February is all about being a responsible pet owner. What do responsible pet owners do?
They have their pets spayed and neutered, and encourage their friends and family to do the same. Spaying and neutering not only helps control animal population, but it can also protect dogs and cats from various diseases, including cancer.
They give their pets plenty of exercise, whether by walking their dogs, or taking them for romps in city or dog parks. Exercise in park settings often promotes confidence and socialization for dogs. And cats can often benefit from exercise in the home setting, as well.
They feed their pets a nutritious diet, thus boosting their immune system, which helps to keep them healthy.
They groom their pets as often as required for the specific breeds they own. Good grooming includes trimming, washing and brushing their coats; trimming their nails; cleaning their ears and teeth.
They allow their dogs to live inside their house, rather than having them stay outside in a backyard kennel. Dogs are social, pack animals and their confidence and sense of wellbeing is jeopardized when they are left alone outside.
They train their dogs. Training a dog gives the dog a job to do and guidelines for proper behavior. It also instills confidence. Behavior problems are often eliminated with regular, positive training.
They have their dogs wear collars with up-to-date identification and their current rabies vaccination tag. Indoor cats benefit by wearing collars and tags in case they escape from their house. Responsible cat owners also make sure their indoor-outdoor cats wear a collar with identification tags.
They carry bags and clean up after their dog when they go for outdoor outings. This helps prevent the spread of diseases, and assures a clean environment for everyone to enjoy.
February is the month in which pet owners are urged to be responsible by spaying and neutering their pets. It is one of the most important things responsible pet owners can do to help their pets lead a happy and healthy life!
Sometimes large-scale events and unforeseen circumstances can slow down
recovery efforts, and sometimes all it takes is something small – like a
toad. In case you don’t regularly read the Austin American Statesman,
you may have missed an interesting story that shows the complex nature
of disaster recovery. Those involved with disaster recovery need to
think about a wide variety of factors that come into play, including the
cleanup efforts’ effects on animals.
To set the stage, a historic wildfire season hit Texas in 2011, and we continue to work in support of state and local officials in providing assistance
to affected individuals and local governments. This assistance to local
governments includes supporting removing debris in some of the damaged
A small, rare object that could soon be spotted hopping nearby, however,
has the potential to delay FEMA-funded recovery projects in certain
areas. This object is the endangered Houston toad, which surfaces during
mating season. Emergency managers have a responsibility to carry out
our jobs in a manner that avoids or minimizes adverse impacts to the
environment, especially potential impacts on endangered species. Read the full story
Photo of the endangered Houston Toad. (Courtesy of the National Fish and Wildlife Service)
October 22nd is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. If ever there were a dog that deserves a special day of awareness, it is the much-maligned American Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bulls, once a family dog of choice, have had their reputations smeared due in part to media stories about dog attacks, discriminatory insurance regulations, and laws restricting their ownership.
The truth is that a well-trained Pit Bull owned by a responsible owner is a loving, loyal, friendly pet. Like any member of the Terrier family, Pit Bulls are feisty and energetic, and genetically disposed to be aggressive with other dogs, but not people. However, according to Dog Breed Info, "if they are properly socialized with a firm, but calm, confident, consistent pack leader, they will not even be aggressive with them." When a Pit Bull owner (the pack leader) understands the breed, provides regular training and exercise, and offers a loving environment, a Pit Bull can be a welcome family member.
Bless the Bullys, the founders of National Pit Bull Awareness Day have this to say: "As breed advocates, we have an obligation to show the public what the media will not -- the truth. As responsible Pit Bull owners, we can no longer be willing to be judged, discriminated against, and criminalized by the image set by the visible minority of irresponsible, negligent, and careless owners. The media berates our dogs daily. Legislators have labeled Pit Bull owners as the "criminal element" who only own pit bulls to enhance their macho image. The time has come to set the record straight, and the National Pit Bull Awareness Day campaign is just the place to start."
Dog Breed Info puts it succinctly: "The APBT, as registered by the UKC, is an individual breed of dog and does not refer to just any ill-bred, mindless warrior-type mongrel. At one time, the Pit Bull was a much loved, trustworthy companion. People who chose to train these dogs to fight are chiefly responsible for the banning and witch-hunting that has been sweeping the U.S. The media, however, should not go unmentioned, for it is also responsible for escalating isolated incidences in a relentless and attention-getting way."
It is not the Pit Bull's fault that some of them are chosen and trained to fight by unscrupulous humans, or trained to be vicious guard dogs, tethered most of their lives on a chain, and not given the opportunity to be properly socialized to people. The ASPCA website states: "Pit Bulls often attract the worst kind of dog owners—people who are only interested in these dogs for fighting or protection. While Pit Bulls were once considered especially non-aggressive to people, their reputation has changed, thanks to unscrupulous breeders and irresponsible owners. And because the Pit Bull population has increased so rapidly, shelters now struggle to deal with an overflow of image-plagued, hard-to-place dogs."
Fortunately, there are people and organizations committed to raising our awareness about the Pit Bull. Best Friends compiled a Calendar of Events where you can find activites in many U.S. states and cities to highlight the breed. It's an opportunity for people to go out and meet a "true" Pit Bull Terrier.
Last, but certainly not least, we would like you know about the work of BAD RAP - The Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls. These are the people who evaluated and rescued the infamous fighting Pit Bulls owned by former NFL football player Michael Vick. We invite you to check out their website and blog, and watch the wonderful video below, part of a longer PBS episode.
Pit Bulls, like other dogs, can be loving, loyal companions. They just need a chance, and the right pet parents, to prove it.
According to Wikipedia, reptiles are characterized by breathing air, laying shelled eggs (except for some vipers and constrictor snakes that give live birth), and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes.
The Reptile Databaselists six categories of reptiles: Lizards, Snakes, Tuataras, Crocodiles, Amphisbaenians, and Turtles. Within those six categories, there are many different species from the tiny Dwarf Gecko to the huge saltwater crocodile.
The Reptile Channel is a great resource of information, including a special page about Reptile Awareness Day, with suggestions on things you can do in observance of their day. If you have a reptile as a pet, be sure to check out their Care Sheets for great information on how to be a responsible reptile owner.
SOME REPTILES ARE ENDANGERED
The numbers of San Francisco Garter Snakes has dropped to between one and two thousand, mainly due to collectors selling them on the black market, and well as urbanization and pollution.
The Green Sea Turtle population off the coasts of Florida and Mexico are close to extinction because of commercial harvesting. Did you know that it takes a female Green Sea Turtle 20 to 50 years before she begins to lay eggs?
The world's largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon, is found in only one place today -- Komodo National Park and a small group of islands off the coast of Indonesia. They are threatened due to volcanic eruptions and forest fires, as well as human destruction of their habitat.
The Tuatara is a lizard-looking reptile that is believed to be one of the oldest species on Earth! They live in New Zealand, and face the threat of extinction due to habitat loss and the introduction of predators like rats, weasels and badgers.
The Gharial is a crocodile-like reptile with a long, narrow snout and numerous sharp teeth. It is found only in the rivers of India, and a few surrounding areas like Bangladesh and Pakistan. There are only about 1,500 Gharials in the wild today. Source
Disaster Preparation for Reptiles
In the event of a disaster or emergency that requires evacuation, you should have a special disaster kit just for any reptiles you keep as pets. The following is a list of items for your kit from Red Rover:
Food and Water:
A two-week supply of feeders/prey items if fed
A two-week supply of water, stored in a cool, dark location. Rotate every two months to ensure freshness. If tap water is not suitable for humans to drink during a disaster, it is also not suitable for cats to drink.
A two-week supply of pelleted food if fed, stored in an airtight, waterproof container and rotated every three months for freshness.
Food and water source for feeders
Baby food or fruits and vegetables stored in their own juice or in water, with a can opener if needed
Ice chest and cool packs to store frozen prey items
Calcium and/or vitamin supplementation if needed
Dechlorinator for water
Tongs for feeding
Baby food and canned fruits and vegetables are a great substitute when fresh produce is not available. However, avoid those with added salt or sugar. Many reptiles and amphibians eat live or frozen/thawed prey. Consider the care and nutrition of the prey animals when making your disaster plans
Housing and Transportation:
Carrier or evacuation cage if your existing enclosure is too large to transport
Small enclosure with a secure lid for when destination is reached
A hide box such as a bowl, box or flower pot that can help your herpatile feel more secure.
Most reptiles and amphibians can be transported in a small, hard-sided carrier, but snakes are normally more secure and safe in a knotted-off pillowcase. Bring your own extension cords to make use of power outlets, but prepare to provide heat without power.
Microchip (many larger reptiles and amphibians can be microchipped; ask your veterinarian)
Photos of you with pet to prove owership if you are separated
Photos’ showing any distinguishing features of your pet
Copy of veterinary records
Health and Safety:
A two-week supply of any medication your pet is taking
First aid kit including antibiotic ointment, Betadine solution for cleansing and disinfecting, gauze for cuts and wounds, cornstarch to stop minor bleeding, tweezers and scissors and Q-tips. Ask your vet for other recommendations. Order a complete pet first aid kit at the UAN Store.
Hot and cold instant packs
Contact numbers for your vet and a vet out of disaster area
An appetite stimulant such as Reptaid can come in handy if your reptile or amphibian stops eating due to the stress of the emergency. Spray bottles are handy for misting the enclosure to ensure appropriate humidity. Instant hot and cold packs are great for regulating the temperature of the enclosure during a power outage.
Cleaning and Sanitation:
Liquid soap for washing food and water bowls, paper towels, and disinfectant for cleaning crates and carriers.
Rinse all dishes/enclosures well, as reptiles and amphibians are sensitive to chemicals ingested or absorbed through the skin.
Here's a video about How to Care for Reptiles. Your kids will like it! Happy Reptile Day, everyone!
How often have you been awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of cats fighting or mating? How many times have you or someone you know taken a pet, or an unwanted litter, to the local pound or shelter because you could not afford to keep them all? Do you know people who, instead of taking unwanted pets to a shelter, simply take them out in the country and dump them somewhere? What do you do when you see a stray around your home or in your neighborhood?
Imagine for a second that these cats and dogs are people. That shouldn't be too big a stretch for many pet parents, since we tend to think of our pets as children. Four million lives snuffed out each year. Almost half the population of New York City. More than the population of Los Angeles. More than the populations of Philadelphia and Phoenix combined! Source
Four million dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies are being killed ... why? Because "dog pounds" and shelters don't have room for them all, or the staff to take care of them, or the money for food, water, and medical care.
1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.
3. Your spayed female won't go into heat.While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they'll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
4. Your male dog won't want to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he's free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat. Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
7. It is highly cost-effective. The cost of your pet's spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community. Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
9. Your pet doesn't need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth. Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.
Don't think you can afford to have your pet spayed or neutered? Think again! More and more veterinarians and organizations are offering low-cost spay/neuter clinics on special days which usually are publicized in your local newspaper or on your local TV channels. We have seen many across the country advertising spay/neuter services for as little as $15.00. You can do this! Just think of the peace of mind you will gain knowing that your pet won't be the one responsible for creating a litter of unwanted babies that could end up being euthanized at a shelter.
If you don't know where to take your pet for a low-cost spay or neuter procedure, find one here:
What about those cats that wake you up in the middle of the night? You know -- the wild ones that won't come near you. October 16th was "National Feral Cat Day," a day established by Alley Cat Allies to bring attention to the issue of feral cats. Somewhere along the way, someone dumped an unwanted cat or litter of kittens, and they learned to survive on their own, having litter after litter. Feral cats are domestic cats that never had a real home. They were born in the "wild." They never learned to socialize with humans and therefore are afraid of us. They cannot be adopted. The ones that are trapped and taken to your local pound or shelter are killed.
You and your neighbors can work together to stop them from reproducing through a program called "Trap-Neuter-Return." Alley Cat Allies writes: "This program ends reproduction, stabilizes feral cat populations, and improves individual cats' lives. The behaviors and stresses associated with mating -- pregnancy, yowling, and fighting -- stop." You can learn more about it at the Alley Cat Allies website.
There are TNR programs already established in many areas of the country that will welcome your help, or you can learn how to start your own neighborhood program at the Alley Cat Allies website here.
Pet overpopulation in the U.S. is a serious problem that we can do something about. Discuss it with your friends and neighbors, and help put an end to the tragic killing of so many animals.
In 2009, a very special documentary, No Dog Left Behind was released about the efforts by American soldiers in Iraq to bring home dogs who had become their friends and comforters. The Internet Movie Database summarizes the story this way:
"A deeply personal documentary that reveals the power of the human-animal
bond to comfort, heal and inspire the best in people in the worst of
times and to find their humanity in the midst of dehumanizing
conditions. It is a story about the enduring friendships forged in
wartime between four military men and women and the dogs they rescued in
Iraq, dogs who became heroes in unexpected ways. Battling military
prohibitions and all but impossible odds, these soldiers and Marines
attempt to bring their canine battle buddies home to safety in the U.S.
with the help of a determined rescuer - fighting not just for their
animals' lives, but for their own."
Ellen Goosenberg Kent
The Military Channel originally aired the documentary in 2009, but is repeating it this month. According to their website, it is being aired 10/12 - 10/27. Check your local listings. You can see 4 different trailers for the moviehere.
The "determined rescuer" referred to in the IMBDb summary above is Terri Crisp, an SPCA Internationalstaffer who was given the assignment of figuring out a way to help "Charlie" out of Iraq. Ms. Crisp has a new book about her experiences -- "No Buddy Left Behind."
We offer our admiration and thanks to SPCA International and Terri Crisp for their hard work over the years in rescuing these and other disaster animals.
In addition to the movie trailers, below is a video about "Nubs" (which leads to another video about the Stateside reunion of these two) and an interview with Terri Crisp about her new book.
We wish you a safe, happy weekend, and, as always, we welcome your comments.
The month of October has been designated as National Animal Safety and Protection Month. According to the PALS Foundation, it is an "observance to promote the appropriate ways to protect and care for domestic and wild animals and help people strengthen skills for staying safe around animals."
Mahatma Ghandi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. This is a good time to remember how important animals are to our lives, whether they are pets, animals that are raised for our food supply, or the many types of animals in the wild that make our world so interesting and beautiful. During October, some schools and libraries have special programs to teach children how to help their pets stay safe, as well as how to stay safe around wild animals, and the importance of protecting our wildlife.
If you have a dog, one way you can protect him or her is to use a safety restraint in your vehicle. The video below shows what can happen when a dog isn't restrained during a sudden stop or crash.
Our animals depend on us for their well-being. In return for responsible pet ownership, we are rewarded with their unconditional love and loyalty.
Humanity Road, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public with critical recovery information before, during and after a catastrophic disaster. Humanity Road, Inc. and its global volunteers endeavor to provide information that is useful, timely and as accurate as possible, however, they should not be viewed as an authoritative source. Please do not rely solely on the content of this web site for emergency response decision making without verification through alternate sources.