Pet News and Pet Advice

72-Year-Old Florida Man
Saves Pet Dog From Alligator Attack

A Florida dog owner launched a daring attack on a 6-foot alligator that had the man's canine companion between its jaws, The Palm Beach Post reports.

Gary Murphy, 72, was at his home in Palm City, about 80 miles north of Miami, on Thursday evening when he heard his West Highland terrier named "Doogie" making noise in the backyard.

Murphy found his beloved pet in the mouth of an alligator that had entered the yard from marshland behind the property, and launched a rescue bid by jumping on the reptile's backing and hitting it on the head.

"I had loafers on and I hit the back of that gator. It was like jumping on a pile of rocks," Murphy told the newspaper.

The alligator let go of Doogie, who needed veterinary treatment for deep gouges, lung injuries and liver damage, but was expected to make a full recovery.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warned it was alligator mating season -- making the reptiles more active -- and suggested pet owners keep their animals on a leash, especially around water.

Tuscaloosa Miracle:
Owner Finds Lost Cat 3 Weeks After Tornado

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — An Alabama woman thought she had lost nearly everything when a tornado tore her house apart. But miraculously — nearly one month later — she has been reunited with a beloved pet she feared was gone forever.

Judy pugh rushed to her hallway with her three cats when she saw debris spinning in the air. As the roof blew away, a wall fell on top of her.

"I tried to get to my hands and knees and I couldn't," Pugh said. "I heard the young men hollering, 'Miss Judy! Miss Judy! Are you in there?'"

Pugh escaped with black eyes. But she said she would have been sucked away by that tornado if weren't for that very wall.

Out of his remarkable story, her house is gone. She found a couple of keepsakes, including crystal bowls inside her kitchen cabinet that went completely untouched.

While two of her cats survived, one hadn't been seen since the tornado struck. But Pugh did not give up hope, looking every day for the last three weeks for her lost friend.

Unbelievably during our visit, Pugh's shaggy friend of 10 years emerged out of nowhere.

"Come see your mama! Oh God love it!" she said as she cuddled the dirty and hungry — but apparently healthy — pet. "Honey, you probably don't weigh two pounds. Oh honey! I have everything I want now. I have all three cats!"

Cadie made it through the tornado, heat and cold without food or water for nearly a month.

"I've got Cadie! I've got Cadie!" an elated Pugh told a friend on the phone. "I wish she could talk! She could tell me where she's been!"

Reunited once again, Judy Pugh is now ready to move on.

Family Cat Eats Anything
Alecia Warren -

Brandy Fletcher and her daughter Brea, 7, play with their nine-month-old Siamese cat named Hachi at their Hayden home Monday. Fletcher discovered her cat had ate a 2-inch-long sewing needle that it passed through it system seemingly without injury.

COEUR d'ALENE - Brandy Fletcher was worried on Sunday when she saw her cat dragging his body across the carpeting, his shape contorted in a way that something was bothering him.

She suspected what was wrong. She told her friend on the phone she had to go.

"I said, 'Oh, Millie, something's wrong with Hachi. I think he ate my hair again,'" the Hayden woman said.

She grabbed a napkin, she said, and wiped the Siamese cat's rump, figuring whatever he had passed was causing the problem.

It was.

When she glanced at the napkin, she saw thread, attached to her two-inch sewing needle.

"I was thinking, 'Oh my gosh,'" she said. "He ate a needle."

Apparently, it's not a dangerous dessert.

For this cat, anyway.

After eating and passing the pointy fare, the 1-year-old kitty was in no pain on Monday. He was running around, Fletcher said, eating (regular) food without a problem.

"There was no blood. Nothing," Fletcher said. "It doesn't look like he's hurt."

She's not surprised.

Hachiko, or "Hachi," is an adorable, furry vacuum.

The cat eats anything in front of him, Fletcher said. Grapes. Chips. Salsa. Hamburger. Bell peppers. Glazed blueberry doughnut.

And yeah, the cat loves to play with Fletcher's hair, which he licks and occasionally slides down his gullet.

"He's like a dog," she said. "He ate beets a couple weeks ago."

At this point, she doesn't worry when she sees the cat gorging. He has never had any problems from his omnivorous diet, she said.

"I just think, 'It's just Hachi,'" she said. "He's really hardy."

Fletcher doesn't know when the cat devoured the needle.

She had seen Hachi playing with it about a month ago, she said, so she put it on top of a Kleenex box in the bathroom, out of the cat's reach.

Apparently when her husband, Brett, cleaned the bathroom later, the needle ended up on the floor, and then in Hachi's stomach.

"I will never figure out how he got it down his throat," Fletcher said. "I think he was eating the thread, and the needle went down with it."

Dr. Bruce King with Lakewood Animal Hospital in Coeur d'Alene said it's very unusual for a cat to eat and pass a needle without it poking through its intestine or causing chronic vomiting.

"For every one cat that a needle successfully makes it through, there's probably 100 cats that it would cause them to be ill," King said.

It's dangerous for both dogs and cats to gobble up people food, he added.

Raisins and grapes can be toxic, for instance. A stick of gum with sugar substitute can put a pet into a coma, and onions and garlic can break down cats' red blood cells.

"They're safe for humans, but in animals, they can cause them to die," he said.

This cat has just been really lucky, is King's best explanation without examining the cat himself.

But larger portions of certain foods will be more harmful to animals, he cautioned.

"This cat, if it keeps doing what it's doing, some day will come across something that he will meet his match," King said.

Hachi has always been a survivor, Fletcher said.

The Fletchers adopted him after a neighbor found him wandering as a lone stray at just 5 weeks old, she said.

He had ringworm at the time, a fungal infection that required the cat be quarantined in one of their bathrooms.

"He had to be in there for 45 days, with no contact. We had to wash the floors with bleach," she said.

But Hachi pulled through.

"He is the most amazing cat," she said.

Hachi has been a blessing to the family, she added. Beloved by Fletcher's 9 and 7-year-old kids, Bryce and Brea, the cat has also been a source of comfort to Fletcher as she has dealt with multiple sclerosis.

He lays like a baby in her arms, she said. At night, he sleeps on her pillow.

"He has been like my little comforter," she said. "If I'm in pain, he's there to make me feel better."

The family is keeping an eye on Hachi to watch for any signs of injury, Fletcher said.

But she is convinced he's fine.

After all, it's Hachi.

"He's a weird cat," she said. "He's a miracle, is what he is."

A Feline Fracas:
Man Accused of Punching Vet
in the Face Over Cats

A Cape Coral man is accused of throwing fuss at a cat hospital and then punching the veterinarian in the face.

George Brian Middleton, 53, of the 100 block of Southeast 3rd Terrace, also was charged with criminal mischief causing more than $200 in damage after a shelf holding 12 ceramic figurines fell as he left the business with his cats.

According to a Lee County Sheriff’s Office report:

On Monday afternoon deputies were called to the Cat Hospital, 8841 College Parkway, Fort Myers, about a client who had “punched” the veterinarian in the face. Dr. Matthew Gatof and two employees said Middleton had come into the office with his two cats. While talking to an employee, Middleton became upset and used profanity.

Gatof told Middleton his behavior was not acceptable and he would no longer be a client. Gatof was then hit.

Middleton went to get his cats and Gatof left the room while employees called 911.

As Middleton left, the figurines, valued at $500, fell to the ground and shattered.

Deputies went to Middleton’s house and before a deputy finished his statement as to why they were there, Middleton said: “I never touched that man.” He also said the argument began while he discussed appointments with an employee: “I never missed a (expletive) appointment,” and “If I hit him, I would have knocked the holy (expletive) out of him.”

Middleton said he spends $400 a month on his cats and he loves them.

Artsy Patio Made for Cats
By Gerald M. Gay - Arizona Daily Star

Bella the cat lounges on the "catio" at Terese Dennison's home. Dennison wanted a safe outdoor place for her cats that she also could enjoy for activities such as entertaining and grading papers. PHOTO BY JILL TORRANCE / ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Terese Dennison was cool with moving into what she called "the smallest house in Tucson," an 824-square-foot adobe home just south of Reid Park.

She was more concerned for her two cats.

Dennison, a literature and history teacher at Green Fields Country Day School, kept her playful pets, Titus Andronicus and Bella, indoors, for fear that they might scamper into traffic or fall victim to dogs or any number of other Tucson critters.

"It went against every natural tendency a cat has," Dennison said. "I felt really bad for them."

Looking for some freedom for her furry felines, Dennison turned to friend, welder and artist David Voisard, for help.

His solution: An enclosed, steel-enforced "catio," geared toward giving the animals some much-needed space and relieving Dennison of any undue anxiety.

Over the course of four days, Voisard constructed the catio along the length of the west end of the house, using recycled steel T-posts, recycled aluminum panels and 2-inch steel panel grids that run from the gabled roof's edge to the corrugated tin fence that lines Dennison's backyard.

Voisard, 55, had some experience in creating enclosures. He built one for his own cats at his home in Tubac after two of the four were carried off by "aggressive" coyotes.

Voisard, who moved to Southern Arizona from Napa Valley, also witnessed a mountain lion attack on his Shar-Pei, Yogi.

"In two seconds, there were 137 stitches," he explained.

Voisard actively sought out materials for Dennison's catio that were both protective and inviting.

"We didn't want to make it look like a prison," he said. "We wanted the mesh that, once rusted, could blend in and not be ostentatious to the neighbors."

He equipped the catio with a series of creature comforts.

A doggy door leading into the house, allows Titus and Bella, and even Dennison's dog, a large mixed-breed named Niobe, access to come and go as they please throughout the day.

There is a tall tree post suitable for scratching and two large nylon shade screens that Bella likes to use as hammocks.

"She is usually up there when I get home, just watching for my car," Dennison said.

A small sculpted kitten, made from recycled steel, sits atop the catio entrance from the backyard, while another metal cat - this one about 3-feet high with a bright orange fish in its stomach - greets you as you walk in the door.

"There are always artistic elements to my jobs," Voisard said. "I'm in the service area, whether creating something for beauty or for function. So why not make it clean and beautiful, with some humor to it?"

Dennison has gotten just as much use out of the catio.

The space is furnished with several chairs and a decorated patio table where she likes to grade papers and entertain guests on the weekend.

"You are still in the elements," she said. "It rains in the catio. The birds can fly in and poop on the table. It is very open, which is what I wanted."

Catio by the numbers

• Time to complete: Four days.

• Labor: $1,800


• Recycled steel T-posts from Tucson Iron and Metal, 690 E. 36th St.: $135.

• Four recycled aluminum panels from Tucson Iron and Metal: $30 each.

• 2-inch steel panel grids from a wholesaler: $900.

• Fence-post concrete mix: $45.

About the artist

David Voisard, 55, moved to Tubac from Napa Valley nine years ago.

Voisard received his degree in education from Illinois State University but loved creating with his hands and eventually moved into woodworking.

He turned to metal in 1999 when he was offered $10,000 to build three ornate tasting tables for a Napa Valley winery.

He stuck with it after moving to Tubac.

"Arizona is so far from the rich wood resources that exist in California," he said. "Metal still has a freshness, a newness."

From his Southern Arizona studios, under the moniker David Voisard Designs, he creates art, as well as decorative doors, gates and fences for customers both locally and abroad.

His work can be seen at the Oracle Crossing Shopping Center in Oro Valley and at the Tucson International Airport as part of the "Tubac and Surrounding Area Artists" exhibit through Sept. 6.

For more information, visit

Keep Pets Safe

Bears. Bobcats. Coyotes.

We might live in the desert, but it's a jungle out there when it comes to keeping your pet safe from wildlife.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a few guidelines on keeping them out of harm's way:

• Feed your pets inside the house. If they do eat outside, feed them only what they can eat in one sitting and take in any leftovers.

• Avoid feeding any desert creatures.

• Eliminate garbage can odors by cleaning them with a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution. Put out the trash on the morning of pickup, not the night before.

• Never leave your pet by itself. If you do, make sure they are in a secure enclosure with a strong roof.

Pets are 'Family' for Life on the Streets

Elizabeth White, 18, and her dog Virginia have been in the Tampa Bay area since Thanksgiving. ALESA COMMEDORE/ USF MMJ

David Pitts and his 50-pound American Pit Bull Terrier and American Bull dog mix, Porky.

TAMPA -- David Pitts loves waking up to his two companions, Porky and Amigo. Porky follows Pitts around everywhere, and Amigo lies comfortably on Pitts' shoulders.

There is a lot of love in this family.

But when the day is over, Pitts, 44, and his companions spend the night under a bridge at Interstate 75 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. They are homeless.

Porky is a friendly, 1-year-old, 50-pound pit bull-bull dog mix. He was 5 weeks old when Pitts got him. Amigo, is an 11-month-old black, white and copper-colored cat.

About 10 percent of the 3.5 million homeless Americans have pets, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Critics say it's a hard life for an animal, that people living on the streets shouldn't subject animals to that difficult lifestyle.

But Pitts and Elizabeth White, a homeless woman whose constant companion is her German shepherd-chow mix, say that's not true. White said her dog, Virginia, gets food and water every day, and some sort of shelter each night – just like any other pet.

"I feed them first before me," Pitts said. "They're dependent on me and I'm their daddy."

Pitts, who has been out of work and homeless for about a month, doesn't go to shelters because he knows he won't be able to get in. Most Bay area homeless shelters don't accept pets, so he sleeps on the street.

White saves up money so she, Virginia and White's boyfriend can spend a few nights in a motel.

There are many reasons most shelters can't allow pets, said Ed Brant, executive director of Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project, 1339 Park St. in Clearwater.

"If a pet were to urinate or defecate and someone stepped in it, we would be open to a lot of problems," he said.

If pets were allowed, there would have to be someone to clean up after them and someone to ensure they were being properly supervised – all likely paid staff. The shelters also would have to pay more for liability insurance.

Pitts said he wants to work again, and he said he's willing to do any type of work — as long as his animals are welcome there, too.

"It's hard to do it with a cat and a dog because I don't have a place to put them," he said.

So he spends his days in front of Wal-Mart at 11720 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. in Seffner. He doesn't hold a sign asking for help and he doesn't beg.

"I don't ask anybody for money because I believe God will give it to me," he said.

But he does get more attention because of his pets, he added.

"People come to me and say, 'Wow, that's a pretty dog.' They always stop and give us food.

Owning a pet is good for most people, said Brenda Ernest, a veterinarian at Animal Diagnostic and Wellness Center in Temple Terrace.

"Owning a pet in just a general situation lowers your blood pressure," she said.

But for homeless people it does even more.

"It gives them something to focus on besides their plight. I think having a pet helps their self-esteem," she said. "Something loves them even if they think the rest of the world doesn't."

Basic pet care is not that expensive, she said. Most people spend about $400 a year for a dog and $250 a year for a cat for food, flea and heartworm medication, and distemper and rabies vaccines.

Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project, like many other shelters, will not turn away people who want to change their lives, Brant said. If a person has an emergency, the shelter will make temporary accommodations. For example, a person can keep a pet chained outside until a good home can be found for the animal.

Homeless people and others struggling to care for their pets can find help at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa. It offers low-income people free pet food services such as an affordable wellness clinic. The organization also provides free distemper and rabies shots twice a year.

Such services make living on the street with a pet a bit easier.

Pitts is determined to keep Amigo and Porky.

"I got my animals and they're all I need, besides a home," he said. "I love them. They're my family."

My Pet World:
 Forcing Cat to Spend Night Outside
Could Spell Its Doom
By Steve Dale -

Q. I just got married, and my husband wants to let my cat out at night. That's because his mom did that when he was a kid. (By the way, my husband is 69.) Bella doesn't really want to go out at night, although she sometimes goes outside during the day. What can I do?

— B.C., Cyberspace

A. Keep Bella inside and put your husband out. Having an indoor/outdoor cat is one thing, although I'm not a fan of this. Worse is forcing a cat out at night. That's cruel.

I wonder if your husband wants the worst to happen to your cat, because the worst could easily happen. While cats do have exceptional night vision, they're most at risk at night.

Despite what many people seem to think, cats are hit by cars. Other dangers include stray dogs, coyotes and other predators. Where the weather gets cold, temperatures drop lowest at night. Cats seeking shelter may slink under a warm car hood. When an unknowing driver starts the car, the cat is mangled. The list of hazards goes on.

What's more, Bella might use a neighbor's garden as a litter box. She could kill songbirds or other wildlife. Our pets don't belong unsupervised outside.

While I have similar concerns about cats outside during the day, at night life truly is more dangerous. Please show your new husband this column. My hope is he'll change his mind, demonstrate empathy and kindness and honor your love for Bella.

Q. Both our dogs have fleas. We bought a flea-control product at the store, yet before that, our dogs had no fleas. Can flea products attract fleas?
— B.A., Belle Glade, Fla.

A. Flea products don't attract fleas. You need to consider other factors that may be affecting your situation.

"To be frank, some flea products aren't consistency efficacious, and in Florida, or anywhere really, it's no surprise that the fleas are picked up outside and then reproduce inside," says Dr. Michael Dryden, veterinary parasitologist at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

"This is exactly why advice from a veterinary professional is critically important. That's so you know you're purchasing a proven product, the right product for your pet and your pet's lifestyle and also to ensure you know how to use the product."

Even if you buy the best flea-busting product on the planet, you must protect all the pets in your home. For example, if you have a cat in addition to those two dogs, the cat also needs flea protection.

If you seek professional advice from a veterinarian, - and, if the problem is bad enough, an exterminator - your home should soon be flea-free, Dryden says.

Q. I have a cat diagnosed with FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). My vet recommended a FIP test. The results were 1:5000. What do the numbers mean?

— J.C., Louisville, Ky.

A. You're referring to a blood test to determine if your cat has a positive titer (concentration of protective antibodies) fighting the feline enteric corona virus. The numbers you quote are a potential cause for concern, but different labs use different scales of measurement.

Besides, those numbers don't mean all that much, according to Dr. Melissa Kennedy, director of the clinical virology laboratory at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine-Knoxville, who researched the value of these titer tests to diagnose FIP.

"There is absolutely no single test to determine if a kitten has FIP," she says. "Brick by brick, you're building a diagnostic wall, and perhaps one criterion is an elevated antibody level."

Backing up a step, the feline enteric corona virus is very common in cats and always benign. Sometimes, it's so benign that there are no symptoms.

When symptoms do occur (such an upset tummy, lack of appetite or just not acting "right"), they typically dissipate in a day or two. Feline veterinarian Dr. Susan Little, past president of the Winn Feline Foundation, says it's thought that only around 2 to 5 percent of cats with the corona virus wind up with the fatal immune-mediated disease called FIP. Somehow, in these cats, the corona virus transforms into FIP.

Little, of Ottawa, Canada, describes symptoms of FIP. Many on the list may be present or just one or two:

--A fever, often waxing and waning

--Weight loss

--Decreased appetite

--Enlarged abdomen (or scrotum)

--Changes in the eyes

--Neurological abnormalities, including seizures or difficulty with balance

--General depression, decreased energy

There are two types of FIP. For one type (dry FIP), Dr. Al Legendre of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, seems to have found a potential treatment.

If your cat does have dry FIP, your vet can contact Legendre to determine if the cat can be included in his study.

Legendre will present the results of his work at the Winn Feline Foundation Annual Symposium on June 23 in Reston, Va. Dr. Niels Pedersen, another longtime FIP researcher, will also present findings of his research at the event.

Learn more at winnfeline

Q. Several months ago, you wrote that yawning is a sign of stress in dogs. Well, my 9-year-old bassett hound must be the most stressed dog on earth. He yawns a lot, especially in the morning when he gets up. Any advice?

— N.S., Las Vegas

A. Yes, yawning is a sign of stress in dogs. However, it's all about context.

If there's no explanation for stress, your dog my simply be tired. Dogs, and people, often yawn as they're waking up or when their body is saying, "I need sleep."

Write to Steve Dale at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to Include your name, city and state.

Florida Travel with Pets:
These Hotels Welcome Fido
By Georgina Cruz -

Travelers who can't bear to leave their furry friends behind when they go on vacation, can bring them along to these Florida hotels without fear of finding a "no dogs allowed" sign. Some of them not only allow pets, but they pamper them as well with special treats. Here is a list of pet-friendly accommodations in a half-dozen popular Florida destinations.

-- Jupiter Beach -- The Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa rolls out the red carpet for dogs with its Pampered Pups pet-friendly program. Canine companions 25 pounds or less and with proper vaccinations can tag along to enjoy a relaxing stay at the beach. Several pup-friendly areas have been designated to help guests maximize pet play time, including areas on the resort's private stretch of sand, Juno Beach's public beach, and the pup walking zone. Guests can also head out for an entire doggy day out on the water taxi from Singer Island to Peanut Island, and at six local pet-friendly restaurants. Pup wash stations on property allow for quick rinsing after a romp in the sand, and each guest room is outfitted with a deluxe pet bed, and food and water bowls. A $25 per day, per pup fee covers their stay, with 10 percent of each daily charge donated to Palm Beach County's Safe Harbor Animal Rescue. And this program can be applied to any package or rate special. Visit

-- Key West -- Would Spike enjoy a nice comfy bed on his travels? He will find it at The Westin Key West Resort & Marina. The resort allows dogs up to 40 pounds. There is no fee for the furry friend, but owner must sign a waiver at check-in. And Spike gets a Westin Heavenly Dog Bed is complimentary upon request. Visit

-- Longboat Key -- The Hilton Longboat Key features Hilton Hotels pet program, welcoming up to two pets per room, maximum 75 pounds, and gives them such amenities as a travel tote with treats, bio-degradable waste bags, pet pillow, pet bowls and a placemat. The resort charges a one-time fee of $75. Visit

-- Orlando -- The three onsite Universal Orlando AAA Four Diamond resorts are pet-friendly, beyond the complimentary water bowl and dish each pet receives. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort both offer the "Loews Loves Pets" program whereby owners of pouches and kitties can order from a pet room service menu with such items as Bow Wow Tenderloin and Kitty Salmon Supreme. All recipes are veterinarian-approved. Additionally, the hotels give a pet I.D. tag to all four-legged guests as well as a pet treat. The Hard Rock Hotel, the third onsite resort at Universal Orlando, offers a similar program for four-legged guests. There are designated dog-walking areas at each of the three hotels. And pet owners are provided with a list of pet services in the area including pet stores, veterinarians, groomers, parks, etc. Rooms designated for travelers with pets receive extra thorough cleaning. Loews Hotels charges a one-time $25 fee per stay. Log on to

-- Sarasota -- The Lido Beach Resort, on Sarasota's Lido Key, allows dogs and gives them a bone-shaped treat upon check-in. Rules and regulations include a maximum weight of 25 pounds for dogs and they must be at least nine months old, well-groomed and well-mannered. Proof of vaccinations must be submitted and dogs must be flea and tick free. Dogs cannot be bathed in the room. A non-refundable fee of $100 per dog (up to two dogs are allowed per room) is charged to the owner's account (this covers stays of up to seven days; after seven days, another $100 is charged. Dogs must be kept on a leash and disposable doggie poop bags are provided. Visit

-- Vero Beach -- The Vero Beach Hotel & Spa, a Kimpton Hotel, boasts Oliver, a cute Lhasa Apso who is the property's Director of Pet Relations. Amenities at the pet-friendly resort include welcome treats in the lobby, VIP (Very Important Pet) amenity in the room, food and water bowl in the room, doggie bed, and list of nearby veterinarians upon request. The hotel imposes no restrictions as to the number and size of pets and charges no fees for them. Visit

 Stolen Dog Returned to Owner
Jessica Hume -

UPDATE 9:42: A dog stolen Monday evening from the Bathurst and St. Clair area has been returned to its owner.

Police responded to a call shortly after 8 p.m. Monday that 26-year-old Amber McMain’s dog was taken after she had tied it up outside a shop. Video surveillance in the area showed a man approach the animal moments after it was left alone. The suspect began to pet the dog before picking it up and walking away with it, heading west along St. Clair Ave. toward Bathurst St. Police said tips from the community helped lead to the return of the four-year-old Maltese mix.

Though the dognapper has been identified by police, no charges have been laid and police said in a press release there are “no grounds to prove any intent to commit a criminal offence.”

Original story follows:Police have released the photo of a suspected dognapper, who removed an animal from outside a grocery store in the Bathurst and St. Clair Ave. area Monday evening.

Police responded to a call shortly after 8 p.m. Monday that 26-year-old Amber McMain’s dog was stolen after she had tied it up outside a shop. Video surveillance in the area showed a man approach the dog moments after it was left alone. The suspect began to pet the dog before picking it up and walking away with the animal. He headed west along St. Clair Ave. toward Bathurst St.

Detective Constable Erick O’Neill said police will likely release a description of the suspect by tomorrow. Though he added that police are pleased with the investigation thus far, he also said it is difficult to assess the likelihood of finding the animal.

“Stuff like this often doesn’t get reported, so it’s difficult to say, from a statistical point of view, how likely it is we’ll find the dog,” he said. “But things are going well.”

Police are canvassing with photos of the suspect and Det. Const. O’Neill said tips have been coming in.

Anyone with information is urged to contact police.

Top 10 Man-and-Dog Workouts
By Shannon Clark -

If you're tired of hitting the gym for your regular (read: dull) workout routine, we have something that will transform your usual workouts and get you in the best shape ever. Recent research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health suggests that dog owners are far more likely to perform daily physical activity than non-dog owners; in fact, the chances that they will get at least 150 minutes of activity per week goes up by 34 percent.

This is a great discovery for those who want to promote overall health and wellness, but what about those of you who want to kick things up a notch and really take your fitness and strength to a new level? And what can you do to build more interest than just a regular walk in the park?

If you want to take your fitness to the next level (and get your pet involved), these 10 man-and-dog workouts may be just the thing.

Play Frisbee
If there's one thing that every dog loves to do, it's play catch. Grab a Frisbee and head outdoors. Pass it over to your dog and then run with him as he goes to retrieve it. Once it's back in your hand, throw it another 20 to 30 feet away and both of you can begin chasing after it again.

Run Together
Want a real cardiovascular challenge? Try and beat your dog at a run. Most dogs are incredibly competitive by nature, so if you start running beside yours, you can be guaranteed that he'll be speeding up to challenge you on. This makes for a great man-and-dog workout.

Swim Together
When you first take a dog out into the water, he may be slightly timid, but give it a few hours, and he'll be a swimming champ in no time. Jumping into the water yourself and going for a swim in the lake on a hot summer's day is the perfect way to spend some time with your dog, stay in shape and enjoy the heat all at once.

If you're a man who loves to go camping, taking your dog for a hike will be one of your favorite ways to spend an afternoon. Hiking is a great cardiovascular workout routine and will really challenge the glute, hamstring and quad muscles. Find a hilly path in your area, pack some high-energy snacks, and head out for three or four hours. An afternoon spent hiking is an easy way to burn off well over 1,000 calories and will help you get lean quickly. Pretty good for a man-and-dog workout, right?

Play tug-of-war
If your dog is in a playful mood and is a larger, heavier breed, then a game of tug-of-war is another way to get in some activity (and have more fun) than a simple walk around the block. Get a rope of medium length and pass one end over to your dog. He'll instantly know what to do with it (that's the great thing about manly dogs).

Another great outdoor summertime activity with which to challenge your cardiovascular level is rollerblading. Rollerblading is comparable in calorie burn and intensity to running when performed at a higher speed. Thus, this can easily replace any of your regular running cardio sessions. Having your dog run alongside you as you rollerblade will make it more fun.

During the colder winter months, get out and go snowshoeing with your dog. Most dogs love playing in the snow, and the added resistance it'll provide you with will make for a terrific leg-strengthening cardio workout. Snowshoeing is one of the most intense forms of activities you can do, so if you put in a good effort, it'll easily take your fitness up a notch.

Another great man-and-dog workout for when you're both in a playful mood is wrestling. This will really get your heart rate up and work all the main muscles in the body. Most dogs will get great enjoyment from a good wrestling session with their owner, and with you constantly twisting and turning as you try and keep him down to the ground, you'll be getting a fantastic core and upper body workout as well.

Another outdoor cardio activity that you will enjoy with your dog is biking. If you bike at a faster speed, your dog will run alongside you at a much speedier pace than he normally would when you're running, so this is ideal way to get him into shape quickly.

Cross-country ski
A man-and-dog workout that is perfect for burning winter fat is cross-country skiing. Cross-country skiing is going to target your legs, arms and core, while also increasing your cardiovascular endurance. Your dog will benefit right along with you from the extra resistance of running in the snow.

So the next time your dog comes to you with his leash in hand begging for a walk, save yourself a trip to the gym and do one of these activities instead.

Hair Today, Bling Tomorrow:
It’s Jewelry Made from Cat Fur

Feline-loving designer has added jewelry fashioned from fur to her cat-alog

Designer and silversmith Heidi Abrahamson shapes cat hair into beads and incorporates them into jewelry.By Rick Schindler -

Look what the cat dragged in: jewelry.

Specifically, it’s modern jewelry pairing precious metal with the most mundane of materials: cat hair. And, says its designer, “It’s gone totally viral.”

“This has just gone crazy,” designer and silversmith Heidi Abrahamson told of the fur-vor greeting the cat-hair bling that is by no means the only modern jewelry she offers at her Phoenix, Arizona-based studio. Though she admits to being a cat fancier (“When I was a kid, I never played with dolls — I played with my cats”), she is also a highly educated collector and designer who has done merchandising for I. Magnin, The Bon Marche and Burberrys of London and has exhibited her work in Paris. “I’ve been a silversmith and collector of mid-century modern and Scandinavian jewelry for 40 years,” she said.

So Abrahamson can be forgiven for being a bit surprised that it took cat hair to really put her on the map. “I never expected this — being Googled with ‘hairball’ after my name.”

Designer Heidi Abrahamson says cat hair is “not at all hard” to work with as a medium: “You kind of pinch it together and roll it in your hand.” It all started with her friend and fellow Phoenix resident Kate Benjamin, who runs, a website that spotlights design-oriented products for cat lovers. Looking for a way to mark National Hairball Awareness Day (yes, there really is such a thing, sponsored by the National Museum of Health and Medicine — hairballs are a significant health hazard for cats and other animals), “she came up with the idea of sculpting cat hair into jewelry,” Abrahamson said.

The idea is not quite as outrageous as it may sound at first. According to the popular science website, hairballs were cherished during the Middle Ages, and set with gold and jewelry. (On the other hand, in the Middle Ages people also spent time burning witches and trying to turn lead into gold.)

Benjamin supplied the raw materials by thoroughly grooming several of her cats. Abrahamson said that cat hair is “not at all hard” to shape into beads that can be incorporated into jewelry: “You kind of pinch it together and roll it in your hand.”

Even when strung with silver, the resulting felted beads do not dazzle the eye with color: “It’s pretty muted,” Abrahamson admits. On the other hand, she points out, “the colors are neutral, so you can wear it everything.”

There is a potential downside, of course: If you’re allergic to cat hair, you’re likely allergic to cat-hair jewelry, too. Still, whether it’s due to passion for fashion or love of cats, the response to Abrahamson’s fur-iffic creations has been dramatic, and if the demand continues, she expects she’ll add more of them to her cat-alog.

“I’m loving it,” she told “The two great passions of my life have collided, and it’s great.”

How to Toilet Train a Cat

Bulletproof Dog That Stormed
Osama’s Compound
had Tactical Body Armour

Washington - The revelation of ‘America’s most courageous dog’ that served alongside the 80 Navy SEALs during the hunting operation of Osama bin Laden, has focussed people’s attention on how the military uses tactical body armour around the body of such war dogs to allow them to operate efficiently in a tactical situation, remain connected.

Last year, the military spent 86,000 dollars on four tactical vests to outfit Navy Seal dogs.

The SEALs hired Winnipeg, Canada-based contractor K9 Storm to gear up their four-legged, canine partners, which it has used in battle since World War I. K9 Storm’s flagship product is the 20,000-30,000 dollars.

The tactical body armour is wired with a collapsible video arm, two-way audio, and other attachable gadgets, Today Tech reports.

"Various special ops units use the vest, including those in current headlines. It is much more than just body armor," Mike Herstik, a consultant with International K-9 who has trained dogs from Israeli bomb-sniffing units to the Navy SEALs, said.

To make them stay connected in difficult situations, high-definition camera is mounted on the dog's back, and the handlers can see what the dog sees, using handheld monitors.

Jim Slater, who co-founded K9 Storm with his wife Glori, says footage is stable because the entire module is sewn into the vest. Besides, the camera adjusts automatically to night vision during unpredictable light conditions, like middle-of-the-night missions, and the lens is protected by impact-resistant shielding. It is also waterproof.

The armour itself protects against shots from 9mm and .45 magnum handguns.

In Abbottabad, the patented load-bearing harness would have enabled a Navy SEAL handler to rappel from the helicopter with his dog strapped to his body. Once in the compound, the dog could run ahead to scout as the handler issued commands through an integrated microphone and speaker in the armor. The proprietary speaker system enables handlers to relay commands at low levels to the dog.

"Handlers need to see and hear how their dog is responding. In a tactical situation, every second counts. Every gram counts for our clients. So we prefer advanced fibers and innovative textiles. The entire communication module is 20 ounces." The average armor weighs between three to seven pounds, depending on the size of the dog and the level of protection,” Slater, a veteran police dog trainer and built the first vest after a prison riot, said.

Exotic Animals are Big Business for Smugglers
by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 News

HOUSTON -- There is a growing business for people who smuggle exotic animals.

Rare and exotic animals are often stunning or charming. That makes them strong draws for zoos and aquariums, as well as strong draws for animal smugglers and the illegal pet trade.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents patrol Bush Intercontinental Airport and the Port of Houston daily, making hundreds of wildlife confiscations each year.

Investigators said smugglers are bold and hide live animals in tires, clothing and suitcases

Moody Gardens in Galveston has adopted many of the seized animals, including a pair of Chinese Alligators. Just 200 remain in the wild. They grow only to four feet.

“Obviously there is a little bit of a trophy or collectors aspect to have something that is so rare and small enough it could be managed long term,” said Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker.

Traffickers also like birds.

“When they (smugglers) are driving them, they put them inside the tires, the spare tires up under the vehicles. They'll put them (birds) inside socks and put them inside their clothes when they go through airlines’ security,” he said.

Last week, a man was arrested in Thailand for checking a suitcase filled with sedated baby animals. The “zoo in a case” included lions and a bear.

Moody Gardens also has a pair of Asian Arowana. The nearly two-foot-long fish have a vaguely prehistoric look about them. They are a threatened species and were headed to a private collector in New York.

“These guys are actually evidence in a federal wildlife case,” Whittaker said.

The federal government needs a place for these exotic animals. Zoos and aquariums, such as Moody Gardens, are happy to have them for exhibition.

The facility also houses Red Footed Tortoises. They came from a large confiscation of hundreds, headed for restaurants in the Far East. When the tortoises were found a few years ago, they were babies, stuffed into socks.

The tortoises were also evidence in a federal case, but after they arrived they were actually stolen from Moody Gardens and sold in the Houston area as part of the pet trade. Moody Gardens publicized the theft and got a tip on their location. Federal agents set up a sting operation and rescued the creatures again, returning them to Moody Gardens.

Why Do I Care That Jennifer Aniston's Dog Died?
by Jeff Labrecque -

In many ways, the media attention paid to the passing of Jennifer Aniston’s beloved dog, Norman, is the height of our celebrity obsession run amok. But while most readers probably rolled their eyes or quickly clicked to the next story, I admit that I’ve read the stories about Norman (above), Aniston’s Welsh corgi-terrier who passed away a few weeks ago after 15 years. Anyone who’s ever had a dog knows the empty sadness of suddenly not having that enthusiastic “hello” at the door after a long day of work, and the news that someone — anyone — has lost a furry best friend is a tender reminder of one’s own canine companions.

I know cats are great pets, too, but it’s dogs that seem to most compel humans to reciprocate their devotion. Dogs inspire not only loyalty, but outpourings of earnest emotion that we’d struggle to express for actual people. Whenever I want to scream at the views of political commentator Charles Krauthammer, I recall his tribute to his beloved Chester, which still puts a lump in my throat just to think about. I can’t read Tom Junod’s “Marco Died” unless I’ve got a good two hours away from the kids to recover. So it’s no surprise that Old Yeller wasn’t a Siamese cat and that Marley wasn’t a Persian. Cats have to settle for YouTube clips documenting their piano playing while dogs often get the feature treatment.

Did you take special notice of Norman’s passing because it made you recall your own beloved pet who made his or her mark on your home and heart? Have you ever had to compose yourself after reading a paean to someone else’s favorite pet?

Colleges Warming Up to the Idea
 of Pets in Dorms to Ease Stress
by Dave Murray -

Amy's friend "Tibbins" was a welcome addition to the dorm -- and class.

One of my recent journalism students deeply missed her family's cat after moving to campus in the fall.

Attempts at keeping fish in her dorm room proved fatal, but Amy's brother surprised her at Christmas with a furry friend who would comply with the regulations.

“Tibbins,” a squirrel who had an encounter with a taxidermist, because our class mascot of sorts.

But some college leaders are now thinking that having some non-stuffed animals around might ease the sometimes difficult transition for college students.

Ryan Lytle wrote in U.S. News & World Report that students who are beginning college with no established friendship, the prospect of meeting new people can be nerve wracking.

“Students can bond over their pets, and I think that can be a way to meet some additional people on campus,” John Sullivan, dean of admission and financial aid at Eckerd College in Florida told Lytle. “It adds friendliness to a campus.”

Eckerd students are permitted to have cats and dogs under 40 pounds, as well as fish and snakes. The college even has a photo gallery of dorm pets on its website.

Wendy Toth, editor of pet resource site, told Lytle that pets can provide a much-needed perspective. “That's important for students that are wrapped up in their studies,” and that pets “have a great knack for not letting us forget what's really important in life.”

Lytle listed colleges with pet-friendly policies, including Massachuestts Institute of Technology, which has four cat-friendly dormitories. Students are allowed one cat , and must contain them to cat-friendly areas.

Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. allows for pets, ranging from dogs and cats to lizards and birds. There is not a weight limit for animals, and Lytle reports there is even Doggie Daycare.

Grand Valley State University allows service dogs with proper documentation, and non-predatory fish in small tanks.

Takeelia Garrett-Lynn, assistant director of housing and residential life, said students occasionally think they can sneak in small friends from home.

“I had one student walk by with her laundry, and I though I heard it meowing,” she said. “I asked, 'Do you have a cat in there?' The student said, 'No.' And then the cat jumped out of the basket.”

The rule about non-predatory fish came after a student thought having a pet piranha was a good idea.

“Students get creative,” she said, “The rule used to be that a pet could stay if it could live underwater, then we had turtles and frogs and all kinds of things.”

Now, a stuffed piranha, that would be OK.

E-mail Dave Murray: and follow him on Twitter at

Are You Causing Your Pet to Be Stressed?

Veterinarian Reveals How Stress & Diet Can Affect Dogs & Cats

TAMPA, FL--- You might not realize it, but if Fluffy or Skippy are listless, disobedient and getting sick all the time, chances are that your pet doesn't have some mysterious disease -- he or she may simply be stressed out.

"A lot of people think that stress is something that only affects humans, but it's a very real threat to their pets, too," said Dr. Paul McCutcheon, a veterinarian with more than 45 years' experience and co-author of The New Holistic Way for Dogs and Cats from Random House (

"Better pet care will result when pet lovers and veterinarians understand that stress is the underlying cause of every form of pet health problem."

Dr. McCutcheon's tips for pet owners who want healthier, happier pets include:

•Think Before You Adopt - Ask yourself serious questions about your lifestyle and future before you adopt a pet. Then you can better choose an animal whose needs are similar to your own. By being honest with yourself, you can ensure that your pet won't face a stressful future and inevitable health problems.

•Establish Your Role - You need to see your role and your veterinarian's role in a different way. While you are in the best position to influence your dog or cat, your veterinarian can be a good coach who provides you opinions and advice that help you make better choices regarding the care and feeding of your pet.

•Watch Their Diet - Just as processed foods are being blamed for an increase in obesity for people, causing a wide variety of health problems, processed food is a danger for pets, as well. Look into switching over to a new trend in pet food, raw foods. They can be found in pet specialty shops and grocery stores in the refrigerated section. They are also known as "fresh" foods for pets, so ask your store managers about them. They provide a balanced diet with none of the dangers associated with processed food, which makes up the majority of the pet foods available at pet stores and supermarkets today.

About Dr. Paul McCutcheon
Paul McCutcheon, DVM, is the founder of Toronto's East York Animal Clinic, serving 5,000 patients, and a former director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and the Human-Animal Bond Association of Canada.

The Cockatiel And Their Illnesses; Diseases
by Melissa Sutton -

This is one of the most popular pet birds in the world. Though they can become moody and aggressive, this will depend on their health and diet. The hygiene and cleanliness of the bird is also extremely important. Many of the illnesses they contract are fatal most times before they are diagnosed with the disease.

Most of these illnesses are air born, so make sure you have a top quality air purification system for your birds. Because of these reasons you should watch your Cockatiel very closely to notice any changes in the bird that could mean an illness has set in.

First is Pacheco`s Virus. This is easy to diagnose and an oral dose of Zovirax should be given. Though vaccines are available they could cause tumors and carriers. Evidence proves the birds die not long afterwards. as per

Next is Polyomavirus. This is an air-borne virus and attacks mostly young birds. It is very difficult to control. Symptoms of it include, delayed crop emptying, depression, diarrhea, an orexia, weight loss and regurgitation.

Beak and Feather Syndrome is spread by feather dust and dried feces. Birds infected with this have abnormal growth of new feathers. The new feather shafts look swollen and mangled. Another symptom of PBFDS is growth abnormality of the beak and there is no cure for this disease.

Next is Wasting Disease and this highly contagious disease will lie dormant for years, undetected, until the hosts are on the move. This disease attacks the major organs causing seizures, paralysis, tremors and heart attacks. There is no medicine to treat this disease.

The Papilloma Virus is mainly in the throat or vent areas and the virus infections are similar to warts. It grows big enough to block the vent, making it impossible for the host to defecate. Papilloma can be cured with laser surgery.

Psittacosis is another bacterial infection caused by feather dust and dried feces.

E-coli is not that deadly if caught and treated in the first few stages. Cockatiels with E-coli have droppings with the look of diarrhea and a very strong odor.

Gout or calcification of the kidneys usually happens in babies from 4 to 8 weeks old. Babies also look smaller than their normal size with protruding neck bones and victims rarely survive.

Runny Nose or Nasal Discharge is a Vitamin A deficiency and will clear up once this vitamin is restored. For more info you can visit :

Want To Start Your Own Pet Sitting Business?
Some Advice On How To Get Started
by Melissa Sutton -

This is a great way to make some extra cash if you`re a retiree or for the younger person to run a full time business as business is booming according to Ian White of

He stated ” The Pet Sitting Business is booming internationally. In the United States alone there are upwards of 63.2 million individuals who own a pet, or two. Reports tell us that in America, there are roughly 64 million dogs and 76 million cats in households. These numbers support why the Pet Sitting business is on an upward swing. It is fast becoming one of the best small business ventures that an individual can undertake. The Pet Sitting Business has been ear marked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor as a small business industry that will thrive with the coming years, with Pet Sitting services located throughout the states.”

This can prove to be quite a lucrative business and for a small business, you can run it right from your home. This would be especially great if you have a nice sized back yard and even better if it is fenced in. If you would like a bigger business, you will need a facility that has a lot of indoor and outdoor room. as per

It may be more feasible to start small and work your way up, that way you can get used to the job slowly as well as grow your finances to help fund the business. For your market you should do some research in your area to find out how much of a demand there is. Most customers will be in a 10-mile radius so start with that in mind.

You can also advertise by making up business cards and dropping them off at local grooming and pet supply stores as well as the vet`s office. You should consider joining an organization like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters(NAPPS) because they can give you advice on how to market your business. This will also give you the advantage over someone who is not a member of NAPPS as it establishes you as a pet sitting professional. For more info you can visit:

Ask the Expert:
Arthritis Hurts Pets, Too regularly offers tips on pet health. This week we feature expert advice from Dr. Annie Price of Ormewood Animal Hospital. If you have more questions, feel free to email today.

Q: My dog has arthritis. What can I do to relieve the symptoms?

Dr. Price: Arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joint fluid. Once this fluid is inflamed, it becomes watery, which makes it a poor lubricant for joints. Talk to your veterinarian about joint supplements, which can help relieve the pain. Fish oil is a good supplement that you can hide in peanut butter. Here are a few other options to consider:

•Acupuncture: This would be a long-term therapy option, but some patients have had success with acupuncture.

•Adequan: Originally was used on horses, this medication is initially injected twice a week for four weeks; doses are tapered down after that period.

•Water therapy: Physical therapy using an underwater treadmill can help quite a bit, but don’t just throw your pet in the water. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a rehab facility near you. These professionals can teach people how to help dogs swim.

•Weight control: Every arthritic patient in my practice has to go on a diet. It’s hard for people to cut back, we are in control of what they eat and, you can add green beans to bulk up their food. That’s a fat-free option. Check out a previous Ask the Experts column on the importance of controlling your pet’s weight.

Q: How do I request a second opinion on my cat’s condition without making our vet angry?

A: I have been on both sides of that situation.

I offered a second opinion to a client whose vet found a large tumor and said the pet wouldn't live through surgery to remove it. Fortunately, I was able to remove the tumor, which turned out to be a massive benign hematoma.

Keep in mind that there are several factors at play when a doctor offers a second opinion. For example, the disease process may not have looked the same. Also, the other doctor may have better diagnostics.

If one of my clients asks for a second opinion, I refer them to a specialist such as a veterinary oncologist. They are more qualified in a particular area and can provide a more thorough second opinion.

What Kind of Pet Birds Can Live Outside?
By Naomi Bolton,

Many birds can be housed outdoors, but their aviaries must be large enough to accommodate the specific species and contain sufficient nest boxes. Aviaries should ideally contain a variety of trees and shrubs and should be constructed in a draft-free and quiet area of the garden. Shade, in the form of established trees or a suitable roof, must always be provided. Birds in outdoor aviaries must also be protected from bad weather, such as rain and snow.

Parrots and Macaws
Parrots are vividly colored, intelligent and active birds. The larger parrot species and huge macaws, are sought-after companion birds, but tend to become too raucous to be housed indoors. These social birds should be housed in pairs or small groups, where possible. Their aviaries must be constructed of strong galvanized wire, as they possess powerful beaks and active minds. These larger parrots enjoy climbing about in trees and spend a considerable amount of time in the branches, where they preen and eat.

Lorikeets are beautifully colored parrots from the rain forests of Australia. These active and vocal little birds have specialized tongues for feeding on pollen and nectar. These birds are social and the enthusiast can house a number of different species in a single spacious aviary. The red-collared lorikeet, Edward's lorikeet, green-napped lorikeets and the Swainson's blue mountain lorikeet, can all be successfully housed together. These active Australian parrots require an aviary at least 18 feet long and 6 to 8 feet wide. The aviary can be well planted with tall trees.

Finches are tiny seed-eating birds from Australia. Most display highly attractive colors and markings. Finches can be housed in all climates, provided they are offered a fully closed-in section to the aviary. These little birds can succumb easily to windy and drafty conditions but thrive and breed if they have shelter in a warm area.

Cockatiels are one of the most sought after aviary birds worldwide. These attractive parakeets from Australia are hardy and intelligent. Cockatiels breed readily and don't require a very large aviary. These birds tend to have a good nature and enjoy the company of people. Cockatiels are currently bred in a huge variety of colors and tend to be undemanding in their diet.

Ask a Vet:
Cat in New Home Messing Up
By Dr. FRANCINE RATTNER, For The Capital Gazette

Q: I have a 16-year-old male neutered cat. We have moved to a new home and he is going to the bathroom on the carpet in the dining room. What should I do?

A: There are many possibilities for a cat like yours not to use his litter box. Some are physical, others are psychological.

Cats often do not adapt to change very well. Make sure you are keeping the box clean. You should be scooping at least once or twice daily.

Perhaps you haven't kept up with this chore as you've been busy with the move. If the box is clean, consider the location. He is an older cat, and could be a little disoriented in his new surroundings so is having trouble finding the box.

Or if there are more stairs to climb to get to it, he may physically find it difficult to reach the box in time.

Try adding another box or two in different locations that might be more accessible to him. Make sure the sides of the box aren't so high that he has trouble jumping in and out of it. Experimenting with different types of litter or adding a product like Cat Attract powder may help him resume his prior bathroom habits. If these tactics don't help, you should have him checked by your veterinarian to rule out physical problems with his kidneys, bladder or perhaps pain.

If it is determined that his issues are strictly behavioral, anti-anxiety treatments may help, including natural supplements or feline pheromone diffusers. In some cases prescription medication may be the only answer.

Concentrate on trying to prevent him from going back to the dining room. Use an enzyme type cleaner to remove the soil and odor from the areas where he has gone in the dining room. It may help to cover those spots with aluminum foil temporarily to deter him from using them again. If possible, block the entrances to the room.

Always remember, it is never helpful to punish your cat for not using the box after the fact. If his reasons for not using the box are emotional, the reprimand may worsen him level of anxiety.

If you do happen to catch him getting ready to eliminate in the wrong place, you can carry him to the box and praise him for going there.

Dr. Francine K. Rattner is a veterinarian at South Arundel Veterinary Hospital in Edgewater. Please send questions to

Keeping Pets Healthy During Summer

With summer quickly approaching and with a taste of warmer weather arriving last week, it is important to maintain summer safety habits when it comes to taking care of household pets. Simple safety tips can help keep a pet healthy during the summer months.

One suggestion that Dr. Daryl E. Osborn, DVM, of Auglaize Animal Hospital, in Wapakoneta, suggests is to never leave pets unattended in vehicles.

“The thing people need to know is how quickly temperatures rise in a car,”

Osborn said, referring to a vehicle with it’s engine turned off.

Osborn said that leaving a pet in car is no different than leaving a child in the car. It only takes minutes for the temperature and humidity to rise in a car, so pet owners should never leave their animal in a vehicle during the warm days, especially while running errands.

Osborn said that the idea of leaving a dog in the car while going into a store for a “quick” few items is not valid, because a quick trip could turn into a longer trip. Also, temperatures rise incredibly fast in a vehicle, especially on the blacktop pavement, so a quick trip into the store could be fatal for the animal waiting in a car.

According to People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), every year, dogs suffer and die when their owners make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car— even for “just a minute”— while they run an errand.

Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs, because on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 to 120 degrees, in just minutes. Also, on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes, according to PETA.

Osborn said that if a dog’s temperature gets above 107 degrees, it could be fatal for the animal.

It only takes minutes for an animal to suffer brain damage or death from a heatstroke.

“They cannot get rid of excess heat easily,” Osborn said of animals.

The only way for dogs to get rid of excess heat is by panting.

Signs that an animal is overheated or under stress are excessive salivation, excessive panting, searching for wet or cools spots, being uncomfortable or restless and stress.

Osborn suggests a few ways to cool off pets, including using a hose to put water on them, putting wet towels directly on the animal or putting ice on their head to cool their internal brain temperature.

“It is important to watch out for black or dark dogs because they can get heat stroke quicker because of their color,” Osborn said.

Also, English pugs and bulldogs should be looked out for because they cannot breathe as rapidly, or move their air quickly, in the warmer weather.

In addition, proper summer safety tips include giving pets fresh water, especially during the hot days, because water can evaporate or the bowl could get knocked over.

Shelter and shade should also be provided for the animals that are outside.

Also, exercise habits are important to properly schedule in during the warm months.

“It’s better to exercise them in the early morning or later in the evening,” Osborn said.

In addition, it is important to watch the contact between lawn chemicals and pets playing in the lawn.

“Most herbicides can be toxic,” Osborn said. “Read the caution label before application.”

Osborn said pets should not be on the lawn after a lawn chemical treatment, because the chemicals in the application can be absorbed through skin, or the animals could lick themselves afterwards and they will ingest the chemicals.

“It takes one rainfall to saturate lawn chemicals,” Osborn said.

Also, Osborn noted threats from wildlife are high during the summer, so it is important to make sure all pets have their proper vaccinations.

Dog Paddle:
Water Safety Tips for Pooches and Owners

James MacKinnon gives his 4-year-old English Bulldog, Valentine, a kiss as she cools off in one of the wading pools at the Paradise Ranch Pet Resort in Los Angeles. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends never letting a dog get in water over its head until it is an accomplished swimmer. RICHARD VOGEL / AP

LOS ANGELES — When you think of four-legged swimmers, Labrador retrievers might come to mind. But any dog can take to the water if enticed properly.

"I don't think that every dog has an inherent skill. They might all have an idea what to do but some dogs do it much better than others. Some are born to swim. Some are never meant to put foot in the water," said veterinarian Karl E. Jandrey, who works in the emergency and critical care units at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis.

Valentine is a 4-year-old, 42-pound, short-snouted English bulldog with stumpy legs who is heavy on both ends and looks like she would sink if placed in water.

For three years, James MacKinnon of Los Angeles, an Emmy-winning TV and movie makeup artist, went to great lengths to protect Valentine from the swimming pool at his home. Then a year ago, he started boarding her at Paradise Ranch Pet Resort in Sun Valley (, a cage-free, luxury country club and water park for dogs about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. (You can board cats there too, but the water is off limits to them.)

It turns out Valentine loves the water. During the eight months MacKinnon traveled for work last year, with more time away this year, Valentine lost seven pounds, partly due to swimming. Her health improved, her endurance grew and she became fast friends with a Rottweiler named Chico who loves to dive off the dock.

She probably decided to try it when she saw how much fun all the other dogs — including Chico — were having, said Chico's owner, Cora Wittekind, an animal behaviorist who worked with Valentine.

The best way to turn your dog into a swimmer is to introduce water very early, as a puppy if possible, making sure the experience is pleasant, according to recommendations from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Never let dogs get in water over their heads until they are accomplished swimmers, and don't force or toss them in water.

"Don't push them to do things they don't want to do," Jandrey said.

And beware of the risks. Based on emergency room visits, one of the most common backyard pool accidents happens when dogs walk onto pool covers. If the cover collapses, the dog gets trapped, struggles and inhales water, Jandrey said. Safety covers made of solid material can run hundreds of dollars, but are worth the investment if there's a possibility your dog might jump on a soft pool cover.

Another risk, if you are at the beach and your dog drinks salt water all day, is acute salt intoxication, Jandrey said. It's easy to prevent — always carry fresh water for your dog and offer it often. A few gulps of salt water won't harm your dog, but watch for vomiting and early neurological signs of salt poisoning like dullness and depression. (The chlorine in pool water, on the other hand, is not considered a major problem for dogs.)

In fresh water, dogs can be infected by a parasite called giardia, which can hide in the most pristine of streams, Jandrey said. Usually dog and owner will get it by drinking from the same water source. Owners can also be exposed by cleaning up waste from infected dogs. Symptoms include mild diarrhea and vomiting.

Backyard ponds may bloom with mold intoxicants that can cause neurological problems, liver disease and liver failure in dogs, Jandrey said.

Owners should also know when their dogs have had enough water play. Dogs don't float, but constantly paddle with all four legs, so they might tire faster than humans, Jandrey said. Some dogs, like Chico, will just keep jumping in the water, retrieving the ball and returning for more, Wittekind said.

Panting isn't necessarily a sign of exertion, Jandrey said, it's the way dogs adjust their temperature after getting hot. But if a dog squeaks, rattles, snores or makes other unusual sounds while breathing, a break is probably warranted, he said.

During a dog's first few trips into the water, and for dogs that aren't as coordinated as Chico, life preservers or flotation devices can help, Jandrey said. Valentine wore a life vest when she went in deep water but was OK without one otherwise.

Sunburn can be a problem for lighter-skinned dogs with little or no pigment around their eyelids and noses. Some dogs have just a thin coat of hair on their bellies, so reflected light from the ground can cause sunburn. In dire cases, sunburn or chronic exposure to sunlight can lead to thermal skin cancer, Jandrey said.

Products available to protect dogs from sunburn include vests that block ultraviolet rays and sunscreen made with ingredients repellent to dogs to keep them from licking it.

Dogs don't belly-flop like people, so dock-diving won't hurt a strong dog. And with four paws, most water landings are soft, Jandrey said.

If you are going fishing, the ASPCA cautions to keep the dog away from fishing lines, lures, hooks and bait.

The ASPCA also recommends rinsing a dog's paws after contact with sand or salt water, drying a dog's ears after any water contact and brushing dogs with heavy or soft coats after a dip because wet coats can mat and trap bacteria.

You need the right toy too — one that won't sink and send your dog to the bottom of the pool to fetch it. The best water toys are made of hard rubber with a flotation device and easy-to-grab rope attached, Wittekind said.

Pet Travel:
 Advice by Land and by Sea
by Mary Anna Gentleman -

Traveling with your pet on Memorial Day weekend? Here’s a lot of food for thought for whenever you travel:

A survey conducted by AAA shows that 58 percent of Florida respondents who drive with their pet for leisure or vacation trips rarely or never restrain their pet while traveling.

An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 2,400 pounds of pressure. This amount of force can cause serious injury or death not only to the pet, but also to passengers.

Pets allowed to freely roam in a vehicle can distract drivers, especially those who let their pet sit in their lap. The survey shows 64 percent of Florida respondents think an unrestrained pet is somewhat or not at all dangerous while driving: 55 percent pet their pet; 28% let their pet to move from seat to seat; and 13% play with their pet.

In the event of a crash, an unrestrained pet can become stressed and aggressive, trying to bite paramedics or others who come to help, or the pet can flee the vehicle and injure itself or cause another accident as vehicles try to avoid hitting the animal.

AAA recommends pet owners use a restraint device anytime they are driving with their pet in the vehicle.

A couple of travel tips from the American Pet Products Association and the nonprofit Pets Add Life:

Never go without pet-waste pickup bags.

Don’t forget food and water bowls. Collapsible bowls are a space-effective solution.

If you’re taking your pet on a boat, Progressive, which offers pet-injury coverage for boaters, has this advice:

–Do a little research. Call to make sure that wherever you’re heading allows pets and ask about their policies, because many require that you keep them on a leash and don’t leave them alone.

–Assist their doggie paddle. Fit your pets with a personal flotation device or life jacket. Find one with a lifting handle to make it easy and safe to lift your pets from the water. Give them time on land to get used to wearing it.

–Help them get their sea legs. Gradually introduce your pets to your boat and the water. Give your pets a chance to explore their surroundings while the boat is docked. Turn on the engine so they get accustomed to its sound, smell and feel. Take short cruises and gradually build up to longer trips.

–Combat the sun. Protect your pets from the heat by providing shade and plenty of water, and wash the deck with cool water to protect their paws.

My Pet World:
 Carpet-Marking Cats
Might Need Professional Help
By Steve Dale -

Q. I have two indoor cats, and both are urinating on my carpets. I got the cats several years ago, and they've done this from the beginning. I provide two litter boxes and keep them clean. I bought an expensive rug shampooer to rid my house of the smell, but no luck. Any advice?

-- J.A., Richmond, Va.

A. Although you say both cats are leaving their mark, there may be a physical explanation for their behavior. For example, one cat could have cystitis, a urinary tract infection, or another physical problem, and the second cat is merely tempted by the scent. A physical exam for both cats is a good idea.

If both cats pass the exam, cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger says the rule for litter boxes, in general, is the number of cats plus one. Therefore, you should have three boxes. However, since you have a long-term problem, Krieger suggests adding as many boxes as you have space for. You should have at least two boxes for each level of your home. If you have an upstairs and a downstairs, that's four boxes.

Krieger, author of "Cat Fancy Naughty No More: Change Unwanted Behaviors Through Positive Reinforcement" (Bow Tie Press, 2010), says some of those boxes should be large plastic ones.

"While many cats don't care if the litter box is covered, most cats prefer uncovered boxes," Kreiger adds. "Most cats also prefer unscented litter. You might gradually add a special litter called Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract (available where cat litters are sold) to some of those boxes."

If your cats don't get along, that might explain why they're "hitting and running." If this is the case, you should bring in professional hands-on help to readjust those kitty attitudes.

Krieger says shampooing your rugs will clean them, but to really eliminate and not merely mask odor, you need a heavy-duty enzymatic cleaner, available from pet supply shops and some hardware stores.

Q. I read your column faithfully to better educate myself on dog care. We give our dog, Sammy the Schnoodle, a heartworm preventive, squeezing the product from a vial onto his back each month. Yet, our veterinarian says we must also pay $60 twice a year to ensure that Sammy tests negative for heartworm disease. How does this sound to you?

-- M.A.C., Buffalo, N.Y.

A. The recommendation from the American Heartworm Society (AHS) is annual testing for heartworm disease. AHS past president Dr. Sheldon Rubin explains: "It's possible some clients forget to give the preventive; if it's added to food that the pet throws up or just doesn't eat; or that with a squeezed-on product (such as you use) it may be applied incorrectly, and in very rare cases, that a product may not work. After all, nothing in this world is perfect. So, we do want to make sure the pet doesn't have heartworm disease."

However, that doesn't explain your vet's demand for twice-annual testing. Rubin says the only variance from the annual testing protocol is when a dog is newly adopted with an unknown background, when two or even three tests are suggested.

Q. My neighbor told me that my dog, Charlie, will no longer have separation anxiety if we leave him with a Kong toy. I purchased two Kong toys and stuffed them with peanut butter, but Charlie didn't seem to care about the Kongs until I returned home. Meanwhile, he tore up a sheet he'd pulled from the laundry basket and scratched at the wall while we were gone. Any advice?

-- N.U., Cyberspace

A. I believe serious behavior disorders are like diabetes or heart disease; they require a professional diagnosis. Still, based on your description, separation distress is likely the problem.

Kong toys are wonderful for dogs who are simply bored being home alone or who have mild separation issues. In fact, I believe all dogs should have Kong toys and other enrichment toys. However, it seems as if Charlie is too anxious to think about anything else in your absence. I believe he needs hands-on help from a professional - a veterinary behaviorist (, veterinarian with a special interest in behavior ( or dog behavior consultant (

On a personal note, one of our two dogs, Lucy, passed away last week, just before her 16th birthday. For half her life, Lucy worked as an animal-assisted therapy dog, helping patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago who'd suffered strokes, spinal cord injuries and severe burns.

Lucy, a miniature Australian shepherd, had a particular affinity for making people laugh. She worked with hundreds of children and adults, many of whom probably still remember the funny little dog who helped them feel better.

The American Humane Association has created the Lucy Fund to provide assistance and recognition to animal-assisted therapy dogs across the U.S. The association will also name an award in Lucy's honor at the Hero Dog Awards on Oct. 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Please consider contributing to American Humane to help all dogs who do this important work. See for more information.

Write to Steve Dale at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to

Know the Plants That Could Poison Your Pets
by Linda Kotsaftis -

DENVER - Most of us think of our yards as safe places for ourselves and our pets. We want plants that are showy and more than ever, we grow plants we can eat. What we don't think about is the hidden dangers that might be in our yards because some plants are toxic to pets.

For plants to be dangerous, of course, the animal has to eat them. Sometimes we simply don't make the connection that the dog has chewed up a plant and that's why he's sick.

There are three categories of plants to think about in terms of pets: common landscape plants, weeds and edibles.

Some plants are mildly toxic while others are very toxic. The size of your pet is a factor as well as how much of a given plant is ingested. Always consult your veterinarian with specific questions.

Here are some common landscape plants you might want to avoid:

- Foxglove digitalis - can cause heart failure.

- Lilies-including Easter lily, tiger lily, day lily, lily of the valley and Asiatic/oriental lily. They will cause GI upset and vomiting in dogs. Day lilies will cause renal failure in cats.

- Spring bulbs. Daffodil foliage, for example, will cause GI upset, but the bulb itself can cause seizures. Most spring-flowering bulbs will be toxic if the dog digs them up and chews them.

- Iris rhizomes are also toxic.

- Tall ornamental grasses. Dogs often eat these plants and the grass blades can cut their stomachs.

We don't think of the fruits and veggies we eat being toxic to our pets. But with more of us becoming gardeners, we need to be aware that some of our common edibles aren't for our pets. Plants in the onion family-mature and green onions, garlic and leeks-are all toxic raw and still toxic when cooked.

Rhubarb is another popular garden plant that is also toxic to pets. If you grow hops to brew your own beer, be aware that it, too, is toxic for pets. Chamomile, which some gardeners grow for tea, is another pet toxin.

In terms of fruits, grapes are very toxic to dogs, in particular, and that includes dried grapes-i.e., raisins. The seeds of stone fruits such as peaches, cherries and apples contain cyanide which can poison pets. If you have fruit trees, notice whether your pet eats fallen fruit and how much it eats. Asking your vet about toxic levels for your pet is a good idea.

Finally, the plants we all hate - weeds - offer another pet danger. But before we talk about weeds, we need to warn you NOT to pull them when the dog is around. When dogs see us pulling out weeds, it teaches them to dig and pull up plants which of course, ruins the yard and might make them sick. Because some weeds like pursalane are toxic to animals, keeping your yard weed-free is a pet-friendly move.

Mushrooms can be a serious threat to pets and require special care to control. Especially after a wet spring, they will grow all over stumps, firewood and in the lawn.

They are spread through the spores in the mushroom cap-so mowing or raking them only spreads the spores to grow more 'shrooms. Wear a disposable glove or baggie, pick them and put them in a bag that goes in the trash. Don't put them in the compost bin.

Final tip: if you compost, use an enclosed tumbler bin. The smell of an open compost pile attracts animals and the bacteria in decomposing matter can make them sick.

ALCC wishes to thank Denver area veterinarian, Kris Ahlgrim, D.V.M., Goldenview Veterinary, for providing information for this article. If you have specific questions about how toxic certain plants in our yard might be for your pet, consult your vet. Information also courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, sponsors of the 9NEWS gardens. For landscape help, go to

Yes, Some Cats Can Be Trained to Use the Toilet

LOS ANGELES—Barbara Ogburn was waiting for guests to arrive for a dinner party when her Siamese cat Toby went to use his litter box.

"The guest bathroom smelled horrible and there was litter everywhere," Ogburn said. "I looked at him and said, 'Dude, your litter box is gone.'"

Someone had given Ogburn a Litter Kwitter, a three-step training kit that teaches cats to use a toilet instead of a litter box. She decided to try it, and it worked. Now Ogburn, who's had cats since she was a child, says she will never again have a litter box. No more buying litter, lugging it home, or cleaning it up.

Litter Kwitter and other toilet-training kits on the market for cats work like this: The toilet seat is fitted with a series of plastic rings the cat can step on so it doesn't fall in. The hole in the rings gets larger over time, until the cat can simply balance on the toilet seat.

But training a cat to use the toilet is not as easy as getting a cat to use a litter box. Cats instinctively bury their waste to hide it from predators, and litter fosters that instinct in a way that using the toilet does not, according to Steve Duno of Seattle, a veteran pet behaviorist and trainer who has written 18 books.

That's why, when switching to the toilet, some cats will scrape the bowl, the tank or the wall next to the toilet. Outdoor cats are not good candidates for toilet-training.

In addition, some cats tolerate change in their routines, while for others, even a slight change in feeding schedules will make their worlds fall apart, said Dr. Meghan E. Herron, chief veterinarian at the Behavioral Medicine Clinic, part of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Services at Ohio State University.

"Cats are slaves to routine and very wary of danger to themselves," Duno added.

And there is nothing about the size or height of a toilet that is normal to a cat, Herron said. "One bad experience with a toilet can make them never use it again," she said.

Duno, who has toilet-trained several cats, says he's "known cats that have fallen into the toilet and that's it, you're done right there."

You also need patience. "Cats learn at a very metered pace," Duno said. If you go too fast, your cat might find other places—furniture, plants, rugs or closets—to go, Herron said.

When you talk about toilet-trained cats, most people think of Mr. Jinx, Robert De Niro's beloved, toilet-flushing, mayhem-making cat in "Meet the Parents," "Meet the Fockers" and "Little Fockers."

Dawn M. Barkan trained all the Himalayan cats that portrayed Mr. Jinx in those movies, including two rescued cats, Peanut and Charlie, who still live with her.

Misha, who has since died, did the original scene, but "we didn't really train him to use the toilet," said Barkan, who freelances for Los Angeles-based Birds & Animal Unlimited. "It's movie magic." The cat sat on a prop designed to look like a toilet and pressed a button so that the toilet appeared to be flushed. Sound effects were added later.

The idea for Litter Kwitter came from "Meet the Parents," said Jo Lapidge, who with her husband Terry invented the kit.

After research and tests, the Sydney, Australia, couple launched their company in 2005. Since then, they've sold 750,000 kits.

Lapidge says the kit has an 80 percent success rate that "would be higher if humans stopped to follow all the instructions and showed a bit more patience."

In addition to toilet-training products with plastic rings—ranging in price from lightweight plastic for about $10 to Litter Kwitter at $50— there are also online how-to sites and books that explain how to toilet-train your cat.

Online customer reviews for the products are mixed. Even those who say they've been successful often say it took several months to complete the training, with the cat having accidents along the way. One commenter for a toilet-training kit for a product called CitiKitty gave it five stars but cautioned that the process was "messy."

There is one disadvantage for cat-owners who successfully train their animals. Owners may be alerted to health problems by how often a cat uses its litter box or the odor, color or texture of waste. With a toilet, "you can't monitor the cat's health through elimination evidence," Duno said.

In addition, as a toilet-trained cat ages, it may have a hard time leaping onto the seat.

Herron cautioned that a cat is likely to find another place to go rather than wait in line at a bathroom door, so a spare or guest bathroom the animal can use works best.

One benefit in addition to doing away with litter: Toilets diminish the risk of humans contracting parasites or infectious diseases like toxoplasmosis, ringworm or tapeworm from cat waste.

Finally, no matter how happy you might be to have toilet-trained your cat, Duno said this is one animal behavior that shouldn't be rewarded with a treat.

"You are choreographing it, but you are not actively encouraging it," Duno said. "You can't be there to praise the cat. It's too distracting."

Mummy's the Word for Pet-Wrap Star

She’s the queen of the vile.

A Brooklyn "sorceress" is the go-to ghoul for grieving pet owners looking to give their lost loved ones eternal life — by making them into mini mummies.

PD Cagliastro of Brooklyn is one of the only macabre mystics in the country slinging animal mummification services based on the ancient Egyptian art. It took her 20 years to figure out the formula by studying embalming, consulting with chemistry students and reading the few scraps of ancient Egyptian texts out there.

"It was a sick fascination," said Cagliastro, who works and lives in her "house of death" with her teenage daughter and husband, an exterminator.

PALS FOR ETERNITY: Sebastian Duque and his deceased kitty.

The witchy woman has channeled her services for 120 customers, preserving everything from a championship Connecticut racing pigeon to cats cut short by killer cars.

"There was something really special about him," said Sebastian Duque, 26, a web designer who had his cat, Jake, mummified after it was hit by a car in 2008. His frog, Alice, was also preserved in linen and plaster. Jack is now perched on top of his bookshelf in his Upper East Side apartment, and Alice lives in a drawer.

Cagliastro removes the animal’s organs and dries out the rest by submerging it in a salt mixture for months. The stinky remains are scraped out and stashed in biohazard boxes in her Sunset Park pad.

"We have our putrid days. That’s when we know it’s a labor of love," said Cagliastro, who is teaching a sold-out mummification class at the Observatory gallery in Brooklyn next Sunday.

After wrapping and plastering, the form is painted. Some customers choose to place the pet in a decorative box or have gems and gold affixed to the remains. The services cost between $100 and $400.

Cagliastro has been tapped to wrap a tarantula, caiman crocodile and snake eggs. She turned a cattle heart into macabre sculpture for a Midwest rancher who wants to use it to woo back his estranged girlfriend.

Her kooky clients come from all over the world, some going so far as to drive their lost pets from Washington and Oklahama to her altar.

Heart-broken men make up 70 percent of her business, she said.

"When my cat died, I had supreme sadness. I was completely destroyed by it," said Turner, 55, an Upper East Side businessman who refused to disclose his last name for fear of being ridiculed. Cagliastro mummified his cat and mounted it on a black velvet cushion last year, and Turner keeps it tucked away in a glass cabinet in his brownstone.

"It’s very personal. Even people I know well, I can’t say that this is my mummified cat in the corner. They would think you are crazy," he explained.

Cagliastro’s lifelong dream is to mummify a human, and she’s already got plenty of interest from those looking to be immortalized for eternity, she said.

One woman has built a chapel in her Midwest home in preparation, Cagliastro said. "She wants to be entombed like a pharaoh."

How to Feed a Scorpion
Erin Ryan -

Aww, he tried to sting my eyes out.

For most residents of the Las Vegas Valley, pets are furry and sweat through their tongues. Even those who go more exotic usually opt for a parrot or an iguana (or the occasional urban tiger), never thinking that the perfect pet might glow under a black light.

That’s right, people. All this time you could have been making friends with those scorpions in your attic, or so says Not only does the site tell you how to capture and train a pet scorpion, it also offers tips on feeding them (hint: it is neither cute nor advisable for you to tempt them with a live cricket held in your teeth).

The following is a summary of eHow-recommended things to know should you desire to build a relationship with a venomous arachnid. Maybe not the one that creeps across your face while you sleep ...

1) “Feed a potentially dangerous animal only when you know its habits well.” Scorpion danger is actual—not potential—so do your research.

2) The type of prey your scorpion buddy eats will depend on age, size and natural habitat. Once you know its flavor, you can raise your own live crickets, grasshoppers or even small lizards. For the faint of heart, try pet stores.

3) Feeding should unfold like so: Open the lid of your scorpion’s enclosure. Pick up prey with tongs and drop them into the lair. Do not pet your happily feasting scorpion, even if it wags its tail.

Catseye Pest ControlIf scorpions don’t strike you as the kind of creature you’d name and take to the park, local company Catseye Pest Control just posted its “Top 7 Common Sense Tips to Keep Scorpions Out of Your House.”

Luis Pabon, technical director of Catseye, had this to say: “If you live in the southwest, you worry every morning about putting your shoes on only to be stung by a scorpion.” Maybe that’s just what happens when a scorpion tries to bring you your slippers …

These simple steps could solve or at least facilitate the solving of your problem:

7) Close or caulk door openings, screen openings and window cracks so scorpions can't get into the house.

6) Dust and vacuum in corners and normally undisturbed places where scorpions hide.

5) Eliminate the scorpion’s prey (crickets, spiders, and other insects) by using common pesticides.

4) Common pesticides don’t work well on scorpions. Contact a professional pest control company if considering applying chemicals.

3) Eliminate outdoor places where scorpions can hide, such as trash piles, rock piles, decaying wood or piles of junk.

2) Don't walk around the house at night in bare feet.

1) Hire a professional pest control company to do a black light inspection to determine if there is a scorpion infestation, since scorpions glow.