Monday, July 20, 2015

MOVIE POPULARITY CAN CAUSE ANGUISH FOR PETS


The new movie, ”Max”, has hit the theaters.  Its lead actor just happens to be a Belgian Malinois.  Although it is too early to tell, the anticipated increase in these dogs being surrendered to shelters over the next few years already has the rescue community shuddering. 

Petfinder describes the Belgian Malinois as a smart, high-energy breed with a need for regular mental and physical stimulation.  The AKC agrees and states, “Problems arise, though, when this smart dog is underemployed and neglected.”  When people obtain a dog without carefully researching the breed, its temperament and needs, and do not consider the family’s overall ability to care for the animal, it is a recipe for disaster.  Thus, the crux of everyone’s concern is that, after seeing the movie, without careful consideration, many will flock to obtain a Malinois.  In addition, if past trends continue, we can expect an increase in the backyard breeding of these dogs and the resultant issues that occur because of it. 

Researchers from the University of Bristol, the City University of New York, and Western Carolina University conducted the study, “Dog Movie Stars and Dog Breed Popularity: A Case Study in Media Influence on Choice.”  They confirmed, after researching a number of movies released between 1927 and 2004 featuring dogs and evaluating American Kennel Club (AKC) registration trends during releases, that movies have an impact on breed popularity.  This impact, in some cases, continued for many years afterward.

The more popular a film, the stronger the effect as evidenced by the following examples.  “Lassie Come Home” was associated with a 40 percent increase in Collie registrations during the two years following its release in 1943.  The 1959 Walt Disney film “The Shaggy Dog” resulted in a 3,600 percent increase in sheepdog registrations over ten years. 

After the 1996 release of Disney’s remake of ''101 Dalmatians”, animal shelters reported a 35 percent increase in the number of Dalmatians surrendered.  The reasons given were that the dogs were high-strung, stubborn, and sometimes aggressive.  In addition, the relinquishing owners said they required lots of exercise and, in some cases, special care because of health problems like deafness.

Chihuahuas at many California shelters comprise almost 30-45 percent of their population.  Even though they are cute and small, they do have a nervous personality which can make them unpredictable.  For those who wanted to have a dog like the one in “Legally Blonde” or “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, or to mimic a celebrity like Paris Hilton, the reality of it not being what was envisioned undoubtedly contributes to its high relinquishment.

Purebred dogs from an accredited responsible breeders can cost upwards to thousands of dollars.  Responsible breeders have the dogs’ best interests in mind. They test for genetic and common diseases for their particular breed, minimize inbreeding, and typically only have a few litters of puppies per year to insure that the pups have a good environment and appropriate health care.  In order to meet the demand for the popular “dog of the moment” backyard breeders and puppy mills come into play.  Not caring about the animal’s temperament, or present and future health, they sell puppies for substantially less.  Unfortunately, these animals then become the true victims of fad and fashion, ending up in shelters across the country.

Another perfect example of the above is Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd who appeared in 27 films.  Being an immediate box office success caused such a demand, that many took advantage of the breed’s popularity and essentially created a breed that today is susceptible to a number of serious health issues including hip dysplasia, heart problems, bloat and cancer.  In 2012 Shepherds were declared the second most popular breed.  Unfortunately, they are also the third most abandoned due to the guardian being unprepared to care for the breed.

Getting a dog because you saw it in a movie and thought “I want one just like that” does not do you or the animal any good.  In order for man’s best friend to actually be his best friend, seriously think about choosing your pet.  Research the breed and ask yourself if the dog’s temperament, size, energy level, etc. would be a good fit with you and your family and your lifestyle.  Realize also, that the dogs in movies have had years of specific training and the cute puppy you get, will not be what you saw on the screen. 


Enjoy “Max”, but let’s keep the Belgian Malinois from becoming another victim of movie popularity.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Animal Preparedness During A Disaster - SMALL ANIMALS



Prepare a Disaster Plan:

  • If you must evacuate, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND 
Unfortunately, emergency public shelters will only permit service animals and will not accept family pets inside their facilities for health and safety reasons.  Therefore, it is important that you make other arrangements for your pet’s protection and safety. 

      • Call motels away from known hazard areas.  Make sure they allow pets, and ask if there are any restrictions on size and number allowed.  Many will waive, in cases of severe emergencies, “no pet” policies. 
      • Ask dependable friends or relatives who live away from a the area, if your pets could stay with them during an emergency.  Also, ask if they would possibly care for them for an extended period if you should lose your residence. 
      • Contact veterinary clinics and ask if they during an emergency can board your pet. 
      • Locate boarding kennels, again preferably away from hazard areas, to determine what is available.  Inquire as to who stays on the premises with the animals and what provisions are made if they need to evacuate. 
      • Contact local animal shelters and rescues and ask if in the event of disaster, they provide any emergency shelter. 
      • Be sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.  If you plan to board your pet, most facilities will require proof of current rabies, distemper, parvo and Bordatella vaccinations.
      • When a warning of an impending evacuation occurs, call and confirm any arrangements made.
    • If you live in an apartment, make sure your animals are on record with management and they are able to be evacuated using the stairs. Teach dogs how to go up and down stairs to better assist rescue personnel.
    • Keep written directions to your home near your telephone. This will help you and others explain to emergency responders exactly how to get to your home. 
  • If You Must Leave Your Pet,  bring them indoors.  
      • Never leave pets chained outdoors! 
      • Do not tie pets up!
      • Put them in a room with no windows and adequate ventilation, such as a utility room, garage or bathroom.
·         Leave only dry foods and fresh water in non-spill containers. If possible open a faucet to let water drip into a large container or partially fill a bathtub with water. 

Assemble an Animal EVACUATION KIT (Store in an easily accessed location)

  • It should include a minimum of three (3) days food and water (two weeks is best) for all pets.  Do not forget to add feeding dishes, a can opener and a spoon (for canned food).
  • First aid kit
A veterinarian can tell you what to include. These items below serve only as examples of what you might include:
    • Anti-diarrheal liquid or tablets
    • Antibiotic ointment (for wounds)
    • Antibiotic eye ointment
    • Bandage scissors
    • Bandage tape
    • Betadine® (povidone-iodine) solution
    • Cotton bandage rolls
    • Cotton-tipped swabs
    • Elastic bandage rolls
    • Eye rinse (sterile)
    • Flea and tick prevention and treatment
    • Gauze pads and rolls
    • Isopropyl alcohol
    • Liquid dish detergent (mild wound and body cleanser)
    • Styptic powder (clotting agent)
    • Thermometer (digital)
    • Tweezers
    • Be sure to include a two-week supply of any medications the pet requires (include drug name, dosage, and frequency of dosing) Be sure to incorporate a sheet that lists dietary restrictions, feeding schedules, etc. and photocopies of medical records, with proof of all vaccinations 
  • Separate pet records which list: The type and breed  of pet; the pet’s name; a contact name with address, phone number and area code; sex; distinguishing characteristics; whether the pet is spayed/neutered and if the pet is micro-chipped.
  • Pet carrier or crate.  Cat carriers should be large enough to hold a small litter pan and two small dishes and still allow your cat enough room to lie down comfortably or stand to use the litter pan. Dog kennels or collapsible cages should be large enough to hold two no-spill bowls and still allow your dog enough room to stand and turn around.
  • Leashes, muzzle, collars, or harnesses which have a personal ID and license tag attached.
  • A current photo of the pet, in case you are separated and need to create "Lost" notices.
  • Blankets and towels (paper and cloth), plastic trash bags, flashlight with extra batteries, and cleaning products.Maps of local area and alternate evacuation routes in addition to GPS (in case of road closures)
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily taken can help reduce stress.If cats are involved, a litter pan, scoop litter, plastic bags and scooper
Birds
  • Transport in a secure travel cage or carrier. 
  • Have a cover accessible to put over the cage for both warmth and to help reduce the stress. 
  • If the weather is warm, have a spray bottle available to periodically moisten the bird's feathers. 
  • Band the leg for identification purposes. 
  • A timed feeder will ensure the uninterrupted daily feeding schedule of the bird. 
Reptile or amphibian (herptile) pets
  • Bring heating pads or other warming devices, like heating packs or hot water bottles. 
  • Styrofoam insulated boxes can be utilized as temporary housing for the animal. 
  • DO NOT FORGET WATER. 
  • Since you may not be able to obtain fresh vegetables or fruits during a disaster, keep frozen items ready for emergencies. If your herptile feeds on live food, remember to consider this for evacuation as well.  
  • Spray bottles help maintain the higher humidity some herptiles require.
  • Many reptiles may be marked with a permanent felt-tipped marker

Hamsters, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs
  • Transportation of most small mammals is best accomplished using a secure, covered carrier or cage to reduce stress.
  • In addition to food and water, include: necessary dietary supplements, extra bedding materials and appropriate exercise equipment 
Backyard poultry
  • Leg bands with an emergency telephone number and photos of birds can help you identify them if they escape or get lost.
  • Plastic poultry transport crates/coops work well for transporting chickens. Transfer birds to more suitable housing as soon as possible to facilitate feeding and watering.
  • At the evacuation site, house birds away from noisy areas and other flocks and protect them from the weather and predators.
  • Vehicle interiors should be warmed in winter or cooled in summer before transporting birds.
  • Line crates or cages with shavings or other absorbent material for ease of cleaning. Newspapers can work temporarily) to line cages.
  • Feed and water for 7 -10 days. Vitamin and electrolyte packs (Stress packs) may help ease the stress.
  • Sufficient feeders and waterers for the number of birds.
  • Detergent, disinfectant, gloves and other cleaning supplies for cleaning cages, feeders and drinkers.
  • If evacuating chicks, consider their special needs (heat, food, equipment) 
Emergency Information : Emergency Alert System (EAS) announcements for Tehama County will be on
Local radio stations:  KFBK 1530 (AM) and KTHU 100.7 (FM)
TV - KHSL Channel 12 and  KNVN Channel 24  (http://www.actionnewsnow.com/home/)

For emergency services in Tehama County: Please do not call local Fire Stations to report an emergency or to ask for fire information.  If you have an emergency, contact 9-1-1

For any emergency information contact the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office at 530-529-7900.
Cal Fire Tehama Glen Unit (530) 528-5199 (http://www.tehamacountyfire.org/) or (http://www.fire.ca.gov/)
The California Highway Patrol (530) 527-2034 

Incident information can be found at:

Other resources: (will post updated news to their websites.)
The Red Bluff Daily News (http://www.redbluffdailynews.com/ )
The Redding Record Searchlight (http://www.redding.com/)
The Chico Enterprise Record (http://www.chicoer.com/ )

Providing Help and Getting Help in Tehama County


In an emergency situation, would you be willing to open up your home or ranch to house displaced animals on a temporary basis?  Assist in transporting animals?  Loan equipment?  Help gather food and supplies that would be necessary during the temporary housing of animals?  Donate time and/or money to care for the animals at an animal evacuation site?

Everyone is gearing up for this year’s fire season, and P.E.T.S. is definitely no exception.  As you know, in past years when Northern California was struck by large wild fires, volunteer groups and private individuals pulled together and did what they could for the citizens and animals affected.  In Tehama County, if disaster strikes, P.E.T.S. will be one of the resources available for our residents.  In anticipation of the worst-case scenario, we are asking in advance if you can assist in any way.  If you answered “YES” to any of the above questions, please email us at  petstehama@gmail.com or message us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PETSTehama or call us at 530-527-8702.  If we hear from you, we will forward a simple form which, when filled out, will allow us to build an effective Volunteer Response Team.  The team will work with P.E.T.S., a volunteer non-profit organization, who will provide assistance, as needed, to Tehama County’s public agencies of Animal Services, and the Sheriff’s office to save and help as many animals that we possibly can in our county!  Your help is important!

The motto “Be Prepared and Be Aware”, of this fire season, cannot be said enough.  With regard to it, I highly recommend that you cut and save the following information to a location that is easily viewed and accessible in event of an emergency.

In the event of a wildfire, the Cal Fire Tehama Glen Unit (530) 528-5199 (http://www.tehamacountyfire.org/) Fire Department and the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office, 530-529-7900, will notify and assist with any evacuation of residents.

The Tehama County Sheriff’s Reverse 9-1-1 automatically calls a resident’s non-cellular telephone number to notify them of emergencies.  If you wish notification via a cellular number instead, download the appropriate form at http://www.tehamaso.org/emergency_form.htm and return it to the Tehama County Sheriff’s office.

Emergency Alert System (EAS) announcements will be on local radio stations KFBK 1530 (AM) and KTHU 100.7 (FM).  Television stations, KRCR Channel 7 (http://www.krcrtv.com/wildfire/16196594), KHSL Channel 12 and KNVN Channel 24 (http://www.actionnewsnow.com/home/) will also have EAS announcements and will provide news updates.  The Red Bluff Daily News (http://www.redbluffdailynews.com/ ), The Redding Record Searchlight (http://www.redding.com/), and The Chico Enterprise Record (http://www.chicoer.com/ ) will post updated news to their websites.  In addition, current fire incident information will be found at CAL Fire (http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current) and Yuba Net (http://yubanet.com/fire.php ). 

The American Red Cross of Northeastern California (530-673-1460 or 1-855-891-7325 http://www.redcross.org/ca/yuba-city/local-programs-services/disaster-services ) will establish shelters for short-term housing and care of evacuees.  They will only allow service animals and not family pets inside their shelters.  Be sure to arrange other housing for your pets’ safety prior to a disaster.  If you choose not to go to the Red Cross shelter, still contact them to provide information about your location, in the event anyone is attempting to locate you.

For any emergency information contact the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office at 530-529-7900.  Please do not call local Fire Stations to report an emergency or to ask for fire information.  If you have an emergency, contact 9-1-1 to report it.

Please remember, if a major disaster happens, the whole community may be affected, and help may not come immediately.  If a wildfire is approaching, be proactive.  Listen to Emergency Alert System announcements and get ready to leave.

In addition, all of us at P.E.T.S. hope to hear from you.  We also want to be ready and without your tremendous assistance, we will not be able to do what needs to be done, should disaster strike.  Please contact us, as soon as possible, and let us know how you can help.  Thank you.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Animal Preparedness During A Disaster - LIVESTOCK



If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs on your property, be sure to include them in your disaster preparations.  The following information provided is aimed towards horses; however, many of the basic principles can be applied to other animals as well. 

All the animals should have some form of identification
  • Tattoos, brands, and microchips cannot be lost.  They can help you prove ownership if you are separated from your livestock. 
  • Keep photos that highlight identifying marks and copies of registration papers and ownership records with you at all times in a waterproof bag.  List each one of your animals and their species, breed, age, sex, color, and distinguishing characteristics.
  • In addition, provide a temporary ID on the animal that is easy to spot and includes a contact phone number with area code.  It will allow anyone to contact you.  Some options for temporary identification are:
    • use an animal livestock marking crayon, non-toxic, non-water soluble spray paint, or non-water-soluble markers to write on the animal’s side.  Use permanent marker to mark hooves and write your name, and phone number.
    • use clippers to shave the same information in its coat
    • attach a band or tag with the necessary information written in waterproof ink to either its halter or by braiding it into tail or mane. 
  • Be sure to post emergency contact numbers at your barn and/or on your pasture fence.

Ensure that whether you stay or go that there is adequate food and water available
  • Have enough feed and hay to last at least three (3) days.  7-10 days is best. 
  • Store food in dry, protected areas. 
  • Dehydration is a major cause of death for animals in any disaster.  For horses, calculate a minimum of 12 gallons per horse per day and again, store enough for a minimum of three (3) days.  If necessary, add chlorine bleach at two drops per quart of water to purify if necessary.

Prepare an emergency/ first aid kit
  • Non-nylon halters and leads (leather/cotton), Bandannas (to use as as blindfolds), flashlights with extra batteries, Duct tape, Knife (sharp, all-purpose) , heavy gloves, rope, shovel, wire cutters, extra buckets, extra blankets, towels (cloth and paper). 
  • First-aid supplies. Check with your veterinarian to find out what he/she recommends .If any animal is on long-term medication, keep at least a two (2) week supply available.  Possible items to include are:
    • Antibiotic ointment (for wounds)
    • Antibiotic eye ointment
    • Bandage scissors
    • Bandage tape
    • Betadine® (povidone-iodine) solution
    • Cotton bandage rolls
    • Elastic bandage rolls
    • Eye rinse (sterile)
    • Isopropyl alcohol
    • Saline solution (for rinsing wounds)
    • Thermometer (digital)
  • Keep copies of medical records including history of vaccinations with the kit.



Evacuate your animals whenever possible
  • Advance planning designates where they will go.  Do not wait until the last minute to start evacuating!
  • Create a list of friends, relatives, etc. who would be willing to board them.(make sure they have your contact numbers)  Familiarize yourself with organizations in the area that are prepared to rescue and shelter during a disaster.  Temporary housing might include:
    • boarding stables
    • veterinarians
    • fairgrounds.
    • Pastures
    • equestrian centers
    • livestock corrals
  • Map out alternate evacuation routes in advance. In addition, access roads may be blocked and you might have to meet at a central collection point that trailers can reach, therefore, plan alternative ways to get the animals off the property.  
  • Have sufficient vehicles and trailers available for transporting your animals or know where to obtain them quickly.  If you don’t have your own truck and trailer, make arrangements with local companies or neighbors before disaster strikes.
  • Train to load.  A panic situation is not the time to teach or learn this skill.  In emergencies, animals that load easily are evacuated first. Unfortunately those that do not are left behind. 

If evacuation is not possible

  • Livestock will be safer in a pasture than in a barn that could collapse or burn. 
  • Make sure that there is easy access to clean water and forage.  Do not rely on automatic watering systems. Power may be lost.  It may be days before you return.
  •  In the case of horses, if you leave the halter on to facilitate catching them later; be sure to use a breakaway style.  Other types can snag on branches, etc. and trap the horse.
  • If time permits, secure or remove all outdoor objects that could turn into dangerous flying debris.

As a final note, catastrophes affect both humans and animals.  Animals can become fearful and, as a result, difficult to control and highly unpredictable during a disaster.  Therefore, whether you own one small animal or a herd of large horses, your safety is paramount.  You cannot help them survive if you are injured.

Emergency Information

In the event that evacuations are ordered during an emergency:
Information for Tehama County will be on local radio stations KFBK 1530 (AM) and KTHU 100.7 (FM). 

For emergency services in Tehama County:
Do not call 9-1-1 for fire or evacuation information. Use it only for immediate threat emergencies
The Tehama County Sheriff’s Office (530) 529-7900
Cal Fire Tehama Glen Unit (530) 528-5199 (http://www.tehamacountyfire.org/) or (http://www.fire.ca.gov/)
The Emergency Services Office (OES) (530) 529-0409
The California Highway Patrol (530) 527-2034 

Incident information can be found at:

Other resources:

KHSL Channel 12 and  KNVN Channel 24  (http://www.actionnewsnow.com/home/)

Monday, June 22, 2015

TAKE YOUR DOG TO WORK


Next Friday, June 26th is Take Your Dog To Work Day©.  Pet Sitters International (PSI) created the day in 1999 to celebrate how dogs are great companions and to encourage adoptions from local shelters and rescues.  PSI believes that, through events like this, non-pet owners are able to observe, first-hand, the special bond people have with pets and will be encouraged to adopt a furry friend of their own.  In addition, for those who have other types of pets, the entire week, leading up to the 26th, is Take Your Pet To Work Week™.  The entire week is not only focused on celebrating the value of pets in the workplace, but to enforce the idea that adopting a homeless pet is the way to go.

Less than 300 businesses participated in the first celebration in 1999.  Since then, tens of thousands of companies in the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, and Australia have participated.  In addition, companies such as Facebook, Ben & Jerry’s, Amazon, Huffington Post, and Google allow dogs to come to work daily because they believe that having dogs in the workplace enhances quality of work.  Supporting this belief are studies conducted by institutions such as Central Michigan University and The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  Both found that when dogs were present, employees were more likely to trust each other and collaborate more effectively.  In addition, according to a survey conducted by American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPA), companies which allowed pets in the workplace had lower absenteeism rates, and employees were more willing to work overtime.

As an employer, why would you want to participate?  Many businesses, due to increased costs, have had to reduce employee benefits.  This is an affordable benefit that shows employees that their employer not only cares about them but also recognize the importance of pets in their lives.  Involvement enhances a company’s ties within the community and can augment any existing relationships with shelters, rescue groups, and pet focused businesses.  Most of all, participation actively shows that the company supports the adoption of homeless animals. 

If a company cannot allow dogs or pets in the workplace, they can still help celebrate and promote the day.   A business could organize a fundraiser and assign the funds to a local animal charity, shelter or rescue group. Creativity is the key.  Businesses can hold wish-list drives, photo contests, etc., to raise money.  Use the day to educate employees about local homeless pets, the health benefits of having a pet, and pet care, by inviting a representative from local pet charities and rescues, vet clinics, etc., to come and speak. 

For those first-time employers who are willing to allow dogs in the workplace for the day, send out a memorandum to all employees regarding the guidelines for the day.  Be sure to include where Fido is allowed to go, and what areas are strictly off-limits, taking into consideration anyone who may be allergic, among other considerations.  It would also be wise to require that all dogs be spayed or neutered and up-to-date on shots. Highlight that dog aggression will not be tolerated and that the owner of a dog displaying hostile behavior will be asked to remove his pet immediately.  Outline items such as what to do in case of a “doggy” accident and how others should approach an unfamiliar dog.

Employees can ensure the day is a success by observing a few courtesies.  Check to see if anyone is allergic or has a fear of being in the proximity of dogs.  Be sure that where the animal will be located is safe, and there are no hazardous materials easily accessible.  First impressions are usually lasting, so a trip to the groomer beforehand helps create a good one.  Not all animals like being in unfamiliar environments.  If the animal is aggressive, shy, fearful, or not well behaved around strangers, it is probably best he stay home.  Bring items that help ensure not only the dog’s safety and comfort but coworkers too.  A baby gate to block an opening, or a portable kennel, keeps the animal from wandering unsupervised.  Bring along food, treats, dishes, chew toys, a leash, paper towels, and clean-up bags.  Be sure that adequate clean water is available. Locate appropriate areas where the animal can go to the bathroom and be sure to clean up any messes.


With a little preparation and consideration, taking your dog to work can be a fun day for humans and canines alike.   


Monday, May 25, 2015

FERAL CATS



Not a week goes by that I do not hear someone talk about the feral cat problem in Tehama County.  In many other areas around the world, for centuries ferals have comprised a large portion of local stray animal populations. Tehama is no exception. 

All ferals are strays, but not all strays are feral.  A stray may be someone’s companion cat who became lost, or had been intentionally abandoned.  These socialized cats are adoptable and can be reintroduced into a home.  Adult feral cats are not socialized and are not considered adoptable.  They may be former pets who, over time, regressed to a wild state or they may be the offspring of felines who did not reunite with their guardians. 

Colonies are groups of ferals living together.  They can be a combination of ferals and strays that share territory and a food source.  Unfortunately, these colonies can grow from a couple of cats to hundreds as each new generation of kittens is born.  If these kittens never have human contact, they will also grow into fearful wild cats.  Unless a rescue is available to take the adults, an extremely high probability for euthanasia occurs if brought into a shelter.  However, feral kittens under eight weeks of age have an increased chance of not sharing the same fate if there are people readily available to socialize them.

Ferals, avoiding humans, live in the shadows and hidden spots of our community, and struggle desperately to exist.  Food sources, often provided by dumpsters and garbage or the rodents that feast on the same, are limited.  Some ferals are lucky enough to receive food from benevolent people who do not wish them to starve.  Unfortunately, as well intentioned as these people are, they may be inadvertently contributing to the overall problem if they do not concurrently spay or neuter.  The community where the cats live often views them with disdain due to the cat’s scavenging, mating, and territorial behaviors.  In addition, the perpetuated misinformation about the effects on wildlife does nothing to aid these animals.  Their life, like any other domestic pet who does not have a human guardian, is fret with illness, injury, starvation, and predation. 

For many, the way to deal with these woe-begotten creatures is simply to eradicate them and the colonies in which they live.  Research has shown us that this is not an effective fix.  Even though the quantity of cats in a locale is reduced, the solution is temporary.  Any survivors will continue to breed and other breeding cats will move into the vacancy created. 

The only proven method to manage feral cat colonies is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).  TNR is not about rescuing or eradicating every feral.  It is about reducing the number of feral cats in a given area and lowering intake euthanasia rates.  It is also about creating a better environment for both the cats and the people around them.  

With TNR, each cat in a colony is trapped and transported to a veterinary clinic.  At the clinic, the animal is vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and ear-tipped (the ear is trimmed) to identify them as ferals who were sterilized.  Once recovered, the cats are returned to their original colony.  Ideally, a “caretaker”, who is either an individual or a committed group of people, provides food, water, and shelter to the cats.  In addition, the caretaker monitors the cats for illness or injury and also for any newcomers who would require TNR.  A comprehensive resource for caretakers, or those interested in TNR, is “The Neighborhood Cat TNR Handbook: A Guide to Trap- Neuter- Return for the Feral Cat Caretaker”.  It is available to read or download at no charge at http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/article/HOME/142 .

Society, in general, would prefer that there were no feral cats.  Ways to help prevent ferals is to avoid the initial actions that perpetuate the situation.  Ensure that pets are not only safely contained but, if lost, that they have some form of identification on them in order to assure their guardian is contacted.  Do not abandon domestic pets and force them to learn to fend for themselves in unfamiliar, unfriendly environments.  In addition, do not let unsprayed/unneutered cats roam free.  Better yet, spay or neuter all your pets.

Feral cats may never become beloved household companions, but that does not mean their life has no value.  Both they and we are part of this community.  It is up to us to find solutions to coexist.  Next week, I will discuss TNR in greater depth, along with its alternatives.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

MICROCHIP YOUR PET


Lost pets and their guardians deserve to be reunited.  Even though a person may be a responsible pet guardian, accidents do happen and pets escape yards.  Current estimates are that one out of every three pets becomes lost at least once in their life.  In addition, according to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, only about 22% of lost dogs and less than 2% of lost cats that entered shelters were reunited with their guardians.  However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52%, and for microchipped cats it was over 38%.  The odds of a pet being returned to its owner dramatically increase with microchipping.  

Even though there are other ways to identify your pet, such as name tags or licenses attached to collars, it is also possible that the collar can slide off, be removed, or the tags become difficult to read.  A microchip is one form of permanent identification.  The additional benefit is that a microchip has an average life expectancy of twenty-five years.

Microchipping is a relatively simple procedure done by a veterinarian or at your local shelter.  It is like giving an injection to your pet.  In a matter of seconds this small computer chip, no larger than a grain of rice, is injected just under your pets’ skin, between the shoulder blades.  There is no need to leave your pet at a clinic, you can be present during the injection, no anesthetic is required, and your pet will not experience any more distress than it would when getting its annual vaccinations.

After the injection, a test scan is done to ensure that the chip is functioning correctly.  A form is completed that records the microchip identification number, along with guardian contact information, pet name and description, and veterinarian or shelter contact information.  This form is then sent to the registry of the particular brand of chip.  Additionally, free of charge, you can register any brand or frequency of microchip, add pets, and update contact information online at Found Animals Microchip Registry (https://microchipregistry.foundanimals.org/).  Whenever a lost pet is located, Found Animals provides an alert system.  Whatever registry is utilized, it is important to remember to keep all contact information current.  There have been numerous instances of strays with microchips being brought into a shelter and, unfortunately, the owner cannot be located because the information provided is outdated.

Every microchip contains a 9, 10 or 15 digit identification number and the phone number of its registry.  A microchip does not store any personal information.  In addition, a microchip cannot function as a GPS since it does not contain a power source.  The chip will not do anything until a handheld scanner is passed over it.  At that time, the scanner reads the radio frequency of the implanted chip and displays the ID and registry phone number.  If your pet arrives at a shelter or vet clinic, they will immediately scan for a chip and contact the registry displayed to get your name and phone number to reunite your missing pet with you.

If you have not microchipped your pet because of cost, please reconsider.  The Tehama County Animal Care Center at 1830 Walnut St., Red Bluff will microchip for $15.00.  Additionally, in Tehama County, VIP Pet Care (1-800-427-7973) will microchip for $15.00 and are at Tractor Supply, 249 Main St., Red Bluff every Sunday from 3:45pm to 5:00 pm.  Vet clinics will also microchip and the fees will vary depending upon any additional services provided. 


Microchipping your pet will help give you peace of mind.  If your pet is lost, you know that your pet can be identified if found.  It also proves, without question, that you are the pet’s owner should the need arise.  Above all else, it works.  There are numerous stories of pets being reunited with their guardians after months of being missing.  The one item all had in common was that they were microchipped.

DOG BITE PREVENTION


The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), in 2013, published the most complete study of dog bite-related fatalities since the first study was conducted in the 1970s.  Based on the investigation completed, the researchers identified multiple controllable factors in these fatalities.  For many of us the situations are not surprising.

The following, according to the AVMA study, were contributing factors in dog bites.  An able-bodied person was not present to intervene in the situation.  The victim did not have a relationship with the dog.  The dog’s guardian failed to spay/neuter the animal.  The victim, because of age or physical condition, was not able to control the dog.  The dog’s guardian kept the animal as a “resident” rather than a family pet.  The guardian had previously mishandled the dog or had either abused or neglected the dog.

The National Canine Research Council (NCRC) defines “resident” dogs as those whose guardian isolates them from regular, positive human interaction.  This isolation results in behaviors that are different from a family dog.  Whereas, when a dog is actively included into the family, that dog is more likely to learn appropriate behavior through regular, positive interaction.

Dog bite-related fatalities are extremely rare.  To put it in perspective, in the United States, with a human population of over 318 million, and an owned canine population estimated at over 83 million, there were 41 confirmed cases in 2014.  However, again in the US, more than 4.7 million people were bitten by dogs.  While the majority did not result in an injury requiring treatment, approximately one-half of the bites that required medical attention involved children.  It is also essentail to note that the highest incidence of injuries occurred with children five to nine years of age. 

Knowing that children are the most common victims of dog bites, it is important not to leave a young child unsupervised with a dog.  Teaching children to be gentle, to respect the dog’s space and rest, and not to approach an unfamiliar dog can go far in preventing bites.

We also know that major contributors to bites are under socialization and improper training.  Have your dog become an integral part of the family.  Dogs are highly social and, when frequently left alone for long periods, they have a much greater chance of having behavior problems like aggression.  Begin early consistent reward-based training to effectively teach expectations and provide mental stimulation.  Gradually expose the dog to a variety of people and places so it can feel at ease.  Dogs who are distressed can become aggressive or fear-bite.  Therefore, allow the dog to work at its own speed and definitely do not force an uncomfortable situation upon it.

Be a responsible pet owner.  Be aware of your pet’s health.  Pain resulting from an illness or injury can affect behavior.  Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible.  Multiple studies have shown that neutered dogs are less likely to bite.  Obey leash laws and do not allow your dog to roam the neighborhood.  If the dog is loose in a yard, be sure that the fencing and gates are secure.

Since dogs do not have the ability to talk, understanding their body language can help us know when something is amiss.  Dogs cannot talk to us and tell us when something is wrong.  When dogs are scared, their body and face will appear tense and rigid and they will try to look small, cowering close to the ground and tucking their tail between their legs.  They also might look slightly away, lick their lips, and yawn.  An aggressive dog will do the opposite.  They will try to look bigger.  Fur may stand up, especially along the spine.  Ears might also be erect and pushed forward.  In addition, it is important to realize a wagging tail does not necessarily mean the dog is feeling friendly. 

If interested in learning more about dog-bite prevention, both the American Veterinary Medical Association (https://www.avma.org/public/Pages/Dog-Bite-Prevention.aspx) and the ASPCA (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/dog-bite-prevention ) websites provide helpful additional information.


Through education, the understanding of dog behavior, and the continued enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and prosecution of animal abusers the instances of dog bites can be lowered.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

★ What Happens To Your Pets If Something Happens To You? ★

 If something unexpected happens, be it severe illness or death, it is crucial to have arrangements in place to provide for your pets’ well-being.  The future is uncertain and, no matter what age we are, planning to ensure that our pets continue to receive the same care we give them is one of our duties as responsible pet guardians.

Many times when a guardian has an unexpected accident, illness or death, their pets may be unnoticed in the turmoil that ensues.  To insure that pets are not forgotten in the confusion, you can take a few simple advance measures.

First, identify those people who would be willing to be either temporary or permanent guardians should something untoward happen.  If you cannot find friends or relatives willing to take the responsibility, perhaps your veterinarian, an animal rescue group or another animal related business can provide information to assist in locating potential caregivers.  Once guardians are arranged, make sure that friends and relatives are aware of who they are and that they are also given the necessary contact information.  In addition, carry an “Alert Card” with you at all times.  The card will inform authorities that you have pet(s) at home and whom they need to contact to oversee their care.

Post “In Case of Emergency” signs on doors or windows which lists how many and what types of pets are in the home to alert any emergency personnel that arrive.  Be sure to keep the information current.  The ASPCA provides a free safety pack that includes window decal alerts (https://www.aspca.org/form/free-pet-safety-pack).  In addition, fasten in an easily seen location a listing of emergency contact names and numbers that responding personnel can notify should you be unable to care for your pets.

Create information sheets for each pet you have.  These documents will provide the necessary information that a guardian will require.  Even if you do not have a definitive future plan for your pets, the information will prove to be invaluable in helping find them a new home should the need arise.  If you would like a pet information sheet, please email petstehama@gmail.com and we will be happy to provide you with one.  If you would prefer to create your own, be sure to include: pet name, sex, date of birth, breed, spay/neuter status, microchip ID No., license issuer location and tag #, diet, special needs, medical conditions and medications given, behavior traits, veterinary information, daily routine, and any other pertinent information that will prove beneficial to a future caregiver.  These sheets should be readily accessible and should be distributed to anyone who might care for your pet(s).

There are many options when planning for the future of your pet.  The best way to be sure your wishes are fulfilled is to make arrangements that specifically cover the pets’ care.  It would be in the pets’ best interests that you consult an attorney to draw up a will, trust or other legal document that outlines your specific wants, including what funds will be allotted for the care of the pets.

It is especially important to develop a plan if you have more than one pet and want them to stay together.  One person may not be willing, or able, to take care of all your animals.  There are facilities that can house and care for multiple animals and provide long-term care.  However, understand that your pets are companion animals and have received your loving care and affection for some time, and may become distressed by being confined on a long-term basis.  Before making any decision, visit the facility to witness how the animals will be treated, and be sure to choose a reputable organization with an established record of care.

If you want to prevent your pets from becoming homeless, with the possibility of ending up in a shelter facing an unknown future, then now is the perfect time to formulate a plan in case something unexpected happens to you.