The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : October 2013 The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Meet Scott Giacoppo from the Washington Humane Society - Find Out What this Life Long Cat Advocate Has Seen in the Way of Changes for Cats!

Meet Scott Giacoppo from the Washington Humane Society in D.C. and find out what this life long cat advocate has seen in the way of changes for cats in shelters, adoption programs, community cat programs, feral cat, trap, neuter, vaccinate, return programs, fostering cats and kittens, and even the challenges involved in mountain lion sightings around our nation’s capitol.

Check out the Washington Humane Society

Watch or listen to previous episodes of the Cat Chat Show

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Former World's Tallest Dog, Giant George Dies at Age 7

He was truly larger than life. Giant George, a 5-foot-tall, 245-pound Great Dane, passed away last week, one month shy of his 8 th birthday. He made headlines when Guinness World Records named him the world's tallest dog in 2010.

In his 7 short years, Giant George won the world record and appeared on Oprah, the Today show and Good Morning America. He was even the subject of the book Giant George: Life With the World's Biggest Dog by his owner, Dave Nasser.

"We appreciate the love and support you have given Giant George over the last several years. We look forward to honoring his spirit by continuing his charitable works," Team Giant George wrote in a recent blog post.

To honor his life, the Giant George team is asking animal lovers to donate to or volunteer for their favorite animal cause or organization on November 17, which would have been George's 8 th birthday.

Click on video below to see this Gentle Giant at home!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Washington, DC - National Fire Dog Monument Installation in Chinatown (500 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20001) – Today, October 23 - Open to the Public

American Humane Association invites you to join us for the final installation of The National Fire Dog Monument, created to recognize the incredible contributions that accelerant detection canines (arson dogs) make in keeping communities safe. The monument traveled from Denver, CO to Washington, DC last summer for temporary placement at D.C. Fire Station #3 where the general public was able to view it inside of the station’s museum. The monument will be permanently installed on the sidewalk in front of Fire Station #2 in the Chinatown section of Washington, DC on October 23rd.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
12:00 – 2:30 PM: NFDM Dedication Ceremony at D.C. Fire & EMS Station #2 in Chinatown (500 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20001) – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

American Humane Association and State Farm were instrumental in providing funding to The National Fire Dog Monument (NFDM), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created to build a bronze monument dedicated to all Certified Accelerant Detection K-9’s (arson dogs) as a way to acknowledge their service to the communities where they serve.

These dogs do not ask for anything in return after risking their lives to reduce the negative impact of arson in their communities. The monument design is a standing fire fighter looking down on his Labrador Retriever (2011 Hero Dog Award winner Sadie served as model!), who is looking back up at his handler ready to work.  The monument is titled “From Ashes to Answers.”

I hope you will join us here in Washington, DC on October 23rd, to help call attention to the nation's arson dogs and thank the men and women who train and care for these four-legged heroes who do so much to protect families and communities across America!

With best wishes,

Dr. Robin Ganzert
President and CEO

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Check Your Pet Treats - Mysterious Outbreak of Illnesses Tied to Jerky Treats Made in China - 600 Pets Have Died and More Than 3,600 Have Been Sickened

Nearly 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have been sickened in an ongoing, mysterious outbreak of illnesses tied to jerky treats made in China, federal animal health officials said Tuesday.

Most of the cases have been in dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes — although 10 cats have been sickened, too — after eating chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats. The pace of the reported illnesses appears to have slowed, but federal Food and Drug Administration officials are now seeking extra help from veterinarians and pet owners in solving the ongoing puzzle.

“To date, testing for contaminants in jerky treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses,” Martine Hartogensis, a deputy director for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in the new report. “Despite these warnings, we have continued to receive reports of illnesses in both cats and dogs.”

The new numbers are up from some 500 deaths and 3,200 illnesses tallied in January, but the rate of reports has fallen sharply since then, mostly because two of the largest sellers of pet jerky treats announced recalls    tied to the presence of unapproved antibiotic residue detected in the products.

FDA officials don’t think that antibiotic residue is the big problem that has stumped the agency since 2007, when pet owners started reporting their animals were suffering gastrointestinal and kidney problems after eating the popular jerky treats.

Instead, it’s likely that the recall of Nestle Purina PetCare Co.’s Waggin Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats, plus Del Monte Corp.’s Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats simply resulted in fewer treats being available. Three other smaller retailers also recalled the treats because of the problem.

In fact, FDA officials remain as uncertain as ever about the source of the problem that has led to reports of illnesses and warnings about the possibility of Fanconi syndrome and other kidney problems in animals that ate jerky treats.

“We still are extensively testing treats for a number of things,” Hartogensis told NBC News. “We do seem to be getting some leads, but we still have a little bit of a ways to go.”

Kendal Harr, a veterinary clinical pathologist who has been tracking the problem, says that the specific compound responsible for the illnesses continues to elude experts.

"I think that what it tells us is that the intoxicant is something that we're not used to dealing with as a toxin in North America," she said.

Now, in an open letter to US veterinarians, FDA officials are asking the vets to track and send detailed information about any animals sickened by jerky treats, including results of blood and urine tests. In addition, the agency is asking vets to send urine samples from suspect pets for analysis.

“This testing will allow FDA to get a better idea of how many of the suspected cases involve Fanconi syndrome, whether or not the pets display symptoms of kidney or urinary disease,” the report said.

About 60 percent of reports cite gastrointestinal illness in the animals, and about 30 percent flag kidney or urinary troubles, the report said. About 135 cases of Fanconi syndrome, a specific kind of kidney disease, have been reported.

At the same time that they’re seeking help from vets, FDA officials are putting out a fact sheet for owners that can be posted at veterinary hospitals, pet supply stores and other sites.

The agency has repeatedly cautioned that the treats are not necessary for a balanced diet, but the warnings stop short of a recall, Hartogensis said. The agency is still validating tests to detect the same kind of antibiotic residue that New York officials found earlier this year.

“If we do find an adulterated product, we will recall them,” Hartogensis said. “In terms of doing a blanket recall, at this point we don’t have enough evidence to do a blanket recall within the authority that we have.”

Because there's no formal recall, it's not possible to list affected brands, although a previous FDA analysis indicated that three of the top-selling brands of jerky treats sold in the U.S. were mentioned in connection with pet illnesses.

That doesn't sit well with pet owners like Robin Pierre of Pine Bush, N.Y., who contends that Waggin' Train chicken jerky treats were responsible for the sudden death in 2011 of her previously healthy 2-year-old pug, Bella, who developed kidney failure. She has long called for FDA to crack down on treat makers — and manufacturers.

"I am disgusted that our government continues to protect corporate American and China," she told NBC News. "They need to start protecting the American consumer so that this does not happen again. As soon as a product is in doubt, a warning label should be placed at the point of sale so that consumers can make an educated choice."

If a pet does become ill after eating the treats, FDA is asking owners to provide detailed information — up to and including results of a necropsy to test an animal’s tissues after death.

In the meantime, officials are trying to reach pet owners who might still have treats on hand to make sure they know about the potential problems.

“Right now, the focus for us is to make the public aware that these cases are still coming in,” she said.

Toby, a 6-year-old Boston terrier, died in 2012 after his owners say he was sickened by chicken jerky pet treats made in China.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meet the Nation's Top Therapy Dog, Elle, from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

The nation’s top therapy dog, a pit bull named Elle (pronounced Ellie) from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina who helps teach children about dog safety, reading, and overcoming prejudice and stereotypes – something a pit bull knows too much about – has been named this year’s “American Hero Dog” at the 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™. Elle and her human companion Leah Brewer were presented with the nation’s top honors on October 5th at the star-studded Hero Dog Awards gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

Elle is saving lives by teaching children dog safety (more than 2 million children are bitten by dogs each year) and making positive life changes for people by helping them overcome their fear of dogs. Since becoming a volunteer, Elle started a therapy dog reading program called "Tail Wagging Tales," helping children enjoy books and improve their reading skills. Elle is also making a difference by creating happiness all around while visiting her friends at an elementary school, a middle school, and a retirement home.

Elle also reaches out to educate families about being responsible pet parents, sharing stories about her job as a therapy dog, and spreading positive awareness about dogs that are misunderstood, including pit bulls. This year’s therapy dog category sponsor, as well as the online sponsor, is the leading animal health company, Zoetis.

Congratulations to Elle, the "pit bull" therapy dog who has been named American Humane Associations 2013 American Hero Dog! Elle is making a difference in the lives of so many people and breaking down stereotypes about pit bull type dogs along the way. Way to go, Elle!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

California County Orders 3,000 Pit Bulls to Be Spayed and Neutered

Riverside County, California - Just east of Los Angeles, felt forced to euthanize that many each year, according to John Benoit, a member of the county's board of supervisors.

Now, the county is hoping an ordinance passed Tuesday that requires all pit bulls more than 4 months old in the unincorporated part of the county to be spayed or neutered will cut down on the number put to death.

"I think we're a long way off before their image is changed and more people will adopt them - but our end goal is to reduce the attacks on people and reduce the amount of euthanized pit bulls," Benoit told

Even so, some pit bull owners don't think the new ordinance will solve the problem.
"Passing a fear-based law such as this one is only the beginning and opens up the door to an almost certain proposal of banning or killing pit bulls in this county," said Riverside County resident Veronica Hernandez, the owner of a pit bull mix, at the public hearing discussing the ordinance.

She thinks punishing irresponsible owners is the solution.

Best Friends Animal Society, a national organization based in Utah, also objects to breed-specific legislation. Ledy VanKavage, a senior attorney for the group, said it supports spaying and neutering pets, but not making it mandatory for certain breeds. That, she said, would lead to more euthanasia.

"Some people can't afford it, and if there aren't free services," VanK avage told "They'll turn in their dogs and they'll be euthanized."

Best Friends Animal Society, much like Hernandez, supports reckless owner laws that specifically punish owners when their pets misbehave, Van Kavage said.

Benoit believes the pit bull can be a dangerous breed, but he knows of people who train them well and can have the dogs in a family home.

"I don't believe that attacks come from the average pit bull," he said. "I think that's a rogue number of dogs."

Riverside County impounds about 3,500 to 4,000 pit bulls every year, including dogs who have been abandoned, ones whose owners were afraid of what they might be capable of, and ones found in fighting rings, according to John Welsh of the Riverside County's Department of Animal Services.

Welsh told that 80 percent of the pit bulls impounded are not spayed or neutered. He believed the idea for an mandatory fixing was sparked by recent attacks in the area. A few weeks ago, for instance, a 2-year-old boy was mauled to death by his grandmother's pit bull in the town of Colton, Calif., which is in the county next to Riverside.

"In general, animal control people have a strong belief that a fixed dog is less likely to bust through a fence and chase down a kid on a skateboard," Welsh said.

Exempt from the forced fixing ordinance are law enforcement dogs, assistance dogs and licensed and registered breeders. It is very similar to a first-draft ordinance approved by another California town just last week.

Yucca Valley's town council voted 5-0 to require pit bulls in the sparsely populated desert town to be spayed and neutered - and public support for the measure was high, according to the town's Animal Care and Control Manager Melanie Crider.

"We only had one person opposed at the meeting," Crider told "We've had a lot of incidents with pit bulls that haven't really been in the news."

From her standpoint, as someone who's owned two pit bull mixes herself, it's also not about trying to get rid of a breed that might be dangerous. It's about the overcrowding problem she sees in her shelter.

"After they come in through the door, they're hard to get back out the door. No one wants to adopt them," she said.

Yucca Valley plans to offer solutions for pit bull owners who can't afford the procedure for their dogs. The town will offer vouchers to help offset costs, and if an owner is caught violating the law, a 45-day grace period will give them time to spay or neuter their pet.
Back in Riverside County, Welsh said there are free surgeries owners can take advantage of. He thinks most people want to have the procedure done for their pit bull, but just haven't gotten around to it.

"People are ultimately going to do what they wanted to do, it just takes a citation on their door to get them to do it," Welsh said.

Going forward, Benoit wants to get the county's mayors to think about passing ordinances of their own.

"I'm glad it's been passed, and I think many in the county are ready to emulate it," Benoit said.


People Are Using Fake Service Dogs to get into Restaurants and Other Businesses

By Sue Manning, Associated Press:

It's an easy law to break, and dog cheats do. By strapping a vest or backpack that says "service animal" to their pet, anyone can go in stores and restaurants where other dogs are banned, creating growing problems for the disabled community and business owners and leading to calls for better identifying the real deal.

Those with disabilities are worried about privacy and the safety of their highly trained service dogs, while business owners are concerned about health violations and damage to merchandise from impostors abusing the system.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it's a federal crime to use a fake dog. And about a fourth of all states have laws against service animal misrepresentation. But privacy protections built into the laws make it nearly impossible to prosecute offenders. It's even more difficult because no papers are legally required for real service dogs. Often, people who want to take their pets into restaurants or retail stores just go online to buy vests, backpacks or ID cards with a "service animal" insignia.

The law says those entering businesses with animals can be asked just two questions: Is this a service dog? What is it trained to do for you?

Efforts to make the law more prosecutable have begun, but few agree on what will work best. Ideas range from ditching privacy to doing nothing.

Corey Hudson, chief executive officer of Canine Companions for Independence in San Rafael and president of Assistance Dogs International, a coalition of training schools, is leading the effort to get the U.S. Department of Justice involved. He started writing to the agency 18 months ago but has not received a response.

Hudson wants to open talks and explore ways to identify the real from the phony.

But the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners in Michigan worries that bringing in the Justice Department could set back access rights won by those with disabilities in the past 20 years.

"While we deplore those who might be so unethical as to impersonate a disabled person by dressing their dog up as a service animal, we equally deplore the frenzy of alarm being stirred up about the risk of such abuse," said Joan Froling, chairwoman of the IAADP.

There needs to be a standard, said Jennifer Arnold, founder of Canine Assistants in Atlanta. "The sticky part is who will do the testing and what will be the criteria for allowing dogs to be considered assistance dogs."

An ID card might be the simplest answer, she said, adding that she doesn't think the loss of privacy will be the big issue that some think it will be.

There is a big difference in the behavior of real service dogs and impostors inside businesses, experts said. A true service dog becomes nearly invisible. Pets might bark, urinate, sniff, scratch and eat off the floor.

Real service dogs can be the victims of unruly fakes, said Wallis Brozman, 27, of Santa Rosa. She has dystonia, a movement disorder that left her unable to walk and barely able to talk. She needs a wheelchair, voice amplifier and her service dog, Caspin, who responds to English and sign language.

"When my dog is attacked by an aggressive dog, he is not sure what to do about it and looks to me. It becomes a safety issue, not only for my dog, the target of the attack, but for me if I am between the dogs," Brozman said.

Business owners also face problems. In August, Russell Ireland banned a dog from his Oxford, Mass., diner after its owner put a plate of food on the floor for the dog.

James Glasser claimed it was a legitimate service animal and took part in a boycott of the diner. There was talk of a lawsuit. Ireland apologized. The dog's actual status is unclear.

Cook Justin Fisher said his boss' reputation took a beating. Business is just now returning to normal.

Marv Tuttle, a volunteer guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said he believes he spots phony service dogs two or three times a week. He has also experienced the other side. Tuttle uses a service dog, Yara, because of a spinal cord injury from a traffic accident, and he and his wife were once stopped from entering a furniture store. "A girl greeted us and said she'd be glad to hold my dog outside," he said.

The clerk told them that two weeks earlier, a fake was allowed in the store and urinated on several expensive Indian carpets.

In terms of solving the dilemma, Tuttle doesn't think any kind of legislation will work.

"They can write new laws, but there is no way to enforce them. We don't have enough police to stop murders, much less stop people from hauling around pseudo service dogs," he said.

In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, Caspin a service dog sits below Wallis Brozman outside at a shopping mall in Santa Rosa, Calif. Other victims of unruly fake service dogs are real service dogs, said Brozman, 27, of Santa Rosa. She has dystonia, a movement disorder that left her unable to walk and barely able to talk. She needs a wheelchair, voice amplifier and her service dog who responds to English and sign language. "When my dog is attacked by an aggressive dog, he is not sure what to do about it and looks to me. It becomes a safety issue, not only for my dog, the target of the attack, but me if I am between the dogs," Brozman said. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Animals' Best Friend, Betty White, Immortalized in Wax by Madame Tussauds -Visiting the Washington Animal Rescue League - Thursday, October 10th

Washington, DC - The Washington Animal Rescue League - along with many adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens – will welcome Madame Tussauds D.C. and their recently unveiled wax figure of beloved actress and entertainer and lifelong animal lover Betty White on Thursday, October 10th at noon.

“All of our dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are thrilled to be welcoming Betty White’s likeness here at the Washington Animal Rescue League,” said WARL CEO Bob Ramin.  “Betty White’s legendary commitment to animal welfare is a shining example for all of us and we’re thrilled to give our furry friends a chance to take some very cute pictures with her this Thursday!”

“We are so excited to welcome Betty White’s wax figure to the Madame Tussauds family,” said Joanna Hobday, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager for Madame Tussauds D.C. “She is one of the most beloved actresses and television personalities of all time and we know her fans and our visitors alike will love her figure and her passion for animals.”

On Thursday, October 10, White’s figure will be heading to the Washington Animal Rescue League where she will be greeted by some of the 100-plus temporary residents of WARL for photo opportunities.

Betty White is best known for her television roles as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. She currently stars as Elka Ostrovsky in the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland for which she has won two consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards. One of the first women in television to have creative control in front and behind the camera, White has won six Emmy Awards (five for acting), receiving 20 Emmy nominations and is the only woman to have won an Emmy in all performing comedic categories. The American Comedy Awards, The Screen Actor Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts have all awarded White with Lifetime achievement awards, acknowledging her contribution to television.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

New World's Smallest Dog - Guinness World Records - Meet Milly

Meet Miracle Milly, a brown Chihuahua, and, she's really small.

The dog world can rest easy tonight, as a new smallest dog in the world (actual title: Smallest Dog Living) has finally been christened by Guinness World Records. This caps months of intense speculation by dog lovers everywhere, with long-winded debates breaking out in comment sections, bars, and even the senate floor (Ted Cruz, R-Texas).

Finally, a ruling came down. The 2013 Smallest Dog in the World is ... small. Victory! To be sure, the dog is small. How small? I don't know.

Okay: She's 3.8 inches, from backbone to paw. Small, to use the vernacular.

 “She knows how to pose,” owner Vanesa Semler told The Associated Press.

She also knows how to crush her competition. Licking her paws right now is a dethroned long-haired Chihuahua from Kentucky named Boo Boo, who stands outclassed at a massive four inches. Enough about Boo Boo.

“Milly really likes salmon and chicken,” Semler said.

Here's what we know about Milly thus far, thanks to The AP:

Milly weighed less than an ounce when she was born and "fit in a teaspoon." We don't know whether Semler ever put her in a teaspoon.

Early on, she slept in a doll's crib next to Semler's bed.

She doesn’t bark and likes playing with the plants in Semler’s backyard. (The make of plants is not specified, so make of that what you will.)
Semler has nine other Chihuahuas.

“We give her a new toy almost every week,” Semler said. “She likes to cuddle with them.”

                                                                         Here is Milly amongst her awards:

                                                                      Here is Milly cavorting with a candy bar:

                                                                         Here is Milly on the View (second from left):

                                                       Here is Milly weighing in against Floyd Mayweather (TKO):

                                                                             Here is Milly eating a bone -- weird!

                                                    Sorry for knocking Boo Boo a while back. Here's a picture of Boo Boo:

In Milly's honor (also Boo's), let's hope that awards like these are just a fun thing we do to celebrate a quirk in a litter and that people aren't actually irresponsibly breeding dogs to be as small (or as large) as possible to win stuff like this.

Congratulations, Milly!