Thursday, February 25, 2010

Expensive vet bills 'forcing animal lovers to kill pets'

More than half of Britain’s vets were forced to kill a pet cat or dog over the past five years because owners could not afford treatment, it said. Almost 90 per cent of vets across the country admitted they had experienced cases of treatment for animals being rejected by owners because it was too expensive. Experts said vet fees were rising by more than 12 per cent every year, leaving animals being “needlessly put down”.

Among the diseases that could not be treated because of the rising costs included dental trauma, gastroenteritis, lameness and diabetes, the study from Sainsbury's Finance found. 'Advances in veterinary science mean that our pets can get the best treatment possible these days,” said Joanne Mallon, of Sainsbury’s.

“But these improvements, including everything from more sophisticated scans to cancer treatments, come at higher costs and the financial burden are being felt by pet owners. 'Despite this, the vast majority of our pets are not insured so their owners have no protection against large veterinary bills.”

She added: “Vet fees are increasing by around 12 per cent a year, and as a result of this we may see more animals needlessly being put down because their owners cannot afford it.” Fifty-one vets from all over Britain were interviewed for the study.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Your pet's pearly whites matter, too

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, a time to reflect on the wonders of puppy breath and the woes of big dog halitosis. But "dog breath" is just part of being a dog, right? Not so, says Dr. Brett Beckman, a veterinary dentist specialist in Sandy Springs.

"It's really not normal. That smell is indicative of early periodontal disease," Beckman said. "[A pet's breath] should smell neutral." Brushing your pet's teeth is as important as brushing your own, he said. Just as humans need a daily dental scrub to combat tooth decay, animals need the same attention to prevent periodontal disease and bone loss. (Owners should use toothpaste designed specifically for pets, as human toothpaste can be harmful to an animal, he noted.)

"Brushing is paramount if we want to get a handle on prevention," Beckman said. "And the smaller the dog, the higher the propensity for periodontal disease because their teeth are unusually overcrowded." If dog owner Ken Kukla has one regret when it comes to his dog's health, it's that he didn't brush Hannah's teeth from the beginning.

"The problem is that we didn't start her as a puppy," said Kukla as he walked the 9-year-old Golden Retriever in Brookhaven recently. "Once they're older, it's harder to stick a toothbrush in their mouths." To make up for his brushing blunder, Kukla gives Hannah chew toys and treats designed to combat plaque, and takes her to the veterinarian for professional cleanings, he said.

Luckily for Kukla, bigger dogs have it a bit easier when it comes to their chompers, Beckman said.

“Some dogs, big dogs especially, don’t require much care throughout their lives," he said, adding that a larger dog's tooth to jaw ratio helps maintain a healthy mouth. "But greyhounds, in particular, are notorious for periodontal cases.”

But that doesn't mean big dog owners get off the hook when it comes to preventative care. Beckman recommends daily brushing with a soft bristle toothbrush, and just as Kukla uses, suggests products for cats and dogs such as treats, chew toys and water additives proven to reduce plaque and tartar. (He points to the Veterinary Oral Health Council, found at, which maintains a list of approved products.)

Animals should also undergo a yearly dental check-up with their veterinarian.

"The best thing to do is acclimate them when they are young," Beckman said. "If you've got a [pet] that is aggressive, don’t even try it. You don’t want to put yourself in danger to brush your pet’s teeth."

Beckman acknowledged not all four-legged animals will grow to love brushing: "Cats are very difficult, if not impossible, to brush."

HOW TO BRUSH YOUR PET'S TEETH Acclimating your pet to a daily brushing routine can take some time. First, establish a place in your home for the brushing. Beckman recommends using a sink or table for small animals, and a corner of a room for dogs as this helps prevent them from wiggling away. Next, slowly introduce the pet-specific toothpaste to your pet over the course of a few days.

Let them smell it on your finger and taste it, while praising them so they associate the toothpaste with positive behaviors. Gradually start placing the toothbrush (or finger toothbrush designed for animals) inside their mouth, gently massaging the teeth and gums. Remember to reward them with treats or more tasty toothpaste.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Shelter to Spay, Neuter Pets at Discount Price

The Ohio County Animal Shelter is offering discounted spay and neuter services for cats and dogs, thanks to money bequeathed by an animal lover. The first clinics for male cats are scheduled for March 20 and April 17 at the shelter, located at 7011 National Road, Triadelphia. Veterinarian Gail Welty will perform the neutering procedures.

Such surgery can cost upwards of $100, but thanks to a $37,515 donation from the late Sandra Prager-Wertman, the procedures will be subsidized and will cost $35 per cat. In addition to the surgery, the fee also includes a rabies vaccination.

A clinic for female cats is slated for May 15. The cost of the spay procedure is $50 and includes a rabies vaccination. Spay and neuter clinics for dogs are expected to be held on later dates in the summer. A canine neuter procedure will cost $60, while canine spaying will cost $75.

Pet owners will receive a $5 discount if they have proof their animal already is vaccinated against rabies. To make a reservation, call 304-547-1013. Payment must be made before the pet's appointment. Pets must be at least 4 months old. And there is a two-pet limit per family per clinic.

''We're helping people in the county, and we're helping pets. We'll have less numbers in our shelter, and people will have healthier pets, too,'' Welty said.

She noted spaying a female pet decreases the animal's chance of developing mammary cancer and eliminates the possibility of uterine and ovarian cancers. Neutering male pets prevents testicular cancer, in addition to decreasing rates of hernias, prostate issues and more.

''It's not just for this year - we're going to keep it going,'' Welty said of the clinics.

Welty said the shelter often is overwhelmed by the number of unwanted cats, especially, and dogs. By pet owners getting their animals spayed or neutered, Welty hopes these numbers will decrease.

The Ohio County Commission last May approved spending $9,000 to purchase additional surgical equipment to conduct the clinics.

Prager-Wertman, a Wheeling resident, died in 2008. During her lifetime she often donated money to shelters and animal welfare groups. Her final wish was that 25 percent of her estate be given to the Ohio County Animal Shelter.

In 2009, the shelter took in 601 dogs and 813 cats; 352 dogs and 214 cats were adopted; 199 dogs and 28 cats were claimed by their owners; 11 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats were euthanized, according to statistics provided by the shelter.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Neutering pets improves the quality of their lives

Neutering is one of the greatest gifts you can provide your pet, your family and your community.This routine medical procedure not only helps control pet overpopulation, but it may also prevent medical and behavioral problems from developing, allowing your pet to lead a longer, healthier and happier life.

Neutering improves your pet's health, reducing or eliminating the risk of certain cancers and other diseases. Because neutering often reduces the tendency to fight with other animals, it also protects your pet from fight-related injuries and from dangerous viruses spread through bite wounds.

Neutered animals wander less and stay closer to home. As a result, they are less likely to be lost or hit by cars. Neutering reduces or eliminates spraying (marking objects with a spray of urine), yowling, howling, escaping and other troublesome behaviors.

You won't have to deal with the mess or the inconvenience of a pet in heat (or a male pet reacting to a female in heat). You'll be saved the considerable amount of time, money, and hassle (not to mention property damage!) involved in raising litters of puppies or kittens.

Also, neutering has a direct impact on the incidence of dog bites in a community. The majority of dog bites (60-80 percent) are caused by intact male dogs. Pregnant or nursing female dogs are more likely to bite, as well. Reducing your pet's likelihood of biting or fighting may also help protect you from potential legal action.

Neutered pets are less likely to engage in behaviors that could cause problems with neighbors.
Celebrate Spay Day

The 15th annual Spay Day USA takes place Tuesday. During Spay Day, each American is encouraged to help solve this problem by sponsoring the neutering of at least one cat or dog. Each owner with an unaltered pet is asked to make an appointment to have his or her cat or dog neutered.

Since Spay Day USA's inception in 1995, participants have altered over 1 million animals, saving millions of lives and tax dollars.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pet Talk - Pants for Dogs, Safe Paw products go with the flow

Dog lovers are a resolute lot when it comes to solving their pets' problems. This is the tale of two of them: two dog lovers who got inventive in very different ways because of dog issues they were contending with; then they got entrepreneurial, and then the marketplace wound up with new products.

The results of their problem-solving imaginations have been on full display in recent days at two pretty darned high-profile events on either side of North America: one at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York this week, and the other at the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

First product up: cute, comfy and of utmost importance absorbent doggie undies and thongs. Sounds crazy to anyone who hasn't had a dog with a bit of an incontinence/dribbling problem, or a female dog that hasn't been fixed. But those of us who have owned and loved such a dog have spent more than a few minutes wishing Depends came in canine configurations.

Neena Pellegrini to the rescue.

She's the founder of Pants for Dogs (, a little Seattle-based cottage industry filling hundreds of orders for tiny- to massive-sized panties for female dogs, and, for male dogs, items she calls cummerbunds (although the waist isn't, in a precise sense, the true target, of course). Each garment in its own way protects rugs, floors and whatever else needs protecting from the drips and streams we'd rather not contemplate (and certainly not discuss).

The business started four years ago when Pellegrini's little male dog kept marking her little female dogs. A training issue, most would say. But improvement doesn't happen overnight. How do you protect the girls?

She found some canine "belly bands" marketed for more or less that purpose, but the fit wasn't great, the elastic chafed, and the durability was less than ideal. So Pellegrini re-thought the concept, came up with some design specifications and found a seamstress willing to stitch some up.

Folks started asking about them, and Pellegrini, a journalist by trade, decided to perfect the cummerbund design even further, get a few dozen made "more as an amusement, really, just to see what might happen," and came up with a design for girl dogs. Pretty soon she was plying her attractively patterned creations — into which a sanitary napkin is slipped — online.

Many of her customers are owners of female purebreds that need a little something when they come into season. So in recent days, during Westminster, Pellegrini has set up a booth in the dog-friendly hotel across from Madison Square Garden, joining a handful of other dog-products vendors.

Pellegrini recently applied for a patent and began selling "thongs," little wisps of protection for female dogs inspired by the need of poodle owners to obtain panties that don't crush those hip poms called "rosettes."

You might imagine only owners of froufrou dogs have interest in these things. You would be wrong. There's big demand for her products — offered in a colorful array of patterns, including dragonfly, flags and bones — in sizes intended for Great Danes and bull mastiffs.

Show dog owners are only half her clientele. The rest are owners of "pets with medical or age problems who are desperate" to find something with the right fit and functionality, she says. "They've seen those pet diapers in pet stores, maybe tried them, and they're just not right."

The cummerbunds go for $20 to $25, depending on whether you're attiring a terrier or a Saint Bernard; the female ones go for $25 to $35 (and you can get panties with ruffles for a little more if you think your dog would enjoy something more obviously girlie).

Some owners buy them in several colors.

Pellegrini regularly tweaks something here and there to fine-tune her offerings. She devised panties minus tail hole, for example, for English bulldogs and French bulldogs, breeds that, well, have no need for such an opening.

"My basement is filled with pants for dogs," she says with a laugh. Something she never anticipated when she set about solving a personal pet problem.

Safe Paw: No harm in melting the ice

Meanwhile, at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, a product that's being spread about by the bucketsful also was born of a need identified by a devoted pet owner.

Safe Paw ice melter, the ice/snow remover chosen by the Olympics organizers because it's environmentally friendly, was developed a few years back by a dad, Steven Greenwald, responding to his son's worry that all the sidewalk-clearing products on the market were dangerous to his dog.

"I told him I would look into it," Greenwald told me.

The man knew something about such products, since he'd come up with something called Safe Thaw for the nuclear power industry, which required something far less corrosive than the salt-based products that had been the standard for decades.

It took him two years of fiddling, but he "discovered that if I changed several of the components in Safe Thaw, I would have a pet- and child-safe ice-melter that would have all the other characteristics that was present with Safe Thaw."

Safe Paw was brought to the marketplace — from a little company in Pennsylvania that Greenwald founded — more than a decade ago. And Dante, the dog that inspired all that creativity, lived a long, happy, paw-burn-free life until his death at the end of last year.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why do pets eat weird, dangerous things?

Not long after adopting a 6-month-old lab/German shepherd mix named Libby, Erin Truter of Springfield started noticing things were missing from her family’s home. “It started about three weeks after we adopted her, the kids toys started missing,” Truter said.

“It wasn’t until I took the pooper scooper in the backyard and realized that in one pile we had G.I. Joes; in another pile, there were magnetics; and then in another pile were two of their Nintendo DS games. “The last pile was classic. I found two ink pens and my husband’s toothbrush.”

Truter’s family eventually found a home better suited to Libby. But the family was among a number of people who learned that the saying “This too shall pass” holds new meaning when you consider the variety of items some pets have eaten ... and passed.

Humans might understand why Rover would eat food items. But pets have swallowed all kinds of hard, dangerous plastic items, decorative lights and the aforementioned oral hygiene product.

Something to keep in mind to avoid a tragic mishap: “Puppies like to chew on things with human scent on them, like TV remotes and glasses,” says Dr. Chris Curry, veterinarian and owner of Laketown Animal Hospital in Springfield.

That might explain some of the things Curry has seen consumed by pets over the past 14 years of treating animals: Underwear, a leather boot (surgery produced the tongue of the boot with the tag still intact), straight pins off a new men’s dress shirt, corn cobs, tampons, rings, hair holders, towels and carpeting.

Shanny, a Siberian husky, clearly concerned about saving for the future, ate a $100 bill.

“After waiting a day or two (and being prepared with a lot of rubber gloves), she gave it back to me,” said Shanny’s owner, Springfield teacher Lindy Wilkinson. “Someone had said to keep it and try to send it to the U.S. Treasury to see if they would exchange it. I cleaned it up (again with the rubber gloves) and sent it in, figuring ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ I wasn’t going to use that money anyway. A few weeks later, I received a check from the U.S. Treasury for $100.”

Stephanie White’s chow/Shar-Pei mix, Winston “Winnie” Dale, ate a cassette tape of a popular movie soundtrack when she was 2. After taking her to the vet, who gave her a liquid treatment to induce vomiting and bowel movements, the family settled in to wait.

“Poor baby was ill the rest of the day. Late into the evening, she finally passed the whole bound-up wad of cassette tape,” said White. “We just couldn’t believe that she ate the whole thing. She must not have liked ‘Footloose.’”

No matter what type of situation, when it comes to your pets, Curry offers this piece of advice: “When in doubt, call your vet.”

While these stories may seem funny in retrospect, they illustrate how seemingly innocent household items – or even simply giving Fido a nibble off your dinner plate – could lead to a medical emergency for pets.

“Many things people may not be aware that are dangerous to dogs are grapes, apple seeds, raisins, onions, chocolate, anti-freeze, sugar-free gum, bread dough and some household plants,” Curry said.

Curry says cats are generally more discriminating than dogs.

“But cats do eat things, linear foreign bodies,” he said. “Things like yarn, thread, dental floss and string can have a damaging effect in the small intestines and can be fatal.”

Keith and Linda Gray of Carlinville came home from a vacation in 2003 to find that their cat, Bob, had broken into the kitchen cabinets and ate the Wilton’s candy chips used for making candy.

“He also loved to eat corn on the cob and pork rinds,” Linda added.


According to the American Animal Hospital Association, these are just a few of the foods, plants and other common household items that can cause serious problems if Fido or Fluffy eat them.

PLANTS: Azaleas and other rhododendron family plants, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, hyacinth bulbs, milkweed, most species of lily bulbs, holly berries, tobacco products, oak, rhubarb leaves

FOODS: Avocado (in dogs), chocolate, eggplant, tomato leaves and stems, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, castor beans, alcoholic beverages

If your think you pet has eaten these items, or if your pet is vomiting, has diarrhea or is staggering, call your veterinarian right away.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaching Pet-Friendly Homes New Cleaning Tricks

IN “Dog Whisperer” with Cesar Millan, now in its sixth season on the National Geographic Channel, several episodes have featured vacuum cleaners that send dogs into a barking frenzy.

With tactics like placing their food bowls next to vacuums that are not in use, Mr. Millan helped reverse the behavior.Now Swiffer, the 11-year-old Procter & Gamble brand, is hiring Mr. Millan to help with a different sort of behavior modification: getting consumers to forgo traditional floor cleaning devices and buy Swiffer products.

“Mops and brooms are really what we’re going after,” said Marchoe Northern, a Swiffer brand manager, adding that women were the target consumers. “It’s really about habit adaption at first — getting the Swiffer in her house — and then habit formation.”

“I was using the Swiffer long before they approached me, so for me it was a no-brainer,” Mr. Millan said in an interview by phone. “I came into my marriage with a pack of dogs, and my wife said she didn’t want the smell in the house, so I’m the one who cleans the house.”

Swiffer estimates that about half of the consumers it wants to reach have pets. That is consistent with findings from Packaged Facts, a market research company, indicating 49.7 percent of American households included a dog or cat in 2009, up from 45.4 percent in 2003.

Mr. Millan will be featured in online marketing, including providing dog tips on the Swiffer Web site and its Facebook page, but there are no immediate plans for him to appear in print or television advertising. For the next several months, he will primarily promote the SweeperVac, which sells for $39.99 and combines Swiffer disposable electrostatic cloths with a rechargeable upright vacuum.

“The vacuum allows you to pick up big stuff like kibble, and the Swiffer cloth on the bottom picks up hair,” Ms. Northern said.

In a television commercial produced by the Kaplan Thaler Group, part of the Publicis Groupe, that had its premiere this month, a woman discards her broom outside.

“Switch to the new and improved Swiffer SweeperVac, and you’ll dump your old broom,” a voiceover says. “But don’t worry, he’ll find someone else.” At that, the broom and a pink flamingo in the yard begin to sway to “Who’s That Lady” by the Isley Brothers.

Inside the kitchen, meanwhile, the SweeperVac inhales kibble near a dog bowl, making it the third of five current Swiffer spots that highlight pets. The two others feature the original Swiffer removing hair near a dog bed and the Swiffer Duster tackling cat hair.

Sales of Swiffer products, which also include a wet-mop system, totaled $325.4 million in the 52 weeks ended Jan. 24, according to Information Resources, whose figures exclude Wal-Mart. Swiffer spent $95 million on advertising for the first nine months of 2009, an increase of 21 percent over the $78.3 million spent in the same period in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence.While cleaning brands have customized products for pets for decades, with Arm & Hammer introducing a carpet deodorizer with a “pet fresh” scent in 1981, marketing efforts are booming as more people consider cats and dogs part of the family and a beagle is less likely to be found in a doghouse than on the sofa.

Cameron Woo, publisher of The Bark magazine, said advertisements from cleaning brands had grown in the “double digits” in each of the last three years, growth he attributed both to increasing “germ phobia” and demand for less toxic cleaners. (One advertiser, PawSafe, markets a toilet cleaner free of harsh chemicals, so a dog can drink out of the commode more safely.)

Several vacuum brands offer models for pet owners, but none as extensively as Bissell, the 134-year-old cleaning products company whose offerings are sold at Petco and PetSmart.

Bissell’s five models of pet vacuums include the Pet Hair Eraser and the SpotBot Pet Deep Cleaner, a compact steam cleaner to be placed over an animal mishap to clean it unattended.

Bissell’s ShedAway, a metal-toothed tool at the end of a vacuum attachment, draws pet hair into the vacuum so it does not fall onto rugs and furniture. Another product, the Drool Cleaner, is for sliding doors and windows where pets keep watch exuberantly: a spray container has a small attached brush and squeegee to, according to the Bissell Web sit, cut “through drool, smudges and paw prints.”

Bissell, which also advertises on and has a pet section on its Web site, runs an annual Most Valuable Pet contest, where pets’ photos are entered for a chance to be featured on Pet Hair Eraser vacuum packaging and win $10,000 for an animal charity of the pet owner’s choice. In 2008 and 2009, the contest drew more than 100,000 entries. We try to think of ourselves as pet owners and pet lovers, and then we become better pet marketers,” said James A. Krzeminski, executive vice president and chief customer officer of Bissell Homecare.

As part of Swiffer’s partnership with Mr. Millan, the brand will be featured on his Facebook page, which has more than 195,000 fans.

Mr. Millan said that in yet-to-be filmed videos on Swiffer’s Web site, he will demonstrate how to use Swiffer products to clean floors without agitating pets.

“To me it’s how can I help people make this cleaning tool pet-friendly,” Mr. Millan said. “A lot of people who put the dog somewhere else before they clean up don’t realize how to have a more harmonious relationship with the tools.

“Dogs have very sensitive ears, and I don’t want my pack to get nervous about this new tool that I’m using.”

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Fetching pet not a chore to take lightly

If you’re going to get a pet for the first time, there are plenty of things to consider. First, it has to be a family decision, says Peggy Bender, community relations and education specialist with Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control. “Is everyone really truly committed, and in agreement? If someone is being talked into it, you’re starting off on a bad foot,” she says.

And you need to consider everything that needs to be done for the pet on a daily basis, and delegate those responsibilities. That includes feeding, walking, brushing, cleaning the litter box, letting the dog out at regular intervals and running the vacuum several times a week.

“Expose all family members to animal hair before acquiring a pet. We get animals turned in here all the time from people who say, ‘My son is allergic,’ ” she says, even from those who had indicated on the adoption form that no one had allergies.

Owners need to consider the lifespan of a pet – some cats and dogs live well into their teens, and birds can live even longer – as well as their own living situation. How busy is your household? If you’ll be moving soon, or getting married, or having a baby, it’s probably better to wait before adding a pet, Bender warns.

“The pet coming into that household needs stability to make it work. Many animals are disrupted by a lot of change,” she says.

Can you afford a pet? Costs include more than just food, treats and toys. Veterinary bills can add up quickly, even for basic preventive care, such as vaccinations, dental cleanings, heartworm pills, etc. Some dogs need regular trips to a professional groomer. Most dogs (and owners) will need a basic obedience class; some classes have fee discounts for shelter dogs, Bender says.

Do your research on potential breeds to get a sense of what behavior you might see, she says, adding that 25 percent of dogs surrendered to Animal Care and Control are purebreds. Don’t make a decision based on dog size alone.

Labs are mouthy as puppies, for example, and hounds like to howl and need room to run around. Terriers love to dig; they also like to chase (and often kill) small animals, or even cats. Herding breeds might nip small children, since that’s how they would herd animals.

In 2009, locals gave up more than 4,700 pets to the Fort Wayne shelter, she says. Meanwhile, adoptions totaled 2,505. The shelter keeps its adoptable animals until they are adopted. “Animals shelters and rescue groups have wonderful animals. …“Just be leery of getting a pet from any source whose only requirement is payment,” she says.

A reputable shelter or rescue group will have a contract and will ask about your knowledge and pet history. It also will offer support and resources if you have problems with your pet after you take it home, she says. Don’t buy pets over the holidays and don’t give a pet as a gift. Instead, offer to pay the adoption fee and let the recipient select their own pet, she suggests.

Animal Care and Control has a “cat buddy” program that allows you to adopt two felines for the price of one. And it has an “old friends” program in which you can adopt a cat or dog that’s age 5 or older for $25. “The animals in a shelter are not usually here because of the animal’s problem, they’re usually here because of circumstances beyond the animal’s control,” such as an owner’s lack of time or money, she says.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Pet gifts for Valentine's Day

As Valentine’s Day nears, do tender thoughts swing first to your beloved pet If so, don’t feel guilty because some readers confess their hearts belong to their pets rather than Daddy. Why? Because, unlike fallible humans, our pets lavish us with that infamous "unconditional love" — assuming that we shower them with our love on a regular basis.

Some pet businesses are showing they too have big hearts by actively advocating pet adoptions and providing fun ways to show the love on Valentine’s Day and beyond. VIDEO CONTEST It’s not too late to submit a one-minute video in the "Share your Pet Love" contest by Good News for Pets.

The panel of judges includes Lee-Ann Germinder, editor and publisher of Good News, and this columnist. Winners will be announced in the Feb. 25, column, which will also feature a wrap-up of Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show.


PetSmart Charities opens its heart during National Adoption Weekend, which overlaps with Valentine’s Day. Joined by Hills Science Brand dog food, the two corporations are sponsoring "Second Chance for Love," an adoption event to be held in PetSmart stores tomorrow through Sunday. Every PetSmart in-store adoption center will have pets available for adoption.

"This is the perfect opportunity to give homeless animals the second chances they deserve," says Susana Della Maddalena, executive director of PetSmart Charities.

Those who adopt during the event will receive free samples from Hills and PetSmart. Susan Harrison, Hills’ president, promises a corporate donation of $400,000 during 2010 to support pet adoptions.

To find the nearest PetSmart adoption center, check


Another adoption option is a cuddly bunny. The House Rabbit Society has teamed with to encourage adoptions during "Adopt-a-Rescued-Rabbit Month." Mary Cotter, marketing director of HRS, suggests adopting a pair to erase the guilt of leaving a single bunny home alone while you’re at work. "Adopting a partner bunny is not only good for your bunny, it’s good for you," she promises.

HRS volunteers pride themselves on pairing rabbits compatibly. When a match works — and we’re talking about spayed and neutered bunnies or you’d wind up with hundreds of the hoppers — they advise that bunnies are good at sharing food, water, living quarters and even a litter box. They also enjoy grooming each other. Remember that rabbits are delicate creatures that must be handled gently, thus not ideal for toddlers.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pets now allowed to visit patients in Starship

A terminally ill patient whose pets were smuggled into Starship Children's Hospital is the inspiration behind the hospital setting up a special area where furry animals can visit long-term or critically ill children.

Ella's Cuddle Corner - a purpose-built, easily sterilised area in the atrium of the national children's hospital in Auckland - is named after Ella Mackie.

Seven years ago Ella, aged five, was missing her pets so badly when in Starship being treated for a brain tumour that they were smuggled into the hospital for secret cuddles.

Ella passed away in 2003, but her mum Jane Thompson made it her goal to set up a place in Starship where patients could see their pets. "Ella showed us that an area like this was really needed for sick children who have a special bond with their pets," she said.

The project was funded by donations to the Starship Foundation.

"It was a hugely emotional project and definitely one of our most unique fundraising projects," says Starship Foundation chief executive Andrew Young.

"The thought of creating a few moments of happiness for these children with their pets really appealed to our supporters."

Ella's Cuddle Corner was opened yesterday by another animal-loving patient, Claudia Chaney, who is suffering severe graft-versus-host disease which she developed following a bone marrow transplant for leukaemia five years ago.

Claudia was able to have a cuddle with her cat Crystal.

"All Claudia wanted to do during a recent stay in Starship was go home and see her cat," says Claudia's mother Lisa Petersen.

"To be able to do that in the hospital takes away some of the fear and makes it less clinical for children."

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oakland Pet Adoption Center Hosts 2010 Spay Neuter Cat Clinics

If you have a cat that is not spayed or neutered and you haven’t done it because of financial reasons, the Oakland Pet Adoption Center in conjunction with.

The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance and the Michigan Humane Society are booking now for our low-cost, low-income Oakland County residents spay/neuter clinics.

The clinics are held every month at the Oakland Pet Adoption Clinic, 1700 Brown Road in Auburn Hills, and costs $20.00 per cat. The price includes distemper and rabies vaccinations, wormer, and flea and earmite treatment.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Spay pets for half price this month

Concerned Citizens for Animal Welfare once again is sponsoring Spay Day 2010 at Escambia County Animal Services throughout February.The Pensacola-based nonprofit will pay for half the cost of the surgery to have up to 100 pets spayed or neutered.

The goal is an effort to reduce the number of unwanted animals in Escambia County. More than 10,000 unwanted pets were euthanized in fiscal year 2009 by Escambia County Animal Services. The group will also pay for half the cost of the pet's vaccines. The program is open to low-income pet owners on a first-come first-serve basis.

To participate and see if you're qualified, call the animal shelter at 595-3075 or go to shelter at 200 W. Fairfield Drive from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. This will be the 16th year Concerned Citizens has sponsored Spay Day, an annual effort promoted by The Humane Society and other animal welfare agencies.

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