New Pet Shelter Strategy
ORLANDO — For shelter dogs, life is one long cheerleader tryout. If you’re young, cute and perky, everybody wants you. Older and plus-sized? Not so much.
So some shelters are changing the way they showcase their canine residents, hoping to get prospective adopters to look beyond fur-deep — even beyond breed labels — to see a dog’s true character and potential.
“It has become a national conversation,” says Stephen Bardy, executive director of the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, the former SPCA of Central Florida. “We have to get people to think about what they really want in a dog, what really fits with their lives — instead of having them just walk in and say, ‘I want a golden retriever puppy.’”
Recently, the agency decided to stop labeling its rescue dogs by their breed type — which was largely guesswork anyway — and employ a Harry Potter-themed sorting system. As fans of the wildly popular fantasy series know, Potter and his classmates at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are assigned to the boarding school’s various houses according to their abilities, personality and preferences.
The Pet Alliance calls it the “Pawgwarts” kennel, where dogs are labeled by the toys they pick and how they behave in play groups. The staff hung Potter-inspired banners for prospective pet owners and posted each group’s traits.
“Hufflepuff are dogs who’ve never met a stranger, their tales are always wagging and they’re always excited to see you,” says Diane Anderson, an animal behaviorist who did most of the sorting. “They love to play with socks and fluffy toys.”
Gryffindor is for the athletic dogs that chase tennis balls and fetch sticks. Ravenclaw dogs learn tricks quickly and like puzzle-type toys. Slytherin — or Slobberin’, as the Pet Alliance calls it — is for the ambitious, fearless types, like the Chihuahua that thinks it’s a Doberman.
“If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you instantly get it,” Bardy says. “We hear people say, ‘Oh, he’s a Hufflepuff! I’m a Hufflepuff!’ On the surface, it sounds frivolous, but at the end of the day it has a serious, thoughtful purpose behind it. We can now start talking about these dogs in a very different way.”
In the first couple of weeks, the feedback has been enthusiastic, Anderson says, though it’s too early to say whether it will impact adoption rates and trends. And Bardy sees it as one more step in the evolution of the shelter, which tends to have an abundance of muscular, square-headed dogs that used to be blanketly labeled pit bull mixes.
“If people think it’s a pit bull, that always comes with a stigma,” says Diane Summers, program manager at Orange County Animal Services. “But you can’t tell the breed by looking” — nor can you tell a dog’s personality by its breed, she adds.
Three years ago, the county shelter dropped breed descriptions from its adoption website and kennel cards, becoming one of the first in the nation to do so. If potential adopters ask, staffers answer, “I don’t know. What breed do you think it is?”
“We talked about it for months beforehand,” Summers said. “We thought it was going to be this huge change and maybe people would come through demanding to know. And it really turned out to be no big deal.”
Labeling leads to breed discrimination in adoption and rental housing, adoption advocates say, and it’s often wrong.
According to the National Canine Research Council, studies show even experts struggle to properly identify dog breeds based solely on appearance, and “researchers have known for decades that even first-generation crossbreeds usually look dramatically different than either parent.”
Assuming you know how a dog will behave based on its breed is even more of a crapshoot.
“When I was a kid, the dangerous breeds were supposedly the Dobermans, the Chows, the shepherds,” says Kim Staton, director of Osceola County Animal Services. “Now, it’s what I like to call the ‘big-headed dogs’ — pit mixes, boxers, Rottweilers. ... In reality, you’re seeing about one quarter of 1 percent of their DNA in their appearance.”
Osceola still labels its shelter dogs based on suspected breed, but like most shelters it also photographs its homeless hounds in fluffy bows and funky neckties, hoping to suggest personality.
Still, advocates admit that human behavior will be tougher to change than canine behavior.
“I had a couple, both in their 70s, come in wanting a 1-year-old Siberian Husky,” says Judy Sarullo, founder of Sanford-based Pet Rescue by Judy. “And the dog had no manners. I tell them I have nice dogs, including another Husky, that are older and calmer and don’t need a daily run and won’t knock you down. I try to say that nicely. And then they call me a (expletive) and accuse me of age discrimination.”
Story re-posted from the Orlando Sentinel. Written by Kate Santich.
Fall Cat Care Tips
Now that summer is long gone, and the weather is getting cooler each day, cat owners need to pay extra attention to their cat's behavior and comfort levels this season. In the summertime, we worried that our cats would suffer from heat stroke and lack of water; but now, we need to worry about other health issues and temperature adjustments.
Here are cats tips to keep in-mind this autumn:
First and foremost, don't assume that your cat is warm because he/she is wearing a permanent fur coat. Think about it, don't you feel cold even while wearing a thick wool coat? It's the same for your domestic cat. Once the snow comes in late November and early December, cat owners will need to worry about frostbite and damage to the cat's foot pads. Be sure to bring your cat inside from their outdoor cat enclosure to heat-up.
If you think keeping cats in the garage is a safe move, think again. The smell of antifreeze, or puddles of oil, can be toxic to animals and cause seizures, kidney failure and death.
Speaking of the great outdoors, we aren't out of the clear yet for ticks and tick-borne illnesses. Ticks remain active in the fall and feed on humans and pets in grassy areas and on hiking/biking trails. Perform a thorough tick check on cats after outdoor activity. If cats have encountered a tick bite, remove the tick immediately with a tick remover tool; and take the bug to a veterinarian for analysis. Cats, like humans, are subject to tick diseases such as Lyme Disease and Rock Mountain Spotted Fever.
Regular groom cat's hair so it does not get tangled. Matted hair can be very uncomfortable for the cat and can cause skin irritation and rashes.
With Halloween around the corner, keep-in mind that chocolate is highly toxic to domestic animals and can cause them to become very sick. Be sure to throw away all candy wrappers so your cat does not choke on any aluminum foil. When it comes to decorations, including candles, keep cats away from these types of Halloween decor.
California's Pet Store Law
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation into law hat requires pet stores in the state to exclusively sell rescue dogs, cats and rabbits.
Assembly Bill 485, called the Pet Rescue and Adoption Act, unanimously passed the California state senate in September 2017 and will go into effect 1 January 2019. It requires all dogs, cats, and rabbits offered for retail sale in California to be obtained from animal shelters or non-profit rescue organizations.
The bill’s goal is to reduce the number of animals sold through shelters and businesses from mass breeding operations known as “puppy mills” or “kitten factories.”
“This is a big win for our four-legged friends, of course,” the bill’s author, Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, said in a statement. “But also for California taxpayers who spend more than $250 million annually to house and euthanize animals in our shelters. I am very grateful for the strong support we received from animal-lovers across the state and from Social Compassion in Legislation, the bill’s sponsor.”
“We are overjoyed that Governor Brown signed this historic piece of legislation into law,” Judie Mancuso, president and founder of Social Compassion in Legislation, said in a statement.
The bill received widespread support from rescue organizations, but it was opposed by groups including the American Kennel Club and California Retailers Association.
“AB 485 blocks all of California’s pet lovers from having access to professional, licensed, and ethical commercial breeders,” Sheila Goffe, vice president of government relations for the kennel club, said in a release from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. “This is not good for Californians or their companion animals.”
Story re-posted from Snopes.
- Jenn Smith
Dog Tick Disease Spreads
TOKUSHIMA – A man in his 40s in Tokushima Prefecture has acquired the tick-borne disease known as severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or SFTS, through contact with a dog, local government said Tuesday.
It is the first case of the infection transmitted through a dog, according to the health ministry. The man suffered from fever and vomiting but has already recovered.
In late June, the dog was diagnosed with the SFTS virus after the man took it to a veterinary hospital, the prefectural government said.
The pet owner first reported feeling ill in mid-June and took a blood test after the dog was found to be infected with the SFTS virus. The test result showed in late September that the man was also infected.
He did not have any apparent signs of mite bites. But SFTS virus antibodies detected in the blood test suggest that he had been infected within the previous few months.
The infection may have entered his body through his mouth or a break in the skin.
The dog is a house pet, which likely became infected while it was out for a walk.
Seventy cases of SFTS infections have been recorded this year, bringing the total to about 300 since the first confirmed case in Japan in 2013.
In July, the ministry said a woman in her 50s died of a tick-borne disease last year after being bitten by a stray cat when she was trying to carry it to a veterinary hospital. Tissue samples showed she was infected with the SFTS virus, the world’s first confirmed case of the illness being contracted from a mammal.
Story re-posted from Japan News.
New Dog Fences
Our 4' x 100' Welded Wire dog fence is ideal for large dogs with high energy that like to chew or dig. This 4' chew-proof dog fence is PVC-coated in black to protect the fence material from the elements and is made from 14 gauge galvanized steel. It contains a 2" x 2" fence mesh. Thickness of fence after PVC coating is approx. 12 gauge. Homeowners can even put up the 4' metal fence around the swimming pool as it may meet pool code. Welded wire pet enclosures are easy to install DIY fence projects for active dogs. Click here to learn more.
San Antonio's Pet Ban
This just in: Dogs will no longer be allowed to be tethered with chains in the city of San Antonio.
The ban is among some key changes to local animal laws that were approved Thursday by the San Antonio City Council.
Other changes to the revised animal ordinance include:
- Stricter spay-neuter requirements for dogs legally declared dangerous or repeatedly impounded for roaming by ACS
- Authorizing ACS officers to impound pets sold in illegal locations like roadsides or flea markets or those without a litter permit
- Increase the allowable number of chickens in city limits to eight (housing restrictions still apply)
- No more than one rooster allowed per property within city limits
The enhanced laws are focused on public safety and humane care.
"Laws are intended to promote and protect a community's quality of life," ACS Director Heber Lefgren said. "The improved ordinance does just that by considering the balance between animal care and control as well as pets and people."
While the revised ordinance goes into effect immediately, ACS will initiate a bilingual six-month outreach campaign to help the community learn more about the new laws.
Story re-posted from ABC Ksat 12. Written by David Ibanez.
For pet owners who are looking for an alternative fence solution to chaining dogs, consider installing a dog fence in the backyard. This way, dogs will be able to roam the backyard without feeling trapped by a leash or chain. See EasyPetFence.com for dog fence ideas.