Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CSI now tracking down animal abusers

Getting away with harming animals has just gotten more difficult. A new mobile crime scene investigation (CSI) unit was launched recently by the ASPCA. It will open the organization's reach around the country to assist, hands-on, wherever law enforcement needs them to help build cases against people who need to be prosecuted for animal abuse, neglect or endangerment.

The 26-foot, fully-equipped van, will include all the regular crime scene supplies, equipment to treat animals found in life-threatening conditions, supplies to process blood and other kinds of evidence, grave detection equipment, a GPS unit and more.

This is the kind of positive news needed at the end of what was a long and cruel year for many animals.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pets are victims of domestic violence too

I worked at a domestic violence shelter a few years ago and once asked the director about the pets of the women who arrived in need. After all, many victims of domestic violence have been threatened with the harm or death of their dog or cat. Pets are at great risk in such instances. While not unsympathetic, the director shrugged her shoulders and said, "Well, we just don't have the facilities to care for animals too."

Since then, a lot of research has revealed a direct connection between animal and human abuse. If a woman is enduring someone who is hitting, slapping, burning or otherwise degrading her, chances are her children and the family pets are in danger as well.

And as with hurricanes, sometimes women won't leave a bad situation because they just don't want to leave the family pet behind. To many, the wrath of an abusive person is just as great as a major storm and a defenseless pet stands little to no chance of surviving if left behind.

Quigley House, a domestic violence shelter in Northeast Florida, may be one of the first in the country to finally address this matter. They've built 10 outdoor runs about 40 square feet in size to house client's pets. It's a terrific first step.

The shelter is initiating fundraising projects because they want to build another area where they can house animals not used to living outside. One of the events will be a charity poker run scheduled for December 1. There's a $10 entry fee. The ride will leave from Cracker's Lounge at 1282 Blanding Blvd. in Middleburg. To register or get more information, please call 904-272-4620 or just show up at Cracker's at 9 a.m.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Giant toads bad news for Florida dogs

Watch out for cane toads. They can cause canines considerable damage.

We humans think we've got it rough down here in Florida with the heat and the hurricanes, but there's plenty to make life difficult for our doggies too, such as alligators and fleas. The latest threat to their tranquility is the "Cane" toad, known to scientists as "bufo marinus" and generally referred to as the "giant toad."

Found weighing as much as 5 pounds, giant toads carry giant loads of venom in the large glands found along their bodies. There's enough toxin in an average giant toad to put even your large dog in peril if he gets too close. An animal can quickly become sick and could die from cardiac arrest within 15 minutes of coming into contact with the toad's toxins.

So far, cane toads have mainly been seen in South Florida, but they're an invasive species and have lately been showing up in the Tampa Bay area. Researchers expect them to continue moving around the sunshine state.

If your dog exhibits any combination of the following symptoms, he or she may have been poisoned by the venom of a giant toad and should be seen by a veterinarian immediately:

* Profuse salivation or foaming from the mouth
* Twitching
* Vomiting
* Shallow breathing
* Collapse of the hind limbs

TIP: Experts say you should flush your dog's mouth with water before dashing off to the vet's office.

You can learn more about the giant toad and ways to keep them away by checking out

Florida Exotic Species

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Who wins and who loses with rent-a-pooch?

Have you heard about the latest trend of renting a dog? It's said to be gaining popularity in California and is being touted as perfect for those upscale folks who are just too darned busy during the day or the week to care for an actual, live dog. Companies will rent out furry companionship to these poor, overworked people, giving them, of course, their choice of breed, size, sex and color.

Thankfully, there's only one company currently in the biz and they're charging clients like there's no tomorrow - a registration fee of about $300 PLUS a maintenance fee of around $50 per month PLUS another $24.95 per 24-hour visit from a dog who may visit someone else the next night and another the next. You get the picture.

My concern about such an arrangement is three-fold. How are these dogs cared for in between their rent-outs? And what happens to these dogs when they get too old or no longer cute enough to be used as a profitable commodity?

This isn't like going down to the local shelter and picking out a dog needing a good forever home. These dogs don't get homes. They get gigs, like freelance writers. They don't get to be anyone's forever companion. They get pimped out, used up, and then, well, who knows their fate?

I hope this renting of dogs idea poops out quickly. And if not, I hope animal welfare people will start keeping an eye out and stand at the ready to care for any dogs in need that are created by these businesses.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Palm Beach County considering mandatory sterilization

That's pets, not people...

Now that I have your attention, here is an issue worthy of discussion. Palm Beach County is sick of its pet overpopulation problem and is talking about the possibility of making it mandatory for pets to be spayed and neutered. Passage of such a law would be significant because there are only 50 other cities in the United States that have a mandatory spay/neuter policy.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, people in Palm Beach County, Florida, keep about 450,000 dogs and cats as pets, but only about half of those have been spayed or neutered. And that doesn't include any feral animals, of which few to none have been sterilized.

You know, by itself, having your pets spayed or neutered might not seem like a big deal. I mean, this is a free country and people should be able to decide whether or not they want their pets sterilized - or, indeed, if they can afford to have them spayed or neutered. Right?

Except that last year, animal control officers put to death 18,248 dogs and cats in Palm Beach County. More than 75,000 animals have met that fate in Palm Beach County since 2002.

Palm Beach County officials said they spend about $10 million a year on animal control operations, no doubt much of it for the cost of the stuff with which unwanted animals are killed.

While mandatory sterilization of pets seems a bit odd at first glance, the numbers scream out their message: Allowing animals to run around not spayed or neutered, breeding at will, just isn't cool. And letting animals die because there's more of them than good homes who want them, well that's downright cold.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Many cities in Florida are friendly to pets

A recent article on (which I've linked to in the title above,) reported the best cities in the U.S. to be a dog, according to the editors at Dog Fancy.

Florida was represented by Orlando. While we agree O-Town is indeed pet friendly, I mean that is where doggie dining came out the dog door, it is by no means the only city in the sunshine state that welcomes the Fidos and Fluffys of the world. Here are a couple more additions we'd make to the best cities list, in no particular order, and we'll add more later. And we'll even do a future blog about the not-at-all pet friendly cities in Florida.

1. Miami Beach

Thanks to a terrific group called Responsible Dog Owners of Miami Beach, there are now more wag friendly places and events in south Florida than you can shake a dog biscuit at.

2. Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach

Hey, this is my old stomping ground. Having, it's been interesting to hear about folks from other parts of the state who get all twisted up and downright weird about dogs on the beach, in shoppes, at outdoor restaurants patios and in motels and hotels. While this island hasn't totally gone to the dogs, there is no fuss attitude about companion animals and therefore, they're welcome in many places, including on the beach - always have been and if we can keep the uptight folks away, always will be, I hope!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Change has to come from everyone

The following is an editorial I wrote that was published in one of our area newspapers. I've also linked to it directly from the title above, cited accordingly. While it specifically targets animal issues in Nassau County, Florida, the general concept applies everywhere.

All have responsibility in fixing Nassau animal control concern
By My Nassau Sun

Today's Nassau County Animal Control mess is no different than what it was 20 years ago. Interim County Administrator Ted Selby's comment about animal control, "I need the emotions out of it," ["County wants new outside review of animal control," My Nassau Sun, Sept. 29] is exactly the sort of attitude that has allowed the mess to continue.

For any kind of real change to take place in respect to animals and animal control in Nassau County, a whole lot of people are going to have to put emotions into it - positive ones - and back up those emotions with positive action.

Everyone has the power to turn this mess around. Here's who - and how - from one resident's perspective.

Nassau County commissioners need to:

- Hire only animal control directors and staff that care about the welfare of animals and are dedicated and skilled in promoting responsible pet ownership.
- Quickly investigate and if found valid, punish to the fullest extent of the law, any incidents reported by the public of abuse or neglect of the animals or animal control policy by animal control personnel. There is simply no room in any facet of the animal control mess to "take the emotions out."
- Set aside money to establish an affordable and accessible countywide spay/neuter program. It could be implemented from a mobile spay/neuter bus that would set up once or twice a month at various locations around the county. Money spent on this program could greatly reduce the number of animals taken to the shelter, affecting the county budget in a positive fashion.

Animal control personnel need to:
- Return found animals with identifying tags or microchips to their owners immediately. This will free up space in the shelter for animals without ID and leave more time to find good, adoptive homes for them. There is no need to spend taxpayers' money to process or house any animal with current identification.
- Enforce current leash laws by levying substantial fines against residents who continue to ignore them. Fining violators of leash laws will bring more money into the county coffers.
- Develop a humane education program to take to each school in the county, highlighting, in age-appropriate fashion, the benefits of spaying and neutering pets and defining responsible pet ownership.
- Allow the public ample access to view adoptable animals. This means the shelter needs to be open when the public can visit. Closing time during the week should be extended to at least 6 p.m. and the shelter needs to be open a few hours every Saturday and Sunday.
- Ask for community volunteers and sponsors to help set up a presence online, complete with up-to-date photos and description of animals being housed and available for adoption.
- Stop being isolated and secretive. Both in-county and national groups and organizations, such as Best Friends Animal Society, have information to share, such as how to apply for grants and how to put into place programs to decrease the county's animal overpopulation. Processing fewer animals, adopting out more and in general, lessening the number of abused, neglected and abandoned animals in the county can save animal control time and taxpayers a lot of money.
- Commit in writing to the Nassau County Commission that only sick or vicious animals will ever be euthanized.

Nassau County veterinarians need to:
- Understand that if spay and neutering services aren't affordable, people will not pay for their pets to have the surgeries and then we're back to animals breeding and ending up at the shelter.
- Step up to the plate and provide services at least one day per month for a low-cost spay/neuter program proposed above. The county could offer a small stipend for the service. In addition, participating veterinarians would receive free advertising as the program is promoted.

Local newspapers need to:
- Stop playing a part in this mess by helping people throw away animals. Stop allowing "Free Pet" ads in the classifieds.
- Develop a new policy that requires customers to charge at least $25 for the pet being offered. Dog-fighting organizations, not to mention experimental laboratories, look for "Free Pet" ads for quick and free sources of bait or lab subjects.

The people of Nassau County need to:
- Realize we have the most important role in cleaning up this mess. We are supposed to be the caretakers of our animals - even the Bible says so.
- Stop allowing our animals to roam all over the place, while we disregard leash laws.
- Stop allowing our animals to breed at will; refusing to have them spayed or neutered because we want our kids to "see just one mommy dog have puppies."
- Stop "backyard breeding," where people who keep allowing their dog to mix it up with a neighborhood dog or tom cat are later seen standing in the old Winn-Dixie parking lot giving away the puppies or kittens to who knows who, for who knows what purpose.
- Make sure our pets wear collars, tags with our current address and phone number, and a safe micro-chip. If someone finds our pet, it's a simple phone call back to us. Or, if our pet should ever end up at animal control, no one can say they didn't know to whom it belonged.
- Realize that dogs and cats are not articles of property, like cars or couches. They are living, breathing beings. Families, schools and churches should be teaching our children about responsible pet ownership, about being good stewards for all God's creatures.
- Honor the memory of a beloved past pet by adopting a needy animal from the Nassau County animal control facility instead of buying one from a pet store or backyard breeder.

If the Nassau County Commission, Animal Control personnel, veterinarians, newspapers and every member of the public, with or without pets, would stop finger-pointing and just do their part, the animal control mess in Nassau County can be cleaned up, step by step. Fewer animals will end up at the shelter, fewer residents will complain about animal control, more animals can be adopted into good homes and the county can pocket the savings for a future "no-kill" shelter.

Patricia Collier

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Eh, "Do No Harm" applies to your dog, too, doc!

Accused of leaving his dog in his hot BMW, Dr. Chris Nussbaum has been charged with animal cruelty, according to a story published on The Hillsborough doc left his 10-year-old female Rhodesian Ridgeback in his locked car in the parking lot of Southbay Hospital in Sun City Center.

Investigators from the Hillsborough County Animal Services were alerted to the situation by a witness. They were just getting ready to break the car's windows to rescue Rainbow when Nussbaum arrived. He was issued a notice to appear in court and was released.

Rainbow didn't fare as well. Investigators took her from Nussbaum and had her evaluated by a veterinarian, but she was later returned to Nussbaum who was told to take her to his vet for treatment. I would imagine Rainbow is hoping for no more car rides.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Left behind

Having a Web site relating to people and pets makes me want to scream at least once a day. It's not hard work - I love it. It's not the animals - I love them; I share my life with enough to make up a soccer team.

It's the people I don't like. Not all of them because I have met some awesome people who, like me, love pets and humanity and all that's still good in the world.

The people I don't like are those who don't love their animals, who don't treasure every moment they have together, who leave them behind - literally, behind. Alone, in an empty house or tied up in an overgrown back yard. Not a word to anyone, a neighbor, a friend, that there is an animal being left. No thought to the animal at all. They do this sort of thing...when moving to another city or state and the pet is suddenly an inconvenience...when fleeing a hurricane...and now, the latest, when the bank has foreclosed on their house and they're not sure where they'll be spending their next night. (Click on title link for the article which promoted this blog entry.)

Hey, before you paint me callous, I am not without understanding here. In one of the darkest hours of my life several years ago, after my divorce, I was faced with the possibility of not being able to afford to stay in my home. I considered putting the house up for sale. I thought about the moving process and where would I go. I worried the bank would foreclose before I could sell it.

I frequently envisioned myself, walking down Interstate 95, with nothing but my cat in his carrier under one arm, a small suitcase full of all my earthly belongings under another, maneuvering three leashes with panting dogs on the end of them. I might have to start sleeping under a bridge, I told myself, but at least I'd be with my animals.

Point is, my life was not in good shape. But never once did I decide to vacate my home and leave my animals behind to...grow hungry, be confused as to where I went, wonder where was food, where was water, where was mommy, growing weaker every day...until the unthinkable might happen.

If you ever face a foreclosure, or if you ever move and know pets won't be accepted in your new residence, or if you ever flee a hurricane, PLEASE let my words ring in your ear. Make arrangements for your pet(s) beforehand. If you can no longer care for a pet, please contact your local humane society or animal rescue. You'll be starting over, so please give them the chance to do the same, not to die a slow, painful death alone, in what was once their home with their beloved, UNdeserving humans.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pets part of the family is no news to some of us

I just read the funniest thing. There are scientists out there, trying to decide if people feel close to their pets. I swear. Actual time and money are being spent to figure this out.

University of Florida psychology professor Frederic Desmond had this to say on the topic, "There is some research that says pets are seen as an extension of a person's family."

Isn't that precious?

I think I'd refer Professor Desmond to the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association, which provides all kinds of statistics about American people and pets. For example, according to the Association's 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, people with pets is currently at its highest level with 71.1 million households in the U.S. having the companionship of at least one pet (63% of the 113.7 million total U.S. households). The increase is up from 69 million households in 2004.

And we're spending our money on our beloved pets too, Professor Desmond. Collectively, people with pets will plunk down about $41 billion a year on their non-human friends. For things like food that won't poison them, vet checks, health insurance, grooming, clothes, and more toys and accessories than you can shake a Frisbee at. I'd say that's more than a satisfactory amount of compelling research for you, sir.

So, yes, Professor Desmond, pet people do indeed think of their pets as extensions of their family. Actually, not just extensions; we think of them as actual members of our families. And we're better for it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Stem cells are helping horses and dogs

While humans continue to debate stem cell research, some veterinarians are actually using it to help with conditions like arthritis in dogs and horses.

Vet-Stem, based in California, specializes in "veterinary regenerative medicine" and has used its licensed stem cell therapy in horses for three years. They're now offering that service to dogs which they can treat with their own stem cells to repair tendons and ligaments. Can you image?

The process is called "fat-derived stem cell treatment" and will be even more widely used commercially this fall, when vets across the nation will be able to
become credentialed users via online training at the company’s Web site

Will your vet get credentialed?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Space Coast Feline Network Receives $10,000

Space Coast Feline Network (SCFN) will receive a $10,000 grant from Florida Animal Friends Spay/Neuter license plate sales. This grant will allow a significant increase in the number of cats sterilized by the SCFN by providing an increase in spay/neuter services to low income caregivers in particular, and to those who support large colonies of feral cats

Space Coast Feline Network is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to decreasing the feral cat population in Brevard County through low-cost spay/neuter services for feral cat caregivers. It also provides education to caregivers at quarterly caregiver workshops that are scheduled for 2007 at the Central Brevard Library in Cocoa. Further information can be found on the SCFN Web site at or by calling the Helpline at 321-631-SPAY (631-7729).

SCFN volunteers coordinate spay/neuter clinics at various locations throughout Brevard County , including SPCA of North Brevard and Animal Medical Clinic in Melbourne , and at The Piedmont Animal Clinic in Apopka , FL. This grant will allow more feral cats to be spayed and neutered over the next year.

The Animal Friends License Plate is available for purchase for $44.60 when renewing a vehicle license plate. A pro-rated amount is charged if a vehicle owner wishes to purchase this specialty plate within 3 months of the owner’s birthday. Funds from the sale of the license plate are used exclusively to fight cat and dog overpopulation by increasing the number of animals sterilized. For additional information go to:

SCFN is also pursuing the donation of a late model van to help with transportation to clinics. Reliable transportation has become a high priority with the receipt of this grant to spay and neuter more feral cats.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Brevard County pet people barkin' for beach space

The sign on any beach in Brevard County reads: NO DOGS ALLOWED ON THIS BEACH. Why, you ask? Hey, it's been that way for 37 years, darn it, so why not?

That's the attitude a lot of Brevard County folks have about the "No dogs on the our beaches" law, discussed in the news article our title has linked to above, and one that's about as archaic as bloomer bathing suits on women.

According to an article on, there are a total of 1100 miles of coastline in Florida. Yet Brevard's 72 miles of beach is off limits to dogs for fear of their doo-doo and them being intimidating to small children and beach wildlife. Hey, I've been to Brevard County, it's a pretty place - mostly. People don't seem to be scared of much, a shuttle crash, perhaps, but that's about it.

But I find it hard to believe the fear of doo-doo factor is so strong on this coast. I've seen some of the dirty baby diapers found along the same 72 miles nearly every day! And why are dogs more intimidating to small children and wildlife in Brevard County than they are around the rest of the state where, for the most part, there is at least one small portion of beach in each area where dogs are allowed to frolic with their humans? That just doesn't make sense.

The 37-year ban on dogs should change and here's why.

Providing at least one beach open to dogs and their people is good for touri$m. Residents of Florida without dogs are not the only people who travel around the state. Actually, one of the more common tourists of Florida has become the affluent gay couple from across the pond, who bring one or two of their precious fur children along on their vacation. Then there's the out of state families who load up the kids, the ones without and with fur, and head to Florida to spend lots of $$ before the school year begins again.

And oh, yeah, there's also the northern folks, who faithfully travel with their beloved pets and come down in the winter to relax and who spend enough money while here to keep us residents from having to pay a $tate $ales tax.

If you going to ban something, ban humans without manners, who leave their food, cigarette butts, and other icky litter all over the place, including the beaches, and including those infamous soiled diapers, then cry fowl when they see a dog eliminate itself as his or her human runs pooper scooper patrol behind it.

Many municipalities around the state allow dogs on their beaches and in their parks. They even provide doo-doo bags and waste receptacles for their visitors. And where visitors feel welcome, that's where they'll stay and spend their hard earned ca$h. And for those people, we are most appreciative.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

RX help for your pet

Residents of Alachua and Marion Counties (and by now, probably others,) can get a card for prescription discounts of as much as 50 percent under a new program through the National Association of Counties. There's no application and no "qualifying." The card is free to any county resident regardless of age or income.

For people with pets, the best part about this card is that some medications for their beloved companion animal may be covered it it's available at a regular pharmacy.

The card is accepted at most of the main pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, Wise's Drug Store, Wal-Mart, Publix and Winn-Dixie and can also be used for some mail-order prescriptions. Even if someone has insurance through their employer, they can still get a prescription card. The card might cover a medication not covered by their current insurance. Reported savings have been around 14 percent on brand name medications and 34 percent on generics, plus there's a discount on certain diabetic supplies.

Check with your county to see if they've enrolled in this program and if they aren't, ask them to consider it. All Florida counties are eligible IF they are members of the Florida Association of Counties and participate in activities of the national association.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The most pet-friendly cities in Florida? has come out with their 2007 list of Top 10 dog-friendly vacation spots in North America. A Florida city didn't make the list until Orlando screeched in at number 8 - whew! I was beginning to worry our sunshine state wasn't going to get the recognition it deserves. And actually, I think a couple of other Florida cities should get similar recognition.

People from other states ask me a lot, "What are the top three pet-friendly cities in Florida?" My answer isn't based on a scientific poll. It's based on what people tell me, what I read, my experience during past visits and most of all, if they have in place a pet-friendly emergency shelter for hurricanes and other disasters, and how many dog parks, pet-friendly beaches and places to dine outdoors with pets the city offers.

Oh, let me add one more thing to that list - I pay attention to just how much of a big deal a city makes about designating stuff pet-friendly. For example, some cities started doggie dining without a much as a woof and a fee and a few others took three months, and at least that many public hearings, to decide to charge restaurants an outrageous $150 to apply for a permit to offer doggie dining. So yes, the city's attitude is important as well.

So...without further adieu, let me say in my opinion, the Top Three Pet-Friendly Cities in Florida are: 1) Orlando, 2) Miami and 3) Jacksonville. The Greater Tampa Bay area is getting there, sort of. And the Panhandle, well, let's just say there's room for improvement.

What do you think? Do you agree with my choices? Or do you disagree or think I left someone out? Let me know by leaving your reply below.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Swimming lessons for dogs

I'm linking this blog to an article I just read on about a man in Largo who teaches dogs to swim.

Frankly, the need for this surprises me. I've had many companion animals through the years and only a couple liked water enough to jump into our pool. The others, well, they just didn't. They sniffed the edge of the pool, the light bulb went off in their heads, they backed up and sat down. "We're sitting out this gig, mom, we've got you covered from right here," they seemed to say.

The article says about 10,000 dogs drowned in the US last year. It says dogs can find their way into a pool, but often can't find their way out because, as the swim teacher referred to in the article says, dogs lack a, "sense of depth perception" and panic. But some clearly don't panic. Two of mine absolutely soared through the air and did gleeful belly flops into the aqua abyss the first time they saw the pool. So does that mean certain breeds have depth perception and others don't?

Now, I am not undermining the usefulness of teaching your dog (or cat) to swim. I'm just saying...where were the guardians of those 10,000 dogs? Even if my water-loving dogs are doing their thing, I'm keeping an eye out, you know what I mean? If my husband is floating around on the pool recliner, I'm keeping an eye out. Why weren't all those people keeping an eye out for their companion animals?

I'll keep wondering I suppose, like I wonder why people can be so irresponsible when it comes to their animals and then blame the animal for misbehaving in some fashion.

Stay safe this summer and if your dog loves the water, let him or her swim, but still... keep an eye out for them!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bill seeks to save pets during domestic violence cases

The story I've linked to here is about California Senator Sheila Kuehl, and her quest to get a bill (SB 353, to be exact) passed that would protect pets during domestic violence incidents. I not only want to applaud her efforts and keep my fingers crossed the bill becomes law, I also want Florida lawmakers to follow suit.

Through the years, plenty of pets have been injured, tortured and/or killed as a way for the abuser to further control his victim. Sen. Kuehl's bill would allow judges to include any kind of animal in protective orders for as long as deemed necessary, which would mean abusers would have to stay away from the pet or pets involved and not be allowed to harm the pet. Violating the order would be a misdemeanor.

New York, Vermont and Maine passed similar laws last year. I hope Florida will be next. As a matter of fact, I'm off to write my lawmakers a letter about it. Won't you write one to yours?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Horses just wanna have fun

While I love watching horses frolick in a field and simply adore taking photos of colts learning to walk, I am not what you would call a "horsey person." When I was younger, I went horseback riding on a horse the stables said was "normally very calm. " I should have known. About a mile into the ride, "Normally Calm" decided he wanted lunch and he proceeded to take me on a drag race back to the barn. I was terrified and haven't been on a horse since. I admire them - from afar.

Since I don't know that much about horses and their ways, it's not surprising that I would be amazed to learn that horses love playing with toys. Yes, toys. Dogs have toys, Cats have toys. Now horses have toys. There are Web sites that sell them. One is which has items such as "Stallballs" and "Eggbutts" that are designed to "enrich" a horse's environment. Another one has a product called "Likit"which can be purchased from Very cool.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Leaving dogs in hot car is a crime

We were thrilled to see the recent news article about the Ohio man who has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals after leaving his two dogs inside a parked car near a store in Alachua County.

The police observed the dogs in the car for 10-15 minutes, in 90 plus degree heat, with the front windows merely cracked. The dogs had no water and were panting heavily. The criminal was held at least over night in the Alachua County jail on a $2,000 bond. We'd like to see this crime treated with the same decisiveness all over the state, indeed, all over the nation.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Class Action Claims We've Been Misled About Contents of Pet Food

Note from me: Most everyone now knows pet food (and some human food as well) has been being slipped contaminated ingredients. If that bothered you, read on for the big shock waves. The following article isn't a pet-friendly resource, but I feel strongly enough about this issue that I'm devoting today's post to it. Please read this very carefully. Your fur child's food may be on this list. IMPORTANT: This is a different list than has been circulated lately regarding the pet food contamination crises. This list involves LOTS of companies and none of the information you're going to read here is very pretty - please prepare yourself.

Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pet Food Companies and Retailers
May 15, 2007

CONTACT: Russell Keith(305) 358-6555

Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pet Food Companies and Retailers For Misleading Consumers Regarding the Contents of Pet Food “Premium” Pet Food Marketed and Sold as “Complete and Balanced” Has Historically Contained Such Items as Euthanized Dogs and Cats, Restaurant Grease, Hair, Hooves, and Diseased Animals, and Other Inedible Garbage

MIAMI, FL -- May 15, 2007 -- A cat and dog owner from Michigan and two cat and dog owners from Florida have filed a nationwide class action against food industry giants Mars, Inc., Proctor and Gamble Co., Colgate Palmolive Company, Del Monte Foods, Co., and Nestle U.S.A. Inc. These manufacturers have a combined approximate 70% of the market share in the $16 billion dollar a year pet food industry. The suit also names as Defendants Nutro Products, Inc., Menu Foods, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Target Corp., Publix Supermarkets, Inc., Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., as manufacturers and marketers of their own brand pet food and retailers PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc., Pet Supermarket, Inc., and Petsmart Inc.

The Plaintiffs maintain that these companies have spent $300 million a year in making false and misleading marketing statements regarding the contents of their pet food to the dog and cat loving American public. While these Defendants tout their pet food products as choice cuts of prime beef, chunks of chicken, fish, fresh wholesome vegetables and whole grains to induce consumers to buy them, the Plaintiffs contend the food is actually made from “inedible” slaughterhouse waste products of the human food chain such as spines, heads, tails, hooves, hair, and blood. Rendering companies who process this waste have also added other inedible “waste” such as euthanized cats and dogs from veterinarian offices and animal shelters, road kill, zoo animals, rancid restaurant grease, toxic chemicals and additives. Additionally, dead animals and those declared unfit for human consumption due to disease and illness are also placed in the mix.

The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida by attorney Catherine J. MacIvor of the 23 attorney Miami litigation law firm of Maltzman Foreman, PA. The case is pending before the Honorable Cecilia Altonaga. Class Counsel, Catherine J. MacIvor says that “The melamine debacle is not the only serious problem with pet food. The number and frequency of lethal pet food recalls in the last few years clearly shows the seriousness and extent of this problem.”

The lawsuit alleges that pet food companies market their products as wholesome, choice cuts of meat, natural and complete and balanced diets even though they are fully aware that this food is largely carbohydrates and sugars combined with toxic preservatives and additives with very little to no meat at all. The lawsuit seeks damages to consumers for the false representations made in the Defendants’ advertising as well as punitive damages.“Sadly,” MacIvor said, “the Defendant pet food companies and retailers recognized that American pet owners love their cats and dogs like members of their family. The Defendants deceptive advertising specifically marketed premium healthy food to the American public knowing that they want to buy the best food that they can for their loved one and knowing that the food consists largely of garbage, chemicals, additives, diseased meat and even residual pentobarbital from euthanized animals.”

The 58 page lawsuit outlines in grotesque detail the actual manner in which most commercial pet food in the United States is made. The lawsuit also attaches and cites numerous news stories and research articles outlining the real content of the Defendant’s pet foods and the misleading and deceptive advertising undertaken by the Defendants.The Defendants targeted in the Complaint produce pet foods under a wide array of brands and names including: Pedigree®, Sheba®, Goodlife Recipe®, Royal Canine, Iams®, Eukanuba®, Science Diet®, Prescription Diet®, 9 Lives®, Amore®, Gravy Train®, Kibbles-n-Bits® and Nature’s Recipe®, Snausages®, Milk Bone®, Pup-Peroni®, Meaty Bone®, Canine’s Carry Outs®, Jerky Treats®, Wagwells®, Alpo®, Beneful®, Beggin’ Strips®, Dog, Cat, Puppy and Kitten Chow®, Fancy Feast®, Friskies®, Mighty Dog®, Deli-Cat®, Pro Plan®, Purina One®, Natural Choice® Dog and Cat Products, Max® Dog Products, Max® Cat Gourmet Classics, Natural Choice® Complete Care® for cats, Ultra™ Products for dogs, Americas Choice Preferred Pets, Authority, Award, Best Choice, Big Bet, Big Red, Cadillac, Companion, Compliments, Demoulus Market Basket, Eukanuba, Fine Feline Cat, Food Lion, Food Town, Giant Companion, Hannaford, Hill Country Fare, Hy-Vee, Iams, J.E. Mondou, Laura Lynn, Li’l Red, Loving Meals, Medi-Cal, Meijer’s Main Choice, Mighty Dog Pouch, Mixables, Natural Life, Nutriplan, Nutro Max, Nutro Max Gourmet Classics, Nutro Natural Choice, Ol’ Roy, Paws, Pet Essentials, Pet Pride, President’s Choice, Price Chopper, Priority US, Publix, Roche Brothers, Save-a-Lot Special Blend, Schnucks, Science Diet Feline Savory Cuts Cans, Sophistacat, Special Kitty, Springfield Prize, Sprout, Stop and Shop Companion, Tops Companion, Wegmans, Weis Total Pet, Western family US, White Rose, Winn Dixie, Your Pet, LIFELong™, Ol’ Roy and Special Kitty brands of pet food.The lawsuit alleges, among other claims, that the pet food companies have fraudulently and/or negligently misrepresented and concealed what is actually in their pet foods, violated Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices, and Failed to Warn the public of the health risks to animals associated with a diet consisting of their commercial pet foods.

Through the lawsuit, the Plaintiff’s hope to recover financial damages for all pet owners who have been similarly deceived. “Ultimately we are hopeful that our lawsuit will force the Defendants to more accurately describe what is in their pet foods and to offer more healthful pet food options that provide pets with food quality similar to that provided in human food products.” A copy of the Complaint and supporting research materials is available at

For more information about Maltzman Foreman PA please visit

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bradford County shelter animals need help

A few days ago, I was contacted by a couple of people from a rescue group called Bradford County Paws (BC Paws), asking me to help get the word out about the situation with the animals in Bradford County, Florida. In a nut shell, this group, which has been working with the animals at the Bradford County Animal Shelter for a while, has lately been receiving a hard time when they go there to help.

The purpose of BC Paws is to assist the shelter with placing dogs in responsible foster and adoptive homes. While most counties would be delighted to have the assistance, I am told the Bradford County Sheriff's Office has stopped "on site adoptions." That means BC Paws don't have the chance to get the animals prepared for adoption. They just want to be allowed to help because they say the animals have a better chance of being adopted out when they are walked on a daily basis, bathed, in general, given the one-on-one attention they so desperately need.

BC Paws says they want their volunteers to be able to help the Bradford County Animal Shelter become more "rescue friendly." The group wants to see the shelter open more hours, both during the week and weekends. They want the volunteers inside, interacting with the animals. And while the county has been making a few improvements at the shelter, there are plenty of people who think there's a lot more work to be done.

Here's how you can help:

1) Sign the petition at "Bradford County, FL, Animal Shelter" .

2) Volunteer to work with the animals at the shelter.

3) Volunteer to become a foster family for an animal in need.

4) Adopt an animal in need from the Bradford County Animal Shelter

Contact Kristie at or call 904-334-7319 for more information about other needs the group may have, i.e., financial donations for veterinary expenses, supplies, cages and more.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Update on legislation dealing with pets in condos

Citizens for Pets in Condos 2007 legislative session wrap-up

By Maida Genser, Citizens for Pets in Condos

Okay, so we lost this round. The Emotional Support Animal bill never even came up for a vote. Short of getting it passed, I think it may actually be a good thing. It was not summarily dismissed. It was controversial enough to stay out there as an open question, no longer an automatic win for the condo board/condo lawyer lobby!

Here is the good news – our support is growing daily. This is a grass roots effort that went from nothing to almost 10,000 signatures by the start of this legislative season. We now have almost 13,500 signatures. As we get more people on our side our chances for future success are greatly increased. The anti-pet people represent old-think Florida. We are the future and we are in the right. WE WILL PREVAIL. Be assured of that.

Please send a thank you to Representative Julio Robaina for working so hard for our cause. Send copies to your own state-level representative*, and also to the co-sponsors (Reps. Luis Garcia, Yolly Roberson, and Priscilla Taylor) to thank them for working to try to pass HB 1373. Also send a thank you to Senator Alex Villalobos who sponsored S2816, the Senate version of the same bill, and send copies to your own state-level senator*. Click on the links for contact info.

If by any chance you are represented by Representatives Marcus Rubio, speaker of the house, Ellyn Bogdanoff, David Rivera, Ron Reagan, or Andy Gardiner, you may wish to contact them and tell them that you did not appreciate their stalling of HB1373 and you will take that into consideration the next time they run for public office. Representative Ralph Poppell was also a strong opponent and should be called out for his actions. And then, remember their interference next time they are up for office. Do NOT vote for them. As a non-profit corporation, we are not allowed to electioneer/campaign for candidates, but we are allowed to tell people not to vote people who are hurting our cause.

One of the things that I think will help our cause is to build an alliance with League of Humane Voters (LOHV). They are building a data base of contact information to reach out to people about all kinds of pro-animal issues. If you are on their mailing list, you WILL be informed about any animal legislation in Florida . I am considering giving them e-dresses from our mailing list, because helping them will definitely help us. If you have any objection, this is the time to let me know (so I can leave off YOUR e-dress). I will leave this open until the beginning of next month.

I truly believe that getting our message out will lead us to win. Even in no-pet condos, there are many people hiding pets in fear of being found out. If we can reach these people and get enough signatures, WE WILL WIN.

While the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and ASPCA and PETA have sorely let us down by choosing NOT to contact their membership about our bill, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) and Florida Pets Network/ DID contact a lot of people for us. Florida Pet Book helped us a lot by continuing to place our ads when we no longer had funds to advertise. Thank you, in general, to all of the collaborating organizations listed on our web site (scroll down a bit on the right side of our main page.) We owe a special thanks to Jan Bergemann and Cyber Citizens for Justice, the condo/HOA reform group that included our bill in their 2007 Community Association bill. If you feel so moved, please thank the people who helped us and send your notes of disapproval to those who did not.

Special honors go to David Shapiro, who joined our board when we became a non-profit corporation in July of 2006. We only had 1300 signatures when he became involved, and we now have well over ten times that many signatures, due to media ads that he personally subsidized and his other tireless efforts. Many thanks to our past board member Kandy Fancher and new board member Carlos Pineiro. Thanks to Barbara Feeney and Barry Silver for working on the wording of our bill. Thanks to Bobby Albre for sending out a press release. Thank you to reporter Jennifer Santiago for speaking up positively for our cause. Thanks to our friends in California who have given us guidance based on their experience getting laws changed in Calilfornia to allow pets in association-run housing. Thanks to the people who have made special efforts to collect signatures: David Shapiro, Carlos Pineiro , Ingrid Este vez, Loretta Hedberg , Laura Richman , Jean and Harry Bergman. Thanks to people who have been spokespersons to the media: David Shapiro, Bobby Albre, Jerry Zelligman, Mariela Rodrigues-Munn, Claudia Krysiak . If I am forgetting anyone, I deeply apologize.

As much as I hate to bring up money, your financial support will help us be able to advertise. David Shapiro and I have put a lot of our own money into this. You can make donations via PayPal to Getting the word out is the answer!

* Click here to find your Florida legislators by zipcode.

Old friends need to be together

Maida Genser's grassroots group,
Citizens for Pets in Condos, has been knocking.
The doors to the State Capital have opened.

IMPORTANT: Read previous entry, "Old Friends" first - this is a three-part story

Old friends need to be together

When the manager told Beetie about the new pet policy and that she'd have to find Buster a new home or face eviction from her condo, he couldn't look her in the eye. Just as well, thought Beetie, because her tears came fast and she'd always looked a fright when she cried and that would make her mad and then she'd talk too loud...

Beetie couldn't eat supper that evening. She just sat in the dark, petting Buster, wondering why the thought of living without a black cat with a white chin was just as sad as living without Leon. She decided to call the minister of her new church. Beetie wasn't an overly religious person but she liked the tidy little white building that housed the local Methodists. It was within walking distance, so when she moved to Florida she'd decided to make the effort and see how things developed.

The gentleman answered on the first ring, and said he was glad Beetie called and yes, he certainly did have a few moments for her. He insisted she call him Don. That seemed a bit informal to Beetie, but this was a new time, a new generation, and Beetie could go with the flow. As she sat there in the dark, talking to a man whose hand she had shaken no more than three times, to whom she'd never said more than hello, Beetie realized she just couldn't bear living without Buster. She was the only surviving daughter of four children born to parents long deceased. Her daughter, Kayla, was so far away and so very busy. Leo was probably looking down from Heaven with that look he'd get when someone said Buster was old or ugly. He would not have liked this mess, no, not one bit.

After listening to Beetie a bit, Don said she might be able to keep Buster and not have to move from her condo after all. Was he pulling her leg? No, he said, he'd heard of a law someone was trying to get passed that dealt with this very topic. He told her he'd make a couple of calls and ring her right back with some information.

As Beetie waited, Buster purred his way to sleep on her lap. Stroking her cat's soft fur, Beetie's heart felt heavy. She knew her heart was pumping OK because she'd just had a check up. It wasn't that kind of heavy anyway. Beetie suddenly realized it felt heavy because it was breaking. Without Buster, she would be totally alone and the sadness from before would return.

Don told her to get a pad and pencil and write down what he was about to tell her. House Bill 1373 was the bill he'd been talking about, he said. If passed, it would provide condominium residents - like Beetie - the right to have a companion animal (dog, cat, bird, etc.) live with them in their home, if a health professional stated the animal was helpful to the person’s physical or psychological well-being.

Beetie knew having Buster felt good. But the cat was also providing her with physical and psychological benefit because he was her only constant companion and petting him and playing an occasional game of twine chase did them both good. Beetie felt sure her heart doctor, Dr. Nehman, would write a letter for her and Don told her he'd write one for her too. Even though he wasn't a health professional, he was a soul professional, he said, and he could vouch for Buster being good for Beetie's soul. She thanked him profusely and hung up the phone, causing Buster to leap from her lap and head to the kitchen.

As Beetie fed Buster his supper, her heart didn't feel as heavy as before. She sighed. She knew she'd have to do a bit of leg work to make it all come together, but she did have 30 days, so she didn't have to be frantic. The force is with us, she told the cat whose head was hidden in his food bowl.
After all, the two loves of Leo's life had come this far together...

Old Friends

If you find a white hair on a black cat, you will have good luck.
- Old Welsh Superstition

Old Friends
A story, part 1 of 3

Beetie Gilman had spent nearly 20 years of her life in a classroom, teaching fractions and grammar to third graders. In 1989, she'd survived a heart attack, bypass surgery, her retirement party, and her husband's sudden death from a hunting accident.

After crying more tears than one ought to have to cry, Beetie sold the family home and most of her possessions and took herself, her meager savings, and Buster to Florida. It was nice for older folks there, said a friend who'd moved there years ago. It was warm and would be good for her heart, said her doctor. Beetie's daughter, Kayla, who lived an extremely busy life in California, the state of busy lives, figured Florida was about the same distance from California as New York and wouldn't affect the travel time for her yearly trip home too much. Kayla would tell her mom that the next time she called her, maybe next week, when she wasn't so busy.

Buster was Beetie's cat, well, really, Buster had been Leo's cat, but you know the ways of cats. They love the one who feeds them, heck, they'd love a grasshopper if it could figure out how to crack open a cat food can, so Beetie turned out to be OK with Buster. The two shared a quiet life now, one which Beetie hoped would grow a bit brighter, maybe a bit less sad, down in the southern sunshine.

Finding an attractive, affordable condo unit where Buster would be welcome too had been pretty easy, which helped Beetie feel immediately at home in Florida. The town she'd chose was mostly pastels and very shiny, with new shops, except down here they called them "shoppes", and plenty of heart specialists, podiatrists and banks. Services and activites for persons over 55 seemed to be a thriving industry all by itself.

Beetie met a couple other ladies her age and they lunched together frequently. She was thankful for the condo pool where she continued her water exercises, started during her previous cardiac rehab. She even began learning Bridge and hoped one day to be good enough for the condo Bridge Club. Buster had a sunny bay window from which he could perch and observe his world and let his aging bones soak up the warmth. Beetie still cried a bit after going to bed, some nights, not all. Basically, for the most part, she and Buster did OK.

Until someone noticed Buster stretching in his window seat one day and went to the condo office and carried on about their cat allergy. That seemed to remind several other folks in the condo about their cat allergies and so it began...and grew...on and on, until one day, the condo owner gave in to the whining and changed the condo pet policy to "none allowed."

The manager hated to tell the tenants with pets about the new policy as none of the pets had been problems, ever. He really dreaded telling Beetie, she was such a nice lady, a little frail and hard of hearing and that cat didn't bother anybody. But he had his orders. Beetie would be allowed 30 days to what they called, "rehome" Buster or she wouldn't be able to live in her condo any more.

Exploring Florida's pet-friendly lifestyle.

"A woman, her dog and the sea. This must be heaven."

As owner of, I meet so many interesting pets - and their people. We've all got one thing in common: the desire to find places in the sunshine state where pets are allowed. Places we can rest, play, swim, sing, vacation, dine, live, even worship together, where everyone is welcome.

"Pets are part of the family, so take them along!" That's the motto of While I post lots of information on the Web site and in our monthly eZine, the NewsPetter, I have so much more to share with all you pets and pet "peeps" (my word for people - you'll get used to seeing it!)

So snuggle up to the computer screen with your favorite companion animal and let's start exploring all that is pet-friendly in Florida. Your comments or questions will be appreciated and either I or one of my sassy little dachshunds will reply.