Are you considering a new pet for Christmas?

This is a popular time of year for animals purchases and adoptions. While I don’t want to discourage animal adoptions, I feel anyone considering giving an animal as a gift this holiday should evaluate the situation before proceeding further. Sadly, many animals given as gifts end up in shelters at the start of the new year. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Does the recipient want an animal? While a new puppy sounds like a nice surprise, it isn’t fair to either the animal or the person to expect someone who did not ask for a new dog to be prepared to take care of it.
  2. Is the recipient prepared for the responsibility? Kids are notorious for asking for a new cat or dog for Christmas, but are they prepared to take on the responsibility of a pet? If not, are you THE PARENT ready to take on the responsibility of a new animal?
  3. Does the recipient have enough time, money, and energy to care for this pet? Regardless of whether a person wants and feels they are ready for an animal, do you truly think the person’s lifestyle will allow for this animal?
  4. Is this the right animal for the recipient? Selecting a new animal should not be done on impulse. Often, it takes quite a bit of time to find the right animal for a certain person, household, or family. Plus, many people would probably prefer to select their own pet based on certain criteria.

Remember, many animals such as dogs or cats are going to be around for 13 or more years! They are not like toys that kids can just tire of and throw in the back of their closets. Even smaller animals such as gheckos, lizards, and birds can be around for a long time. Also, many animals require special habitats and accessories that you will have to buy, such as heat lamps, special food, etc. Even most fish cannot be put in a simply glass bowl! So please think long and hard about giving an animal as a gift this Christmas. If you have considered these things and have decided to give an animal this Christmas, please consider adopting. There are millions of animals in shelters that would love a home for Christmas (not just dogs & cats, but lizards, birds, rabbits, and more!)

Keep your furry friends safe this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family. For many of us, pets are part of our family and we want them to share in the festivties; however, Thanksgiving can pose some extra risks to our furry and feathered companions. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that both you and your animal friends have a fun, happy Thanksgiving.

  • Thanksgiving meals often occur earlier in the day. If it is close enough to your pet’s normal feeding time, feed him/her their normal meal before guests arrive. If guests will be arriving too early, feed your pet at his/her normal feeding time. Animals do better with a routine and this will also help cut back on their begging or stealing.
  • If you are going to share some of your holiday meal with your dog or cat, give them a small portion of plain turkey. Ensure there are NO BONES. Bones can cause choking and/or splinter and injure your pet, and/or get lodged in her or her stomach/intestines. Rich, fatty foods such as turkey skin, ham, mashed potatoes, butter, and gravy can upset your pet’s stomach. Bread can cause discomfort and bloat. Onions and garlic are poisonous to dogs.
  • Do not feed your animal chocolate; it can be fatal. Sugar and sweets are also unhealthy, as they can cause kidney failure in dogs and are difficult for animals to digest. Ensure that all sweets are out of your animal’s reach.
  • Make sure all aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, toothpicks, skewers, and string. Animals like to play with these materials, especially when covered with food, but they pose fatal risks. Also, cover or enclose your trashcan well. Cats and dogs can be notorious food hounds and you wouldn’t want them finding a turkey bone in the trash and choking on it.
  • Inform your guests. Ask them to not feed the animals table scraps. Also, notify them about whether or not your animal is allowed outside. Make sure they know to close to door behind themselves.
  • It is a good idea to not allow your cats outside on Thanksgiving, even if you allow them out at other times. One reason is because many people have guests over, meaning there are a lot of cars coming and going. This puts your cat in extra danger of being hit. Also, during winter cats like to crawl up inside cars or tire wells, which can often be fatal. (It is best to keep cats indoors all winter for this reason.)
  • If applicable, ensure your pet has current ID tags incase they slip out the door.
  • Give your pet a chance to relax away from guests. Put them in another room where they can de-stress and take a nap. A walk with you canine buddy is also a good idea. Animals can become overly excited or even stressed out with all the guests and commotion.
  • Do not forget about your pet’s needs. It is easy to get caught up in the festivities and guests, but make sure to check on your pet, give him/her attention, and ensure they have fresh clean water.
  • If you’re traveling, don’t wait until the last minute to make arrangements for your pet. If you are leaving your pet at home, make sure you have a pet sitter or a reservation at a boarding facility/your vet lined up. If travelling with your pet, do not wait until the last minute to pack all of your pet’s necessities. Write a list and double check it.
  • Do not take dogs to Thanksgiving Day parades. The crowds can be overwhelming for dogs and cause them to panic or stress out. This increases their chances of accidentally getting lost in the crowd.
Information from HERE and HERE.

10 Ways to Save Money on Vet Care

I’m sure many of us are feeling the money pinch from the struggling economy these days. We try to cut corners where we can, but who wants to “cut corners” when it comes to their pet’s healthcare? Well, I have some tips from Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, and Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, ASPCA Executive Vice President and Science Advisor that will help eliviate the worry of high-cost vet care and save you money on vet bills further down the road, without cutting corners or putting your animal’s health in jeopardy.

Schedule Regular Check-Ups
Remember the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Well, it applies to pets, too. Don’t skip your pet’s yearly exam. It’s much more expensive—and risky—to treat illnesses than to protect against them.

Personalize Your Pet’s Vaccines
Hard times are not an excuse to skip your pet’s annual shots, but it does make sense to talk to your vet about personalizing your pet’s vaccine protocol. Some vaccines are optional, while others are essential in preventing serious diseases.

Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Spaying or neutering your pet can save a lot of money by preventing serious health problems including uterine, ovarian and testicular cancer. Many local shelters provide resources for low-cost or no-cost spay/neuter surgeries. Visit our online database to find a low-cost program in your area. If you live in New York City, check out our mobile clinic.

Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Dental disease—such as tartar, gingivitis, loose or infected teeth—can lead to heart and kidney problems and expensive procedures. Start a daily dental routine to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy.

Protect Your Pet from Parasites
Flea and tick infestations can cause a host of costly medical problems from minor skin irritations to life-threatening anemia. Stick with a topical flea and tick solution to keep the critters at bay.

Toss the Cigarettes
Secondhand smoke is no joke for pets—it can cause asthma, bronchitis, lymphoma and oral, nasal and lung cancers. Quit now and you’ll save money on vet bills. At the very least, avoid smoking around your pet.

See a Specialist
Pet parents can reduce costs by getting a pet’s condition diagnosed and treated by an expert as quickly as possible. Veterinary specialists are available for everything from skin disease to cancer, and will often work within your budget.

Consider Pet Health Insurance
If the cost of an emergency vet visit or serious illness would be a financial strain, consider investing in pet health insurance, while your pet is healthy. Be sure to read the fine print, though—not all plans are created equal.

Buy High-Quality Pet Food
A good quality pet food—formulated under the guidelines of the American Association of Feed Control Officials—is often more cost effective than a homemade diet. Avoid overfeeding your pet, which can lead to obesity and other health problems.

Shop Smart
Whether he’s looking for pet food, medicine or grooming supplies, the smart shopper clips coupons and buys in bulk. It’s also a good idea to shop veterinary practices by comparing fees for preventative care.

Information taken from ASPCA website.

Petland pet store chain officially linked to puppy mills!

After an eight-month investigation, the Humane Society of the United States accused Petland, the national pet store chain, of selling dogs bred under appalling conditions at puppy mills around the country.

The animal protection group made the charges at a news conference in Washington Thursday. The investigation involved 21 Petland stores and dozens of breeders and brokers. The Petland stores are being supplied by large-scale puppy mills, although customers are routinely informed that the dogs come only from good breeders, the Humane Society said.

“They are buying from puppy mills where these dogs are not treated like pets,” Michael Markarian, an executive vice president with the Humane Society, told a news conference. “They’re treated like a cash crop, where mother dogs live in wire cages, sometimes stacked on top of each other in filthy, dirty, cramped conditions, where they receive little socialization or human interaction or exercise.”

Dogs from puppy mills are sold at Petland stores for as much as $3,500 each, according to the Humane Society.

Investigators reviewed interstate import records of an additional 322 breeders, U.S. Department of Agriculture reports and more than 17,000 individual puppies linked to Petland stores, according to a release on the group’s Web site.

Filthy cages, inadequate care
Among the abuses cited, investigators found puppies in commercial breeders “living in filthy cages reeking of urine, with inadequate care and socialization,” according to the release. The Humane Society says dogs at the mills were found in cages with wire flooring so large that the puppies’ paws and even the paws of the mother dogs would fall through.

The group said pet stores should not be buying puppies from “abusive puppy mills” and “should not be lying to consumers” about where they get their puppies.

A call to Petland corporate offices in Chillicothe, Ohio, was not immediately returned. In a statement, Petland said the company does not support substandard breeding facilities and provides each store with guidelines on humane care of animals.

A statement on the company’s Web sitenoted that “Petland stores are independently operated by qualified franchisees. Each is responsible for choosing healthy pets offered to Petland customers. Petland, Inc. provides each Petland store with humane care guidelines to assist in this important task.”

Individual Petland stores previously have been targeted by animal rights activists for reselling puppies supplied by commercial breeders.

Large commercial breeders are legal and regulated by the USDA, but enforcement of humane conditions is a low priority, according to a recent report on msnbc.com.

The Humane Society investigation comes as legislators recently have stepped up moves to crack down on the lucrative puppy mill industry. In October, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell signed a bill imposing stricter standards on commercial kennels, including regular veterinary exams, larger cages and exercise areas. At least three other states have issued laws this year placing restrictions on commercial breeders.

Story by Jane Weaver. Take from msnbc.com

Unfortunately, it is almost certain that this is not the only pet store chain doing this. It’s also important to remember that it is not only dogs that are being bought from animal mills with unsanitary and cruel conditions. Small companion animals such as hamsters, rabbits, and birds are bred by large animal supply companies and sold to pet chain stores. These animals are kept in filthy, cramped cages, interbred, not given medical care, and generally not allowed to live the normal life intended for them. There is video footage of these supply companies and their inhumane practices, including footage of a male rabbits being neutered with a rusty knife and without any form of anesthetic. It’s important to not turn our backs on these animals at these pet stores, but to fight to end the existence of such establishments and the breeding companies. If possible, shop at your local independent pet store that practices humane business.

Adopt A Turkey, Don’t Eat One!

November is Adopt-A-Turkey month, and rightly so. Close to 50 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving in the U.S.

The nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, Farm Sanctuary, is asking that compassionate consumers adopt a turkey this year in one of two ways:

(1) Sponsor “adopt” a turkey living at Farm Sanctuary’s Watkins Glen, New York, or Orland, California, shelters. For a one-time adoption fee of $20, sponsors receive a color photograph of their turkey, an adoption certificate and a year subscription to Farm Sanctuary’s quarterly newsletter. This sponsorship provides funds for feed, bedding and veterinary care for the turkeys and helps Farm Sanctuary encourage millions of people to celebrate a compassionate Thanksgiving for all.

(2) Home adopt and provide a safe, loving and permanent home for two or more turkeys. Individuals interested in adopting turkeys as companions must complete an adoption application. If approved, adopters will be placed on Farm Sanctuary’s Turkey Express schedule.

Every year, nearly 300 million turkeys are raised and slaughtered in the United States – 45 million alone for Thanksgiving. Most are slaughtered at only five months old, when male turkeys (toms) weigh a massive 25 to 32 pounds and females weigh 15 to 18 pounds. To meet consumer demand for white meat, commercial turkeys have been bred to have abnormally large breasts. As a result, the birds can not reproduce naturally, and the industry now relies on forced artificial insemination as the sole means of reproduction. In addition, most factory-farmed turkeys, comprising the vast majority of turkeys raised for holiday dinners, have their beaks and toes amputated, because they are allotted only three square-feet to live out their lives.

You can visit the Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey Project Click WEBSITEto learn more about sponsoring or adopting a turkey, see photos of rescued turkeys living at the sanctuary, read Alicia Silverstone’s secrets to a humane holiday, find cruelty-free holiday recipes, take a glimpse inside a turkey breeding facility, and learn how to take action against the inhumane treatment of turkeys.

Remember, even if you are going to eat a turkey this holiday season, you can still sponsor a turkey. In fact, I would feel more compelled to sponsor a turkey if I knew I was also going to be eating one.

World Kindness Day – How to help an injured, lost, or abandoned animal.

November 13th is World Kindness Day. To help promote this for the animal kingdom, I have decided to post a helpful guide on what to do if you find an injured, abandoned, or lost animal and a quick checklist for your very own animal rescue kit!

How many times have you seen a stray or injured animal along the roadside and driven by like everyone else? Do you think something like, “Somebody else will help it.” The truth is that most people will simply drive by thinking the same thing. If you won’t help that animal, than who will? It is important to remember that lost, abandoned, and injured animals often cannot fend for themselves. You should also keep in mind that that animal might be somebody’s pet. Wouldn’t you want somebody to stop and help if it was your cat or dog? So, I beg you to stop and help an animal in need next time you see one, in the spirit of world kindness.

 

Prepare an animal rescue kit for your car! Why not be prepared ahead of time. I promise it will eventually come in handy. You should keep these things in your car at all times.

  • Cell phone
  • Phone number for local animal control
  • Phone number for local animal protective league/ASPCA, etc.
  • Phone number for local shelter/rescue (such as your local Humane Society)
  • Phone number and directions to nearest 24 emergency vet
  • Cat carrier or cardboard box (cheap cardboard cat carriers can be purchased at many places)
  • Collars (a small one for cats & one for dogs that adjusts to a wide range of sizes-can be inexpensively purchased at discount stores or during sales)
  • Leash (one heavy enough to hold a dog, but don’t be afraid to use it on cats!)
  • Heavy blanket and towels (can use old towels from home)
  • Bottle of clean water
  • Bowls (inexpensive plastic bowls that can be used for food/water)
  • Strong-smelling foods, such as canned tuna or dried liver
  • Animal first aid kit (can make your own- gauze rolls, adhesive/first aid tape, hydrogen peroxide, antiseptic cream, tweezers, scissors)

 

If you see an injured domestic animal…

These are steps you can take even if you don’t have any of the above materials. Although, it is smart to at least program the animal control, emergency vet, protective league, and shelter phone numbers into your cell phone or write them down.

  • Ensure your own safety. -Be sure you can safely get to the animal without injuring yourself. If in a car, pull off the road and put on your hazard lights. Do not rush the animal or touch it right away. Move slowly to make sure the animal is not going to bite or hurt you. Do not risk being bit. Remember, an animal may snap at you, but this does not mean it is aggressive or does not want/need help.
  • Ensure the safety of the animal. –Do not swiftly approach the animal. If in a car, exit the car slowly and do not slam the door. A scared animal can act in unpredictable ways. It could get scared and bolt onto a busy road or into a wooded area where you cannot help it. Also, so not administer anything to the animal if it is injured and you are not sure what is wrong with it. Only move an injured animal if you must do so to prevent it from being further injured.
  • If possible, restrain the animal. – Create a barrier with something to try to keep the animal confined. If the animal is uninjured and is friendly, try to persuade it into your car where it will at least be safe from running off and being hit. This is where a leash, collars, carriers, or a box would come in handy.
  • Speak softly to the animal. – Speak calmly while approaching the animal. Make sure the animal can see you at all times. Try to entice the animal with strong smelling food if you have any with you. Do not feed the animal chocolate, as it is toxic to many animals.
  • Try to lure the animal into your car. – If you’re in a car when you spot the animal, try to lure it into your car with food or simply by calling it. Many lost dogs will hop into a car if invited! You should only do this if you are sure someone will be there to get the animal relatively soon. It is not advised that you drive in the car with an unfamiliar animal because they may become frantic and injure you or themselves. If you can restrain the animal or put it in a carrier, it is probably safe to drive with it. Animal control can take a LONG time to show up, and sometimes injured animals don’t have that long and require immediate care.
  • Call the local police/animal control/animal protective league. – You will have to research what groups physically come pick up animals in your area. I recommend an animal protective league if possible. Contact animal control even if you are taking the animal into your care that way they can see if it is a pet that has been reported missing.
  • Take the animal to the nearest shelter/rescue/emergency vet. – If an animal is severely sick or injured, you should take it to the vet immediately, if possible. This is if you can constrain the animal or if he/she is in no condition to move. Be warned that a vet will often expect you to pay the medical bills. Many vets offer a Good Samaritan discount. Check with vets in your area to see if any allow you to bring injured animals in for free. If the animal cannot be saved, most vets will humanely euthanize the animal for free. If you cannot get to the vet, take the animal to the nearest shelter.
  • Understand the limits of the local animal control agency. – If an animal is injured, many animal agencies don’t have the funds and resources to treat that animal. The animal will be euthanized to prevent it from suffering any longer. Also, animal control can take many hours to respond to a call. If it is possible for you to take it to a vet or a local Humane Society where the animal might have better chances, please do so. If there is nothing you can do, please do not let the animal suffer. Call your local animal control agency to come get the animal and in the meantime cover the animal up with a blanket, towel, or whatever you might have and stay with it.

 

If you see an injured/orphaned/in danger wild animal…

  • First, decide whether you should help or not. There are many cases in which a wild animal will not survive    without human intervention. In other cases, human involvement could make the situation even worse.
  •         If an animal is injured, immediate action should be taken, but remember, an injured animal is prone to aggression. So seeking the help of a professional – animal control or a wildlife rehabilitator – is ideal in these situations. If you absolutely must handle an injured animal, do so using extreme caution and take protective measures, such as wearing thick leather gloves.
  •             In the case of a baby animal that appears to be alone, do not act immediately unless the baby is obviously injured or in immediate danger from predation, traffic, etc. Many wild animals allow their young to roam relatively freely, while mom or dad looks on from a distance.
  •            If a wild mother is injured or killed and cannot care for her young, the babies will often leave the nest or den in seek of food. Crying and vocalizing is a common behavior in young wild animals who are hungry and who are without the care of their mother. This is a case where immediate intervention is necessary.
  •           If a baby bird or squirrel has fallen from the nest in a tree or other tall structure, there’s a good chance the animal is injured. If the mother does not retrieve the baby within an hour or two, humans should intervene. Intervention should occur sooner if the baby is obviously injured or crying.
  •          As a general rule, young animals are less likely to act aggressively toward humans. Adults are often more prone to acting in an aggressive manner. And an injured animal – even an animal who is normally docile – can exhibit signs of aggression when injured. All wild animals should be handled with caution.
  •           If you decide to intervene and care for a wild orphan, contacting a wildlife rehabilitation facility is the first priority, as many orphans are in need of veterinary attention and specialized care if they are to survive. If no rehabilitators are available in your area, contact veterinarians to seek assistance for your orphan. Many veterinarians can also provide referrals to veterinarians who specialize in wildlife.
  •           An injured wild animal must be placed in a secure cage or box to help prevent further injury to the animal and its human caretakers. Get the animal to a qualified veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator immediately and limit direct contact with the animal in order to avoid unnecessary stress and fear.

Where to Find Help

It is recommended that you research who to contact in a wildlife animal situation and keep that contact info with you. There are many qualified individuals who can help an injured animal in need. Consider seeking help from one of the following agencies:

·                       A local Animal Control Officer (usually affiliated with the local fire or police department)

·                       The Animal Rescue League or other similar animal welfare organization

·                       A State Wildlife Agency (in the U.S.)

·                       A Veterinary School or University in your area

·                       A local veterinarian (if they are not equipped to assist you, most can refer you to someone else who     is qualified to handle a wildlife emergency)

A Wildlife Rehabilitator

Resources: HERE and HERE .

Wishbones for Pets Month!

Professional pet sitters from around the country and Canada will be offering a pet supply and fund drive approximately six weeks prior to Thanksgiving with all the proceeds going to their favorite pet related charity in your community.

Traditionally there are food drives for people during the holiday season. It’s only natural pet sitters want to help pets that need a forever home. Many pet sitters will be asking for donations or pet goods to help a local charity of their choice There will be drop boxes at local business establishments who have agreed to sponsor this event. Look for ads and signs promoting it!

Wishbones for Pets will be to pet sitters what Toys for Tots is to the Marines! 

There are many pet lovers that would like to help animals in need.  Sometimes they just need a little leadership, example and organization.  As pet sitters we can make a difference and Wishbones for Pets can help you. Click the banner below if you are a pet sitter and would like to run an official Wishbones for Pets drive:


If you’re a pet lover, shelter worker, or rescue volunteer and would like a Wishbones for Pets drive for your shelter, contact a local pet sitter and tell them to get involved! You can only organize an official drive if you are a professional pet sitter. Of course, anyone can run their own animal food drive for the holiday season!

Click HERE to visit the Wishbones for Pets official site!