Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cell Phones and "Vicious" Dogs?!

If you watch TV, or even if you don't, you probably know about one cell phone company's commercial showing someone going over a fence and having to avoid Pitbulls in order to get their newest cell phone. It is completely offensive to anyone who loves dogs. There are those who will tell you that there is no such thing as a "Pitbull" and that is essentially true. There are "Bully" breeds and there are some crosses that look like anything but an alleged "Pitbull."  What this commercial is doing is further demonizing dogs.

The dogs are chained and portrayed in every possible way to be vicious. The company refuses to remove the ad. There is an ugly tendency now to castigate some dogs because of the way they look. It has been carried to such an extreme that it isn't unusual for someone walking a little Pug or Boston Terrier to be stopped on the street and asked if it's a "Pitbull." 

Many breeds have gone through similar experiences and been falsely labeled as "vicious." Any dog can bite. They have teeth and no other way to defend themselves but to paint all dogs with one brush is as bad as saying that all people are the same, all cars are the same, all horses are the same, well, you get the idea.

If I hadn't already left that cell phone service provider for another last year I would certainly leave them now in protest, opting to vote with my dollars.

What is as offensive as the commercial is the fact that the company won't acknowledge their mistake, apologize and move on, creating better relations with the dog-owning public.  

Are there bad dogs? Of course!  Any dog can be turned into a defensive animal but there are far more good dogs whose owners love them, train them properly, and care for them as family members. Those people buy cell phones and cell phone service, too. And I suspect once they realize what is happening they may opt for another provider.  

Time will tell. Meanwhile, I'm just one more voice asking that this commercial be taken off the air. Now. Please.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Help Your Cat Find His Way Home

For longer than I count, dog owners have always turned over every leaf and stone searching for their lost pets. Cat owners, who were even more likely to allow their pets to roam seldom used to look for their lost felines, assuming they'd run away or found a new home. It's really hard to fathom that attitude these days although I suspect some people may still feel that way.

I now see nearly as many posters for missing cats as I do for dogs. Still there is a good way to help ensure that your lost pet will be reunited with his family: microchipping. It is becoming nearly as popular for cats as it is for dogs but we still need to make more people aware of microchipping, especially cat owners.

One microchip company, Home Again, has gone the extra mile for cats and their people, not only providing a safety net of microchipping but helping in another way as well. Home Again Proactive Pet Recovery Network has promised to donate $1. to the Winn Feline Health Foundation for every cat microchipped and enrolled in Home Again during the months of June, July and August. You still have time to take advantage of the company's generosity in helping feline health studies while taking that extra step to provide for your own cat's recovery in case he is lost.

While some cats wear a collar, a cat who gets loose can easily lose his collar and thus his tag as means of identification. Microchipping provides that added measure of security. If your cat is taken to a shelter or veterinary hospital, he can be scanned for a microchip, his number can be called in to Home Again and the owner will be notified.

It's sad to think that microchipped cats are fewer in number than microchipped dogs. It's a relatively inexpensive and painless way to protect your beloved companion. And by taking advantage of Home Again's generous donation offer, you'll be helping all cats have healthier lives through Winn Feline Foundation's studies which will greatly benefit from Home Again's generosity. They will be as generous as you are a responsible owner when you get your cat microchipped and enrolled in Home Again by the end of August.

Feel free to visit: to learn more about this 40 year old non-profit's work. The organization was established by the Cat Fanciers' Association to promote the health and welfare of cats through research and education.

Also be sure to visit: which is a subsidiary of Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I'll admit that I was intrigued when I first learned about The site brings pet lovers together and helps raise funds for needy animal projects. Started with a bang, they had a contest for a shelter makeover contest. New members began flocking to the site daily, voting for their favorite shelters, reviewing products and news stories, connecting with others, sharing pet photos and more. Zootoo's president, Richard Thompson (known as Topcat on the site) has fashioned a very special website.

They had hired my friend, Dr. Jill Richardson and she went to work with a determination seldom seen. Fueled by her natural enthusiasm for all things animal, she began creating groups. I soon had one. How? I don't know. You have to know Jill to understand. LOL She's one-woman energy-generator. She has tons of ideas and she knows how to get things done.

I had the pleasure of finally visiting's offices in New Jersey yesterday, on my way to PA where I will be teaching all day tomorrow. I'm a learning facilitator in Kutztown University's Dog Training and Management Program.

Just about everyone at zootoo has pets, if not in the office, then at home. Fish, pocket pets, dogs, cats. They run the gamut. Tank, the English Bulldog who arrives with his owner every day, holds court throughout the offices, as the mood strikes him. He's a much-loved dog who knows that he's everyone's darling.

From Jill's enthusiasm sprang a brand new photo contest that zootoo and I are hosting. Do you have America's Smartest Dog? Want to enter? Want to know what you'll win? Then follow this link to the contest on zootoo:

While you're there, sign up, select the local shelter and rescue group that you want to help support. Surf around and see all of the neat things has to offer pet owners. You won't regret the time spent there.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

No So Merry Olde This Time....

One of the reasons I was in New Mexico was to help a friend ship a foster cat to his owners in the U.K. They had been called back to Scotland and had hired a "professional" company at great expense because they said they weren't the cheapest but they were the best. Uh huh. Following the Defra website rules for getting a cat or dog into the U.K., you must first have the animal microchipped, then she or he must be given a Rabies injection, then wait and get a titer which can only be done at one lab in the U.S. having U.K. approval, the one at Kansas State University. Then, no more than 48 and no less than 24 hours before shipping on an approved carrier, a veterinarian must give the cat or dog flea and tick treatment as well as deworming whether they need it or not. The veterinarian must sign off on all paperwork which is then taken by the individual shipping said dog or cat, to the USDA office for their veterinarian to approve the paperwork. The "professional" managed to do the Rabies vaccination before the microchipping. The cat got all the way to England where his owners were to pick him up at Gatwick Airport and was refused entry. The owners were told that the cat would be killed rather than allowed in. A frantic e-mail was sent to my friend asking if poor Victor could be sent back to her to await redoing of all of the above. Another 6 months. Well, of course! This cost the owners another $800. Plus the money from the "professionals" was not only not refunded but there was no apology. The company is part of a larger group of "professionals" but that group is unresponsive as well.

My friend had been reading the Defra website for months to assure that all would go well this time. I read it for weeks. We followed everything to the letter (a little irony there that you'll soon understand) so that Victor could go on the Pet Passport Scheme. Ha, the word "scheme" should have been a clue! Yes, I know it has a different meaning in the U.K. I've been there enough times to be consider bilingual. ;-)

Victor and his paperwork went to the local veterinarian my friend uses and received yet another rabies vaccination. Two in one year which isn't a good thing. After I arrived he had his de-worming, flea and tick treatments and I watched as the veterinarian and his tech carefully went over all the paperwork to ensure that everything was in order. Next on the agenda: we drove to the USDA office where their veterinarians approved all of the paperwork. They said it was in perfect order and signed off on it. So far, so good, right? So we thought....

Victor had his reservation to fly to his owners who were anxiously awaiting his arrival. They'd bought him a new bed. He had been theirs before they had their child and had waited a long time to be reunited with Victor.

My friend made many calls to the receiving person at Gatwick to be reassured that all was well on that end.

Whatever possessed my friend to fax the paperwork to the Defra office in the U.K. I'll never know but thank heavens she did and we didn't put the cat on the plane. They were -- wait for it -- refusing him entrance! Why? Well, it seems that the letter "A" appeared before his microchip number on the Kansas State University form but is not on the microchip itself when the animal is scanned. The "A" is not the Scarlet Letter from Hawthorne's book. No, it stands for Avid, the manufacturer of chip the cat has and would make it easier to know which reader to use. All other numbers match. Everything.

As another friend put it quite succinctly: the cat is being held hostage in the United States by the British Government.

Victor is now 11 years old. A third Rabies vaccination and another 6 months of repeating everything for a third time is not recommended by my friend's veterinarian. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend it, either. Neither would my friend but it was left up to the owners. They sadly agreed. Our hope is that they will adopt a needy cat in Victor's name.

What I do recommend is that if you are thinking of shipping a cat or dog to the U.K. for any purpose whatsoever, that you think twice. We are perfectly capable of reading and following directions. (Two award winning writers so we certainly have that skill!), a series of well-educated and informed veterinarians approved, even the USDA and we couldn't do it. Plus there's the expense. For what? How many dogs have been rejected who were headed to the U.K. to be shown at Crufts? How many dogs and cats are shipped to breeders each year and how many make it into the country? How many are rejected?

The outcome, by the way, is that the owners are heartbroken, as is to be expected. My friend, the owners and I cried on both sides of the Atlantic. This made us sick in every possible way.

I know others who've had similar problems but I foolishly thought that by following their list of rules it could be done. Silly me. I hadn't counted on the whims of bureaucrats.

Victor will live out his days much loved in my friend's home with her cats and dogs. But he's not with his owners who desperately want him. And all because of the letter "A."