Monday, May 19, 2014

Dog Bite Prevention Week

Infographic provided by the AVMA

Dog owners should review the following helpful tips and always remain aware of their surroundings when interacting with dogs.
If you are bitten:
  • If the dog's owner is present, obtain proof of rabies vaccination and get the owner's name and contact information
  • Clean the wound with soap and water as soon as possible
  • Consult your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room after office hours
  • Contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records
Protect your family:
  • Be cautious around strange dogs and treat your dog with respect
  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog
  • Be alert for potentially dangerous situations
  • Teach children, including toddlers, to be careful around pets
  • Children should learn not to approach strange dogs or try petting dogs through fences
  • Ask permission from dog's owners before petting another dog
In addition, the AVMA recommends the following behavior modifications and tips around household dogs:
  • Carefully select your pet. Do not obtain a puppy on impulse
  • Make sure the pet is socialized when young so it feels at ease around people and other animals
  • Don't put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased
  • Be calm. Always talk in a quiet voice and take "time-outs" when angry or frustrated
  • Train your dog; basic commands help dogs understand what is expected of them
  • Walk/exercise your dog regularly
  • Avoid highly-excitable games like wrestling or tug-of-war
  • Have your dog vaccinated against rabies
  • Parasite control is important because it affects how your dog behaves
  • Ensure fenced yards are secure
  • Neuter your pet. According to the National Canine Research Foundation, 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Dog Diet

Commercial Premium Pet Food

Always make sure the first  ingredients listed are meat like chicken, beef, lamb etc. Not by-products!

Avoid pet foods with a lot of fillers like corn or grains which occurs mostly in cheap pet food.

Always opt for a premium medium priced pet food. Cheap foods have nothing but fillers and overly expensive brands don't  necessarily provide everything your pet needs.

Alternate between dry and wet foods. Feeding only wet food only may cause dental problems in your pets. Feeding only dry food may cause urinary problems in your pets.

Always check labels on how much you need to feed based on the weight of your pet.

Feed more or less depending on your pet's healthy body composition. Never overfeed!

Raw Food

Good for pets with allergies. Can track if your pet has certain reactions to certain foods.
Always check with a veterinarian  before attempting a raw food diet to insure your pet gets everything it needs nutritionally. Do your research!

Add veggies, fruit and grains to give your pet a balanced diet.

Be careful with bones specifically avoid bird and pork which may splinter.

Always boil questionable meat if you think is necessary.

Do not feed spoiled, rotten meat or roadkill to your pet! These could make your pet sick from disease or parasites.

Table Scraps, Human Food

The occasional food scrap maybe okay but never base your pet's diet just on table scraps.

Your pet can easily become overweight from eating to much human food.

Your pet can develop bad habits like begging, grabbing food off the table or out of your hand, etc.

Some foods like chocolate are poisonous to your pet and could kill your pet.

A table food scrap diet is just plain unhealthy for your pet. Avoid if at all possible.

Feed Your Pet A Healthy Diet And You Will Enjoy Your Furry Friend For More Years To Come.   

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Animal Hoarding: Selfish OCD Behavior or Mental Illness?


What Defines a Hoarder?

Animal hoarding is a complex and sensitive issue that affects all types of communities and endangers the health and safety of both animals and people. It has been estimated that, in the United States alone, between 900 and 2,000 cases of animal hoarding are reported every year involving almost a half-million animals. There is no discrimination when it comes to what type of animals fall victim to hoarders; they can range from dogs and cats to exotic birds and farm animals.
An animal hoarder is defined as someone who houses more than the typical number of animals for the average household, to the point where the person is unable to provide minimal care. The hoarder is no longer able to afford basic nutrition, adequate and sanitary shelter, and veterinary care resulting in malnutrition, illness and death for the animals, yet the person does not see the risk in which they are putting themselves and others.
There are no similarities when it comes to the age, gender, race or ethnic background of hoarders. Elderly people do tend to be more at risk due to deteriorating health and growing lack of social interaction, however not all hoarders are of a certain age range. The one similarity between all hoarders is their failure to recognize the severity of their situation. They live in absolute denial of the filth in which they and their animals are dwelling. Most of the time animal hoarders sincerely believe they are helping their animals; that their animals are better off living with them than on the street. They are completely unable to see the harm they are inflicting.
There is no clear-cut reason as to why people become animal hoarders. At one time it was believed to be a variation of obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, researchers are now more inclined to believe that attachment disorders (where a person is incapable of forming a healthy bond with another being) along with personality disorders, paranoia, depression and other mental illnesses may be involved. Many hoarders start collecting after suffering from a traumatic incident. Others may believe themselves to be rescuers and that it is their sole purpose to save animals.

Signs That Someone May Be an Animal Hoarder

Hoarders have a tendency to isolate themselves from the community and neglect their own well-being. They often have so many animals they may not even know the total number that live with them. Their homes are deteriorated; windows are dirty, unkempt yard (if they have one); broken furniture, holes in wall and their home is littered with trash including feces. Although they believe they are helping animals, their animals are usually uncared for and are malnourished, emaciated, and not well socialized.
One of the most disturbing facts about hoarders is that many set themselves up as “rescue shelters,” with 501(c) (3) not-for-profit status, and the internet has become the perfect tool for them to advertise. A report from NBC in 2011 discussed a case in Pennsylvania of a woman who set up a shelter, taking in over 7,000 cats but only found homes for 23. When investigators raided her “shelter” they found killing rooms and so many shallow graves it was near impossible to not step on bones.
There are several ways to tell if a rescue group or shelter is run by a hoarder.
  • A legitimate group will allow you to visit their location. If the particular group you are communicating with is unwilling to allow visitors to their location and wants to receive the animal at an area other than the facility (particularly a remote area), this should set off warning signals.
  • A “shelter” run by a hoarder will either be unwilling to disclose the number of animals in its care or may not know the exact number.
  • Be sure to do research as to the percentage of animals that are adopted out by the shelter. Shelters run by hoarders make very little effort to adopt out their animals.
  • Hoarders generally view legitimate shelters as “the enemy.” If the shelter you are communicating with speaks degradingly of a legitimate shelter, this also should set off alarms.
Please note that if a person has many animals it does not mean they are a hoarder. I’ve personally known people with dozens of animals and not only did they keep a clean home but all of their animals were spayed/neutered, well fed and were provided with regular veterinary care. A person in this situation would not be considered an animal hoarder. At times a legitimate rescuer may find him or herself overwhelmed and may end up with more animals than they can care for but are not considered hoarders if they are actively taking steps to rectify their situation. If you are a rescuer who is reading this or know of one in this situation you can contact your local shelter or veterinarian for assistance.

Laws Against Hoarding

As of right now, there are only two states that have laws in place that specifically address animal hoarding: Illinois, with the help of the ASPCA, instituted the Companion Animal Hoarder Act in 2001. This statute involves mandated counseling for those who meet the definition. However, animal hoarding itself is not outlawed. Hawaii instituted a law in 2008 that specifically outlaws hoarding but does not require counseling for the convicted hoarders or prohibit future animal ownership.
In every other state, animal hoarding is covered under the animal cruelty statute, although anti-hoarding legislation has been proposed but not yet passed in many states. These animal cruelty laws require animal caretakers to provide adequate food, water and veterinary care.
Prosecution of an animal hoarder is a very difficult matter. As mentioned earlier, most hoarders are emotionally troubled. Chances are, if the person is prosecuted, once litigation ends, the chances are extremely high that they will go back to their old habit. The best course of action would be for a judge to enforce mandatory counseling and/or prohibit the person from taking in animals in the future. It would best serve all communities if social service agencies joined forces with animal shelters and law enforcement to intervene and rescue animals that fall victim to this situation, then follow up with continuous monitoring to prevent relapse.
If you know someone who is struggling with this issue, please be sure to contact your local humane law enforcement department, animal welfare group or local veterinarian.

(c) 2014 Brenda Thornlow

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Kitten Season

When is kitten season?
The short of it is: Warm weather brings kittens.
There are really three “kitten seasons” each year. Since heat cycles in cats are regulated by the weather, there is a outpouring of pregnant cats at the same time. Most cats go into heat three times a year, beginning in January-February. Since Southern California is warm, sometimes California females will go into heat four times a year.
A female cat will keep repeating a heat cycle until she gets pregnant. That is why it is very important to spay female cats.
Once a female cat conceives, it is only a matter of about 2 months until the kittens are born.
Normally, kittens are available for adoption when they are 8 weeks old.
Kittens are usually ready for adoption in April-May, July-August, and October-November.
Spring and summer are usually very busy for shelters and rescue groups, trying to keep up with the influx of kittens arriving every day. While it makes life hectic for these workers and volunteers, it is the best time to adopt since there are so many to choose from.
Please note: Please make sure that any pet that you adopt is spayed or neutered. Thank you.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Prevent Overpopulation and Homelessness