Category Archives: In the News

Products, issues and controversies in the news.

Sheltering Pets from Domestic Violence

More than 40% of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind. Not only that, but more than 70% of pet owners entering shelters to escape domestic violence report that the abuser has threatened, injured or killed family pets.Yet most shelters do not admit pets. Finding family or friends who will take in the victims of abuse AND their pets can be difficult.

Now, shelters are beginning to address this problem.domesticabusedog

Ahimsa House has been providing safe housing for pets belonging to those fleeing domestic abuse since 2004. They maintain a network of homes willing to offer safe, short-term housing for pets as their owners enter shelters to escape domestic abuse. Their website has a nationwide directory of safe havens for pets in domestic violence situations.

New York City’s first co-sheltering program was opened to enable domestic violence survivors and their pets to reside together. The project, called PALS—People and Animals Living Safely—is running as a six-month pilot that started June 1.

Although PALS only accepts cats and smaller animals such as hamsters, birds and fish into shelter now, the goal is to raise money to put the PALS program in three other domestic violence shelters and welcome dogs as well. 

Muriel Raggi, a domestic violence survivor who was in shelter four years ago, said she’s thankful to URI and the Alliance for recognizing how important pets are in people’s lives. “I remember lying in bed at night, with so many fears and worries swirling in my head, wishing I could have my dog Jasmine next to me to provide raw affection, comfort and support,” said Raggi. “ PALS will ensure that other survivors with pets won’t face the heartbreaking choices I did.”

Because pets are often used by abusers to maintain control over their victims, to torment them emotionally, or to get revenge, 25 states now offer court-ordered protection for pets. Such protection orders limit the contact an alleged abuser can have with the person seeking protection, ordering the abuser to stay away or allowing the victim safe access if they need to return to a home. In the case of an animal, it would allow victims to take a pet with them if they left home and prohibit the alleged abuser from harming the pet.


Posted by on September 19, 2013 in In the News


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Natural Disasters: How to Help Our Dogs

Guest post by Pamela Schaub, Cape Cod (MA) Animal Disaster Response Team

When a disaster strikes we are usually unprepared. The good news is that it only takes a little forethought and preparation to preserve the safety or life of our beloved pets. In the past 10 years, an estimated 20 million Americans have been affected by natural disasters such as flooding, tornados, hurricanes, and severe lightning storms.

Order your free Rescue Alert Sticker from the ASPCA

Here are a few of the most basic ways to prepare, now, before a disaster strikes:

1) Take a clear photo of your dog so that he may be identified in the event he becomes separated from you.

2) Get a secure collar with appropriate I.D. tag containing at least one phone number. Better yet, microchip your dog. Most vets and shelters scan incoming lost pets for a chip.

3) Prepare an emergency “Go Kit” for you and your pet.  It’s an inexpensive way to have a piece of mind. Always know where it is. recommends the following items be packed for each animal in your home:

  • One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
  • One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
  • Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
  • Copies of vaccination records
  • Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership
  • Photographs of your pets in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact informationand/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
  • Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.

4) Have a plan and share it with family. If a disaster should force you from your home, determine a safe place to stay, and do it ahead of time. Find out where a local emergency pet sheltering facility is located. During times of disaster, temporary shelters are often facilitated by the ASPCA, IFAW, HSUS, etc.

5) Be sure your smartphone directory has phone numbers for emergency contacts and 24 hour veterinarians.

Remember, your own safety comes first. Be wary before, during, and after a disaster strikes, and never leave your household pet alone, tied up, or encumbered to fend for themselves.



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Rinse That Dog Off!

At $50 billion, the pet industry is huge, and growing. One of the fun things about being a part of it is discovering cool entrepreneurs who are finding ingenious ways to help us care for and have fun with our dogs. One of these people is Chris Crawford from Carlsbad, CA. An avid outdoorsman, Chris has invented the RinseKit, a portable, high-pressure mini-shower for washing off your stuff, your dog, your feet … anything, before getting into your car, tent or home.

How many times have you come back to the car from the dog park, lake, or a walk through the woods with your dog, only to look down in dismay at those muddy feet, that drenched fur, that smelly coat? I know I have. And what I’ve done is just bite the bullet. That’s life with dogs, right? You wait for the mud to dry and then take the car to a car wash with a vacuum. But what if you could quickly shower off the dog (or his feet at least) before letting him into the car?  

The RinseKit stores not only water, but water pressure. So when you squeeze the hose attachment, you actually have water pressure to spray off mud, leaves, sand … even ants.

Yes, ants.

I live in the land of fire ants and my big dumb 50-pound puppy stood (not stepped, STOOD) in an ant hill a month or two back. Her front paws were COVERED in biting ants. My little water bottle was pathetic, and with her fur, there was no brushing them off with our hands. Fortunately, we were at the lake, so my quick-thinking 7 year old snapped the leash on her and ran her down to stand in the lake. What if we hadn’t been right on the shore? I would have loved having this thing to get those ants off her quickly.

This bad boy can clean off whatever your dog tracks in. It’s so much better than trying to clean up with a dinky water bottle. That is, if you have any water left in it. And the little paw towels that you can buy at the pet supply store? Those are great when the mess isn’t very … messy. But I have tried using towels for mud, and maybe it’s me, but they just don’t work.

Having grown up in New England, I could see using it to get rid of those awful ice balls that form on dogs’ fur when they’ve been playing in the snow. You know, those days when it’s above freezing, but still cold enough for snow, and your dog is dying to go play in it. My long-haired Dachshund used to come back to the car with dozens — nay, hundreds — of ice balls in his coat. For some reason, ice balls take forever to melt. And when they do, they leave tons of water in your car. Wouldn’t you love to just spray them off, then quick-dry your dog’s legs and paws before hoisting him up into the car? He’s dry in minutes, his feet are clean, and he doesn’t have to spend the entire drive home sitting on what feels like four dozen quail eggs (not to mention the big ice balls that form between his toes).

What about those times when your dog steps in … well, you know. I’ve spent my fair share of time trying to dig it out of my dogs’ toes with whatever probe I could find, wiping it off with wet wipes or towels (then where do you put THOSE?), and generally cussing out people who don’t clean up after their dog. If I had a pressurized spray shower, I could blast the offending bits off my dog’s feet (or my own) and be on my way.

The RinseKit is catching on with campers, surfers, fishing enthusiasts, parents, and dog owners. A strong rinse, when ever you need it, is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, the orders are coming in faster than Chris can make them. So he’s gone to crowdfunding to ramp up the manufacture. The first 200 people to contribute $50 or more get a RinseKit later this year. The project ends July 15, so don’t delay.

Get more info at or be a part of it by backing this project at

Disclosure: I have no connection with Chris Crawford or his company, have received no payment for this article, and only found out about the RinseKit a couple of weeks ago. I just think it’s neat, and I thought you would, too.


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Britons: Your country needs you…and your furry friends!

Is anyone else a bit gutted that the last episode of Animal Heroes is on Tuesday? This fantastic documentary series follows the lives of animals and their handlers in the armed forces, providing an in-depth look at the experiences of the incredible animals that work hard to keep our country safe.

Literally covering a lot of ground, the series has been everywhere from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the Parade Grounds of London whilst following the journey of 16 young hopefuls as they endeavour to prove themselves capable Protection Dog Handlers on a challenging ten-work course.

There have been two episodes so far and while your last chance to see these working dogs in action will be on Tuesday 18 June the sponsor of the series, Churchill Insurance, is ensuring these remarkable working animals stay in the spotlight a little longer by offering four lucky competition winners the chance to attend a Dog Boot Camp run by former RAF Police Dog Handler John Fitzpatrick.

Four dogs and their owners will be given the exciting opportunity to attend this unique dog boot camp from Churchill in September, where expert trainers will put pooches through their paces to see if they’ve got what it takes to succeed in the military.

Dogs will be treated to expert agility training and will receive a lesson in ‘petiquette’ while owners will learn about the methods used to train animals in the military. They will then be given the opportunity to test out their newly-acquired skills with victors awarded with a prestigious doggy distinction!

So how do you go about entering the competition? Give the five tutorial videos on the Churchill website a watch, choose which exercise you want to teach your pup and get practicing! Plenty of treats, toys and cuddles later and when you think you’ve nailed it, record your dog in action and upload it to the site.

Four winners will be decided by a public vote and will be sent off to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in Old Windsor in September for their prize.

Applications are open from 1 June to 11.59pm on 14 July 2013.

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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in In the News


Dominance and the Dog Park

The popularity of dog parks has been a boon to urban dog owners who love to let their dogs run off-leash and play with each other. But any group of dogs seek to establish a pecking order, or dominance  rank. This is when problems can occur. Two dogs who are trying to be dominant (because they are at home) often fight. Sometimes one of them will give up quickly, but other times, the fight can be more serious. Owners often don’t know the signs of a dominance confrontation about to happen:

  • Mounting – many people think this is funny or cute, but if you tolerate it, you give your approval. When your dog is the one being mounted, he may feel that you’re not going to protect him, which can affect the trust he has in you.
  • Eye contact
  • Standing tall, erect or moving in a stiff-legged way
  • Putting the head over the back of another dog
  • Taking a ball or stick away from another dog
  • Chasing
dogs fight bit dogpark

A dog park puts a group of strange dogs together, so the first order of business (they think) is to find out who’s on top.

These signs can tell you which dog in a group is vying for dominance. If the other dogs have no problem with him/her taking dominance, there can be peaceful play. If another dog wants dominance, however, there can be conflict. It usually starts with growling and snapping. It may escalate from there to full-on fighting if the owners do not intervene.

Fearful dogs who are being chased can trigger a predator instinct in a dominant dog, especially if they vocalize. If your dog has gone still, is turning his head away from the other dog, and is showing the whites of his eyes (i.e., looking around by turning his eyes rather than his head), he is very stressed and may be about to bite. Don’t be shy about stepping in and giving a sharp, “No!” to a dog who’s being aggressive, even if it isn’t your own dog. Dogs often respond to authoritative commands from anyone, and if the owner is not going to control her dog, you are in your rights to step in.

Other signs that a dog is fearful or stressed

  • Lip licking
  • Tail tucking
  • Shaking off, like they do when they’re wet
  • Sneezing
  • Yawning
  • Standing with one foreleg off the ground
  • Freezing
  • Looking away
  • Whale eye (showing whites of the eyes)

What should you do if you notice a situation developing but it isn’t fighting yet? Remove your dog. Call her to you and play elsewhere, or leave the park and come back another time. If she won’t come to you, go get her with calm confidence and quietly take her away. If your voice becomes anxious, she may begin to protect you from the other dogs, which may escalate the situation.

One effective way to split up dogs who are fighting is for one person to grab each fighter by the back legs, like you would in a wheelbarrow race. If it’s not your dog, don’t let go of those legs until the dog’s owner comes to put a leash on the dog. You can do this if your dog is attacked by an off-leash dog around the neighborhood, too. If there’s no one else around, just grab the offender; the victim will likely move away once the aggressor is disabled.


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Breed Surveys Tell Breeds What To Watch For

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals offers free Breed Club Health Surveys of many dog breeds so that breed associations and breeders can be better informed about health issues of their breeds. The surveys can be completed online (although you may need the assistance of your veterinarian for a question or two) in about 20 minutes. They’re pretty thorough, too. The results are confidential and are used to identify health issues of various breeds. They also tell you as a pet owner which genetic health screens your dog should have.


To take the survey, visit You can even read the results of some of the surveys, which are fascinating.For example, did you know:

  • 22% of Papillons have been diagnosed with dental disorders?
  • 1 in 10 Staffordshire Bull Terriers is used in obedience trials?
  • The most common skin disorder in Parson Russell Terriers is seasonal allergies?

Some surveys may be closed, but check back every 6 months to see if your dog’s survey is open. If you have a purebred dog, even it you obtained him/her from a shelter, you should answer the survey to help breeders and breed clubs understand the health issues oftheir favorite dogs.

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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in In the News


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Pup Sales Boom for India’s One-Child Families

A recent news item in the Hindu Business Line reports that purebred puppy sales are booming in India, thanks in part to a growing trend among “educated” couples to have just one child. According to a news report from New Dheli in the Financial Times, more than 10 percent of Indian couples are opting for one child in a scramble to secure high-paying jobs and stockpile resources.

India’s Director of the Population Foundation, A.R. Nanda, says that the growing number of one-child families is “unanticipated,” and is leading to a “Little Emperor” syndrome in India as is seen in China. The number of Indian families opting for one child has doubled in the last 10 years.

Shailesh Omkar, a dog breeder in Mumai, says, “Dogs are not only effective stress busters, in single-child nuclear families, they often play the role of a companion.”

So let me get this straight … we’re having only one child because we want to maintain a certain lifestyle, and children interfere with that.  So we’re going to give the child a dog, rather than a sibling, to keep him company.

I love dogs, but it seems like priorities are getting flipped around over there in India. Is anyone else troubled about this trend?

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in In the News


Do Tennis Balls Wear Down Dogs’ Teeth?

I recently heard a warning about not allowing dogs to chew tennis balls because the “fuzz” will sand down or wear down a dog’s teeth. I’ve done some probing and asked around, and it appears to be true. Puppies in particular are vulnerable to having their teeth worn down if they chew tennis balls. The synthetic fibers in tennis balls can act as sandpaper, wearing down dogs’ teeth in the back, where owners are unlikely to see the damage. But, a dog has to really chew a lot to start wearing down his or her teeth. It would have to be pretty obsessive.

Tennis balls can also cause bowel obstructions if your dog chews them apart. Signs of bowel obstruction are vomiting, especially after eating, diarrhea, and weakness.

Another tennis ball danger for dogs over 80 pounds is choke. Large dogs with large throats can sometimes aspirate the ball, getting it lodged in their throat. A tennis ball is 2.5″ wide, so if you have a large or giant breed dog, get a ball that’s bigger than that, or play fetch with another type of toy.

If your dog just fetches and carries a tennis ball around, it’s probably not going to harm him or her, but if there’s focused chewing (like my Lab did), it’s best to find other things to satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chew.

Here are some inexpensive alternatives:

  • A tennis ball inside an athletic knee sock, tied in a knot at the top of the tennis ball. This gives the dog the same size and chewiness of a tennis ball, without the fibers.
  • A raw bone. Bones are a natural part of a dog’s diet, and as long as they are not cooked, they are safe and even desirable to feed. Our Irish Setter eats a chicken wing or two at every meal and has never had a problem. Make friends with a local butcher and get some natural bones your dog will love. Many dogs want to make “progress” on what they’re chewing, which is why they bite pieces off or shred toys. Bones will satisfy both their need to chew and their need to chew “through” something.
  • A marrow bone. Once the dog chews through the marrow in the middle, you can fill it with peanut butter, spray cheese, or anything you like. it provides a chew that will keep your dog busy. And its dishwasher safe.
  • A racquetball. It has the same feel and similar size, but without the fuzz.

Whatever you decide, be sure your dog has something to chew on. Dog have a natural desire to chew, which should be satisfied with approved toys or treats supplied by you. Otherwise, you could come home to find your kitchen cabinets chewed, or you could start to notice aggressive, frustrated behavior from your dog.


Posted by on May 3, 2012 in In the News


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Quill – The Life of a Guide Dog

There’s an exceptional movie coming out in May that all dog lovers are going to want to see. The documentary-like story centers around a yellow Labrador Retriever guide dog for the blind named Quill. You’ll follow Quill from the litter, his selection to become a guide, his life with a foster family until his first birthday, followed by highly specialized schooling in guiding the sightless. You’ll then go with him as he is then paired with a blind man named Watanabe Mitsuru who is at first reluctant to rely on Quill. But Quill’s great patience, gentleness and skill eventually wins him over and they become inseparable friends.

Critics are raving:

  • A warm-hearted, visually charming, and ultimately thought-provoking tribute to the ways, little and large, that these creatures improve our lives. —Georgia Straight
  • One of the smartest, most realistic dog films ever made. —Exclaim
  • Audiences are unlikely to resist Quill in this simply rendered and indisputably sweet film. —EYE Magazine

Opens in Chicago and New York May 18. May open to a wider audience after that. Check the website at for additional release dates.


Posted by on April 16, 2012 in In the News


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The Dog Days of Daytime are at ABC

The dog days are not over, especially if the hosts of ABC’s “The View,” “The Chew” and “The Revolution” have anything to say about it. On FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, it’s “Doggie Day in Daytime” on ABC, as Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd of “The View,” Chefs Mario Batali, Michael Symon and Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz of “The Chew” and Ty Pennington, Tim Gunn, Harley Pasternak, Dr. Jennifer Ashton and Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry of “The Revolution” celebrate man’s best friend.Joy Behar from “The View”

It’s BARK!: “‘The View’s’ 4th Annual Mutt Show presented by Pedigree” (11:00-12:00 p.m., ET), featuring David Frei of the Westminster Kennel Club judging the “Best Mutt in Show” of five viewers’ mutts and another five adoptable mutts from the North Shore Animal League. One winner is awarded a grand prize trophy and another, the Pedigree Dogs Rule Award.

On “The Chew” (1:00-2:00 p.m., ET) the hosts cook up some fun and easy recipes while celebrating their “All in the Family” show. Special appearances by Michael Symon’s dog, Ozzie, and the Oz family pooch, Rosie, who test out some of the newest and coolest dog toys.

On “The Revolution,” (2:00-3:00 p.m., ET), Dr. Ashton, joined by her two dogs, leads a segment on dog health and conducts a Q&A with the studio audience, many of whom are seated with their dogs. Gunn unveils the do’s and don’ts of dressing up your dog, and Pennington has the perfect household guide to fixing “dog disasters,” including scratched furniture and torn carpets. Animal activist, model and actress Beth Stern joins the co-hosts to talk about the North Shore Animal League and the importance of adopting pets.

Check your local listings for details.


Posted by on February 10, 2012 in In the News