Stowaway Dog Plus Tips for Renting with Pets

Dog Saves Family from Bear Attack

Sandi Cross’ heroic dog Sassy battled with a black bear at Jessica Lake Tuesday, likely saving Cross from attack. (Brian Donogh, QMI Agency)

WINNIPEG - A family dog is being hailed a hero after she clashed with a full-grown black bear in cottage country earlier this week.

Sandi Cross says 13-year-old "Sassy" likely saved her life early Tuesday morning outside the family cottage on Jessica Lake.

"I truly believe that if Sassy hadn't gone out when she did ... the bear would have attacked me when I went out," Cross said. "She's my little hero."

Cross was getting ready to leave the cottage around 6 a.m., when Sassy, a pound mutt, wanted to go outside.

"She took off across the deck ... then all of a sudden turned around and was coming back in," Cross said.

Moments later, Cross was horrified to see a large black bear attacking her dog.

"The bear dragged Sassy ... further away from the door, so then I could come out," Cross said. "I was screaming and yelling and I thought that would scare the bear."

But the bear didn't let go.

"I thought Sassy was being killed. I thought she was just going to be ripped to shreds," she said.

Eventually Cross, her husband and son were able to scare the bear off briefly, and Sassy managed to get inside.

The family realized there was a cub up in a tree. After being hit with a pellet gun, the bear climbed a tree where Cross said it stayed for 11 hours.

Sassy suffered deep wounds to her neck, and is taking anti-b iotics and painkillers at home.

"At this point, we don't want to put her through the whole major surgery and anaesthetic ... We think that's hard on her and extremely expensive," Cross said.

A Manitoba Conservation spokesperson said the bear was likely attracted to the cottage because of garbage that had been left out.

"We have been seeing with this very dry weather, the quality of the berries is going down," said Kelly Leavesley, a regional wildlife manager for Manitoba Conservation. "There has been some concern with reduced natural foods, it may be more common for bears to venture closer to humans looking for food."

Cross said the family typically removes garbage from their cottage area, however she admitted that on Tuesday they had left some garbage out by mistake.

"Knowing how to make sure that you're not providing attractants that will encourage bears to come close to you and your property is ... one of the most important messages that we can get out to people," Leavesley said.

Tips to stay safe include taking down all bird-feeders, double bag garbage and put in bear-resistant containers, clean garbage bins with bleach and keep pet food indoors.

Dog Pulled from Tar Pit — Just in Time

Trapped in a tar pit in Keokuk, Iowa, a small dog had all but disappeared under the steamy muck by the time police and an animal control officer showed up.

Tipped off by a citizen who heard the dog’s cries from a landfill, rescuers arrived to see only one side of the dog’s face — an eye and his nose — above the tar that was swallowing him up.

Tar Dog, as he has been dubbed, is fine now, though he still has some black and sticky patches on his fur.

According to the Daily Gate in Keokuk, rescuers slid wooden planks into the tar, trying to position one under him to lift him out.

“We were unable to see where his legs, tail or most of his body were positioned,” said animal control officer Eric Lindley. “We had to basically pry him out with boards positioned under him in the tar.”

As soon as the 15-pound beagle-dachshund mix was freed, he was wrapped in towels and taken to Krichel Animal Hospital, where he was rehydrated, cleaned up, and cleaned up, and cleaned up some more.

“He is doing just great,” said Jean Meyer, who works at Keokuk Animal Services. “He was walking with volunteers and bouncing. He’s one lucky little dog.”

No one knows how the dog got through the fence surrounding Keokuk’s old landfill last week, or how it managed to become stuck in the tar, which was in a sticky liquid state due to the heat. No one knows who the good samaritan who called police is either.

Friends of Keokuk Animal Services is trying to raise funds to pay for the nearly $1,000 cost of Tar Dog’s veterinary care and treatment.

Anyone interested in contributing to the dog’s care can send donations to FOKAS, P. O. Box 1181, Keokuk, IA or contact Meyer at 524-1127 or 526-5421. If funds in excess of Tar Dog’s costs are raised, they will be put into a fund to care for other animals needing care.

Owners Abandoning Ill
and Aging Pets in Hard Times

Erik Verduzco/The Bay Citizen
Popeye, an injured Chihuahua mix who was left at a shelter.

A Pit Bull puppy with Parvovirus and a Shih Tzu that had been hit by a car are just two examples of pets that have been abandoned by their owners at East Bay animal shelters in recent months.

To the operators of the shelters, the growing number of sick animals arriving at their doors is a disturbing sign of the economic times: pet owners are surrendering their sick or old animals because they cannot afford to pay the medical bills.

“People seem to be dropping them off rather than treating them,” said Allison Lindquist, executive director of the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “When it comes down to feeding your family or helping your pet, that’s a hard decision to make.”

Ms. Lindquist recalled that when a Pekingese, who was 12, was down to a single tooth, her owner simply handed her across the counter.

“I just can’t handle it,” the owner said.

Pet surrenders were already high as the recession led people to downsize or to lose their homes. Now, having an animal that needs expensive medical attention is becoming yet another breaking point for strapped pet owners.

Afflictions that lead to a pet’s being surrendered run the gamut from broken legs to flea infestations — even the cost of grooming for dogs that require frequent care can be the last straw, Ms. Lindquist said.

Most shelters have not consistently kept track of the number of sick animals being turned in over the years, but shelter providers gave anecdotal evidence of the rise in sick animals being dropped off.

Kate O’Connor, manager of Animal Care Services in Berkeley, said she has seen more sick pets — including dying puppies and a one-eyed Chihuahua — left at the night drop box, where anyone can leave an animal after hours.

Megan Webb, director of Oakland Animal Services, said she had noticed more people asking to have sick pets euthanized — something many cannot afford to have done on their own, even if the animal is suffering. Sometimes pets that have been dropped off to be euthanized turn out to be healthy enough to live.

The problem is worse in places still dealing with high rates of unemployment and foreclosures. Alameda and Contra Costa Counties have two of the highest unemployment rates in the nine-county Bay Area, and shelter operators in both report a rise in the number of abandoned sick animals.

In contrast, areas with stronger economies report fewer sick animals arriving at their doors or no increase at all.

Marin County has a relatively low unemployment rate, 7.4 percent. Its animal service provider, the Marin Humane Society, initially saw a spike in animal drop-offs when the recession hit, but last year the number began to return to normal.

Sandra Stadler, superintendent of Palo Alto Animal Services, said the city had seen a small increase in the number of animals coming in as families were forced to downsize, but no noticeable rise in the number of animals with medical problems.

“But,” Ms. Stadler said, “that could be because of our demographic.”

Man Cited For Leaving Dog In Hot Car

ROSWELL, Ga. -- As Beth King returned to her car after running a brief errand at a Roswell Home Depot, she heard a yelp coming from a nearby car.

"We started following the sound to find which car the puppy was in," King told Channel 2's Mike Petchenik.

Soon, she discovered the 9-week-old golden retriever puppy locked in a work van outside the Holcomb Bridge Road store. After notifying the store manager to find the dog's owner, King said she called the police.

“I was very concerned, just wanted him out of the car," she said.

Roswell police said the dog's owner, Carlos Munoz, 57, had left the dog in the car for nearly 45 minutes with temperatures hovering around 97 degrees. Police said Munoz was cited for misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Veterinarian Dr. Andy Morton told Petchenik leaving an animal in a hot car, even for just a few minutes, can be deadly.

"Their body temperatures are higher than ours to start," he said. "It doesn’t take much to get in trouble.”

Morton said animals don't sweat like humans and rely on their respiratory systems to cool off.

"To err on the safe side we don’t recommend animals be left in the car at all, especially this time of year,” Morton said.

Stowaway Dog Survives Hot Journey
Written by Kevin Rowson -

Carolina survived two days in excruciating heat.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga -- This is a story of survival. A dog spent two days in the back of a tractor trailer in temperatures well above 100 degrees. No one saw her get on the truck until she jumped off in a warehouse in Lawrenceville. She was sickly and barely alive.

Gwinnett County Animal Control said the dog is now thriving and waiting for a new home. "The veterinary clinic took it upon them to nurse the dog back to health," said Cpl. Jake Smith.

On July 19, a tractor trailer backed up the loading dock at the Masonite Door Corporation in Lawrenceville. When the driver opened the back door, the dog ran out and into a corner of the warehouse where it cowered in fear. "When the dog ran out, everyone in the receiving department went to try to round it up and see if it needed help," said plant manager David Toll.

Veterinarians at a clinic in Lawrenceville who nursed the dog back to health did not want to be identified. They named the dog "Carolina." Carolina is a 4-year-old shepherd mix and should be healthy enough to be adopted in another week or two.

"That's fantastic news," Toll said, adding that when animal control picked the dog up at the warehouse, he thought she was too sick to survive. "The animal control officer thought that they might put her to sleep, which we were pretty upset about. I'm really glad to hear that something good might come out of this after all."

Toll said he and his staff grew attached to the dog as they watched her for several hours until an animal control officer arrived. He took a picture of the dog before she was taken away.

Carolina's journey began in Denmark, S.C., hence the name. She apparently wandered onto the truck without anyone noticing. Forty eight hours later, she got out in Lawrenceville. "Most likely it was a stray animal there, wandered into the truck looking for food or something and got close in," Cpl. Smith said.

She has captured everyone's hearts since then, including the vets who at first contemplated putting her down. "The dog was sweet and very good natured," Cpl. Smith said. "The veterinary clinic felt like it had a very good fighting chance to survive, and it's thriving."

Carolina is thriving so well she's almost ready to begin a new journey. That journey will take her to a home she's never had.

Anyone interested in adopting Carolina can call the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter at 770-339-3200.

Pet Psychic:
Animals in Pain Tend to Hide
By Catherine Ferguson -

Q: My mom has a wonderful old cat by the name of Thaddeus. He’s had a good life, aside from being frequently hissed at by his female room companion Jessie, and being pulled on by my three very young children.

But recently he’s lost a lot of weight and has been breathing very heavily. He does not appear to be in any pain and still eats. My question is: Why is he hiding so much these days?

I also wonder about my sister’s female tabby named Penny. My brother-in-law refused to have her inside the house even during the winter. Is she happy there or would she be better off with us

A: The loss of weight and the hiding are classic signs of a sick cat. Did you take Thaddeus to your vet at any point? Animals hide their pain. It is a survival technique, useful in the wild, that they hold on to even when domesticated.

I believe he is still alive and in the vicinity, but could use medical intervention. While I believe his state is serious, he may respond well to treatment. You can make him more comfortable by talking to him frequently. Not necessarily for long, but at multiple intervals during the day. Ask your children to speak to him gently and refrain from touching him. Can you set up some comfortable bedding, a soft pillow or a pile of a few old shirts in a quiet corner, such as under a table or in an accessible walk-in closet? He would like to be with you, his human family, if he can be left alone and allowed to chose when he wants company.

Penny would be much better off with you. She doesn’t want to relieve another brutal winter. She’ll have your children for company and should make the transition quite comfortably. She’s lucky to have survived.

Contact pet psychic Catherine Ferguson at Her advice should not be taken as a substitute for a veterinarian’s.

Tips on Living With Coyotes
By Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Patch staff

Coyotes are common in suburbs and more of these urban coyotes are coming into contact with humans.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers plenty of advice on preventing problems with suburban coyotes on its web pages here.

Tips include:

•Feed dogs and cats indoors. If you must feed your pets outside, do so in the morning or at midday, and pick up food, water bowls, leftovers, and spilled food well before dark every day.

•Never feed coyotes. Coyotes that are fed by people often lose their fear of humans and develop a territorial attitude that may lead to aggressive behavior.

•Don’t give coyotes access to garbage. Keep garbage can lids on tight by securing them with rope, bungee cords or weights. Better yet, buy quality garbage cans with clamps or other mechanisms that hold lids on.

•Don’t feed feral cats (domestic cats gone wild). Coyotes prey on these cats as well as any feed you leave out for the feral cats.

How to Control Pet-Care Costs: Five Tips
By Scott J. Wilson, Los Angeles Times

Having a pet can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be expensive. Caring for a typical medium-sized dog will cost you about $1,580 the first year, according to the America Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, while a cat will run you about $1,035. Here are some ways to control pet-care costs:

1. Spay or neuter your pet. This not only protects you from the costs of caring for an unexpected litter of kittens or puppies, it also saves money by curbing serious health problems such as uterine, ovarian and testicular cancer, the ASPCA said. Many shelters provide low-cost spay and neuter surgeries.

2. Buy pet food at big-box retailers. Consumer Reports compared prices and found pet food at Target and WalMart "much cheaper" than at specialty stores or online. The magazine also said it's not worth it to pay extra for "premium" pet food, a label that has no legally defined meaning.

3. Reduce the risk of injuries and disease by keeping cats indoors, and keeping dogs in a fenced yard when not out for a walk or play date. Also, prevent accidental poisonings by keeping household medications and cleaning chemicals in cupboards or other places where pets can't reach them.

4. Brush your pet's teeth. Dental disease such as gingivitis, tartar or loose or infected teeth can lead to heart and kidney problems and expensive procedures, the ASPCA said. Dog and cat toothbrush and toothpaste sets cost less than $10. Another option is dental chews, which release enzymes to clean teeth.

5. Look for lower-cost medications. Veterinarians typically charge a markup of 100% to 160%, plus a $5 to $15 dispensing fee, Consumer Reports said. You may be able to get the same medicine cheaper from a supermarket pharmacy or large retailer, some of which allow you to enroll in discount medication programs.

Fat Pet Epidemic Hits Water:
Fish Forced Off Kit-Kat Diet

For a while there, Gary the fish was living the dream. The 15-inch gourami was living off of Kit-Kats, day in and day out, with nary a care in the world. But then, like so many candy bar-weaned fish before him, Gary grew too large for one person to care for. His owner donated him to the SeaLife Aquarium in London, and now, Gary is going on a diet.

“I have never heard of a fish being fed chocolate, let alone being brought up entirely on the stuff,” aquarium spokesperson Rebecca Carter said on the aquarium's website. “Gouramis usually eat a diet of fruit but Gary doesn’t appear to have suffered any ill effects from his chocolate addiction. However, we would NOT recommend feeding fish confectionary of any kind!” The staff at the aquarium has been weaning Gary off of the hard stuff by stuffing Kit Kat crumbs into grapes, before cutting him off entirely. He is currently on display in in a section of the aquarium dubbed "Tankbusters," which showcases XXL pets.

Of course, while Gary might be a novelty across the pond, here in America we have a long, rich history of fat pets, with no signs of dieting on the horizon.

Contact the author of this article or email with further questions, comments or tips.

Protection for Puppies
By Dan Nakaso -

Tips from the public suggest there are more large-scale breeding operations in the state than previously thought

A puppy peered from its enclosure Thursday at a Kaneohe pet store. Keoni Vaughn, Hawaiian Humane Society director of operations, says stores that don't disclose where they get their dogs have "something to hide."

Tips flowing into the Hawaiian Humane Society since Hawaii's largest puppy mill case was uncovered on Feb. 28 suggest there are 20 more puppy mills operating on Oahu, with 10 more scattered across the neighbor islands.

"Before, we guessed there were maybe half a dozen, a dozen at the most, but we really didn't know," said Keoni Vaughn, director of operations for the Hawaiian Humane Society. "These are large-scale operations."

Humane Society officials hope the Waimanalo case represents a major turning point in their efforts to regulate puppy mills in Hawaii, and it already has spurred neighbors to report more allegations of animal neglect, abuse and suspected puppy mills. The Humane Society and Honolulu police officers seized 153 dogs on Mahailua Street in Waimanalo in the biggest case of its kind.

Fecal matter and urine were found in some water and food bowls. Some of the dogs had fur matted with fecal matter and some could not walk because their legs were bound together by matted fur, Humane Society officials said.

After the dogs were seized, three died and 79 puppies were born. All of the animals that survived are now in emergency foster care.

From March 1 — the day after the dog seizures — through July 27, the Humane Society received 490 calls alleging animal cruelty. Investigators issued nine misdemeanor citations for animal cruelty, which require court appearances and carry penalties of one year in jail and fines up to $2,000.

In the same period, Humane Society investigators also issued another 56 warning citations for animal cruelty, which could lead to misdemeanor citations if problems persist.

"We really rely on the community to be our eyes and ears and people are now a lot more aware since the Waimanalo case," Vaughn said. "And we're definitely getting a lot more tips on puppy mills."

While the Waimanalo puppy mill case heads toward a criminal trial, a bill in the state Senate would require all puppy mills — technically known as "large-scale" breeders of 25 dogs or more — to be licensed.

The Humane Society last week finished collecting 940 responses to a statewide, voluntary online survey that found 98 percent of the respondents favored licensing puppy mills.

Some 30 percent of the respondents reported having issues with their dogs after they bought them — and 32 percent spent $2,000 or more to address problems that included hip dysplasia, infections and heartworm. About 23 percent of the respondents had paid $1,000 or more for their dogs.

A key provision of SB 1522 for the Humane Society would require puppy mills to allow unannounced inspections by Humane Society investigators, or risk losing their licenses.

Humane Society investigators currently can only enter private property with the owners' permission — or if they personally witness neglect or abuse.

Gathering enough information to obtain a search warrant "requires the courts and prosecutors and can be a tedious, long and difficult process," Vaughn said. "There has to be probable cause — and sufficient probable cause — to obtain a search warrant."

FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS, Humane Society investigators had been allowed into the Waimanalo puppy mill — and had issued multiple warning citations for animal cruelty.

Because of the pending criminal trial, Vaughn declined to say why misdemeanor citations were never issued.

After a new state law took effect on Jan. 1 that more clearly defines how animals must be confined and cared for, Vaughn said Humane Society investigators were no longer welcomed onto the property.

"When we had weaker laws, we were never denied access," Vaughn said.

Then on Feb. 28, a Honolulu police officer responding to a barking dog complaint from the dog-breeding operation — as well as another allegation that a woman with five dogs was trespassing — was allowed onto the property and saw something that prompted him to call the Hawaiian Humane Society, said Vaughn, who declined to be specific because of the pending criminal trial.

Humane Society investigators have since visited the other suspected puppy mills that have been identified from tips since Feb. 28, but have not been allowed onto the properties to inspect the dogs or the conditions, Vaughn said.

"We always try to work with people," Vaughn said. "But anytime someone doesn't let us on to their property, it's for a reason. They're trying to hide something."

He declined to provide details on where the suspected puppy mills are located or who operates them, saying he did not want to jeopardize the Humane Society's investigations of the operations.

Attorney Jason Burks, who represents Bradley International — the company that owned and operated the Waimanalo breeding operation — said the dogs that the Hawaiian Humane Society showed to reporters in March did not represent the majority of dogs at the site, nor the conditions that existed.

The Humane Society is "trying to portray it as nothing ever got cleaned, the whole place was absolutely filthy and there were all these diseases and all these animals were unhealthy," Burks said. "That's simply not the case. They're cherry-picking particular animals. … A good portion of the animals were in good health. Somebody shows up on the wrong day and your house may be a mess. If you go to the Humane Society, look at the animals there. There may be situations where you come at the wrong time and things are dirty. You can't take one small look at one small area and make a conclusion of the entire situation."

The officers of Bradley International have not been charged, but the corporation faces 153 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty for each dog that was initially seized. Each count carries maximum penalties of one year in jail and $2,000 in fines, but the corporation can only face financial penalties, Burks said.

A "forfeiture" hearing in the case to decide the future of all of the dogs was scheduled for Aug. 9 and the criminal trial was scheduled for Aug. 22. But Circuit Judge Ed Kubo last week filed a motion to voluntarily recuse himself from both proceedings, citing his wife's "Hawaii Pet Nanny" business.

Bradley International has shut down its Waimanalo operation and no longer has any animals, but wants its dogs returned, Burks said.

He would not say what the corporation plans to do with the dogs if it succeeds in getting them awarded through the forfeiture hearing.

"I'm not prepared to answer that at this point," Burks said. "But without the animals, Bradley International essentially doesn't have any income."

Burks said he did not know if any of the corporation's officers have other sources of income.

An attorney for the manager of the dog-breeding operation — who has not been charged in the case — previously told the Star-Advertiser the dogs were intended for the Pet Spot pet store in Pearl Highlands Center.

LAST WEEK, Humane Society investigator Vernon Ling drove to the Pet Spot in response to a complaint that animals were being kept improperly.

Instead, Ling found that more than a dozen puppies in the Pet Spot had plenty of room to stand, sit, turn around and lie down without touching the walls of their cages or another animal. And while the bottom half of their cages were made of wire, the other half of their cages was covered with solid surfaces, as required by the new state law that went into effect Jan. 1.

Wire floors make it easier to clean dogs' cages, but can injure or cause long-term damage to the dogs' feet, Ling said.

As employees cleaned the puppies' cages in front of Ling, a woman who identified herself as the Pet Spot manager declined to answer Ling's questions about where the Pet Spot gets its dogs — most of which were being sold for more than $1,000 each.

When Ling asked specifically about the Pet Spot's poodle puppies, the manager said they came from Hawaii island but would not provide details. When Ling asked her where the store got its other puppies from, she said only, "from Oahu" and would not give Ling any details.

"I personally went around to all the pet stores and spoke to the owners asking where they get their dogs from," Vaughn said. "There's not one pet store that will disclose where they get their dogs from. They've got something to hide. A responsible breeder would never, ever sell to a pet store, ever. A responsible breeder cares deeply how their puppies are going to end up and they actually care about the breed itself. A backyard breeder — or a puppy mill — doesn't care. It's all about the profit."

To report animal cruelty, abuse or suspected puppy mills, call the Hawaiian Humane Society at 356-2250.

Peacock Returns to Zoo After a Day
on the Loose in New York

Frank Franklin II/AP - A peacock on the loose after it escaped from the Central Park Zoo stands on a window ledge above Fifth Avenue in New York.

The peacock that had been missing from the Central Park Zoo in New York is back home, safe and sound.

But not before the colorful creature created a stir in the city.

On Tuesday, the bird perched on a window ledge of a condominium building on fancy Fifth Avenue while people took pictures with their cellphones.

The zoo didn’t seem worried about the bird’s ad­ven­ture.

“Home is a short flight across the avenue, and we think our peacock will make his way across soon,” the zoo’s director, Jeff Sailer, said Tuesday night.

That’s just what happened Wednesday morning, when the 2-year-old bird flew off its perch and back to the zoo.

The animals at New York zoos apparently like to get out in the big city. In March, an Egyptian cobra escaped from the Bronx Zoo’s reptile house before being found a week later. Then in May, a peahen (a female peacock) flew the coop at the Bronx Zoo and was found at a garage that kept birds as pets.

Tips for Removing Backyard Pet Odors
by Amber Swope -

Andi Schmidt, owner of highly rated Poop B Gone Inc., a pet waste removal service in Mt. Prospect, Ill., suspects urine is the culprit. "Fecal matter dries up and stops smelling in the sun, but urine will soak into wood or just sit there on the concrete," she says. She suggests making sure the dogs urinate on grass or into gravel atop dirt.

She also recommends a disinfectant, such as Top Performance Lemon-256, to clean the area if it's concrete. She applies disinfectant at no charge for clients whose dogs leave waste on concrete. Her waste removal service fees start at $39 for two monthly visits.

Chuck Peterman, owner of highly rated Yard Patrol pet waste removal in Plainfield, Ill., suggests cleaning all waste up as soon as possible. "I recommend using a hose and plain water to dissolve leftover waste into the soil," he says. "I wouldn't use any solvents or cleaners, in order to keep the decomposition a natural and organic process."

He also recommends investigating the source of the problem. "If the dog's waste is always very soft and runny, and this is the reason for the difficulty in cleanup and smell, the next step would be to look into the pet's diet," he says.

Paul Chesler, president of the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists, suggests avoiding deodorizers. "They don't work on grass very much in my experience," he says. A good pooper scooper will check every inch of the yard, he says, and that kind of meticulous care will minimize odors over time.

Pet Connection:
'Core' Vaccines are a Must for Dogs, Cats
By Dr. Marty Becker -

There's one pet care routine as familiar to generations of dog and cat owners as daffodils in the spring: yearly shots. But it may surprise many that these annual needlings are no longer necessary for most pets.

The vaccinations that have prevented millions of deaths in cats, dogs and even people (in the case of rabies) are now governed by guidelines that stretch out the time between shots. Driven by a greater knowledge of potentially deadly reactions and the development of better vaccines with longer-term effectiveness, veterinary experts now recommend giving fewer vaccines less often, and tailoring those shots to address the most likely risks faced by each individual dog and cat.

"For years vaccinations were thought to be relatively innocuous," notes my colleague Dr. Link Welborn, a Tampa, Fla., board-certified specialist in dog and cat care who has headed the American Animal Hospital Association's task force on canine vaccinations. "More vaccines was thought to be better than none.

"But there's no medication that is not without potential for side effects. Vaccines are medications, and it's important to think of them that way."

The changes were triggered by the realization that in some pets, the negative reaction to an annual shot wasn't a day of just not feeling right. In a small but significant number of cats, the problem was more deadly: cancer.

"That really was the impetus for the changes," says Welborn. "We were causing a life-threatening disease by vaccinating. The potential for feline sarcomas raised the level of concern."

The changes were controversial at first. Serious adverse vaccine reactions were rare, and some veterinarians argued that not having a reason to bring a pet in for the examinations that went with vaccinations would lead to suffering and even death from diseases if not caught early.

Others believed that the changes – and the reasons behind them – would lead to confusion and fear in pet owners. If pets didn't get vaccines at all, they argued, the life-saving benefits that far outweigh the risks would be lost, and pets would die of once-common deadly diseases few veterinarians see routinely anymore, such as canine distemper.

But veterinary schools and colleges, and groups like American Animal Hospital Association and the American Academy of Feline Practitioners, pressed on.

The result: New guidelines for giving a series of vaccinations to initiate disease resistance in kittens and puppies, followed by fewer "core" vaccines at longer intervals for adult dogs and cats.

The idea is that pets should get as many vaccines as they need but no more than that. The core vaccines protect against diseases that are potentially more serious and that are everywhere that animals can be exposed to even without direct contact.

The non-core vaccines are determined by the potential for exposure – indoor cats, for example, have fewer risks.

Because of the deadly threat of rabies to human health, vaccinations for this disease are handled differently. Rabies vaccination is regulated by law, and almost all states recognize a three-year cycle as mandatory for dogs and highly recommended for cats. (Local governments may have stricter requirements, including mandatory rabies vaccinations for cats.)

For pet owners who think vaccinating at three-year intervals can be a money-saver: well, yes and no. What is likely the most important part of preventive care is a regular examination by a veterinarian – twice a year is recommended by many veterinarians, who note that they don't want to diminish the value of preventive-care visits just because animals are not being vaccinated as often.

In other words, what's the benefit of decreasing the risk of vaccinations if the benefits of catching other health problems early are ignored?

Good preventive care that both saves money and prevents suffering and early death still requires seeing your veterinarian regularly. This remains true even if your pet doesn't have to see a needle on most of those visits.

Who Let the Dogs in the Yoga Class?
By Dorene Internicola -

Doga instructor Suzi Teitelman and dog Roxy are pictured in a straddle pose at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida in this picture taken 2009.

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - When yoga goes to the dogs, they call it doga.

And while doga may not measure up, fitness-wise, to a game of fetch or a run on the beach, experts say practicing yoga with your pet can soothe the not-so-savage beasts of both person and pooch.

"I consider it partner yoga," said Suzi Teitelman, a Florida-based instructor who has been teaching doga to man, woman and beast since 2002. "It's my lifelong passion."

Teitelman stumbled upon doga because her dog liked to lie under her while she practiced.

"When you feel good, they feel good," she said. "They want to be around your goodness."

Classes, DVDs and a training manual followed. Teitelman said she's trained more than 100 people around the world in doga, some from as far away as China and Japan.

Disco yoga, kid yoga, beach yoga, spin yoga and yogalites are but a few of the trendy hybrids saluting the sun at fitness centers these days, all takeoffs on the 5,0000-year-old practice that coordinates movement and breath.

But Teitelman insists she teaches a traditional yoga class, even if the downward facing dog is flesh and blood.

"We chant together to feel the vibrations, then we start moving into twists and turns," she said.

Traditional poses such as warriors, triangles and backbends follow, possibly enhanced by a little dog balanced at the belly or waist.

"The person takes dog deeper into a stretch, and the dog takes the person deeper," she said. "If you have a dog on your arm in a standing posture it helps balance and strength."

Teitelman believes the rewards of yoga accrue to human and animal alike.

"You're moving their body. They're getting touched, they're getting love," she explained, "and everybody needs to be hanging upside down."

Dr. Robin Brennen, a New York City veterinarian, was skeptical of the hugely popular doga classes at the Bideawee animal shelter and learning center where she works. Then she attended one.

"I witnessed the demeanor of the animals changing during the class," she said. "They'll come in barking, seven, eight, nine dogs in room, but by the end of the session, they're sleeping. They're in savasana (the final resting pose)."

Brennen said unlike running or jogging, doga is not physically strenuous for the dog.

"It's a level one yoga class and with this big dog in front of you it's hard to do poses," she said. "It's basically stopping and starting."

But then doga isn't about dogs doing yoga, but about owners interacting with their dogs.

"It really highlights the human-animal bond," she said. "For me, being in animal rescue, and seeing so many homeless pets, and people who very easily discard animals, I like these activities on the other side of the spectrum."

But she is doubtful about the spiritual side.

"It's hard to think of a centering practice like yoga being centering to an animal, because it's hard to know what centers them," she said.

Teitelman believes doga can embrace other domesticated creatures.

"It definitely works with cats," she said, "and when I do downward dog my bird comes over."

But Brennen has her doubts.

"Cats? Obviously you'd have to change the format. They want their feet on the ground. Then there's the scratching and clawing factor."

Hints From Heloise: Paw Problems
By Heloise,

Dear Readers: People often think that dogs licking and chewing their paws is a normal activity. If they lick once in a while, or after a meal, that’s not unusual. However, it can signal allergies and/or an infection if it is constant or causes redness or hair loss.

Pollen, mold, mildew, dust, wool, insects and a host of other things can trigger an allergy. Also, your dog may be allergic to soaps and shampoos, and even fleas!

Take your dog to see a vet if the chewing is constant and causes health problems. -- Heloise

P.S.: Cabbie, our mini-schnauzer, sometimes does this when she comes in the doggie door. We then look for ants on her paws!


Dear Readers: If you are thinking about getting a rabbit as a pet, be aware that it probably should be spayed or neutered. You should find a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals. Spaying or neutering is beneficial. Of course, this will keep your rabbit from multiplying like ... rabbits! There are other benefits. Litter-box training will be easier, and your rabbit will be calmer, less destructive (chewing and such) and less aggressive. -- Heloise

P.S.: The House Rabbit Society,, has more information.


Dear Readers: Marilyn M. of Manchester, N.J., sent a picture of her beautiful Pomeranian, Anastasia, smiling for the camera. Marilyn says Anastasia was abused before she rescued the dog when Anastasia was 1 year old. Anastasia goes with Marilyn every Tuesday to a rehab center, where she is a favorite of the residents. To see Anastasia and our other Pet Pals, go to and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: If you want a fish that’s easy to care for, consider a rainbow fish! Rainbow fish are very colorful -- silver, with blue and red stripes. They are sometimes called rainbow sharks, but they are not sharks! Ours are part of the family, and they all have names.

They like to “school” or swim in groups, so we have several. They don’t cost much, and the fish eat flaked food, shrimp and bloodworms. -- K.B., via e-mail


Dear Heloise: To keep “Tweedy” from slinging seeds all over the place, I buy thick, clear plastic from the fabric department to fit the circumference of the cage and is 6 to 8 inches high. I put a hook-and-loop closure on it for easy removal. The bird still gets light, can see out and doesn’t feel confined, and no more messes. -- Mary Ann in Texas


Dear Heloise: I love to watch squirrels in my back yard, but feeding them and the birds was getting complicated. I found in my discount store a feeder that holds one cob of corn. I place the cob vertically on a long nail, and it can be attached to a tree or pole. I keep this feeder away from the birds, and I can watch both groups eating! -- Theresa in Texas

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

Pet Vet: Staying Safe Outdoors

From deer in our yards to raccoons in our trash, more people are experiencing wildlife in their own backyards. But, is there a potential danger lurking?

Saturday Morning’s Pet Vet, Dr. David Visser, has some important tips to keep your family and your pets safe.

Although pets face some risks when being outdoors, it is important that dogs get outside and exercise. Bust along with good fresh air, dogs can also come in contact with wildlife and the diseases they may carry.

As our neighborhoods expand into rural areas, our contact with wildlife also increases. Beyond mere sightings, some animals also bring harmful parasites like ticks and roundworms that spread serious, and even deadly, diseases.

With white tailed deer populations at record levels, the numbers of deer ticks are also increasing. That means more cases of serious diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease.

Like us, our dogs are susceptible to these tick-borne diseases, suffering lameness and even heart issues in some cases.

With raccoons harboring deadly worms, and skunks and foxes spreading rabies, the potential for danger is real.

We simply need to think about these things when we are outdoors with our pets and take the necessary precautions.

There are some common sense rules you can follow.

First of all, enjoy the wildlife from a distance, trying to avoid actual contact.

Next, don’t feed the local wildlife or take in orphan or injured animals. Leave those tasks to licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

Finally, be sure to talk with your veterinarian about proper vaccinations and parasite prevention. Current vaccines and a good flea and tick medication will go a long way in keeping your pets safe.

As the weather stays hot and humid, the outdoor fleas are really thriving. Dogs and cats that go outdoors at this time of year are like flea magnets, so check with your veterinarian for the best recommendation on a flea control product that is safe on both dogs and cats.

And remember fleas can come inside on us, for instance, as hitchhikers on our pant leg. But, they don’t prefer us, so once they are inside, they will jump on a more preferred warm body – our pets. That’s why you should provide broad spectrum parasite medication even if they are “only indoors.”

If you want to contact the Pet Vet, Dr. David Visser, you can reach him at the Roseland Animal Hospital by calling 574-272-6100 or at the Center for Animal Health by calling 888-PETS-VETS.

You can also shoot him an email at

Top 10 Tips for Renting with Pets

I am an animal lover, and my pets are my family. So if I go, they go. Leaving my pets behind is never an option or a thought in my mind. That being said, finding a pet friendly place isn't the easiest thing to do. It does take a bit more time, organization, persuading skills and also limits your options. So for all you animal people out there I have put together a few tips to make sure you and your pets are well prepared and have the upper hand when searching for your next home.

1. Stick with Pet-Friendly Places. This is by and large the best way to move with pets. Search out pet friendly apartments in your new area and then the rest of this list will be null and void for you. Working with like-minded animal lovers is gonna be your least stressful and best option.

2. Contact Humane Societies. Humane societies, vets and animal control are all great references for finding out what places in your area are pet-friendly.

Even though finding a pet-friendly place would be the most ideal situation it's not always available or realistic. So the rest of this list focuses on what to do everywhere else.

3. Stay Away from Large Rental Communities. It's much easier to persuade an individual home or condo owner into allowing pets than a big corporate community, when they say "no pets" they mean "no pets".

4. Ask First. If you're playing around with the idea of getting an animal or you have a friend or significant other with a pet who might move in with you in the future, make sure to ask about the pet rules straight away so you know options are available to you in the future.

5. Be Honest. The landlord will find out if you have a pet, or that you have more than you told them, so just come out with it right away. That way you will not be faced with an eviction notice, bad referral or any other legal ramifications for trying to keep it hush-hush.

6. Gather References. Yes, you read that right. I have actually been asked a number of times to supply written references for my cats from previous landlords and neighbors. You should also get a letter from your vet showing that your pet's shots are up to date. And if your dog has been to training classes bring that documentation as well. If you have a prior landlord that says your animal didn't cause any property damage and the neighbors gave them the thumbs up, nine times out of ten you'll be good as gold.

7. Introduce Your Pet. This tip I would take with a grain of salt. Not all animals are well behaved 100% of the time and some animals need a bit of courting time before showing their true colors. But if you have a great pet that will melt the landlords heart than use it to your advantage.

8. Show That You Are Responsible. Because pet owners have a harder time finding a place to live, they often make great tenants and stay put longer. Don't be afraid to discuss that with your potential landlord.

9. Propose a Trial Period. If the landlord is on the fence about it you might be able to push them over the edge by suggesting a short term trial period where they can observe how the animal is getting along in the space and then you can re-negotaite your contract.

10. Get it in Writing. You often will have to pay a bit extra and throw down a pet security deposit when signing your lease. Just make sure all the terms that were discussed and agreed upon concerning your pet have been written up clearly before signing.

Check out the Humane Society for resources to pet friendly places around the country.

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