Right now, the Animal Rescue League is overwhelmed with rats. No, not the wild rodents that pick through the garbage. We have about six adults domesticated rats and twenty (!) babies. Yes, two rats came in here pregnant. Imagine our surprise to find little ones in the cage one morning?
Baby rats grow very quickly. We are giving them lots of love and socialization to be sure that they become great pets. Did you know that in just a couple of weeks, they look mature and they can begin to reproduce? If you keep rats and don’t want any more babies, remember to separate them as soon as possible! We certainly have!
They make good pets! Rats are intelligent, social and a lot of fun. They love to be out of their cages and held. Some love to just hang out on your shoulder as you go about your daily activities. Of the domesticated rodents, rats most like to be with humans. Because they are so intelligent, they are easy to train. They also like to have a friend. If you would consider getting a pet rat, make that two (of the same sex, unless you want LOTS more rats!). They really are clean animals and frequently groom themselves like cats, and they will groom one another.
Rats are relatively easy to care for, no different than hamsters, gerbils or guinea pigs. They need a large cage or even an aquarium. Their bedding needs to be cleaned daily to remove excrement and old food. They also need lots of things to play with – toys and fun objects. Like any other animal, they can get bored if not provided with enough stimulation.
They eat rat chow – yes, there is such a thing – and enjoy fruits and vegetables but cannot tolerate corn and onions. They really need something to chew on too. Untreated wood blocks, rawhide and even dog biscuits work well.
As for health care, rats are no different than other pets. They need regular yearly wellness checkups. Rats are very susceptible to mites which can cause itchiness and hair loss.
They are a fun, loving and low maintenance pet for someone on a budget and on the go! Please consider giving a homeless rat a home.
The Animal Rescue League occasionally gets pot-bellied pigs either surrendered or found as strays. They were a fad pet back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Thankfully, their popularity has diminished but some people still can’t resist them. They are cute!! Definitely not a pet for everyone, however, especially if you don’t know anything about how to care for them.
You can still buy pot bellied pigs in some pet stores, and they are always small, about the size of a medium-sized dog. Their size is deceptive, and more than likely, the pet store doesn’t tell the buyers that these pigs have the potential to grow to be 200 pounds! Many people think that they will stay small. An average adult pot bellied pig will be about 130-150 pounds, and that’s still quite large for a pet.
Pigs are pigs, regardless if they are farm pigs or pot bellied pigs. They have certain requirements. They can be very energetic and need exercise and a certain amount of time outside (in a fenced yard, of course). If they are denied this, they will become destructive. They also need training, no different than dogs. They must be shown where they stand in the pack order (not the top, that’s for sure!). If they think they are in charge, they will become “pig-headed.” Where do you think that expression comes from?! Sadly, this is often the time when pigs are surrendered to shelters.
Pigs also prefer a certain type of bedding, a nest that they can sink into. A large dog bed works well, as do heavy blankets. If they do not have a bed, they may make their own – out of things they find in your home! They may shred cardboard boxes and even your furniture.
Pigs require maintenance of their teeth (tusks) and hooves. They need to be trimmed every year. Regular veterinary checkups are required, no different than owning a dog or cat. And they should be spayed/neutered, for obvious reasons to prevent breeding but also for health reasons. Pigs can develop cancer of the reproductive organs if not spayed or neutered. Here’s a little known fact for you: A male pig can father a litter of piglets at 8 weeks! Neuter them early!
Diet is also important to keep pigs slim and trim. They will eat anything but it’s best that they are fed pig chow, specially formulated for their needs.
Think long and hard if you are considering purchasing a pot bellied pig. They can live for 15 years.
Spring has certainly sprung, and along with it has come the rapid flourishes of lush, green grass. As beautiful as all this green is, it also warrants reason for concern among many horse owners. These concerns are rightly justified, as spring grass contains alarming levels of sugars and protein that can be toxic to laminitis-prone horses. Laminitis or "founder" occurs when a horse has an overload of sugars and proteins, leading to inflammation of the laminae-a crucial internal layer of the hoof located between the hoof wall and coffin bone. If left untreated, laminitis can permanently deform the hoof, leave the horse unable to be ridden or even lead to euthanasia. So it's important to recognize the sings of laminitis, treat it immediately and prevent future episodes. Ponies that are overweight are most commonly "at-risk" for developing laminitis. Weight control and limited grass intake are vital steps in preventing the onset of founder. Very lush grass, early spring grass and grass that has frosted overnight are most toxic for horses that may be prone to laminitis. So what are the signs of this disease? 1. "camping out"-when the horse is standing with its front legs pitched forward to relieve pressure from the hooves 2. soreness when walking, especially on hard surfaces 3. heat in the front hooves 4. loose manure If you happen to notice any combination of these symptoms, it's important to remove the horse from any pasture with excess grass immediately and place him on stall rest. Make sure the horse has ample hay and water, limit sweet feed intake and call your vet. Most horses make full and speedy recoveries from laminitis. However, it still remains a serious and sometimes devastating disease that requires aggressive treatment. Being aware of the change in season and the potentially toxic levels of sugar in spring's new grass is a vital first step in preventing this painful disease. Consider purchasing a grazing muzzle for pudgy ponies or keeping them in a stall for parts of the day. They may be disappointed but it's just another form of tough love for our hooved friends.
It seems like it’s almost a daily occurrence that someone posts information on a lost pet on our Facebook page. We get even more reports called in, faxed over and sent via our web site. It’s so heartbreaking to see that so many pets go missing every day! We think that it can’t happen to us but it can. All it takes is a dropped leash, a slipped harness, a fence gate left open, or a door not completely closed.
A new product may be the solution to all of our fears! It’s called the Tagg™ the Pet Tracker. It allows you to track your pet’s location from your computer or mobile device. How does it work? It’s like a GPS for your pet! A tag attaches to your pet’s collar. With the Tagg app, you can track your pet’s whereabouts at all times. It sends you a text or email alert if your pet leaves your designated area. You can even get a map that shows you the exact location of your pet. This is brilliant!
The Tagg product will even help your pet with his exercise goals. Oh yes! Just like humans, dogs need to get a certain amount of exercise each day. The Pet Tracker acts like a pedometer and gives you charts of your pet’s activities.
Of course, anything this cool and effective comes with a price. But isn’t the safety of your pet worth it? When purchased online, the system costs $100 which includes the first three months of service. Ongoing, the service fee is $7.95.
Godfrey’s Welcome to Dogdom in Mohnton is now selling this marvelous product! Stop in and talk to them about it. You’ll be convinced that it’s like insurance – you wish you had it when you need it.
If you are a regular reader and a supporter of the ARL, you know that we are always looking for foster families. We need people to take in young kittens, older and special needs pets and pets who could use some help with let's call it "manners." Right now, I am fostering for the first time a pair of Chihuahua mixes. They are precious, adorable and very loving. But I am not familiar with this breed of dog! Every one is a new learning experience and can be loads of fun.
One of my little girls is not house trained. Oh my. That's something I have not dealt with in over 24 years when I adopted my one and only puppy. I had forgotten the challenges of housetraining. Thank goodness, I have a crate and she is good about going into it. So far, we're making progress but she needs to be monitored 100% of the time. That's how to successfully housetrain a dog.
They like to bark here at work too. I'm not used to that either, having had older more sedate dogs in the past. Again, I have to digg into my arsenal of training tricks to teach them not to bark. It won't be cured overnight; it takes time and patience.
Time and patience - that is the message I would like to convey to anyone who is considering fostering a pet AND adopting a pet. We cannot expect them to be perfect the moment they enter our homes. They had a different lifestyle in their prior homes and will need time to learn what you expect of them. And it's out job to do a good job of teaching them. It may take days, weeks or even months if the pet has been through significant trauma in its life. Don't give up after a few hours or days. They deserve a chance to prove to you that they can be a good pet, if you give them the tools to achieve it.
The ARL had two totally adorable young dogs come into the shelter recently, a mini Australian Shepherd and a mini Border Collie. Despite their diminutive stature compared with their full sized brethren, these dogs are all about herding. Many people see a cute little dog but don’t know about its history and the function for which it was bred. Herding dogs are in a league of their own!
Some of the following breeds fall into the herding groups:
- Border Collie (regular and mini)
- Australian Shepherd (regular and mini)
- Corgi (Pembroke and Cardigan)
- German Shepherd
- Australian Cattle Dog
These are the breeds we most commonly see at the shelter. Their origins go back thousands of years, bred to work with livestock. Some people appropriately refer to them as “working dogs” because they spend hours each day in the fields with sheep, cattle, horses and other farm-type animals.
Corgis and Cattle Dogs use their mouths to guide the flocks, nipping at their heels. Collies and Australian Shepherds generally aren’t as nippy but instead use a stare, also called “strong eye” to intimidate the flock. German Shepherds act more as tending, using their bodies as a block from allowing the flock to move past them.
If someone adopts one of these kinds of dogs and is not familiar with their characteristics and requirements, it may not be a good choice. For example, most herding dogs are extremely smart. They are quite possibly able to outsmart their owners! Also, if the dogs are not given an opportunity for exercise (which most of them require plenty of), they can exhibit behavior problems. Plus, herding dogs are very likely to herd children! The nipping that they have been bred to do with animals is not acceptable to parents of small children.
As we continually say, please do your research when adopting a pet. Learn as much as you can about them and make an informed decision.
The Animal Rescue League's monthly BCTV show is Monday, April 15 at 7:00pm, and we have a very special program in store. We will be announcing a new adoption program called Paws for Patriots. I can't tell you any more - you have to watch! But here's a hint, the tag line for the program is: Animals and Veterans: Healing One Another Together.
My guests will be Kristi Rodriguez, Volunteer/Program Coordinator at the ARL, and Dave Lis, ARL volunteer, veteran and inspiration for Paws for Patriots.
Everyone knows a veteran - a family member, friend or neighbor. Please encourage them to watch the show.
As usual, we also will be bringing a furry or feathered friend or two, and we have lots of events happening in the coming weeks to tell you about. So don't miss this very exciting program.
See you on Monday!
For many years, I’ve heard people say that mutts are healthier than pure bred dogs. Is this true? I had to research this hearsay to find out if there is any truth to it. Decades ago, before puppy mills became so prevalent, most dog breeders could be trusted to be conscientious about the health of their dams and sires – the mother and father dogs. After all, if their pups turn up with health issues, their reputations as breeders would be sullied. Whenever genetic issues plagued specific breeds, such as when hip dysplasia was so common in German shepherds, breeders made efforts to breed that trait out of their lines. That was the old days…
Nowadays, we have so many puppies coming from pet stores and farms. The dogs are bred in puppy mills with no regard for health. Any male is put with any female, despite any genetic health issues (I once worked with a blind puppy mill survivor – yes, she had many litters and who knows how many of her pups were blind). The dogs are bred for strictly profit.
If you speak with veterinarians, they will tell you that pure bred dogs definitely have more genetic health issues – and they can list the issues by breed. For example, Golden Retrievers have a very high incidence of cancer, Bulldogs may have respiratory problems, Pugs are often plagued with eye issues, Beagles may have epilepsy, Yorkies can have liver shunt problems. Google “dog breeds genetic issues” and you’ll find a long list.
Mutts have earned the reputation for being healthier for a good reason. They are not so closely in-bred like pure bred dogs. In-breeding increases the likelihood that genetic problems will be passed along to the pups. Something called hybrid vigor, or heterosity, is a term that’s often used to explain the health of mixed-breed dogs which is achieved by crossbreeding. If the offspring display characteristics superior to both parents, you have a successful case of heterosity on your hands.
It’s a complicated argument and we as dog-parents cannot control our dogs’ genes. But some things are in our control which influences health: proper nutrition, exercise and consistent vet care. No different than humans, we may have genetics against us but if we take care of ourselves, we stand a better chance of being healthy.
This week, we would like to post a great article sent out by Dr. Fry of Fairchild Foundation on the five important steps to take if your cat is experiencing litter box problems. Thank you Dr. Fry for this great information!
Five Steps to Solving Litter Box Problems.
1. Replace Your Current Litter With Cat Attract™This special litter has a unique herbal scent that attracts their curiosity and is the right texture for their paws.
2. Freshen UpYou don’t like a dirty bathroom, and neither does your cat!! Their sense of smell is 1000 times better than yours!! Clean the litter box with hot soap and water, then refill with Cat Attract. Never use bleach, ammonia, pine sol or other chemicals to clean your boxes. Remove feces and urine clumps daily. If your cat does not respond to a clean litter box, you may need to replace it. Some old boxes are scratched and permeated with a scent your cat may find offensive. Replace it and set up a second litter box in different area. Having one more litter box than you have cats is a good idea.
3. Destroy the Evidence!Once a cat has marked an area with urine or feces, problem cats naturally regard it as an appropriate area for relieving themselves. Clean the soiled areas with a liquid enzymatic odor cleaner. Avoid ammonia-based cleaners, which actually contribute to the problem because of their urine like scent. Try to keep your cat away from the trouble spot by covering the area with a plastic carpet runner, spike side up, or tin foil (cats dislike the feel of foil). A lemon scented air freshener will also help in both repelling the cat and neutralizing the odor. If your cat still can’t resist the area, try placing its food there; cats are unlikely to urinate or defecate where they eat. Try using your cat’s own fragrance to your advantage: rub a cloth on your cat’s face and chin to pick up its scent, then rub the cloth over the problem area. Recognizing its own scent on the carpet, floor, or furniture, a cat may be reluctant to soil the area again. Do this two to three times a day to be most effective. You may also use FELIWAY www.feliway.com
4. Consider a Litter Box MakeoverCovered litter boxes are for owners, not cats. Try removing the hood as a first step. Litter boxes should be in quiet area of the house with convenient access for your cats, but no access for the family dog (some dogs will stay around a litter box and make the cat nervous). Keep the boxes away from bright lights, loud noises, and vibrations from washing machines or furnaces. Set up one more box than you have cats in your household to cut down on traffic and mess. If your house has several floors, have a box on each level for your cat’s convenience. Finally, do not put a litter box near the cat’s food dishes – this is no more appealing for a kitty than it would be for you!
5. Treat Your Cat to Some R&RStress is a leading cause of litter box problems. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to ease your cat’s worried mind. Territorial by nature, cats need to feel secure in their environment in order to relax. In multiple cat households, make sure each cat has a separate “zone” with its own food, water, litter box, and a safe, elevated perch for relaxing. Thermal Kitty heated beds and carpeted Cat Condos make excellent retreats for your stressed feline. Play with your cat for at least 15 minutes every day, making sure he has plenty of toys to stalk and chase. You may also consider Flower Essences to help ease the stress. Love My Litter Box + Multi Cat Household + Territorial Rescue from www.catfaeries.com
The snow was still falling this week despite the calendar saying it's now spring. Even though the warmer weather has not arrived, kittens are now being born. It seems a little early - we usually don't see them regularly until April/May.
Kitten season lasts from now until the late fall when the weather gets colder. Shelters will see hundreds/thousands of cats and kittens turned in during these months. It is a HUGE problem and accounts for the largest percentage of animals in shelters and very sadly, the biggest reason for euthanasia.
Here is how the ARL handles the influx of kittens:
1. If the mother is with the kittens, we will look for foster homes. Very often, staff members and volunteers step up to this task and bring the animals into their own homes.
2. We contact area cat rescue groups to see if they can take them.
3. The ARL has established relationships with several other shelters who will help if we need assistance.
4. If kittens are brought in without the mother and they must be bottle-fed, this is the most challenging scenario because we must find homes who are willing to commit to bottle feeding the kittens. This is difficult and arduous work. Not many people will do this.
Things to Consider if You Find Kittens:
A mother cat will periodically leave her nest to hunt for food. If you see young kittens without their mother, it is likely she will return. It is always better for young kittens to remain with their mother. As discussed above, pre-weaned kittens (under 4 weeks) without a mother are very difficult to care for. The mother should return to the nest within a few hours if you watch quietly from a distance.
A mother cat may also regularly move her nest of kittens instinctively. If you see a single young kitten, it is likely that it’s the first of the group moved to a new location or the last of the group in the old location.
To stop the killing, we need the help of the public. People simply should not assume that it’s someone else’s problem. We can’t do it all alone - we need the public to help us to minimize the numbers of cats and kittens who come into shelters. Spay and neuter! If you know someone who is feeding stray cats, offer advice on where to get low-cost spay and neuter. Fairchild Foundation is making a difference in this community by helping with trap-neuter-release (TNR) services.
Please be a part of the solution – spread the word to help prevent homeless animals.
Easter is just a couple weeks away. But Peter Cottontail is already at the ARL, however. Several of them, actually. We have six bunnies up for adoption right now. But I’m not going to push people to adopt a bunny at this time. These guys can stay here a while longer! Statistics through the years in shelters have shown that bunnies who are bought or adopted as gifts at Easter stand a high chance of being surrendered to shelters or worse, dumped to fend for themselves, around summertime when families are too busy to care for the pet. We always see a rise in surrenders of bunnies in June.
Please, please, please do your research before getting a bunny! Yes, they are adorable and your kids may beg and plead with you to get one. It may be tempting to buy one as an Easter gift. But a bunny is a very social creature who needs attention, and they are a lot of work. Once the novelty has worn off, the kids will no longer bother with the bunny and mom/dad are stuck with caring for it. Bunnies are just as much of a lifetime commitment as any other pet – they can live 8-10 years!
Here are some tips for caring for rabbits:
Allow your rabbit to live safely indoors! As a prey animal, outdoor life is a frightening and lonely existence. Outside temperatures above 80 degrees can be fatal. A social animal, rabbits appreciate the company and comfort of their own kind and of their humans. Playful and athletic, rabbits need room for exercise and socialization.
Spay and neuter!! Altering your rabbit not only improves their litter box habits and temperament, it provides health benefits as well. Unaltered rabbits are more likely to be stressed which makes them more susceptible to illness. Unspayed female rabbits are especially prone to health problems with an extraordinary risk for uterine cancer. Unaltered male rabbits may spray urine.
Adult rabbits need unlimited timothy or grass hay, a very limited amount of high-fiber pellets, and fresh green vegetables daily.
Take your rabbit to the veterinarian for regular checkups. Do not wait until an emergency arises to find a competent rabbit veterinarian. Rabbits are exotic animals and need a veterinarian experienced in their care. Establishing a health record with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian may save your rabbit’s life.
The annual Easter Egg Hunt is tomorrow, March 16, at 2:00pm sharp. There will be over 1000 eggs for the kids to find among the 10 acres here at the shelter. We also will be having an open house from 1:00pm until 4:00pm. Animals will be available for visiting and adoption. And the Easter Bunny will be here too! Bring the kids and/or the pets for photos with the Easter Bunny. The cost is $10 and it benefits the ARL’s Grey Muzzle Foster Program.
It seems that recently there have been quite a few reports of lost dogs, and some have made the news. One dog was adopted from the Animal Rescue League and lost in February. We were heavily involved with the search which, thankfully, ended with the dog being found. Because we have so much experience with searching for lost pets, we would like to shares these tips:
1. Immediately file lost reports with all area shelters, not just your local shelter. Pets can travel quickly or someone may pick up your pet and take it to the only shelter they are familiar with. Just last year, a stray dog was picked up in Reading and taken to a shelter in Philadelphia! The person lived in that area and though he/she was doing the right thing. It’s a sad fact that if the pet has no identification, the shelter by law in PA only has to hold the pet for 48 hours (cats do not even have to be held at all). Your pet could be adopted out or worse, euthanized. Always have ID on your pet! Microchips are the best.
2. Create flyers with your pet’s photo and your contact information. Post them EVERYWHERE.
3. Did you know that there is something called Pet Amber Alert? Yes, it’s based on the Amber Alert system for finding lost children. Notify them and they will help with spreading the word: Pet Amber Alert
4. Call businesses and neighbors where the pet was lost and ask their help in keeping watch for your pet.
5. Post the flyer on Facebook and ask everyone to crosspost it. Social media can do amazing things.
6. Organize a search team. Get a team on foot to walk the area where your pet was last seen. Keep accurate records of sightings so you know where to concentrate your efforts. Be sure to appoint one person as the contact point if the pet is sighted.
7. Rent one or several traps from your animal shelter and place them in the area where you believe your pet is hiding.
8. Place food in the traps and leave the door open. If the pet is hungry, he/she will go there. It is important to leave the door open for a day or two. It allows the pet to trust the trap instead of being scared off if the door shuts on him without trapping him.
9. Instruct people not to chase the pet. This is so important! Studies have shown that even the friendliest dog or cat becomes so scared that they will avoid people, even their loved ones. It’s best not to call the dog or use a squeaky toy to attract him. All of this just scares the pet. The idea is to keep the pet in the area and eventually trap him.
We hope that you never have to use these steps but just in case… Please share with your friends who may need this information one day.
Did you know that financial problems have been and continue to be one of the top reasons why pets are surrendered to shelters? It’s a very sad fact that when people are short on money, they have the very difficult decision to make: Do I pay the rent, feed my family or my pets? Food banks do not supply pet food, and food stamps cannot be used to buy pet food. The ARL and most other shelters will help people by providing food within reason, but now there is another option!
Mark Okon of New York City founded a new organization simply called Pet Food Stamps©. The program is funded by donations and sponsors. Pet owners must go through an application and approval process. Once approved, pet owners will receive food for six months. To date, over 45,000 people have applied in just the two weeks that the program has gone public!
Comments about this program have varied from praise to criticism. Those who criticize say that if people can’t afford a pet, then they shouldn’t have one. To that, we reply, what about people who were making a nice income and then lost their jobs? Until you walk in someone else’s shoes, we shouldn’t judge and decide whether they deserve to have a pet or not. We’d like to believe that anyone who wants a pet should be able to have one!
We hope that this terrific program helps to reduce the numbers of pets who are surrendered to shelters for financial reasons. The Pet Food Stamps organization hopes to expand their services to helping with veterinary care, yet another reason why people can’t afford to keep their pets.
Please show your support for this wonderful group!
Even though I have over 13 years experience in dog behavior and training and that many years of working and volunteering at shelters and rescues, people only see me as the Director of Marketing at the Animal Rescue League and don’t always take my advice on training. So instead of writing a blog this week, I’d like to post a link to an excellent blog written by Jasmine’s House in Maryland. This rescue group specializes in Pit Bulls, and was named for one of Michael Vick’s rescued dogs.
This article discusses methods of working with fearful and aggressive dogs and does a wonderful job of presenting a clear understanding of what’s going through the dogs' minds, and how various methods can harm the dog or heal the dog.
Please take the time to read and understand the post; it’s written by an expert who has certainly dealt with the most abused and damaged dogs. I advocate these methods wholehearted - for the good of the dogs!
Jasmine’s House Blog
When you have been in the animal rescue business for many years, you see patterns occurring throughout the year. For example, a couple of months after Easter, we start to see pet rabbits surrendered into the shelter. They were probably purchased for Easter presents and now either the novelty has worn off or people have realized that they are more responsibility than they wanted. Right now, the February pattern has sadly started – puppies are getting surrendered or are being found as strays. They are not little puppies but about 3-4 months old.
Why, you ask, is this a regular pattern? Christmas was almost two months ago. The pups who were little and cute as Christmas presents are now growing up and aren’t as little and cute anymore. They have grown and are now active and energetic, and require more work than expected. And just like the "Easter bunnies," the novelty may have worn off.
So far, most of the pups we’ve received are pure-bred, larger breed dogs which confirms our theory – the pups are no longer small and may have grown larger than expected. Not to worry, these pups will all find great homes! There are lots of people who want “older” pups. They are wonderful dogs!
The whole point of this post gets back to what we are always trying to educate people: Do your research before you get a pet. Know exactly what to expect when it comes to size, activity level, care and even possible congenital health problems. All of these issues are important to understand prior to bringing any pet into your life. We just wish everyone would consider this information; maybe we could reduce the number of pets coming into shelters (or ending up on the streets or listed on Craigslist). Wouldn’t that be nice!
When we get snow and ice, it can be difficult, dangerous and even impossible to take your dog out for a long walk. As we know, some dogs require more exercise than others. Some small dogs and older dogs would prefer just a quick "potty break" then they are back to the sofa, while others like young Labs, terriers, retrievers, herders and hounds need to burn off that energy. Some dogs wll start to get bored or anxious if they don’t have enough exercise. Boredom and anxiety can lead to behavior problems.
You can help reduce your dog’s boredom and anxiety by playing games inside with your dog. Mental exercise can be just as tiring as physical exercise and it gives your dog a job to do. One of my favorite games is hide and seek. Get your dog to “stay” in one room and go hide in another room or a closet. When your dog finds you, give a great big cheer! Watch as your dog gets really happy to see you! This game is even more fun to play at night when you can turn off the lights in the room you are hiding in.
Another favorite game is “find it!” Have your dog “stay” and go into one or more rooms and hide small treats. Release your dog and tell him or her to “find it!” Give lots of happy praise when the treats are discovered. Your dog will eventually learn what the phrase "find it!" means.
Obedience training is also a good way to tire out your dog. Just like humans, it's mental exercise which can be as tiring as physical exercse. Teach your dogs how to sit, stay, down, come or other tricks.
These activities give dogs something to learn and do, and helps to relieve boredom.
Quite often, people come into the Animal Rescue League to adopt a pet and want to go home with one that is not a good choice. These people are very well-meaning, and we’re very grateful that they have chosen adoption. But when they pick a pet who is very wrong for them, it can be a disaster for the pet, for them and also for the shelter. Many times we see people choose a very active dog and they are not an active family, or a pet who may not be suitable for a family with small children, or other reasons that the pet just isn’t right for them. Whatever the reason, the staff here at the ARL gently tries to explain why their choices are not good ones. We know our pets and we would not be talking someone out of a selection unless there was a good reason. After all, we have a lot of animals that we want to place into homes. The staff here takes a great deal of time to know the temperaments of their temporary “babies” – they know what they’re talking about!
You may ask, why not just let people adopt whatever they want? Here’s why. When problems arise, the pet gets returned to the shelter or given away or turned out on the street or listed on Craigslist. None of these options are good ones. It’s simply not fair to the pet. In addition, the adopters are left with a sour taste in their mouths about adopting. They may tell their friends that they will never adopt a pet again because of the “bad experience.” When their friends hear the story, then they will think twice about adopting. So that means fewer people coming into the shelter to adopt. And fewer homeless pets finding new homes. Everyone suffers as a result.
Pets can often be an impulse purchase. We see a fluffy puppy, a happily jumping little dog, a beautiful kitty or sweet ferret. Without knowing the needs of these animals, the wrong selection is easy to make. We like to tell people to do their research before considering adopting a specific pet or breed of dog. After all, dogs can be very different in behavior. For instance, if you’ve never lived with a hound, you will be in for quite a surprise when the dog tries to drag you down the street after the scent he just caught, or wants to escape from your yard to chase the bunny he just saw. As the foster mom of two Basset hounds right now, I can personally attest to this fact. Just last night, they saw a leaf blowing across the yard and thought it was a rabbit. Off we went!
Adopting a pet is definitely an emotional purchase but it should be no different than buying a large screen TV or a car. Most people put more time into researching those purchases than into researching their next pet who will be living with them for many years. The adoption of a pet is a commitment that should not be entered into impulsively.
As you read this post, the worst of the cold may be over for now but we could still have more facing us. Our pets need our care at this time, and because the temperature is climbing back into the 30s doesn’t mean that the weather can’t be just as dangerous.
First of all, we say this time and time again, please keep your pets inside when the temperature drops below freezing (32 degrees). Pets cannot survive in the cold. It’s cruel and definitely inhumane. If you have “outdoor cats,” give them a place to stay where it is warm. Optimally, bring them in the house! When you go outside to start your car, bang on the hood to be sure that a cat isn’t curled up on the warm motor.
If your dog is an outside dog (which we never recommend), be sure that he has a warm shelter with warm bedding such as hay and blankets. Ensure that he always has fresh water that has not frozen. Again, optimally, bring dogs inside! They are our friends and want to be with us.
If you see that a pet is outside for long lengths of time without shelter, please contact the ARL by completing a cruelty complaint form on our web site.
If you have dogs, limit the time that the dogs are outside when it’s so cold. Put a coat or a sweater on dogs with short or thin fur. Some dogs have sensitive paws and may not want to walk on the cold surfaces. Respect your dog’s wishes and don’t force him to walk too long! Some dog breeds have very thick coats (Huskies, Malamutes, etc.) that allow them to be exposed longer but that doesn’t mean they can stay outside indefinitely. Dogs who are accustomed to being in the warm house cannot adapt to being in the cold for too long no matter how thick their coat is.
When there is snow and ice on the ground, be especially careful about allowing your dog off of your property and off leash. If he happens to get lost, it is more difficult for them to find their way back home because the scent can be lost. Of course we say this constantly, put on ID tag on your dog and have them microchipped!
And speaking of snow and ice, when the salt is on the ground, be sure to wipe your pet’s paws and belly area to clean the salt off. If your pet ingests it, the chemicals can make your pet sick.
Here’s a tip that most of you may not realize, never leave your pets in the car in the winter! We talk about this in the summer when it’s hot; however, leaving pets in the car in the cold weather is equally dangerous. The car can act as a refrigerator, trapping the cold and potentially freezing the pets.
The snow’s coming today – go out and have fun! But protect your pets too!
The Animal Rescue League has always received owner surrendered turtles (and the occasional “stray”) but it seems to be getting more frequent lately. Red eared sliders are the most prevalent. Just last week, we jumped for joy when someone came in and adopted the two we had up for adoption. Then Wednesday, a family who was moving and couldn’t take their pets brought us four more. What’s the big deal, you ask? After all, they don’t take up much space and they don’t need to be walked like dogs!
Turtles require a lot of care. They are extremely messy. Their tanks must be completely emptied and cleaned every day. The water gets too dirty and smelly if this isn’t done. That takes staff time. We have an awesome volunteer who takes care of the critters and she never complains, but caring for turtles adds at least a half an hour each day to her already large time commitment.
When considering buying a turtle as a pet, remember that they require a lot of work. Although they may be very small when you buy them, they grow. In the case of red eared sliders, they can get quite large. They can grow to up to a foot long. Here are other things to consider if you want to get a turtle:
Please help the Animal Rescue League by not purchasing a turtle unless you are up for a long lifetime of care!
Just this week, I came across two vivid examples of just how powerful image marketing can be. Both of them involve Pit Bulls. Clearly, Pits are a highly divisive and emotionally-charged topic. It seems like they are either adored or abhorred, no in between. When their image is used in marketing, it can evoke powerful reactions. Obviously, savvy marketers know this as a fact. One company used it and failed; the other company used it and hopefully will find great success.
Walgreens recently started selling pepper spray, calling it “Pitbull Defense Maximum Strength Pepper Spray” with the photo of an angry-looking Pit and the label saying “Warning: Beware of Pitbull.” (Pitbull is spelled Pit Bull, by the way!)
The uproar from the public forced Walgreens to remove it from their stores within five days. They posted the following comment on their Facebook page:
We apologize to everyone about the pit bull spray that was only sold in 5 stores. We can assure you that this was not a corporately purchased item. It was never our company’s intent to condone the inappropriate singling out of any one breed of dog. Instead, a very small number of our stores obtained it for sale on their own. As a result of us becoming aware of the product, we have told those few stores who are carrying the item to stop selling it immediately. We also will ensure other locations don't carry it, too. Thank you and be well.
Yes! Hopefully, Walgreens learned a powerful lesson from this debacle of a public relations move.
On the upside, R. M. Palmer, a candy maker located in Reading, is selling Valentine’s Day candy featuring Pit Bulls on the boxes. The box says, “It’s the Pits without you!” Love it!!!
Their Facebook page is loaded with comments complementing them for “getting it” and recognizing that so many people love their Pitties. Let’s hope that Palmer’s business sees a sharp increase as a result of this positive marketing strategy. And in the process, hopefully educate those who think that they need pepper spray when a Pit is near to think twice and not be so close minded.
It’s a sad fact that people have stereotyped Pit Bulls based on one-sided information and on the many media stories about Pit Bull attacks. It’s up to all of us, those who know and love the breed, to be their advocates. Watch for companies who will exploit the negative Pit image. Email them, post on their Facebook pages, share the information with your friends. But also praise the companies who do the right thing. Go out and buy some Palmer’s candy!