New laws for animal protection

With the new year comes some new laws and statutes for animal protection. Some are practical, others sound a bit goofy but are clearly needed.

It might seem self evident that getting close enough to lions, tigers, and other big cats to take a selfie is a bad idea. Self-portraits with this type of animals have still become more and more popular online, and starting February 2015 it will be illegal to pose for this type of photo in New York. The new rule specifically prohibits contact between members of the public and big cats at animal shows.

New York is one of over 20 states with a ban on private citizens owning exotic animals, but all over the country it is believed that more exotic pets live in American homes than in American zoos. Seven states have no requirement of a license or permit to keep exotic animals. In these states you might need a license to own a dog, but you can buy a lion without thinking twice about it.

Naturally, many who own exotic pets are responsible and give the pets great care, others are less careful. There is no firm definition of the term exotic pet – in some states it refers to any wildlife kept in a human household, or to a pet that’s more unusual than a dog or cat.

In 2015, New York also makes it illegal to tattoo and pierce pets. This law allegedly came about a after a woman attempted to sell gothic kittens with piercings, and a man tattooed his dog. The only exception is markings done by a veterinarian for a medial reason or identifications.

On the other side of the USA, California takes a stand for farm animals. A new law requires that egg-laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves have enough space to move around. It is no longer allowed to keep them in cramped cages. California also has a law that extends the space requirements for egg-laying hens for out of state suppliers.

Reasons to adopt an older dog

Portuguese PodengoPuppies are adorable. It is hard to resist puppy breath and puppy kisses, but they’re also a lot of work. If you’ve decided to start the new year with getting a pet and you want a puppy, think it through and make sure you really have the time and energy needed for raising a little dog through the puppy and teenage stages.

If you answer no to the 24-7 job of having a little one, consider visiting a local shelter or rescue and give an older dog a new chance on life. (There are often puppies there too, of course.)

Many dogs who end up in shelters and rescues are there through no fault of their own. In many cases the owner’s family, living situation, or financial situation changed, and the pet finds itself homeless. Older dogs are often the last to be adopted – and the first to be euthanized.

When you see a pet in a shelter, remember that the dog is stressed. Many shut down and become shy and unresponsive, others are hyper alert, ready for any chance to get away. The personality can change a little when you get home and your new pet settles in, and this process can take a couple of weeks until he or she figures out that they’re home and safe. Once the dog has settled in, you’ll have a devoted friend.

When you adopt a grown dog you know important things like their final size and grooming requirements. Older dogs are far less likely to be destructive chewers than younger dogs – and if they chew on something it’s a training problem and not a teething problem. Older dogs are also more likely to be house trained than puppies. If the older dog isn’t house trained or has accidents in the new home, they have the physical and mental ability to “get it” quickly while a young puppy just can’t hold it.

Older dogs require exercise just like younger dogs, but they might not have the super-explosve energy that wants you to play ball for five hours and then run a marathon. Seniors often like to chill out.

Many believe older dogs can’t learn new tricks. This isn’t true. Training is great mental exercise for your furry friend, and it helps build the bond between you.

To find your new best friend, visit local shelters or rescues, or check!

Fruits and berries for dogs?

Dogs are natural scavengers and tend to eat what comes in their way. That doesn’t mean that all dogs like everything, or that everything they eat is good for them, but fruits and berries are nature’s treats, and most dogs love them. 

Not all fruits and berries are good for dogs. Here is a list with the most common ones, and whether your can let your furry friend share. Remember that everything should be given with moderation – you don’t want to give your pet a whole bowl of berries, because his or her digestive system won’t be used to it.

  • Apples
    Dogs shouldn’t eat the seeds, because they can be toxic to dogs, but the fruit is fine. Most dogs won’t care for the skin of the apple, but will happily gobble down a nice slice.
  • Bananas
    Some dogs don’t like the consistency of banana, and others love it. If your dog likes peeled banana it’s a great snack.
  • Blueberries
    Blueberries are fine, and rich in antioxidants. Many dog foods and treats contain blueberries.
  • Coconut
    Dogs can eat both coconut meat and milk.
  • Grapes
    No. Dogs should not eat grapes or raisins. Not all dogs react adversely to them, but those who do can die from kidney failure. Don’t take the risk.
  • Mango
    Mango has a large pit that the dog shouldn’t have. Dogs can have a piece of mango flesh without the peel and pit.
  • Oranges
    Peeled and de-seeded citrus fruits are fine for dogs. Just make sure to remove the seeds.
  • Peaches
    Peaches are tricky, because the pit contains cyanide, and this is deadly to everyone, not just dogs. If you absolutely want to give your dog peach, make sure to only give the outer layers of the fruit, because cyanide can seep out from the pit into the meat close to the center. It’s not enough to harm a human, but it can be enough to harm a dog.
  • Pears
    Dogs can eat pears, as long as you remove the seeds and cores.
  • Pineapple
    Pineapple meat is fine for dogs. They shouldn’t have the prickly husk, of course, but the meat is fine.
  • Plums
    Avoid giving your dog plums, for the same reason they shouldn’t have peaches. The pit is dangerous, and there isn’t enough meat on a plum to find a layer where you can be absolutely sure it’s safe.
  • Raspberries
    Raspberries are fine, and many dogs love them. Some dogs have been known to eat raspberries directly off the bushes!
  • Strawberries
    Sure, but you should remove the leaves and any stem. You want the dog to eat the berry, not the greenery.
  • Watermelon
    Yes, dogs can eat watermelon, but you should remove the seeds.

Dog with vegetables

Keep Halloween candy away from the dog

Joy!Halloween is just a week away, and while dogs may dress up and go trick or treating, we have to be cautious with what we feed them. Many children want to share, and this is a kind side that should be rewarded, but pets should not eat human candy – or decorations. 

If you will have plenty of candy and/or children in your house, or take your dog trick or treating, it’s a good idea to bring some safe dog treats.

The four most common hazards around Halloween are:

1. Chocolate

By now most people know that chocolate is dangerous to pets. It holds a strong allure and many dogs will go to great lengths to get to chocolate, so keep it safely out of reach.

2. Overindulging in treats and candy

Human candy in general isn’t good for pets – it contains too much sugar and artificial substances. Sugar-free candies often contain Xylitol, which is potentially lethal to pets.

3. Raisins

Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs. Treat raisins like chocolate and keep them in a safe place.

4. Wrappers

Wrappers smell and taste like candy. Eating cellophane and foil can obstruct the bowel and require surgery. Get rid of all wrappers at once so they don’t pose a temptation.


Science shows how much we love our pets

People love their pets. Coming home to the waiting cat or dog can be the highlight of the day, and many experience separation anxiety if they have to leave their pet for an extended period of time. A new study shows there is a biological explanation to our connection to pets.

The study compared MRI scans of brains of mothers looking at images of their dogs and images of their own children. Both types of images activate the same areas of the brain – with two differences: the photo of the child activated a region associated with forming bonds while the photo of the dog activated an area associated with facial recognition.

The next step will be to replicate the experience with men and women without children.

It is too early to conclude exactly what this means, but we already know pets are good for physical, emotional, and psychological well being. Many studies show pet owners live longer, have lower blood pressure, and get other physical advantages to non pet owners.

There are many health benefits to pets

If you decide to get a puppy

Sleeping puppyIf you decide to get a puppy, it’s important to know that puppies require a lot of time, attention, and training. As humans we tend to get excited over physical objects, and it’s fun to buy all the stuff a puppy needs, such as dog bed, bowls, toys, collar, leash, and food. These things are important for the puppy, but your time, consistency, and training are even more important.

When your new puppy arrives, it has just been removed from its mom and litter mates, and this is a big and scary world. He or she is vulnerable and needs security and routine.

Here are some good ideas to make the transition easier.

Schedule an appointment with your vet.

Your new best friend needs vaccinations. It can be dangerous for puppies to meet other dogs before they’re fully vaccinated, and many vets even advice against puppies touching the floor in the vet clinic or going outside before they have all their shots.

Play quietly and gently.

It’s tempting to flood the new puppy with attention and activity, but puppies need a lot of sleep. If he or she looks like it’s nap time, it’s nap time.

Decide who is responsible for what.

Routine is important to puppies. Who is responsible for getting puppy food and remembering when the puppy needs to eat? Housebreaking  a puppy is a lot of work; they need to go out after sleeping, after playing, and after eating, and this needs to happen at once. If you wait ten minutes to finish a phone call or watch the show your puppy is likely to have an accident.

Explain the rules from the start.

Encourage playing with the dog toys. Let the puppy know how good it is when playing with them. If he or she starts chewing on the furniture or other off-limits object, say “Off” and show one of the dog toys. Encourage taking the toy, and give lots of praise when the puppy plays with the right thing.

Never hit a puppy, give harsh reprimands, or scold the puppy for something that happened in the past. Positive and consistent training is the way to go.

Puppies don’t come pre-trained.

Some new puppy parents shout, “Come here, right now” and are upset when the puppy doesn’t get it. He or she has no idea what “come here” means. Enrolling in puppy class is a great idea. Here your furry friend will get socialization and learn how to behave around other dogs, and you will learn how to train your dog.

Puppies aren’t human.

It’s easy to assume they’ll understand our way of thinking, know what’s dangerous, or what’s good or bad. It doesn’t work like that. If you run into problems, ask for help.

Prepare for emergencies

Summer is a wonderful time, but can hold some extreme dangers such as hurricanes. Every year, families lose their pets in weather-related emergencies, and while some are reunited, other families search in vain for years. Here are some tips on preparing for emergencies, to make sure everyone is unscathed. 

Prepare in advance

Make sure all pets are microchipped, and that the information connected to the microchip is correct. Your vet can help you read the chip number, so you can double-check. Put a tag with your contact information on each pet’s collar.

If you don’t already have decals on your windows informing rescue workers that there are pets in the household, this is a good time to put some up.

Check your emergency kit

If you already have a pet emergency kit, look it over to make sure everything is up to date. If you don’t have one, make one, and keep it with your family’s emergency kit. Pack things in plastic zip-lock bags. Good ideas for your kit include:

  • At least two weeks’ supply of any pet medications.
  • Extra collar with ID-tag for each pet, and sturdy leashes.
  • Photocopies of pet health records, and a recent photo of you and your pets. In case the worst happens and you’re separated the photo will help you search, and help you prove that you’re the rightful owner.
  • Two week supply of water and food along with bowls.
  • First aid supplies. Many vets have good lists of things you might need. You should at least have bandages, tweezers, tape, scissors, and antibacterial ointment.
  • Crate with bedding and a toy your pet will recognize. This  can help your pet cope with stress and new environments.
  • Poop bags and similar supplies.

Have a plan

When something happens it usually happens quickly, and it can be difficult to make the right decisions in a stressful situation. The more you prepare in advance, the better your chances of everyone staying together and being okay.

Know where to go if you need to evacuate. If you need to leave your home, do everything in your power to bring your pets along. If it isn’t safe for you to stay, it isn’t safe for them, and animals left behind are often lost, injured, or killed.

Check emergency shelters in your area. Many don’t allow pets, and you need to find one where everyone is welcome. Make a list of relatives and friends that can shelter you and your pets in case you have to leave the area completely. Also make a list of pet boarding facilities, and keep all these numbers and addresses in your pet emergency kit.

If you stay at home during the emergency, keep your pets with you in a safe room. Put them in their carrier or on a leash ahead of time – if there’s a tornado you don’t have time to dig the cat out from under the sofa. On a leash or in a carrier you can bring your pets quickly, and you have them under control.

It can be difficult to stay calm, but do your best to keep your composure. If you’re anxious, pets and children will feel it and be anxious too.

Service animals and the fair housing act

Despite a plethora of federal and state laws protecting people with service animals, there’s still confusion about rights and obligations. This often leads to discrimination, and disputes between persons with service dogs and everything from landlords to restaurant owners. When it comes to housing, service animals are covered by the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination, and covers persons with disabilities in the sale, rental, or advertising of dwellings. For questions about individual cases, contact your local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office.

In order to be protected by the Fair Housing Act, a service animal must pass the following three tests:

  1. The person must have a disability.
  2. The animal must serve a function directly related to the disability.
  3. The request to accommodate the service animal must be reasonable.

A disability is defined by the Fair Housing Act as an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or has a record of an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. The disability doesn’t have to be obvious.

The act covers most types of housing, but there are limited exceptions for single family homes sold or rented by an individual owner.

To learn more about this, visit Pet Partners’ page about service animals and housing.

Ideas for finding pet-friendly living

There are many health benefits to petsIn many parts of the USA it can be difficult to find a pet-friendly rental. Many landlords have lists of breeds not welcome, and some limit the number or size of pets. While arguing with centrally mandated policies is a waste of time and energy, there are other things a family can do to find a perfect rental to accommodate even the furry family members.

Plan ahead

The rules for giving notice and time-frames for finding somewhere to move will vary from state to state. Make sure you know what’s mandated and what’s considered good form where you live, and start looking for your new home ahead of time. You might have to call many landlords before you find the right one. Be polite, and ask about pet policies.

Questions to ask can include:

  • Whether they have a ban on specific breeds or sizes
  • Is there a pet security deposit? If yes, is it per pet or per rental unit, and is it refundable?
  • Is there a pet fee on the rent?

Consider a private rental

Many apartment complexes have policies the on-site crew can’t change. They might also think it’s silly you can’t bring your big dog, but it’s out of their hands and arguing won’t help. It’s often easier to find an individual homeowner who wants to rent their house, and who will welcome your pets.

Check online listings – most of the larger home-search sites like Trulia and Zillow have a rental section – and keep an eye on newspaper listings. Also tell your friends on Facebook that you’re looking. Word of mouth is powerful, and someone might just know someone looking for a tenant.

Many real estate companies manage rentals for their clients, and the real estate agents might own properties they rent out. Check their websites and give them a call. They might say no, which isn’t the end of the world, or they might say yes.

If you still can’t find something, ask for help. The local humane society might know of pet-friendly landlords. Some counties also have lists, or can give suggestions.

Have all papers in order

You might need to show proof of vaccinations and vet visits. Certifications or other documentation  can also help sway a hesitant landlord.

Ideas of documents to show to prove how good your doggie is include:

  • Canine Good Citizen Certification
  • Contest wins
  • Diploma from an obedience class
  • Letter of reference from your current landlord

When you go look at a rental, show pictures of your well-groomed and cute pets. If you find a place you really want but the landlord seems hesitant when it comes to your pets, ask if you can introduce them in your home. That’s a great opportunity to show how adorable and well behaved your dogs are, and how well you take care of your home.

Put everything in writing

When you’ve found the perfect place and gotten approval from your new property manager or landlord, get it in writing. Most commercial properties have a pet addendum that will be signed by both parties and added to the contract.

Last but not least, don’t give up.


Police officer shows the danger of hot cars

Every year, children and pets die in hot cars. Regardless of information campaigns, people keep leaving babies and dogs in cars, and Texas has topped the number of fatalities around the USA for the past twenty years. 

Texas Corporal Jessie Peterson made an experiment, and posted a video to YouTube of himself staying inside his parked patrol car in the sun. He held out for 30 minutes, and had to leave the car to recover. When the temperature outside nears 100 degrees, the temperature inside the car quickly jumps up to as high as 170 degrees.

Heat-related injuries can cause organ failures, seizures, and hallucinations, and if the exposure to heat remains, death.

Peterson is a trained officer in good shape, and did his experiment in a safe environment with help nearby. This is not something that should be tried at home. And please, do not leave your children or your pets in the car.

To read more about the experiment, follow this link.

Dogs good with children

Girl and dogDogs and children can be a great combination, or an absolute disaster. Small children and dogs should always be supervised, and it is important to read the dog’s body language.

If the dog is licking, pulling its ears back, yawning, or turning its head away, it is probably uncomfortable. Never let a child hug a dog; hugs don’t mean the same thing to dogs as it does to humans, and even though they can be trained to accept it, it doesn’t come naturally.

Every year many children are bit and dogs put down, and the adults say, “It came out of the blue,” or “She was just hugging the neighbor’s dog.” Children don’t know and dogs can’t speak, so it’s the adults’ responsibility to watch over the situation.

That said, some dog breeds are better with children than others. Here are some breeds known to be patient with kids.

Beagles are sturdy and never too tired to play. They’re smart, cheerful, and friendly. They might feel that chasing other pets is a good idea, but other than that they get along with almost everything and everyone.

The Bulldog is loyal, friendly, and docile. Most Bulldogs get along well with children, other dogs, and other types of pets. They’re not exactly bundles of energy, but love to lounge on the sofa while watching TV, reading, or playing video games.

The Bull Terrier was bred to be a companion dog, and is frequently used for kids’ TV shows in many countries. In the USA, the Bull Terrier is probably best known for Target commercials. The average Bull Terrier is friendly, loving, and patient with rambunctious children.

Golden Retrievers are confident, smart, loyal, and kind. A typical Golden Retriever is patient and neither aggressive nor timid. They need a lot of exercise and love to play.

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the USA and many other countries. The Labrador is playful, loving, patient, protective, and reliable.

Newfoundlands are huge and loving. The breed has been nicknamed “Nature’s Babysitter” and is known for being kind, gentle, and patient. The Newfoundland is also very protective when it comes to children.

Poodles are extremely intelligent and gentle. They make great service dogs, and are wonderful, good-natured, and patient companions for children. While poodles require regular grooming, they shed very little.

The Vizsla requires a lot of exercise and makes a great breed for active and energetic families with older children. The average Vizsla is energetic but gentle, obedient, loyal, confident, and smart. It forms close bonds with the family and would be happy to follow the children everywhere.


Water safety in the pool

A White Swiss Shepherd needs a large PlexiDor dog doorMany dogs love to swim, whether it’s in a lake or in a swimming pool, but even if your dog is a natural born swimmer he or she might need a little extra help. Here are some easy tips on staying safe in the pool.

Pay attention

Even if your dog is good at swimming, never leave a dog unsupervised in the pool. It’s easy to get distracted, but keep your eyes on the dog. If something happens they might not be able to bark for help. Drowning is a silent death both for people and pets.

Start slowly and build confidence

Most dogs are cautious the first times in a swimming pool. Start slowly and let your furry friend build confidence.

Keep track of the time

Swimming is great exercise, but it’s important to limit the time your dog spends in the pool. Especially older dogs and puppies often underestimate how tired they are. Even dogs in their prime might be using new muscles when swimming, and can tire quickly. Start with brief dips in the pool and increase the time gradually.

Teach your dog how to get out of the pool

Some pools have steps on one side. It is important to teach your dog where they are, because it’s impossible for a doggie to get from the water up on the ledge. Other pools only have a ladder. It is possible to teach a dog how to use a ladder, but it doesn’t come naturally to them, so this might take some time. Patient practice makes perfect!


When the swim is over it’s important to rinse off all pool water – otherwise your dog might lick it off and ingest chemicals. Chlorine and other pool chemicals can also irritate the skin.  Also make sure to dry the ears. You can dab them gently with a soft towel.

Have fun, and enjoy the summer!

Bring your dog to work day

Bonnie inspects sliding tracks on a PlexiDor and points out that they should be white and not silver when mounted on a white frame.

June 20, 2014 is Bring your dog to work day. The event started in 1999 and was founded by Pet Sitters International as a means to promote pet adoptions. Participation has exploded; the first year less than 300 businesses took part, and this year over 300,000 visitors have looked at the website.

Bringing a pet along isn’t always possible. Some workplaces are poorly suited for four-footed friends, and in other places allergies might make it unsuitable. When it is possible,  bringing a dog gives benefits. Pets lower stress and blood pressure, create a focal point for conversation, inspire walks and exercise, and cheer people up.

Some companies encourage bringing pets all around the year, and some larger corporations provide doggie daycare to employees.

What do you think? Would you bring a pet if you could?


Prepare for serious weather

Prepare for tornado seasonLarge parts of the USA anticipate summer with a mix of dread and joy. Summer is great, but would be better without tornadoes and hurricanes. Every year pets are separated from their humans during difficult weather. Some come back, other families keep searching for years with no luck.

One example is the Bring Hanah Home movement who has searched for a a dog ripped from her human’s arms in the Joplin tornado three years ago. Hanah has been spotted after the tornado, but despite offering large rewards she still hasn’t been found.

Tornadoes are scary because they arrive so quickly. Hurricanes usually give warning and time to prepare or leave the area. When it comes to weather, there are never any guarantees, but there are things to do that will improve the chances of getting out of severe weather unscathed.

Prepare for the pets

Make a pet-friendly emergency plan. Know not just where the nearest storm shelter is, but where the nearest pet-friendly storm shelter is. Also, put together a disaster kit with basic pet supplies and medications. It should contain enough to get by for three days.

If you have to go to the storm shelter, bringing the pet’s favorite treats, toys, and bedding can help ease some of the stress.

Know where you have your carrier

Smaller animals – particularly cats – have an eerie ability to disappear when you need to find them. Keep your carrier available and easy to reach. Put the pets in the carrier when the weather starts to look bad. It’s better to have them in the carrier and not have to go than to rush around the house looking for them.


It’s a good idea to take dogs to the storm shelter on a regular basis. If they’re used to the area and environment they won’t be so stressed when you have to be there.

Wear identification

Despite our best intentions, pets often get separated from their owners in emergency situations. Make sure they wear a collar or harness with their rabies tag and identifying information. Also, make sure that your pets are microchipped. It is a quick and easy procedure that can make the difference between going home or ending up in a county shelter where you might not find them.

Cats might be even smarter than we think

CatThere’s no doubt that cats are smart. They are quick to learn and have evolved for thousands of years to observe the world and make intelligent decisions. A cat’s brain structure is actually about 90 percent similar to a human’s.

According to Psychology Today, cats have around 300 million neurons while a dog has around 160 million. Cats also have more nerve cells in visual areas of the brain than humans and most other mammals. In plain English that means that they have a well developed center for rational decision making and complex problem solving. This area of the brain is involved in planning, interpretation of communication, and memory.

If cats are so smart, why don’t we have service cats leading people with impaired vision, or police cats finding hidden drugs?

Cats find motivation in discovering personal benefit. “What’s in it for me?” They base decisions on what to do and when depending on what it can get them. They are more impulsive than dogs, and less patient. If something doesn’t reward them, they’ll move on and do something else.

Dogs are more socially adapted and will work for a treat or to make their human happy. Cats can solve more difficult problems, but only if they feel like it.