CAT | Videos and More

Managing Mouthy Behaviors

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Dog biting hand while pettingManaging Mouthy Behaviors

Mouthiness in puppies, however undesirable, is a normal, natural behavior. The sense of taste and touch in and around the mouth are some of the first senses to develop. Hence, puppies use their mouths to gather information about their environment. When a whelping mom has the chance to raise her puppies to adulthood, she teaches them about biting – what is “too hard” and what constitutes “too much”. Since most of us acquire our pups without their mother’s having had a chance to teach them these rules, it is our responsibility to help them learn how ‘not’ to use their mouths. Some use of the mouth for exploration is acceptable in puppies less than 4 months of age; however, biting that is repetitive or in the least bit painful should be discouraged. Here are some tips for discouraging mouthy behavior

1.Avoid rough or aggressive play, especially interactions which involved a puppy’s mouth and your hands or feet. The more aroused and excited your puppy is during play, the more likely he is to offer mouth behaviors.

2.Provide appropriate chew outlets, such as rawhide chews , Nyla-bones, frozen food stuffed Kong or Busy Buddy toys, and durable stuffed toys. These toys should be used to redirect your puppy’s urge to chew away from your hands or feet. Smearing peanut butter on your pup’s toys can also help make them more appealing than your hands. Mouthy puppies should be offered a toy before all interactions with people. This sets them up for success by having an appropriate option to mouth before they even have a chance to chew on hands or feet.

3.Should a puppy mouth your hand, you want to remove any and all attention so that this behavior is not accidentally rewarded. This means taking away eye contact, any touching, and keeping silent. Once the pup has calmed down, you can offer him a toy to start the interaction again, or ask for a “sit” (review Basic Manners training) before giving the toy to encourage a more desirable behavior. In some cases a high pitched “ouch” can be used to interrupt mouthy behaviors. This should be a high-pitched yelp – one that is loud enough to stop the behavior, but calm enough not to scare the puppy. If your puppy looks fearful or cowers you should avoid the “ouch”. Also, some dogs perceive the “ouch” as fun and attention and may inadvertently find it rewarding. Avoid the “ouch” if mouthing increases

In some cases excessive mouthing behavior is a sign of fear or stress. Other signs of fear and stress include, but are not limited to body stiffening, cowering, growling, snarling, ducking of the head and showing the whites of the eyes, trembling, excessive fidgeting, and urinating. If the mouthy behavior occurs with these signs or if you sense for any reason that there is an aggressive nature to it, please contact your veterinarian immediately so that you can seek help from an appropriate behavior specialist. Fearful behavior in puppies is not normal and may progress to aggression if not managed appropriately.


Halloween Safety Tips

Friday, October 11th, 2013

dracula-halloween-dog-costumeNo Scaredy Cats This Halloween: Top 10 Safety Tips for Pet Parents

Attention, animal lovers, it’s almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying “trick or treat!” all the way to November 1.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you


Source: ASPCA

Flea and Tick Prevention

Monday, September 16th, 2013

what-to-do-if-my-pet-has-fleas - CopyFlea and Tick Prevention

  • Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort and serious illness in pets and even people.
  • Fleas and ticks are easily prevented from bothering your pet through the use of safe, easy to administer, effective products.
  • Parasite prevention also may require treating your home and yard and keeping pets out of areas where fleas and/or ticks are likely to lurk.
  • Flea or tick control products meant for dogs should never be used on cats and vice versa.

What Are Fleas and Ticks?

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort for your pet and can also cause serious diseases.


Fleas are insects that are ubiquitous in the environment – meaning they can be found almost everywhere. There are more than 2000 species of fleas, but the common cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) is the one that most commonly afflicts dogs and cats.

A disease of concern that can be caused by fleas is flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), which is a severe allergic reaction to flea bites. Some pets are so allergic that even a single bite can cause a reaction. FAD makes pets miserable. In severe cases, it can cause severe itching and inflammation that, if left untreated, can lead to excessive scratching and chewing that can damage the skin. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections can develop as a result.

Fleas can also play a role in transmitting parasites, such as tapeworms, and bacterial diseases, such as cat scratch fever (bartonellosis), to humans.

Finally, in very severe infestations, particularly in old, ill, or young animals, fleas can remove so much blood through feeding that they can weaken the animal.

Fleas are prevalent throughout the United States. They prefer warm, humid conditions, so infestations are typically worst during mid to late summer and early fall. In some parts of the country, they can be a significant problem year round. Even during the cooler months, fleas can survive very well indoors once an infestation has been established.


Ticks are not insects, but they are closely related to spiders, scorpions, and mites. There are approximately 80 tick species found in the United States, but only a handful of them are of real concern to pets and people. Some of these include the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), and the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis). The brown dog tick is the only species that can complete its entire lifecycle on a dog and can infest homes and kennels.

Tick bites can be painful and irritating, but the real concern with ticks is the number of serious diseases they can transmit, such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases can cause significant illness and even death in both pets and people.

Ticks are found in virtually every region of the United States. They are most prevalent in the early spring and late fall, although some species are well adapted to temperature extremes and can be found any time of year. In general, however, they prefer dark, moist, brushy places in which to lay their eggs.

How Do I Know If My Pet Has Fleas and/or Ticks?

Larger tick species can typically be seen or felt in the hair coat, especially once they are engorged after feeding. Deer ticks, on the other hand, are very tiny—about the size of the head of a pin in some stages—and can be harder to see.

Repetitive scratching is a telltale sign that your pet may have fleas. Adult fleas can be identified on the pet, but fleas in other stages of their life cycle (eggs, larvae, and pupae) can be harder to find. Adult fleas are tiny and can be hard to see, but flea combs can be used to remove fleas as well as flea dirt. Flea dirt is essentially flea feces, which is digested blood. To check your pet for fleas, run a flea comb through your pet’s fur and dump any hair and debris onto a white paper towel. Dampen it slightly with water. Any small, dark specks that stain the towel red are a clear indication your pet has fleas. Finally, excessive grooming is also a sign of a potential flea problem. Infested cats will groom themselves repeatedly in an effort to remove fleas.

How Do I Prevent Fleas?

There are many safe, effective, and easy to administer flea control products. These products are typically administered orally in tablet (or liquid) form or topically by applying the medication as a fluid directly to the animal’s skin—generally between the shoulder blades or at the back of the neck. Some flea control products are only active against adult fleas, whereas other products can also target other stages of the flea life cycle, such as eggs and larvae. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend more than one product in order to most effectively kill fleas and break the flea life cycle.

Once an infestation is established, fleas can be very difficult to get rid of. You may need to treat your pet repeatedly. In addition, fleas must be completely removed from the affected pet’s environment. Therefore, all other animals in the house must also be treated with flea control products, and the house and yard may need to be treated as well.

Vacuuming rugs, throwing out old pet bedding, and laundering other items may also be recommended by your veterinarian to help remove fleas from your pet’s environment.

How Do I Prevent Ticks?

There are many safe, effective, and easy to administer tick control products. Many of the major flea control products also have formulations that will help prevent ticks. These products are typically administered topically by applying the medication as a fluid directly to the animal’s skin—generally between the shoulder blades or at the back of the neck.

Prevention also includes keeping pets out of “tick habitats,” such as heavily wooded areas or tall grass. As much as possible, create tick-free zones in your yard by keeping grass mown short and bushes cut back. Ticks like moist areas, so remove leaf litter from around your house. If necessary, you may need to treat your backyard with a pesticide to reduce the number of ticks.

Finally, make a habit of performing a “tick check” on your pet at least once a day, especially if he or she has any access to wooded or grassy areas where ticks may lurk. If you find a tick, grasp it with a pair of tweezers as close down to the mouthparts as you can reach. Exert a gentle, steady pressure until the tick lets go. There are also tick removal tools that are very easy to use. Never remove a tick with your bare fingers. Avoid using lighter fluid, matches, or other products that may irritate the skin or cause other injuries to your pet. When in doubt, ask your veterinary care team for assistance removing the tick.

Never use flea control products intended for dogs on cats. Some medications can be highly toxic to cats. Only use products on the species for which they are intended, and follow all label instructions.


Source: VetStreet

To purchase flea/tick prevention for your pets call Town & Country Animal Hospital at (305)238-2222 or visit our website


Therapy Dogs

Monday, August 5th, 2013



By, Bill Johnson (As seen in Parklander Magazine)

When Judge Susan Lebow calls her courtroom to order, you might see a dog sitting quietly before her. The dog has an unusual role in a courtroom. It is there to be a source of comfort for a troubled child experiencing the stress of a legal proceeding in family court.

Most of these children in family court are in foster care. Many have been abused or neglected. They become central figures in a legal battle and need all the help they can get. The children find themselves with Susan Lebow, a judge in the Juvenile Dependency Division of the Judicial Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale.

“The beneficial effects of therapy dogs are well established,” says Debra Berger, executive director of Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc., a non-profit organization that has managed other types of canine therapy programs since 2009.

At the court’s request, the organization joined forces with Voices for Children and the guardian ad litem program to develop the role for dogs in the court. (Ad litem is Latin in reference to a guardian’s role in a legal proceeding.)

The guardians are court-appointed volunteers who speak for the children involved in these cases. They learn about the child’s situation and environment, write reports and recommendations to the judge, and serve as the child’s advocate. They accompany the child to court. Now, the child may have a dog in court as well.

For the time being, Judge Lebow is the only judge testing the role of dogs in family court in this pilot program. “We want to start out small,” says the canine program’s Debra Berger. “We’re taking baby steps; one court room at a time.”

Such a program can’t be developed overnight. Berger is proud of the quality of the organization’s programs. “One of the things most important to the court was the highest criteria,” she said.

That means all dogs must undergo obedience training certified by the American Kennel Club. They are tested for personality and temperament, and the way they interact with children. Not every dog is suited for this role. Before being matched with a child, the dog and its therapy team carries out a 30 day program in a skilled nursing home. Only then is a dog ready to help a child.

Berger explains there are two distinctly different roles for these dogs. Some will be used exclusively in the courtroom. The child’s interaction with the dog may relieve some of the stress and exert a calming influence.

Other dogs will not go to court, but will accompany a guardian when meeting with the child, visiting the child’s home, or going somewhere.

The important and challenging role of the guardian requires considerable training — 30 hours to learn what they may face and how to handle their responsibilities on behalf of children.

In July, two dogs had been trained for their therapeutic role and several others were in training. The demand for them is high. “We could use many more,” Berger says. More guardians are needed, too.
Good therapy dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds, Berger says. Most of the dogs used in other programs came from shelters and range from a two-pound Yorkie to a 150-pound Leonberger, which looks much like a lion.


Heaven-Sent Canine Comfort

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Heaven-Sent Canine Comfort
The tragic shootings at Sandy Hook brought all of us together, including God’s most sensitive creatures.
By Barb Granado, Chicago, Illinois (As appeared in Guidepost Magazine.)

I grabbed the phone on the third ring. I was babysitting my grandkids on a Friday night in mid-December. All day I’d been so busy I’d never even switched on the computer. “Hello,” I said, trying not to sound rushed.
“Have you heard?” It was Sharon, a close friend and fellow dog handler. Her voice was pinched with strain. “There’s been a shooting at a grade school in Connecticut. Twenty first and second graders are dead. I’m sure we’re going to be called to go there, to Newtown. And, well, I just wanted to talk to you.”
My eyes flew to my grandkids, four and two and a half, sitting contentedly on the couch. Not much younger than these children who’d been…slaughtered. Beside them was Hannah, my service dog, specially trained to give comfort to trauma victims.
Sharon and I both were volunteer handlers. I’d wanted to be a help to people. But was I ready for such a huge undertaking? Was Hannah? She was just a puppy, 11 months old. I’d only had her for a few weeks. But it was more than that. A handler’s job is to stay in the background, to not show emotion.
I looked again at my grandkids. How could I do that when 20 children were dead? Twenty sets of parents facing the worst moment of their lives with virtually the whole nation watching?
I’d have to talk to Tim Hetzner, the director of Comfort Dog Ministry. For years we’d gone to the same Bible study. It was listening to his amazing stories of how the dogs touched the lives of children and adults alike that inspired me to become a handler.
Tim had started the program in 2008 after a gunman had killed five people at an Illinois university. He and some other church members had taken their dogs to the campus, hoping to offer compassion in whatever way God led them. But he hadn’t anticipated the full impact of an animal in traumatic situations.
He’d found that dogs were able to connect with the students and faculty in a way that no one else could.
“The dogs don’t judge,” was how Tim explained it at Bible study. “They’re patient and loving. And that creates a bond, where people feel safe. We just let the dogs do God’s work.”
Tim founded Comfort Dog Ministry, part of Lutheran Church Charities. It had grown into a team of 60 dogs and handlers, with months-long training for new dogs when they were just puppies, provided by prisoners at an Illinois penitentiary. Golden retrievers, known for their sensitivity, were the breed of choice.
The team had gone to Joplin, Missouri, after the tornado there. And to New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy. But most requests were from people in the area, after fires and on oncology wards, for school programs, nursing homes and the like.
I had known it wouldn’t always be easy. But this was way different. The whole nation was grieving. Dear God, I prayed. If you think I’m not ready I’ll let someone with more experience go instead.
Tim called soon after Sharon. He told me the team was ready to go. “The whole town is devastated,” he said. “I only wish we had more dogs to send. You can do this, Barb. You just have to step back and let God be in control.”
That night in bed I talked to God until sleep finally came. I don’t know how to do this, I said. How can I not respond when they’re in such pain? I cry too easily. And Hannah. I don’t know if she has the patience yet. Maybe if she was older.
In the morning I woke with an unmistakable feeling: Hannah and I needed to be in Newtown. I thought of those families and how in an instant their lives had been shattered. We couldn’t back down.
Okay, God, I’m going, I thought. I still wasn’t sure I had the strength to look into the face of such terrible grief, but I knew I would never find out unless Hannah and I went to Newtown.
Sharon too felt called to go, with her golden, Maggie. I had to pack. “I’ll pick you up in an hour,” I told Sharon on the phone. It was a 14-hour drive, a two-day trip. Two days to think about what was ahead.
I looked at Hannah and wrapped my arms around her. “We can do this,” I whispered.
Hannah had been trained to stay calm at all times, to be comfortable with being stroked and nuzzled. But in the confines of the prison she hadn’t seen children or any of the distractions of the outside world. That was my job, to socialize her.
I’d gotten her on Halloween. I’d taken her to schools and to parks, places where there were lots of people, to a concert and once to a funeral.
Hannah and I had gone with the team to a program in early December at O’Hare airport for terminally ill children—a Polar Express kind of event, complete with a plane ride to the “North Pole” to see Santa—and his dogs.
A great night, tinged with sadness, of course, but the kids were happy to be there, smiling and laughing. It was magical. Not like Newtown. Not like the Sandy Hook families.
I clung to that memory as we drove. Sharon and I did our best to support each other. And pray. We prayed all the way
We arrived late Sunday afternoon. Nothing could have prepared us for the scene as we drove into the central business district of Newtown, a quaint picture-postcard New England village.
Hundreds of people milled about the town square amid throngs of TV news reporters and camera operators, sending out images to a nation in mourning, to a world in shock. I found a place to park and put Hannah’s service vest on her. She seemed to sense that she was about to be tested.
Sharon, Maggie and the rest of the team joined us as we made our way through the crowd. It was freezing cold. But what I noticed more was how quiet it was. No one spoke. It was eerie. You could feel the sorrow and a pervasive sense of despair.
It weighed on me. There was nothing to say. Nothing anyone could do to heal the wound.
We reached an opening in the crowd and there in the center was a Christmas tree, lit with colored bulbs. Many in the town had taken down their holiday displays. This lone tree was the town memorial.
All around it people had left flowers and teddy bears, photos of the victims, letters and poems. And a sea of candles. I felt myself coming apart.
I looked into the faces of the people around me, police officers and firefighters. Stunned, shell-shocked, haunted. I wanted so badly to shake their hands, to thank them for their service, to tell them that God was here among us. But I couldn’t. All I could do was stand there with Hannah and do nothing.
When would the pain ever lessen? I wondered. When would anyone feel comforted? How was that even possible?
A firefighter came over to us, knelt down and stroked Hannah’s head. “Hey, girl,” he whispered. He looked up at me. “Thanks for coming. It means a lot. More than you know.” Lines rimmed his eyes; his face was drawn. I couldn’t imagine the horror he’d witnessed.
More people noticed us. A small crowd gathered around, everyone wanting to pet the dogs, to talk to them, just wanting to be close to them. Especially children. One little girl wrapped her arms around Hannah and cried into her fur.
A newscaster edged up to us, the lights from a TV camera blinding. “Can you tell me what brought you here?” he asked. I looked at his face. He had tears in his eyes.
Hours later Sharon and I drove back to our hotel room. Neither of us said a word. I was exhausted, drained by the raw emotions. In bed I pressed my face into the pillow.
Dear God, I prayed. I don’t know if I can do this day after day. Please help me, help me know that you’re here. Help Hannah. I am worried this might be too much for her gentle heart.
The next morning we went to the community center and were ushered to a hallway just inside the door.
It was 7 A.M. and already the building was filled with people. Many were young parents with toddlers and preschoolers. But even the little ones were quiet, staying close to their parents, small hands gripping bigger ones. Their world was suddenly a frightening place. Their innocence stolen from them.
No one smiled. Few made eye contact.
I stood there waiting. Hannah sat by me, her eyes riveted on the children, as if she could sense their sadness even from a distance.
A family with a small boy walked slowly up to us. “This is Hannah,” I said. “You can pet her. That’s why she’s here.”
The boy looked to his mother and she nodded. He knelt down next to Hannah and stroked her fur. Barely a trace of emotion. Lips pinched tightly together, as if he were holding the whole world inside. It was heart-wrenching. \Even Hannah couldn’t reach him.
Hannah moved her great head. She nuzzled the boy’s face. All at once he wrapped his arms around her neck. He buried his face in her fur, arms squeezing tight. But Hannah didn’t resist even as his tiny hands tugged at her. She seemed to lean in to him.
I bent down to him and whispered, “Hannah really likes secrets. You can tell her anything and it will be just between you and her.”
I couldn’t tell at first if he even heard me. And then he raised his lips to her ear and said something. His mouth kept moving, almost silently, until finally his hands relaxed. He patted Hannah on the head. And smiled, just for a second. Not a huge grin. But it was enough.
His parents turned to me. “He’s hardly said a word since the shooting,” the mother said. “We didn’t know what to do. Thank you. Thank you so much.”

“I’m glad we could be here,” I said. “God bless you.” But as they walked away I thought about how little I’d done. Nothing, really. Hannah and God had done all the work.
For a week Hannah and I ministered to dozens of families and children, police officers and firefighters. A week of moments shared by a dog and a person who was struggling to find hope in a senseless act of mass murder.
Too soon we had to leave. We left a community still deep in sorrow, with many difficult days ahead. But they weren’t alone. Far from it. Together we’d see each other through even this. In the presence of our greatest pain there is always one great healing power that reaches us in profound and unexpected ways.
On the way back to Chicago, Hannah and Maggie settled in comfortably. They slept almost all the way home.

Doggie Photobooth

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Doggie Photobooth
Saturday, Jun 30, 2012 2:00p to 6:00p

Kennedy Park
2400 South Bayshore Drive
Miami, FL, 33133

Dogs will get a free photo session with a Dogzy Collar and treats during the shoot.

Event is totally free. No sales just fun vibes!

Sponsored by three local business: Chocolate Milk Photography, Dogzy Collars & Grove Naturals

If you gave any questions, please email


Lyssette Gonzalez

24-adopt-a-thon places 240 animals in South Florida homes

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Posted on Monday, 04.02.12
By Elinor J. Brecher The Miami Herald

Mega Match-a-Thon, the 24-hour weekend pet adoption fair at Tropical Park, found new homes for more than 240 cats and dogs.

More than half of the animals placed — 125 — came from the Miami-Dade County Animal Services shelter, said director Alex Munoz. Another 56 came from the Humane Society of Greater Miami Adopt-a-Pet and 59 came from rescue groups.

“We had hundreds of people lined up before 12 midnight Friday night to adopt our pets,’’ Munoz said. “The weather in the late afternoon on Saturday presented a serious challenge and flooded much of the event and destroyed some groups’ booths and presentations. Despite the difficulties….the event was very well attended and folks kept coming even after the rain…’’

Partial funding for the event came from the ASPCA.

Copyright 2012 The Miami Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more here:
By Elinor J. Brecher

Our 2011 “Howl-O-Ween” event at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden located in Coral Gables was the host of this year’s Howl-O-Ween Dog event that took place on Sunday October . We enjoyed a wonderful and entertaining day surrounded by spooky and playful hand-made decorations by Bev Murphy, who has for the past five years decorated the gardens for this time of year with found plant materials such as coconut palms, inflorescences, royal palm leaf bases and anything else Ms. Murphy believes will have a second life as a ghost, goblin or witch.

Amongst the many day’s events and activities, there were several agility and obedience competitions and demonstrations given by Paws in Motion, Miami Obedience Club and the Coral Gables K-9 Unit.  There were also many vendors like The Dog Bar and Natural K9 Supply with lots of fashion, food and essentials for the dog lovers. 

A special enjoyment, DOGA (Doggy Yoga) held at the park’s Bailey Palm Glade and the doggie caricatures by Dino DiArtist were definitely a sight to see!  But the Dog Costume Cost was the day’s crowd pleaser with lots of participants in very original costumes and wonderful personalities. It was great to see all the participants meeting each other, we can safely say it was the day where we’ve seen the most wagging tails together in one place.

 We hope to see many more Dogs in costumes and their owners next year!


Pets During Hurricanes: What To Do

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Recently this article ran in Discovery News. I think it is very applicable to our area and this time of year.

Pets During Hurricanes: What To Do
By Jennifer Viegas Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:39 PM ET


* Many evacuating owners leave their pets behind with food, thinking they’ll be ok.
* Experts who have been in the rescue trenches say pets should always be taken with their owners to shelters or other boarding.

Animal experts who have been in the rescue trenches during prior hurricanes urge pet owners to follow a number of guidelines, especially now that Hurricane Irene is moving into populated areas of the U.S. East Coast.

The statistics in the wake of hurricanes like Irene are startling. Evacuations from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 left some 1,000 deserted pets to be euthanized for lack of space to care for them. In 1999, more than 3 million pets and farm animals died as a result of Hurricane Floyd.

“It’s essential that you heed local warnings and evacuate if necessary,” Sara Varsa, director of operations for the Humane Society of the United State’s Rescue and Response Team, told Discovery News. “If a situation is not safe for you, then it is not safe for your pets.”

In 2000, the HSUS and FEMA signed a partnership agreement to encourage and assist people who want to safeguard their pets during a natural disaster. Since that time, it’s become easier to find a shelter that will accept pets. But many still don’t, so Varsa cautions that you must also consider boarding facilities, hotels that take in pets, homes of friends and relatives in safe areas, and other options.

If you can take your pet to a shelter, Varsa said, you should have a carrier or cage as well as a “to go bag to grab” containing an identification collar and rabies tag, detailed identification on all belongings, a leash (or harness for a cat), an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and newspapers or trash bags for clean-up.

If you are not forced to evacuate, but are still in the path of the hurricane, she said, “Hurricanes cause pressure changes that pets may detect. Cats and dogs may become disoriented and will likely be scared of any loud storm noises.”

It’s essential, she said, that cats be kept in a comfortable room with the “to go” bag and carrier nearby, while dogs “not be off leash at any time” during the storm.

Jennifer Scarlett, a veterinarian and co-president of the San Francisco SPCA, ran an emergency shelter in Hattiesburg, Miss., during Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath. At least 1500 cats and dogs were under her care at the shelter. Many arrived after “rescue runs,” when volunteers and staff would hunt for abandoned or otherwise remaining pets in storm areas.

Scarlett said that when a cat or dog comes into a shelter, “We take pictures, wash the animal, decontaminate it, and then house it and wait for the owners to show up.”

Identification can be a huge challenge, even if an owner goes to the right shelter to later reclaim a pet.

“We often have to take the photos at night, when the lighting is bad and the pets are scared and may not even resemble their usual selves,” Scarlett said. “It’s a real mess. Had owners microchipped their pets, they would’ve prevented so many problems and likely have been reunited with their dog or cat. Remember that collars can easily come off.”

She urged owners to not leave pets alone at home during storms, even if ample water and food are provided.

“It is always better to take your pets with you,” she said, adding that rescue workers are often later faced with animals suffering from starvation, dogs and cats that have been hit by cars after bolting, or pets that otherwise have been hurt or became ill.

Scarlett”s experience has also taught her a tip not usually seen on most disaster preparedness materials: Add a can of tuna fish, or other food for both humans and pets, to your “to go” bag.

She explained, “Tuna provides protein for dogs and cats, and you can eat it too.”

National Pet Week May 1-7

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

About National Pet Week

National Pet Week is widely celebrated throughout the United States and other parts of the world. In 2011, National Pet Week is celebrated from May 1-7. The goals of National Pet Week are to promote responsible pet ownership, celebrate the human-animal bond, and promote public awareness of veterinary medicine.

Here are some great links to find contests, awards and activities:

« Latest posts

Older posts »