en All About the Initiative to Make All Shelters No-Kill By 2025  
"We thought it was time to put a stake in the ground and say, ‘This is what we all need to do,’" said Gregory Castle, the organization’s co-founder and CEO.
The organization announced the 2025 goal last year during its annual conference, which brings together animal rescuers who share the same no-kill philosophy. More and more each year, Best Friends could sense a groundswell of support for a national initiative. "There was so much momentum behind communities going no-kill,” Castle told petMD.
With regional centers in cities including New York and Atlanta, Best Friends provides grant programs, fundraising activities, and training practices for animal rescue groups and shelters across the country. Together, this ever-growing coalition will help bring the organization closer to achieving its 2025 mission. 
The effective techniques that Best Friends has been able to share with other organizations include helping at-risk animals. For instance, when it comes to Pit Bull Terriers and similar breeds with unfair stigmas and stereotypes, its programs help socialize and train these dogs so that potential adopters can see how loving these pets are when they’re raised in the right conditions. When this initiative was put forth in Utah shelters, up to 94 percent of dogs were saved, as opposed to previous years when it was as low as 40 percent, Castle said. 
Another tool Best Friends uses to establish no-kill standards is to aid newborn kittens who have been orphaned. "When they are young, they have to be bottle fed every two hours until they are 8 weeks," Castle explained. "It is very labor intensive, and most shelters don’t have the resources to do that.” Because of this factor, Best Friends has developed kitten nurseries where volunteers feed the tiny cats throughout the night and give them a fighting chance to survive. 
In addition to the kitten nurseries, Best Friends also works to introduce trap, neuter, and return (TNR) programs to communities with feral or free-roaming cats who would not survive in a shelter situation, as they are not adoptable. Castle shared the example of Jacksonville, Florida, where the TNR program helped reduce the number of feral cats killed from 5,000 to 2,000 in one year. Since then, he said, the numbers have continued to drastically fall. 
Thanks to these successful initiatives, Castle said the number of communities getting involved and practicing these techniques continues to grow with positive results. Communities that have enacted these practices are seeing up to a 90 percent no-kill rate—save for the 10 percent, in most cases, where an animal was humanely euthanized due to terminal illnesses, severe behavior issues, or overall poor quality of life from health issues, Castle said. 
Over the course of the next few years, Best Friends plans to continue working on legislation at the local and state levels to ensure the safety of at-risk animals. One of the most important messages the organization wants to convey to lawmakers is that "every animal should be based as an individual, not because of a breed," Castle said.
While it won't always be an easy road to achieving its 2025 goal, Best Friends is happy with the progress it has made thus far, Castle said. "We’re optimistic about it, and we see the increasing number of people who want to help." 
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Responsible Pet Adoption 
]]> cat dog Health & Science rescue shelter Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:36:33 +0000 35776 at
Australia's Longest Venomous Snake Is a 13-Foot King Cobra Named Raja  
Take, for instance, the king cobra—one of the world’s most venomous snakes—which can grow up to 18 feet long. Currently, the largest recorded king cobra in all of Australia is a 13.45-foot-long snake named Raja who resides at The Australian Reptile Park in New South Wales. 
The 13-year-old snake, who weighs more than 17 pounds, has actually grown over the past year, which is a good thing, explained Dan Rumsey, the head of Reptiles and Venom at The Australian Reptile Park. "Weighing Raja is essential, as it’s the first indicator of his overall health,” he told petMD. 
While a king cobra like Raja isn't the most venomous in the world, his bite is nothing to mess around with. “A single bite is enough to kill several people, or even an elephant,” Rumsey stressed. During a recent milking session, “we estimated that the venom yield was somewhere between 400 to 450 milligrams,” Rumsey said. “To put this in perspective, a tiger snake here in Australia (the fourth most toxic snake in the world) would only put out about 45 to 50 milligrams of venom."
That’s why the park staff uses “extreme caution” when handling and caring for Raja. “Handling a snake of this danger level takes many years of experience of handling venomous snakes,” Rumsey said. “We keep contact to an absolute minimum and only handle Raja when absolutely necessary. Working with any species of cobra is all about being able to read the snake’s body language and predicting its next move—that’s how the keepers know exactly what they need to do next." 
As much caution as there is around Raja, he has proven to be an invaluable part of research, as well as the Australian landscape. “He has sired two clutches of healthy king cobra babies, who are now living throughout Australia," Rumsey noted. “Through this breeding program, we were able to see the amazing king cobra mating ritual and watch Raja become the ‘Big Daddy’ of cobras here in Australia.”
So, if you’re planning to head Down Under, you can visit Raja and see him up close and personal at the park. (From the safe distance of being nowhere near him, of course!)
]]> care reptile Strange But True Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:15:26 +0000 35732 at
April the Giraffe Gives Birth to Healthy Baby, Captures Hearts Worldwide  
April, who had previously given birth to three calves, was in labor for a little over two-and-a-half hours. (This baby, however, marks the first for proud papa Oliver the Giraffe.)
Unfortunately, April sustained an injury during the birth: a small twist in her leg. The park said on Facebook that these sort of injuries are "not unheard of in long-legged animals" and a doctor was onsite to help her. A follow-up post assured, "April's walk and stance are almost perfect again. Her leg twist was the equivalent of rolling your ankle slightly."
In an official statement regarding the birth of April's baby boy, Animal Adventure Park Owner Jordan Patch said, "His entrance into the world was unnerving to even those of us who have witnessed animal births previously. Giraffes give birth standing up, which means when the calf is ready to be born, it exits its mother hooves first from six feet off the floor, making for a very exciting event! After many months of pregnancy, both mom and calf are doing fine."
The day after the birth, the calf stood 5 feet 9 inches and weighed 129 pounds, and was "nursing strongly...without any concerns."
While the adorable baby (who fans can still check up on via live stream) hasn't been named yet, he will be with his mother at Animal Adventure Park through most of the 2017 season, as weaning can take up to 14 months. 
Image via Animal Adventure Park Facebook
Read more: How to Become a Veterinarian 
]]> bonding Lifestyle & Entertainment Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:33:59 +0000 35730 at
Rabbit Recovering After Being Shot in Head with Arrow  
According to local news affiliate WBTV, the hurt animal was brought to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue after concerned citizens saw the rabbit and promptly called animal control for help. 
After being assessed by the rescue group, the rabbit was brought to Monroe Road Animal Hospital for urgent care. Dr. Marty Davis, who aided in the treatment of the rabbit, told petMD that the rabbit's shocking injuries were "very extensive." "The injuries from the arrow were through and through in a horizontal plane the nasal sinuses right through the bone of the skull," he explained. "The procedure to remove it took about a half an hour."
"If the arrow had been a few inches up or down, it would have either been in the brain or the mouth, which obviously would be much more detrimental," Davis added.
Davis said that while the rabbit was in pain, he kept still throughout the entire ordeal, which was pivotal to his survival. "If the rabbit had been mishandled... that could've caused more harm." It makes sense, then, why the hospital staff has since given the animal a most apropos name: Miracle. 
Since the trauma, Miracle is recovering quite well, both emotionally and physically, Davis said. The rabbit, which was likely raised in the wild and has had minimal human contact, is adjusting well to his surroundings, happily hopping around and eating well, Davis described. Because of this progress, Miracle should be up for adoption in about a week's time. 
While this rabbit's story of survival is nothing short of amazing, Davis hopes that when concerned citizens—like the ones in Charlotte—see an animal in distress, they'll do the right thing. "I would recommend that if anyone in the general public finds an injured animal, that they call animal control, [who can] take it to any nearby animal hospital."
Image via Monroe Road Animal Hospital 
Read More: 5 Most Popular Rabbit Breeds 
]]> care Care & Safety Mon, 17 Apr 2017 14:31:17 +0000 35701 at
Senior Dog Adoptions on the Rise: Why It's a Good Thing  
The problem is, a dog over the age of 7, or senior dog, has a smaller chance of getting adopted when next to silly, playful puppies and younger dogs. They also, sadly, are often euthanized in an overcrowded shelter before the younger, more adoptable dogs. There is good news, though. More and more people these days are looking to save lives, thinking of these dogs' needs before their own. In fact, a recent survey by The Grey Muzzle Organization revealed a nationwide trend toward more positive perceptions and increased adoption of senior dogs.  
The Benefits of Adopting a Senior Dog
Adopting an older dog may save his life—not only physically from being put down, but also figuratively. Most of these older, abandoned dogs were great family members up until life threw them a curveball. Most are already housebroken, have some obedience training, are even skilled at some work tasks. These gray muzzles just want to continue to please, and often don't understand why they have been left behind. This is why senior dogs make loyal and loving companions. By adopting them, you are giving them a second chance to make a family happy. Many are still trainable, as “senior” is defined at 7 years of age. This is only middle aged for many breeds, and these dogs still have years of life in them.
An older, more mature dog is quite desirable for many families these days. Life has become so busy, there isn't always a lot of time left to raise a puppy, who needs constant attention, cleaning up after, frequent vet visits, and training. Older dogs tend to be calmer, require less energy, and no middle-of-the-night wakeups for potty emergencies. Most are completely content snuggling into a comfy spot in your home and napping the day away. They may even encourage you to slow down and join them. These aged pups also like to meander on gentles strolls through the neighborhood, instead of tugging and pulling you down the block on walks, chasing every squirrel, dog, car, or fleeing leaf, as puppies often do. And they tend to know the difference between a chew toy and your shoes.
When new puppies come into the vet clinic, there are two main questions that everyone asks: “How big will it be?” and “How long will it take to calm down?” By adopting a mature dog, you know exactly what you are getting. You can see how big they are, how much they will weigh, and what their temperament is. Do they come with issues? Of course, all living things do. The health of an animal can never be guaranteed, no matter what the age. But many senior dog rescues offer financial support for hospice care or medical needs.
With all the support of social networks and media groups promoting rescue, senior dog adoption is steadily increasing. And there couldn't be a more important time for things to change. More and more pets are being relinquished due to our fast-paced, ever-changing lifestyles. An older dog may be just what we need to take a step back, slow down, and enjoy some slow walks around the block and therapeutic snuggles on the couch. These adoring canines have a way of showing us what life is about: Appreciation, giving second chances, and loving unconditionally and wholeheartedly.
Natasha Feduik is a licensed veterinary technician with Garden City Park Animal Hospital in New York, where she has been practicing for 10 years. Natasha received her degree in veterinary technology from Purdue University. Natasha has two dogs, a cat, and three birds at home and is passionate about helping people take the best possible care of their animal companions.
]]> adoption dog senior View Fri, 14 Apr 2017 18:36:58 +0000 35693 at
Outdoor Cat Controversy: Is It Ever OK to Let Them Roam?  
Dangers and Risks for Outdoor Cats
There are many potential dangers faced by outdoor cats, but some risks can be mitigated. For example, outdoor cats exposed to the rabies and feline leukemia viruses can be protected by vaccines. Another virus that is more prevalent in outdoor cat populations is the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Although a vaccine for FIV exists, its use is controversial.
The risk for exposure to fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes is also greater for cats who spend time outside. These pests can transmit the agents that cause diseases, such as feline infectious anemia and heartworm. Responsible pet parents must ensure that their cat receives appropriate parasite preventatives to stay healthy.
Another preventable problem associated with outdoor cats is unwanted pregnancies. Due to the persistent and staggering overpopulation issue, it is imperative to have your cats spayed or neutered before they are permitted outside.
Unfortunately, unsupervised outdoor cats are at risk for several serious problems that cannot be easily avoided. Vehicular accidents are one of the most common life-threatening issues faced by outdoor cats. Encounters with other animals can also pose grave consequences. Bite wounds, if not detected early, can result in serious infections. Cats attacked by larger animals such as dogs, foxes, or coyotes have a low survival rate.
Cats who roam outside are in jeopardy of being exposed to toxins such as antifreeze and rodenticides. If a cat ingests either product without the owner’s knowledge, the window of opportunity to administer an antidote is lost. Toxic outdoor plants such as lilies, azaleas, cyclamen, or the bulbs of tulips and hyacinth also endanger cats.
Benefits of Letting Your Cat Outside
While there are many sound reasons for keeping your cat indoors, there are several benefits associated with outdoor life. The majority of outdoor cats maintain a healthy body weight. As opposed to their strictly indoor couch potato counterparts, outdoor cats play and run and therefore burn many more calories.
The importance of environmental enrichment for cats is strongly touted by veterinary behaviorists. Although cat parents can be creative in initiating indoor games, the mental stimulation experienced outdoors is ideal. Exposure to live prey allows cats to partake in natural hunting activities. Hunting outdoors serves as an outlet for stalking and aggression that might otherwise be directed toward other household pets and family members. For cat parents, channeling their pet’s scratching tendency toward trees and other natural surfaces is much preferred compared to leather furniture or Berber carpeting.
While indoor cats are afforded a longer life expectancy, some people believe that quality of life outweighs quantity. Pet parents need to recognize that there are circumstances that make a cat’s indoor confinement very difficult. Stray cats who have become accustomed to living outdoors have a hard time acclimating to life strictly inside. Parents of cats with non-resolvable litter box aversion often have no choice other than to allow their cat to venture into nature when “nature calls.”
In order for cat parents who live in a highly trafficked area to strike a happy balance, they can consider leash walking their cats in a harness or allowing their cats to explore and exercise within an enclosed yard under supervision. Whether you choose to allow your cat to roam outside or keep it indoors, be sure to take measures to ensure both her physical and mental well-being.  
Mindy Cohan, VMD, is a small animal veterinarian in the Philadelphia area. Mindy has a strong interest in bereavement counseling and she is passionate about teaching families how to care for their pets. She enjoys disseminating pet health information as the monthly guest veterinarian on WXPN-FM's Kids Corner.
]]> cat catcarecenter-bronze health View Thu, 13 Apr 2017 16:40:48 +0000 35692 at
Taiwan Declares Consumption of Dog and Cat Meat Illegal  
Offenders who cause "deliberate harm to animals that results in mangled limbs, organ failure or death" could face up to two years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. The amendment also "prohibits drivers and motorcycle riders from pulling animals along on a leash." 
This groundbreaking piece of legislation makes Taiwan the first Asian country to ban the consumption of cat and dog meat.
Animal lovers around the world are hoping this will spark change throughout Asia and put an end to controversial events like the Yulin dog meat festival in China, where an estimated 10,000 canines are killed every year.
"Taiwan's progressive ban is part of a growing trend across Asia to end the brutal dog meat trade, and reflects the fact that a huge number of people in Asian countries do not in fact eat dog and cat and are appalled by the cruel and often crime-fueled trade," Wendy Higgins, the spokesperson and communications director of the Humane Society International, said in a statement.
"Taiwan also sends a strong signal to countries such as China and South Korea, where the dog meat trade remains and millions of dogs are killed by beating, hanging, or electrocution for eating," she continued. "It's time for change, and bans like the one in Taiwan utterly dispel the myth that this is promoted by Western sentimentality. The animal protection movement is growing rapidly across Asia, and the calls for an end to dog meat cruelty are getting louder and louder."
Image via Shutterstock 
Read more: Dogs Rescued from Meat Farm Begin New Lives in U.S.
]]> cat dog health Health & Science Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:17:46 +0000 35691 at
Feral Cat Dies of Plague in New Mexico  
"They say a recent case of plague in a dog in the same vicinity could indicate re-emergence of the bacterial infection in a part of the city where it was no longer thought to be found," the article stated. This marks the first time officials have detected plague in that area (North Albuquerque Acres) since the late 1990s.
Prevention is key for concerned pet parents in the region, advised Dr. Kim Chalfant of La Cueva Animal Hospital in Albuquerque. "Make sure your pet is treated with an effective flea preventative," Chalfant told petMD. "There are some preventatives that actually repel fleas and keep them from biting, while others kill the parasite after it has fed on the pet. The most effective prevention in this case is something repellent, as the bite can still spread the disease."
Plague is a disease that is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. It is usually "spread via flea bites from infected rodents or rabbits that are harboring the disease," Chalfant noted. "However, scratches or bites from infected animals or respiratory secretions if it has the pneumonic component, can be spread in both directions."
Plague symptoms include lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, and dehydration. "There may be enlarged lymph nodes, respiratory symptoms, or draining skin lesions, but that is not the case always," Chalfant added. 
The diagnosis is dependent on what type of plague the animal has, Chalfant said. The disease is divided into three main types: bubonic, which causes swollen and painful lymph nodes (called buboes); septicemic, which occurs in the bloodstream and often is secondary to a bubonic infection; and pneumonic, which affects the lungs and is considered the most serious form because it is easily spread through respiratory secretions, she explained.
If people suspect their pet has been exposed to plague bacteria, they should seek veterinary care immediately, Chalfant urged. But, if "the animal is feral or ownership is not known, it would be best to call your local animal control so they can pick up the animal and have it tested and also check for ownership via microchip." 
Either way, treatment for the animal is essential when it comes to this issue. "It could be mistaken for tularemia (aka rabbit fever), which is caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis," Chalfant explained. "The test for plague through the New Mexico state lab includes this because they both have identical symptoms and are considered reportable."
While cats are more vulnerable (perhaps because "they are more likely to kill and consume rodents than dogs are"), all pet parents should be on alert, as plague bacteria can be transmitted from animals to humans, and vice versa.
"Cats that are indoor/outdoor and dogs that are out walking (particularly off leash) could pick up the disease from fleas that have been feeding on infected rodents or by killing/eating infected rodents," Chalfant said, adding that pet parents should try to limit the outdoor hunting/killing behavior of cats and dogs, "as this is another significant means of spreading plague."
Luckily, plague is treatable with routine antibiotics. "Usually we are hospitalizing pets on IV fluids in an isolated area of the hospital while we await titer tests to come back, which can take up to a week. This is to support hydration and keep their fever down until we are confident they are not likely infectious and can safely go home." 
Image via Shutterstock 
Read more: Feral Cats and Wildlife – Are the Cats as Bad as ‘They’ Say?
]]> cat health Health & Science Tue, 11 Apr 2017 18:25:46 +0000 35690 at
Cat Miraculously Survives Being Doused in Gasoline and Put in Trash  
In early April 2017, two sanitation workers brought a cat into The Humane Society of Berks County (HSBC) after they discovered her inside a trash bag in Reading, Pennsylvania. Had the workers not heard the cat meowing inside the bag, she would have been crushed to death in the garbage truck. According to a press release from the HSBC, the cat was not only placed in the trash bag, but also was covered in blankets and doused in gasoline.
The 1-year-old cat, who has since been named Miracle Maisy, was "alert but definitely in rough shape," as Cappellano put it. The HSBC quickly took Maisy to Humane Veterinary Hospitals in Reading for treatment for her injuries. 
Dr. Kimya Davani, who took care of Maisy, stated that the process of getting her back to health was not an easy one. "The gas was so embedded in her fur that she wasn’t drying, and because of this her internal body temperature had dropped," Davani told the Reading Eagle. "We had to shave most of her body in order to get her temperature up again."
Maisy is also very underweight and suffering from skin sensitivity, Davani added. "Though there are no visible life threatening injuries, we are worried that the toxicity of the gasoline has affected her lungs and neurological functioning," she said. "At this time, we’re monitoring her for onset illness and ensuring that her chemical burns and bruises heal properly.” 
In an update on its website, Humane Pennsylvania happily reported, "Maisy has gained back some of her energy and has been rather playful! She is eating well and her skin redness is improving. Some of her blood work came back slightly irregular, but our vet staff at Humane Veterinary Hospitals are working hard to get all of her vitals normal!" 
As Maisy continues to heal, she will be put in foster care first and then eventually placed for adoption when she is ready to transition into a forever home. In the meantime, a donation page is set up to help pay for Maisy's growing medical costs. 
At press time, an animal cruelty report was being filed with the local police enforcement. Humane Pennsylvania is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who is able to bring forth information about who committed this terrible act.  
Image via Humane Pennsylvania 
Read more: Abandoned Senior Cat With Severe Matting Has Incredible Transformation 
]]> care Care & Safety cat rescue Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:54:18 +0000 35676 at
Dog Attacks on Mail Carriers on the Rise: What Pet Parents Can Do  
Dog attacks on postal employees reached 6,755 in 2016—more than 200 higher than the year before, the postal service announced in a press release. Of the cities with the most dog attacks on letter carriers, Los Angeles ranked first with 80 attacks in 2016, followed by Houston (62), Cleveland (60), San Diego (57), and Louisville (51). 
“Even good dogs have bad days,” stated U.S. Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo. "Dog bite prevention training and continuing education are important to keep pet owners, pets, and those who visit homes—like letter carriers—happy and healthy.”
To do its part to help with the issue, the U.S. Postal Service offers safety measures that include having customers indicate if there are dogs at their addresses when they schedule package pickups. "This information is provided to letter carriers on their delivery scanners, which also can send real-time updates if an unleashed dog is reported in a delivery area," the release said. 
DeCarlo also suggested that pet parents keep dogs in separate rooms from where the mail is delivered, and avoid taking mail directly from a carrier by hand, as a dog may perceive it as a threat.
"For a lot of dogs, the mail carrier is a daily visitor, a stranger intruding on their home turf," explained Elisha Stynchula, general manager and partner of "I Said Sit!" School For Dogs in Los Angeles, during an interview with petMD. "Every time the dog barks and reacts, the mail carrier leaves and the dog thinks, 'Yeah that’s right! Stay off my yard. I scared you away!' The dog’s perception is that he defended the home and chased away the mail carrier and it becomes self-reinforcing. One of the main reasons it can get bad over time is that the whole situation can be very rewarding for the dog." 
Pet parents who want to do their part to ensure the safety and health of both their dog and their mail carrier can start right where the issue takes place: at home.
"To train a dog to stop this kind of behavior the fastest way possible, you need to be at home every time the mail carrier is coming for long enough that your dog learns an alternate behavior it finds to be more rewarding the reacting to the mail carrier," Stynchula said. "That’s not easy for most people to do, so training isn’t the fastest. I think a combination of training and management is the best solution. Train when you can and stop the dog from doing it when you are not home." 
For those times when you can't be home and the mail carrier is on his way, Stynchula suggests a few techniques, including "keeping the dog in a room, pen, crate, kennel, or behind a baby gate." She added, "Perhaps it means preventing access to the front yard. Sometimes all it takes is blocking access to windows. Using an opaque stick-on window film can do wonders to minimize a dog’s reactivity." 
Whatever issue you're having when it comes to your dog and the mail carrier, Stynchula urges all pet parents with fearful or aggressive dogs to seek help from a professional to find the right training plan for success. 
Image via Shutterstock 
Read more: How to Stop a Dog From Barking
]]> Care & Safety dog Thu, 06 Apr 2017 18:11:46 +0000 35675 at
Kitten Named Hugh Jackman Found With Burns on 40 Percent of Body  
On March 10, a small kitten was brought to Animal Care Centers of NYC (NYCACC) by a concerned citizen in Brooklyn who came across the injured feline. "He looked like he had been burned," NYCACC spokeswoman Katy Hansen told petMD. "In fact, they thought he originally had been put into a dryer because they couldn't determine the origins of the wounds."
As it turned out, the months-old cat had burns covering 40 percent of his body, including his legs, ears, and nose. He also endured trauma to his bones and loss of fur. Hugh was brought to the Midtown Manhattan location of BluePearl Emergency Pet Hospital for immediate care and treatment. To date, the hospital has still not determined if the cat endured abuse or an accident, but "his injuries are consistent with being burned via submersion in an extremely caustic substance," BluePearl explained.
According to a press release from BluePearl, the kitten has been receiving round-the-clock veterinary care. “He’s an extremely tough cat,” stated Dr. Meredith Daly, who has been helping supervise Hugh Jackman’s care. 
Hansen echoed that sentiment. "Hugh Jackman has been so sweet," she told petMD. "In fact, just today he began grooming himself, which is a sign that he is healing, physically and mentally." The NYCACC has even put up a video showing the fierce feline's incredible progress. (That healing power, as it turns out, has made him the perfect Wolverine namesake!)
During his time at BluePearl, Hugh Jackman has "received antibiotics, pain medications, fluids and nutritional support," the release stated. "He has received extensive nursing care and has had his bandages changed every day to remove dead tissue and to prevent infection. He has been treated for sepsis and infection from his wounds."
His injuries are "extremely painful, but are improving every day," Daly stated. Hugh Jackman will stay at BluePearl as he continues to get better. As Hansen told us, "Until he is ready to go into a foster home equipped to handle his ongoing medical needs. At that point, we will track his progress until that time where he can be adopted into a family home." 
As NYCACC and BluePearl continue to help Hugh Jackman get back on his paws, you can donate to help cover the costs of his medical expenses here. 
Image via BluePearl 
Read more like this: Abandoned Senior Cat With Severe Matting Has Incredible Transformation
]]> cat Health & Science kitten rescue Tue, 04 Apr 2017 16:26:59 +0000 35650 at
Tragedy at Zoo Knoxville: 33 Reptiles Unexpectedly Die  
A total of 52 animals lived inside the particular building where the incident took place, meaning that more than half of the lives were lost. In a Facebook post, Zoo Knoxville explained, "The zoo’s vet team responded immediately, evacuating animals, giving them oxygen, and checking unresponsive animals for heartbeats with an ultrasound." 
On this "difficult" and "heartbreaking day," particularly for the herpetologists, the zoo lost a variety of species, including critically endangered ones, such as the Louisiana pine snake, the Catalina Island rattlesnake, and the Aruba Island rattlesnake. 
"We don't know exactly what occurred to cause this terrible event, but we do know it was isolated to a single building," the zoo stated, adding that the team would continue its investigations.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New said that officials believe the deaths were due to "an environmental cause" rather than disease.
In a Facebook video post, New further elaborated that, after a series of testing, food-related issues, foul play, disease, infections, and carbon monoxide poisoning have been ruled out as the cause of death. 
The building where the incident occurred is closed while the zoo conducts the investigation and necropsies, but its other herpetology buildings remain open. 
Read more: 
How Can I Tell If My Snake is Sick? 
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> Health & Science reptile Wed, 29 Mar 2017 17:47:22 +0000 35646 at
Study Finds That Cats Actually Love Interacting With Humans  
Kristyn Vitale Shreve, Ph.D. candidate at Oregon State University, knows this misconception better than most. She—along with fellow researchers—recently conducted a study that tracked the behavioral habits of felines and whether they preferred human social interaction, food, toys, or scents. (While studies had previously been done regarding these habits with dogs and tortoises, cats had yet to be examined in this way.) 
The team conducted the study over several months with 50 cats (both pets and shelter cats). In a series of cognitive tests, the subjects were deprived of these four types of stimuli for a few hours. Then, the researchers reintroduced the stimuli to see what the cats would go for.
Shreve and her research partners discovered that the felines actually chose to be with humans more often. "Although there was clear individual variability in cat preference, social interaction with humans was the most-preferred stimulus category for the majority of cats, followed by food," the study notes. 
Not only will this allow cat owners to prove, once and for all, that cats are friendly and loving creatures, but this sort of information also will prove helpful in other areas. 
"One of the major reasons we conducted this study was to determine what items may best serve as a reward to cats," Shreve tells petMD. "If we understand what items cats prefer to interact with, we can utilize this knowledge in applied settings—such as when training cats or for use as enrichment items for shelter cats or, potentially, other captive wild cats."
Shreve also points out that, while human interaction was the most sought-after stimulus, each cat had their own unique set of preferences, something she found surprising. "I think we should consider cats more as individuals," she says. "Just like any animal species, you see a gradient of sociability and preference—many cats prefer social interaction, but also many preferred food, toys, and scent." 
Read more: 
Why it Pays to be a Cat Lady: Studies Show Female Cat Owners Benefit the Most from Having a Pet
Image via Shutterstock 
]]> behavior cat Lifestyle & Entertainment Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:45:32 +0000 35645 at
Tax Breaks and Pets: One Vet's Perspective  
3 Ways to Reduce Your Tax Bill 
1. Several states, including Oregon and Maryland, are considering or have recently considered tax breaks for adopting a shelter animal. The idea has been presented by legislators in other states as well, so it seems like it’s catching on. Call your local representatives and tell them that encouraging animal adoption is important to you. Or, if you want an immediate tax credit for supporting your local shelter, donate. Shelters are always in need of more towels, blankets, and washable toys. Your tax credit will be based on the value of the items donated. You will need a receipt if the value totals over $250. And, of course, if you write a check to an animal-related 501(c)(3), it’s a charitable deduction.
2. Own a barn or farm? Supplies for a pest control cat are tax deductible. Plus, your local shelter will likely give you a barn cat for free. A barn cat is a cat that for one reason or another is not adoptable as a house pet but still deserves a second chance at a happy life. Everybody wins.
Similarly, if an animal isn’t just supporting your business but actually is your business (e.g. breeders, pet bloggers, show dogs, four-legged movie stars), then animal-related expenses are business expenses and, therefore, tax deductible. There are a lot of rules about what qualifies as a business or hobby, so consult a tax expert for advice.
3. Volunteering with not-for-profit rescue or shelter groups can also help you generate tax deductions. Keep track of your driving mileage. This can add up if you shuttle adoptable animals to events around town, or even if you visit the shelter to walk dogs a few times every month.
And, if you are one of those big-hearted people who fosters animals for those organizations, any expenses that aren’t reimbursed are also tax deductible. Of course, the real benefit of fostering is the joy you get when you introduce your foster pet to her new forever home, but it’s nice to know that you can reduce your tax bill at the same time.
Looking for Pet-Related Tax Deductions
There are a few other specific situations that make animal-related expenses tax deductible, so consult a tax expert if you think you might qualify.
The reason we look for pet-related tax deductions is that our companions can be very expensive. Between food, toys, bedding, and veterinary care, the bills can add up. As a veterinarian, I would love if my clients could deduct their pet’s medical expenses as they do for the humans in the house. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn’t agree. Instead, one thing I encourage my clients to do is set aside their own pet “tax.” Each month, put aside a little bit of money so you are prepared if a big unexpected bill comes along. Or, your pet savings account can even cover those smaller routine expenses. You already have your taxes taken out of your paycheck so that you don’t have to write a big check once a year, so why not consider doing the same in your own bank account for your four-legged companions? Pet insurance is also available from an increasing number of providers, so then you never have to worry about unexpected veterinary expenses. But that’s a topic for another time. 
Finally finished your taxes? Reward yourself and your pet with a visit to your favorite park or some extra snuggle time on the couch.
Dr. Elfenbein is a veterinarian and animal behaviorist located in Atlanta. Her mission is to provide pet parents with the information they need to have happy, and healthy, and fulfilled relationships with their dogs and cats.
]]> dog View Tue, 28 Mar 2017 18:06:03 +0000 35644 at
Which Personality Does Your Cat Have?  
Enter science. Research into cat personality types seems to be the topic du jour. The Daily Mail reports that a study involving “interviews” of more than 200 cats and their owners, run by Dr. Lauren Finka of the University of Lincoln in England, reveals that cats have only five personality types. These personalities develop due to “a complex interaction between each cat's genetics and their experiences during development and in adulthood,” the article states. To quote:

The Human Cat is generally happy to share your home, your life and often your personal space.
The Hunter Cat is the most feral of the personalities, regularly interacting with realistic cat toys and showing signs of an expert hunter.
You can identify a Cat's Cat through its willingness to play with and groom its furry siblings, touching noses and rubbing up against each other.
The Cantankerous Cat is more easily frustrated than his four counterparts and can be less tolerant to being handled, due to being quite sensitive to touch, their environment and being on high alert.
The Inquisitive Cat can be a keen investigator, sniffing around anything and anyone unfamiliar.

Scientists at the University of South Australia took a different approach and used a questionnaire that included 52 personality characteristics. They analyzed 2,802 cats and identified “a set of five major personality factors.” According to their 2017 report, Cat Tracker South Australia: Understanding Pet Cats Through Citizen Science, the “Feline Five” traits are skittishness, outgoingness, dominance, spontaneity, and friendliness.
Cat owners who completed the personality test questions within the survey received a “cat personality report.” These reports “outlined their cat’s personality profile and provided some guidance on how this information could be used to make decisions about cat management.” This is what their general suggestions looked like:

Cats with high scores may benefit from having hiding spots at home. You could also consider whether there could be something in your cat’s environment that is stressing your cat.
Low scores may reflect that your cat is well adjusted to its environment.


Cats with high scores may benefit from additional toys and playtime.
Cats with low scores are uncommon, but may be showing signs of aging or related health issues.


Cats with high scores may experience difficulties being around other cats, both in your home and in your neighborhood.
Cats with low scores may adjust well to being in multi-cat households.


For cats with high scores, consider whether your cat could be reacting to something stressful in its environment.
Cats with low scores may reflect that they are well adjusted to their environment and may enjoy routine.


Cats with high scores may adjust well to other people and animals in the home.
Cats with low scores may have a solitary nature or they may be poorly socialized. If unfriendly behavior is unusual for your cat, it may indicate frustration, pain, or illness.

The Cat Tracker team in the United States has since launched its own version of the personality survey. Scientists at North Carolina State University are using the responses to “learn more about cats, their behaviors and personalities, and their relationships with their owners.”
]]> behavior cat catcarecenter-bronze View Mon, 27 Mar 2017 18:16:04 +0000 35643 at
Dogs on Deployment: Helping Military Members Keep Their Pets  
The Johnsons researched boarding facilities and considered hiring a professional dog sitter, but both options proved impractical and expensive. Just when they thought they had exhausted all options, Shawn’s mother connected them with her cousin, a dog-lover who lived only about an hour away from Alisa’s training school. The family member stepped up and agreed to watch JD.
Although the Johnsons lucked out with the ideal solution, they realized other military families were likely dealing with similar predicaments. That's when the couple came up with the idea to start an organization that would connect military members with volunteers willing to board their pets while they are deployed or have other service commitments.
“We knew we had to do something,” Alisa recalls. “It was crystal clear that a program designed to help foster military members' pets was something that could be not only successful, but highly needed.”
The Johnsons saw junior military members struggle every day with various life challenges, Alisa says. “Pet ownership had to be one of the challenges as well, and we sought to provide assistance.”
While driving across the country to Virginia, the Johnsons crafted a mission statement for their grassroots effort and agreed to name it Dogs on Deployment. What started out as a simple HTML website grew into a thriving national nonprofit organization.
“It took years to build it to what it is today,” Alisa says. “Hours and hours of dedicated volunteer service to fundraise, to program our network, to recruit volunteers—all needed in order to provide the support services we offer.”
Since its inception, Dogs on Deployment has contributed approximately $325,000 to military families in need, put more than 72 percent of all its spending into its programs, placed more than 1,000 military pets in foster care, spread its message and service to all 50 states, and impacted the lives of more than 269,000 Americans.
The Johnsons initially built the network specifically to help junior, single military members with pets, but they have since extended their services to veterans and wounded warriors. Now in its sixth year, Dogs on Deployment is known in the nonprofit community as one of the fastest growing, and well-respected organizations assisting active duty and veteran military members.
“I believe in our mission wholeheartedly, so I knew we'd be successful in achieving our mission,” Alisa says. “What I didn't know was how successful we'd become, how well-known we'd become, and how impactful our mission is across so many facets in the community—both civilian and military.” 
Dogs on Deployment has significantly minimized the number of animals who are surrendered to local shelters and gives service members peace of mind while they are fulfilling their commitments. Service members can visit the site, create an account, and provide basic details about their need for boarding. Once their military status is verified, they can search for a boarder who will best fit their pet’s needs.
Dogs on Deployment does not act as a middleman or assign pets to boarders. The goal of the organization is simply to provide a forum where boarders and pet owners can come together. It is then up to users to exchange information, go through the interview process, and ultimately schedule a meet-and-greet to determine whether it’s a good match. It is also up to them how to handle the financial aspects of the pet’s day-to-day care. 
Caring for a military member’s pet is a rewarding experience but also a big responsibility. Volunteer Lara Smith decided to become a boarder shortly after her dog’s death. She wasn’t ready to get a new pet, but she missed having a canine companion around, so she decided to pursue Dogs on Deployment. Supporting the military is important to her and her husband, who is an Army veteran. “Our soldiers have to deal with so much, and we thought it must be hard to also have to worry about who will take care of their animals while they are gone,” Smith says. “Unfortunately, sometimes their pets have to be given up or put down. This broke our hearts, and we thought that this would be just a small way to help and thank our soldiers.”
The Smiths took care of a dog named Puddles from Philadelphia, whose family had been relocated to South Korea. Dogs on Deployment provides a sample contract for pet owners and boarders that establishes pet care expectations, reimbursement, emergency planning, and more. “We used the contracts as a guide and worked out what worked best for us,” Smith says. “We were so very glad to be a small part of Dogs on Deployment.”
In addition to matching military pet owners with boarders, Dogs on Deployment “promotes responsible, lifelong pet ownership in the military community by advocating for military pet owner rights on military installations, providing educational resources for military members about responsible pet ownership, granting financial assistance to military members for help with their pet's care during emergencies and promoting healthy pet lifestyles, including spay/neuter, insurance options and vaccinations,” according to press materials.
The organization has also been instrumental in helping to obtain therapy canines for returning service members and veterans who are struggling with PTSD and transitioning to civilian life.
The Johnsons continue to serve in the armed forces today. Their dog JD, who is now 9 years old, has been through three deployments and five military moves, Alisa says. The Johnsons also have a rescue dog named Jersey, two rescue cats, Tegan and Kami, and two parrots, Kiki and Zozo. In October 2016, they had their first daughter. Looking back, Alisa beams with pride about everything Dogs on Deployment has achieved since 2011.
“Receiving an update from a military member who has used our services is one of the best ways to start the day,” she says. “I am utterly dedicated and passionate about the longevity of Dogs on Deployment. I have a vested interest in seeing every service member who needs help receive help. I do it because I, like many of our supporters, love my pets and support our troops.”
Read success stories from Dogs on Deployment here.
Photo: Courtesy of Dogs on Deployment 
]]> Care & Safety dog summer-bronze Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:16:48 +0000 35628 at
Abandoned Senior Cat With Severe Matting Has Incredible Transformation  
When the 24-pound Buttercup was brought to the Nevada SPCA No-Kill Sanctuary, he was covered in matted fur. In fact, according to the organization's Facebook page, he "was suffering from some of the most severe matting on a feline that we have seen in years."
Matting occurs when there's no grooming for the pet, whether it's the owner not taking care of the animal, or the animal not being able to take care of itself. 
Here's how Buttercup looked before his transformation: 

Severe matting, like the kind Buttercup experienced, can often be painful for the animal and can even cause joint discomfort and skin issues. As Dr. Stephanie Liff, medical director of Pure Paws Vet Care in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, explained to petMD, extreme matting can "constrict a limb, and you can even have damage such as deep wounds, swelling of the feet, or bed sore-like injuries." 
For senior cats in particular, grooming can be difficult. It is not that an older cat doesn’t want to groom himself much, but doing so may be physically difficult to do, explained Dr. Laurie Millward, assistant professor-clinical at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. "They lose ability to self-groom usually because of arthritis,” Millward said. “It hurts, and their mobility is decreased." 
Shelter staff gave Buttercup a long-overdue and direly necessary shave to get rid of the excess fur. "Under all of this, his skin was in poor, flaky condition," they wrote. "With premium food and special skin oils, Buttercup's skin is improving significantly every day." 
Buttercup, who is currently up for adoption and in need of a loving, caring home, is described as a docile gentleman who "loves being held in gentle arms or cuddling up in cozy cat beds. He is great with other sweet cats." 
(Additional reporting by Cheryl Lock and Kellie B. Gormly) 
Images via Nevada SPCA 
]]> Care & Safety cat senior Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:51:08 +0000 35627 at
Just What Exactly Is That Giant Chicken That Has the Internet Clucking?  
On March 19, a video of said chicken was tweeted out with the caption, "Am I the only person wondering why this chicken is so damn big?" As it turned out, that answer was no, as the clip went viral and warranted tens of thousands of retweets. 
Whether you were dumbfounded by the chicken's size (or, okay, even a little bit scared), you can stop wondering. In response to the Internet frenzy, The Livestock Conservancy posted on Facebook to confirm that, not only was the chicken quite real, it's actually an American breed known as the Brahma. 
According to the Livestock Conservancy's website, the controversial (yes, controversial) Brahma chicken, often referred to as the "King of All Poultry," is appreciated for its "great size, strength, and vigor."
In addition to being very large (they average about 12 pounds, but can get up to a staggering 18), they are known to be "extremely hardy chickens. They are also good egg-layers for their size."
Ruffled feathers, no more: the Internet finally knows all about the Brahma. 
Image via YouTube 
]]> bird Lifestyle & Entertainment Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:53:26 +0000 35616 at
EuroCan Manufacturing Voluntarily Recalls One Lot of Pig Ears  
The recall affects the following brands of pig ears:
Product Name: Barnsdale Farms, HoundsTooth, and Mac's Choice Pig Ears
Size: 6-pack, 12-pack, and 25-pack bags
Lot Number: 84
According to an FDA release about the recall, salmonella can affect animals that eat the recalled products and also poses a risk to humans who handle contaminated pet products. Symptoms of salmonella in humans include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever. Pets with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain.
Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their health care provider. If your pet display these symptoms after consuming the recalled product, contact your veterinarian.
The pig ears were distributed throughout the United States and Canada. No illnesses of any kind have been reported to date.
EuroCan Manufacturing has suspended distribution of the product while the FDA and the company continue their investigation to determine the source of the problem.
Consumers who have purchased any of the above-described pig ears should return the product to their place of purchase for a refund. For any questions, consumers may contact the company at 888-290-7606 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.
]]> Alerts & Recalls dog Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:45:41 +0000 35615 at
Blue Buffalo Recalls One Lot of Wet Food for Adult Dogs  
The recall is limited to the following product:
Product Name: BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain RecipeTM Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs 12.5 oz. can
UPC Code: 840243101153
Best By Date: June 7, 2019
Consumers can find the best-by date on the bottom of the can.
According to a press release on the Blue Buffalo website, “Dogs ingesting high levels of beef thyroid hormones may exhibit symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased heart rate, and restlessness. These symptoms may resolve when the use of the impacted food is discontinued. However, with prolonged consumption these symptoms may increase in severity and may include vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid or difficulty breathing. Should these symptoms occur, contact your veterinarian immediately.”
Although Blue Buffalo has not received any reports of dogs exhibiting these symptoms from consuming this product, the FDA advised Blue Buffalo of a single consumer who reported symptoms in one dog, who has now fully recovered, the press release stated.
If your pet has consumed this product and has exhibited any of these symptoms, please discontinue feeding and contact your veterinarian.
Affected products were distributed nationally through pet specialty and online retailers. Consumers who have purchased the recalled product should dispose of it or return it to their place of purchase for a full refund.
For any questions, customers may contact Blue Buffalo at 866-201-9072 from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or by email at for more information.
No other Blue Buffalo products are impacted by this issue.
]]> Alerts & Recalls dog Mon, 20 Mar 2017 19:01:52 +0000 35611 at