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Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Illinois Legislature passes pet store disclosure bill

In Animal News on May 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm

The Illinois state legislature on May 26 unanimously passed the Pet Store Disclosure Bill (H.B. 5772) into law with the efforts of Representatives Susan Mendoza (D- Chicago) and Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston).

The law requires that pet stores display pertinent information about each animal near the cages. That information includes the breeder’s name and address, a record of veterinary conditions, medical treatments performed, and any information concerning congenital defects.

Jordan Matyas, Illinois state director of the Humane Society, called the move an important step. “This law will finally give consumers the information they need to make a decision they’ll feel good about. Pet stores cannot hide if their dogs or cats came from a mill.”

Still, Matyas advises that consumers ask questions and do significant research. “This is a good starting point for consumers,” he says. “You don’t need to buy your pet that day. You can go home and research the breeder before you bring this pet home.”

The passage of this bill is only one of many efforts to stop puppy and kitten mills. A number of cities around the United States, including ones in California and Florida, have already banned the sale of all dogs and cats in pet stores, and a similar national effort is underway.

Tomorrow, May 28, the Humane Society will hold a press conference with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin announcing the introduction of the PUPS Act (Puppy Uniform Protection Statute), which would close a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act that does not subject breeders that sell online and directly to the public to licensing, regulation, and inspection. Other states will introduce companion bills within the next few days.

Read more on the Humane Society’s efforts to stop puppy mills at HumaneSociety.org/PuppyMills. –Brendan Quealy


Pet Pic of the Day

In Pet Pic of the Day on May 27, 2010 at 7:10 pm

“sleeping in …” by Heather Carpenter Costello

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

Breaking the scale: The problem of pet obesity

In Animal News on May 26, 2010 at 9:45 pm

A recent survey of veterinarians conducted by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention showed that 45 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats in the United States fall into the category of obese (30 percent or more above the ideal weight).

It’s not surprising that one of the world’s most obese countries (the U.S is currently third) also has a problem with their pets’ weight. And what causes this weighty issue? Just as with us: too much food and not enough exercise.

Too many of us do not pay attention to what we feed our pets. Some of the less expensive pet foods equate to us eating McDonald’s twice a day.

We also tend to overfeed and hand out treats without a second thought. These “calorie bombs” or “kibble crack,” as some veterinarians and trainers call them, greatly contribute to our pets’ obesity.

To help this problem, low-calorie and diet pet foods are now available at pet stores, and pet friendly gyms are beginning to pop up across the country. This summer, Purina will sponsor a reality show called Project Pet Slim Down.

Keeping our pets at an ideal weight will not only cut back on vet bills, but also help them live a more comfortable, longer, and healthier life. —Brendan Quealy

Stem cells help canine arthritis

In Animal News, Health and Safety on May 24, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Before anybody panics, let it be clear that this new therapy, harms no animals, nor does it involve harvesting them for their stem cells. This is far away from the controversial topic of embryonic stem cell research, as only the animal’s own cells are used.

(photo via canineofmine)

Vet-Stem—a pharmaceutical company that strives to bring regenerative medicine technology to the veterinary profession—developed technology that derives stem cells from fat tissue by processing the tissue to concentrate it and then purifying it, which results in safe and usable stem cells.

More than 2,500 horses have already experienced the treatment, and it has proven very successful in repairing tendon and ligament injuries. Even more encouraging news: No significant side effects were reported in any of those cases.

While the therapy isn’t available everywhere yet, vets around the country are putting it into practice. Vets can harvest a sample of fat tissue, send the tissue to a laboratory in San Diego, CA, and receive the stem cells—ready for injection—in 48 hours.

Dogs or cats that have adverse reactions to anesthesia may want to stay away from this as the animal must be put under to harvest the fat and to inject the stem cells.

We don’t know yet if this research will help pet cancer. —Brendan Quealy

MOMMY TAILS: Why Mom says you should spay/neuter your pets

In Help the Animals on May 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm

As an author for Tails and a pet guardian who would personally love to see an end to the suffering borne of animal overpopulation, I’m not unfamiliar with the benefits of spaying and neutering. I’ve written articles discussing this topic and have even lectured good friends about the health and social perks of the aforementioned medical procedures. Yet there are undeniably HUGE plusses to spaying and neutering that you only truly appreciate once you mix an “un-fixed” dog with three small children.

Isetta Mae Marsico

When we adopted Isetta–our rambunctious Poodle–the shelter assured us that she was spayed. Not being a veterinarian or a professional breeder, however, I didn’t quite know what to look for to reaffirm what I had been told. But shortly after we brought her home, we found out that Isetta was still completely intact in the way of reproductive organs.

I won’t get into all the details, but suffice it to say that I had carpet and upholstery cleaners tackling all of my couches and carpeted rooms. In addition, Isetta had a few other health issues to boot, so corrective surgery wasn’t an immediate option. At the moment, though, my husband and I obviously knew we weren’t going to put our pup into any situations that would promote Poodle reproduction. We therefore assumed it would be okay to wait our predicament out for a bit longer and use doggie diapers to deal with whatever inconveniences we encountered in the interim.

Unfortunately, that assumption didn’t take into account that Isetta has a few interesting habits that dominate our household whenever she goes into heat. For starters, she bolts out the door like an Alcatraz escapee every time the opportunity presents itself. We attempt to be more conscientious about gating her in the kitchen when someone knocks, but that plan has inevitably proved itself faulty.

Case in point: Last summer, my babysitter innocently rang the bell. I had intended to put Isetta in the kitchen before she arrived, but I was caught off guard. As a result, our beloved Poodle whooshed over the threshold, and I found myself sprinting barefoot for approximately three-quarters of a mile. Finally–after displaying to my entire neighborhood that it truly does take women who have just had a baby an incredibly long time to get back into shape–I managed to snag Isetta and bring her home to a welcoming committee made up of a worried babysitter and sobbing children.

But such antics are only one example of the insanity that erupts when our pooch demonstrates that the folks at the shelter weren’t completely accurate in their description of her fertility status. Much to the surprise, awe, and occasional horror of people who frequent our home, Isetta tends to . . . hmm, how shall I delicately put this . . . “mount” whatever moving target wanders into her path. And, in case you’re wondering, that category includes my daughter and two sons.

There’s nothing quite like trying to explain to your 3-year-old’s Early Intervention therapists or your aunt who isn’t crazy about animals that your dog doesn’t actually mean to knock your small child onto the floor or trip your toddler. And, of course, you can’t beat the experience of yelling at your 5-year-old to leave the Poodle alone because her pelvic gyrations have absolutely nothing to do with some adorable canine dance routine. You may have heard of awkward blind date moments, but they in no way compare to uncomfortable play date moments when a herd of preschool girls ask, “Why is the doggie grabbing onto Maria’s waist that way?”

That having been said, Isetta’s health has much improved since we first adopted her. So, we’re back in the proverbial saddle when it comes to pursuing surgery. Not only is it the best thing to do for Isetta; it will ideally re-insert a little calm into all our lives (and possibly spare us a visit from DCFS).

–Katie Marsico has written for Tails since 1999. In addition to contributing feature stories to the magazine, she now writes a weekly blog post for Tattle Tails, giving us a glimpse into her often funny and always chaotic life as mother, pet guardian, and writer.

Pet Pic of the Day

In Pet Pic of the Day on May 24, 2010 at 6:58 pm

“Now, this is the life of a Pug.” by The Rochester Canine Playgroups

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

Florida college now four-legged friendly

In Animal News on May 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Stetson University in Florida has introduced a program to convert one of the residence halls into a pet-friendly dormitory.

The 36 rooms will allow students to bring their dog or cat to college, with some restrictions of course.  Only dogs or cats are allowed, meaning that no exotic animals are permitted, and dogs must be less than 30 pounds. Most importantly, students must be able to provide adequate care and maintain control of their pets.

This is not the first program of its kind, as Stephens College in Missouri created their “Pet Floor” in 2007.  This does signal a change, though, as university administrators are recognizing the importance of the human-pet relationship and how it can help students deal with college life. –Brendan Quealy

Pet proof your yard

In Animal News on May 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm

From planting new flowers and laying out that vegetable patch to getting rid of those pesky weeds and bugs, people are revitalizing lawns and gardens that were dormant during the winter.  However, those with pets need to be extra vigilant about what the backyard will expose dogs or cats to throughout the warmer months.

Pet caretakers should be conscious of every item that is placed in an area where their pet has access.  The type of mulch that is used, the species of flowers that are planted and, of course, the fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides/insecticides that are sprayed or put down all need to be taken into consideration.

Veterinarians recommend staying away from cocoa mulch because it contains theobromine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and seizures.

It is also suggested to keep plants and flowers such as sago palm, rhododendrons, azaleas, lilies, tulips and any others in those families in an area of your yard where you pet will not be able to reach them.  These have been shown to cause respiratory depression, tissue irritation, gastrointestinal bleeding and even organ failure.

Fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides are the most common cause for poisonings and the most dangerous.  These have been known to cause severe internal problems for animals if ingested or if your pet has been exposed to them.  Paraquat, a common weed killer in fertilizer, is known to be lethal to dogs and has even been linked to canine cancer.  Other herbicides have been shown to be a contributing factor to the onset of liver, bladder and lymphatic cancer.

Be sure to wait the appropriate amount of time after any chemical application before allowing your pet back on the grass or near the flowers.

Another important note to remember is that while you may be mindful of what you put on your lawn, others in your neighborhood may not.  Dogs will often lick paws after walking through fertilizer or weed killer, so it is important to thoroughly wash their feet and undersides to avoid contamination after a stroll around the block.

For more information on safe alternatives and other lawn and garden dangers, please visit PetPoisonHelpline.com or ASPCA.org/Pet-Care/Poison-Control. –Brendan Quealy

Animal Planet Investigates: Petland airs tonight

In Animal News on May 17, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Animal Planet will broadcast the newest installment of its quarterly series tonight with Animal Planet Investigates: Petland. This hour-long program exposes viewers to the harsh realities of puppy mills and their connection to Petland, the country’s largest puppy retailer. It airs tonight at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on Animal Planet.

With the assistance of hidden cameras, “Mike,” an undercover investigator for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) unearths that Petland puppies are acquired from breeders operating under questionable conditions—a claim the retailer vehemently denies. In fact, the investigation documents Petland employees claiming that all puppies are obtained from USDA-certified breeders.

The HSUS investigation shows otherwise. Unveiling inhumane practices at numerous breeders, “Mike” captures footage of 140 dogs housed in chicken-wire kennels, filthy water bowls filled with green water and coated with mold, rancid odors of wet dogs, even one breeder’s admission that she kills healthy dogs simply because of their sub-par appearance.

In a recent press release, Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet, states, “In our Animal Planet Investigates specials, we are committed to providing viewers with a raw and unrestricted access to crucial animal issues. It’s our responsibility—however horrifying as it may be—to raise questions about the practice of mass dog breeding and to question whether hard profit is put before the welfare of animals.”

Animal Planet Investigates: Petland is the second installment of the Animal Planet Investigates series. Later this year, the series will continue with Animal Planet Investigates: Gang Dogs. To learn more, visit AnimalPlanet.com. –Megan Bender

MOMMY TAILS: Life, Death, and Rabbit Doo Doo

In Animal News on May 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Surprise, surprise: When I talk, my kids don’t always listen. Since my oldest just turned 5 this past November, it’s hard to know exactly how much of my long-winded lectures on life they absorb. At this juncture, however, I tend to believe that my Beagle-Basset mix demonstrates a higher level of attentiveness when I scold him for rooting through the garbage.

Luckily, that’s where family pets can prove to be far more than fun-loving bundles of fur who romp with the kiddos in the backyard or sleep at the foot of their beds. From our remaining Goldfish to our oldest surviving dog (Bridget, the Chihuahua), each of the animals in our home has taught my children lessons that I couldn’t possibly impart with such efficacy. For starters, there are the biggies. Think issues surrounding life, loss, and death.

Maria, my 5-year-old, was barely 2 when we had to euthanize Buster, our Cairn Terrier, who was suffering from severe neurological deterioration. Buster had been there when we brought Maria home from the hospital, and several of her earliest pictures feature her shaggy-haired guardian. Though she was just a toddler when we put him to sleep, she saw both my husband and myself upset. She witnessed us say our goodbyes before I brought him to the vet’s office, and she watched us comforting each other as we mourned him. It was an extremely difficult time for us, but it also gave us the opportunity to show Maria the value of both an animal’s life and the process of remembering and celebrating it.

Once again, I didn’t initially know how much of an impact this particular event had on our then incredibly young daughter. But this past fall, when Maria was asked to bring in an item for show-and-tell at her preschool, she selected the framed picture she keeps on the dresser in her bedroom that displays Buster in his Halloween costume. Of all her myriad treasures, she numbers this keepsake as one of her most prized.

Of course, being a parent and a pet guardian is not all about nostalgia and lessons that leave a mother’s mascara running. For example, I have learned to impart the importance of personal responsibility using several different tools–rabbit poop not being among the least of them. Before you raise your eyebrows too high, dear readers, allow me to explain. Our bunny Waffles sits in our basement atop a dresser filled with Barbies and My Little Ponies.

One of Maria’s jobs is to help my husband, Carl, clean the rabbit cage on a weekly basis. If either of them lapses in their duties, multiple results stem from their negligence. Perhaps most importantly, Waffles is one unhappy bunny and expresses his dissatisfaction with an unkempt home by kicking poo balls out of his cage. Inevitably, some of these lovely little droppings drop onto unsuspecting plastic dolls and horses–a sad scenario that forces Maria to clean and disinfect the maligned toys (under Daddy’s close supervision, of course). The overall outcome of this cause-and-effect experience forces my daughter to consider the role a pet guardian plays in an animal’s welfare, the significance of personal accountability, and the best methods of shampooing Barbie hair.

From dealing with death to wiping up rabbit doo doo, my children have all gained exposure to real-life subjects and situations that would be challenging for me to otherwise wrap into nice, neat little life lessons. Does having a dog who busts into garbage cans and a rabbit who requires regular manicures add to the general day-to-day stress of being a mommy? Sometimes. Does sharing a home with a wide array of furred, feathered, and finned family members increase the opportunities my little guys (and gal) have to learn about everything from pet care to compassion? Always.

–Katie Marsico has written for Tails since 1999. In addition to contributing feature stories to the magazine, she now writes a weekly blog post for Tattle Tails, giving us a glimpse into her often funny and always chaotic life as mother, pet guardian, and writer.

Baby Maria and her Guard Dog, Buster