Top 10 Risks to Your Pet

Oscar the Cat Given New Leash on Life
By karlblaghe -

After losing his hind legs in an incident with a combine harvester last October, Oscar felt like the unluckiest black cat in the world. However, in November, the paraplegic cat was the recipient of a surgery that has been relatively untested on cats. His owners, the Nolans, took him to neuro-orthopedic surgeon Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick to find this incredibly odd but miraculous solution.

The doctor put prosthetic metal pegs on Oscar’s stubs and fused the new paws to the cat’s bones and skin. That way, the metal would be able to move in sync with the rest of the cat’s leg so he can walk and jump and perhaps drive with the same ease as he could with his real paws. The cat has returned to his fully functional state and can do all the things he enjoyed before his accident.

The surgery caused about $3000, but that’s a small price to pay to give your companimal back one of his nine lives after he lost the first one. It breaks my heart to see such an innocent, beautiful animal experience such pain, but it makes me smile knowing that he has been given this new leash on life thanks to the hard work of some very admirable individuals.

Vanity Pet Products Hit New Low
by Stephanie Feldstein -

Ever look at a pine tree air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror of a cab and think, "That would look great hanging from my dog's tail?" Me neither. But that's what the latest absurd pet product to hit the internet looks like. Rear Gear is a collection of colorful designs intended to cover up your dog's anus.

The website says these "rear enhancing" ornaments are "a fun and enchanting way of covering your pet's rear while boosting their confidence!"

If your pet is insecure, I can guarantee you that it has nothing to do with indecent exposure. But behind the ridiculous nature of Rear Gear are some very serious problems.

As veterinarian Patrick Mahaney points out, animals generally don't like that particular area of the body being messed with. Having something dangling back there would cause uncomfortable chronic stimulation. The result is that your pet is likely to try and remove his Rear Gear, and then it becomes an intestinal obstruction waiting to happen. Last, but not least, it wouldn't be easy to keep a tail ornament clean, which could cause fecal obstruction or infections.

Of all the ways that people project their own vanity onto their dogs, this is by far the least practical. Some dogs really do need sweaters. Some dogs need booties, and I've even see some dogs with sensitive eyes benefit from Doggles. Rear Gear has no conceivable purpose but to irritate your dog and get in the way of her natural behaviors. It's no big mystery how dogs greet each other. They get a lot of signals from the rear, and foreign objects will only get in the way.

I can only hope Rear Gear turns out to be a hoax because if you're that disturbed by your pet's anatomy, then you should have opted for the stuffed animal version with a neat little seam beneath the tail.

Pet Owners Need to be Careful of Chemicals
Ask Dr. Watts - D. Michael Watts/Vet Care -

Again this week our practice experienced yet another case of toxicity from the use of over the counter flea and tick chemicals. This older Bassett Hound suddenly began having seizures last Saturday. Fortunately, his owner was with him and immediately brought him to our office. When he arrived at our office, he was still experiencing severe tremors and his body temperature was nearing dangerous levels.

We were able to stop the seizures, confirm no organ damage had occurred, pump the dog’s stomach, and administer activated charcoal.

At one point, the chemical exposure caused the dog to stop breathing. We had to manually ventilate for more than 20 minutes and administer multiple doses of atropine before he resumed breathing on his own. After a rough weekend, I am happy to report this patient has recovered thanks to his owner’s fast response.

Every veterinarian can share stories like this one. The tales begin with well-meaning pet owners thinking they can save some money by purchasing flea and tick products without the advice of their veterinarian. The plots predictably move on to heroic efforts and hundreds of dollars of expense. Unfortunately, many end with the untimely death of a family pet.

Just because a product looks similar to something your veterinarian has recommended, does not mean that it is the same. Over fifteen years ago, spot-on products like Frontline and Advantage arrived on the market. The products were clearly superior in safety and efficacy to previously available dips, foggers, sprays, powders, and collars. As a result, the over the counter flea and tick market took a major hit. In response, many companies repackaged the older chemicals into spot-on formulations with packaging similar to the newer products. It has become very difficult for the average pet owner to know exactly what they are purchasing.

Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noticed an increase in adverse event reports from veterinarians and pet owners concerning spot-on products. As a result, EPA is beginning to review labels to determine which ones need stronger and clearer labeling statements. EPA is also working to develop more stringent testing and evaluation requirements for both existing and new products.

Recent EPA press releases have been sensationalized by certain media outlets leading some pet owners to believe all spot on products are dangerous. On the contrary, the EPA has stated that these products “can be appropriate treatments for protecting pets and public health because fleas and ticks can transmit disease to animals and humans” and that “most people use these products with no harm to their pets.”

EPA recommends that “owners consult a veterinarian about the best way to protect their pets from fleas and ticks… especially before using any product on weak, aged, medicated, sick, pregnant or nursing pets, or on pets that have previously shown signs of sensitivity to pesticide products.”

I wholeheartedly agree with EPA’s recommendation. I rarely see adverse effects from the flea and tick products that I have prescribed. Those that do occur are generally mild and transient. Sadly, I routinely see serious diseases caused by fleas and ticks that could have been prevented with an effective parasite prevention program.

You should always ask your family veterinarian for advice before exposing your pet to any pesticide or medication. Veterinarians are advocates for your pet. We have the knowledge and experience to help you find the safest, most effective parasite control program for your unique situation.

In addition, you should always read and follow label directions carefully. Before each dose, double check that the product is appropriate for your pet’s correct species and weight. If you have any questions about the proper way to apply the product or the proper frequency for repeating a dose, contact your veterinarian.

EPA runs a web site to give pet owners information on regulated flea and tick products. Readers can find more information at

Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner and owner of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. He can be reached through or by calling 428-1000

Backyard Gardens Can Also be a
Poison Hazard for Pets
By Sharon Vanderlip, DVM, -

The rainstorms have ended and summer is here. It’s the perfect time to plant a garden and work in the yard. But if you share these areas with your pets, you have a lot more to think about than weeds and seeds. The kinds of plants you grow and the products you use will determine whether your backyard retreat is a safe haven, or a dangerous place, for your family pets.

Poisonous plants: Most ornamental plants are toxic. The list of poisonous plants is long and includes many common plants. Even if your pet doesn’t go outside, be careful in selecting which plants to bring inside to decorate your home because many houseplants are poisonous.

Before planting, check with your local nursery to learn which plants are nonpoisonous and safe for your pets. Some of the more common poisonous plants include: Amaryllis, azalea, arrowhead, begonia, Boston ivy, caladium, chrysanthemum, crocus, cycads, daffodil, Daphne, dieffenbachia, English ivy, four o’clock, gladiolus, foxglove, geranium, morning glory, lily of the valley, lantana, lobelia, mistletoe, narcissus, snake plant, philodendron, nightshade, oleander, Sago palm, sweet pea, tulips and wisteria.

Even fruit and vegetable gardens can be dangerous. We often assume plants are safe if we can eat part of them. But some edible plants have poisonous parts. For example, the leaves and stems of tomato plants are poisonous, the leaves and green parts (“eyes”) of potatoes are poisonous, and rhubarb leaves are poisonous. Grapes can be very toxic to dogs. Just a few grapes (or raisins) can kill a dog.

Mushrooms: Mushrooms or other fungi that sprout in the yard can be poisonous. Be sure to remove these as soon as you spot them, before your pet can find and eat them.

Toxic chemicals: Most pesticides used in the garden are dangerous for pets. Check the labels closely for warnings. Avoid snail bait that contains metaldehyde, a chemical that is as toxic for pets as it is for slugs. Look for “pet friendly” snail baits that contain iron phosphate instead of metaldehyde. These are considered safe for pets and wildlife.

Many fertilizers can irritate skin and are toxic if ingested. Pets that play on a recently fertilized lawn may develop contact dermatitis, or rashes and sores, especially on their feet and sparsely haired body parts, such as bellies and scrotums. Water runoff from fertilized areas can accumulate in puddles and poison pets and wildlife that drink the contaminated water.

Mulch: Cocoa mulch is made from cocoa shells and has a sweet, chocolate fragrance. It also contains methylxanthines, the same substances found in chocolate. Methylxanthines are toxic for pets. If you use cocoa mulch in your garden, make sure your pets cannot gain access to it.

Rodent bait: Rodent baits for rats, mice, gophers, and squirrels are deadly for family pets. Make sure you keep all rodent baits out of your pet’s reach. Dogs and cats are curious creatures and will often eat other animals, alive or dead. If your pet finds and eats a rodent that has been poisoned, your pet can also be poisoned.

Insects and arachnids: Beautiful gardens attract bees. Most bee stings in pets are painful, but not serious. In some cases, bee stings can cause severe allergic reactions with facial swelling and breathing difficulties. Spiders and scorpions can be found in yards and gardens. The good news is that in San Diego County, there are only three spider species venomous enough to worry about: the black widow, the brown widow, and the desert recluse (not the same as the brown recluse).

What to do if your pet has been poisoned:

1.Call your veterinarian or nearest veterinary emergency hospital immediately for help.

2.Call one of the poison control hotlines:

• The National Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435. Fee is $50 per case.

• Pet Poison Control Center Helpline 24 hour service (800) 213-6680. Fee is $35 per case.

1.Have your credit card ready to provide payment information.

2.Provide your name, address, and phone number.

3.Give the following information: your pet’s species, breed, age, sex and weight.

4.Have product label available, if possible. Provide information about the product, including how much was eaten, or amount of exposure.

5.Describe the problems your pet is experiencing.

Dr. Sharon Vanderlip is a veterinarian and author in San Diego. County

Not Your Everyday Pet

KENDALLVILLE — Manager Chad Stayner at Exotic Aquatics and Pets in Kendallville catches a tiny tropical fish in a small-handled scoop strainer from one his shop’s fish tanks and shows it to a customer.

He transfers the fish to a container filled with water, and then to a clear, plastic bag also filled with water. He ties the end of the bag, and makes the sale.

Nearly 60 percent of American households have pets, according to an Associated Press- poll. About 74 percent of pet owners polled in October said they had dogs, 47 percent cats, 24 percent fish, 7 percent birds, three percent gerbil, hamster, mouse or rat, two percent turtle or tortoise, two percent horse or pony, one percent rabbit, one percent reptiles other than snakes and two percent other. Pet owners can have more than one pet or different types.

Area pet shops have the more unusual types of pets and not dogs or cats.

Exotic Aquatics and Pets specializes in colorful African and South American Cichlids for aquariums but also has a selection of exotic pets for sale like scorpions, tarantulas, lizards, sea urchins, snakes and coral for saltwater aquariums. Sea

Dwellers and Friends in Angola caters mainly to aquarium hobbyists and businesses and professional offices that have aquariums in lobbies.

“We had a locally-raised gray cockatiel named Gumdrop, but he was recently sold,” said Sea Dwellers and Friends owner Joel Gramling. “We have a couple of canaries for sale that drive me crazy because they don’t stop singing.”

In the front window at Exotic Aquatics and Pets is a large green iguana that likes to scramble up and down a tree limb in its enclosure. Stayner also places a 10-foot reticulated python in an enclosure in the front window from time to time, but the big snake is not as active as the lizard.

Exotic animals are popular pets and caring for unusual, tropical fish can be a rewarding hobby, according to area pet store owners and staff, but people considering an exotic animal for pet or investing in an aquarium should do their homework first.

Anyone with exotic pets who don’t want them anymore should contact a pet shop to see if the shop will accept them.

“It’s a much better solution to turn them in to be sold than letting them go free,” said Stayner. His shop accepts unwanted exotic pets.

Gramling recommends anyone considering an aquarium or an exotic pet should first research how to care for the animals first before making a purchase.

With fish the first-time hobbyist should consider types, how many, size of tank, type of food like whether the fish is a herbivore or carnivore and its feeding schedule.

“There are a lot of things to consider like compatibility of different species of fish,“ said Gramling. “It can be expensive. You just can’t put tropical fish in any fish tank.”

When choosing an aquarium, generally it’s one inch of full grown fish to one inch of water.

Cichlids are the most popular exotic fish at Exotic Aquatics and Pets, according to Stayner. “People like them because they have a lot of color like Angelfish, Oscars and Discus and they’re active. They can be aggressive,” he said.

Sea Dwellers has rats, mice, hamsters and sometimes hedgehogs but aquarium fish are the most popular. “It really depends on what the person is looking for. We can order what they want if we don’t have it,” said Gramling.

In addition to selling pets, Gramling also maintains aquariums at schools, hospitals and professional officers. “I’ve got 40 clients that I service,” he said.

Just visiting a pet shop can be an experience, especially for young children. “The kids are fascinated with the animals. They like to watch the reptiles and fish,” said Stayner. According to the Web site, the best exotic pets for kids are guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, gerbils, mice, leopard gecko and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

“This Mexican Red Knee Tarantula is interesting,” said Stayner, taking the spider’s glass enclosure off a shelf. “Spiders are popular pets.”
Pet Store Too, 1019 W. Seventh St., Auburn, is another pet shop that has unusual pets for sale.

Pet shops have the special food, equipment and books exotic pet owners and fish hobbyists need to get started and care for their pets.

Pet shop staff can also answer questions, offer advice and order pets if their shops don’t have on display what their customer wants.

Click on banner to visit The Pet Warehouse

Domesticated Cats Hail from Turkey,
Research Suggests
By Jill Bowen -

Q: In what part of the world were cats first found? And how did the different breeds a:rise?

A: Cats were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the area known as the Fertile Crescent. This area stretches from Turkey to Northern Africa and includes Iran, Iraq and Egypt. Research data from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, where cat genetics are studied, suggests that Turkey is one of the sites of origin for the domestication of cats.

Cats started living close to people when people ceased being nomadic herders and became farmers raising livestock and crops. The stored cereal crops attracted rats and mice, and cats became useful to mankind by preying on the rodents.

Cats spread to the rest of the world by following the same migration paths as people did.

Cats are divided into four groups: European, Mediterranean, East African and Asian. But genetically speaking, the difference is extremely small. For example, Persian cats (which originated in Western Europe and not Persia) and exotic shorthair cats are genetically the same. Breeds look very different only because of variations in a single gene. This finding is of concern because some breeds are becoming so inbred that the amount of genetic variation is dangerously low, and this leads to higher levels of illness and birth abnormalities.

Q: We have a 3-year-old, shorthaired, indoor/outdoor cat who wolfs her food like a dog and then proceeds to throw up. We never see hair or anything else, just wet food. Because of this, we got into the habit of feeding her only a little bit at a time all day long until her portions run out. This can get old because she is constantly screaming for food and misbehaving if we aren't prompt, but we don't want her to have digestive problems, either.

A: It is not uncommon for healthy cats and dogs to vomit fairly often (once or twice a week). Cats may vomit digested food or regurgitate food relatively soon after eating. In some pets, it is because of stress at feeding time -- especially if there is another pet eating nearby.

Provided your veterinarian can find no physical reason for the regurgitation, then there are very few things that can be done. Feed your cat in a quiet location to give her more privacy, and feed her small portions at frequent intervals.

Choose a low-fat, low-protein food: Fat decreases the esophageal sphincter pressure and delays emptying of the stomach, while protein stimulates the production of stomach acid. There are some commercial cat foods available that have a low-residue formula, and there are some other foods available that are hypoallergenic. You can purchase both types of food from your veterinarian. If none of these suggestions solves the problem, then there are some anti-vomiting drugs available as a last resort.

Warning: The Easter lily is toxic to cats; the calla lily, peace lily and glory lily are not.

The pollen from Easter lilies is very toxic, as are the leaves, causing kidney failure. Symptoms can develop within minutes of eating just one leaf.

Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy and a loss of appetite. If left untreated, death will occur within five days. If treatment is started early, there is a greater chance of recovery. But once the kidneys become severely damaged, there is much less chance of the cat surviving.

The best prevention is to keep any lilies away from the cats. It is not necessary for the cat to eat the plant, but they can become ill by merely licking pollen on their fur.

If you think your cat has either eaten a lily leaf or contacted the pollen, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Extend Your Dog’s Life
Using These Simple Grooming Tips
William Wilcox -

If your dog is an important part of your life, you will want to provide the best of care for her so she can enjoy a long and rewarding life. A trip or two each year to your veterinary clinic does not guarantee that your loyal canine will maintain her healthy appearance and youthful spirit.

If your dog is an important part of your life, you will want to provide the best of care for her so she can enjoy a long and rewarding life. A trip or two each year to your veterinary clinic does not guarantee that your loyal canine will maintain her healthy appearance and youthful spirit. It is you, the dog’s owner, who can make the difference between your dog living a long, full life or one of physical disease and health problems.

Many dogs are treated like they are immune from common heath problems – they are NOT! They suffer many of the same health issues that afflict humans; teeth and gum disease, ear infections, toe nail problems, and hair issues, just to name a few.

Well, don’t get discouraged, because a few simple and easy grooming practices can help you prevent the premature aging of your pet. Basic personal dog grooming is the key to early recognition of skin and tumor issues, dental problems, and mobility difficulties.

To help you establish a regular dog grooming regimen, the following tips are provided covering five key areas; brushing, bathing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental hygiene.

Brushing Your Dog

Brushing, or grooming, your dog is a great time for bonding with her and providing the physical contact that all dogs desire.

This practice promotes a lustrous shine on the dog’s coat, whiling eliminating dirt, debris, and dead fur.

This is also the perfect opportunity to examine your dog’s skin for fleas and ticks, lumps, cuts, or contusions. And while you’re at it, take a moment and examine her ears, eyes, teeth and nails.

Bathing Your Dog

Here is the good news – most dogs only need bathing once a month, unless she likes to play in the rain and mud. If she does get dirty on a regular basis, adjust your bathing schedule accordingly.

A prerequisite to bathing is a good brushing. This loosens up any dead hair or dirt and makes the bathing process much more productive. A good practice is to start bathing your dog as young as possible. Generally start when she is about 14-15 weeks old, or earlier, if they tend to get into messy situations.

Find a good location to bathe your dog, preferably one that is contained and has good drainage. Undoubtedly, water will be spilled or shaken near and far. An enclosed shower or tub is an ideal location, or if your dog is a smaller breed, the kitchen sink can also work.

Wet your dog thoroughly, avoiding her head to keep water out of her eyes and ears. Plug your dog’s ears with cotton balls if there is a risk of flooding the ears. Use a dog shampoo and lather up the dog. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and squeeze off the excess water. The face should be washed with a soft, damp cloth. Towel dry your dog, and blow dry if desired, but it is best to keep her confined until dry.

Trimming Nails

Nail trimming can be a traumatic experience for some dogs. So, it is best to start the nail trimming experience as early as 2-3 months old to let your dog become accustomed to the practice.

For puppies, you can often use finger nail clippers to tip the ends of the nails.
If this is just too much for your dog or puppy to handle all in one sitting, you may start with trimming only one paw at a time, giving your dog an extended break between sessions. The key to successful nail trimming is providing your dog lots of praise when she lets you cut a nail. Kind, soothing words of praise will let her know that she is loved and this experience is nothing to fear. Of course, a few dog treats after the session is over can’t hurt either.

Cleaning Ears

Inspect your dog’s ears often, but only clean them when there is evidence of dirt in the opening or canal. Use a cotton ball, never a cotton swab, to clean the dirt out of the ear. Soaking the cotton ball with a good ear cleaning solution provides the best results. Hydrogen peroxide can be substituted for the cleaning solution, if necessary.

If you notice that the dog’s ears are red, swollen, or emit a foul smell, the problem might be more serious and demand veterinary attention.

Yeast infections, ear mites, and other ear problems are more easily treated by medications only available from your vet.

Keeping a Bright Smile

As a dog’s life span has been extended over the years, it is even more imperative that your dog maintain healthy teeth and gum tissue. You can assist her by brushing her teeth regularly. Start as early in life as possible, to get your dog accustomed to the feel of your finger or brush in her mouth.

Starting with your, pet, finger, or a special dog toothbrush fitted for your fingertip, begin massaging your dog’s gums and gently rubbing her teeth.

Once she has become accustomed to the practice, try using a dog toothbrush, or small soft bristled human toothbrush, with dog-specific toothpaste. Never use toothpaste designed for humans on your dog.

Continuing this practice throughout your dog’s life will ensure that she will avoid gum disease, loose teeth, and related eating problems.

These easy-to-follow grooming tips take very little time compared to the years of enjoyment your dog will provide you and your family. Take care of your loving “best friend” and she will certainly return the favor many times over!

5 Easy Ways to Save
More Than $2,500 on Your Pet
By -

Green guru Elizabeth Rogers offers five tips for saving money on your furry family members

Given all your pet does for you, you certainly want to do the best for him. But too often the best is unaffordable. Especially, it seems, when it comes to healthy pet products that are also better for the planet. Here are some simple shifts to help you save.

Pure kindness: Save $500

If you’re set on a purebred dog or cat, buy one from a rescue association instead of getting a pedigree from a breeder. Save $500 or more depending on breed type and location. You can do your part to decrease demand for purebreds. To locate a rescue group that specializes in the breed of dog or cat that interests you, contact your local animal shelter, check the classifieds section of the newspaper, or search the Internet. You can also contact The Humane Society of the United States, and they’ll help you locate a nearby rescue group.

A real meal: Save $250

As tempting as it might be, don’t buy the cheapest pet food available. Most of the generic and discounted varieties contain high-calorie filler, which may lead to hyperactivity and won’t provide your pet with the nutrients essential to his healthy growth and longevity. Buying the right food can save up to $250 on extra training costs or vet expenses over the course of your pet’s lifetime. Fewer trips to visit specialists means less resources used for treatment and lower gas consumption driving there.

Incredible bulk: Save $125

Buy flea and tick medicine and any other pet medications online and in bulk instead of buying them one month at a time from your vet and save up to $125 per year or more. Buying a 12-month supply reduces packaging waste and also conserves the fuel you’d normally use to pick up your pet’s meds every month or two.

Good for you: Save time driving and sitting in waiting rooms at the vet office.

Take a walk: Save $1,800

If you’re paying someone to walk your dog a few times a week, why not do it yourself? Save up to $1,800 per year or more if your dog is walked three times per week.

Unless your dogwalker lives down the street, she is probably driving to your house to walk your dog. So when you do it yourself, you save the fuel and the pollution associated with your dogwalker’s transportation.

Good for you: Walking your dog is great exercise for you as well as for your dog. And if you just can’t get yourself up early enough to take the dog for a walk, consider this: people who are active fall asleep more quickly and get better quality sleep than people who are sedentary. So test it out and see if a little morning exercise helps you get your Z’s. It may just be a win-win!

Pet treats
If you buy pet treats with no packaging or in packaging that can be recycled, you will prevent a pound or more of plastic from entering landfills each year. If 10 percent of all dog and cat owners purchased pet treats in recyclable packaging, more than 58,000 cubic yards of waste would be eliminated annually. If this waste were packed into a standard 3-acre dog park, it would tower more than 12 feet high.

Who Dat Stole the Courthouse Cat's Crib?
John DeSantis -

A feline friend finds a new home after he was unceremoniously evicted from the Terrebonne Courthouse

HOUMA — Lots of cats scurry and sneak through the storm drains, gutters and gardens that surround the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse. Few draw much attention from the army of women who file the papers, take the complaints and type the reports every day.

A certain orange tabby insisted on notice, however. He mewed and rubbed and rolled over until the softer-hearted court clerks offered food and, eventually, shelter. After the New Orleans Saints clinched the 2010 NFL championship, he earned the name “Who Dat.”

But the kind-hearted gesture of a makeshift kitty palace in an exterior recess of the art-deco building took on a sour taste last week.

In the name of sightliness, cleanliness and practicality, Public Facilities Manager David Drury had one of his crews sweep away the feline shrine. The surprise move was a blow to the clerks, who say they are still containing anger and hurt.

“He had made many friends in a short time,” said Deputy Clerk Arletta Hebert, one of a score of women who counted themselves among Who Dat's fans. “He had a little house and two bowls for food and water and a couple of blankets for the cold nights, all donated by his courthouse friends.”

As each day passed, the attachments grew stronger, and Who Dat was a courthouse fixture.

“He was just so lovable,” Deputy Clerk Jean Fugatt said. “We would tell him hello, and he'd meow back at us.”

After the Saints won the Super Bowl, Who Dat was appropriately greeted and honored. Lint from a black felt patch of his bedding mingled with gold fur, in the minds of his fans making the name that much more appropriate. He never intruded, the women said, only stuck his head into the basement as a reminder that the food bowl needed filling or for a quick acknowledgement.

"I hate to say this because it doesn't sound correct, but he was just like a man,” said Fugatt, a 30-year courthouse veteran. “He'd come in for some food and some loving and then he was out on his own again.”

On March 18, the women came to work as usual, but all that was left of Who Dat's courthouse crib was the sign that reads “Who Dat Cat.”

“We called the parish,” Hebert said. “We spoke to a worker and he said that it was illegal to have a cat around the courthouse, so he removed Who Dat's possessions and threw them in a dumpster behind the Government Tower. What a shame. The poor cat only laid in the weeds that were supposed to be a flower bed. He kept the weeds down. Now the weeds will grow back.”

For his part. Drury wants it known that he has no animosity toward animals and is a cat-lover himself. But a worker was getting flea-bitten, he said, while trying to set up temporary electricity on that side of the building for a weekend event.

“We could not keep those things there,” Drury said. “I'm sorry it had to be that way, but it had to go.”

The courthouse clerks contacted Parish President Michel Claudet; Drury said Claudet counseled him about the importance of sensitivity in such a situation.

The clerks say the unceremonious way Who Dat was evicted, especially since they had bought the blankets, is what bothers them the most.

“We had nice blankets,” Fugatt said. “These were not ratty old blankets.”

Since the hubbub, the deputy clerks are adjusting to life without Who Dat, who has been relocated to the home of one's relatives in Chacahoula, where he has fewer cars to dodge and lots of things to chase.

“We're all missing him” said Fugatt. “We're all missing him a lot.”

View Photos of Singles -
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10 Questions to Ask Your Vet About Medication for Your Pet
Submitted by K9 Magazine News

To prevent or treat an illness in your pet, your veterinarian may prescribe a medication.

Understanding important information about the medication and how to treat your pet can help your animal’s recovery or continued good health.

“Just as you would talk to your doctor about a medicine prescribed for you or your children, you should talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s medications,” says Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “And if you have any questions after you leave the animal clinic, don’t be afraid to contact and follow-up with your veterinarian.”

Here are 10 questions you should ask your vet when medication is prescribed.

1. Why has my pet been prescribed this medication and how long do I need to give it?

Your veterinarian can tell you what the medication is expected to do for your pet and how many days to give it.

2. How do I give the medication to my pet? Should it be given with food?

Your pet may have fewer side effects, like an upset stomach, from some drugs if they are taken with food. Other medications are best to give on an empty stomach.

3. How often should the medication be given and how much should I give each time? If it is a liquid, should I shake it first?

Giving the right dose at the right time of the day will help your pet get better more quickly.

4. How do I store the medication?

Some medications should be stored in a cool, dry place. Others may require refrigeration.

5. What should I do if my pet vomits or spits out the medication?

Your veterinarian may want to hear from you if your pet vomits. You may be told to stop giving the drug or to switch your pet to another drug.

6. If I forget to give the medication, should I give it as soon as I remember or wait until the next scheduled dose? What if I accidentally give too much?

Giving your pet too much of certain medications can cause serious side effects. You’ll want to know if giving too much is a cause for concern and a trip to the animal emergency room.

7. Should I finish giving all of the medication, even if my pet seems to be back to normal?

Some medications, such as antibiotics, should be given for a certain length of time, even if your pet is feeling better.

8. Could this medication interact with other medications my pet is taking?

Always tell your veterinarian what other medications your pet is taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, and herbs or other dietary supplements. You may want to write these down and take the list with you to the vet’s office.

9. What reactions should I watch for, and what should I do if I see any side effects?

Your veterinarian can tell you if a reaction is normal or if it signals a serious problem. You may be asked to call your vet immediately if certain side effects occur.

FDA encourages veterinarians and animal owners to report serious side effects from medications to FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine at 1-800-FDA-VETS. For a copy of the reporting form and more information on how to report problems, visit the Web site, How to Report An Adverse Drug Experience4.

10. When should I bring my pet back for a recheck? Will you be calling me to check on my pet’s progress, or should I call you?

Your vet may want to examine your pet or perform laboratory tests to make sure the medication is working as it should.

Howl-E-Wood Hearthrobs:
What Pets See When They Look at Us
By Dr. Marty Becker -

My wife Teresa and I are in New York City right now, so I can film a segment of “The Pet Doctor” for ABC News. This trip followed on the heels of one to Orlando for Global Pet Expo. It’s not unusual that I spend around half my time out of town, and that means lots of plane rides. And for me, that also means lots of airplane and airport reading.

I actually like in-flight magazines and the kinds of newspapers and magazines I can grab at an airport kiosk while running to board a plane. I love the eclectic mix of subjects, and I even love how being a captive audience means I sometimes end up reading about things I wouldn’t normally think about.

That’s what happened on my flight from Orlando to New York, when I found myself enraptured by an article in USA Today called “What women say makes a woman beautiful.”

Guys might be happy with how a woman looks, but to appeal to your own sex you have to have it all. The top answers were intangible personality traits like “self-confidence” and a positive outlook on life, with “healthy/shiny hair” and “a great figure” right up there.

So I’m sitting there in my airplane seat, my beautiful wife next to me, and I figure she’s got it all: Confidence? Check. Positive outlook? Absolutely. Great hair and figure? They don’t get much better than my health-nut, fitness-obsessed, Weight Watchers coach wife.

Then there’s me.

Now, I’m as upbeat as you can be, and years in front of the television cameras and in the veterinary hospital exam room with cats determined to triumph in a battle of wills have given me a certain amount of self-confidence.

But the full head of shiny hair and great figure? That’s when I was filled with gratitude that our pets don’t have a little checklist of qualities they look for in their humans (or at least, that newspapers and magazines don’t ask them!).

No, when it comes to our cats and dogs, it doesn’t matter if you’re Walmart-greeter-happy or agoraphobic, wear rose-colored glasses or blinders, have Hollywood hair or no hair from the last round of chemo, or look like Barbie or the Pillsbury dough-boy.

Pets always greet you like a howl-e-wood heartthrob and shower you with kisses like you’re the most beautiful person in the world.

The tabloids tell us that women are from Venus and men are from Mars — but dogs are right here on Earth…thank God!

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Paw Print Pick:
Older Cat Was 'a Gift from God'

When readers e-mail stories to me, I think about retelling them myself but find their words say it best. This is what Kristy had to say about Bisou and the cat's impact on her life and the life of Jim. They live in Burbank, Calif., where she provides care for Jim.

We had a cat named Dusty who died from cancer at the age of 15. Losing Dusty broke my heart and I was not certain that I wanted to have another cat ever again. Jim wanted a cat, but we did not want a kitten or a young cat since they are very feisty and a bit too much for either of us to handle.

After about six months, I decided to leave it up to God. I prayed about it, telling God that if He wanted us to have a cat then He would have to bring one around. I had no intention of looking for another cat.

Two weeks later I came home from grocery shopping to find a note on my door with a photo of Bisou. Bisou's original owner, a neighbor of ours, had found a new love in his life and the lady has 2 boys. These boys are allergic to cats. The note asked if we would be willing to take Bisou. Bisou was 12 years old when we accepted her as the newest member of our household. She likes to play. She is very affectionate and sweet. She keeps both of us laughing.

Jim is a heart patient. Bisou helps keep his blood pressure at a safer level. Jim was on medication for depression. He no longer requires medication to treat his depression.

Bisou is truly a gift from God.

Pet-Proof Your Home:
Top Ten Risks to Your Pets
By Gabrielle Jonas -

Some of the household products most toxic to pets do not carry warning labels. For instance, no warning labels exist on the baker's chocolate and none on the garden mulch, none on the lilies and none on the avocados. The Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to substances from around the house and garden last year. Here are the top 10 pet poisons in 2009:

1. Human medications

Last year, almost 46,000 pets licked spilled pills from the floor and snatched vials of pain killers, anti-depressants, cold medications and dietary supplements from nightstands. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are particularly toxic to cats: NSAIDs can cause perforation of the stomach or intestines, as well as renal failure. Some antidepressants are toxic to cats as well. "Pets, especially cats, seem to enjoy the taste of Effexor and often eat the entire pill. Unfortunately, just one pill can cause serious poisoning," says the Pet Poison Hotline on its website, a for-profit hotline affiliated with the University of Minnesota.

2. Flea and tick treatments

About 29,000 pets received the wrong flea or tick treatments. In many cases, owners applied permethrin insecticides, which are topical flea and tick medicine for dogs, onto their cats, according to the Pet Poison Hotline. But many unwitting poisonings stemmed from owners applying toxic over-the-counter spot-on pyrethroid-based flea and tick treatments to their pets. About 1,600 pet deaths related to such treatments were reported to the Environmental Protection Agency between 2003 and 2008.

Pyrethroid spot-ons have caused violent seizures, brain damage, heart attacks, and according to The Center For Public Integrity, "stirred the ire of pet owners, the concern of veterinarians, and the attention of regulatory agencies." Last April,the EPA said it would intensify its reevaluation of such products. The agency is also encouraging reports of flea and tick treatment poisoning to its National Pesticide Telecommunications Network at 800-858-7378.

3. "People" food

About 17,500 pets chewed or swallowed grapes, raisins, onions, avocado, gum and other people food. Unfortunately, death by chocolate can be a sad reality for pets. Excessive amounts, especially of baking chocolate and cocoa powder, can cause tremors and seizures. Less than two ounces of milk chocolate per kilogram of canine body weight can be lethal. Within 6 to 12 hours of eating chocolate, bloating, tremors, hypothermia, and even coma can ensue, leading to cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory failure, and ultimately, death. Some people food is toxic to a gamut of pets: Avocado, for instance, is toxic to dogs, cats, ferrets and birds alike.

4. House and garden plants

Almost 8,000 pets suffered from chewing or swallowing plants. Spring flowers are surprisingly toxic to pets: even tiny amounts of Easter and other lilies caused severe kidney damage. Other spring culprits are tulip and Narcissus bulbs, causing convulsions and cardiac abnormalities; and amaryllis, causing anorexia and tremors.

The popular genus rhododendron, which boasts more than 1,000 species, causes central nervous system depression in pets; azaleas, which are a type of rhododendron, coma and death. All parts of the oleander cause abnormal heart function, hypothermia and death; cyclamen root, intense vomiting and death; one nut of the sago palm, seizures and liver failure; and chrysanthemum, coordination loss.

5. Veterinary medications

More than 7,500 well-meaning pet parents improperly dispensed veterinary antibiotics, vaccines, heart-worm preventatives, dewormers, nutritional supplements and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, carpofen -- found in Rimadyl -- and ketoprofen. "Be sure to use the correct product on the correct animal," warns the Washington Poison Center. "Read all the directions before using on your pet."

Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not vouchsafe the veterinary medicines the agency itself has tested. "Pre-testing by the manufacturer and review of the data by the government does not guarantee absolute safety and effectiveness of approved veterinary drugs due to the inherent limitations imposed by testing the product on a limited population of animals," the FDA says.

6. Rat Poisons

More than 6,500 pets ate rat and mice poisons containing bromethalin, which can cause seizures and other neurologic problems. Symptoms of toxicosis in cats include paralysis of hind limbs, muscle tremors, and depression of the central nervous system. Symptoms usually develop within two to seven days of eating bromethalin, but can appear two weeks later. Cats may also suffer from secondary poisoning if they eat rats or mice that have themselves eaten bromethalin.

7. Household Cleaners

More than 4,000 pets may have inhaled or absorbed bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Many of these cleaners caused gastrointestinal and respiratory tract irritation. Swiffer Wet Jet has been a concern since an e-mail campaign claimed ingredient propylene glycol n-butol/propyl ether caused liver failure in a dog. The ASPCA has declared Wet Jet and Febreze fabric cleaners to be safe. Though Procter & Gamble, which produces both products, has donated money to the ASPCA,, a rumor-monitoring site -- not beholden to P&G -- also debunked the Wet Jet rumor.

Either way, it's good to err on the side of caution. "No matter what cleaning products you use on your floors," Tracie Hotchner, author of The Dog Bible and The Cat Bible, advises, "go over the surface again afterwards with clean water to get every trace of the product."

8. Heavy Metals

About 3,000 pets were exposed to lead through paint chips, linoleum, and dust from sanded floors. Lead poisoning causes hysteria in dogs. Pets also absorb lead from roofing and plumbing supplies, solder, pewter, putty, and poorly-glazed food and water ceramic bowls.

Zinc in cage paint and lead toys are the leading toxic killers of parrots. Lead poisoning of birds can cause partial paralysis, especially of the feet. "Most birdcages are galvanised and potentially deadly despite assurances that this is not so from some salespeople," said to Dr. Ross Perry, a veterinarian surgeon specializing in Avian Health, at Homebush Animal Hospital in Sydney, Australia. Brass and bronze water containers for cockatoos, seed bells hung on galvanized wire bells and corroding cage ornaments can also be toxic.

9. Garden and Lawn Products

More than 2,300 pets suffered from insecticides and fertilizers, the latter causing severe gastrointestinal obstruction. Even mulch can be poisonous, according to Tom McPheron of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "It's becoming common to mulch a garden with the fragrant spent shells of coco beans. But just like chocolate, dogs like to eat them and they are toxic."

Studies prove it. Exposure to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens increases the risk of bladder cancer by four to seven-fold in Scottish Terriers, according to a study by Purdue University published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. And according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center, about 200 pet birds suffered from exposure to pesticides — including rat bait — and insecticides in 2004.

10. Chemical Hazards

More than 2,000 pets ingested or were exposed to antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool and spa chemicals, causing depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns. If a pet has been chemically poisoned, there may be an odor. Washing the entire pet with mild soap until the odor disappears and flushing the mouth with water may help decontaminate the pet.

"Cats are curious creatures and like to investigate," Sheldon Rubin, a veterinarian and former director of Blum Animal Hospital, Chicago, says. A cat will accidentally or on purpose knock an open can of chemicals. The chemicals get on its fur and paws, and the cat will lick them. "It is your responsibility as a pet owner in providing cat care to keep all potentially toxic products tightly closed and out of reach of your cat," he says.

No matter what the cause, many of the signs of poisonings begin with the same symptoms: drooling, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, twitching, nervousness, and convulsions. Any combination of these symptoms is reason to call the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435, one of several poison hotlines, but be aware there's a charge for this service. No matter what the pet, though, one shouldn't be shy about calling. According to the Washington Poison Center, owners of iguanas, goats, guinea pigs, horses, spiders and even fish have called for poison assistance.

Minks Pose Threat to Pets, Farm Animals
By Wina Sturgeon - For the Deseret News

The animals are carnivores; one attacked Herriman family's pet rabbits

HERRIMAN — Shayna Page knew something was wrong when she heard the baby rabbits screaming one morning in February.

The Herriman woman ran outside and saw an animal trying to get into the cages of the rabbits her family raises. When the cat-size animal saw her, it ran away.

"The next day, I went out there and it had killed one of the babies and eaten a leg off two other babies," Page said. "Only one survived. It also ate the toes off eight other rabbits. My 8-year-old daughter was frightened and horrified."

The family put out a trap and caught the animal on the third day. They learned it was a mink.

On an August morning 2½ years earlier, Lindsey McMullin arrived at his family's mink farm to find animal activists had broken into one of the sheds and released all of the minks — 650 animals. The sheds also had been spray-painted with graffiti and the name Animal Liberation Front, an extremist group known for vandalizing farms and research laboratories that raise animals.

McMullin was devastated. "Most of the mink they released were young, 3 to 4 months old," he said. "They wouldn't know how to survive. And we're right in the middle of a suburban area, just a few hundred yards off a six-lane major street used by tens of thousands of cars every day."

The Page family doesn't know if the mink that attacked the rabbits was a survivor from the McMullin farm. Utah has a significant wild mink population that occasionally attacks domestic animals. But mink farming is big here. Utah is the second-largest producer of mink fur in America, and the fourth-largest in the world.

Animal rights groups have vandalized three local mink farms over the past ten years. One rancher in Sandy had 3,500 animals released into the surrounding area. Another in Summit County had 1,500 minks set loose. In the McMullin case, two men who claimed to be part of the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF, were captured by police and convicted of federal crimes.

Minks are small, water-loving animals with partially webbed feet and weigh between three and seven pounds. Closely related to otters, they are members of the weasel family. Like otters, they're extremely quick and agile. They also are ruthless carnivores in the wild, and with their needle-like teeth and long claws will hunt anything smaller, including chickens and even pet cats.

When the McMullins learned what had happened at their farm, the large and extended family rallied and began searching for the released minks. By noon, they had recovered 550 of their animals. Within a week, they were able to find most of the others. But not all of them.

"There were about 50 that we didn't recover," McMullin said. "A high percentage of those were killed on the road. I saw their bodies on the street. We also had mink that fell into window wells in the surrounding subdivisions. It was August, and with the hot sun, they would get dehydrated very quickly."

Working with South Jordan Animal Control, he learned of one mink trapped in a nearby window well and went to rescue it. "It was the middle of the afternoon, two days after they were released, and this window well was directly in the sun. The mink was almost dead; she was dying of thirst. She was so disoriented and lethargic that when I got into the window well, she didn't even try to get away; she just walked over and laid her head on my foot. She survived."

Another mink didn't. McMullin's brother-in-law saw it being chased down a street by two men. By the time he was able to get there, the mink had collapsed. He brought it to McMullin, who tried to revive the animal by trickling water into its mouth.

"I've got a picture of her in my arm," he said. "I held her in my arm and tried to get her to take water. She made it through the night. The next morning, I was able to give her water and she was able to drink, but that afternoon, she passed away."

Though minks are meticulously cared for in a comfortable environment by their farmers, the fact remains that the eventual fate of the animals not used for breeding is to be killed and skinned for their fur.

Animal rights groups justify their actions as an attempt to stop that slaughter. Los Angeles surgeon Jerry Vlasak is a spokesperson for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which he says is not part of the Animal Liberation Front. "There are other groups besides ALF that are operating," Vlasak said. "Certainly we sympathize with ALF and what they do. But I am a press officer; I am not a member of ALF. ALF members do not identify themselves, because they're breaking laws to help animals, and if they get caught, they end up going to prison."

Vlasak's group and ALF share the belief that animals should not be exploited or abused by humans for their own purposes. "We believe that animals should live out their lives as they see fit," he said. "Certainly there's no reason to imprison and kill fur-bearing animals so that a rich woman can make a fashion statement with her fur coat."

When it comes to law-breaking activism, Vlasak said, "ALF isn't particularly concerned about laws that allow the continued suffering and exploitation of animals. And there are people willing to break unjust laws, whether it's liberating animals from conditions of abuse, or inflicting economic sabotage on those who abuse animals for profit."

Teresa Platt, national spokesperson for Fur Commission USA, explained that released farm minks often end up killed on highways because they are attracted to the sound of traffic. "It sounds like food carts to them. If they do manage to survive, it's a very tough life; they have to get through the cold winter and hot summer. They will cannibalize their own little tails just to survive."

Platt questions the motives of activist animal rights groups. "They're willing to burn your building down to force you to embrace their cause. I would think that if you were that committed to protecting animals, you'd be vegan, but we know that they are not. Cars that have been involved in these incidents have been littered with old hamburger wrappers. I think their purpose is to cause great financial harm and stress to the (farming) families. But is it the 'cause,' or the thrill and adrenaline rush of the vandalism?"

McMullin believes it's the latter. "I think they're trying to put my family and I out of business," he said. "The individuals who broke into our farm should have been charged with animal cruelty for what they did to the mink. There's no sense to it at all. When you release more than 600 animals into a suburban area, where are they going to go?"

When Page learned of the earlier South Jordan release of minks, she was shocked and said, "When people let animals go from the farms, what do they think they're going to eat? Do they think they're going to get food handouts in the wild like they've been getting all their lives? It's ridiculous that those people think they are doing animals a favor."

Page added, "After that incident, we now go out and enclose our chickens every night so that nothing gets them. They can't be free range any more. And I'm always looking out and watching, always checking under the rabbit cages to make sure nothing has been there to hurt them."

When the men who vandalized the McMullin farm were convicted, the judge fined them $66,000 for damages. McMullin shook his head. "I won't be holding my breath until I get that money," he said.

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