The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : July 2014 The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : July 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Houston Police Officer Leaves Family’s Senior Chihuahua, Mostly Blind from Cataracts Alone on Curb, Arrests Owner - Dog Gets Hit by a Car and Dies

The mayor of Houston, Texas, apologized last week to a woman whose beloved family dog died when a police officer forced her husband to leave it on the side of the road after a traffic stop. The helpless little 14-year-old chihuahua was already mostly blind from cataracts and didn’t stand a chance when the officer arrested Josie Garcia’s husband, on a charge that was quickly dropped anyway ,and refused to let him call anyone to pick up the dog.

Josie Garcia appeared at a Houston City Council meeting on July 22 to tell her story.

On July 14, she said her husband gave a friend a ride home from a family gathering when a Houston police officer pulled his truck over, saying that he made a turn without using his turn signal.

The cop then searched the car and found, according to court records, that the friend was in possession of the drug PCP. The officer then took the two men into custody. But Garcia said her husband pleaded with the officer to let someone come and pick up Guero, the lovable chihuahua who enjoyed riding in the truck and was along for the trip.

But the Houston officer refused, telling the man to leave the dog by the side of the road, but according to Garcia, the arresting cop said it wasn’t his problem, that the dog would be fine.”

What makes the story even more unbelievable is that the arrest happened close by to Houston’s Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care. But in addition to refusing to allow the man to call someone to get Guero, the officer didn’t even bother to call animal control to collect the dog.

Charges against Garcia’s husband were dropped and they put up “lost dog” posters, hoping someone had picked Gero up and they would see the dog again. Instead, they got a call from a Good Samaritan who said he saw Guero wandering up a freeway ramp near where the officer forced him to be abandoned.

The Good Samaritan said he tried to get the dog, but traffic was too heavy. Before he could reach Guero, the dog was struck and killed.

“Let me give you a public apology right now on behalf of the city of Houston,” Mayor Annise Parker said at the council meeting. “I don’t know what airhead, there’s another word in my mind but I’m not going to say it — would throw, you wouldn’t put a kid on the side of the road. You shouldn’t put someone’s pet on the side of the road.”

The report is one of many recently involving family dogs killed by police officers, seemingly for no reason.

The Houston Police Department says an investigation into what happened and why Guero was dumped on the road could take an astounding six months.


There's A Cafe In Japan…Where the Patrons Interact with Friendly Owls!

Japan is known for it's crazy, kooky fads. The social trends there cover almost any kind of interest (and any subset of that interest). So it's no surprise that after making gaming cafes, cat cafes and even bunny cafes, the Japanese thought of a new adorable trend: owl cafes.

Over the past year, owl cafes have been springing up in Tokyo and Osaka, and they're just as adorable as they sound.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vending Machines Encourage Recycling, Feed Stray Animals in Istanbul - The Bottle-Powered Dispensers Dish Out Pet Food Every Time Someone Places a Plastic Bottle Inside the Machine

Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city with a population of 14 million, but it also has one of the world’s largest stray animal populations at around 150,000. Instead of overlooking the problem as is all too common, the Turkish company Pugedon has struck a deal with the government to place food dispensaries around the city. Not only do these provide food and water, but they also help to promote recycling.

The bottle-powered dispensers dish out pet food every time someone places a plastic bottle inside the machine. It also has a container where you can pour the remainder of your water to make sure stray cats and dogs also have something to drink. Apart from keeping the urban animals alive, the vending machine also makes people stop and think about their plight and could perhaps be enough to make some consider adopting an animal to help deal with the problem.

As far as solutions go, this one is a much more humane option when you consider those that have occurred before. In 2012, the government drafted a law that allowed city dogs to be sent to “wildlife parks” on city outskirts. This outraged animal rights activists who referenced a brutal act of animal cruelty in 1910 when the city’s stray dogs were sent to an island and forced to eat each other for survival.

While the solution is a good one, it’s worth noting that it only targets the symptoms of the stray animal problem. Animal smuggling, illegal pet shops, and the desire to have the latest “fashionable” animal are all factors. As pointed out on BigThink by Ahmet Senpolat, an Istanbul-based animal rights lawyer:

Animal smugglers only face a fine of a few hundred euros at worst, they continue to bring expensive pure-bred puppies and sell them to pet stores. People often buy the puppies from pet stores, and abandon them when they become too tough to handle.

Facing up to problems is harder because it usually requires doing something about them, but it’s still a better option than ignoring them altogether.

Plastic for pet food is a better option than sending dogs to isolated islands.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Do Cats Rank in Popularity with Dogs in the U.S., and All Over the World

We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

Here in the U.S., slightly more households own dogs than own cats. But Euromonitor’s numbers show that in terms of raw population, cats outnumber dogs to the tune of 2 million (the number is closer to 4 million, by the American Veterinary Medical Association's estimate). Why? One simple explanation is that cats are more compact. You can fit more cats in a house than you can, say, golden retrievers. (You can also geolocate a lot of them, which is fun, but entirely besides the point.)

At the state level in the U.S., cats outnumber dogs in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Dogs are the favorite in the South and Southwest. The most dog-friendly state is Arkansas, where dogs outnumber cats 1.35-to-1. At the other end of the spectrum stands Massachusetts with 1.87 cats for every dog.

                                                                   Click on picture to use interactive map.

"A lot of that simply has to do with population density," Jared Koerten, a pet industry analyst at Euromonitor, said in an interview. "Many cities just aren't that dog-friendly."

Still, overall, most states have a pretty balanced cat-dog ratio.

Around the world the story is quite different. Euromonitor gave us estimates of the pet dog and cat populations in 54 countries, and some show a stark dog/cat divide. In India, for instance, pet dogs outnumber cats 10-to-1. Dogs enjoy a 2.5-to-1 advantage in China. On the other hand, cats outnumber dogs 3-to-1 in Switzerland, Austria and Turkey.

                                                                    Click on picture to use interactive map.

Overall, cats are the favored pet in most of Western Europe, with the exception of Spain, Portugal and Ireland. South America is strictly dog country, as is much of Asia.

"Some regions, like the Middle East and part of Africa, have an especially long-standing appreciation of cats," Koerten said. "In Latin America it's the complete opposite. Dogs are part of family life there."

World pet populations also appear to follow a few interesting—if inexplicable—trends. For one, highly developed countries, for reasons yet unclear, tend to have more balanced cat and dog populations. "Looking across all countries, there's a correlation between developed economies and balanced pet preferences," Koerten said. Brazil, as is turns out, has a strange affinity for small dogs—it has more small dogs per capita than any other country. And there's legitimate reason to believe young Americans might be having dogs instead of babies.

Top 10 dog-loving states

Rank State Cats Dogs Ratio, dogs to cats
1 Arkansas 810,000 1,097,000 1.35
2 New Mexico 533,000 703,000  1.32
3 Texas         5,565,000 7,163,000        1.29
4 Oklahoma 1,041,000 1,327,000 1.27
5 Louisiana 877,000 1,115,000 1.27
6 Mississippi  668,000 846,000 1.27
7 Arizona 1,438,000 1,798,000 1.25
8 Tennessee 1,749,000 2,157,000 1.23
9 Missouri 1,653,000 1,978,000 1.20
10 Georgia 2,162,000 2,479,000 1.15

Top 10 cat-loving states

Rank State Cats Dogs Ratio, cats to dogs
1 Massachusetts 1,593,000 850,000 1.87
2 Maryland 1,677,000 915,000 1.83
3 Maine               498,000      300,000 1.66
4 Vermont               234,000 142,000 1.65
5 Connecticut       796,000 507,000 1.57
6 District of Columbia  63,000  42,000 1.50
7 New Hampshire      309,000 212,000 1.46
8 Pennsylvania 3,544,000 2,485,000 1.43
9 New York 4,261,000  3,054,000 1.40
10 Ohio                    3,786,000   2,730,000 1.39


Monday, July 28, 2014

Porcine Family was Rescued from a Trailer Park in Rural North Carolina Recently - Adopted and Taken to a 400-Acre Sanctuary in Western Montgomery County, Maryland

Poolesville, Maryland - A mama pig and her seven piglets are happier than -- well, at least happier than where they used to live, according to the folks at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The porcine family was rescued from a trailer park in rural North Carolina recently, and on Monday was taken to a 400-acre sanctuary in western Montgomery County, Md., that's home to more than 200 abused and neglected farm animals.

"Today, these pigs are going to start the first day of the rest of their lives," says PETA's Lindsay Rajt.

"They were discovered by two PETA field workers who were out delivering dog houses to neglected dogs," she adds. "There were big, rusty nails protruding from the wood that was around the facility that the pigs had to walk on. And the air was so thick with flies that it actually looked hazy."

Rajt says the pigs' owner was an elderly man who could not care for the animals any longer and was planning to send them to the slaughter house.

Now they are at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville.

"And we have about 200 rescued animals here -- horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens and turkeys," says sanctuary director and co-founder Terry Cummings.

"Initially we just took two pigs from that rescue," Cummings adds, "and then they told us one of the pigs had just given birth to seven babies and said they were unable to find placement for them, so we offered to give them a permanent home here."

"The pigs have reached their new and forever home," Peta's Rajt boasts. "So they can look forward to enjoying their long and natural lives here at Poplar Spring."


Baby and Pit Bull Puppy Snuggle Up - Mom, "We Are Trying To Show People That Not Only Pit Bulls But All Dogs Have and Want To Be Good Dogs" (Video)

Just a baby and a pit bull enjoying each other's company.

This video posted to YouTube on July 23 of weeks-old Eisleigh and puppy Clyde has gone viral. And it's no surprise given how adorable they are together.

In the video, Clyde snuggles next to Eisleigh and rests its head on the baby's face. The baby just smiles in a relaxed way. (Could watch this on repeat for days.)

Mom Brandi Hodges wrote in the comments section, "We are trying to show people that not only pitbulls but all dogs have and want to be good dogs." She added, "You just have to train them as such."

Pit bulls have been in the news this summer with awful stories of attacks on children as well as a heroic report of a 2-year-old pit bull named Ace that saved a deaf boy from a fire.

In case you want to see more cuteness of Eisleigh and Clyde, here are some photos of them from Instagram.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Did You Know That There Are Purebred Dogs in Animal Shelters?

People often think that dogs found at shelters or through breed rescue groups are special-needs pets with health or behavior problems. The reality is that plenty of nice, healthy canines are available for adoption, including purebreds, crossbreeds, mixed breeds, young dogs, adult dogs and senior dogs.

Thousands of breed-specific rescue groups across North America post their adoptable pets on sites like Petfinder, where you can search by breed, age, sex, size and location. Petfinder's search results also include dogs in shelters, but the types of purebreds found at shelters vary across the country.

The number one obstacle identified about people adopting shelter dogs is their completely valid desire of wanting a purebred dog. After all, you can find perfectly healthy, happy purebred dogs at a shelter or with a purebred rescue organization.

Most buyers also tend to want something tangible to prove a dog is a purebred. Some consumers get overly hung up on having “papers” for their dog. What may surprise paper-enthusiasts though is this: unless you are buying from a seriously legitimate kennel-club registered breeder, the oh-so-coveted papers you may get is really paperwork that can be generated by anyone with a computer. It guarantees nothing about the quality of the dog being purchased. Not health. Not sound temperament. Not breed. No guarantees at all.

Another great benefit of adopting a pet from a rescue group is these groups know their dogs. Most are foster-home based organizations, which mean the dog lives with a host family that likely knows everything there is to know about your future family member. You know who you are going home with which naturally makes the process of adding your new dog into your daily routine easier.

Further, the National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy reports that 25-percent of pets in shelters are purebred. That’s a lot of coveted purebred pets that are not meeting their forever families because of preconceived notions about what buying a purebred pet guarantees.

Adopting from a shelter or rescue almost always comes with stellar perks that you will rarely get from a pet retailer or breeder, such as shots and basic up-front veterinary care, behavioral and training support (which is always awesome if you’re adopting a younger dog or puppy), and a network of assistance in the event something unexpected pops up, like an unforeseeable health issue. This level of service is a 180 from your typical pet store or breeder, which will rarely care about the future of your pet after they take your money.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Animals Australia - Faith in Humanity … Restored! - (Videos)

Animals Australia

At a time when tragedy dominates world affairs, it’s easy to despair at the path some ‘leaders’ have led us down. But if you’re worried about losing faith in humankind, despair not: we have the antidote. Cue happy tears…

Post by Animals Australia.

Animals Australia is Australia's foremost animal protection organization. See what we've achieved:

Animals Australia’s vision is a world where all animals are treated with compassion and respect and are free from cruelty. We believe that we can create a kinder world for all by fostering respect for animals and that our treatment of animals reflects who we are as individuals and as a society

"Like" them on facebook at:


What You Need to Know Before Purchasing a Retractable Dog Leash

One of the most popular devices used to restrain dogs when taking them out for a walk is the retractable leash. Many owners, however, wonder if such a leash is appropriate or even safe to use. Well, the answer generally depends on a person’s reason for using the device. While there are several ways to utilize the retractable leash properly, it is important to remember that they also pose some danger to you and your dog if not used correctly.

Before using a retractable leash, make certain you’ve got one that’s strong enough to handle your dog. Dogs that have a tendency to bolt or take off running after perceived prey should never be restrained with a retractable leash. Aside from those dangers, there are other things to keep in mind when using one of these popular leashes.

What You Need to Watch Out For
  • Prickling leash burns. Retractable leashes, especially the thin string variety, can very easily cause leash burns. This could happen when you let your pooch race past you with the retractable line zipped up across your bare skin. Unwarranted injuries, however, can be prevented if you try the flat, tape style retractable leash.
  • Entanglement or strangulation. Not only can retractable leashes burn us, they can also get twisted around a dog’s neck or legs. Worse, if your pooch panics and jerks the moment they get hog-tied; it could cause the leash to pull even tighter. Although you can loosen the cords that have wrapped around his neck, the situation could quickly become life-threatening.
  • Fatal accidents. There are times when our dogs dart away all of a sudden, and with a retractable leash on him, your dog might dart even farther, faster. Nevertheless, it’s the reeling that’s a serious issue here. It is possible that Fido may spot a squirrel or anything interesting across the street, and suddenly take off after it. If you’re not alert enough, his abrupt behavior and an un-sturdy retractable leash could put him smack on the road, right in front of a speeding car.

Other Things You Would Never Want to Happen
  • The leash drops. Because these leashes rarely have a wrist strap and are sometimes heavy and bulky, dropping them is a regular occurrence. What’s worse, if you drop the handle, the lack of tension can send the heavy handle hurdling toward your dog. Not only could the heavy leash handle smack your dog in the head, if your dog is spooked by the leash handle zipping deafeningly toward him, he may take off running.
  • The cord is grabbed. If you grab the cord/tape while it is being pulled from the handle, you might suffer from immediate injury like cuts and burns.
  • The cord wraps around you. Poor handling can also cause the cord/tape to twist around you or someone else’s fingers resulting in deep wounds, or worse, amputation.
  • The collar breaks or comes off your dog. The moment this occurs, the leash could retract at top speed while the other end of the line whips around at the same full momentum leading to serious injuries to face, teeth, and eyes.

Injury to You, Your Children or Others
  • Amputation of fingers
  • Cuts, burns and deep Lacerations on hands, arms and legs
  • Broken teeth (if collar breaks or leash clip fails and cord retracts at maximum speed to smack you in the face.)
  • Eye injuries/blindness (same)
  • Serious falls (when full speed dog hits end of 20+ foot leash or when bicyclist tangles with leash).

Injury to Your Dog or Other Dogs
  • Amputation of legs or tail.
  • Getting lost (when plastic handle “chases” them).
  • Hit by car when they dart into the road (know several dogs, personally, who died that way. Still on leash but dead.)
  • Injured when they get tangled with other dogs or bicycles.


Dog Breeds Who Are Most at Risk in the Summer Sun

While cats have enough sense to nap their way through summer afternoons, dogs need a little more guidance in warm weather. If you let them, dogs will follow their masters into the inferno. That loyalty comes at a price. Dogs are not good at keeping themselves cool, so they rely on us to keep them out of trouble.

Dogs can become dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of water when it's hot outdoors. If they are panting heavily, bring them to a cooled-off area and give them water.

Dogs will not limit their own activity, so pay close attention to how your dog is acting as they play.

Provide your dog with a shady place to escape if they're out in the sun or keeping them completely indoors when it's very hot

Limit exercise to the coolest part of the day, no matter how happy your dog seems when it's warm. Even in the coolest part of the day, watch for signs of trouble: Glassy eyes and frantic panting indicate a dog who needs help. Get to a veterinarian immediately if you see these symptoms!

Remember that older, obese or short-nosed dogs (Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, Boxers, Shih Tzus and French Bulldogs) are less tolerant of heat. However, all dogs need constant access to shade and an endless supply of cool, clean water.

Although many of the breeds on this list are brachycephalic, or have short noses and wide, flat heads-it's important to take proper precautions for keeping any dog cool in warm weather and never (ever!) leaving them in a hot car for any period of time.

#1 - Pug
Playful, confident and friendly, Pugs are well loved for their charisma and charm. With a wrinkled face, short legs and compact body, the Pug's unique expression and physique is well known among dog fanciers and pet parents alike. Because of its small size, Pugs can happily adapt to both city and country living.

Brachycephalic breeds-or dogs with short noses, compact skulls and compressed upper respiratory systems-like the Pug are inefficient panters, which means that they're unable to cool themselves as effectively as other dog breeds. Because of this, brachycephalic breeds are more prone to overheating and require extra care in warm weather, particularly access to shade and plenty of water.

#2 - Pekinese
An ancient toy breed that originated in China over 1,000 years ago, the Pekinese is a happy, loveable lapdog. Loyal and devoted to it's family, the Pekinese can also be wary of strangers. With a thick undercoat and long, dense overcoat, Pekinese require regular grooming, in addition to special care in warm weather.

If you anticipate spending a lot of time outdoors with you dog, it's important to check with your veterinarian to make sure they're healthy enough to participate in the plans you make. Every dog is different, so there's no set of guidelines that can apply to every one.

#3 - Bulldog
Originally used for bull baiting, the Bulldog is now one of the most popular companion animals in America and is one of the most popular AKC breeds. A short yet powerful dog with a heavy build, trademark under bite and lots of loose skin, the Bulldog makes an adorable couch companion, albeit one that may be prone to snorting and drooling.

While the Bulldog may require some prodding to go out for a walk, they might have some trouble breathing as they run or play because they are brachycephalic, so take care not to over-exercise them.

#4 - Shih Tzu
Another ancient dog breed that was kept as a companion and lap dog by Chinese royalty, Shih Tzus remain popular family pets and companions. A playful breed that loves learning new things, Shih Tzus are generally good with children and other dogs. With a dense undercoat and long, straight outer coat, the Shih Tzu requires regular grooming and may snort and sneeze (in addition to overheat in warm weather) frequently because of its short muzzle.

You'll want to avoid spending too much time on the pavement with your dog in warm weather, as the ground can heat up quickly and can create blisters or burns on the pads of your dog's paws.

#5 - Boston Terrier
One of the first breeds established in the United States, the Boston Terrier is a lively, intelligent breed with a gentle and easy going disposition. A compact breed with large ears and a wide smile, Boston Terriers generally require a minimal amount of exercise and grooming and, aside from their propensity to overheat in warm weather, tend to be easy keepers.

#6 - French Bulldog

This little lap-warmer was bread as a companion for French royalty beginning in the 19th century. With a small, compact body and large, rounded ears, French Bulldogs also have short muzzles and broad, flat faces. Sweet, affectionate and friendly, French Bulldogs get along well with everyone but tend to become attached to one person in particular. In addition to their high risk of over heating in warm weather, French Bulldogs also need to have the spaces between the wrinkles on their face and neck kept clean and dry to prevent skin infections.

#7 - Boxer
Used for fighting and bull baiting in the 18th century, Boxers have become popular family pets, police dogs and military dogs. Large and muscular with a square head, short nose and high-tucked abdomen, Boxers love to play and spend time with their people. Particularly affectionate with children, the Boxers can be protective of their families in the presence of other dogs and require lots of attention.

If dogs are allowed to be active during the hottest parts of the day, they are at risk for heatstroke, which can be fatal if not corrected quickly. If at all possible. It is  recommended limiting extended outdoor time to early afternoon or evening on hot days. If your dog must be out and about during the hottest hours of the day, provide them with plenty of water, access to shade and time to take breaks and catch their breath.

#8 - Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Considered a fashionable lap dog for women in the 17th century, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel remains a popular and friendly companion. An easygoing breed that falls in love with everyone it meets, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is small bodied with a round head, short nose and fluffy drop eats. A breed that loves attention, its medium-length coat requires regular grooming. Although the breed can fare well in either the city or the country, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels-like the other breeds on this list-will need to have access to air conditioning or plenty of cool places when the temperature heats up.


Baby Alligator Escapes Zoo And Accomplice Was The Tortoise, Gator Still On The Run In Michigan

A baby alligator named Carlos has pulled of the zoo version of the greatest escape with the help of a local tortoise. GarLyn Zoo officials believe they know how the little gator managed to pull off its caper but the animal is still on the loose in Michigan’s upper peninsula.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, gators are not just escapees, they can be the good guys, too. One car thief found himself thwarted by an alligator in Florida. Still, they are known to be a touchy lot. One guy was caught on video trying to move an alligator out of the road, and that went about as you would expect.

GarLyn Zoo is home to about 100 animals, including two adult alligators and little baby Carlos, who has only been with the zoo for a few months. The reason the alligator escaped the zoo was because the 12-inch little guy was being housed in a pond with turtles, which has a fence with one-inch openings. Manager Gary Moore says a large tortoise has a tendency to wear the dirt away from the bottom of the fence when it makes its rounds of its cage. They believe a hole was opened up that was large enough for the baby gator to escape.

Carlos is the first escapee in the 21 years the zoo has been in operation. In fact, Moore did not even notice his gator was missing until a state trooper visited him and told stories of witnesses seeing a young alligator ambling along U.S. 2:

“I’m asking people that if they see a little alligator holding a sign on U.S. 2 that says, ‘Florida or bust’ to call us.”

Unfortunately, while the situation sounds kind of funny, it’s actually quite serious for the baby alligator. Moore does not believe Carlos will survive in the wild past October and are hoping people will help find and recover him. Although the gator is said to pose little threat to humans since he only stands about an inch and half tall, Moore recommends not touching the alligator and they ask people to call GarLyn Zoo at 906-477-1085 or contact the police.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don't Let Ag-Gag Bills Hide Animal Cruelty - The President and CEO of the HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, Rev. Al Sharpton and Undercover Investigator Cody Carlson Discuss Ag-Gag Laws and Video Footage Touching on Food Safety in America

In recent years, whistleblowing employees have repeatedly exposed animal abuse, food safety threats, unsafe working conditions, and environmental problems at industrial agriculture operations. Unfortunately, the agricultural industry has introduced "anti-whistleblower" bills in an attempt to hide animal cruelty and prevent the American public from finding out about the abuses in the first place.

These bills would criminalize undercover investigators doing important work, such as our very own Cody Carlson, who went undercover to capture footage at four different factory farms -- inlcuding two in Iowa -- where there already is an "Ag-Gag" law in place.

Cody witnessed horrible abuse and found that workers had absolutely no regard for the animals' well-being. Watch as Rev. Al Sharpton, Wayne Pacelle, and Cody Carlson discuss Ag-Gag laws on MSNBC.

Join The HSUS and animal lovers nationwide to protect animals from dangerous "ag-gag" bills by signing our pledge HERE.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

You May Have Read Erin Auerbach's Recently-Published Column ("Why I'd Never Adopt a Shelter Dog Again") - Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO, Washington Humane Society, Responds - ("Why I Would Always Adopt a Shelter Animal")

If you missed Erin Auerbach's article, you can read it here: Sharing This Story from The Washington Post (PostEverything Section) - Why I’d Never Adopt a Shelter Dog Again - What Are Your Thoughts?

From: Lisa LaFontaine:
For anyone who saw the recent column about adoption of shelter animals ... read my blog in the Huffington Post about why people SHOULD ADOPT from a humane society ~

To read Lisa's story, click here: Why I Would Always Adopt a Shelter Animal

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How to Clicker Train Your Cat

What Is Clicker Training?

Clicker is a method of animal training that uses a sound a click—to tell an animal when he does something right. The clicker is a tiny plastic box held in the palm of your hand, with a metal tongue that you push quickly to make the sound. Most people who’ve heard of the clicker know that it’s a popular tool for dog trainers, but clickers can be used to train all kinds of animals, wild and domestic—from lions to elephants to household cats, birds and rats!

Cat training has often been considered an elusive goal by pet owners who've been conditioned to view cats as "untrainable." Yet many cat owners have found an enjoyable way to train and interact with their pets through the process of clicker training for cats.

So what is cat clicker training? Cat clicker training is an easy and fun way to help shape your cat's behavior. The scientific term for the method is operant conditioning - simply put, it means you can take advantage of your cat's natural tendency to repeat an action that has a positive consequence. With clicker training, punishments are not used. You "mark" a desirable behavior with a click, and then reward it with a treat.

The clicker is a small plastic device with a metal strip that makes a clicking sound when it's pressed. The value of the clicking sound is that it is completely distinct within the cat's environment. Unlike the sound of your voice, which your cat hears all the time, the sound of the click becomes a clear form of communication. The click is something that he can uniquely associate with the desired behavior. The treat then immediately follows the click, reinforcing the positive consequences of the behavior.

Cat clicker training definitely requires your patience. Before you begin, look for examples of clicker training videos on the Web, or go through your local bookstore to find guides full of clicker training tips and tricks. Set your goals for cat training, and decide which behaviors you want to encourage, which ones you want to replace, and whether you want to teach your cat a few simple tricks.

The first step is to get your cat used to the sound of the clicker. When you have your cat's attention, give the clicker a click, and follow it immediately with a small morsel of something he loves to eat. Commercial cat treats are ideal for this process. It's important to give just a small taste of something yummy so your cat is left wanting more. You can either toss the treat to the cat, or hand-feed it to him.

Be patient. Some cats will associate the click with the treat almost immediately, while others may be slower to catch on. This process is sometimes referred to as "charging the clicker." Once the clicker is charged, and your cat readily makes the association between click and treat, he's ready for more advanced cat clicker training.

Perhaps the easiest command to teach your cat is to "come" at the sound of the clicker - wherever he is, he'll come out of hiding to retrieve the treat. It's the same principle by which cats learn to come running at the sound of a can opener. And if you have a new kitten that hasn't yet acquired an aversion to the cat carrier, you can use clicker training to get him to enter his carrier on demand.

Some cat owners have successfully replaced clicks with voice commands or visual cues. Once a behavior has been learned, it doesn't have to be rewarded with a treat every time, but should always be accompanied by praise.

Keep The Following Clicker Training Tips In Mind As You Train Your Cat:
  • Click during the desired behavior, not after it. Timing is crucial, because the click sound may actually cause the cat to terminate the behavior in anticipation of a treat.
  • Begin with something easy that your cat is likely to do on his own (sit, come, touch your hand with his paw or nose, scratch on a post, follow a target object like a wand or pencil).
  • Only click once per behavior. Multiple clicks can confuse your cat.
  • Keep your cat training sessions very short.
  • Focus on coaxing or luring your cat into a position area; never push him or pick him up to move him. Your cat's movements should be voluntary, even if they are accidental, he'll gradually associate the click with the movement you're training him for, whether it's sitting or jumping on a stool.
  • Start by rewarding for small movements toward your goal, and then shape a behavior by raising the goal. For example, if you're training your cat to enter his carrier, at first you'll reward for any steps he takes in that direction, then for walking right up to the carrier, then for entering it.
  • Don't punish bad behavior, but refocus your cat on good behaviors by rewarding them. For example, instead of punishing a cat for scratching on the furniture, reward him for using his designated scratching post. (You can begin by rewarding him just for being near the post.)


How to Clicker Train Your Dog

What Is Clicker Training?

Clicker is a method of animal training that uses a sound—a click—to tell an animal when he does something right. The clicker is a tiny plastic box held in the palm of your hand, with a metal tongue that you push quickly to make the sound. Most people who’ve heard of the clicker know that it’s a popular tool for dog trainers, but clickers can be used to train all kinds of animals, wild and domestic—from lions to elephants to household cats, birds and rats!

Giving the Clicker Meaning

It’s easy to introduce the clicker to your pet. Spend 30 minutes or so teaching him that the sound of the click means “Treat!” (For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that you’re going to clicker train a dog.)

Sit and watch TV or read a book with your dog in the room. Have a container of treats within reach.

Place one treat in your hand and the clicker in the other. (If your dog smells the treat and tries to get it by pawing, sniffing, mouthing or barking at you, just close your hand around the treat and wait until he gives up and leaves you alone.)

Click once and immediately open your hand to give your dog the treat. Put another treat in your closed hand and resume watching TV or reading. Ignore your dog.

Several minutes later, click again and offer another treat.

Continue to repeat the click-and-treat combination at varying intervals, sometimes after one minute, sometimes after five minutes. Make sure you vary the time so that your dog doesn’t know exactly when the next click is coming. Eventually, he’ll start to turn toward you and look expectant when he hears the click—which means he understands that the sound of the clicker means a treat is coming his way.