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Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Resist the temptation to take the Easter Bunny home

In Health and Safety, Help the Animals on March 31, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Around every holiday, countless organizations around the country get the word out to make sure people are being responsible when considering whether to get a pet. Easter is no different and, in fact, drums up a bit more support for the cause.

Around this time there is a great increase in the purchase and adoption of rabbits and baby chicks, the two symbols of Easter and spring. However, it as been shown that the novelty of these animals wears off quickly as many of the cute and fuzzy “gifts” are returned before too long. Others are simply abandoned or face a life of neglect.

The problem is that some people look at these animals and assume they are not as much of a responsibility as a dog or a cat. In some cases, they can be more work. The truth is that the adorable little, yellow chick will grow up to be a real-life clucking chicken who requires space to roam, food to eat, supplies to stay healthy, and nearly constant cleanup. The same goes for any bunny you happen to bring home.

These are not animals you can stick in a cage, leave in the basement, or put out in the garage and forget about. Rabbits require vaccinations and vet checkups, objects to chew and scratch, areas to run free, and a clean living space. The last is quite challenging, as rabbits tend to produce more waste because of their inefficient digestive system.

Rabbits can be litterbox trained, but it takes much more work, patience, and dedication. As far as having a chicken roam about the house, between the feathers being shed and eggs being laid and waste being dropped, these animals are notorious for being carriers of salmonella.

The cost is also something that the prospective guardian needs to be aware of, especially in this economy. Many people would believe that it is cheaper to keep a rabbit or a chick, but according to the ASPCA, the yearly cost of a rabbit ($1,055) is just slightly cheaper than that of a small dog and actually a bit more than that required to care for a cat. For a chicken, there must be a coop with the proper bedding. For most people, that cost alone would be far more than originally expected, as it could range anywhere between $300 and $2,000.

All of these factors need to be taken into account before you surprise your child with that fuzzy ball of cuteness. No one is denying the fact that they are cute or saying that a person should not adopt a rabbit or a chick. They can make great pets if under the supervision and care of well-informed people. However, this is simply advocating for responsible decision-making based on a thought process where all of the information has been taken into consideration.

Remember that these are not stuffed animals. These are living, breathing creatures who look to us as the provider when we decide to take them home. We become their source for food, water, shelter, and companionship. Their lives are in our hands, and that is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly or undertaken without a great deal of thought behind it.

For more information about rabbit and chick guardianship, you can visit HumaneSociety.org. — Brendan Quealy


Mutt Madness

In Animal News on March 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Here's where I live!

Did little Hiccup get jealous when you sat down to take the 2010 census? Does she too wish to fill out that glorious form informing the government of her ethnicity and whereabouts? Well, Hiccup’s day has come. The 2010 Mutt Census gives the country’s some 38 million mixed-breed dogs a chance to be counted, just like their human counterparts.

The census is conducted by Mars Veterinary, the makers of Wisdom Panel Insights, an easy to use cheek swab test to determine a dog’s ancestry.

So far 13,617 mutts have been counted, and we don’t want little Hiccup to feel left out. To register your dog in the 2010 Mutt Census, head over to MuttCensus.com. Guardians can input the breed, age, size, and whether the dog is adopted or not. Other fun questions include: Where does your dog sleep at night? Who walks the dog most of the time? And do you regard your dog as a member of your family? You can also upload a picture of your pooch to the website.

The best part of the Mutt Census is the interactive U.S. map, which allows you to check out the results for each state, including most popular and most unique breed.

Registering your mutt can win you prizes as well. The grand prize is a Mars Petcare package with a retail value of $100, and weekly winners will receive a bag of Greenies dental chews valued at $10. —Sarah Hyde

Still willing to spend on our pets

In Animal News on March 29, 2010 at 8:49 pm

The one common subject that everyone in America can talk about is the current state of our economy. Complete strangers can easily relate because of people they know who have been laid off from their jobs, hardships they have faced, or cutbacks they have made.

Oddly enough, one of the few areas in which people do not seem to be tightening their purse strings is when it comes to their pet. With both Petco and Petsmart seeing consumer spending increase at a rate above 4 percent, it looks as though people are cutting back on their personal necessities and luxuries before sacrificing their pets’ needs.

In a recently released poll, which combined data gathered from more than 1 million people along with consumer spending habit statistics, Mint.com broke down the average pet guardian’s expenses throughout the year. The canine is still king, as more than 38 percent of Americans have a dog roaming the house, with the furry feline coming in second at just a shade less than 34 percent. Fish, birds, rabbits, hamsters, lizards, and others make up the final percentage, and each guardian is dropping an average of $120 every month on their pets.

With a willingness to spend $1,445 every year on our pets, why is it that we spend seemingly without restraint on our beloved animals? For most it is easy. The money spent is a small price to pay in comparison to the joy we get back. We are rewarded with wagging tails when we bring home a new toy or even walk through the front door. Our laps are kept warm after dinner as we sit on the couch and our houses are protected with barks, yaps, and hisses while we are away.

But the most important gift our pets offer is simple companionship and acceptance. In the survey, 94 percent said that their pet makes them smile more than once a day. That is quite an accomplishment, considering the fact that it seems worrying has become our national pastime.

Food, toys, veterinary care, and everything in between are seen as no cost to pet guardians across the country, but some are still forced to make the tough choice between providing for their pet or giving Fido up to allow someone more capable to provide. Many pets are taken back, given to shelters, or just abandoned, and if we can spare enough to spend on our dogs and cats, maybe we should set aside some money every month to help those who are not as lucky as our pets. —Brendan Quealy

Pet Pic of the Day

In Animal News on March 29, 2010 at 4:33 pm

“Miaow, miaw, MIAOW!!” by Cheyberpunk {bAd cOnnectiOn!}

Want your pet’s mug to be our pic of the day? Join our flickr photo group and upload your images.

Wacky Pet Products

In Animal News on March 22, 2010 at 9:35 pm

“Let’s face it. You and your pet don’t share the same taste in music. That’s why TechnoPetz created iFeast, the portable pet feeding/watering system for your mp3 player. Meal time will never be the same for you pet with iFeast.”

No, this is not an actual product. The iFeast is parody created by The Onion, a satirical news website and publication, but the parody is not far off from some of the real products that pet owners can buy.

The Dog-O-Matic washer enables you to place your dog in a giant contraption that resembles an oversized microwave, close the door, choose your setting and press start. The only thing a dog loves more than a bath is being trapped in a small space, away from his owner while being deluged with soap and water. I’m fairly certain this is the canine equivalent of waterboarding.

One product that is clearly only geared towards male dogs are Neuticles, the synthetic canine testicular implants. Of course! How could we have gone this long without realizing that dogs need to have those rocks swinging between their legs to feel like a “real man?” For only $73, your pal Fido can be licking away like there’s no tomorrow on these fake, unnecessary misshapen balls of silicone.

If you’re not worrying about your dog’s testicles, you’re probably dreading that awful moment when you have to pick up after your dog has “made.” Problem solved. With the PooTrap or Magic Poop Collector, you’ll never have to worry about it again.  Unless of course you count attaching the difficult, 6-strap harness to your unwilling dog and then attaching the bag to the flimsy hooks, followed of course by bag removal after your precious pooch has filled said bag. Seems like a snap to me.

My personal favorite has to be the Doggone Thong, brought to you by Flat-D Innovations. No, unfortunately its purposes are not style related. The Doggone Thong is used to provide “flatulence odor control.” The thong attaches above the hips and then the tail is pulled through an odor-reducing sheet and finally the sheet is attached under the stomach to the hip band. No comment.

All of these products are real, and all should be subject to the Geneva Convention for animals. They are absurd, but provide some great entertainment, especially if you happen upon the infomercials late at night.

It seems as if the iFeast doesn’t look so ridiculous now. —Brendan Quealy

TAILS is on Rosie O’Donnell’s blog!

In Just for Fun, Tails Press on March 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Rosie O’Donnell’s new radio show on SiriusXM has quickly become my “go-to” show when I am getting ready in the morning. I find her views on everything from politics to social media, and life in general are interesting and entertaining. In addition, having 4 kids of my own, I definitely relate to her commentary on her own life with a houseful of kids, and what challenges and adventures she goes through on a daily basis. Last week I had the opportunity to call in and chat with Rosie–and it was oddly normal! It felt as if I was just talking to an old friend about marriage and other issues (the topic at hand.)

As our conversation wrapped up, and after she rewarded me with a dozen delicious Crumbs cupcakes, I mentioned how happy I was that she had a rescued dog, and let her know that we’d love to have her and her animals on the cover. She told me she’d check us out, and true to her word, she did. She went as far as to include TAILS in the wrap up of her show, and put a link to the magazine up on her website.

We are extremely proud that she enjoyed the magazine enough to include us, and we do hope to be able to bring you more about Rosie and her pets in an upcoming issue!

Check out Rosie’s blog for yourself!

Janice Brown, Founder

Ask Congress to Make Pet Stores Transparent in Illinois

In Animal News on March 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm

The Illinois Pet Disclosure Bills, SB 3594 and HB 5772, urgently need your support.

Please do your part to keep pet stores in Illinois accountable by contacting the following congress people, giving your name and city, and expressing your support for the Pet Disclosure Bill:

Representative Brandon W. Phelps (D), 118th District: (217) 782-5131

Representative Patrick J. Verschoore (D), 72nd District: (217) 782-5970

Representative Jim Sacia (R), 89th District: (217) 782-8186

Representative John D. Cavaletto (R), 107th District: (217) 782-0066

Representative Shane Cultra (R), 105th District: (217) 558-1039

Representative Lisa M. Dugan (D), 79th District: (217) 782-5981

Representative Robert F. Flider (D), 101st District: (217) 782-8398, r@repflider.com

Representative Mary E. Flowers (D), 31st District: (217) 782-4207, e@ilga.gov

Representative Julie Hamos (D), 18th District: (217) 782-8052

Representative Donald L. Moffitt (R), 74th District: (217) 782-8032, t@grics.net

Representative Richard P. Myers (R), 94th District: (217) 782-0416, s@macomb.com

Representative David Reis (R), 108th District: (217) 782-2087, d@davidreis.org

Representative Dan Reitz (D), 116th District: (217) 782-1018, z@egyptian.net

Susana A. Mendoza (D), 1st District: (217) 782-7752, staterepmendoza@gmail.com

DeGeneres Teams Up with U.S. Postal Service for Stamps to the Rescue

In Animal News on March 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Stamps to the Rescue

Ellen DeGeneres has had some of the biggest stars and most influential people on her daytime talk show, from George Clooney and Meryl Streep to President Barack Obama. On the Ellen DeGeneres Show today, she hosts a national heavy hitter who isn’t on the program just make headlines, but he’s there to invite everyone in the country to participate in his pet project—literally.

U.S. Postmaster General John E. Potter appears on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today to unveil Stamps to the Rescue, a social awareness initiative featuring “Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet” commemorative postage stamps, produced by the United States Postal Service. These 10 new stamps advocate for the adoption of rescue and shelter animals around the country and feature individual images of five cats and five dogs adopted from a shelter in New Milford, CT. The stamps will be available for purchase for a year at the post office beginning April 30.

DeGeneres, a staunch animal rights activist, will continue to play an integral role in the Stamps to the Rescue campaign by donating 1 million servings of Halo Purely for Pets Spot’s Stew to animals waiting to be adopted in shelters and rescues. Ellen is co-owner of Halo, an organic and holistic pet product company.

DeGeneres has publicly noted, “This is a subject that I am extremely passionate about. By working together, we can find good homes for millions of adoptable, homeless, and abandoned pets. And until they get adopted, I’m happy to say that Halo and I are giving 1 million meals to shelter pets waiting for you.”

On April 30, DeGeneres and Potter will host a kick-off dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. PST for the Stamps to the Rescue campaign at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, CA. The public is invited to attend this free event.

Approximately 300 million animal rescue stamps are slated to be printed. If 150 million are sold by May 30, the stamps will be reprinted. And even though the stamps won’t be available for purchase from the Post Office until April 30, they are available now for pre-order. For more information, visit USPS.com/shop or StampsToTheRescue.com or call (800) 782-6724. –Brendan Quealy

Pet Pic of the Day

In Animal News on March 17, 2010 at 2:55 pm

“Look Who Came Back!” by Lucyrk in LA

Want your pet’s mug to be our pic of the day? Join our flickr photo group and upload your images.

Book review: Inside of a Dog–What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz (Scribner)

In Animal News on March 15, 2010 at 7:51 pm

As dog lovers, we constantly try to decipher the goings-on behind the eyes of that cute, furry head staring up at us. We wonder during walks when their heads turn at a noise we didn’t hear, at night when they bark at what appears to be nothing, and when they are dreaming.

Alexandra Horowitz, a professor of psychology at Columbia University’s Barnard College uses her degrees in philosophy and cognitive science to help bring understanding to these and countless other canine-related queries in her book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.

While it may take you a while to finish this book, as it is not a page-turning psychological thriller, its descent into the psyche of a dog is unmatched to date. Horowitz breaks down dogs from every possible facet—from what they learn from using their vomeronasal nose to the simple greeting that occurs when the caretaker returns home.

Throughout, Horowitz points out that dogs have rarely been put under the proverbial microscope as most of their daily activities are taken for granted. As readers we gain an understanding that makes us look differently at the body position, breathing pattern, and eye movements of our dogs. We notice things we so often overlook.

For a year, Horowitz observed dogs in play mode, and dedicates part of the book to that research. She gathered thousands of hours of footage at dog parks and proceeded to break down every second frame-by-frame in order to catch the nonverbal signals communicated between dogs.

From the well known “play bow” to the very subtle “head nod” between dogs familiar with each other, Horowitz describes how the dizzying blur of two dogs at play is more of a choreographed and careful dance than we might suspect. We learn how this dance works when Horowitz shows us the differences between our senses and the dog’s.

From our sight to our sense of smell, which only uses 2 to 3 million olfactory receptors (about 100 times less than our canine counterpart), we do not experience the world in the same way a dog does. Even our sense of the environment is different. We may claim to feel tension, but dogs, Horowitz claims, can smell it in the air and are aware of its presence before it pops up causing an awkward silence.

Horowitz draws these conclusions by starting from the beginning. She looks at how the early domestication of the wolf became the ancestor of the pets we know today. How some of the rituals that we see as cute and endearing, such as “doggy kisses,” are quite primitive and instinctual.

We are reminded that the animal before us is just that: an animal. Horowitz explains that through numerous rounds of anthropomorphism, of assigning certain human qualities to our dogs and dressing them up in sweaters and raincoats, we have lost touch with the fact that this is an animal whose wants and needs do not always transform to ours.

“It is not they who desire to talk, but cannot,” says Horowitz, “it is that we desire them to talk and cannot make out, or cannot be bothered to make out, what they are actually saying.”

Well, Horowitz seems to be taking the time to try to make out what they are saying as she begins work with her Dog Cognition lab. By studying barks, whimpers and growls, Horowitz and her team at Columbia have set out to determine the “communicative function of these intra-Canid vocalizations.” The plan is to extend these findings to human-dog interaction with the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the relationship.

Horowitz has already done a fine job of that with Inside of a Dog, but there is little sense in stopping when there is so much ground to break. —Brendan Quealy