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!)

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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.

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!

National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week!

Did you know that November 2nd is the start of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week? Well, it is according to the Humane Society of the United States. Created in 1996, the goal of this week is to bring attention to the invaluable roles animal shelters play in communities and in the lives of animals and humans alike.

Here are some tips from AnimalSheltering.org on how to commemorate this week:

  • Want to celebrate with your community but don’t know where to start? Download the Event Planning Guide  and find out how to make the most of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, from tips on hosting an open house to samples of press releases to get your local newspaper involved—and lots of other hints for highlighting your shelter and staff. Then go to animalsheltering.org/sheltersrock for more ideas on how to celebrate this week–and all year long.
  • Give your fans another way to root for your shelter—go to humanesociety.org/sheltersrock to get a web banner supporting local shelters for your homepage. Visitors to your site will be able to download the banner and place it on their own webpage, Myspace or Facebook page to share their support of animal shelters with everyone who visits their page.
  • Get your inspirational fix—read “Day in the Life” essays submitted by shelter staff from around the country. The touching personal stories highlight the day-to-day rewards, difficulties—and humor!—of working with animals.
  • Need more cuteness in your life? Mutts to the rescue! Read Patrick McDonnell’s Shelter Stories strips on the Mutts website. And be sure to check animalsheltering.org/sheltersrock during National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week for Patrick McDonnell’s special Shelter Stories strips!

Here’s a list of things that virtually everyone can do to support their local animal shelter:

1 – Sport a Special Shirt or Tote Bag
Show your support for The HSUS and local animal shelters with an exclusive Shelters Rock t-shirt or tote bag available at all G by GUESS stores, or you can buy the t-shirt online.

2 – Say Thank You
Drop a note of appreciation in the mail or sign our e-card. You can even sign it on Facebook!

3 – Add a Banner to Your Webpage
Post a banner to your MySpace profile, blog, or website to show your appreciation for your local shelter.

4 – Make a Small Donation
Shelters can always use cash, but why not get creative? Donate a year’s subscription to Animal Sheltering Magazine for just $20, or check out your local shelter’s wish list on their website.

5 – Volunteer Your Time
Whether you end up walking pooches or lending your computer skills, shelters can sure use your help! Contact your local shelter to find out how to get involved.

After you’ve decided on how you’re going to support animal shelters, go HERE to sign the HSUS pledge!

This year’s Animal Shelter Appreciation Week theme is “Shelters Rock!” HSUS has teamed with various music artists to spread the word about the important of animal shelters. You can go HERE to find out more about the artists involved and purchase a special Shelters Rock! shirt, proceeds of which go to the HSUS!

*Remember, animal shelters run almost entirely on our donations and volunteer support! Without our help, the animals will have no place to go.

 

World Vegan Day kicks off World Vegan Month!

November 1st is World Vegan Day, which kicks off World Vegan Month! In honor of this celebration, I advise everyone to try to eat/live vegan for at least 1 day. You can visit The Vegan Society’s pledge page to try their 7, 14, or 30 day challenges, get in touch with a mentor, and receive a vegan pledge pack with recipes and more! You can also read Vegan Catering for All, a guide to what is and is not included in a vegan diet and tasty vegan recipes everyone will love.

Top 10 reasons to go vegan:

  1. Lower disease risk. Because heart disease, many types of cancer, diabetes, stroke, food poisoning, and obesity are often caused by the high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal products, vegans have only a fraction of a chance of developing these diseases compared to meat eaters.
  2. Live longer. A major study published in the British Medical Journal found that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by six years. The study tracked 11,125 people over 12 years and adjusted for smoking and socio-economic status.
  3. Compassion. You won’t be supporting an industry that raises animals in cramped, overcrowded spaces, artificially breeds them, separates them from their young, denies them sunlight and fresh air – and then trucks them to slaughter.
  4. Save wilderness. Meat production requires huge amounts of land, energy and water – which leads to habitat loss, soil erosion, water depletion, and pollution from pesticides and animal waste.
  5. For an ocean of love. The oceans are being overfished, coral reefs are being destroyed and sensitive seafloors are getting raked with drag nets. Many species are threatened, including dolphins, seabirds and turtles that get snagged in the nets. Fish feel pain, they just lack vocal chords to express it.
  6. Expand your taste horizons. Vegetarian meals can be diverse, fast, colourful and delicious!
  7. Sex. Research has shown that the heart and brain are not the only organs that get clogged arteries due to a diet high in meat and cholesterol.
  8. No more dirty dishes caked with animal grease!
  9. Great excuse to…avoid everything from Aunt Flo’s hamburger casserole to the latest greasy offer from the fast food chains.
  10. Help the global poor. While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but it’s about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is.

I want to make it known that I am not trying to force everyone to become vegan, which is a common misconception about vegetarians/vegans. I am not 100% vegan myself, but I try my hardest. I never touch meat or fish, but I have the occassional dairy product. I do believe in the vegan diet and ecourage everyone to try it, if for nothing else but the animals’ sakes. I realize it is difficult, so it would even help if everyone were to cut back on their animal product consumption by about half each week.