Monday, February 28, 2011

Christchurch earthquake: Pets find shelter as owners leave town

The Canterbury SPCA has taken in more than 150 pets from people displaced by the earthquake and has promised to care for them until they can be taken back. Manager Geoff Sutton said the SPCA had given a commitment to those owners that it would care for the pets until they were ready for them.

Some of the pets were likely to be sent to other SPCA branches - such as Timaru - because the Christchurch SPCA could not hold them all. "We have no idea if it's going to be for days, weeks or longer."He said it was possible some would simply abandon their pets with the SPCA, so all owners had been told to stay in touch weekly. "This is a member of your family and we will take absolute care of it in the meantime.

"But the expectation is that as a member of your family it is going to be part of your resettlement and we'll help until you manage to do that."Scott Craigen delivered five of his six cats to the SPCA yesterday while the Herald was there.

His family was moving in with parents because their own house in Linwood was "sinking". The cats could not go with them. He said one cat - Trouble - was still missing "but I'm going to try and find him".

Clearly emotional, he said he did not want the cats to be put down and he was struggling with all the changes the earthquake had wrought on his life. However, others were also bringing in "found" pets. Lovena Fraser found "Benji" running on nearby Springs Rd.

She was keeping him at her own home with her father's dog Thomas and her three cats until the owner came for him. A microchip could not be found, so she left her details with the SPCA.

Mr Sutton said if there were cases where the owner lost contact for a month to six weeks and the SPCA could not contact them, pets could be adopted out. However, it was sometimes difficult for people to find new homes that allowed pets, especially with rental properties where many landlords would not accept pets.

"It would be fantastic if landlords could be just a little bit softer for people who genuinely need to find new homes under these circumstances."Mr Sutton said the SPCA was inundated with runaway dogs in the two days after the earthquake but most had since found their owners. After that, cats began to come in "and that is going to snowball". He said cats tended to hide away when scared and owners should not panic immediately because they could be hiding nearby.

A specialist team from Massey University and Wellington SPCA rescue crews were in Christchurch and would help with checking homes where animals could have been abandoned, including in evacuated areas.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Dogs need care and a home

AT TIMES during the floods, Wendy Hilcher's Rockhampton home resembled something from the movie Hotel for Dogs. Wendy, an RSPCA volunteer, provided refuge for up to eight canines at a time. But now the floods are over, many of the 50 dogs that were sent out to foster carers like Wendy, are being returned.

Just this week, six were brought back. And the RSPCA needs help. “I have no more foster carers on board,” Wendy said. “Regional inspector Laurie Stageman and I take in a lot ourselves to keep them out of the shelter.”But Ms Hilcher said, on a positive note, some foster carers had chosen to adopt the dogs they were caring for.

“People have fallen in love with the animals. A lot of foster carers are adopting the dogs,” she said. Ms Hilcher said there were a dozen dogs she wanted to send to foster carers. These ranged from a four-week-old mastiff puppy right through to a three-year-old dog. She said it was “no life” for dogs being stuck at the shelter at the CSIRO building.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: The RSPCA needs foster carers; To become a foster carer, contact Wendy Hilcher on 0428 819 050; The RSPCA also desperately needs ambulance drivers. You must be aged over 25 and have a manual driver’s licence.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Big benefits of small-dog day care

For small dogs like these and their discriminating owners, only the most specialized care will do. To meet their needs, a number of day care and boarding facilities exclusive to tiny dogs have emerged in recent years. They've proven to be a triple-win for the owners of these businesses, their clients and small dogs everywhere.

Carolyn Vinci had to board her 9-pound Maltese/Yorkie mix, Cleo. Although she conducted research before placing Cleo in a local kennel, Vinci was horrified when the little dog came home thin and scared. "I could not find an appropriate place to board her, so I decided to create my own business," said Vinci, who now runs Tiny Dog Daycare and Overnight Boarding out of her home in Bohemia, N.Y.

Lori Davis of Tiny Dog Boarding in New York City started her business several years ago after a similar problem. "I called a commercial boarding place in the city that supposedly has luxury suites for dogs and asked them if they could provide appropriate care for my three dogs: Taylee, Teangee and Teaka," says Davis. "I mentioned their eyes must be cleaned, one needs allergy shots, another will lick her feet all of the time if she doesn't have her booties and so on. I was fully expecting the facility to say, ‘Yes, we can do that, but it will cost you extra money.' Instead, they told me I should board my dogs with a veterinarian." It wasn't long afterward that Davis created her business.

Big Benefits for Small Dogs
Specialized care at small-dog boarding places may include:

* Cage-free surroundings. "Nobody is caged here," Vinci says. "Our dogs lounge on comfy beds and couches in our home. They can play in our fenced in yard."
* Controlled feedings and medication. Most small-dog experts ask that owners bring the pet's regular food and medication. Consistency is key to comfort.
* Extra security. Tiny dogs can squeeze through chain-link fences and other barriers that can hold back larger dogs. Small-dog boarders take precautions to ensure their charges stay safe and secure.
* Luxury additions. Julie Clemen, who runs Little Paws Boarding in Olympia, Wash., has heated floors in her facility. "Chihuahuas often get cold feet," she explains.

Questions to Ask
Before you take your dog to any day care or boarding facility, do your research. Word-of-mouth recommendations are always best, but consider asking these questions:

1. What size dogs do you take? Depending on the facility, caregivers may limit their services to dogs weighing 8 to 20 pounds. Exceptions sometimes are made, contingent upon the breed, behavior and requirements of the dog.

2. How many years have you been in business, and what other experience with small dogs do you have? Davis, Vinci and Clemen each have decades of experience with small dogs. Be sure you get the background of the individual running the day care or boarding facility.

3. Do you train dogs too? Some boarders, like Davis, offer training and housebreaking instruction.

4. Do you own small dogs? "Ask how the person's own dogs are cared for, in terms of feeding, grooming, medical care and other essentials," advises Davis. "How the owner treats his or her own dogs can indicate how your dog will be cared for."

5. What if there's an emergency? Davis and all of the other experts have established relationships with their local veterinarians and pet hospitals. They may also be able to take your dog to its regular vet.

Finally, listen for the passion in the person's voice. Most went into this line of work because they truly adore dogs, especially tiny breeds.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

City of Ellensburg criticized for euthanizing dog

A West Side dog rescue group has criticized the city of Ellensburg for euthanizing a dog the group was willing to take despite the animal’s Jan. 20 unprovoked attack on a city animal shelter volunteer.

The Forks-based rescue group in a news release said it specializes in the lifelong care of dogs that bite and rehabilitates dogs with more severe behaviors than the one recently euthanized.

The Ellensburg Police Department, which oversees the city’s animal control and shelter services, however, says the German shepherd mix was declared a “potentially dangerous dog,” in accordance with state law, after it bit the volunteer on the face, inflicting an injury requiring 20 stitches.

EPD officials said once declared a dangerous dog there is a legal obligation to protect the public and anyone who will come into contact with the dog in the future. The rescue group stating it would assume all liability for the dog doesn’t legally absolve the city from its responsibility to protect the public once the dog is declared a “potentially dangerous dog,” EPD said.

The dog had been released into the care of the city’s animal shelter by its owner, and the volunteer was taking the dog on an outing when the attack occurred.


City Attorney Jim Pidduck said some of the rescue group’s news release information is not accurate. He said he does not direct or supervise the city animal shelter and has no part in making decisions on whether or not to euthanize animals.

Those decisions are made by the professional and dedicated animal shelter staff that works under the Ellensburg Police Department, Pidduck said. “Yet, I would say, given all the circumstances, that the decision to euthanize the dog was an appropriate one,” Pidduck said. He said he reviewed a proposed agreement between the group and the city transferring the dog to the group.

Pidduck said the agreement, as written, did not transfer full ownership or liability of the dog to the rescue group, but left the city with a level of future responsibility toward the animal.


Olympic Animal Shelter Director Steve Markwell of Forks said in a press release the nonprofit group “is shocked and saddened by the city of Ellensburg’s decision to kill” the dog.

The Forks shelter, which takes in dogs that are not adoptable and rehabilitates problem dogs for adoption, indicated it had received requests from the public by phone and e-mail to intervene on the dog’s behalf after the attack.

Markwell said the sanctuary was in contact with city animal shelter personnel who indicated the offer would be brought to the attention of city officials. Markwell said those officials didn’t respond to the sanctuary’s dog transfer request but chose “to kill the dog in secret.”

No easy decision: The city decided it was not in the best interest of public safety to adopt out Kaiser, a German shepherd-Akita mix.

According to an EPD news release, the decision to put the dog down did not come easily and was made after much review and consultations with animal shelter staff and legal counsel. “Our priority is the responsibility we have to the public and to any individual the dog may have come in contact with in the future,” said EPD Chief Dale Miller in the release.

“We owe it to them to not put them in danger by exposing them to a dog that has been declared potentially dangerous under Washington state law.”The Ellensburg animal shelter makes every effort to adopt out the 800 animals taken in each year, according to the EPD news release, adding that only on rare occasions are dogs in the custody of the city shelter determined to be potentially dangerous dogs by state law. During the last few years the city shelter has been able to lower its euthanasia rate to about 3 percent, EPD said.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Guidelines for Donkey Dental Care Released by The Donkey Sanctuary

Guidelines for Donkey Dental Care Released by The Donkey SanctuaryJust like other equines, donkeys need regular dental care to prevent pain and difficulty eating. Because of donkeys stoic nature, they often will not demonstrate symptoms of pain, which means owners must be proactive with dental care.

A new pamphlet from U.K.-based animal welfare charity The Donkey Sanctuary outlines everything a donkey owner needs to know about dental care for their animals. Horse owners sometimes notice dental problems when their horse develops problems wearing a bit. Since many donkeys never wear a bridle, donkey owners must watch for other signs that indicate tooth problems. These are some of the signs outlined by The Donkey Sanctuary.

* Difficulty chewing. A donkey with tooth problems may tilt his head or spill grain as he chews, or he may drop balls of hay that he is unable to chew well enough to swallow (this is known as quidding.)
* Bad breath. In the case of gum disease, food matter collects around the teeth and begins to rot, causing a strong odor. This can lead to infection and abscess.
* Nasal discharge. Milky white, yellow or green discharge occurs when there is an infection. When this occurs along with swellings in the face, it may be an infected tooth root. Nasal discharge may also indicate a respiratory infection.
* Undigested feed in manure. If you notice whole grains or long strands of hay in your donkey's manure, this may indicate that he is unable to grind his feed sufficiently.
* Colic. Colic in donkeys may be caused by dental issues.
* Inability to eat. If your donkey is unwilling or unable to eat, or if he has dropped weight, it may be the result of dental disease.

In many cases, donkeys display no symptoms and may even appear healthy or fat, so regular dental care should always be a component of a donkey's routine health care regimen. Just like horses, all donkeys should have their teeth checked annually. Young and senior donkeys should be checked twice a year.

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