for a home, dog not doing well in a shelter...the list is endless...and, each dog is nicer than the one before. Make no mistake, these dogs may be (have been) unwanted, but they are all good dogs.


Vienna dog lover: It's wonderful that rescue groups take the time to vet prospective adopters. But it's equally important to be sure that any dogs are adoptable. What kind of behavioral assessments does Ms. Ruckelhaus's group do on the dogs that come into her rescue group?

Melissa Bell: Sarah will have to answer the specifics about her group, but I know most of the organizations visit with the dogs before taking them into their program, sometimes a number of times, to see if the dog can be socialized and placed in a foster home. Since the dogs are kept in people's homes, the foster families get to know the dogs well--their likes, their dislikes, etc.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Every dog that comes into our rescue stays with me for at least 7 to 14 days before going into foster, or a new home. Behavioral study is my thing, and I assess each dog for their temperament and energy levels so that we can be as successful as possible when placing a new dog into a new home. We will not adopt out a dog we feel will be or could be a danger to itself or others.


Home Visits: I also use home visits to talk about what to expect from a rescue dog, to look at whether you have a double door or not (some dogs are escape artists), is your fence secure, to let you know that dog food companies cannot be relied on to tell you how much to feed your dog, to talk about the importance of HW pills and tests, rabies vaccines, microchipping, etc., in addition to making sure that you're not a hoarder or running a pit bull ring.

Also your three-story townhouse might not be the best place for an older dachshund unless you plan on carrying it up and down the steps always.

Melissa Bell: Thanks!


Reston, Va: Hi! We have a wonderful Border Collie. She is the sweetest thing in the whole world. Unfortunately, she has major anxiety issues. We feel badly for her because she misses out on things because of it. We've been working with her. We've taking her to agility, which she doesn't really love. She does love herding so I try and do that with her when I can. She, of course, loves her toys. Balls and frisbees are her thing. My question is: Do you think she would enjoy having another border collie for company and maybe help her with her anxiety/fear issues?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Often a dog friend with a more solid temperament can help a dog with anxiety. Consider contacting a reputable rescue and discuss your situation with them to see if a buddy might help. Also consider increasing her exercise and decreasing the protein levels in her food...


Laurel, Md.: A comment about patience and rescue groups: One thing people need to realize is that the people involved in dog rescues are usually all volunteers. So if it seems to take a little while to get you a house check or anything else, remember we are doing this after many hours at our own jobs, taking care of children and all of the other normal parts of living. So it may take a little while. Being involved in a rescue is one of the most rewarding things to do with your time. Matching a person and their perfect pet is an amazing feeling.

Melissa Bell: Great point. Thanks for it.


To Kensington, Md.: If you like English Bulldogs, but your husband wants a dog that is more active, look no further than the Boston Terrier!! They are small, but my two are faster than labs and boxers at the dog park. I also take them both babysitting with me, and they are great with kids and babies. Both have been poked in the eye and have had their ears pulled by babies with no reaction at all...except maybe a kiss. The are also short very little grooming, and I only find hair in the lint trap. Good luck with your search!!

Melissa Bell: Thanks!


Re: Housebreaking: Just a clarification: don't assume because a dog is at a shelter, and not fostered, that it is NOT housetrained. Many adult dogs are at shelters for reasons unrelated to behavior, and may have been trained previously. Some shelters, such as the Washington Animal Rescue League, also take dogs to outdoor areas frequently to reinforce housetraining.

Melissa Bell: This is really true. A lot of the dogs going in to shelters now come from loving families, but because of the economic downturn, they lost their home and can't keep the dog in their apartment, or they can't afford medical care, or what-have-you.


Olney, Md.: My wife and I both grew up with dogs all our lives, and are so excited to be moving from a condo in DC into a house where we can have dogs!

Could you comment on whether getting two dogs is a good way of providing companionship for the dogs while we humans are at work?

Also, what breeds (or breed mixes) do you most recommend for families with babies?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: I do think two dogs is excellent, but get one dog at a the adoptions at least 6 months apart and work with your rescue to find dogs that suit you AND each other.

As for breeds to recommend for a young family, I would rather recommend that the humans involved learn how to teach their young children how to respect their pet's space, how to handle them, and how to train and properly socialise their dogs with children. That is far more important that learning which breed will suit...


Rockville, Md.: Hi! I'm currently fostering a puppy for a Boxer rescue in Richmond. I'm a first-time foster mom, and have had the puppy for about 6 months. He was adopted once, but returned to the rescue (and me) because it wasn't a good fit. The rescue has his information on petfinder and their website, but we haven't found a home for him yet. I've put out a few flyers myself, and posted him on Craigslist, but can you recommend other ways for me to get the word out about this little guy? I am not getting a ton of support from the rescue and really want to find a home for this wonderful pup. Any suggestions would be helpful! Thanks!

Melissa Bell: Hmmm... Have you tried Facebook? Spreading the word through your friends could be a good solution. Also see if your rescue organization or other groups in the area host adoption days. You could bring the puppy to meet potential adopters in person.


Baltimore, Md.: Thanks for the chat. I just want to say that I adopted two six-year-old rescue dogs (dachshunds) and the rescue experience has been a joy. I hadn't realized that there is a rescue group (in fact, multiple groups) for virtually every dog breed -- getting a rescue dog and a particular breed are not mutually exclusive. I would suggest that potential owners open their minds to the possibility of adopting an older dog. For me, it eliminated the puppy phase -- the need for training, the chewing, etc. Older dogs were a good choice for me because I wanted companionship, not necessarily a canine jogging partner. And rescue dogs seem genuinely grateful for the new home! Adopting my dogs was the best thing I've ever done.

Melissa Bell: Thanks for sharing!


Orlando, Fla: What are some ways I can volunteer and help local dog rescues? Additionally, are there any donations that are more helpful than others?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Oh my, there so many ways you can help a rescue! Do your research (did I say that again??) and find a rescue you think you might like to work with. Contact them and ask them what you can do to help them. Keep in mind what your special talents are and how you can best utilize your time and talent to help. Work together with them to find the best fit.

Donations? It may be obvious, but money is oh, so important. After money, towels, treats, collars, leashes, etc, but ask the rescue before you donate as their needs may be different than ours!

And thanks! Volunteers is something we can never get enough of!!!


South Jersey: It was mentioned earlier about "matching up." How does this process work and is the process similar between rescue organizations?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: The process can be very different between organisations. You should do your research before submitting and application to be certain you are a good fit with the organisation and their procedures.

Melissa Bell: I loved Sarah's quote in my story: "We're e-Harmony for dogs." I think that really sums up the matching up process. The groups get to know potential owners and find out all about their habits through the application and subsequent conversations and then they try to find a dog within their group that would fit in well to that family.


I would like a Rhodesian Ridgeback: Do you know the local contact?

Melissa Bell: The American Kennel Club lists two organziations: Ridgeback Resuce of the United States (at and Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue ( Good luck!


I've heard bad reports of the degree of intrusiveness involved: A lot of the screeners inject their own personal prejudices into the home visit. I know one atheist who was denied because the "Christian" woman who visited her home didn't like her lifestyle. It is so so sad to me that homeless dogs get caught up in people's prejudices and bigotry.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: It's important to remember that most rescues are staffed with volunteers, and are often very different from each other. You want to be comfortable with the rescue you work with, we hope that potential adopters can find one that does business in a professional manner.


Greyhounds and cats: FYI - Greyhounds are wonderful dogs but some of them can have strong instinctive prey drives that can be triggered by cats resulting in bad things to cats, dogs and homes. If someone has cats and wants to adopt a Greyhound, they just need to make sure to get dogs that do NOT have this strong prey drive. The rescue organizations generally know which dogs would work best w/other small animals.

Keep up the good work with the rescues.

Melissa Bell: Thanks for the information!


Small kids: I'm a big rescue fan, but now we have a 4-year-old and a 1- year-old, and many rescue places won't place dogs with small kids. (We just lost our 12-year-old Westie to cancer, and she was a champ with the kids, but Westie rescue absolutely won't place with kids).

Maybe we just go the mix breed route? Any thoughts on small kids?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Dogs and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly. The breed has little to do with the fit, it has more to do with the training of the dogs, and the kids involved. Get help, research, have common sense, and respect for the dogs involved. And consider using a rescue (all breed or specific) that will work with you to find a dog with the right temperment for your home.


Kids and dogs: I work with a small breed rescue. We only occasionally come across a dog that is great with small kids. What I tell adopters is that small kids move fast, make loud noises and are generally clumsy. These things can terrify an already high-strung toy breed. Not to mention that small dogs have small bones that break easily. I've pulled at least two dogs with broken legs because the kid dropped them, and the parents could not afford the $3,000 to repair the break.

Sarah do you recommend pet insurance?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: I think pet insurance can be a great thing. That said, I do not have it. I have 8 dogs, and a great vet...


Richmond Boxer foster: Put an "adopt me" bandana on the dog when you take him out in public - parks, pet stores.

Melissa Bell: That's a cute idea!


Gaithersburg, Md.: I would ask that people please remember the people working with rescues are volunteers. I have worked with several rescues fostering, doing home visits and transports. They all have their hearts in the right place and are trying to find the best fit for the dogs they have. When I do a home visit, I am checking to make sure that the fence is intact and in good repair, there are no obvious dangers to a new dog or puppy in the house or yard, and again the tone of the house especially if there are children in the home.

Melissa Bell: Thanks!


Washington DC: I might be interested in fostering or helping rehabilitate a rescue dog. How do I get involved? Are you looking for people and if so, what are the criteria?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Most rescues are always looking for volunteers to help socialize or foster dogs. In our case, we are simply looking for bright, friendly people who want to learn more about our breed and are willing and able to work well with our organization. We rarely turn anyone away!


Washington, D.C.: Do you know what sort of screening Petfinder does before listing groups' dogs? Sometimes you see very young litters of mixed breed puppies on there, with adoption fees of a few hundred dollars. If the puppies aren't coming with all of their shots and haven't yet been fixed, what's the (comparable to older dogs) fee for? I've wondered whether individuals accidentally wound up with some non-purebred puppies and are hoping to still make some money on them.

Melissa Bell: I asked Petfinder to answer this question for me, but they may not be able to get back to me by the time the chat is finished. If you'd like, email me directly at and I'll let you know the answer as soon as I hear from them!


Omaha, Neb.: Thanks for doing this chat and getting the word out about rescue organizations. I have always loved Border Collies from afar, but I always hear a ton of warnings about how much energy they have and how destructive they can be if not properly exercised (an important consideration.) Can you give specific examples of what a Border Collie would need as opposed to, say, a Lab? Do you need to have your own herd of sheep?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: A Border Collie will either be the best dog you have ever had, or the worst, and 98% of that is up to you...

Border Collies are independent thinkers and need structure and direction in order to be successful canine buddies. Running, agility, SAR, therapy work, trick training, Rally...all are things that help keep border collies busy. Be creative, the list is endless.


Winchester, Va.: Why do rescue orgs insist on a fence? My dog gets plenty of exercise and walks, and time off leash weekly at a dog park.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Not all rescue orgs require a fence. Do your research...find one that will take your situation on its merits.

Melissa Bell: I don't think it's a question of a fence or not. It's more a question of if a particular dog needs a fenced-in backyard. And as another reader mentioned, there are often a few families in contention for one dog. Perhaps another family had a fence and so it came down to that simple fact.


Just another shout-out for breed rescue...: I adopted a darling Beagle from Beagle Rescue in VA, and they were fabulous to deal with, she fits our life, the size dog we wanted...everything! Hoping to get a second one soon for company!

Sarah Ruckelshaus: YAY!! Thanks for choosing RESCUE!


Bichon owner asks: What's your advice about bringing a small young dog into the household where a still-active bichon, now 13, has been the only dog for all her life? A good idea? Or are we courting trouble? Thanks.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: Honestly, I would consider an older, more middle aged dog before I would consider a pup. A 5 to 7 year old dog is a far better match for an older dog than a pup.

As for courting trouble, you know your dog. Does she like other dogs? If so, there is no reason why you shouldn't bring in another dog. Work with the rescue to find a dog that will be a nice match for you AND for your older girl, introduce them on neutral ground casually and carefully...take it slow!


but the application and review process is daunting: Go to the SPCA. They have hundreds of dogs who need good homes without the snobby favoritsm of the rescue groups. I tried with a DC breed rescue group, felt insulted and now have two beautiful dogs I got throught petfinders. Every day my neighbor sees us walking and says how lucky those dogs are. We love them and spoil them and have a happy home, with no help from the snobby rescue groups. There is no reason the dog adoption process should be daunting and insulting WHEN GOOD DOGS ARE KILLED EVERY DAY FOR WANT OF A HOME.

Melissa Bell: I'm really sorry you felt insulted by the group. The people I spoke with did not seem snobby--even when they rejected me as a foster parent--but rather they just seemed really concerned with finding the best home for the dog. Breed dogs and mixed breed dogs all need to be rescued and placed in good homes. I'm glad you gave a home to two of them.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: SPCAs and Humane Societies are wonderful places to find new canine friends. As are all-breed rescues, animal control shelters, and breed specific rescues. Don't let one bad apple turn you off to an entire industry, rather, do your research to find a good place to work with and go from there.

The moral here is there is no bad place to find a furry friend, the path you follow needs to suit you, your family and home, and your lifestyle.


Washington, D.C.: What led you to start a rescue?

Sarah Ruckelshaus: I was working at my local shelter and my mentor convinced me to take hoe one of the shelter dogs to rehab. I did, I rehabbed and re-homed her and was hooked. That was in 1997 and I have never regretted it.


Melissa Bell: Just got the answer on Petfinder: "Before an organization joins Petfinder, the team requests a copy of their non-profit status (if they have it) along with a letter of reference from the group's veterinarian and their adoption contract. They also have a personal conversation with each and every group that joins Petfinder to learn more about their organization and to tell them more about Petfinder.

Many of Petfinder's groups take in a wide variety of animals from litters of puppies to adult dogs, plus cats, rabbits and just about everything you can think of! They understand that no reputable rescue group is out to make money off the dogs they post on Petfinder, but it is a balancing act. A group may end up putting hundreds of dollars into an adult dog to take care of vaccinations, spaying/neutering, dental issues, etc., but would not be able to charge hundreds of dollars for that dog's adoption fee. Therefore, if a puppy is adopted out on a spay/neuter contract, any extra money coming in for that adoption fee will be cycled back to the other, more needy animals in their care."


Hurting the long term goals of eliminating puppy mills and backyard breeding.: That is not going to happen through supply and demand. It is going to happen through commerce laws.

Sarah Ruckelshaus: I don't think there is a definitive answer. Honesty, education is what will make the difference, which will affect the demand, which will affect the supply. Commerce laws will help as well.


Melissa Bell: Thanks so much everyone for making this such a fun chat! And, Sarah, a big thanks for joining us today. I'm sorry if we couldn't get to your questions during the time slotted. If you want to contact me directly, I'll try and follow up on any unanswered questions. My e-mail is Enjoy your dogs!

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Pet Owners: Beware of Great Horned Owls

The 8 Secrets Dog Owners Should Know

1. Being to harsh with your dog and especially in its early years, will have severe consequences to the mental state of the dog. It will leave the dog feeling unwanted and unloved and it might even lead to a depression.

2. Feeding your dog excessively will threaten your dog’s health. Too many calories and too little exercise will have your dog grow fat and it will not only reduce its level of energy but also its ability and willingness to be happy.

3. Food for humans and food for dogs and not the same thing. Many pet owners find themselves giving their dogs leftovers from the dinner table. It is not healthy for a dog to eat human food so instead you should go visit your VET to find out what the right food is.

4. Walking your dog on a daily basis is vitally important to satisfy the basic physical needs of your dog. Smaller dogs will need shorter walks and larger breeds and most above average size breeds will even need more walks per day.

5. One of the most important things when it comes to training your dog and having it use its body the way it was designed is to go play. Through a stick or a frisbee will not only be fun but it will also be a great workout for your dog.

6. Attend dog training classes to learn how to properly manage, train and get your dog obey commands. A dog needs to know who is in charge and it is important that you are that leader.

7. Making sure that you show your dog that you love it dearly is vitally important. The feeling of love can erase almost any other error you make and if you let your dog know and feel that you love it in return it will love you back unconditionally.

8. Be fair at all times and be sure to also be respectful. Your dog is a living animal and even though it might not be able to communicate what it senses in a way that you can understand don’t conclude that it doesn’t sense things.

Dog vitality and well being is very important in order to have a fun and peaceful pet. As a dog owner you should spend enough time and energy in teaching your dog and yourself the best ways to love and respect each other as you will hopefully be together for a long time.

Pet Sitter Talks About
Caring for Others' Animals

Up until a few years ago, Diane Wilcox had a regular desk job. When she realized she was unable to sit at a desk all day, she quit to start her own business. Since she loves animals and enjoys helping people, she began her own pet and errand service. She said it is the best move she has ever made.

"I feel like this is my calling. Life is too short to not do something you love," she said.

What is rewarding about what you do?
People can go away on trips or when they are gone to work and they can feel totally confident that I'm taking care of their pets. The animals are always appreciative. I always get a wagging tail and a lick.

What the things you do for your clients?
Every home is different. When I first started, I did errands and pet service. I used to do grocery shopping, but I don't anymore. I mostly do pets. I feed them, give them fresh water, clean up after them, walk them, take them to the vet or grooming appointments. I get the mail and newspaper, take out garbage cans on garbage day. I water and look at the house and make sure it hasn't been broken into. Some animals are better off going to the kennel, but some get freaked out, so they are able to stay in the comfort of their own homes.

What is the strangest thing someone has asked you to do?
I would say (when someone) asked me to come over and pick up the dogs' bedding and wash it.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy taking care of the pets. The other day was a beautiful, sunny day. I was out walking a dog and I was thinking, "I get paid for this." What is your favorite pet? My favorite pets are dogs.

Which is your favorite breed?

Have you had a funny or memorable experience?
I have a client who has a Persian cat that is mean. Whenever I go to her house, she leaves a broom by the door. I have to use it to protect myself because she will attack me. One day, she chased me around the island in the kitchen. I have to tell her, "I'm here to feed you, not harm you." Where would you like to see your business in five years? This is a seven-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year job, so I can't say I can't work a Saturday. Right now I have a gal who works for me. I would like to get to a point where I have more people working with me.

Do you ever feel like you are running around crazy?
How do you deal with it? Yes, all the time. What I do now is usually at night I look one day ahead and look at my schedule. If I go and look too far out, it gets overwhelming. I've learned to take it one day at a time.

Do you have to deal with wild pets and how do you handle them?
I do. It is typically the larger breeds like the labs. (In the past) I was around a trainer so I know how to handle them. I'm confident around all kinds of dogs and their behavior. I need to learn how to be more confident around aggressive dogs like pit bulls.

Do you ever get too attached to people's animals?
I do. I've had a lot last year where older dogs passed away. I've had a client for the past two years, her dog was only seven and had heart problems. During his last few months, I would have to check him twice a day because my client worked in Sacramento. That was hard when he passed away.

What is the best advice you can give someone who wants to do this?
Be ready to work a lot of hours and you have to really cater to people. They have different needs and you have to learn to be flexible with people and their pets.

Planning a Move?
Be Sure Your Pet is Prepared

Moving to a new home can be just as stressful on the family pet as it is on you. Have you researched pet friendly hotels for stops along the way? Does your pet have a new ID tag? Here are some pet travel tips to keep your little friend happy and safe on moving day.

• Maintain normal routine: Pack over a period of time and try to maintain your pet’s normal routine. Advance planning will make your move less stressful.

• Keep your pet secure: Place your pet in a safe, quiet place, such as the bathroom or a pet travel crate on moving day so that he or she cannot escape. If you place your pet in a room, place a large sign on the door that says DO NOT ENTER. Containing your pet in a pet carrier on moving day will keep them safely confined as well. Gradually get them used to the carrier ahead of time by having your pet spend time in it prior to moving day.

• Purchase a new ID tag for your pet: Get a new pet ID tag that includes your new address and telephone number. An up-to-date ID tag is a lost pet’s ticket home.

• Safe car travel: Be sure that your pet is safely restrained in the car. Utilizing a pet travel harness or travel carrier are the best ways to keep your pet safe. They not only protect your pet from injury, but they help by keeping them from distracting you with their usual enthusiasm as you drive. Keep their heads inside the windows, make frequent pit stops, and don’t leave them alone. Pet barriers also work great! Whatever option you choose, be sure to give your pet ample time to get used to it. More Pet Travel Tips for the Car.

• Talk to your pet’s vet: Talk to your veterinarian about traveling with a pet who doesn’t like to travel. They can recommend behavior modification tactics or medication that might lessen the stress of travel. Depending on your new address, your pet may also need additional vaccinations, medications, and health certificates.

• Find pet friendly hotels in advance: If your move requires stops along the way, be sure to research pet friendly accommodations along the way.

• Plan ahead for air travel: Check with your veterinarian and the airline if your pet will be flying. Familiarize yourself with the rules specific to the airline you are flying. Be sure to review our extensive Tips for Safe Air Travel with Your Pet.

• Prepare your new home: Pets love familiar surroundings so be sure to take with you all the familiar and necessary things your pet will need from day one in your new home.

• Pet photo: Have a recent photo of your pet on hand in the unfortunate event that your pet becomes lost. Your pet will be a bit out of sorts in its new surroundings and if they run off, they may find it difficult finding their way back home in their new neighborhood.

Moving can be a fun adventure and a new beginning for you and pet…as long as you are prepared!

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Meet Buttkiss: the 43 Year Old Fish from Queens!
Dan Taylor -

The oversized 43 year old is the oldest pet fish in town! He’s not for sale, but you can see Butkiss at the Cameo Pet Shop in Richmond Hill, Queens

He tips the scales at more than 20 pounds and measures in at 23 inches long

Buttkiss gobbles up 25 goldfish every other day and already has lived twice as long as an average pacu, a breed that is related to the piranha.

Buttkiss was just guppy-size when his owner got him in1967! He’s definitely showing his age, having developed arthritic gills and glaucoma in his right eye.

Unusual Pets Captivate Students
By Carina Belles -

Most of us have encountered cats, dogs and the occasional fish when it comes to the animal kingdom, but a few Hoover students have taken a wilder approach to pet ownership.

Freshman Haley Dalton had no idea what she was in for when she received her Blue
Front Amazon Parrot, Perky, from her grandmother while visiting her in Florida five years ago.

“I actually had to ride in the back seat of a Chevy Malibu for about 23 hours with a bird taking up most of the seat,” she said.

Dalton said taking care of her bird can be difficult.

“There are definitely some challenges,” she said. “A parrot is high maintenance. You have to pay attention to her or she can forget how to talk, or just not want to be handled.”

Dalton’s parrot also requires a lot more attention than a typical household pet.

“I have to keep her away from cold air flow in the winter, clean her cage pretty often, talk and play with her a lot and I can’t play loud music around her because the bass hurts her little ears,” she said.

However, in spite of the difficulties of raising an exotic pet, she said she loves her bird.

“My parrot ‘chose’ me,” Dalton said. “She doesn’t like anyone except me, and she is something that not many people have.”

Dalton said she never imagined having such an interesting addition to her family.

“I never wanted a parrot,” she said. “But now that I have her, I can’t imagine life at home without her.”

Like Dalton, senior Scott Semroc never expected to have a pet more commonly seen in the wild than in a living room. Semroc has owned his fox, Saturn, for the past few years.

“We got Saturn at the Hartville Flea Market, because my mom is a science teacher and she brought it to her class,” he said.

Aside from his fox eating the same food as his dogs, Semroc said having it is very different.

“Foxes are special because you have to act careful around them; they can smell fear,” he said.
Foxes can also cause some serious injuries to owners who aren’t careful.

However, Semroc said foxes are much more excitable than dogs, and are fun to be around.

“He can be really playful when he wants to be, but he has crazy mood swings,” he said.

When senior Danielle Schaper moved from the suburbs to the country in 2003, she found herself the owner of four gelding horses, Maniwaki, Roy, J.R. and T.J, but having pets wasn’t a new thing for her.

“Horses are just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “We have eight cats, two dogs and a rabbit.”

Schaper said she had a frightening experience with one of her horses early on.

“We used to have a mare named Primo, but she had major problems,” she said. “Once when I was riding her she bolted for no reason and rammed me through a fence. I had to go to the hospital and was almost paralyzed from the neck down. It was the scariest thing I have ever been through. Afterwards I was petrified of horses; I couldn’t even go near one.”

But now that she has lived with them for seven years, Schaper said she is comfortable around them, and horses are just like any other animal.

“Horses need to be groomed, fed, watered and given attention just like all pets. The main difference is having to clean a whole barn everyday. It’s a little bit bigger than a litter box,” she said.

Aside from this, horses can be somewhat challenging to maintain.

“Every six to eight weeks the ferrier has to trim their hooves and give them new shoes, and twice a year the vet has to come out for their check-ups since you can’t really bring a horse anywhere,” Schaper said.

However, Schaper said all the hard work required is worth it.

“Horses are sweet in nature and generally don’t cause trouble, but you have to remember to be careful,” she said.

Pet Talk:
Animal Fighters Looking for
Smaller Game Turn to Finches
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

Imagine a tiny songbird, barely 6 inches long, vivid yellow, trilling its cheerful melody, flitting about.

Now imagine that same little bird with its beak filed to needle-like sharpness, slashing, pecking, attacking and being attacked by another just like him. The two male birds, saffron finches, will keep this up until one of them is dead or so close to it that the distinction isn't worth making. Several men watch this increasingly bloody battle, grinning, cheering, slapping their pockets, hoping to walk away with a bundle of bills for having bet on which one would still be alive at the end.

Bitty birds seem to be the newest chosen victims of high-stakes animal fighting.

Animal welfare experts fear that two recent raids of alleged bird-fighting rings — one in Connecticut last summer, one in Massachusetts last month — foretell a growing trend.

"My guess is that there's more of this going on than people know," ASPCA field investigator Tim Rickey told me last week. This sort of thing doesn't spring up and exist in utter isolation, he says, and the fact that birds are little, cheap, easy to hide and transport and not likely to draw any neighbor's attention when there are 50 of them in a home or basement or garage means this is a practice that can exist — and probably has existed — undetected for quite some time.

The concern, of course, is not only the cruelty involved in torquing up a couple of male birds to the point that they'll fight to the death, but also the danger of attracting into suburban neighborhoods the kind of people who enjoy this kind of activity.

"In most cases, the people who are fighting small birds in the basement might well have been fighting dogs or cocks in the backyard," says Rickey. There may be weapons, there may be drugs, money changes hands, and these are most certainly people who don't think or process or behave like an ordinary person. "These people like to watch brutality," he says.

Rickey readily acknowledges that he had a moment, upon hearing of the first alleged finch-fighting bust, when he thought someone was pulling his leg. But as he dug and researched, he came to understand "this is just further evidence of how prevalent fighting is."

It goes a lot broader and deeper than most of us realize. Rickey was in Georgia recently to work a dog-fighting case, and "within eight days we had taken down three others beyond the initial case." And last year in Missouri he was working what was thought to be a "small dog-fighting bust" and within weeks it was discovered that the rings involved eight states. More than 30 people were arrested and 500 animals seized.

The extremes to which animal fighters will go is stunning. People in Rickey's line of work are very familiar with "hog-dogging," which is when, in rural areas, a dog and hog are set upon each other for audience enjoyment until one is dead. And in urban areas, there's something called "trunking," where two fighting dogs are thrown into a car trunk or a small towable trailer and are driven around until there's a winner and a dead dog. Keeping moving, of course, rather than holding fights in a basement or an abandoned warehouse lessens the chance of being detected and possibly arrested.

"This bird fighting is just one more layer in the underground culture that participates in this sort of thing," Rickey says.

Tiny birds ripping each other apart don't provide quite the level of death screams, bloodshed and gore that fighting dogs and even fighting roosters present to the entranced gamblers. "But if people are being forced out of dog and rooster fighting because of increasing scrutiny, they'll look for their thrills with another animal," Rickey says.

And this whole mess is deeply troubling to people like him. "The birds are a different avenue, a little harder to detect. They (animal fighters) are changing up the game," going deeper underground, and perpetuating a desire for blood sport in additional generations.

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Stray Cat’s Actions
Alert Woman to Breast Cancer
by News Hound -

When a stray cat strutted into her life last summer, Judy Danchura of Canada could not have imagined how the orange and white tomcat she nicknamed Sumo would end up saving her life. Whether it was by accident or by design, we'll leave up to you to decide. But without question, Sumo's actions alerted Danchura to a tumor growing in her breast, enabling her to get an early diagnosis of cancer and begin treatment, reports CBC News. Here's how it happened.

Last June, according to CBC News, Danchura noticed the orange-and-white cat moseying around her backyard. She put some food out for him and went about her day. At 3 a.m., the cat came back, meowing so insistently that Danchura let the stray into her house. After making a litter box, Danchura went back to bed.

"While she and her husband slept," reports CBC News. "The cat hopped onto the bed and walked across her body. As it stepped on her breast, Danchura was struck by an unusual shot of pain."

"I sort of went, 'Oh geez, there's definitely something wrong there,'" Danchura tells CBC News. In fact, there was a lump in her breast.

She went to the doctor and learned it was a tumor, and that it was malignant. Because it had been detected early, and she began treatment immediately, Danchura's chance of survival is estimated at 95 percent, reports CBC News.

Danchura has come to regard Sumo as her four-footed angel. "I sometimes feel overwhelmed because I feel humbled," she tells CBC News. "I can't understand why this animal turned up for me." Was it a random stroke of luck that Sumo visited her home, insisting to be let in? Or was Sumo meant to tell her something?

Tell us what you think Can animals sense illness in their owners? Do you believe that Sumo's actions were just good fortune or something more?

Tips for Pet Parading:
Cute Factor, Topical Togs
By Paulette Cooper Noble -

A lady in a Pucci with a Poochie in a Pucci? That's just one of the things that has bow-wowed the crowd at the annual Worth Avenue Pet Parade.

How important is beauty in winning the Pet Parade?

Says Sherry Frankel, owner of Sherry Frankel's Melangerie, who has been the emcee of this contest for 17 years: "A great looking dog naturally helps, but not all who enter are beautiful. To a dog parent, every dog is beautiful, but some of them are frankly not so beautiful.

"I think attitude is also important," she went on. "Some can't wait to get off the stage. Others are real hams and never want to leave. And I'm talking about the dog mothers as well as their pets!"

Do costumes count?

Says Frankel: "Everyone loves dressed-up dogs. But being topical also helps. Last year there were a number of Madoff-related costume themes, and while this year it might be a bore, it was good that last year we could laugh at what happened through our dogs."

What about the dog's behavior?

Says Frankel: "I'm always amazed at how well the dogs all get along. It's like they're all at the vet's office. The Saint Bernards sit next to the Chihuahuas and there's no problem. "

Are there any other dog contests around?

After the parade, the winners get to compete in America's Top Dog Model contest.

How do Westminster judges choose the winners?

Since dogs are practically perfect by the time they reach the show, they have to have something special. Ralph Del Deo, a North End resident, has judged hound and sporting breeds seven or eight times and has also owned a dog that won its championship at Westminster. "Certain breeds reach their prime at certain times just as we all look better at certain points in our life," he explained.

"But some have a fire to them. It's as if they're saying, 'Here I am and take a good look at me because I like it here and I'm sound in mind and body.' "

Do the best-looking dogs get the most attention?

"Not necessarily," Del Deo said. "I was judging Irish setters once and the skirt fell off of the young lady showing the dog. She was the show-stopper."

Are there any other local judges or owners of winners in town?

Yes, Gilbert Kahn, who just died, had not only won the Toy Group at Westminster but judged there as well. Glorvina Schwartz, also on the North End, raises Norwich Terriers and has won Best in Show at Westminster. Karen Lefrak's poodle has won Best Non-Hound group and went on to sire 85 champion offspring.

Where are the contests for cats?

The International Cat Association and the Cat Fanciers Association, two of the biggest registries of pedigreed cats worldwide, have shows. And you don't need to have a pedigreed cat to enter. Many shows have categories for what are called HHPs (Household Pets). For more information, see and

Palm Beach resident and author Paulette Cooper Noble writes a column every other Tuesday with news, advice and anecdotes about the animals with whom we share our lives. Readers are encouraged to send in photos and questions about their dogs, cats, birds and other pets. You can e-mail Paulette at or by mail at Pet Set, Palm Beach Daily News, 265 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach, FL 33480.

Protecting Your Pets in Cargo:
Travel Safety Tips
By Gabrielle Jonas -

Check out our quick tips to keep your pet secure in cargo

Consider catching an in-flight movie, munching on a bag of tiny pretzels, and maybe even grabbing a catnap at 30,000 feet above the ground. For humans flying coach, passing the time in the air can be an enjoyable experience. But pets traveling cargo may be pardoned for being less than enthusiastic.

In transit, pets who fly cargo are confined to crates, jostled, subjected to extreme temperatures, inconsistent ventilation, and strange smells as well as the screech and roar of engines.

For the final segment in our ongoing Zootoo Travel Safety series, here are more valuable tips for keeping your pet safe when he has to fly cargo.

Skip the medication. Unfortunately, medicating the terror away is no longer an option for pets.

"Giving tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air can increase the risk of heart or respiratory problems," the American Veterinary Medical Association warns. Tranquilizers also dull a pet's ability to brace himself during bumpy flights, and injuries may ensue.

Confirm your pet's safety in transit. Pet owners who are riding along in the cabin can monitor their pet's welfare throughout the journey. Before boarding, owners can and should confirm that their pets have been loaded and reconfirm at boarding with the captain, either directly or via a note to the flight attendant.

If the plane taxis or sits on the runway for an extended period of time, or the aircraft experiences ventilation issues, owners can ask the captain to check the temperature in the cargo hold. "If the delay is long, insist that your pet be removed," Mark A. Blanton, president and chief executive officer of Atlantic Airlines, a planned Florida regional airline, advises on his website.

If the flight suffers from long layovers or extreme temperatures, pet owners can insist pets be unloaded, and retrieve them at baggage claim. If need be, pet owners can cite United States Department of Agriculture regulations that prohibit animal shipment from or to locations where temperatures are below 45 degrees or above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Indeed, many airlines have their own temperature-related restrictions.

Research airport dog parks. If connecting between flights, owners should walk their dogs before the plane takes off again, and many airports now have dog parks just outside their terminals. The website supplies directions to those pet parks.

Plan ahead when your pet flies solo. When a pet has to fly without its owner in the plane, it must travel as cargo. For those unaccompanied flights, planning becomes key. Because reservations do not exist for cargo travel, pets may have a long wait for an available flight. That's when pets are vulnerable to illness, injury or loss. Choosing priority or counter-to-counter shipping of a pet reduces his wait in the airport baggage room or on the tarmac, the AMVA says.

Most pet advocacy groups urge booking a direct flight for all air travel with pets, especially those traveling in cargo unaccompanied. "This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel," the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said.

Consider a pet travel service. "Ensure the animal is healthy enough to endure the stressful conditions and is checked on during the trip. An animal should never be shipped unaccompanied," the AWI says. If you can't go with your pet, look into hiring a pet travel service to coordinate all aspects of pickup, shipment and delivery.

Prepare your pet's crate. Owners should provide a crate big enough for the pet to turn around, but not so big that the pet can be bruised during a bumpy flight. A plastic bag containing dry food and feeding instructions on top of the crate is handy in case of delays.

A small bowl of frozen water inside the crate insures a supply of fresh water and prevents spills. Be careful to avoid ice cubes, which pose a choking hazard, as do toys and muzzles.

Pet insurance may be an option. Blanton, the CEO of Atlantic Airlines, offers up one final suggestion to get airport personnel to provide extra care. "Consider insuring your pet for $10,000," he says. "The amount of this coverage is minimal and it will mean that greater attention will be given to your pet." In other words, that fee will "buy" more oversight of your pet's welfare as it wends its way through the perils and pitfalls of airline transport.

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Pet Owners Face Danger From Above
by: Claudia Cowan -

Most pet owners take steps to protect their animals. In Santa Rosa, California, Odessa Gunn worried a car or coyote might one day claim the lives of her dogs, which is why she and her husband, renowned American bicyclist Levi Leipheimer, fenced in their property.

But now they're mourning the loss of their beloved Chihuahua, Trooper, and nursing their other dog, Bandit, back to health. The attacker came from an unlikely place -- the sky.

Gunn had just let her dogs out into the backyard and was preparing to join them. She recalls, "in the time it took me to put my boots on, I heard what sounded like a really horrendous cat screeching noise. I thought it was a mountain lion or a bobcat or something."

In fact, it was a pair of Great Horned Owls, birds that typically eat rats and squirrels. On this recent night, the birds set their sites on larger prey. From out of the darkness, the two owls swooped down and attacked Trooper and Bandit, just feet away from where Gunn stood.

After a violent struggle, Bandit escaped, bloody and limping, but Trooper was carried off and hasn't been seen since. No fur. No blood. Nothing.

Great Horned Owls can carry off prey heavier than they are.

While there are really no good statistics on the frequency of such attacks, wildlife experts say they're rare but almost always lethal. In many ways, owls are the perfect predators; they approach without warning, and their razor-sharp talons can snatch a pooch or cat two to three times their own body weight.

This is a particularly active hunting time for owls. As homeowners encroach on the birds' natural habitat, attacks on pets could become more problematic.

Right now, baby owls are hatching, so pet owners should keep an ear out for the distinctive hoots of these fiercely protective birds, and stay well clear. It's also a good idea to keep small pets indoors when the sun is down, or walk them on a leash. If the owls recognize something as prey, they won't discern the fact that it's somebody's pet.

Selecting A Bird Cage
By Cut -

Pets have a great effect on humans, this has been studied and researched for many years, with no real scientific presumptions it can be relatively safe to say that many people feel that having a pet improves their quality of life. For bird lovers the choice in pets is clear, having a bird in the house is something that many people love, and naturally, birds can add a lot of style to house as well.

Giving your bird its own living space is one of the essentials of bird ownership. However, with the different models, sizes, and colors of bird cages available in pet shops nowadays, you might have a hard time choosing the best home for your bird.

Nevertheless, do not fear for here are some guidelines that would help make your search for that perfect cage much easier. Follow them and chances are you will never go wrong!

Large birds, on the other hand, should be kept in cages with bars that are positioned horizontally rather than vertically to provide a venue for climbing and exercise.

Be particular with shape and style of cages.

This is a very important consideration since there are studies which state that round bird cages are detrimental to the psychological health of most birds. Angled ones, therefore, are much preferable.

More often than not, these cages may be hung or placed on a stand. They also come in all shapes and sizes to house your pet bird comfortably and with style.

The craftsmanship and quality of the bird cage should also be carefully assessed.

Examine the quality of the bird cage before making a purchase. Here are some questions to answer:

Does the cage look solid and well-built?

Does it have any sharp edge or loose part?

Is it made of stainless steel that will never chip, is easy to clean, and is non-toxic?

Make sure that the cage will perform its main function and that is to protect your pet bird. Ensure that the bird cage will not be dangerous to its well-being and health.

There you go. With careful planning and right decision, you will be able to purchase the best bird cage for your bird. A safe, fun, sturdy, comfortable, and secured home.

Decide on the placement and location of your bird cage.

You must determine where you will place your bird cage and shop for it based on what will be appropriate for the spot that you have chosen. The spot should be away from drafts and windows, but must be placed in a lively part of the house to encourage interaction between pet and human beings.

One Rescued Dog, One Inspiring Story:
M.J. the Shepherd Mix Overcomes
Paralysis, Distemper

Many readers have come to Dr. Heather Oxford for advice on animal health and wellness through Unleashed's Ask a Vet column. But when she's not answering your pet-health questions, Dr. Oxford is a practicing veterinarian at L.A.'s California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE), helping animals to bounce back from illness and injury. Dr. Oxford shares the story of one special patient who's fought both paralysis and distemper with the help of some devoted animal lovers. Here's M.J.'s story:

Meet M.J., an 11-month-old spayed female German shepherd-Doberman pinscher mix.

Her story began at the shelter, where she was abandoned by her former owners at the age of 7 months after her back legs were paralyzed from being hit by a car. One rescue organization took her to a veterinary hospital for X-rays, which showed a displaced vertebra in her spine that most likely damaged her spinal cord.

The recommendation was to euthanize her.

The rescue organization took her back to the shelter where she would likely be put down. But the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation had other plans for M.J. that day.

The group rescued her and brought her back to a veterinary hospital, where she stayed for the following week. I went to the hospital to meet her and she had no feeling or control of function in her back legs -- but that didn't stop her from being extremely happy and full of life! I instructed the staff to do therapeutic exercises with her, but over the course of one week she developed a cough and diarrhea. She tested positive for distemper virus, which she had contracted two to three weeks before showing these symptoms.

Apparently, she had never received her puppy series of vaccines, which would have protected her from this deadly infectious disease. It seemed that M.J. was looking at a second death sentence.

The Heigl Foundation had her transferred to an isolation unit at another veterinary hospital, where she spent the next three months. Finally, the tests confirmed that she had cleared the virus from her body and she was able to come to CARE.

She has been in rehabilitation for a month now and has regained sensation in both back legs and even her tail. Week by week she has continued to regain control of her back legs, and she is now able to stand on her own and walk with minimal assistance.

M.J. is an incredible fighter and we have been happy to help her improve over the last month. She will continue to stay at CARE until she is walking well enough to go to a foster home ... or forever home. Check back in the coming weeks for updates on this special girl!

-- Heather Oxford, DVM

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