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Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

Remember your pets this allergy season

In Animal News on June 30, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Photo courtesy of WellPetClinic.co.uk

As humans we are able to recognize allergies almost immediately. From a sneeze to a scratchy throat to watery eyes, our symptoms manifest themselves in very obvious ways. However, that is not the case for our four-legged friends.

Dogs and cats have seasonal allergies similar to us, yet most of their caretakers are not even aware that their playful pooch or frisky feline is suffering. The problem lies with the human assumption of how an allergen affects a human.

“It’s because of a lack of information,” Says Dr. Kate Ball, DVM. “[Our pets] just do not exhibit what most of us think of when we hear ‘seasonal allergies.’ Some [caretakers] think it’s fleas or dry skin when they see constant itching, but allergies are not always the first to come to mind.”

With dogs and cats, allergens are absorbed through the skin, usually the exposed areas like the paws and belly, and stimulate histamine production, which in turn causes inflammation.

According to Veterinary Pet Insurance statistics, one in seven dogs suffers reactions to these allergens, up from less than 10 percent in recent years. Of course some breeds are more susceptible, so guardians with Retrievers, Terriers, and Dalmatians should be mindful and pay closer attention to their dog. Most cats, however, suffer from food allergies and are less affected by airborne allergens such as pollen, mold, or dust mites.

The most common reaction to look for when determining if your dog or cat has allergies is the amount of scratching. Some dogs scratch just because they like it, others because they are bored, nervous, or stressed. However, as a guardian, if you should notice your dog is scratching more often throughout the day, for longer amounts of time and more intensely, he or she may be having an allergic reaction.

“There are varying degrees, of course,” says Dr. Ball.  “[The effects] can range from constant and debilitating to a minor annoyance.”

Some of those effects involve pets chewing at and licking parts of their body, especially the paws, which may lead to raw skin, raised welts, hair loss, open sores, and infections. Guardians should check their pets’ ears for redness, inflammation, or a distinct odor—all of which are signs of an allergic reaction.

Watch for sleeplessness, too. Most dogs sleep anywhere between 14 and 16 hours a day, and if they are constantly uncomfortable from itching, that lack of sleep may result in lethargy and a decrease in immune response.

Luckily, there are a wide variety of ways to alleviate and avoid these allergies.

First, speak with your veterinarian—the most important step before you begin any medical regimen. Your vet may have a particular medicine or may recommend over-the-counter anti-histamines such as Benadryl.

You can also try anti-itch shampoos, topical treatments, and diet changes and supplements.

Little things like turning the air conditioning on during hot days, closing off the basement, and keeping your pet indoors when the lawn is being mowed will likely make a noticeable difference. Avoiding fields and using dehumidifiers will help, too. –Brendan Quealy

American Humane donates $12,000 to rebuild Tennessee sanctuary after flood

In Animal News, Help the Animals on June 30, 2010 at 5:09 pm

The American Humane Association in June presented Tennessee animal rescue group Tipton Treasures/PAWS New England, Inc., with a $12,250 Animal Emergency Services grant in the wake of the Loosahatchie River flood. The flood destroyed the Tipton Treasures sanctuary in Millington, TN on May 1.

“Overnight, we literally saw almost four years of hard work wiped away and the figure to rebuild was staggering for such a small rescue,” said Kelly Parker, co-founder and vice president of Tipton Treasures/PAWS New England. “We were concerned that our rescue would have to close. American Humane literally saved our organization during these critical hours.”

Although sanctuary workers rescued all 43 dogs living in the sanctuary at the time of the flood, the water ruined the dogs’ housing. The sanctuary routinely rescues 15 to 20 dogs a week but has not been able to accept new animals since the disaster.

Tipton Treasures/PAWS New England has been a lifeline for local animal shelters in Tennessee with high euthanasia rates due to an epidemic of animal overpopulation and low number of local adoptions. At the sanctuary, dogs receive medical and behavior examinations before being transported to foster or forever homes in the New England area. Since 2006, the sanctuary has saved the lives of 3,500 dogs.

“It is our commitment to support local shelters, especially when disasters strike,” said Debrah Schnackenberg, vice president of American Humane’s Animal Programs.  “We look forward to seeing the sanctuary rebuild so Tipton Treasures/PAWS New England can continue their vital work.”

Animal Emergency Services grants are made possible through donations to American Humane. Learn more about how to donate directly to American Humane’s Animal Emergency Services at AmericanHumane.org/Donate. –Valerie Lute

Abandoned chickens call Minneapolis home

In Animal News on June 24, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Mary Britton Clouse founded Chicken Run Rescue—the only urban chicken adoption program—in 2001 after previously working with dog and cat adoption. Many people are aware of cruelty and abuse against dogs and cats, but Britton Clouse felt that no one was there for the chickens.

“Chickens are the most abused animals on the planet,” says Britton Clouse, referring to the fact that anticruelty and humane slaughter laws do not apply to chickens. Although sanctuaries for former farm animals exist, there were no agencies actively finding homes for the displaced animals. To date, Chicken Run Rescue has placed nearly 700 domestic fowl in forever homes.

Although raising chickens properly has a high start-up cost, they can live comfortably in an urban backyard for their 14-year lifespan. Chickens are social animals, capable of bonding with their own species and with humans. Like other companion animals, chickens have their own temperaments. Some prefer solitude, while others love to be held and stroked. Chicken Run Rescue adopts loving animals as pets within 90 miles of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

The trend of urban farming has led to an increased number of abandoned birds. Since April 2009, there have been more than 300 surrender inquires for chicken and other fowl in the Minneapolis area. Often new hobby farmers do not realize that a hen’s egg production peaks at 18 months, or that half of all birds bred will be male.

One rooster, later named Ernst, was going to be given away for slaughter after his sex was discovered. A woman stepped in and took Ernst to Chicken Run Rescue, where he stayed until a woman who had recently lost her rooster of the same breed adopted him. During his time at Chicken Run Rescue, Ernst was hand tamed and learned to love people, eventually following Britton Clouse around the yard as she gardened.

When adopting from Chicken Run Rescue, new owners can be assured knowing the sex, health, and personality of the bird, unlike when purchasing from a hatchery. Chicken Run Rescue is committed to the birds for life and will find new homes for the birds if the owner is unable to keep them for any reason. Adopters are also given comprehensive information packets and encouraged to contact Chicken Run Rescue for advice on care, health and behavior at any time, day or night.

Because of Chicken Run Rescue’s devotion to the animals, it is not surprising that chicken lovers are passionate about this unique adoption agency.

For more information, visit brittonclouse.com/chickenrunrescue/. --Valerie Lute


Hey, Chicago! Donate your belongings to support animals in need.

In Animal News, Call for Submissions, Help the Animals on June 24, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Virtually Home Chicago, ALIVE Rescue Chicago, and Chicago Bully Breed Rescue are having a rummage sale this July. Proceeds from the sale will go to the organizations, and in turn the animals.

To donate to the sale, bring them to the drop off location located at 2001 N. Elston Ave., (at the corner of Armitage and Elston) on July 7 from noon to 2 p.m. and July 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. The rummage sale will take place in the parking lot across the street from the drop off location on July 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on the event or to volunteer, call Cindy at (773) 203-0215. –Nicole Soszynski

Happy Take Your Dog to Work Day!

In Animal News, Happy Tails, Just for Fun on June 24, 2010 at 7:17 pm

For one day, dogs nationwide are going to the office instead of the backyard. June 25 marks the annual Take Your Dog to Work Day to celebrate the bond between pet guardians and their dogs. Participating businesses will also “go furry,” encouraging and promoting the adoption of shelter and rescue dogs.

In 1999, Pet Sitters International (PSI) an educational association for professionals working in the pet care industry, created this event to support local pets in the community and to educate on the advantages of adoption and responsible care for a pet.

Marisa Landau runs DogCentric, a PSI-member business. The mid-day private dog walking company located in Maryland has dogs at the office every day. In honor of this month’s special day, DogCentric is hosting a Yappy Hour, inviting people and their dogs to stop by Tommy Joe’s, a restaurant in Bethesda, MD, and share stories about their dog’s experiences of the day.

According to Landau, businesses that allow dogs to visit provide the work environment with motivation. “Not everyone is willing or able to own a pet of their own, so having pets in the workplace can be a real treat,” Landau says. “A pet’s presence in the workplace is likely to increase employee interaction, create conversation among employees, can boost employee morale, and lower stress levels.”

The official Take Your Dog to Work Day website mentions tips to improve your dog’s visit: Prepare your dog before meeting new people or other dogs; use a baby gate to keep your dog in a comfortable area; and have a back up plan just in case your dog is not comfortable with the atmosphere.

For more information visit www.takeyourdog.com –Nicole Soszynski

Luna hard at work

American Humane establishes animal training and behavior committee

In Animal News on June 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm

The American Humane Association has created a new Animal Training and Behavior Committee, enlisting the help of representatives of major national organizations and key opinion leaders in the field of animal behavior and training. The committee hopes to gather a consensus among animal trainers and behavior specialists about the most effective reward-based training methods.

“In this era of TV dog training, science and common sense often go out the window,” says committee member Marjie Alonso, president of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. “Everything we say will be provable. We can say, here are the studies to back it up.”

Recent scientific research has dispelled many conventional ideas about animal behavior, and the committee hopes to spread this knowledge to the general public through projects like expanding the American Humane Animal Behavior Resources Institute Online, a valuable resource for animal professionals and pet owners.

“Dogs and humans equally benefit from research,” says Mychelle Blake, communications director for the Association for Pet Dog Trainers and member of the Animal Training and Behavior Committee. “For dogs, research has allowed us to move toward more reinforcing and less punitive methods in training and behavior modification. For humans, research has opened us up to the possibilities of healthier and more productive communication with our dogs, which creates stronger and happier relationships between dogs and humans.”

For more than 130 years, American Humane has been a national leader in child and animal protection, most famous for the “No Animals Were Harmed” disclaimer on films and television. This new committee will continue American Humane’s mission of promoting humane values and the beneficial aspects of human-animal interaction by providing professional insight on the topics of animal behavior and training. –Valerie Lute

New Jersey shelter strives to adopt out 40 cats in 30 days

In Animal News, Help the Animals on June 22, 2010 at 9:33 pm

In honor of Adopt a Shelter Cat month, Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Association in Ledgewood, NJ, hopes to find forever homes for 40 cats in 30 days this June.

“With the economy the way it is, many shelters are experiencing a decline in adoptions, donations and participation in special events,” says Lauren Swern, the developmental director at Noah’s Ark. “We are hoping that by making vaccinated, microchipped and S/N pets available at a reduced rate, folks looking for a new feline friend would be encouraged to come here, rather than adopt an unaltered and unvaccinated pet from a neighbor or newspaper advertisement. This also helps promote the value of our adult cats who have many years of love left in them and need homes too.”

As of June 20th, the shelter had adopted 12 cats and kittens—among them Rooster, an 8 year old with diabetes who had been at Noah’s Ark since November. Despite Rooster’s great personality, his age and health issues worked against him. He was lucky enough to find an owner experienced with diabetic cats.

This month, cats aged 6 months to 5 years cost $100, and cats 5 years or older cost $50. Included in this rate are an adoption kit, microchipping, carrier, spay or neuter, de-worming, Frontline, and vaccinations.

Since 1966, Noah’s Ark has been dedicated to caring for animals in northern New Jersey. As a private organization, they follow a “no-kill” policy—not euthanizing due to age, breed, lack of space, or modifiable behavioral issues. The organization is committed to matching owners with pets that fit their lifestyle and personality. Dozens of cats and kittens of all ages are still awaiting their perfect home at Noah’s Ark Welfare Association. Below are some of their photos.  –Valerie Lute


Mommy Tails: Weathering the storm (and running a suburban pet kingdom without power)

In Mommy Tails on June 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Previously, I published a post about the chaos that erupts in my master bedroom whenever we have a bad thunderstorm (i.e. dogs whining, children crying, comforters being sprayed with various bodily fluids produced by both small humans and small- to medium-sized canines). Yet, had I experienced the weather and subsequent 36-hour power outage that we Chicagoans faced starting last Friday, I probably wouldn’t have been quite so whiny in my former blog entry.

You never really live life until you herd three kids under age 6 and three aging pups down into a basement already inhabited by a rabbit, rat, and hamster. Just so you can better picture this exciting adventure in your heads, imagine a shrieking kindergartner, a calm but annoying preschooler who repetitively hums the Dora the Explore theme song, and a crabby 15-month-old who had tubes surgically implanted in his ears two days before. Oh, and don’t forget the Chihuahua who needs to be carried down the basement stairs; a shaking, panting Poodle; and an overweight Beagle-Basset mix who refuses to be pushed or prodded.

Ten minutes into the power outage, I was fairly sure that we weren’t going to be reenacting the twister scene from The Wizard of Oz, so we migrated northward. But, alas, that was just the beginning of our fun-filled family weekend. As the hours passed, so did all hope that the power company would come to our rescue any time soon. So, we coped as best we could.

At night, with only the light of our candles and the crackle of our flashlight radio, we sweltered in our suddenly un-airconditioned bedroom. Three kids writhed around in their own sweat on our newly washed comforter. Not far from them, one member of our trio of overheated dogs threw up on the floor, which I found out the hard way when I plopped my feet onto the hardwood in the dark room. Suffice it to say, by Saturday evening, I had given a certain profane term that is sometimes used to refer to female canines a whole new meaning.

And, as of Sunday morning when we heard our lights and televisions whir back into functional form, I was more chipper than June Cleaver. All dog vomit was forgotten, and the odor of baby perspiration on my sheets was forgiven. In the way of a few added perks, I realized the following truths:

1). We do truly and deeply care for our pets. When the second round of storms threatened to rumble through Friday night, my husband and I discussed how we should see to the safety of everyone in the household–from the box turtle to the beetles in the bug box.

2). It is essential to always ensure that one’s basement floor is clear of poop pellets that have been tossed outside the rabbit cage by an overly fastidious bunny. You never know when you’ll need to use the bowels of your home as a storm shelter.

3). It is wise to pack a duffel bag containing both pet and people supplies that might prove valuable in emergency situations. In addition, it’s equally prudent to include Bengay in said bag. Why? Because you never can predict when you’ll throw out your lower back trying to shove/usher 50 pounds of Beagle-Basset mix down the basement stairs.

Vince Damiani launches the Prince Chunk Foundation

In Animal News, Help the Animals on June 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Two years ago, Prince Chunk was a pretty miserable cat. When his guardian’s home in Voorhees, NJ, entered foreclosure, she abandoned him on the street and walked away forever. Who knows how long Prince Chunk was homeless before Camden County Animal Shelter officials rescued him. The shelter staff was shocked by his size—a whopping 22 pounds—and soon Prince Chunk was a celebrity, appearing on morning talk shows, radio programs, and in local papers. Within 48 hours, Prince Chunk had made 16 media appearances. He was a star, and there was no going back.

So when the Damiani family brought Prince Chunk home to stay, they knew he was a special cat. The white and orange Tom happily became a member of the family, and his life story opened their eyes to the plight of pet guardians struggling to meet their animals’ needs because of the economic downturn. In honor of his portly pal, 19-year-old Vince Damiani launched the nonprofit Prince Chunk Foundation on June 9 to help pets in Prince Chunk’s situation.

Tails: What inspired you to start the Prince Chunk Foundation?

Vince Damiani: I worked at an animal shelter in Camden, NJ. There’s a lot of dogfighting and crime there, and I really saw firsthand how much aid was needed. I knew I wanted to start a nonprofit.

Tails: What will the organization do for pet guardians in financial crisis?

Damiani: It’s designed to help pet guardians during times of financial crisis. Sometimes people are facing a choice between caring for themselves and caring for a pet. Many, many Americans are in that situation today. We want to prevent it. The foundation is going to offer free veterinary care and pet food to applicants who qualify.

Tails: What role did Prince Chunk play in your decision to launch a nonprofit?

Damiani: When Prince Chunk came into the shelter, I fell in love with him. His former guardian’s home was foreclosed, and she just abandoned him to the street. People would bring in their animals because they couldn’t care for them. This kind of organization was always necessary, but the recession has made the need 10 times greater now.

Tails: Where can pet guardians receive aid from the Prince Chunk Foundation?

Damiani: So far we’re launching in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey. By 2012, we want to be able to help pet guardians nationally.

Tails: What kinds of pets are covered by the Prince Chunk Foundation?

Damiani: Right now it’s only cats and dogs, but we’re looking to branch off in the future. We don’t want to go too widespread at first so we can focus on giving quality help.

Need help? Want to donate? Call the Prince Chunk Foundation hotline at (856) 302-6373 or visit PrinceChunkFoundation.com. If you are a veterinarian or pet supplies retailer interested in partnering with the Prince Chunk Foundation, contact the foundation at the following address:

P.O. Box 8044, Blackwood, NJ 08012. –Amanda Hughes

Calves search for new homes after battling for their lives

In Animal News, Help the Animals on June 22, 2010 at 6:32 pm

These black and white calves are a few months old, but already they have faced extreme hardships. They were abandoned and left without any form of nutrients early on. But Farm Sanctuary gave them the opportunity to live again.

Founded in 1986, Farm Sanctuary is the largest farm animal adoption and rescue network in the United States. Their farms in New York and California allow once caged, slaughterhouse or factory farm-bound animals a second chance at life. There, the animals roam on open land free of torture, confinement, or pain.

According to Susie Coston, the national shelter director of Farm Sanctuary, the organization adopted the calves on March 23. They learned of the calves following a neglect complaint from the Hillside Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Pottsville, PA.

“SPCA found the six of them too weak to stand and three were tethered to a tractor,” Coston says. “They were very sick and unable to drink milk as their systems were in the process of shutting down.”

When the calves arrived at the New York farm located in Watkins Glen, the animals received proper medical treatment for a variety of illnesses including anemia, umbilical and intestinal infections, dehydration, diarrhea, and e-coli.

“They are still a bit shy when they first meet people, but they warm up quickly,” Coston says. “And they are much larger, most weighing around 200 pounds already, which is no surprise since they are Holstein boys.”

Farm Sanctuary offers a program called Farm Animal Adoption Network (FANN) that allows abused farm animals the chance to be adopted and placed in a loving home by an FANN member. Potential adopters can visit the farms or call the network to learn about adoptable animals.

For more information visit http://www.farmsanctuary.org/rescue/adoption/faqs.html –Nicole Soszynski

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