Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pet-Related Charities

Photo Courtesy of Claire Clayton
In today's economy, every penny counts. Sadly, so many people have not been able to keep their pets because they can't afford to feed their family and the four-legged family member is the one who loses his home to a shelter or, less frequently, to a rescue group.  If they have purchased their pet from a reputable breeder, then the breeder takes the pet back.  It's usually in their contract. No matter the age of the pet at the time, it goes back to the breeder who will either rehome it or keep it.  But what about the shelters?  We know.  They're often overcrowded and they are mostly kill shelters.  There is no new home, just death and overworked volunteers.

There are also people who have a few dollars to spare and want to know which animal related charity is  the "best"place for their hard-earned dollars.  Many are sucked in by expensive television commercials that are sometimes infomercials, produced to tug at the heartstrings and open the wallets of those who can often least afford it, who are on a fixed income but the pictures of sad dogs and kitties calls to them to do something.  

While it's wonderful to donate when you can, where you donate is another matter.  You can look online at sites that monitor charities to see where the money goes but if you do a little reading you can find much more has been exposed in print. For example, did you know that HSUS (Humane Society of The United States) doesn't have shelters? They are mainly a lobbying group and their employees are well paid and have benefits packages we would all enjoy.  ASPCA recently released a video to convince people not to buy a puppy in a pet shop. That's something we can all agree with but the video contains a small child with a dog and nowhere in the video does it show an adult supervising the child with the dog. The child was quite awkward around the dog as one would expect. Before the age of 7 children don't understand that they can inflict pain and must not only be taught "gentle" from the first dog-child interaction but must be supervised very carefully. A bite can happen in a second. If the child inadvertently poke or prods the dog and causes pain, the dog has no choice but to clamp down in pain, the child is bitten and the parents usually get rid of the dog. Others allow their children to maul the dog  or cat and claim the pet is so good with the child. But it's a two-way street. The child has to be good with the pet and it's up to the parents to monitor that. So the ASPCA spent heaven only knows how much money producing a video that is, in my mind, irresponsible because they didn't show an adult supervising the interaction.  When I asked about it I was told they would put a disclaimer at the end of the video.  I have yet to see that. And it's too little, too late. Do I really want to give my money to a large organization with a big staff who produces an irresponsible public service video?  Aren't they supposed to know?  They have behavior people on staff. Weren't they consulted? Then there's PETA who not only have just one shelter but have been documented as killing perfectly healthy young pets. Why?  I guess because they could. They are an Animal Rights group, NOT Animal Welfare and there is a difference.  They also get a lot of money in donations as do HSUS and ASPCA. And there are other big groups as well who have a lot of money.  A little surfing around Google will help you find articles on every organization, along with some facts and figures that might surprise you.
Rescue Vinny owned by Mary Slaney

Where should YOUR money go?  The best donation you can make is to your LOCAL shelter or humane group or rescue group.  If it's small, independent and local, they need help!  They are short on staff and long on needs.  They rely on donations and volunteers. If you can't give money, or can't donate your time, then consider donating paper towels, pet food, toys, and ask them what they can use. There are many ways to help but you and the animals are better served at a grass roots level.  And your donation will be appreciated. It won't go to publicity, or big salaries, or benefits packages.  It will go to help the animals and isn't that the point?  

Please do what you can to help, whatever it is. Anything you can do at the Grass Roots level will be appreciated.  And when those tearjerker commercials come on the TV, change the channel before you find yourself writing a check to a group that already has enough money.  Where do you think those "gifts" are coming from when you donate?  You are paying for that tee shirt, magazine subscription, etc. And that wasn't really what you wanted when you wrote that check. You just wanted to help the dogs and cats, puppies and kittens.  And you really can do that.  In this case it's think locally and act locally.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Heatwave Danger!!!

The East Coast of the United States, parts of Canada and the U.K. are currently experiencing a tremendous heatwave. Here in New England the humidity is unbearably high.  I've written about pet safety earlier this Summer but now, as always, it's imperative that you pay attention. Your pets need to be INDOORS where it's cooler, have plenty of fresh water and be kept safe.  DO NOT leave your pets in the car even for a minute or two or they will die.  At the very least they will suffer heatstroke. 

Please take all precautions.

The nice people at have shared the following infographic with us as a great reminder:

Please be extra careful with your dogs AND cats!  Thank you!!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"If I Should Die Before My Dog_____" Book Review

Cover Image courtesy of
Joe and Cathy Connolly
There are some things we'd rather not consider but they are necessary. One of those things is that even though a dog's life is far shorter in human years, we may not outlive our four-legged companion. Most of us have considered, and certainly should do, adding a codicil to our will, or incorporating it into the original, making arrangements for any pets who might outlive us. You do this by not mentioning the pet by name because you don't know who will be with you at the time of your death, but you specify a person who has agreed to look after any pets who are left when you die. And you might want to specify an amount of money to be conveyed to that person to help defray the cost of food, veterinary visits, etc. to the person who will inherit your companion. 

That's good as far as it goes but it doesn't go far enough. Have you considered what you would want to tell the person who will live with your pet and love and care for him for the rest of his life? (I use the pronoun "he" for expediency. Obviously, your pet may be a she or an assortment of males and/or females.) 

Joe and Cathy Connolly have taken the guesswork out of what we should consider in the way of information with their book, "If I Should Die Before My Dog_____" a soft cover book that is at once instructive and a workbook to be given to your companion's new owner.

Not just covering the basics of Name, Nickname, Medical History, Microchip, Food, etc., this book encompasses so much more.  Joe and Cathy have included things you may not have thought about adding such as Things That Scare Me, Toys and Games, My Bed, My Bad Habits, Words I Know, Riding in the Car and much, much more. It also includes a Thank You.

Image Courtesy of Joe & Cathy
This is an invaluable book, one that you'll not only treasure for the memories that you will preserve but it will be of inestimable help to the person who will cherish your dog after you've gone and help make the transition easier for the new owner and your dog.

The Connolly's are working on a Cat version of the book which will be a most welcome addition for pet owners. Meanwhile, I urge dog owners to give serious consideration to buying this book now and start writing down all of the important facts about your companion.  There's even a place for pictures.  You won't regret it. Among other places, you can buy this book at Amazon:

*Note: This review is my opinion.  I was not compensated but only received a review copy of the book so I could read it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

We all love our pets but sometimes we don't realize how some things we take for granted can be very scary for our pets.

Fourth of July, like many holidays in other countries, are celebrated with fireworks from small to huge displays.  They all share something: LOUD noise.  Some of us aren't fond of fireworks' loud booming but for our dogs and cats it can be absolutely terrifying.  Their hearing is so much more sensitive than ours so it sounds even worse to them and most are scared out of their wits!

While some dogs may tolerate it more than others, those are probably the Sporting (or Gun Dogs) breeds that are trained from puppyhood to get accustomed to the sounds of guns going off so they're not startled during a hunt. For the majority of other pets the sounds are unexpected, painful and scary.

What can you do? First, keep your pets indoors and be sure there's no means of escape.  Many dogs and cats get frightened, run off and are either hit by cars or land in a shelter if they're found. Keep you pets safe and be sure they're microchipped, the microchip is registered and that they also have a tag so you can be reunited with your pet.  There free tags if price is an object. One such place is  They will do a simple tag and that's all you really need. 
This isn't just for dogs, this is for your cat as well. 

And your cat should be wearing a durable, breakaway collar.  Your dog, too, needs either a collar or a harness.                             

It's entirely possible to encourage a conditioned response in your pet.  You can find a recording of fireworks or thunder to help acclimate you pet to the sounds, slowly, and then building on it.

Another thing that's often helpful is a Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap. It snugly fits your pet and makes him feel safe. It works in the short term, not the long term but can be helpful when used for fireworks displays.  

Taking your pet along to fireworks displays is not a very good idea.

Your cat may disappear within the house.  Cats and small dogs are frequently found in the bathroom, hiding behind the toilet. There may be something about plumbing that makes this feel safe, perhaps it mitigates the sound.

Another thing you might try is playing with your dog or cat to distract him. Sometimes just being "normal" can work wonders and reward that calm behavior with a treat.

If you're having a party, be sure food and decorations are out of the way of curious pets.  And all of that commotion may be too much for your pet. In that case, confine your pet to one room with a TV or Radio for company but NOT tuned to a channel covering the 4th of July celebrations!  

With a little careful planning, you can make the holiday tolerable for pets.