Is It Abuse?

September 13th, 2016

We are all aware of pets dying after being left in hot cars and the sight of animals being physically abused, starved or neglected.  These are obvious examples of animal abuse.  But what constitutes abuse?  How does one know when to interfere or take action?  Legally the definition of animal abuse differs by state.  But below are a five freedoms of animals based on the Farm Animal Welfare Guidelines developed for cattle in the United Kingdom in 1979 which help define whether an animal is considered to be suffering and therefore, perhaps abused.

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst.  Animals should be provided with adequate fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor.
  2. Freedom from discomfort.  Animals should be provided with shelter and a comfortable resting area in an appropriate environment.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease.  Animals should have appropriate health care including disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behavior.  Animals should be provided with sufficient space, proper facilities and company of its own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress.  Conditions and treatment of animals should ensure that mental suffering is avoided.

According to experts, failure to provide any of these conditions can constitute suffering and could potentially be considered abuse.

Many of these cases may be inadvertent, pet owners not being knowledgeable about animal care or being in a situation where they are unable to care for an animal’s needs.  In those cases perhaps all the pet owners need is some guidance or help in caring for their animals.  We should all be advocates for animals and be mindful of the treatment they receive and the conditions in which they exist.  In cases of true abuse, the authorities should be contacted as soon as possible and as often as necessary to get results.

Remember, as the great Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Honoring Our Military Canines

June 21st, 2016

10 Things You May Not Know About Military Dogs

10 Things You May Not Know About Military DogsPin

1. Dogs have been in combat with US soldiers during every major conflict, but they were not officially recognized until WWII.

sgt stubby

PinSergeant Stubby of the 102nd Infantry, Yankee Division went from mascot to hero during WWI after being smuggled into battle by Private J. Robert Conway. Stubby went on to detect enemy gas, bark out warnings when rival troops were near and locate the wounded on the battlefield. By the start of WWII, the military had recognized the value canine soldiers could bring and began using them primarily for recon. Stubby forged the way for all canine soldiers who followed and remains a symbol of military bravery and heroism to this day.

Check out Stubby’s full story at

2. They are trained in bomb, weapon and drug detection, tracking, and to attack the enemy.

bomb dog

PinLackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX has been training sentry dogs since 1958. details the manpower and dogpower that goes into training the amazing pups of the Department of Defense Military Working Dogs Training School (DoD MWD) at Lackland. Today, more than 1,000 dogs are trained at any given time by a staff of 125 from all branches of military service. The complex training techniques are designed to utilize the dogs’ natural gifts for focus and aggression to their advantage. German Shepherds and Labradors can detect weapons, bombs, gases and drugs more accurately than any available military equipment.

3. There are about 2500 dogs in active service today and about 700 deployed overseas.


PinMilitary dogs play an integral role in the current overseas conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Stewart Hilliard, Chief of Military War Dog evaluation and training at Lackland Air Force Base told San Antonio Magazine in 2013, “These dogs are among our most effective counter measures against terrorists and explosives.”

4. 85% of military working dogs are purchased from Germany and the Netherlands.

A Belarussian military instructor trains a labrador puppy at a frontier guards' cynology centre near the town of Smorgon

PinThe 2013 article “Canines in Combat” from San Antonio Magazine notes that the bloodlines of these dogs go back hundreds of years, making these pups literally “born for the job.” The Air Force Security Center, Army Veterinary Corps, and the 341st Training Squadron are combining their efforts here in the States to breed suitable dogs for military service. Currently the other 15% of working dogs are USA born and bred, and the military hopes to increase this number.

5. They are extremely valuable, and not just for their service.


PinAccording to retired Air Force K9 Handler, Louis Robinson, a fully trained bomb detection dog is likely worth over $150,000. But really, these animals are priceless. With an average of 98% accuracy in their detection skills, the peace of mind they provide to the troops is immeasurable. Robinson resides in Phoenix, AZ and runs Robinson Dog Training. He’s using the extensive skills he learned as a Military Police K9 handler to help civilian dogs learn basic obedience,  search and rescue, therapy skills and advanced protection training.

6. Only about 50% make it through training.

Total Force MWD training

PinMilitary working dogs are not just chosen for their breeding or the keenness of their sense of smell, they must possess several other qualities. They must be free of physical issues like hip dysplasia and be highly reward motivated. Trainers at Lackland use mostly toys like Kongs that can be hidden to represent bombs, but treats are also utilized. Suitable dogs for military service must also be able to attack on command. Pups have actually been dropped from the program due to extreme stress at having to bite a human. Military dogs must have just the right level of aggression and excitability.

7. They aren’t all German Shepherds.

belgian malinois

PinWhen we think about military dogs, muscular German Shepherds tend to come to mind. But several different breeds have shown patriotic heroism over the years. Many branches use the highly trainable Labrador Retriever. The elite US Navy SEALS use the Belgian Malinois, a breed similar to the German Shepherd, but smaller. These dogs are incredibly compact and fast with a sense of smell 40 times greater than that of a human. Their small stature make them ideal for parachuting and repelling missions with their handlers. The SEALS were accompanied by a Belgian Malinois named Cairo during their raid on Osama Bin Laden in 2013.

8. They can get PTSD.


PinJust like their human brothers and sisters in arms, pup soldiers are susceptible to the horrors of PTSD. War dogs experience severe emotional trauma during deployment, and for some it becomes too much. Gunner, a Marine bomb sniffing dog became so skittish and unpredictable during active duty that he was declared “surplus” by the military and released from service. Gunner was adopted by the family of Corporal Jason Dunham who was killed near the Syrian border in 2004. He and the Dunhams are working on healing together.

9. They mourn the loss of their handler and vice versa.

lost handler

PinIn Rebecca Frankel’s book, War Dogs she explores the remarkable bond that develops between service dog and handler. One such pair was Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Ashley and “Sirius”. They were the number one team during training at Yuma military base, but tragically Josh was killed by an IED just two months after deploying to Afghanistan. “Sirius” at first refused to take commands from his new handler and showed significant signs of agitation at the loss of his partner. Such stories are all too common among canine and handler teams.

dog bowls

PinIf a dog of war is lost in combat, he or she is honored by the entire squad. Feeding dishes are symbolically placed upside down and a poem called Guardians of the Night is read in their honor.

10. Until November 2000, military dogs were euthanized or abandoned after retirement.

2013 North Dakota Peace Officer Association K-9 Police Trials

PinBefore this time service dogs were considered “military surplus equipment” and deemed unfit to adjust to civilian life. These heroes were thrown away or put down instead of honored. President Clinton passed “Robby’s Law” in 2000 which allows handlers and their families first dibs at adopting military animals at the end of their useful service. The dogs are next offered to law enforcement, then adoptive families. Organizations like place these retired heroes with suitable families and ensure they are given the honorable discharge they deserve. There are currently long waiting lists of civilians who want to give these veterans a loving home in which to retire.

Featured image via Kevin Hanrahan and H/t via, and The Wall

Purina Dog Food Recall

March 16th, 2016

Purina recalls wet dog food for possible nutrient deficiencies

Three product lines affected; items were sold across the United States and Canada.

Mar 14, 2016

By staff


Purina has issued a voluntary recall of three product lines due to possible nutrient deficiencies after internal quality testing found that some 10-oz wet dog food tubs may not contain the recommended level of added vitamins and minerals, according to a company release. The items were manufactured in only one Purina facility and were sold across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

The lines affected are sold under the Beneful Prepared Meals, Beneful Chopped Blends and Pro Plan Savory Meals brands. A full list of recalled product is below:

Beneful Prepared Meals—10-oz tubs

Item name UPC code “Best by” date range Production code range
Beef Stew 17800-10965 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Chicken Stew 17800-12861 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Simmered Beef Entrée 17800-10963 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Simmered Chicken Medley 17800-10964 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Beef & Chicken Medley 17800-12859 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Roasted Chicken Recipe 17800-10764 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Roasted Turkey Medley 17800-10968 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Savory Rice & Lamb Stew 17800-10967 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054


Beneful Chopped Blends—10-oz tubs

Item name UPC code “Best by” date range Production code range
With Beef, Carrots Peas & Barley 17800-15494 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
With Chicken, Carrots, Peas & Wild Rice 17800-15496 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
With Lamb, Brown Rice, Carrots, Tomato, Spinach 17800-15498 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
With Chicken, Liver, Peas, Brown Rice, Sweet Potato 17800-16960 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
With Salmon, Sweet Potato, Brown Rice, Spinach 17800-16962 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
With Turkey, Sweet potato, Brown Rice, Spinach 17800-16966 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054


Pro Plan Savory Meals—10-oz tubs

Item name UPC code “Best by” date range Production code range
Braised Chicken Entrée 38100-16148 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Braised Pork Entrée 38100-16151 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Braised Turkey Entrée 38100-16147 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Grilled Salmon Entrée 38100-16155 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054
Braised Beef and Rice Entrée 38100-16143 June 2017 to August 2017 5363 to 6054


Pet owners who have the recalled product should discontinue feeding it to their pet and contact customer service by calling (800) 877-7019 to request a refund.

No other Purina products or sizes are affected, the company states. Owners who have 10-oz tubs of other brand lines can continue to feed those to their pets.

“Do” Right by Your 4-legged Valentine!

February 9th, 2016

Valentine’s Day Pet Dos and Don’ts: 5 Tips all Pet Families Need to Know!

By Dr. Charlotte Flint

Senior Consulting Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology


Roses are red

Violets are blue,

My pet deserves

A happy Valentine’s Day, too!


Valentine’s Day is all about love, and we know how much you love your pet! Chances are your furry family member is going to get some Valentine’s snuggles this year and maybe even a gift of its own. The human family members of your house may also be getting gifts this year, some of which may be highly toxic to your furry friends. Check out our tips on how to show your love without spending Valentine’s weekend in the ER.


Do keep Valentine’s Day chocolate away from pets!

Who doesn’t love a big box of chocolate for Valentine’s Day? Unfortunately, dogs are more than happy to help themselves to chocolate if given the opportunity! Calls involving pets ingesting milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and chocolate baked goods were the top three most common exposures handled by Pet Poison Helpline in February of 2014 and 2015.  Chocolate ingestion by dogs can result in agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, tachycardia, tremors, and seizures, depending on the dose ingested.


If your pet gets into chocolate, don’t despair! Know that Pet Poison Helpline’s veterinary experts are available 24/7 to help assess the risk and, if needed, to help your veterinarian set up an appropriate and individualized treatment plan for your love.


Don’t forget the less obvious Valentine’s Day dangers!

Cat owners should check all flower bouquets closely for lilies (i.e. Lilium), such as Easter lilies, stargazer lilies, tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies, and Oriental lilies as these flowers can be deadly to cats (although they are safe for dogs). Even exposure to lily pollen and water from a vase of lilies can result in rapid onset kidney failure when ingested by cats. Learn more about lily poisoning by visiting our website, ‘No Lilies for Kitties!’(  Here you’ll find a short video about lily poisoning, lists of toxic and less-toxic lilies, and safer cut-flower options. Also be careful with ribbons and bows on flowers and balloons, as they can cause dangerous intestinal foreign bodies when ingested by pets.


We all know chocolate can be toxic to dogs, but there are other people foods which can also be harmful for our canine companions. Macadamia nuts, coffee beans, grapes, and raisins are particularly dangerous for dogs with the latter two causing kidney failure. The toxicity of these foods increases they’re chocolate covered. Also, be aware of the potential for xylitol in sugar-free candies, chocolates, and baked goods. While this natural sweetener is not toxic to people, it’s highly toxic to dogs, resulting in rapid onset hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and potentially, liver failure.


Finally, all pets can be sensitive to alcohol, so keep alcoholic drinks out of reach.  If you overdo it on Valentine’s Day, be certain to put the ibuprofen and other NSAIDs away and out of reach, too. Ibuprofen was a top five toxin in both February of 2014 and 2015.


Do find safe gifts to show your pet Valentine’s Day love! 

A new collar, treats, or toys can all be great gifts for pets on Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day can also be a great time to try a new dog or cat treat recipe or make a new toy. Also consider giving toys, bedding, food, or a donation to an animal shelter or rescue group in your pet’s name!


Don’t forget that many pets appreciate the gift of time and love more than anything!

An extra walk and some extra time cuddling or playing costs nothing and will be greatly appreciated by your cat, dog, or other pets.  The extra exercise and snuggle time is a healthy, happy choice for you as well.


Do share the love!

Valentine’s Day can be a lonely holiday for many people.  This could be a great time to visit an animal shelter and donate your time and attention to rescued pets.  While I do not recommend giving pets as gifts, if you have been thinking about adding a furry friend to your household, Valentine’s Day could be a great time to adopt.  Maybe a visit with your pet could help brighten the day of someone you know who is unable to have their own dog or cat.  This could also be a great time to look into getting your dog certified as a Canine Good Citizen or therapy dog to help others.


Happy Valentine’s Day from Pet Poison Helpline!

When ordering Valentine’s flowers for your sweetie, remember ‘No Lilies for Kitties!’

Less than 30% of the 36 million cat owners in the U.S. know that the beautiful stargazer and Asiatic lilies lurking in their Valentine’s Day bouquet can kill their cats.  Ingestion of just one petal, leaf, or even the pollen, can cause kidney failure in less than three days. This lack of awareness, coupled with the popularity of the flowers, results in thousands of feline poisonings and deaths each year. Learn more about lily poisoning from our ‘No Lilies for Kitties!’ campaign (  Here you’ll find a one minute video about lily poisoning, photos of toxic lilies, and safer cut-flower options.

Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center based out of Minneapolis, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals that require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. The staff provides treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $49 per incident includes follow-up consultation for the duration of the poison case. Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at


December 2nd, 2015

Blue Buffalo voluntarily recalls bones due to possible Salmonella contamination

Potentially affected product was sold at PetSmart stores in nine states.
Dec 01, 2015
By staff

Blue Buffalo is voluntarily recalling one lot of Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews Bones due to possible Salmonella contamination, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) release. The product was sold beginning on November 19 at PetSmart stores located in California, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The recalled product comes individually shrink-wrapped with an expiration date of November 4, 2017, printed as “exp 110417 on the plastic wrap and a UPC number of 840243110087, which is located on a sticker, according to the release.

Consumers should look at the UPC code and expiration date to determine if the product they have is subject to the recall. Those who possess affected product are urged to dispose of it or return it to the place of purchase for a refund. Routine testing at the manufacturing site revealed the presence of Salmonella in the product, and no illnesses have been reported to date, the release states.

For additional information or questions contact Blue Buffalo at 888-641-9736 or by emailing


November 12th, 2015

Blue Buffalo recalls cat treats due to possible propylene glycol contamination

Affected product distributed nationwide in the United States and Canada.
Nov 09, 2015
By staff

Blue Buffalo Co. is voluntarily recalling a small production of Blue Kitty Yums Chicken Recipe Cat Treats that could contain low levels of propylene glycol, which is not permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in cat food, according to a company release. Cats who have ingested high doses of propylene glycol may exhibit signs of depression and may experience a loss of coordination, muscle twitching, excessive urination and thirst.

The affected product was distributed nationwide in the United States and Canada through pet specialty stores and e-commerce. It is packaged in a 2-oz plastic standup pouch and is limited to the code dates listed below, according to the release.

Blue Kitty Yums Tasty Chicken Recipe, UPC: 859610007820—best if used by April 24, 2016.
Blue Kitty Yums Tasty Chicken Recipe, UPC: 859610007820—best if used by July 24, 2016.

No other Blue pet foods or treats are involved in this recall. The FDA tested product in response to a singular complaint and found propylene glycol in one bag of cat treats in the impacted lot. Out of caution the company is recalling all treats manufactured in the same lot as the subject bag, the release states.

Consumers who have purchased the product being recalled can return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or contact Blue Buffalo with questions by calling 888-667-1508, or emailing


June 30th, 2015

Fear of Fireworks

Becky Lundgren, DVM

Summer is full of celebrations involving fireworks. Canada has Canada Day on July 1, the USA has Independence Day on July 4, and France has Bastille Day on July 14. Dogs and cats react to fireworks as individuals. Some aren’t upset by the explosions, and others get hurt by panicking and jumping through closed windows or bolting through doors to get away from the terrifying noise and lights.

American pet advocacy groups point out that the number of escapees is so high that Independence Day is the busiest day of the year in shelters — and that many pets get lost, injured, or killed. You should know which clinics or emergency hospitals will be open during fireworks season, in case you need one, as this will help you avoid time delays and stress.

Your pets will do better if they’re not left home alone during fireworks events. That’s not always feasible, so think ahead before leaving them alone.

Signs of anxiety can include pacing, trembling, panting, drooling, attention-seeking (vocalizing, pawing, nuzzling, and climbing on people), hiding, and bolting. Escape attempts tend to involve hiding behind furniture, and staying in a basement or bathroom. Because the source of the noise is confusing, inside dogs may want to escape to the outside, and outside dogs may be frantic to get inside.

Nervous pets tend to drink more water, so keep more available than usual. (And remember, these summer events usually mean hotter weather, and the likelihood of power problems, so extra water is already a good idea.) Bring outside pets inside, so they can’t bolt. Keep your cats securely inside, and if your dog needs a potty break during the fireworks, take him outside on a leash, even in a fenced yard. Make sure all your pets are wearing an ID tag or a collar that contains your phone number. Tags and collars can be lost, so a microchip is even more useful in helping you find your lost pet.

Drug-Free Remedies

What can you do to keep your frightened pet safe and calm? For many frightened pets, just staying in a crate (as long as they are used to one) or in a “safe” room with a closed door is all that’s needed.

Synthetic pheromone sprays such as Feliway  for cats and Adaptil (formerly called D.A.P.) for dogs are available at pet stores. These sprays imitate the properties of the natural pheromones of the lactating female that gives kittens or puppies a sense of well-being.

An herbal relaxant called Composure comes in chews or liquid for dogs; the feline version is in chews.
Some pets respond to pressure wraps, such as Thundershirts or Anxiety Wraps. The pressure on the body may have a calming effect.

Ear muffs to muffle sound are also available.

Calming caps cover a dog’s eyes to reduce visual stimulation.

If you can plan ahead for these summer events, veterinary behaviorists often recommend behavior modification, classical counter conditioning, and teaching a desirable coping response.

In behavior modification, controlling the intensity of the fireworks is necessary and often the most challenging part. While it often isn’t possible to expose a fearful dog to only “little fireworks,” controlling other factors can help. Distance from the fireworks can be less intimidating, as would be keeping the dog indoors.  Music may disguise the bursts of noise; consider loud music with a regular beat.

Classical counter conditioning can create a positive association with fireworks if the anxiety isn’t extreme. Give high-value food rewards (canned food or peanut butter), offer your pet his favorite toys or food puzzle toys, or have your pet practice his tricks with you. The goal is for him to learn that fireworks result in highly pleasant rewards.
You can teach a desirable coping response. The appropriate response for a dog facing something frightening is to retreat to a safe place until the frightening thing ends. Providing a safe retreat, such as a crate or a closet, will give security and confidence, although selecting the location is up to the pet. Blankets to muffle the sound and a pheromone diffuser will provide natural motivation for the dog to seek this location. Being able to cope when the world becomes overwhelming is a life skill essential for both people and dogs!  Hiding is not a sign of a problem, if the pet quickly returns to a normal behavior when the fireworks are over.


It’s easier to prevent a fearful reaction than it is to reverse one. If your pet is nervous around loud, unexpected noises, a short-term sedative before the fireworks start may be just the ticket. Talk to your veterinarian ahead of time, so you can have something on hand to give your pet before the fireworks start. Some medications often used for fireworks or thunderstorm phobias in dogs are Xanax and Valium.
Some severely anxious pets may benefit from drugs like clomipramine or fluoxetine that increase the level of serotonin. However, these drugs can take several weeks, if not more, to build up to an effective level, so this is not spur-of-the-moment fix.

You have many choices of how to help your pet cope with fireworks stress.  Talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your pet. Hopefully, everyone in the family will then be able enjoy the holiday!


June 2nd, 2015
   TAHC Urges Livestock and Pet Owners to Protect Their Animals Before Disaster Strikes


AUSTIN – With the rain, flooding and tornados across our state, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) the state’s lead agency for all animal issues during disasters, reminds Texans that the Atlantic hurricane season began Monday, June 1 and continues through November 30.  Jeff Turner, TAHC Emergency Management Director stated, “Tropical storm systems present one of the most severe threats to animals – and not just those along the coast.  As these systems move inland, they bring torrential rains, flooding, high winds and tornados.”  These events can certainly impact animal health and welfare so taking steps now to prepare may prevent or minimize the impact on animal health and property damage.  Now is the time to take steps to prepare your livestock, poultry and pets before disaster strikes.

All animals are vulnerable to issues associated with torrential rains and floods.  “Behind every animal disaster is a human disaster due to the special relationship people develop with their animal s, whether they are livestock or pets,” said Dr. T.R. Lansford, TAHC Assistant Executive Director.  Such events can easily impact both animal and human health. Proper planning and preparedness are key in preventing or minimizing the loss of livestock and pets. Stay informed and protect your livestock and pets against potential severe weather threats.

Make plans for your livestock and pets in case you need to evacuate your home or ranch. Remember that disasters often displace animals left behind so it is imperative that you have a way to identify your animal(s). Ear tags, microchips, brands, contact information attached to halters/collars, and pictures of you with your animal are good ways to prove ownership after a disaster.

In addition to your personal disaster kit, put together supplies that may be needed for your livestock/pets.

A livestock/pet disaster kit may include:

* A waterproof container in which to store feed and equipment

* A one week supply of feed

* A one week supply of water

* Copies of veterinary records, breed registry and any paperwork proving ownership

* An emergency contact list

* First aid kit

* Detailed diet and medication instructions

* Maps of local area with possible evacuation routes

The TAHC is the State’s lead agency for all animal issues during disasters. The TAHC coordinates planning and training activities with local jurisdictions, state and federal agencies, industry partners, and non-governmental organizations, to ensure the state’s livestock and poultry industries, and companion, service and assistive animal owners are prepared.

In addition to planning activities, the TAHC assists local jurisdictions with response issues like conducting animal search and rescue operations, animal identification, damage assessments; addressing animal care, evacuation, and sheltering; and coordinating carcass disposal activities through partnerships with stakeholders like the veterinary community, other state agencies, and industry groups. The TAHC also offers specialized response capabilities like the Horseback Emergency Response Team.

For more information on how to protect your livestock when a disaster occurs, read the TAHC brochure, Protecting Livestock When Disaster Strikes at .

For more information on how to protect your companion, service, and assistive animals please visit:




The New Crime “Pet Flipping”

April 14th, 2015

“To err is human, to forgive, canine.” – anonymous

Pet Flipping.  It sounds like a cute circus trick, dogs jumping in the air and turning somersaults.  But it’s no laughing matter.  The crime of stealing a dog, then selling it or holding it ransom is on the rise.  The trend has increased steadily over the past few years.  Just from January through March of 2014, the incidence of pet flipping rose over 27%!  Many stories are published about this crime.  In some cases, thieves will steal a pet, then contact the owner and demand a ransom for the pet’s return.  In other instances, pets are stolen and put up for sale, usually on Craig’s List, with the thief acting as the owner or breeder.  Either way it’s a crime and a heartbreaking occurrence for the owner.

Breeds that are most commonly stolen are Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Maltese, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Labradoodles, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds and Labradors.  I makes sense that the smaller dogs are among the most likely to be “picked up” literally.  It is an easy grab and a quick get-away and most of these little dogs are very approachable.  Pit Bulls and German Shepherds, while also a high-risk breed for thievery, can be intimidating to approach and difficult to get away with quickly.  While Labradors, due to their affable nature, will pretty much go with anyone.

There are precautions you can take to reduce the chances of you and your dog being a victim of Pet Flippers and Thieves.  1.  Never leave your dog unattended.  This doesn’t mean you have to have your pet attached to you every minute of the day.  But you should not leave them in your yard if no one is home and especially if your yard is not fenced.  Nor should you leave your pet alone in your car, even if your are just going to be gone for a few minutes to run errands.  2.  Be sure your pet is microchipped.  This will help you get your pet back if it is stolen.  Once reported, police and local veterinarians and shelters can be on the watch for your pet and scan any animal that is presented fitting its description.  A unique microchip registered in your name is also an indisputable way to prove that pet is yours.  3. Know which breeds are more susceptible to being stolen.  4. Be prepared with phone numbers and websites of the police, local veterinarians, animal control and shelters.  If your dog goes missing, contact them immediately.  This will save time and increase the odds of you getting your dog back.  5.  Get references for dog-sitters before you hire them.  6.  If adopting or buying a pet, do so from a reputable source, breeder or shelter.  7. If you have pets to adopt out, check out the potential new owners before completing the deal.  Get references from their veterinarian and do a home visit before releasing any dog to a prospective owner.  8.  If your dog is stolen, monitor Craig’s list and other advertising sites to see if an ad turns up for a pet matching its description.

Vigilance and common sense are the weapons against this offense.  You don’t have to be paranoid, just careful.

Until next time keep your tail in the air and your nose in the breeze!



Miss P, the Beagle, wins Westminster

February 19th, 2015

“Miss P” is now the most well-known Beagle since Peanuts’ Snoopy.  Last night in the 139th Westminster Kennel Club dog show the four-year-old 15″ Beagle from British Columbia took top honors, following in the paw prints of her great uncle, “Uno”, who won in 2008.  “Miss P” beat more than 2,700 other dogs to become only the second Beagle and the 36th female to win the prestigious show.

edited beagleThe day after her victory, “Miss P” made an appearance on the Today show, had lunch at the famous Sardi’s, met with Donald Trump, rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, and will have a walk-on appearance in a Broadway show.  Afterwards, her owners say she will retire, settle down and raise a litter of pups…perhaps spawning the next Westminster-winning Beagle.

(Photo by Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images)