April kicks off Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month—but you can’t fight cruelty if you don’t know what it looks like. Recognizing signs of abuse is simple, right? Not quite, say ASPCA experts. Many people interpret an animal’s aggression, fear or timidity as a surefire clue that the animal has suffered cruelty—but looking solely at a pet’s behavior doesn’t tell the whole story.
“It’s almost impossible to make conclusions based on a pet’s behavior alone,” says the ASPCA Animal Behavior Center’s Kristen Collins, CPDT. “The best way to tell whether a pet is being or has been abused is to observe his body and the surrounding environment.”
ASPCA Special Agent Kristi Adams agrees. “The clues I look for when investigating a scene,” says Adams, “are whether the animal is being provided with adequate food, water and shelter, and whether he or she appears injured or sick.”
Check out our complete list of telltale signs that an animal needs help.
Here’s a sneak peek at some physical and environmental signs of animal abuse:
– Collar so tight that it’s caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet’s neck
– Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn’t being treated
– Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible beneath the skin
– Pets are tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water.
– Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them
If you suspect an animal is being abused, don’t keep it to yourself—report it to your local authorities. “Reporting suspected animal cruelty ensures that animals in jeopardy receive prompt and often lifesaving care,” says ASPCA Supervisory Special Investigator Annemarie Lucas. “By making a complaint to the police or humane society in your area—which you can do anonymously—you help ensure that animals in need are rescued and that perpetrators of animal cruelty are brought to justice.”
Please read our Reporting Cruelty FAQ for more information, and have a safe and proactive Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.
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Warm weather and humidity can wreak havoc on a good bag of pet food!
Dry dog and cat foods usually have a one-year “shelf life.” That means the food is “good” for up to one year after the manufacturing date. Many dry foods stamp a “best if used by” date on the package. This applies only to unopened bags. High-quality dog food companies use bags that provide protection from oxygen and moisture. If the bag is intact, not enough oxygen and moisture can migrate into the food in one year to cause significant oxidation or microbial growth problems. Though problems can occur between the manufacture of food and the customer opening the bag, it’s what happens after the bag is opened that we are most concerned with in this article.
What happens after you open the bag of dog food? As soon as you open a bag of food, oxygen, moisture, light, mold spores, storage mites, and other potential spoilers enter the bag.
Oxidation of fats
Oxidized fats may cause cancer and contribute to many chronic health problems in humans. The same is true for dogs.
Dog food companies use antioxidants (sometimes vitamin E and other natural sources) to forestall oxidation. Every time the bag is opened, oxygen enters. Eventually the antioxidants are all oxidized (used up) and some of the fats are damaged, starting with the more fragile omega -3 fatty acids.
Degradation of all micronutrients
Vitamins particularly susceptible to oxidation and damage due to long term room temperature storage include vitamin A, thiamin, most forms of folate, some forms of vitamin B6 (pyridoxal),vitamin C, and pantothenic acid. The nutrition in the food at the bottom of a bag left open 39 days will be considerably less than the nutrition in the top of the bag. Fresh is best.
Molds and mycotoxins
Storing open bags of dry dog food for 39 days in warm, humid areas (most kitchens) promotes the growth of molds. Some of the waste products of these molds (mycotoxins) are increasingly being implicated as long-term causes of cancer and other health problems in humans, poultry, pigs and other animals. Dogs are particularly susceptible to these toxins.
When dry dog foods absorb moisture from the surrounding air, the antimicrobials used by most manufacturers to delay mold growth can be overwhelmed, and mold can grow. The molds that consume dry pet foods include the Aspergillus flavus mold, which produces Aflatoxin B1, the most potent naturally occurring carcinogenic substance known.
You can’t see low levels of mold, and most dogs can’t taste it. While many dogs have died shortly after eating mycotoxin-contaminated foods, mycotoxins kill most dogs slowly by suppressing the immune system and creating long-term health problems in all organs of the body.
Bugs, storage mites, mice, and other unpleasant invaders thrive on dry dog food. Recent research has shown that allergic dogs are frequently allergic to the carcasses of storage mites, which may infest grains, especially those grains used in low cost dry dog foods. So, daily, allergic dogs ingest a substance to which their immune system reacts negatively.
Keep food fresh!
1. Keep food in its original bag, even if you use a container. Plastics can leach vitamin C out of the food. The components of the plastics themselves may leach into the food. Rancid fat, which lodges in the pores of plastics that are not food-grade, will contaminate new batches of food.
2. Buy small, fresh bags of food; only enough to last 7 days. Look for manufacturing or “best if used by” dates on the bag. If you don’t see one, or can’t understand the code, write the manufacturer and ask where it is or how to interpret their codes.
3. Keep food dry. If the food looks moist, throw it away.
4. Keep larger bags in the freezer. This is the only way we think large quantities of food may be kept safely.
5. If the food has off color, throw it away.
6. If the food smells rancid or like paint, throw the food away.
7. If your dog says no, do not force her to eat.
8. Don’t buy bags that are torn.
Consider the value vs the risk of buying bags of food that are too large for your pet(s) to finish before the expiration date. Sometime paying a little more to buy smaller bags as you need them can save you a lot of money and heartache in the long run!
Follow these simple recommendations to radically reduce the deadly toxins your dog or cat encounters.
For those of you that are relocating with your pet; ship some of your pet’s food ahead so you have it when you get there. Not all brands are available everywhere. This will save on an upset stomach in a new country or town.
One of my favorite books on the right way to feed pets is “See Spot Live Longer” by Steve Brown and Beth Taylor. Below is an excerpt from Ms. Taylor’s website that I thought was important to share with companion pet owners.
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Man’s best friend can share more than the good things in life. Dogs can also share a pesky parasite. The parasite Giardia is contracted by dogs that drink contaminated water, such as that found in puddles or lakes or even on wet kennel floors. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and hair loss, and puppies are at highest risk. Keep your dog away from water sources that may be contaminated and from wildlife fecal matter, and make sure to wash your hands after playing with pets.
See your vet if you suspect that your dog has been infected.
Source: DogAge March 2009
On a sun-drenched weekend last month, cafes from TriBeCa to the Upper West Side were swelling with diners, many of whom left dogs tied to parking meters in deference to Health Department rules that prohibit pets in restaurants. At French Roast on upper Broadway, however, two women sat down to brunch with dogs in tow: a golden retriever and a Yorkie toted in a bag.
Illustration by Hadi Farahani; photograph by Robert Daly/Getty Images
“They both said that their animals were emotional service dogs,” said Gil Ohana, the manager, explaining why now all of a sudden in the last several months, we’re hearing this.”
Anthony Milburn, at right with four of his dogs, rely on their pets for emotional well-being.
he let them in. “One of them actually carried a doctor’s letter.”
Health care professionals have recommended animals for psychological or emotional support for more than two decades, based on research showing many benefits, including longer lives and less stress for pet owners.
But recently a number of New York restaurateurs have noticed a surge in the number of diners seeking to bring dogs inside for emotional support, where previously restaurants had accommodated only dogs for the blind.
“I had never heard of emotional support animals before,” said Steve Hanson, an owner of 12 restaurants including Blue Fin and Blue Water Grill in Manhattan. “
The increasing appearance of pets whose owners say they are needed for emotional support in restaurants — as well as on airplanes, in offices and even in health spas — goes back, according to those who train such animals, to a 2003 ruling by the Department of Transportation. It clarified policies regarding disabled passengers on airplanes, stating for the first time that animals used to aid people with emotional ailments like depression or anxiety should be given the same access and privileges as animals helping people with physical disabilities like blindness or deafness.
The following year appellate courts in New York State for the first time accepted tenants’ arguments in two cases that emotional support was a viable reason to keep a pet despite a building’s no-pets policy. Word of the cases and of the Transportation Department’s ruling spread, aided by television and the Internet. Now airlines are grappling with how to accommodate 200-pound dogs in the passenger cabin and even emotional-support goats. And businesses like restaurants not directly addressed in the airline or housing decisions face a newly empowered group of customers seeking admittance with their animals.
WHILE most people who train animals that help the disabled — known as service animals — are happy that deserving people are aided, some are also concerned that pet owners who might simply prefer to brunch with their Labradoodle are abusing the guidelines.
“The D.O.T. guidance document was an outrageous decision,” said Joan Froling, chairwoman of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, a nonprofit organization representing people who depend on service dogs. “Instead of clarifying the difference between emotional support animals who provide comfort by their mere presence and animals trained to perform specific services for the disabled, they decided that support animals were service animals.”
No one interviewed for this article admitted to taking advantage of the guidelines, but there is evidence that it happens. Cynthia Dodge, the founder and owner of Tutor Service Dogs in Greenfield, Mass., said she has seen people’s lives transformed by emotional-support animals. She has also “run into a couple of people with small dogs that claim they are emotional support animals but they are not,” she said. “I’ve had teenagers approach me wanting to get their dogs certified. This isn’t cute and is a total insult to the disabled community. They are ruining it for people who need it.”
The 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act states that anyone depending on an animal to function should be allowed full access to all private businesses that serve the public, like restaurants, stores and theaters. The law specifies that such animals must be trained specifically to assist their owner. True service animals are trained in tasks like finding a spouse when a person is in distress, or preventing people from rolling onto their stomachs during seizures.
But now, because the 2003 Department of Transportation document does not include language about training, pet owners can claim that even untrained puppies are “service animals,” Ms. Froling said. “People think, ‘If the D.O.T. says I can take my animal on a plane, I can take it anywhere,’ ” she said.
Aphrodite Clamar-Cohen, who teaches psychology at John Jay College in Manhattan and sees a psychotherapist, said her dog, a pit bull mix, helps fend off dark moods that began after her husband died eight years ago. She learned about psychological support pets from the Delta Society, a nonprofit group that aims to bring people and animals together, and got her dog, Alexander, last year. “When I travel I tell hotels up front that ‘Alexander Dog Cohen’ is coming and he is my emotional-needs dog,” she said. She acknowledged that the dog is not trained as a service animal.
“He is necessary for my mental health,” she said. “I would find myself at loose ends without him.”
It is widely accepted that animals can provide emotional benefits to people. “There is a lot of evidence that animals are major antidepressants,” said Carole Fudin, a clinical social worker who specializes in the bond between animals and humans. “They give security and are wonderful emotional grease to help people with incapacitating fears like agoraphobia.”
Groups of pet owners with specially trained “therapy dogs” have long visited hospitals and volunteered after disasters. Following the 9/11 attack in New York, 100 therapy dogs were enlisted to comfort victims’ families at a special center.
But Dr. Fudin said that emotional reliance on an animal can be taken too far. “If a person can’t entertain the idea of going out without an animal, that would suggest an extreme anxiety level,” she said, “and he or she should probably be on medication, in psychotherapy or both.”
The question of when an animal goes from being a pet that provides love and companionship to an emotional-support animal, without which an owner cannot get through a day, is subjective.
Elicia Brand, 36, said the role her Bernese mountain dog played in her life changed drastically after Ms. Brand suffered severe traumas — being trapped on a subway during the 9/11 attack and being raped the next year. “I am a strong person and it almost did me in,” she said of the rape. “My dog was my crutch. If I didn’t have him I wouldn’t be here now.” After Sept. 11, Ms. Brand enrolled her dog in disaster relief training and put him through 10 weeks of training so he could be a therapy animal to others as well as herself. The dog now accompanies her everywhere, even to work. She also sees a therapist and takes medication.
One reason it is difficult to sort out the varying levels of dependency people have on their animals is that it is a violation of the disabilities act to inquire about someone’s disability, and although service animals are supposed to be trained, there is no definitive list of skills such animals must have.
“The A.D.A. started with the idea of the honor system,” Ms. Froling said. “The goal was to make sure that people with disabilities were not hassled. They didn’t list the services an animal should perform because they didn’t want to limit creativity, and they didn’t want to specify dogs because monkeys were being trained in helpful tasks.”
These days people rely on a veritable Noah’s Ark of support animals. Tami McLallen, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, said that although dogs are the most common service animals taken onto planes, the airline has had to accommodate monkeys, miniature horses, cats and even an emotional support duck. “Its owner dressed it up in clothes,” she recalled.
There have also been at least two instances (on American and Delta) in which airlines have been presented with emotional support goats. Ms. McLallen said the airline flies service animals every day; all owners need to do is show up with a letter from a mental health professional and the animal can fly free in the cabin.
There is no way to know how many of the pets now sitting in coach class or accompanying their owners to dinner at restaurants are trained in health-related tasks. But the fact that dog vests bearing the words “service animal” and wallet-size cards explaining the rights of a support-dog owner are available over the Internet, no questions asked, suggests there is wiggle room for those wishing to exploit it.
One such wallet card proclaims: “This person is accompanied by a Service Dog — an animal individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. Service Dogs are working animals, not pets.” On the back is a number to call at the Department of Justice for information about the Americans With Disabilities Act.
One 30-year-old woman, a resident of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., said she does not see a psychotherapist but suffers from anxiety and abandonment issues and learned about emotional-needs dogs from a television show. She ordered a dog vest over the Internet with the words “service dog in training” for one of the several dogs she lives with, even though none are trained as service animals. “Having my dogs with me makes me feel less hostile,” said the woman, who refused to give her name.
“I can fine people or have them put in jail if they don’t let me in a restaurant with my dogs, because they are violating my rights,” she insisted.
In general, business owners seem to extend themselves to accommodate service animals. Though Completely Bare, a chain of health spas in New York and Palm Beach, Fla., has a policy barring animals in treatment rooms, Cindy Barshop, the company’s owner, said that she made an exception for a customer who insisted that she needed her large dog for support while she had laser hair removal. “We had to cover the dog with a blanket to protect its eyes during the procedure,” Ms. Barshop said.
One area in which business owners have resisted what they see as abuse of the law is housing. Litigators for both tenants and landlords say cases involving people’s demands to have service animals admitted to no-pets buildings in New York have risen sharply in the last two years, with rulings often in the tenants’ favor.
“If you have backing of a medical professional and you can show a connection between a disabling condition and the keeping of an animal, I have 99.9 percent success,” said Karen Copeland, a tenants’ lawyer.
One of her current clients maintains that she needs an animal in her apartment because she is a recovering alcoholic and, apart from her pet, all her other friends are drinkers. Another client, Anthony Milburn, lives in Kew Gardens, Queens, with five cocker spaniels and one mixed breed. He says he has severe chest pains from stress and has a note from a social worker saying that he relies on his pets for his emotional well-being. He is pursuing a case against his landlord.
Bradley Silverbush, a partner at Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Schwartz & Nahins, the largest landlord law firm in New York, said people are manipulating the law.
“I’m a dog owner and a dog lover but to claim emotional support is beyond affection,” he said. “People send letters from doctors saying the person relies on the animal, or a person has just lost a parent and purchased a Pomeranian. Some doctors will write anything if asked by a patient.”
Jerri Cohen, the owner of a jewelry store in Manhattan, said she tried living without animals when she married a man who bought an apartment in a no-dog building. “I went into a severe depression and had to go on medication,” she said. “Three years later a friend bought me two pug puppies, and I refused to give them away. My co-op threatened us with eviction. An attorney suggested I get a letter from my psychiatrist. She wrote that I was emotionally needy and the lawyer said that was no good. So she wrote that I can barely function or run my store without them. I won the case.
“They sleep with me,” she said. “They have a double stroller. They go to restaurants with me and fly with me.”
By BETH LANDMAN, originally published – New York Times: May 14, 2006
Careful – you might get cuddled to death by this sweetie Photo: BestFriends.org
In a reversal of their decades-old stance, the Humane Society of the United States has reportedly decided on a new interim policy that all dogs seized from fighting operations should now be evaluated for their suitability for adoption on a case-by-case basis. This is a reversal of longstanding HSUS policy that any dog impounded from a fighting situation was inherently too dangerous to be safely placed in a home and should therefore be killed by authorities as soon as legally permissible.
[Author’s note: Though it is common practice to refer to such government-sanctioned killings of animals as “euthanasia,” the Merriam-Webster definition of euthanasia is “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy,” hence the term cannot truthfully be used to describe the killing of healthy animals who have not yet been determined to be irreversibly aggressive.]
Former Vick fighting dog Leo takes his job as a therapy dog very seriously Photo: msnbc.com
The announcement of this change in policy came from the Best Friends Animal Society website, and has yet to appear on the HSUS website as of this writing. A call to the Washington office of the HSUS was not returned.
The reversal comes in the wake of the recent killing of 146 pit bulls who were seized at or born after a raid on a fighting dog operation in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Seventy of the dogs killed were puppies; nineteen of whom were born after the seizure had taken place. The killings were ordered by Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson Jr. after testimony from local animal control officials and two representatives of the HSUS. According the Best Friends website, Judge Wilson ordered that the dogs be killed “without evaluation to determine suitability for placement.”
Scarred ex-fighter, now therapy dog Hector snuggles with new mom Leslie Nuccio Photo: Eric Risberg/AP
Prior to this incident, the Humane Society of the United States’ policy on fighting dogs came under public fire during the Michael Vick case, when HSUS representatives advocated the killing of all dogs seized from Vick’s “Bad Newz Kennels.” Subsequent case-by-case evaluations ordered by Judge Henry Hudson revealed that only one dog was too aggressive to be safely placed with a rescue. That dog was euthanized, another was euthanized due to severe health problems, and the rest were sent to rescues around the country. Subsequently at least two of these dogs, Leo and Hector, who were considered experienced fighters due to their scars, have gone on to become therapy dogs who visit and comfort patients in hospitals.
I would like to note that I am a supporter of the Humane Society of the United States. They have done unsurpassed work over decades to increase public awareness of cruelty to animals, including exposing the issue of puppy mills; their groundbreaking work in helping to pass Prop. 2 in California, which is an important first step in decreasing cruel farming practices; and their unparalleled work in exposing shocking cruelty to downed dairy cows headed for slaughter at the now-defunct Hallmark/Westland meat packing company, which led to the nation’s largest-ever beef recall.
Their stance on fighting dogs, however, has been uncharacteristically rigid and inhumane and I am extremely glad that although it took the senseless, indiscriminate deaths of 146 dogs, HSUS is starting to reexamine their policy in this matter and the injustice of judging and condemning any creature without knowing them personally.
By: Kate Woodviolet
Source: Examiner.com – LA Pet Rescue Examiner
Posted By: Ask Marion – Just One More Pet
It’s hard to believe a houseplant could harm a tough cookie like the Woytek family’s Lab mix, Amber. A survivor of Hurricane Ike, the young pup was diagnosed with distemper in the months after her adoption from the Houston SPCA in September 2008. But according to Laurie Woytek, Amber defeated the often fatal virus—and went on to form a tight bond with her canine “sister” and partner-in-crime, Scout, a one-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback mix.
Early last month, Laurie discovered that Amber had eaten parts of a sago palm plant. Sago palm—with its dark green leaves and hairy trunk—has become a popular houseplant in recent years, but unbeknownst to many green-thumbed pet parents, it’s also highly toxic to cats and dogs.
Immediately ill, Amber was hospitalized at a nearby emergency clinic. Says Laurie, “I was very scared, but thought, ‘She’s tough—she’ll make it through.’” After several days in the hospital, the emergency veterinarian delivered the heartbreaking news to the Woyteks—Amber had developed jaundice and life-threatening liver failure.
“We took Amber to our regular veterinarian to discuss our options with him,” explains Laurie. “She suffered seizures in the car on the way, and we ultimately made the very difficult, yet humane decision to let her go.”
Sadly, Amber’s story is all too common. Since 2003, the ASPCA has seen an increase by more than 200 percent of sago palm and cycad poisonings, and 50 to 75 percent of those ingestions resulted in fatalities. According to Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, veterinary toxicologist and vice president of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, all parts of the plant are toxic, not just the seeds or nuts, and common signs of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures and liver failure.
Before the Woytek family said their final goodbyes to Amber, they took her home to see her best buddy, Scout. “As Amber lay still on the floor, Scout kept nudging her as if to say, ‘C’mon, get up,’” Laurie says. “They weren’t just ‘sissies’—as we referred to them—they were best friends.”
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” reflects Laurie. “Amber is truly missed and will forever be in our hearts. She was our little princess.”
In memory of Amber, and to mark the end of National Poison Prevention Week, March 15-21, the ASPCA reminds all pet parents to stay informed about protecting pets from accidental poisonings. Please read our poison prevention tips online.
Additional Common Names for the Sago Palm are: Coontie Palm, Cardboard Palm, cycads and zamias
Animal Poison Control Center
If you can’t reach your vet or don’t have a 24-hour local facility to call, they are your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. However, a $60 consultation fee “may” be applied to your credit card. Have all your emergency numbers listed and handy.
What You Need:
A pot Water
A spray bottle, sponge, or pet brush
What To Do:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Then, remove from heat.
2. Add a sliced lemon to the pot, and allow it to steep overnight.
3. Apply the resulting liquid to your pet with a spray bottle, sponge or brush.
4. Repeat daily or as needed.
Why This Works:
Lemons contain limonene, a chemical that kills and repels fleas. Benefits of Using a Lemon Flea Bath inexpensive all natural non-irritating highly effective soothes and heals existing flea bites environmentally- friendly Tips and Warnings
1. Avoid contact with the eyes.
2. Keep the hot liquid away from pets so that they don’t drink it.
Natural is always better!!
Monthly Feature: BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS IN DOGS
Treat your dog just as you would a puppy – establish a regular schedule, take him or her outside frequently, reward her for eliminating outside, and supervise her activity while inside. However, your pet could have a medical condition or phobea.
Housetraining Problems – If you have consistently followed basic housetraining procedures and your dog continues to eliminate in the house, then the cause of the behavior must be determined before it can be changed. There are other reasons why dogs housesoil other than a lack of housetraining. Some examples of causes of housesoiling are:
Medical Problems – Housesoiling can often be caused by physical problems such as a urinary tract infection or an irritated bowel. Check with your veterinarian to rule out any possibility of disease or illness. Incontinence can be a side effect of having your dog pet fixed, especially females and is also a condition that develops in some older pets… like in oder humans. Just as for senior humans there are piddle pants available for your pets.
Territorial Urine-Marking – Dogs will deposit urine, usually in small amounts, to scentmark territory. Both male and female dogs may do this. This most often occurs when the dog believes its territory has been invaded.
Separation Anxiety – It is not uncommon for dogs to become anxious when left alone and housesoil as a result. If the soiling is occurring only, and consistently, when your dog is left alone, separation anxiety may be the cause.
Fears Or Phobias – When animals become frightened, they often lose control of their bladder and/or bowels. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, thunderstorms, or other things, it may housesoil when exposed to these environmental events.
Submissive/Excitement – Some dogs, especially young ones, temporarily lose control of their bladder when they become excited or threatened. This usually occurs during greetings, intense play, or when they are about to be punished (another good reason for not punishing after the fact or using physical types of punishment).
Invisible Urine Odors – Invisible urine odors in carpet attract dogs to repeatedly re-urinate on affected areas. This makes housebreaking very difficult, if not impossible.
If there is no way to show where the urine odor sources are, you don’t know where to treat the urine stains. Consequently, the pets are repeatedly attracted to those areas to re-urinate on them. The best solution is to locate the invisible urine odors with a urine detector blacklight.
Source: Denver Dumb Friends League
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Monthly Feature: BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS IN DOGS