How to Identify Pet 'Scams'

Dogs May Help Ease Veterans' Pain

WASHINGTON — The federal government is spending several million dollars to study whether scientific research supports anecdotal reports that service dogs might speed veterans' recovery from the psychological wounds of wars. Under a bill written by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., veterans with PTSD will get service dogs as part of a pilot program run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Training such a dog and pairing it with a client costs more than $20,000. The government already helps provide dogs to soldiers who lost their sight or were severely wounded in combat, but had never considered placing dogs for emotional damage.

How Hot Is It in Bullhead City, Arizona?
Thanks to Bob in BHC, AZ

Dog Bumps Car into Neutral,
Causing Fender-Bender

MIDDLETON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin police said a dog caused a fender-bender in a parking lot when it knocked a parked car’s gear shift into neutral. Middleton police said the car’s owner had stopped for lunch Thursday and left his dog in the car.

Officer Jeff Winer said the dog somehow bumped the car into neutral. He said the car rolled out of its parking spot and into a pickup truck across the lot. Police said the damage to each vehicle could run in the thousands of dollars.

Winer said it’s the first time in his 27-year career he’s seen a dog at fault in a collision. He told WISC-TV when he first heard what happened he thought it was an April Fools’ joke.

Heart-Warming Psychic Pet Story

Hello Doc:

I’m blue, and at work. Got a good psychic pet story to cheer me up?
Worker Bee

Dear Worker Bee:

We love heart-warming psychic pet stories at Ask Doc Paranormal, particularly on holiday weekends. Here’s one from “Pattie in Pahrump”:

“I live in Pahrump, Nevada with my husband and beloved cat Gold Dust. Like Goldie, many cats that live in our wonderful town seem to possess the uncanny ability to see those who have crossed over to the Other Side of life. And vice-versa. For instance, Goldie will be sitting in the living room when suddenly I watch his head turn as though he was following the movements of someone who entered the room, walked across it and then exited. In another case, a friend of mine was invited to a dinner party. Several times during the course of the evening she felt a long-haired cat rub against her legs under the chair. She never saw the feline and simply assumed it was shy and was hiding under the table. After the meal was over, she told the hostess about her sweet cat’s charming behavior. Astonished, the hostess told her that the cat had passed away many years before. There was no pet of any kind currently living under her roof. Animals in our town treat the Other Side as commonplace. We here in Pahrump love our pets and respect their special abilities whether they exist in our realm or have graduated to another plane of existence.”

Pattie in Pahrump

Harry's Habits

Harry, a cross Schnauzer x Maltese, has a habit after meal time - every night when he has finished his dinner he relocates his toys from their storage box to our family room upstairs.

He has a definite map in his head which he follows every day to a tee! (walking in a trot and on a particular path around the kitchen table and up the stairs). He relocates each of his toys (mostly baby rattles) individually, but on the same path every night; sometimes he does it in reverse if he hasn't brought any toys downstairs through the day. It is very funny to watch and very predictable.

There is a photo of Harry in his "suntop" - he has a very fine amount of hair and you can easily see his freckles on his skin, so I bought him a suntop for when he goes to the beach. There is also a photo of him in his winter polo- he is very handsome!

The Foxy Story

One morning I left my home in a great rush.

I later returned to a puppy break in. As I walked into the pet crime scene, I slammed one of the cupboards doors shut, to vent my frustration. The tiny culprit had left traces of her travels everywhere; the missing tea cake off the coffee table was just one instance. There were still a few morsels on the floor, which she obviously just couldn't jam into her tiny tummy.

After searching the house with no four legged arrest, I began to worry about sign anywhere...then I heard rustling from the bin cupboard. And what did I find? Well firstly a very empty bin, and secondly a tiny little Jack Russell curled up like a snail on a bag of empty plastic bags and still munching!

I opened her mouth to discover she was in fact munching on some old chewing gum from the bin. How could I possibly punish a pooch with such great smelling breath?

Bella the Schnauzer

Our dog Bella (aka Hairy Mc Clairy) loves to sit in our daughter's car booster seat. Whenever we go out together there is a race between them as to who gets in the chair first.

Even if our daughter is not in the car, Bella will still sit in the booster chair. When they are both in the car they like to share the seat together.

The Old, Wise Dog

"An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard.

I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of.

He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour. This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar:

'He lives in a home with six children, two are under the age of three - he's trying to catch up on his sleep....Can I come with him tomorrow?'"

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How to Know If Your Family
is Ready for a Pet
By NANCY CHURNIN / The Dallas Morning News

Wanting a pet does not mean you're ready for one

Dallas Moms blogger Christy Howard, a passionate advocate in the animal rescue movement and owner of Three Dog Bakery in Southlake, shares a three-point checklist to consider before you get a pet:

Ready or not: Is everyone ready, parents and kids? Kids shouldn't be given a pet to teach them responsibility; they should be given a pet to reward responsibility. A good age is 11 or 12, but remember that the teen years can bring a rush of extracurricular activities and other interests. Parents should be in a position to assume all responsibility if needed.

Hurry up and wait: Do you have time for a pet? Think back over your last year and see how a pet would have fit in. Do the adults work? Who will let the dog out during the day while you are gone? Who will take care of the pet while you are on vacation?

Money: If you are getting a new puppy, you have the initial expense of the puppy, vaccinations (around $300), micro-chipping and spaying or neutering (around $150 for either), a bed, a leash, a collar, food, chew toys and training. Adopting from a shelter can be less expensive, but there is an adoption fee to cover vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and micro-chipping. You will have continuing costs for food, heartworm preventive, toys, treats and annual checkups. Depending on the size of the animal, these costs can be as high as $1,000 a year.

How to Minimize a Cat's Hairball Problem
by Sun Meilan -

Cats are wonderful pets to own. They are independent creatures, yet are quite capable of giving love when they need it, and can provide hours of entertainment. One of the less savoury problems of having a cat, however, is hairballs. These are exactly what they sound like - balls of hair that the cat takes into their body while grooming. The hair should pass through the system naturally, but often, if there is a lot of hair, or the cat's stomach is sensitive, the balls will build up and cause the cat to vomit the hairball up. Even worse, the cat may not be able to vomit the hairball up, which can cause more dangerous problems.

If your cat seems to be suffering from the hairball problem - frequent vomiting or a repeated hacking cough - then it may be time to take her to the vet to be checked out just in case it is the result of a more serious issue. Otherwise, here are a number of suggestions that you can follow to minimize your cat's hairball problem.

*Regular grooming*

Particularly if your cat is long-haired, or is going through a period of excess moulting, you should groom your cat as often as possible. This will rid them of excess fur without them having to lick it off. It should also be pleasurable for your cat, although some cats don't like having specific parts of their bodies touched. Concentrate on the hard to reach parts, like the tail and the base of their back.

*Petroleum jelly/butter*

One of the most common home remedies for hairballs is to coat your cat's paw with petroleum jelly or butter. They will lick their paw, and the greasy texture will then help any hairballs in the stomach to pass through naturally. Many cats have an issue with petroleum jelly, so if you do go for this option, you will need to watch them to ensure that they take it in - which is why the paw technique is usually recommended - a cat cannot bear to have a dirty paw and will force herself to lick it off.

*Biscuits including hairball remedy*

There are a number of shop-bought remedies, usually in the form of cat biscuits, that include remedies for hairballs. If you can find one that your cat likes (they can be fussy creatures), then stock up on them. You should, however, always ensure that you follow the instructions - if a certain number of biscuits is recommended, then stick to that amount carefully, unless your vet tells you otherwise.

*Allowing cat to eat grass*

Some cats naturally gravitate towards grass when they go outside in the garden. They chew on it and the fibre helps the digestive system to pass the hairballs through. If you have an indoor cat, you may find that they chew on houseplants. This, however, can be dangerous, depending on the plant. For indoor cats, it is possible to buy a special form of grass for cats that can be grown indoors.

*Increasing the amount of dietary fibre*

An increase in the fibre in a cat's diet can also help with hairballs. Again, there are cat biscuits that contain extra fibre or you could try more natural remedies such as rice bran. However, a sudden increase in fibre can cause more problems than it solves, so the introduction should be gradual. For the best results, ask your vet for advice.

If your cat has an issue with hairballs, the suggestions above are definitely worth trying. However, if in any doubt, always seek a vet's advice.

Dr. Giroux Answers Your Questions

Clark: My brother has a cat that is allergic to anesthesia. Does he have any other options on spaying?

While a pet may be sensitive to a certain drug or may have a drug reaction to a certain anesthetic agent, I doubt the cat is “allergic to anesthesia”. Veterinarians have a wide variety of safe, effective anesthetic protocols that can be used during surgical procedures. Your brother should schedule a consultation with the veterinarian to discuss the pet’s options.

Guadalupe: Hi Dr. Giroux. Can the Prozyme supplement help my dog accelerate her metabolism?

Prozyme helps maximize the dog’s ability to digest her food, especially if there is a deficiency of natural enzymes. It will not affect her metabolism.

Sherri: My female dog’s urethral opening has been a little black, she hasn’t acted different. Is this ok?

First, a bit of anatomy. The urethra in a dog empties into the vaginal vault, and cannot be visualized from the outside. If you can see your dog’s urethral opening, she has a prolapse, and should be seen and treated by a veterinarian immediately. If you are referring to her vulva, which can be seen easily, increased pigmentation occurs commonly as the dog gets a little older, especially is she is intact.

Marcia: I have two cats and both have grit. What causes it? They eat table scraps, but not much.

Urinary sand or calculus can be signs of an infection of the urinary tract, or related to diet. There are special diets to reduce and prevent urinary issues, so you should try one of those.

Amelia: Can you recommend a non toxic flea & tick treatment for dogs and lawn?

This is a tricky question. If the treatment is nontoxic to the flea or tick, it will not kill the pest. All products that are labeled for flea and tick control have been tested extensively and proven to be safe for the majority of pets when used according to label directions.

Topical monthly preparations are generally very effective, but not all are labeled for Fleas and Ticks, so you should read the labels and follow directions. Yard (and home) treatment are an important component of flea and tick control. There are many approaches to environmental control of fleas and ticks, from diatomaceous earth to malathion. Keeping strays out of your yard will help, but rabbits, squirrels and mice can contribute to pest populations, so you may need to have pest control professional help.

Caty: it is okay to be giving dogs well vitality treats everyday to my 1 yr old dog?

This is a pretty general question, hard to answer without knowing the brand and actual ingredients.

Caty: how often do I have to give Heartgard to my 1 yr old dog?

Heartgard and other monthly heartworm preventative medications should be given on the same day of each month. Whether you give this year round or just during the mosquito season will depend upon where you live, check with your veterinarian.

Tess: My bird became sick after eating 8-1 bird protector. What do I do?

I can’t find any real information on this product, and CareaLot doesn’t carry it, so I think other than the usual “consult your veterinarian” I don’t have an answer for this.

Joe: Is cottage cheese good for cats?

Some cottage cheese added to your cat’s food will be ok, as long as your cat as an individual can tolerate it. Sometimes dairy products give certain cats diarrhea.

Joe M.: What do I need to avoid in my dog food to avoid excess gas?

Certain foods can cause gas, and this is largely an individual issue. If your dog’s diet is consistent, you can try adding some live culture yogurt, or a professional product such as Prostora or Fortiflora to help provide beneficial bacteria which may help with the gas. Over the counter products such as Gas-X can be helpful as well. Sometimes it is trial and error to find out what type of food to feed your dog that doesn’t cause gas.

Pet Talk:
Slim Jim to the Rescue
By BARBARA McLEAN - Inlandsocal.Com/Pets

Dave and Joyce Seversen, of Corona, lost their beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Samantha, after enjoying her for 15½ years. They decided their next dog would be a rescue dog but because of their grief, they'd have to wait awhile. That was until Simcha came along. The Seversen's daughter-in-law, Michele, volunteers with the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange and told them about a little German shepherd mix that was abandoned along with two siblings in a field.

Although they felt it was still too soon, they agreed to have a look at the pups after looking at the e-mailed photo from Michele.

"The runt of the litter immediately bonded with my wife," said Dave, "She had the heart of a lion."

A San Diego couple adopted the other two pups together, and Simcha continues to bring joy to the Seversens.

Simcha means joyful in Hebrew. According to owners Dave and Joyce Seversen, of Corona, she is well-named.

Slim Jim to the Rescue

Henry L. Harris is a cross-country truck driver and he was going through some rough times. He had a small son back home in Ava, Mont., and was going through a difficult divorce.

Then along came Slim Jim, a tiny mini-pin brought to the Susanne Spirit Love My Truck Drivin' Man Show by Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care. All the dogs brought to the show that day had been adopted except Slim Jim, but once Harris saw him, that was remedied.

Harris thought the little dog would make a good companion on the road and maybe help him through some lonely times. He called his son shortly after adopting Slim Jim, and the boy was very excited and wanted to know all about the animal.

Spirit received an emotional call last week from Harris thanking her for making his adoption of Slim Jim possible. The father and son have their strong bond back, and it's all thanks to a small little dog.

At each of Spirit's shows, she always has more drivers looking for a canine companion then she has dogs available.

"This is a great problem to have," she said.

There's a video and photos of Slim Jim and Henry Harris on our Web site. Spirit blogs each week about the Truckin' Dogs.

Read more about pets at Got a good pet story or question for our pet experts? Email us at

View Photos of Singles -
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Got Pet Problems?
Hot Line is Available
By LINDA LOU - Special to The Press-Enterprise

If Buddy's feces or Kitty's scratch marks in the house make you want to scream, don't.

A better idea is to call the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center's free pet behavior helpline.

Denise Perry, the center's executive director, said the help line was established to prevent owners from dropping off their pets at animal shelters simply because of behavior problems that can be fixed. She said many pets end up getting euthanized at shelters.

"The ultimate goal is to have more pets stay in homes," Perry said.

A few hundred pets are relinquished to the adoption center each year because of behavioral problems, Perry said. Her center in Riverside has a no-kill adoption policy although it may refuse to accept dogs that are too aggressive. The center only has cats and dogs.

Dog and cat owners can call 951-688-4340, ext. 6 and leave a message about their pet's misbehavior. The center will mail information to owners, give them a few days to read the information and then return the call, said Leslie Holzrichter, a volunteer program assistant.

The No. 1 problem owners call about is "house soiling," which can be usually solved with training, Holzrichter said. Other common problems people call about include barking, chewing and cats playing too aggressively, she said.

Severe cases of aggression and phobias will be referred to a veterinarian or dog trainer because these problems may involve a health or training issue, Holzrichter said. The adoption center offers training classes for dogs.

For owners who prefer to get help by e-mail, visit and click on the "Pet Behavior" tab. The same section lists certain types of pet behaviors, such as digging, litterbox problems and separation anxiety, and how to solve them.

The Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center is on a mission to promote its services after recently changing its name and improving its Web site, Perry said.

"We are on a campaign to let people know that we are not a typical shelter," she said. "We are like a very large pet store."

The center was formerly known as the Riverside Humane Society but changed its name in early March for a few reasons, Perry said. The public usually associates the Humane Society with animal control services but that's not what the center is about, she said. In fact, the center stopped practicing euthanasia in 1995.

"We don't have animal control services and we don't euthanize animals," Perry said.

Mary S. Roberts is the deceased mother of the adoption center board chairman -- Duane Roberts -- a strong supporter of the center, Perry said.

The public is welcome to visit the center and see what it offers, including a full-service pet store stocked with all kinds of supplies for dogs and cats, and vaccination clinics, she said. Tours are available. For a comprehensive idea of the center's services, the public should visit The revamped site was launched in February.

Last year, the adoption center processed about 1,500 adoptions.

"This year our goal is adopting out 2,010 animals in 2010," Perry said.

Army Search Dog 'Sniffs Out Trap' in Afghanistan

Chocolat is the first dog that Pte Steve Purdy has trained

An Army search dog who saved British soldiers in Afghanistan from a booby trap "did not know how to sit" a year ago, according to his handler.

Chocolat, a Belgian Shepherd, sniffed out enough explosives to make 10 improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The find was made in a bazaar in the Nad-e-Ali region of Afghanistan.

His handler, Private Steve Purdy, 20, from Sudbury in Suffolk, said the dog's behaviour made him realise bomb-making equipment was hidden in a shop.

Pte Purdy said: "Chocolat totally right-angled, went in, and wouldn't come back.

"Normally he would never go out of my sight. That's how sure I was. It was enough for me to pull him back and say that there was something there."

As the search of the bazaar continued Pte Purdy realised the soldiers were being lured into a trap.

The team used Chocolat to find a safe way into the buildings and discovered they had been booby-trapped.

Pte Purdy, who is with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, said his dog was helping to save lives.

"Chocolat is special to me as he is the first dog I've trained.

"He literally didn't know how to sit when I first got him in March 2009.

"He is very cheeky but a really good dog, really good at his job. He is also a bit of a character.

"He tends to wake me up a lot in the night just with his toy wanting to play, or he'll destroy something that's close by, like my flip flops.

"Chocolat's success at finding IEDs in the initial few weeks of Operation Moshtarak was impressive and the troops really value him and his search capability."

There are 11 bomb dogs being used by British military personnel in Afghanistan.

Virginia Man Sues Over Dog Poo
Eric Vosika -

A man is suing PetSmart after slipping on dog poop

People have sued over fattening foods and hot coffee, and now dog feces can be added to that list. Rober Holloway, 69, is suing PetSmart after supposedly slipping on some dog poo in the store.

According to the lawsuit, the Virginian native suffered back injuries and the loss of four teeth due to the accident. As a result, he is suing the store for $1 million for negligence. He claims it is the store’s and the manager’s fault for allowing dogs to go on the floor and thus creating a hazard.

His attorney, Michael Goodove, did acknowledge however that Holloway had a preexisting back problem. This problem was supposedly made worse by the accident, so much so that he had go in for surgery.

Originally, the lawsuit was filed in Norfolk Circuit Court, but was moved to U.S. District Court by PetSmart. The reason being is that PetSmart had a similar suit against them dismissed in this court in 2008. According to the Associated Press, the store has denied any allegation of negligence.

How to Convert a Stray Cat to Family Pet
by Samantha Gowen,

Mama was converted from street cat to family mooch.

Part 1: Has a stray cat in your neighborhood tagged you for food and companionship? If so, Pet Tales has suggestions on how to care for the animal, whether you plan to merge it into the family or “fix it” for a life spent outdoors.

There are thousands upon thousands of free-roaming cats living throughout Orange County.

Many will live their lives skulking around homes and businesses, scavenging food wherever they can find it. They breed, fight, mark property with urine and feces, and generally cause angst among homeowners.

Some of these creatures will find comfortable homes and affection, thanks to softhearted animal lovers. Others will continue to endure life on the street.

What does it take to convert a street cat to a family pet? Time and patience.

Mama Kitty came to my home a year ago, pregnant and hungry. It took months to gain her trust. I respected her space, fed her quietly, and graduated our relationship slowly to soft-spoken conversations and tentative pats across her back.

Ultimately it was Mama’s choice. She could either welcome my touch, my other cat, and my 100-pound dog, Katy, or she wouldn’t.

It wasn’t an easy transition for the household. The dog, fortunately, was accustomed to life with cats … nice cats. Mama, now caring for kittens, saw Katy as a huge threat. She’d attack with little provocation.

Katy was willing to take the high road and avoid Mama. Mama soon learned to do the same. I negotiated truces daily between the two and often chucked Mama outside so everyone could breath a little easier, for a short time.

Food, shelter and affection won out. When the kits went to new homes, Mama (now spayed and fat and happy) decided the house and the company was worth keeping. She sleeps inches from the giant dog, and reaches out a playful paw every once in a while to tap the dog’s leg.

If you do plan on adopting a stray cat, ask yourself first: Am I willing to spend the time and money to welcome this animal to my home? The cat should be vaccinated and neutered. At a low-cost clinic, this will cost between $50 and $75.

Over the next few days I’ll share some suggestions for anyone who is trying to either adopt a stray cat or trap, neuter and release a feral cat.

First step: The incredible bonding agent called FOOD

Nothing will attract a stray cat to your home more than food. Deliver it consistently and in the same safe spot, and the cat will come to depend on you for its food. Food tip: To lure Mama, I used a dry kibble bought at Costco — Kirkland’s Signature Cat Food.

•Pick a spot and feed the cat there, day and night. Consider an elevated location that will be seen as a safe perch for a nervous visitor.

•Keep family pets indoors during feeding times.

•Do not approach the cat as it eats and instead keep your distance.

•Move slowly and avoid sudden movements.

•Remove the food after the cat leaves the scene, otherwise it will attract the attention of wildlife such as rodents, opossums and raccoons.

•Over time, speak softly to the animal and pick a name that it will hear, day after day.

•Tell your neighbors to use a loud voice or clap if they want the cat off their property. Let them know you’re attempting to familiarize the animal so it can be contained and eventually neutered.

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How to Feed Pet Jellyfish
By orchid11,

Jellyfish are as easy to keep as a regular aquarium fish. They eat a specific kind of frozen plankton made just for jellyfish. The food must be defrosted and squirted directly at their undersides.

Difficulty: Easy

Things You'll Need:
•Frozen Jellyfish Food
•Small Dish
•Pipette or Turkey Baster
•Jellyfish Tank

Step 1
Drop a small chunk of frozen jellyfish food into the dish. A pea-sized chunk will feed three small moon jellyfish each day.

Step 2
Add water from your jellyfish aquarium to the dish to defrost the food. You may want to let the food sit in the water for a few minutes to let it defrost.

Step 3
Mix the liquid to dissolve any large chunks. You can repeatedly such the mixture into the pipette and squirt it back out again into the dish to help break up the larger chunks.

Step 4
Squirt the food directly at the underside of the jellyfish. The "mouths" of a jellyfish are located in the middle of the underside of its body. You want to cover the tentacles with food, which will noticeably stick to the jellyfish as it becomes entangled in the stinging cells.

Step 5
After about half an hour, you will see that the jellyfish have moved the food to the center of their bodies, where it will be digested. You will be able to see whether each jellyfish got a lot or a little bit of food.

Bakke: Lost Cat Spends 15 Months Here

There is always a part of the story that tugs at your heartstrings. This is a story that tells “the what” that happens after the beginning and before the end. You know, the part of the story you don’t always hear.

Those are not my words. They are Graham Murdock’s. I asked him to tell me his crazy cat story, and he sent it to me, already written. Does that mean I get the day off?

This is a weird one and involves a cat, two Springfield women, a South Carolinian and begins with Graham.

On Dec. 13, 2008, his nephew, Matt Murdock, was coming through town with his family along with their dog and a cat named Griffindor. They were on their way from Kansas to their new home in South Carolina and took advantage of their travel route to visit Graham and his wife, Ednita.

As Matt was carrying a baby inside, the dog suddenly stormed into the house, which caused pandemonium, especially for Griffindor, who dug his claws into Matt.

“My nephew gasped,” writes Graham, “the dog entered and the cat bolted, all in about the amount of time it takes Elvis to ask for a third helping of mashed potatoes and fried chicken. He ran out the door, across the yard, hurdled the fence and disappeared into the cold night.”

Griffindor was gone. The family searched for about an hour, but in vain. Before turning in, they placed food, treats and a warming pad outside Graham’s house in case the cat returned in the middle of the cold winter’s night. He didn’t.

They looked for him again the next morning before Matt and his family had to leave without their cat.

Graham lives near Washington Park. His neighbor walks in the park regularly. He gave her a description of the cat, and she promised to watch for it while in the park.

About a month later, the neighbor called. She had found Griffindor. Graham and Ednita discovered their neighbor at a nearby house, huddled in the bushes holding a huge cat.

“We immediately called our nephew and his family,” says Graham, “They were excited. I asked them to e-mail me a picture and we would just confirm that he was the one and only. After all, stranger things had happened.”

He wasn’t the one and only. The cat belonged to the people in the house where the neighbor “found” him.

As luck would have it, since Graham has a twisted sense of humor, a police officer came to Graham’s house in his squad car later that day to check out a vandalism report. When his neighbor called to ask about the police car, Graham couldn’t resist. He told her the police were checking out a report of a stolen cat and would be over to see her soon.

“After a torturous moment,” he says, “I told her the real truth and there was a sigh of relief. In fact, I thought I heard her say something about you son of a something or other.”

But where was Griffindor? Oh, he was at Geralyn Beveridge and Jeannie Mitchell’s house, only the two women didn’t know it.

Not long after Matt and his family left for South Carolina, a stray cat showed up at Geralyn and Jeannie’s home on Oakmont — about a mile from Graham’s house. They fed the cat, got blankets for it to sleep on but kept it outside because they have a dog. They named the cat Meow Meow because when they would meow at the cat, he would meow back to them.

It was a beautiful, long-haired cat, but its fur was matted and tangled. Jeannie — who is allergic to cats by the way — is friends with Sandy Davis. Sandy is well-known in Springfield for caring for feral cats and other animals.

“Sandy does a tremendous amount of things for animals around here,” says Jeannie, “and she does it out of her own pocket.”

Recently, Jeannie called Sandy about this stray cat they’d been caring for. Sandy took the cat to the Animal Protective League shelter to be examined and to have its matted fur shaved off. There, they discovered the cat was neutered and had been implanted with a microchip. They ran the information from the chip and discovered the owner — the Murdocks in South Carolina. The Murdocks were contacted with the good news that, after 15 months, their pet cat had been found.

Graham says Geralyn and Jeannie, along with Sandy and Donna Vaughn, who helped get the cat examined, are everyday heroes.

“There are extraordinary people among us,” he wrote, “and we don’t always recognize them. They do things for us that take time, dedication and money. They ask nothing in return for themselves. Wow, can you imagine if we had politicians like that?”

Graham is going to drive Griffindor to South Carolina where the cat, a Maine Coon, will be reunited with the Murdocks and their children.

“It’s kind of a neat story,” says Jeannie, “and through it I met a lot of neat people.” And one very fortunate cat.

Everybody has a story. The problem is that some of them are boring. If yours is not, contact Dave Bakke at 788-1541 or His column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. To read more, visit

Pet Scams On The Rise:
Tips To Help You Identify Frauds

Scammers are luring pet lovers out of thousands of dollars with photos of cute puppies, heart-breaking stories and irresistible prices. Here are some tips on identifying pet scams and how to purchase a pet safely.

Scammers are luring pet lovers out of thousands of dollars with photos of cute puppies, heart-breaking stories and irresistible prices. Scammers are becoming increasingly savvy. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if it is a scam, until it is too late. Here are some tips on identifying pet scams and how to purchase a pet safely.

Many scams begin with an advertisement. Once you respond, most likely over e-mail, you will soon learn that the animal is located overseas. They tell you that once you pay the shipping fees, usually by Western Union or MoneyGram, the animal will be part of your family. But additional costs will soon follow – extra shipping costs, customs clearance fees, vaccinations, and insurance. After sending thousands of dollars, you learn there is no animal., a non-profit anti-scam organization manned entirely by volunteers, has seen an increase in pet scams over the past couple of years. In 2009, the number of pet scam postings on the site more than doubled that of past years combined.

Before sending any money or continuing to work with an overseas party, read these tips:

• Always insist that the seller enter into a formal contract. The document should detail the method of transportation, timeframe, the airline of carriage, all associated costs, and copy of the health certificate.

• Check references. If the seller indicates that a specific company will handle the shipping, get complete details for the shipping company and then check them out! Use Google to research them and call them to confirm that they know the breeder.

• Check affiliations. In order to convey authenticity, scammers may claim to be a member of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International (IPATA). If this is the case, simply look up their company name in the IPATA member directory (visit and click on “Find a Pet Shipper”). If they are not in the directory, they are not a member.

• Examine the website. Scammers copy websites for reputable companies – making it even harder to identify them. Examine the site, look for poor grammar, inconsistencies, and misspellings (especially in the email address), and confirm international phone numbers (

• Check the phone number. Insist that you get a phone number from the seller. Then test the number to make sure a real person answers, even if it's a long distance international call. In order to avoid communication, scammers may claim to be hearing impaired.

• Most importantly – Be wary of sending funds by Western Union or MoneyGram. Scammers will tell you this is the most inexpensive and fastest way of doing business. Most reputable dealers will request that you wire transfer funds to their company bank account or will accept a credit card or PayPal payment.

“Scammers play on emotions with cute photos or stories that the animal needs to be rescued from harm,” says Sally Smith, president of IPATA. “The virtual world provides untraceable websites, disposable e-mail addresses and instant money transfers - a conman’s paradise. Every day these scams look more legitimate so it is important to know the ways to identify the frauds.”

If you do want to purchase a pet, you should work with a legitimate breeder or retailer in your own country. If you are on a tight budget, or you really need to find a pet quickly, please consider visiting a pet shelter in your community. Purchasing an animal through legitimate sources may be a lengthier process or more expensive, but it is secure and you will actually receive an animal.

Have you been scammed? Report it online at,, or

About IPATA:
The Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International, Inc. (IPATA) is a non-profit, worldwide trade association for animal handlers, pet moving providers, kennel operators, veterinarians and others who are dedicated to the care and welfare of pets and animals during transport. The organization was founded in 1979 – it began with six founding members and now has more than 325 members in 69 countries. IPATA serves its members, the pet transport industry, and the public at large. For more information, or to find a professional pet shipper, visit

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The Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International, a not for profit world-wide trade association, is dedicated to the safe and humane transport of the family pet and other animals. Visit

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