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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.

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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. RedRover.org 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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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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Simply Bully Sticks Product Review

bully sticks review comparisonBy now, most dog owners know about bully sticks. They’ve been around for at least 8-10 years, maybe longer. They’re an especially fibrous, strong all-meat chew made out of … well, let’s say that you can’t make them from female cattle, only bulls.  They are made from a fibrous muscle, and are prepared by cleaning, stretching, twisting and then drying them. They can be smoked in a traditional smoker, sun dried or oven baked. The result is a very hard, compressed 30–40 in dark brown stick, which is then sawed into 6″, 9″, 12″, 18″ or even 24″ pieces.

As a dog chew treat, they’re suitable for dogs with wheat and corn allergies because they only contain protein, fat and moisture. And they last a long time (I know, I know), so they’ll keep even aggressive chewers occupied longer than rawhide or other similar chews.

When they first came on the market, folks I spoke to loved them, and so did I. But soon two concerns emerged. The first was cost. A 6″ bully stick often retailed for upwards of $3 each, and the 12″ and 18″ ones could be as high as $6 each. Some variety has entered the market, with buffalo bully sticks, steer sticks, Angus bully sticks, braided bully sticks, jerky wrapped, ends, braided, bully sticks from New Zealand, Australia, North America, South America, India, China, and on and on and on.

extra thick low odor bully stickI figure it’s time to slow things down a bit and really take a look at what a bully stick should be. I had bought my last bag of stinky bullies from Costco, pondering what “value” really means, when I got a package from www.simplybullysticks.com.

The first thing I noticed was that the bully sticks were very thick and natural-looking. By this I mean that they were at three times as thick as the ones from Costco, which are about the thickness of a Sharpie marker. And they weren’t tightly stretched or rolled, so there was more texture. This means more interest for the dog, and more ridges to help scrape off that dental tartar.

The second thing I noticed was that the bullies weren’t stinky. I even put one right up to my nose and took a big long draught in. They smelled faintly buttery. Hardly any smell at all, and what was there was pleasant and appetizing.

The information contained in the package said that Simply Bully Sticks carries only one type of bully stick. They hand-picked some of their smaller ones because I mentioned I had a four-month-old puppy (albeit a large one). Those “smaller” bully sticks are shown above in the picture with our full-grown, 70-lb Irish Setter, so you can see how big they are. If you order from www.simplybullysticks.com, the ones you’ll receive should be even bigger.

Both dogs love the bully sticks. The Irish Setter goes to town on them with his blunt but strong adult back teeth. The puppy, who’s teething until she’s six months old, tears away at them with needle-sharp milk teeth.

The verdict? Our dogs LOVE these bully sticks. These bully sticks are what dog owners buy bully sticks for … tough, long-lasting, satisfying chews for any type of dog, even those with allergies. Some bully stick brands use chemicals to hide the odor of their bully sticks, or to increase their attractiveness to dogs. But natural bully sticks don’t stink, and dogs don’t need any incitement to like them. So why not go natural?

What about value? Those hard, skinny, stinky bullies from Cadet were $24 for 12 of them, roughly $2 each. The ones I got from Simply Bully Sticks were the same length, and cost for a pound of them is $29.99. At 3 oz per bully, that’s about 4-5 sticks, or $5.99 apiece. If they were the same thickness, a $2 bully vs. a $6 bully would be a no-brainer. But remember, they’re three times thicker than the cheap ones, so they last much longer. Those cheap bullies are gone pretty fast. The equivalent cost in my view is pretty close.

When I have a cost comparison, I like to ask if the increase in price is commensurate with the quality. So are Simply Bully Stick’s bully sticks worth three times more than the cheapy ones? You bet! I actually had to keep the cheap ones in a zipper bag because I couldn’t stand the dead-fish smell. What’s on them or in them that smells like that? Ewwww.

I think there will always be a market for cheaper bully sticks. I bought them, didn’t I? But once dog owners see a higher-quality bully stick available, there is always a market for those, too. I think that high-quality bully sticks like these will appeal to dog owners who are willing to pay a little more to give their dogs a more natural, better chew. In all fairness, there may be other retailers who offer better quality bullies. But as for me, we’ll be getting our bullies from Simply Bully Sticks from now on.

 
 

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Alarm Calls You When Dog Barks at Intruder

To many folks, all dog barks may sound the same, but dogs have different barks for different purposes. The friendly bark that your dog greets you with is not the same bark as the rapid, high-pitched bark she may aim at the UPS guy or the passing motorcyclist. A low bark can mean an intruder or direct threat.

A new “dog alert” system developed in Israel is able to recognize when a dog feels threatened or is stressed by analyzing its bark, then sends an SMS to the pet owner’s mobile phone. It also sends an alert if the dog runs away (or is stolen) by tracking whether the dog has left a certain geographic area by means of a GPS system.

The company, Bio-Sense, uses a 1.5″ x 3″ sensor that analyzes the dog’s bark. The system, named Telidog, uses a combination of a bark analyzer, GPS chip, and movement/motion sensor. It will send a text message or place a voice call to the dog’s owner if it senses the dog is in danger or threatened. The owner signs in to the company’s website, where he can enter his mobile phone number and manage other specifics. If the dog ever leaves the pre-determined geographic area (your home and yard, or neighborhood, for example), you can go online to see where the dog is. So if you dog goes on an unauthorized walkabout (or is stolen from your yard), you don’t have to rely on strangers to scan a microchip or collar tag; you just sign in and see where he is.

HIGH ACCURACY

The technology behind Telidog has been tested with the Israeli Department of Homeland Security and the Israeli Defense Forces, along with hundreds of other sites. The detection algorithm has been found to be extremely accurate, with a very low rate of false alarms.

If you’re worried about what might happen to your dog while you’re at work all day, pair this technology with an Internet-based home camera system and put your mind at ease.

The collar costs $260 and the monthly fee is $12 to $25. Customers can join by mail at sales@bio-sense.com.

What do you think of this kind of technology?

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Top 100 Dog Products

 

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Snoutstik Nose Balm for Dogs Product Review

A dog’s nose is many times more sensitive than a human’s. Imagine how painful a dry or irritated dog’s nose can be! Many of us don’t even examine our dogs’ noses on a regular basis. We don’t notice when it’s dry or irritated until it’s uncomfortable for the dog. Snoutstik was created to help alleviate dry dog noses caused by exposure to the elements, allergies or heredity. The product contains a core combination of healing, natural sunscreens, Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil and Jojoba Seed Oil.

I liked the idea of the Snoutstik because my Irish Setter, like many, has a sensitive “liver” nose that occasionally gets hyperkeratosis (or “crusty nose”) across the top. Many older dogs get dry nose. Some social sites’ message boards revealed that dog owners had been using Bag Balm with some success. I had been using Vitamin E oil, which my veterinarian recommended. It works well, but my dog tries to lick it all off. I thought the Snoutstik might stay on better if it were thicker or waxier, like Chapstik.

I liked the language used to describe the Snoutstik formula: soothing, moisturizing, healing, hydrating, restorative, silky. I really wanted it to work. It did seem to cling better than oil, and Finnegan didn’t try to lick it off. However, he did not suffer it to stay on his nose any better. In fact, every time I put it on him, he went straight for the carpet, rolling onto his back and rubbing his head upside-down on the carpet. He eventually got a little abrasion above his nose, where the “nose” flesh becomes regular skin.

I think the fragrance was too strong for him. I tried the Lavender one. Perhaps the Rosemary or Pumpkin would be less strong. I tried an unscented natural lip balm and he seemed to tolerate it much better. However, it didn’t seem to make much difference in the granular flesh of his nose.

I’m back to Vitamin E oil.

Available for $3.99 in pumpkin, rosemary and lavender. Made in the USA.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Dog Product Reviews

 

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People Giving Up Pets Because They Can’t Afford Them

I’ve read several articles in the news about people giving up their pets because of the tight economy. More than 80 dogs have been dropped off at a single shelter in West Virginia. Other shelters have seen a sharp increase in people dropping off pets because they can no longer afford them. And, because of the economic scares, fewer people are adopting pets.

It’s hard to understand giving up a family pet because money’s tight. I’d have to be missing some meals before I could give up my fur-kids.  I know there are situations in which the pet truly cannot remain with its owners, and for them I am deeply sorry. Knowing that adult pets are far more difficult to find homes for – and many of them are put down at shelters – I hope that if there’s no money for pet food, there’s also no money for cell phones, cable television, clothes, bottled water, movies and sweets. If there’s money for that stuff, there’s money for your dog.

The decisions we make in the emotional moments after losing a job or filing for bankruptcy are sometimes life-and-death decisions for our pets, who have no say in the decision making process.

Let’s not toss them aside too quickly.

Before you drop your dog off at a shelter, please think about what it really costs to keep your dog. If you already have a leash, collar and crate, what does it really cost? For a healthy dog, it only costs food and heartworm/flea medication. There may be areas in which you can save money that are often overlooked. Do you mow your own lawn? Do you have bottled water delivery? Can you reduce your cable/satellite or Internet service package? How often do you go to Starbucks?

In other words, are the discretionary things you spend your money on worth your dog’s life?

Our dogs give so much, and they don’t ask for much in return. Let’s at least provide a safe home for them with the people they love.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in In the News

 

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