The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : October 2017 The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : October 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Man is Suing the United States Postal Service for Being on a “Dog Hold” that Has Prevented Him from Receiving Mail For the Past 10 Years

Seattle, Washington - To the untrained eye, Ilsa seems a little slow and a little tired. But shedding hair and a toothy grin perhaps hide some darker purpose.

“They keep on bringing it back to dogs. And I just want to get my mail,” said Ballard homeowner Randall Ehrlich.

He is now suing the United States Postal Service for being on a “dog hold” that prevents him from receiving mail, and has been for nearly a decade.

“The regular mail carrier will not deliver to my residence,” Ehrlich said one of the people named in the suit.

Ehrlich was placed on what's called a "dog hold" because the previous dog, now dead, was deemed threatening by the carrier and USPS.

Yet nothing changed when the dog was fostered out, when there was no dog even living in the house, and even now with low-key Ilsa.

Since the slot is next to his door, Ehrlich tried playing along with the complaints and installed a box near his sidewalk.

“I thought it was a reasonable compromise,” he said.

It wasn’t.

“It is not a very common complaint that I get,” said Bellingham animal attorney Adam Karp.

He's now helping Ehrlich sue over the excuse of Ilsa and the Ballard mail blackout.

“So essentially, they make the decisions unilaterally and there's no appeal from that,” Karp said.

We wanted to see what the USPS could explain about the "dog hold." Maybe it's just one mail carrier that's been a problem.  Maybe Ehrlich was wrong, and his dogs in the last decade have been terrors.

Yet neighbors tell us Ehrlich isn't alone, because there are others on the blackout list.

But the post office wouldn't elaborate because of the lawsuit.

"However, it is important to note that the safety of our employees is paramount at the U.S. Postal Service when we make operational decisions affecting customer service and delivery practices,” a statement read.

We explained the situation to Michael Offield, a former postal service safety advocate who made decisions similar to the Ballard situation. He says this is extraordinary.

“Oh god,” he lamented as he laughed and put his head in his hands.

He agreed with the attorney Karp that there were some personal problems at the Ballard USPS in his day and thinks this might just be laziness to save a few seconds every day on the route.

“Well, this is the postal service. Our last name is service,” Offield said.

But let's follow the logic.

Let's say Ilsa was just in a good mood when a camera was stuck in her face, or all dogs are a concern for the carriers on that block.

So we went next door.

And found the same kind of mailbox. At the same kind of house.

And the same size dog -- Oliver -- and Lisa Sorensen. She had heard about the drama and hesitated even talking to us.

“And we've tried to stay on the good side, to be honest, to keep getting our mail,” Sorensen said.

Worry on the streets and a case heading to court that will decide if the Ballard blackout is for real or not.

“I`d rather not be doing this. I`d rather just be getting my mail. And I've found no other recourse,” Ehrlich said.


Family Pets Are Equally, if Not More, at Risk of Being Affected by Passive Smoking as Humans, Research Suggests

Animals inhale more smoke and - because of their grooming routines - also digest nicotine when licking their fur, a study by Glasgow University said.

Dogs are at risk of developing lung or sinus cancer while smaller pets such as birds, rabbits and guinea pigs can face breathing issues and skin disease.

Experts hope the findings will motivate pet owners to quit smoking.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has teamed up with The Royal College of Nursing for a new campaign aimed at telling owners about the damage that can be done.

Wendy Preston, the RCN's Head of Nursing, said: "Many people would be horrified to discover their second-hand smoke was harming their pet, and in some cases seriously shortening the animal's life.

"We want to make it easier for vets and vet nurses to have that conversation with patients."

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said he felt the threat of passive smoking on animals was "greatly exaggerated". He also said it was a distraction from genuine cases of animal abuse.
  • What are the risks?
  • Dogs can develop lung or sinus cancer
  • Cats have an increased risk of developing lymphoma
  • Birds, rabbits and guinea pigs can suffer eye, skin and respiratory disease
  • Smoke exposure worsens bronchitis and asthma in animals that already have those conditions
The university, which is renowned for its small animal hospital, has been carrying out research on the effects of passive smoking on pets for several years.

Professor Clare Knottenbelt said 40 dogs - half of them from homes with smokers - were recruited for the study and samples of their hair were analysed for nicotine levels, while their owners were asked to fill in a survey detailing how often they or any visitors smoked.

The same study was then carried out on 60 pet cats, with a particular focus on whether any link could be established between second-hand smoke and feline lymphoma, a cancer that affects the white blood cells of cats.

But she said that the researchers had to factor in the very different behavior of cats and dogs, pointing out that free-wandering cats could potentially be exposed to second hand smoke if they visit other people's homes and even sit close to pub or workplace entrances where groups of smokers congregate.

She said: "A cat can be from a smoke-free home yet still have high nicotine levels."

But Forest's Simon Clark was dismissive of the research, saying: "The best thing anyone can do for their pets is provide a warm, comfortable environment where they feel safe and cared for."

~Source: Royal College of Nurses


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rabies in Cats

What are Rabies? Rabies is a viral infection of the central and peripheral nervous system in a feline. Rabies is a zoonotic disease that is found worldwide among carnivores and other mammals. This fatal disease is passed through the saliva of an infected animal with initial signs of a disturbance in the central nervous system. 

An infected feline will go through three symptomatic phases as the disease surges through the body. The feline will go from displaying a shy behavior to aggressive within ten days, dying after day ten from the initial sign of infection. Almost all infected animals die after being infected with the rabies virus, but a feline could survive if the pet owner takes the cat to seek veterinary consultation before the virus reaches the nervous system. Rabies is a viral disease that mainly affects carnivores, but can affect all mammals, including people. The rabies virus is actively spread through the saliva of an infected pet, transmittable through bites or scratches. In the United States, wildlife including; raccoons, skunk, fox, and bats are common vectors of the disease. However, stray dogs and cats are also carriers of the disease, as confrontation with wildlife is the norm. Rabies symptoms can appear as early as ten days after the feline was bitten and as late as a year. The virus affects the brain and nervous system, with initial signs of change in behavior. Rabies is a fatal, incurable disease that can easily infect humans if the proper precautions are not taken.   

Symptoms of Rabies in Cats Rabies attacks the brain, resulting in rather distinctive behavioral changes. From the initial sign of a rabies infection, your feline will go through a prodromal stage, a furious rabies or “mad-dog” stage, and finally a paralytic stage. Each of the three stages is characterized by different symptoms, as the virus slowly makes its way to the brain and turns the housecat into a vicious feline.  

To read more on this story, click here: Rabies in Cats


The Caw: Here’s What Happened to the Thursday Night Football Cat

After being well-fed and cared for at M&T Bank Stadium, a stadium employee adopted the cat and named it ‘Rae’ after the Ravens.

Yogi had been looking to adopt a new cat for a few months, but none seemed quite right.

That is until a kitten ran into M&T Bank Stadium, made her way into the stands, jumped onto the field, showed off some moves and became perhaps the most beloved star of Thursday Night Football.

After all that, she scampered straight into Yogi’s heart.

The well-respected stadium employee officially adopted the stray cat Friday morning, after getting the thumbs up from his wife, and named her “Rae” – short for Ravens.

It’s a pretty heartwarming story.

To read more on this story, click here: The Caw: Here’s What Happened to the Thursday Night Football Cat


Several States to Enact Laws Cracking Down on People Who Try to Pass Off Their Pets as Service Animals

Chris Slavin was in an elevator a couple years ago with Earle, her yellow lab service dog, sitting calmly beside her wheelchair. The elevator doors opened and in walked a woman holding a purse. In the purse was a teacup poodle the color of apricots.

The doors closed just as the poodle spotted Earle. That’s when the trouble started. In an instant, the poodle leaped from the purse, flung himself at Earle, and clamped his teeth into the bigger dog’s snout, leaving Earle bleeding onto the elevator floor.

“As soon as this occurred the woman said the poodle was a service dog,” said Slavin, who has a severe spinal injury that requires use of the wheelchair. “She then said he wasn’t a service dog but an emotional support dog. Finally, she admitted he was a pet she just wanted to bring in the building with her.”

Incidents like that one in Reading, Massachusetts, not far from where Slavin lives in Danvers, have spurred 19 states to enact laws cracking down on people who try to pass off their pets as service animals. The push has been gathering steam in recent years: Virginia implemented its new law in 2016, and Colorado followed suit this year. Massachusetts is now considering a similar proposal.

Supporters of the new laws compare those misbehaving dog owners to people who acquire handicap signs so they can park in spaces intended for disabled people. The laws make it a misdemeanor to represent an untrained dog as a service animal, and usually come with fines of no more than $500 for an incident.

But because there is no certification or official national registry of legitimate service dogs, there is no way to verify whether a dog has undergone rigorous training to become a service animal.

That makes it hard to enforce the laws, said David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University College of Law and editor of its Animal Legal and Historical Center website, which follows public policy issues related to animals. He said he’s not aware of anyone who has been prosecuted anywhere for violating them.

Rather, he said, the laws are largely symbolic, and meant to educate dog owners as well as people who let pets into spaces where they don’t belong. “Maybe you can scare some people into being honest.”

People who pass off their dogs as service animals in order to take them into stores, restaurants, libraries, sporting events and offices are a real problem, he said, for the proprietors of those establishments, their customers and disabled people who genuinely rely on the help of their service dogs.

“A service animal is trained to be in public and to be under control and non-intrusive and not bark,” Favre said. “They are trained not to be a nuisance in any way. You should hardly even know they are there.”

Because of Earle’s training as a service dog, Slavin said, when the poodle attacked him, “My dog never moved, never retaliated, never barked.” He did nothing. That is the way a service dog is trained. They are not going to ever be aggressive. Ever.”

Earle performs many functions for Slavin. He picks up items she drops, retrieves keys, opens doors, puts objects like library books on counters that Slavin can’t reach, and returns change or credit cards to her after purchases. She credits Earle with “enabling me to truly become part of my community.”

Service dogs receive up to two years of training, which can cost more than $40,000. Before they are placed, their new owners are often required to live at the training center for a week or two to learn about caring and interacting with their dogs. Many training centers provide the dogs free of charge to disabled clients, defraying their costs through fundraising. The waiting time for a service dog is often two years or longer.

But for people who want to pass off their pet as a service dog, it’s easy enough to be convincing. Anyone can go online and purchase for about $20 the types of vests that legitimate service dogs usually wear.

The vests may help the fake service dogs gain entry, but their behavior, and that of their owners, often gives them away. Trained service dogs don’t go off-leash, bark, knock things off shelves, jump on people, play or fight with other dogs, or grab food off tables, trainers say.

And owners of real service dogs don’t carry them in shopping carts or purses. “The rule is four on the floor,” with all four feet on the ground except when a dog is performing a task, said Katelynne Steinke, a paraplegic in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her own yellow lab service dog.

The problem is that the proprietors of establishments where people bring their dogs have no way of determining whether a dog is a real service animal.

The American with Disabilities Act requires all places open to the public, such as businesses, government agencies and entertainment venues, to give access to service dogs and their owners. And it permits them to ask only two questions: whether the dog is required because of a disability and what tasks the dog is trained to perform. It is illegal to request documentation for the dog or to ask the nature of the owner’s disability.

There’s another complication: the growing use of “emotional support dogs,” which are intended to provide comfort to those with anxiety or other emotional problems. Some of them may have received special training, although nothing as rigorous as the training for service dogs. (Emotional support dogs are not covered under the ADA and can legally be denied access.)

Some service dog owners say many businesses, unable to tell fake service dogs from real ones, allow all of them in. Many owners of service dogs avoid those places for fear of exposing their animals to danger from untrained dogs. Other businesses, they say, simply bar all dogs from the premises, even if it violates the ADA.

The National Disability Rights Network, which advocates on behalf of people with disabilities, is sympathetic to those who want to crack down on pet owners who misrepresent their dogs as service animals. But Ken Shiotani, a senior staff attorney with the organization, said the laws should aim to educate, rather than punish, and the penalties for violations should be minimal. “We want to have a positive impact on people to help them realize that what they’ve done has this very negative effect.”

Advocates for the laws agree.

Cathy Zemaitis, who helped draft the Massachusetts bill and is director of development for National Education for Assistance Dog Services, a Massachusetts group that says it has trained over 1,700 dogs since 1976, said the laws should launch a national effort to teach people not to put dogs in situations they are not trained for — and to educate the public on the need for legitimately trained dogs.

The long-term goal, Zemaitis said, is the creation of a national certification program and registry for legitimately trained service dogs. “This is the beginning of a much larger conversation we need to have.”



Adorable Hungarian Puli Goes as a Mop in Bucket for Halloween

Meet Keki, the cute Hungarian puli’s whose Halloween costume went viral. Her mom is taking her for a stroll, as onlookers are amazed that it’s a dog in a bucket!


Halloween Dangers to Dogs & Cats

During the week of Halloween, calls to the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline increase by 12 percent, making it the call center’s busiest time of year.   “Each year we experience a sharp increase in calls around Halloween, especially during the weekends surrounding the holiday,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline.

“Most often, these calls involve pets accidentally ingesting Halloween candy or décor. Chocolate is one of the most problematic candies as dogs and cats cannot metabolize it as well as people. Thus, it places them at risk for poisoning.”

The four most common food-related Halloween hazards for pets are chocolate, candy overindulgence, raisins and candy wrappers.

Is chocolate poisonous to dogs?

Of all candy, chocolate is one of the most toxic to pets. Over the past year, more than 1,100 calls to Pet Poison Helpline involved exposure to chocolate and 98 percent of them involved dogs. Many dogs are inherently attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate, making it a significant threat. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. The chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous to pets, methylxanthines, are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties. In fact, a 50-pound dog can be sickened by ingesting only one ounce of Baker’s chocolate! On the other hand, it may take up to eight ounces, (half a pound) of milk chocolate to cause poisoning in that same sized dog. White chocolate contains very low amounts of methylxanthine and rarely causes poisoning. To avoid issues, keep Halloween candy well out of the reach of pets at all times. If you think your pet may have ingested chocolate, symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures.

To read more on this story, click here: Halloween Dangers to Dogs & Cats


Friday, October 27, 2017

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Five Conservation Groups Are Offering a $15,500 Reward for Information About the Killing of a Federally Protected Gray Wolf

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and five conservation groups are offering a $15,500 reward for information about the killing of a federally protected gray wolf.

The four-year-old male, known as OR-33, was found dead in late April in southwestern Oregon's Fremont-Winema National Forest, according to the agency. A necropsy confirmed that it was OR-33, which had a collar that had stopped working the previous year. The wolf died of gunshot wounds.

"This is a heartbreaking loss for Oregon's wolves," Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "Wolf recovery in Oregon depends on wolves like OR-33 making their way west and thriving, so his death is a major setback."

Gray wolves are listed as endangered in the western part of Oregon. "The federal offense is punishable by up to a $100,000 fine, a year in jail, or both. The maximum state penalty is a fine of $6,250 and a year in jail," according to The Associated Press.

OR-33 was a lone wolf, having left the Imnaha pack in northeastern Oregon in 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Last year, "OR-33 roamed almost within Ashland city limits — a city of more than 20,000. From June 10-12, he attacked and killed two goats and one lamb at a small livestock operation northeast of Ashland," the Statesman Journal reported, citing the agency.

The animal was apparently not subtle. "This wolf is acting like David Lee Roth," Greg Roberts, a media personality in Southern Oregon, told the Statesman Journal last year. "I had eight people in Ashland say that they've seen him around their property."

Oregon had at least 112 wolves in 2016, according to state statistics. But the conservation groups contributing to the reward for information say that "since 2015 at least eight wolves have been poached or died under mysterious circumstances in Oregon."

Quinn Read, Northwest representative of Defenders of Wildlife, said poaching in Oregon is "a huge and growing problem." She added: "We need everyone's help to catch this killer."

If you have information about this case, you can call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (503) 682-6131, or Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888.


Humane Rescue Alliance: Is Your Dog Out of Control When Guest Arrive? Enroll Them in Our Specialized, Four-Week Mini-Series on Manners

Washington, DC - Is your dog out of control when guest arrive for the holidays? Register your pup for HRA's specialized, four-week mini-series focused on teaching your dog appropriate manners for when guests come to town. Dogs will learn to go-to-place when people knock at the door, leave it with decorations, food, and presents, and how to relax on their mat during human meals instead of begging for food. They'll also learn how to offer more polite greetings to friends and family. 

To Learn about this mini-series, click here: Four-Week Mini-Series 

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black, to Pass a Bill That Would Make it Illegal to Declaw Your Cat, Unless it Was Deemed Medically Necessary

A bill under consideration by the Denver City Council would make it illegal to declaw your cat, unless it was deemed medically necessary. Councilwoman Kendra Black, the bill’s sponsor, called it a “cruel practice” in an email to fellow council members asking for their support.

“Most people don’t think about it,” Black said in an interview. “If you hear the term declawing, you might think it’s a simple procedure. It’s been sold to pet owners as, ‘Oh, we can spay or neuter your cat, and declaw them at the same time,’ and they don’t understand how awful it is. It’s like chopping off the last knuckle of your finger.”

Professional veterinary societies tend to discourage the practice but have opposed efforts to legislate it based on the idea that more cats will be abandoned for problem scratching if declawing is not an option — though that has not been the experience of California cities that have banned the procedure.

Black decided to sponsor the bill at the request of Dr. Aubrey Lavizzo, a Denver veterinarian who is active in the campaign to ban declawing as the Colorado director, Eastern Slopes, for the Paw Project. They became friends after serving together on the social consumption advisory committee, and he told Black about his concerns about cat declawing.

The bill is very short: It says that it shall be unlawful for any person to declaw a cat, and if you are going to declaw a cat, it must be done by a licensed veterinarian using anesthesia and done for a medically necessary reason, such as pain, infection, injury or a congenital deformity that could cause pain or injury.

Black said that if the bill were to pass, a committee would draft rules around enforcement, and the penalty likely would be a fine.

I asked Black if she has cats. She does not.

“I have a dog,” she said. “Who digs holes in my backyard, and I would never cut off his toes because he digs holes in my backyard.”

The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association sees some reasons for declawing.

An FAQ on the association’s website includes a question on cat declawing. The association discourages the practice and treats it as a last resort solution to problem scratching.

Both the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association state that de-clawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents a health risk for its owner(s).

The following points should be considered before discussing de-clawing with your veterinarian:

Scratching is a normal feline behavior, is a means for cats to mark their territory both visually and with scent, and is used for claw conditioning (“husk” removal) and stretching activity.

Owners must provide suitable implements for normal scratching behavior.

However, the association allows there are instances where declawing is better than the alternative.

Scientific data do indicate that cats that have destructive clawing behavior are more likely to be euthanatized, or more readily relinquished, released, or abandoned, thereby contributing to the homeless cat population. Where scratching behavior is an issue as to whether or not a particular cat can remain as an acceptable household pet in a particular home, surgical onychectomy may be considered.

There is no scientific evidence that de-clawing leads to behavioral abnormalities when the behavior of de-clawed cats is compared with that of cats in control groups.

However, the American Association of Feline Practitioners does not support declawing. Their position statement opens with, “The American Association of Feline Practitioners strongly opposes declawing (onychectomy) as an elective procedure. It is the obligation of veterinarians to provide cat owners with alternatives to declawing.”

Would a declawing ban actually lead to more cats being given up?

That wasn’t the experience of the city of Los Angeles, its general manager Brenda Barnette said in a letter to Black. Los Angeles has had a ban on declawing for five years now, and the number of cats relinquished actually has actually gone down pretty dramatically in that time.

The AAFP says the scientific literature does not support the idea that declawing prevents relinquishment or abandonment.

“There is no current peer-reviewed data definitively proving that cats with destructive behavior are more likely to be euthanized, abandoned or relinquished. The decision of whether or not to declaw should not be impacted by these considerations,” the association says.

Lavizzo didn’t learn how to declaw cats when he went to vet school in the 1960s, and he identifies the 1980s as the time period when the procedure became more common. The few studies out there that attempt to count the number of declawed cats find that between a fifth and a quarter of American cats are declawed.

Lavizzo performed the procedure for years after he went into practice with another vet who already did it, but as he learned more about animal pain, he decided to stop.

Lavizzo strongly disputes the assertion that declawing doesn’t affect cat behavior. (I reached out to the state veterinary association, but no one was available Friday. I’ll update this post when I hear back from them.) Cats who are declawed experience significant pain and related health problems after the procedure, Lavizzo said, but it’s not always recognized because cats don’t express pain in ways that we can see.

Why is it so bad? Unlike the human fingernail, which just sits on top of your finger, a cat’s claw grows from its last knuckle, the third phalanx. Declawing procedures cut through the bone, but Lavizzo said the most common techniques are not very precise and often leave bone fragments along with injured bone tissue inside the cat’s paw. The procedure also severs tendons and prevents cats from walking on their toes as they should, leading to problems with gait and balance and causing arthritis and back pain.

Cats that are declawed can be more prone to biting, he said, and to not using the litter box because scratching in the litter hurts them. These behaviors can also lead to cats being abandoned or relinquished.

Lavizzo believes declawing continues because it’s a profitable procedure for vets, and he doesn’t think the justifications actually support the practice.

“How can you justify cruelty that way?” he asked. “That’s where we need to stop the conversation.”

Next steps:

The Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 25 to discuss the bill. The committee meets in Room 391 of the City and County Building, 1437 Bannock St.

There will be 15 minutes of public comment, at two minutes per speaker.

If the bill advances out of committee, it will be voted on by the full council.


Can I Have A Pet Fox?

Do a YouTube search for pretty much any smallish animal you can think of and there'll be several videos of a "tame" or "pet" version. Any feline, any canid, any mustelid (weasel), any procyonid (raccoon), any non-bonkers primate (baboons, which are completely terrifying, are exempt). Look at my pet kinkajou, my pet genet, my pet fennec fox, my pet ocelot. And then on the videos of cute furry animals in the wild, you'll see the comments: "omg i want it." When the internet sees a video of a red panda, the internet wants a red panda. Even though a red panda is endangered and a wild animal.

In 1959, a Soviet geneticist named Dmitry K. Belyaev began somewhat secretively experimenting with breeding domesticated foxes. More than five decades, thousands of foxes, and one collapse of the Soviet Union later, the program continues at The Institute of Cytology and Genetics at Novosibirsk, Siberia. Belyaev wanted to unlock the secrets of domestication, the links between behavior and breeding and physical traits, but plenty of non-scientists are aware of the project for a different reason: foxes are adorable, and we want to hug them, and we want them to like it.

But domesticated foxes, which can only be found at that Siberian facility, are not horrible pets. They're a little unconventional, and they require a little bit of extra attention, but if you want a pet fox, you can have a pet fox. All you need is $8,000 and the approval of Kay Fedewa, the exclusive importer of domesticated foxes in the US.

To read more on this story, click here:  Can I Have A Pet Fox?


Adorable Hippo Fiona Stole the Limelight During a Couple’s Engagement Photo at Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio

You spend weeks planning the perfect proposal, only to be upstaged by a baby hippopotamus when you finally pop the question.

Adorable hippo Fiona stole the limelight during a couple’s engagement photo at Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio.

Nick Kelble and his girlfriend Hayley Roll regularly visit Fiona and were delighted their favorite animal witnessed the proposal.

The ecstatic new bride-to-be wrote in a message to her boyfriend on Instagram: “We're so happy Fiona could be there on our special day. Here's to many more years of going to zoos with you.”

She added in an interview with the Daily Buzz: “We went to the zoo for our one-year anniversary and Fiona was in the window.

“Nick, my boyfriend, and I were waiting in line to get our photo taken with Fiona and I gave my cell phone to someone to take the photo and when I turned back around, Nick was on one knee proposing.”

Fiona became the first Nile hippo born at the zoo in 75 years back in January and had a fight to survive after her mother gave birth six weeks early.

“Full term hippos usually weigh between 50-110lbs,” the zoo says. “Fiona only weighed 29lbs when she was born 6 weeks premature. She is the smallest hippo to ever survive.”

The zoo say Fiona is a “little hippo with a big personality”.

“As Fiona continues to grow, the many facets of her complex personality are really starting to show!” they said earlier this year.

“It’s fascinating to watch how the different elements of her personality seem to reflect the natural history of the hippopotamus.”


Did You Know That Declawing a Cat is the Equivalent of Cutting a Person’s Finger Off at the First Knuckle?

Many people falsely assume that declawing is just like trimming your nails or getting a manicure. In reality, it is a painful and permanently crippling procedure. The following are eight some reasons why you should never declaw your feline friend:

1) Declawing a cat is the equivalent of cutting a person’s finger off at the first knuckle. 

2) Cats scratch to exercise and enjoy themselves, maintain the condition of their nails, and stretch their muscles.

3) Claws are a cat’s first line of defense:
While we hope that your cat remains safely indoors at all times, if he or she were ever to get outside without claws, your cat would be far more vulnerable to predators and abusers.

4) Declawed cats often become more aggressive:
Many people think that declawed cats are safer around babies, but in fact, the lack of claws makes many cats feel so insecure that they tend to bite more often as a means of self-protection.

5) Pain continues, even after surgery:
Cats are in pain when they awake from the surgery, and the pain continues afterward. Nails can grow back inside the paw, causing extreme pain that you can’t see.

6) Declawed cats are most likely to go outside the litterbox:
Without claws, even house-trained cats might start “doing their business” outside the litterbox in an attempt to mark their territory.

7) Deckawed cats have to relearn how to walk:
Our toes are crucial to our balance, and it’s no different for cats! Because of impaired balance after the procedure, declawed cats have to relearn how to walk, much as a person would after losing his or her toes.

8) Many countries have already banned declawing
Nearly two dozen countries—including Australia, England, and Japan—ban or severely restrict declawing surgeries. And many veterinarians in the United States refuse to perform the procedure.

What You Can Do Instead

Trim your cat’s nails regularly. When the cat is relaxed and unafraid, gently press on his or her toes until the claws extend. Use a pair of nail clippers, and cut only the tip of the nail, taking care not to damage the vein, or “quick.” The nail hook is what tears upholstery, so removing it virtually eliminates the potential for damage.

Buy multiple scratching posts. Ideally, you should have two or more scratching posts in your home. Make sure that they’re sturdy and tall enough to allow your cat to stretch (3 feet or taller). Soft, fluffy carpeted posts won’t fulfill your cat’s clawing needs, so look for rougher posts.

Teach your cat where to scratch and where not to scratch. Encourage your cat to use the scratching posts by sprinkling catnip on the posts once a week. Discourage your cat from scratching furniture by using a loud, firm voice whenever he or she starts to scratch—cats don’t like loud noises! Never use physical force. Instead, you might try using a squirt gun full of lukewarm water directed at your cat’s back.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bring Your Four Legged Friends to the Yards for a Very Barky Halloween Sunday, October 29 – 1-4 P.M.

Come out to The Yards Park for A Very Barky Halloween! Bring your pets in their Halloween best and enjoy pet costume contest (with prizes!) and parade down the Capitol Riverfront Runway, on-site pet adoption, and Bark-or-Treat throughout The Yards.

A Very Barky Halloween at The Yards
October 29, 2017
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
The Yards
355 Water St SE
Washington, D.C. 2003

For more information, click here: Very Barky Halloween

The Yards

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Celebrating One Year as the Humane Rescue Alliance

This week marks the one-year anniversary of our new name, the Humane Rescue Alliance. One year ago we launched a new identity focused on animals, people, and community, building on two hundred and fifty years of combined experience from the Washington Humane Society and Washington Animal Rescue League. We’ve remained committed not only to protecting and advocating for the animals in our community, but also to supporting and celebrating people’s love and compassion for them.

What makes our brand truly special, is the unmatched dedication, professionalism, and passion of our staff, volunteers, and generous supporters. Without you, this work would not be possible. And although we have officially been a single entity since February 2016, October marks our first 12 months as the Humane Rescue Alliance. We’re celebrating by looking back at some of our favorite stories from our first week as HRA.

To read more on this story, click here: Celebrating One Year as the Humane Rescue Alliance

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Tips on Caring for Your Pets in the Winter

Depending on where you live, winter is coming…or is already here!

We love our pets as family members, so it is our responsibility to make sure that they are safe and warm in the winter.

Here are some myths/facts about caring for your pets:

Myth: Unlike summertime where a car acts as a greenhouse and can cause harm and even death to pets, a pet is safer in a car during winter months.

Fact: Pets can freeze to death even in a short period of time. Cars act as a refrigerator in cold months. A dog alone in a car, no matter the season, is a target for thieves.

Myth: All ice melts are created equal.

Fact: Not all ice melts are formulated to keep pets safe. Pet-safe ice melts like Morton Safe-T-Pet are salt- and chloride-free, which is safer on pet paws and stomachs. Never use a human grade ice melt, and always sprinkle Safe-T-Pet on sidewalks; do not pile product and risk Fido or Fluffy’s health.

Myth: A dog’s pads protect them from all elements of weather.

Fact: Though a dog’s pads contain much fatty tissue that does not freeze as easily as other tissues, protection against scuffing, scraping, cutting, and ice damage is crucial in winter months. Ice cubes and “snowballing” may occur in the delicate areas between toes and pads. Protective booties or a product like Musher’s Secret, which is used on sledding dogs, can help ease extreme conditions on sensitive pads.

Myth: Dogs do not absorb antifreeze or harmful chemicals on walks through their paws.

Fact: A dog’s pads are more resilient than other parts of his body, but chemicals can be absorbed through them. In turn, chemicals like antifreeze can be licked by dogs and cause severe problems. Wipe dog pads off thoroughly after a walk, perhaps using some warm water and a washcloth to melt any ice balls that may have formed on the feet.

Myth: Coats are for show and really do not keep pets warm in the winter months since animals have a natural fur coat.

Fact: Dogs and cats get cold, particularly short-haired breeds, senior citizens, puppies, and pets with medical conditions. Look for an insulated sweater with a turtleneck, that covers the belly, and that allows for protection from neck to tip of tail.

Myth: Dogs should gain weight in the winter to keep their fat ratio up and stay warm.

Fact: Not always. Though dogs are more sedentary in winter months, gaining weight as a form of insulation is not always advised. Indoor dogs who participate in strenuous activities or winter sports may require additional food in colder months. A recent study from the Association for Pet Obesity revealed that 53 percent of cats and 55 percent of dogs are overweight or obese in the United States. Keep a pet’s heart, organs, and joints healthy and keep an eye on their weight year round.

Myth: Thought a humidifier may help people, it does not do much for our pets during winter heating season.

Fact: Dry air in the home can make pets itchier, cause dry noses, upper respiratory infections, more dander, and dry throats. Consider a humidifier, talk to the veterinarian about skin conditioners and fatty acid supplements for healthy skin.

Myth: Fleas will not affect my pet during the winter months.

Fact: Though fleas may not survive in brutal winter temperatures outside, the warmth of home means fleas gravitate towards indoor comfort where they can affect pets. Using a natural, safer product with no chemicals, and a safe alternative for pest control and prevention during colder months. Always consult a veterinarian with any questions.



Know Before You Go: Horseback Riding

Although people may not think “fitness” when they consider taking the reins, horseback riding can be a serious butt-kicking workout. It may look like the horse is getting all the exercise, but it takes balance, strong legs, and a stable core to stay in the saddle. This old school hobby is an awesome way to spend some quality time in the great outdoors and get beyond a basic gym routine. Before hitting the trails, check out Greatist’s guide to horsing around.

From the Horse’s Mouth — The Need-to-Know

Since people first hopped into the saddle around 3500 BCE, horses and humans have been inseparable partners in crime. When the automobile (aka “horseless carriage”) got popular in the late 1800s, horses became used for recreation, not work. These days most people pony up to exercise, compete, or just have fun. The first step before heading to the barn is deciding which style of riding to try. Most stables teach English style or Western style, although some places offer both. So what’s the difference between English and Western? The two styles use different equipment (aka “tack”), which affects the rider’s position and communication with the horse. English tack is smaller and less bulky, which makes for closer contact between the horse and rider. Western saddles were originally used by cowboys on long cattle drives, so they’re built for comfort and stability with a deep seat, long stirrups, and a saddle horn for looping a lasso (or hanging on!).

To read more on this story, click here: Know Before You Go: Horseback Riding


Giant Tortoise, Nigrita, Gives Birth to 9 Hatchlings at the Zurich Zoo in Switzerland

At the Zurich Zoo in Switzerland resides an 80-year-old tortoise named Nigrita who had 9 little hatchlings over 8 months ago. Some would say that’s quite old to have a baby, but for tortoises, it’s just the opposite!

Giant tortoises are said to be one of the longest-living vertebrates on earth, with a life expectancy of over 100 years. The oldest tortoise was recorded to be 152-years-old. Now that’s impressive!

According to National Geographic, tortoises live a long life because they have a slow metabolism and large internal stores of water, allowing them to live up to a year without food or water. Tortoises nap for up to 16 hours a day, sunbathe at their leisure and enjoy a diet of grasses, leaves, and other leafy greens.

Unfortunately, these amazing creatures are on the list of endangered species. They were hunted as food by pirates, whalers, and merchantmen during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries where up to 100,000 tortoises were killed for their meat. Plus, feral animals are a threat to their food supply as well as their eggs.

Nigrita, her 54-year-old mate Jumbo, and the 9 babies are kept safe at the Zurich Zoo, where they are part of a breeding program that is designed to protect the species from extinction. These remarkable creatures even have a chance of living until the year 2216. That’s longer than any of us mortals can say! It’s quite a miraculous feat to live an extensive, slow, and relaxing life.

When born, tortoises weigh between 4 and 5 ounces, and when they are fully grown, both male and female tortoises can weigh up to 400 and 700 pounds.


Dozens of Adorable Dogs Who Were Rescued from Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico Are Now Up for Adoption in New York

Dozens of adorable dogs who were rescued from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico are now up for adoption in New York, animal shelter sources said Sunday.

A total of 28 dogs — some of which were abandoned during the natural disaster— are up for grabs at Animal Haven on the Lower East Side, said Tiffany Lacey, executive director of the shelter.

“These animals are in dire need. It’s life or death down there,” Lacey urged. “Come in and adopt because you’re gonna be helping.”

The furry survivors were rescued from the island by charter plane and brought to the no-kill shelter on Saturday night, according to Lacy.

The furry survivors include a pure-bred Shih Tzu, Great Dane and a hound, which are available for adoption beginning Tuesday.

Some of the dogs were left at shelters by owners in the aftermath of the hurricane. Others were strays before the storm struck.

The raging storm worsened the country’s epidemic of homeless and starving pups.

“Even without a natural disaster, it is overwhelming. There’s a very high euthanasia rate. A lot of people are dumping animals,” Lacey said.

A total of 53 dogs were saved by the animal rescue group The Sato Project. Some were brought to shelters elsewhere in the United States.

The rescue was funded by the John and Wendy Neu Family Foundation, which worked with The Sato Project.

Anyone who wants to adopt a dog should contact the shelter at (212) 274-8511.

Visit their website: Animal Haven

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