Tuesday, November 24, 2015


For the "Home for the Holidays" major Adoption event during December 17th, 18th and 19th, where the goal is to "empty the shelter for Christmas" - Swiffer® and BarkBox teamed up to help us make the barriers to adoption – like pet clean-up – less of a challenge. 

Through their kindness, P.E.T.S. has been awarded 50 BarkBoxes full of Bark&Co toys and snacks along with Swiffer products for cleanliness to be given to all adopters during this mega-event! We can't thank them enough...

 Be sure to watch for updates as we get closer...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving and Pets

Thanksgiving is a wonderful occasion to enjoy the company of family and friends.  It is also a time when people simply cannot resist sharing part of their feast with their pets.  As far as pets are concerned, it is “Table Scrap Heaven” and they will certainly be begging you to share some of that big turkey dinner.  While all those goodies are quite enjoyable to us, some can be problematic for our canine or feline family members.  Let’s face it, none of us wants to spend the holiday speeding to a veterinary emergency clinic, so I would like to offer a few tips to help keep your pets safe and you happy during the upcoming holiday. 

One of the best parts about Thanksgiving, for me, is that delectable turkey, smothered in rich creamy gravy.  Unfortunately, turkey skin can be hard to digest for some pets.  In addition, fatty trimmings and gravies can cause our pets to have diarrhea or vomiting in a best-case scenario.  Worst case would be that it causes a possible life-threatening inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis.  If you feel the overwhelming need to share your meal, then take the skin off and consider feeding the blander, easier to digest white meat in bite-sized pieces.  Be prudent with the gravy, too.  Think about substituting some of the clear turkey broth instead of utilizing the finished, buttery gravy.  Also, whether your holiday feast consists of turkey, goose, or roast beast from Whoville, do not give the bones as a treat.  Both raw and cooked bones can splinter when eaten and get caught in the pet’s throat, causing him to choke.  In addition, the shards can also cause serious punctures or a blockage in in your pet’s intestine.

Have we talked stuffing yet?  The scrumptious melding of fragrant and delicious ingredients is a toxic cornucopia for dogs and cats.  The mushrooms, onions, chives, garlic, scallions, sage, and pepper we typically use in our mixtures can be quite harmful to our pets.

Every meal usually has a side dish, and Thanksgiving dinner is not an exception.  Green beans are a first-rate nosh for dogs, green bean casserole isn’t.  You are just asking for trouble with Fido if you give him those beans along with the creamy mushroom soup and fried onions.  The same advice goes for candied yams or sweet potatoes.  The plain potato is fine, but you will not want to give it to your fur-buddy with all the butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows.  While you might find cranberries as an ingredient in some commercial pet foods, be aware that cranberry sauce, whether home-made or the store-bought kind, contains large amounts of sugar.  In addition, the homemade type may contain additives like raisons, nuts or certain spices that are harmful to pets. 

Holiday meals would not be the same without a tasty array of bread, pastries, desserts and candies.  You can bet those little noses sniffing the air are thinking the same thing, too.  Please do not allow your pet access to raw yeast bread dough.  When a dog or cat ingests the dough, the yeast converts the sugar to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.  This can result in a bloated drunken pet.  While it may be acceptable for the “black sheep” of the family, for your feline or canine companion it can become a life-threatening emergency.  Keep pet noses out of cake batter and cookie dough.  They usually contain raw eggs, which can carry salmonella bacteria that may cause food poisoning.  We should all know by now that chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats, so be sure to keep it out of sight and reach.  While veterinarians often recommend feeding pumpkin to settle a pet’s digestive system, the pies or desserts made with it often contain nutmeg and cinnamon, which are also harmful.

Even though you have finished your meal and pushed away from the table, do not think your pet is done.  These furry rascals will be brazen enough to snatch food off the counter or table and out of the trash when you are not looking.  They are quick and quite resourceful.  Be sure to keep garbage securely fastened and all food items put away.  If they get into the garbage, for them it will be like hitting the mega-million jackpot.  For you, the results could possibly break the bank or your heart.

May you have a wonderful and safe time this Thanksgiving, with your furry friends and family.  Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at P.E.T.S. .

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Cancer is a six-letter word that can strike fear in even the strongest among us.  Some of us have battled it ourselves, or have fought it alongside family members or with dear friends.  It seems that no one is impervious to it.  Whenever a person learns that they, or a beloved, have cancer, it is a devastating feeling.  That feeling is no different when a guardian learns the same diagnosis about a cherished pet.

While cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, it may also surprise you to know that it is the number-one disease-related killer of our dogs and cats.  “Just like humans, cancer is a looming danger in the lives of our pets," said Dr. Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President, and Chief Veterinary Medical Officer for Nationwide.  "The prevalence of pet cancer continues to increase year over year. “

Pets of any age can develop it, but the disease is typically more common in adult and older animals.  In addition, certain breeds of dogs and cats have a higher incidence of some types of cancers.  For example, the risk of lymphoma increases in Boxers, Mastiffs, Basset Hounds, St. Bernards, Scottish Terriers, Airedales, and Bulldogs.

Early detection is crucial.  Even though a tumor or growth may not be cancerous, it is important for a guardian to seek the advice of their veterinarian if they notice any lumps or bumps.  Regular check-ups are also advisable to detect those cancers that may not be as readily apparent.  In addition to being aware of a lump or bump that is changing in color, size, or texture, guardians should also be on the look-out for the following signs or symptoms.

A change in the pet's appetite or weight may signal something is amiss.  If the pet is losing weight and has not changed its diet or the quantity consumed, it is worth a trip to the veterinarian.  A belly that becomes enlarged quickly, with a bloated appearance, may be indicative of a mass in the abdomen.  Other significant issues to be on the lookout for are: unexplained bleeding or discharge, that is not related to trauma, from any body orifice; unexplained persistent vomiting or diarrhea; a dry, non-productive cough; difficulty breathing (Dyspnea), shortness of breath, or rapid breathing (Tachypnea).

Oral tumors do occur in pets.  A pet may have difficulty in chewing and swallowing, and you may notice that they will prefer something softer to eat, rather than the hard kibble.  You may also detect an unusually strong, foul odor emitting from the pet.  Be aware that these are also indicative of dental disease so, either way, a trip to the veterinarian is in your pet’s best interest.

Lymph nodes are located throughout the body and, when they are enlarged, they can indicate a common form of cancer called lymphoma.  Most of the time, lymphoma in dogs appears as “swollen glands” that can be seen or felt under the neck, in front of the shoulders, or behind the knee.  Guardians should some spend time petting and exploring their pet’s body on a regular basis.  Not only does the pet adore the extra attention, it is also one of the best ways to notice any bumps that can be a sign of early onset lymphoma or some other health problem. 

Dogs and cats get breast cancer, too!  In fact, breast cancer is the most common tumor in female dogs and the third most common tumor in female cats. With this being known, the most important thing a guardian can do to reduce the risk is to spay their dog or cat prior to its first heat cycle.  It has been documented that cats spayed prior to 6 months of age had a 91% reduction in risk of developing breast cancer compared to those not spayed. The numbers are equally impressive for dogs.

In many cases, pet cancer is treatable and, due to advances in veterinary medicine, there are more options for treating our beloved pets, which will help improve not only their length of life but also its quality.  Treatment will vary according to the type and progression of the cancer and may include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

If you are interested in learning more, a number of organizations can provide information about cancer in dogs and cats for pet guardians.  Among those are: The Veterinary Cancer Society (http://www.vetcancersociety.org/pet-owners/links-of-interest/ ), The Veterinary Cancer Center (http://www.oncovet.com/resource-center  ), and The Morris Animal Foundation (http://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/animal-lovers/pet-health/ ).

Saturday, November 7, 2015


In less than a week, on November 13, P.E.T.S. will have the pleasure of joining a number of other organizations at a one-day empowerment event at the Tehama District Fairgrounds, called LIFT Tehama (Live Inspired for Tomorrow).  The event is designed to bring help and hope to those in need.  So, why would P.E.T.S., whose focus is on animals, want to be part of an endeavor that is geared towards low income and homeless residents of Tehama County?

We know that our shelter, like so many others, has a constant and endless stream of animals coming in.  In 2014, the Tehama County Animal Care Center took in 2,163 cats and dogs.  If we wish to decrease the numbers of animals entering the shelter, then we need to help those who are struggling to exist keep their animals.  We help by educating, we help by offering services, and we help by caring about the people and their pets.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

Some believe that only those who can “properly” care for a pet should have one.  I, personally, have heard some form of, “If a person can’t afford to pay the full adoption fees, then they can’t afford to take care of the pet.”  With that being said, poor people, financially challenged, low-income, homeless or whatever other moniker one cares to use, can and do love their animals as much as someone with a hefty bank account.  Lack of finances does not indicate the character of a person.  A struggling individual deserves the same cherished connection to an animal as anyone else.  In addition, our respective financial situation does not give us the right to dictate those decisions for another.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

Aimee Gilbreath, Executive Director of the nonprofit Found Animals Foundation, sums it up succinctly, “Pets play such an amazing supportive role in people's physical and emotional health... And the ability to have access to that joy shouldn't be based on income.”  Pets are non-judgmental, and do not care whether the bed is a down fluffed mattress or a stack of newspapers on the ground.  They provide a sense of security in an often-hostile environment.  Pets can also provide a touch of reality in a sometimes-unreal world.  They provide the connection to reality that some need to have reinforced.  Pets can help provide a purpose for living and friendship to individuals who have none.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

There are approximately 3.5 million homeless Americans.  Some have lost their jobs, some have been foreclosed upon and lost their home, some may be mentally ill, disabled, elderly, abused, and, within any of these venues, one may find a veteran.  They may be teens, single adults, or entire families.  A common misconception is that the homeless are lazy and do not want to work.  Although there is a portion that may, in fact, meet that standard, understand that a missed paycheck, or an abusive spouse can quickly cause someone to become homeless.  A person, as a result, may not be able to adequately care for an animal.  Our purpose is not to condemn the situation, nor act as judges, but to help the animals.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

Many cannot provide the necessary vaccinations, or spaying and neutering of their pets because of cost involved and, possibly, the travel required to obtain the services.  Procuring the care needed may be formidable for someone who, quite possibly, cannot read, does not speak English, or is unable to comprehend the necessity in any language.  That is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

To put things in perspective, I was once a breath away from being homeless.  What prevented me from becoming a statistic was the support of people who believed in me.  The other was my pets.  They gave me the motivation to push on, they provided companionship lost, and they gave me a reason to live by providing hope where there was none.  One of the definitions of hope is “to believe that events will turn out for the best”.

Everyone needs to have hope.  THAT is why P.E.T.S. is part of LIFT.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Any dog of any breed, provided with a certain set of circumstances, can display aggression towards humans, other dogs, or other animals.  When they are guarding their territory or food, protecting themselves from a perceived threat, or are defending their young, dogs will use aggressive displays much like any other animal or human.  Determining the reasons for, or the causative circumstances surrounding, the aggression are important when dealing with any aggressive animal.

First, it must be determined that the animal is not reacting because of pain or a medical condition.  Any disease that causes pain or increases irritability, such as dental disease, arthritis, or trauma, can lead to aggression.  Certain tumors, central nervous system disorders and various organ dysfunctions can also contribute to irritability and cause the dog to become aggressive when it is handled or even if it anticipates handling.  Therefore, it is imperative that you first consult with a veterinarian to rule out any possible medical cause, and provide treatment as necessary.  Additionally, the use of training devices that inflict pain on animals are discouraged because they can lead the animal to become aggressive to stop the pain received. 

Protective, territorial, and possessive types of aggression are similar.  If the dog perceives a threat, whether real or imagined, to itself or its “family” it may become protectively aggressive.  A perfect example is a mother protecting her young pups.  “Resource guarding” is when dogs become possessively aggressive when defending their food, toys, or some other highly valued object.  When guarding their valued object, they may growl, snap, or even bite to maintain control over it.  Territorial aggression occurs when the dog is in a yard, home, car, etc., and is approached by another animal or human and attempts to defend what it considers its territory.

Fear is the underlying cause of most forms of canine aggression.  Fear-motivated aggression is a defensive reaction and occurs when a dog believes he is in danger of being harmed.  It is exceedingly important to remember that the threat is from the dog’s perspective and it can be real or imagined.  Fearful dogs will try to avoid what is causing the fear, but can become aggressive if they feel trapped, like when they are leashed, cornered, or physically confined.  For example, you go for a walk with your dog and happen to encounter another dog running loose. Your own dog might perceive a threat and react aggressively to it, especially since it is confined by the leash.  It is also important to note that if the dog is unable to attack the perceived threat, he may redirect his aggression onto someone or something else.  One example is when a person tries to break up a dogfight and one of the dogs turns and bites the interfering person.

Aggressive play is a normal puppy behavior.  When puppies play with other puppies, they may nip and bite but will generally resolve any disagreements among themselves.  Puppies playing with their guardians may bark, growl, and impulsively attack.  Sometimes, though, it becomes too exuberant.  One effective way to handle a rambunctious pup is to provide a distraction, like a toy.  The puppy can then transfer its attention to it.  If the puppy is biting hard, yell “Ouch!” and turn away, stopping play with the animal.  Also, consider giving the pup a time out.  If the pup will not stop bad behavior, put it in its kennel with until he calms down.  Never use any physical punishment, like shaking or hitting, which could result in fear-motivated aggression.

Any social group, whether human or canine, typically abides by a certain hierarchical order of leaders and followers to avoid conflict.  Like humans, if more than one individual wants to be the leader a fight can break out. In addition, intact males may vie for females in heat, and females may compete for access to a male.  Spaying and neutering, along with training, may help reduce both these aggressions. 

Early socialization is key in helping to prevent aggressive tendencies.  Puppies that learn how to interact, play and communicate with people, other canines and other species are less likely to show aggressive behavior when they become adults.  If your dog has shown aggression toward a person or other animals, seek help from a qualified professional who can evaluate the animal and provide the necessary assistance.  Normal canine aggression not tempered can become a serious problem.  It is up to us, as responsible guardians to provide the necessary care, training, and supervision to ensure that our dogs and those around them are safe.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Empathy and Discourse

The human-animal bond is a strong one, and the connection we have with animals is as individualized and multifaceted as our relationships with other humans.  This is especially apparent when the intensity of opposing views of how we regard, treat, or use animals prevents cooperative and reasonable discussion.  The more passionate we are about how we feel regarding certain stances in the animal community, the less likely we are to see compromise occurring.  On a personal level, this became apparent when I wrote articles about feral cats and bully breeds.  In addition, one only needs to go on any social media outlet and read the dialogs regarding other “hot topics” pertaining to animal welfare issues such as: spay/neuter, BSL (breed specific legislation), dog breeding, animal agriculture, zoos, animal vaccination, euthanasia, etc., to see the hostility that often ensues between disparate opinions.  Unfortunately, unless the extremes of both sides are tempered, both humans and animals will suffer.

For most of us, when we discuss animal welfare, we believe the basic premise is that it pertains to the humane and responsible care of animals by humans, and that cruelty to them is to be avoided.  The American Veterinary Medical Association clarifies it a bit further, “Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives.  An animal is in a good state of welfare if it is healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress.”   However, they go on to state,” There are numerous perspectives on animal welfare that are influenced by a person's values and experiences.”  Therein lies the issue.  We are human, with values and experiences that shape our perspective about the animals in our world. 

An interesting dichotomy occurred with regard to my article about feral cats.  A person vehemently stated that that ferals should be exterminated.  However, their reason was that they did not wish any wildlife be harmed. Because this person had no qualms about killing the cats, I had to wonder why was it okay to kill one animal but not another.  Is one species more important than the other?  The contradiction in our beliefs and behaviors is not an absolute “black and white” situation with regard to animals.  We witness evidence of this repeatedly.  We oppose the use of animals in research facilities and yet use products and medicines that are the result of that research.  We work diligently to save some animals from being eaten and consume others.  There are those that wish to ban or annihilate certain breeds of dogs, believing one breed is more dangerous than another breed.  Yet, dog bites and dog aggression can occur in any breed, given a certain set of circumstances. 

If we want our children to learn the lesson that life matters and that cruelty is inherently wrong, whether human- or animal-directed, then we need to set the example.  We can begin by displaying empathy in our discussions about them.  There is no doubt that the many issues concerning animal welfare and rights are both controversial and extremely complex.  However, if we follow a compassionate stance towards all living things, perhaps we can reach an effective compromise that will benefit not only the animals, but assist us, as humans, to become more humane.  This can only be accomplished by moderating the extremes on both sides of the issues.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pit Bull Awareness

October is National Pit Bull Awareness month and starting Monday October 19th, through Saturday, October 24th, it is officially “Pit Bull Awareness” week at the Tehama County Animal Care Center located at 1830 Walnut Street, Red Bluff, CA.  During this week the Center, in conjunction with P.E.T.S., will be offering all Pit-Bull type dogs for Adoption for the adoptive fee of $45.00 or less.

What is a Pit-Bull and why would anyone want to adopt one?

A Pit-Bull is not a dog breed.  It is an abbreviated term used to describe the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and any mix thereof.  Breeding bulldogs and terriers together created the Pit Bull, a dog that combined the disposition and agility of the terrier with the strength of the bulldog.

The United Kennel Club’s description of the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) is as follows:  “The essential characteristics of the APBT are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm.  APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression, and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog.  The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed.  The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers.  Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable.  This breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work.”

We often hear that Pit Bulls are dangerous and aggressive to humans.  In order to understand how this is erroneous, we must again look towards its history.  For well over 150 years these dogs have actually been bred away from human aggressiveness.  Malcolm Gladwell explains this well in his February 6, 2006 New Yorker article.  “Pit bulls were not bred to fight humans.  On the contrary: a dog that went after spectators, or its handler… or any of the other people involved in making a dogfighting dog a good dogfighter was usually put down.  (The rule in the pit-bull world was ‘Man-eaters die.’)”  

What we all must understand is that, with any dog of any breed, under a certain set of circumstances various types of aggression can occur, such as: human, other dog, other animal, territory, and food.  Pit Bulls can form friendships with other pets when given proper introductions and supervision.  Pit bulls are terriers, and Jack Russell Terriers have wrestled badgers and other animals for farmers for years.  This terrier drive in pit bulls has been, and continues to be, exploited by unscrupulous entities against other dogs for gaming purposes.  Like any breed of dog, Pit Bulls can run the gamut from being dog-aggressive to being exceptionally dog-friendly.  Any dog has the potential to fight another dog if mishandled.  Pit Bulls are not recommended for any person who does not understand terrier traits and principal canine behavior.  Ultimately, Pit Bull temperament, like any other dog, is a result of not only genetic make-up, but also how the animal is raised and trained.  Senior A.S.P.C.A Vice President, Randall Lockwood summed it up succinctly by equating dog to human aggression as the “perfect storm of bad human-canine interactions – the wrong dog, the wrong background, the wrong history, in the hands of the wrong person in the wrong environmental situation.”

So, why would you want to adopt one?  The answer is, because the Pit Bull has been, and continues to be, a loyal, faithful companion.  Pit Bulls excel in practically every canine task including herding, guarding, hunting, and ratting.  They are superb working dogs, and are employed as police and armed service dogs, search and rescuers, and therapy animals.  Strength, confidence, and enthusiasm are characteristics of this breed.  Some of these dogs can be low key, but most need activity to channel their energy.  They are loving pets not only for children, but for adults too.  Properly raised, they are the perfect breed to tolerate a child’s rough play.  Properly socialized, these dogs are quite affectionate and very friendly, even with strangers.

Why not, then, consider one of the many Pit Bulls that are residing in your local shelter when looking for a new addition to the family?

Additional information and other resources regarding “Pit Bull” dogs can be found at Animal Farm Foundation, Inc. (http://animalfarmfoundation.org/ ) and Pit Bull Rescue Central (http://www.pbrc.net/ ).