Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yeast Bread Dough Latest No-No for Pets

Well, it makes sense. Let your dog gobble down a bunch of bread dough - or maybe you don't let him, he just does it - and he can get quite sick.

I knew this on some level; I just didn't know why. Seems once the dough has been eaten, it can rise to the point of causing an intestinal obstruction. Yikes!

The yeast creates another problem, in that it can ferment sugars and that's a whole separate mess because it can cause ethanol (yes, alcohol!) poisoning in an animal.

Seems what's not good for humans isn't good for animals either.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Need help keeping your pet?

If the economy has made you feel like a rubber band and you're currently stretched to the max, please don't think that getting rid of the family pet is the best way to save money. It's during times like this, when you're stressed, even lonely, that having the kind of unconditional love a pet provides is helpful, even downright necessary. has put together a resource page called "Aid for Pets - and Their Pepole." If you need help caring for your pet, we've got some great resources for free or low cost assistance that can help you keep your pet healthy and yourself sane. Here are some of the highlights:

*** Regular and emergency veterinarian care.
*** Low cost or free spaying and/or neutering.
*** Solutions to housing issues.
*** Prescription drugs for pets.
*** Pet food.
*** Dog coats for pets of homeless people.
*** Prescription and dental care for the humans.
*** And much more - for both pets and people.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Paw Patch Shoppe is back!'s Paw Patch Shoppe is back with lots of supplies, aids, goodies and more for dogs, cats, birds, and other companion animals. Check it out at Paw Patch Shoppe.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Write your own animal law

The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) is sponsoring a contest for readers to come up with a federal law that would help animals. It's called “There Oughta Be a Law” and I just submitted my entry.

If you'd like to enter, you have until October 5, 2009 to go here and give your idea and why it's important to you.

For those of you who are interested, here is my entry:

My idea for a federal law...

I would propose a federal law that would elevate the legal status of companion animals, from common property like chairs or cars, to sentient beings, with certain rights and protections not offered for inanimate objects.

Why it's important to me...

I believe until our society recognizes the need to care for all God's creatures, there is no growth in our humanity. Giving our loyal companion animals status above inanimate objects will offer more protection for the animals and require greater responsibility from humans.

That's it. The winner will be announced October 25, 2009. The prize will be a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with HSLF officials to lobby on Capitol Hill for their proposed bill.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A dream come true: Tax deduction for Fido or Fluffy

My husband and I joke all the time about how cool it would be if we could claim our canine crew on our income taxes as "children with fur coats." No, we haven't tried it, but now it seems this is an idea whose time may just come - and soon.

Yes, you heard right. Someone in our government wants to give tax deductions to people with companion animals. It's called, "H.R.3501 - Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (Happy) Act." It's purpose is to "amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow a tax deduction, up to $3,500 per year, for pet care expenses (including veterinary care)."

The Happy Act was introduced July 30, 2009, by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-MI. I've never heard of this man, but I have quickly become a fan.

H.R. 3501 is now in the House Committee on Ways and Means, awaiting further review.

I will be closely following the progress of the Happy Act and so can you. Just go to the following site, register, and opt to track the bill at:

Note: Please pass the word about H.R. 3501 and write to your lawmakers and ask them to support the bill. Since over 60% of Americans have pets, chances are they have one or more themselves. And perhaps this would entice more people to adopt a pet in need and wouldn't that be beautiful?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What to do about pit bulls?

It's happened again. A pit bull has attacked someone. I can't say I'm surprised. Here in Florida, we hear of a least one or two attacks by a pit bull every week, sometimes even more.

I have always been a dog lover. I have a pet-relate online business. I love dogs, all dogs, except the dangerous ones. I don't believe pit bulls are inherently dangerous, but I do think many of the people that have them want them to be dangerous. And that's what makes them dangerous. The breed is routinely mistreated in a quest to turn it into a snarling watch dog. And they are frequently physically and emotionally abused when pressed into illegal service as fighting machines. Such horrific experiences would turn most any breed dangerous.

Do I think pit bulls are so dangerous they should be banned? People ask me this a lot. Some municipalities, such as Miami-Dade County, have enacted such legislation. Officials say the jury is still out on whether it's helping. I've heard the plea to, "punish the deed, not the breed." I agree with that. In theory. I don't want to see families have to give up their pets, regardless of the breed, but I do know we've got to start doing something about all these attacks that are leaving other dogs, adults and children maimed or dead.

This week's report was of an attack on a 10-year-old St. Johns County boy. The pit bull bit him in the face, neck and arms and his injuries were so life threatening he had to be airlifted to the nearest trauma hospital. Doctors say he will need extensive reconstructive surgery on his little face. The dog attacked without provocation, according to witnesses. Police officers said the dog "bit through the youngster's mouth, punctured his neck, just missing his jugular, and tore into his
right bicep." They said the dog finally stopped attacking "once the boy was able to fight his fear and just lie still."

Earlier in the day, in another part of the same county, a woman was walking her small dog when another dog - yes, another pit bull - broke its leash and began to attack her dog. While trying to protect her dog, the woman was bitten by the pit bull.

It's hard to not demonize any breed of dog that routinely inflicts such horror on people's lives.

Animal control now has both dogs and news reports say the county is trying to decide "whether or not to return the dogs to their owners." Destroying the dogs involved will prevent future attacks - by those two dogs. But how do they punish the "deeds"? Do they fine the owners? Or do they outlaw the breed?

Perhaps pit bull owners should be required to register their dogs, much like a gun owner must register his weapon. After all, the pit bulls involved in the above attacks were someone's pets, not dogs like Michael Vick trained for his profit. I'm told most of the pits in Florida breed with other pit bulls in Florida; the genes are merely passed along. If that's the case, the aggressive genes are going to be inherent and the dogs are merely time bombs waiting to explode. There needs to be some extra effort required when someone chooses to have dogs with such potential.

We can't ignore these attacks. We can't "fight the fear and just lie still." Lives depend on taking action - now, before the next attack.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Win tickets to Pet Expo in Orlando

NOTE: To enter the contest to win a pair of tickets to the Pet Expo, all you need to do is write me at with your name and email address, no later than 5 p.m., Saturday, July 25, 2009. A winner will be chosen at random and will be announced here Monday, July 27, in another blog entry.

The most unique dog, cat and exotic pet event in Central Florida - the annual Pampered Pet Expo brings together adoption (partnering with PetFinder), local AND national vendors and, most importantly, education in order to help "pet parents" nationwide care for that special member of their family. The Expo takes place Aug. 7-9 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Pet Expo attendees can shop for pet food, toys, treats, supplies, housing, clothes, costumes, furniture, services and enjoy entertainment and education session.

Unfortunately, Convention center policies do not allow pets in the building. For more information, please check out Orlando Pampered Pet Expo.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For some, it's NOT all about the money

Anne Scholl-Mealey, D.V.M. of Orlando has been taking care of the pets of homeless people for 5 years. She does this in addition to serving the needs of other animals via her vet practice. SHE IS MY HERO. Go here to learn more about this woman. If you read above about the disappointing experience we recently had with our vet, who is now our former vet, you know Dr. Scholl-Mealey would get all our business if we lived in Orlando.

For those who do live in the Orlando area, here's the link to where Dr. Scholl-Mealey can be found, her own practice at Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is it just about the money these days?

Note: This entry is rather long. But it details something that happened yesterday that was so upsetting, I need to blog about it today. Since it involves our pets, I thought it might be helpful to other readers with pets and their corresponding relationships with veterinarians.

Between our 6 dogs - 7 before losing our little Shortcake in February - we have willingly spent hundreds of dollars at our veterinarian's office. In Jaime L. Dunn, D.V.M., owner of Lofton Creek Animal Clinic in Yulee, Florida, we felt we had finally found an animal health care practitioner in Nassau County who cared as much about animals as about money. We were clients of this particular clinic with its previous owner before he sold it and have entrusted our wee ones to Dr. Dunn’s care for the past two years or so since she bought the practice.

My poodle, Pepper, had to have surgery yesterday, June 17, 2009. The bill for a dental cleaning and excision of a fatty tumor was high - nearly $500 - and we asked if we could pay half yesterday and the other half next Friday when my husband got his pay check. We had the full amount in our checking account yesterday, but wanted to hold some of it back for any emergencies that might pop up before next week. I told them I would bring it in to them or mail a check to them the following Friday and suggested to Dawn, the office clerk, that she make note of that in our file, as I wanted everything on the up and up.

It's important to note here that we have NEVER carried a balance with this vet, never asked to delay a payment. Whether our bill has been $10 or $400, we've always, for the past 2 plus years, paid in full as services were rendered. Always, always, always.

Yesterday's bill for our poodle's dental cleaning and fatty tumor removal was higher than we anticipated since they performed a couple of procedures without telling us beforehand: a biopsy was taken of the tumor, and heartworm testing was done that wasn't due until next month. (Now, we're cool about the biopsy, but more about that in a minute.)

So they conducted the payment transaction for half the bill, we signed the slip and we were waiting for them to bring out Pepper. Barbara, one of the vet techs was giving us tips about canine dental care; all was well. (As a point of interest here, there's a note on the bottom of the invoice that any balance carried forward after 30 days will be charged a 2% fee, or $3.00, whichever is greater. This has never pertained to us because, as I said, we always pay our bills in full. It's just interesting to note that evidently, some of their clients do carry balances.)

Suddenly... Heidi, the other vet tech, shoved a typewritten note under my nose which said, in essence, that I would promise to pay the remaining balance by the day and time (time?) I stated, “or legal action might be taken” against me! Legal action - were they serious?

I'm standing there, speechless. There are other people in line behind me, watching, listening as we, reliable clients that we thought we were, are suddenly being treated like dead beats. I'm trying to absorb this when Heidi whispers to me, "And she said she'd just hold the biopsy until the balance is paid." I said, "You mean the results?" She replied, "No, she said we won't send the biopsy in until you pay the balance on your account."

Now, we had been told the tumor was probably a fatty tumor, nothing to worry about, etc., but they had said the biopsy was necessary and now they were willing to delay sending in the tissue that had been suspicious enough for the vet to take a biopsy to be examined for cancer to begin with. If my dog did indeed have a cancerous tumor removed and we waited another week or two, what kind of consequences would that have for his health? Feeling strong-armed and downright blackmailed, I took my pen, drew a big X across the form and said, "No. This is insulting." I took out the debit card again and told the vet tech, "If that's how it's going to be, then take it all. And send in the biopsy today!" (I kept the form, just to show people who might not believe this story.)

She ran the second transaction and we left. I was stunned. I felt confused, hurt, angry, frustrated and shamed. And in all the weirdness with what had just happened, they neglected to give us our poodle's follow up instructions, his antibiotics and pain medication. And I was so stunned, I forgot to ask!

We called the office when we got home, but everyone had left for the day. My husband left a message about the medications. He too, was beside himself and he told them we hadn't appreciate being treated so poorly and would have to find another vet. At least Pepper had already had his 12-hour antibiotic and pain meds for the day, so I knew if we got them today, he would be OK.

Ladora, or Ledora (I’m not sure about the spelling of her name), the office manager, returned my husband’s call this morning and said she would take “some of the blame” over what happened yesterday and was sorry we had gotten “caught in it.” She claims to work for the representative of Dr. Dunn's partner, which is interesting since the business cards say Dr. Dunn is the owner of the clinic, not the co-owner.

She said things like "Oh, so sorry, it's just policy and nothing personal." I disagree. It's quite personal. When you have pets, they are like your children. You need a professional you can trust to care for them. In return, you pay the professional for their services. Ladora said they just didn't "do payment plans" which we weren't asking for anyway. She said they'd have the medication at the front desk for our pick up today and would be happy to copy our records for us to take with us. In other words, "Good riddance!"

You know, the note and threat of legal action against a good client is one thing. But for Lofton Creek Animal Clinic to threaten to withhold a medical diagnostic test – in this case, a biopsy - until they could scoop up the remaining $245 is really quite low.

While I am still hurt today, and even more incredulous at Ladora's ho hum attitude about insulting, then losing our business for her boss, I am mostly just sad. Sad that we have lost a good vet. Somewhere in the back room, away from this mess, is a young lady who worked hard to get through veterinary school, who cried as she helped us let Shortcake go to Rainbow Bridge. She even sent us flowers after our little dachshund's passing. She seemed to appreciate our business, respect us and always tried to do the right thing by our animals. In turn, we gave her our respect and did the right thing by her, including referring customers to her and always always paying our bills in full as services were rendered - the right things to do.

We feel Ladora - and maybe Dr. Dunn too, we're not sure about the degree of her involvement here - did the wrong things by us. While everyone needs to be paid for their work, an occasional, very short-term arrangement that detours from "policy" can be made and should be accommodated on a case by case basis, using common sense and some degree of understanding. I've done it my entire personal and business life - it's called helping others.

Ladora cites policy, but where’s the human factor here? She has ripped 6 sources of income away from her boss. She has lost a lot of money for her boss. She has insulted two very good, caring human beings. I’m surprised Dr. Dunn is OK with any of that. But again, we’re not even sure what the vet knows. We’re following up with a note to her, just in case she is unaware of what transpired.

Editor's Note: I would be interested in hearing from pet guardians and veterinarians alike on this topic. How could the staff at Lofton Creek Animal Clinic have handled this better? How could we as clients have handled this better? Should clients never be allowed alternative payment arrangements, not even once in a while, not even the good, loyal, honest customers? Should vets be more involved and watchful of what their business managers or office managers and clerical staff are up to with the clients in the front office? Please post a reply here on the blog or write to me at

By the way...if there is a competent veterinarian in Northeast Florida with a clean office and professional staff members who would like a half dozen spayed/neutered canine clients with responsible pet guardians who pay their bills, please drop me a note at

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Those running on empty need your help

An emergency situation concerning humans and animals has arisen and the readers of this blog are the very people who can help.

There is a homeless camp in the southeast area of Gainesville, Florida, called "Tent City." There are humans, cats, and dogs living here - all God's creatures without homes, banded together to survive on very little.

People in this situation are the most vulnerable among us and need to be provided with a safe space to rest, to sleep, especially children. Unfortunately, these "tent cities" do not enjoy zealous protection from the dangerous elements of society and security is not assured.

There were two stabbings at the Gainesville "Tent City" this past week and now the property owners are asking the police to "enforce the trespass laws" and evict the tenants by Thursday, June 11. (It's important to note the perpetrator was not a usual visitor to the "city." He had twice been convicted of homicide, yet amazingly recently released from prison.)

The people whose lives had no roots before will be uprooted once again and their next step in life unknown. Some of the homeless people will attempt to keep a pet with them - yes, homeless people often have pets too! But most of the animals will be left behind and will face disease, abuse, starvation or death.

If you can help the people, please contact Saint Francis House Homeless Shelter & Soup Kitchen at 352-378-9079. Donations of time and/or money would be appreciated.

You can help the animals by donating money to area animal groups who are actively engaged in helping these animals, by fostering and/or adopting one of the animals soon to be in need of a good home, by providing transportation to help with the round up of abandoned pets, pet carriers, pet food, leashes, collars and other pet supplies, please contact Elizabeth Howard, coordinator of the Home Van Pet Care Project at

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hell is for animals too

One of the most poignant songs I've ever heard is, "Hell is for Children", sung by Pat Benatar. Pat was, of course, referring to child abuse and one line in the song was especially powerful, " shouldn't have to pay for your love with your bones and your flesh."

Nor should animals. I hate to report this, but according to, Florida is #1 in the nation when it comes to cruelty to animals. When I read that, it hurt my heart. There are so many wonderful, loving people in this state, many who, with limited financial and physical resources, devote their lives to the well-being of all kinds of animals.

Given that, I have reason to believe the trend can be reversed.

One area where change is starting to manifest itself is the way in which domestic violence shelters deal with their clients who have left pets in the very homes they fled. Many had little choice at the time. Most domestic violence shelters don't have accommodations for pets. I used to work at such a facility years ago and I once mentioned this very topic to our director. While she was a sympathetic cat person, her reply was a bit out of touch, "Well, the men won't hurt the pets."

Well, yes, they do. Unfortunately, we've learned that when a woman leaves, the chance for harm to come to the remaining "family" pet nearly quadruples. The anger, the violence, hasn't left the house and a dog, cat, rabbit, or other smaller animal makes a handy and helpless target.

Harbor House of Central Florida and the Central Florida Humane Society’s PAWS program have joined forces to create an on-site kennel for about 15 pets. Now women who have fled a violent life with their companion animal can be assured of the pets protection as well. The project will be complete in early 2010.

You can help! To donate or support the program, please contact Carol Wick at Harbor House at 407-886-2244.

For those needing such services, Harbor House has a 24-Hour Crisis Hotline which can be reached by calling 800-500-1119.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Found: Canine Octo Mom

The headline reads, "Florida couple's pit bull gives birth to 20 puppies". The mom, a pit bull, is barely 1-1/2 years old. The couple's 13-month-old male pit is the father. There are 10 males puppies and 10 females.

The couple said they would like to keep all 20 puppies, but can't, so in lieu of that, they said they just "want them all to go to good homes."

Oh, really? Well, if that happens, they will go to homes where their human guardians will have them spayed and/or neutered as soon as they are old enough so they will never have to go through what their parents just did!

The couple didn't say if they'd be placing a "FREE PUPPIES" ad to find those great homes for all those puppies, but if they do, these precious darlings will more than likely be relegated to a life in the dog fighting industry. But if they get that "good home" the couple fantasizes about - and we pray that they will - they will not be used as a "feeder" pup or one of the dogs trained to fight another to the death.

If indeed however, 20 loving, humane families are found for the puppies, they will get quality veterinarian care, timely immunizations, regular heartworm testing and weekly or monthly heartworm and flea/tick preventatives. They will be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They will not live outside, will not be tied to anything, but when outside to do their business and to romp and play, they will be protected by a fenced yard and a watchful guardian. They will not be allowed to roam the neighborhood and will be properly leashed and supervised when in public. They will be humanely trained to earn the distinction of "good dog!"

It would be nice if the puppies' parents could have that kind of life too.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Florida Legislation to help animals


Last week of legislative session - Animals need your help!

Friday is the scheduled end of the 2009 Florida legislative session (the session may be extended one-week). Two important bills that would impact animals in Florida remain undecided.

RE: Sexual Activities Involving Animals
Yesterday, the Florida Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 448 (introduced by Sen. Nan Rich), which would prohibit sexual contact with animals. But the companion bill, HB 273 (introduced by Rep. William D. Snyder), has yet to be scheduled for a vote in the Florida House.

Please contact Rep. Bill Galvano, Chair of the Rules & Calendar Council, and urge him to bring HB 273, "Sexual Activities Involving Animals", to the floor of the Florida House of Representatives for a vote.


Rep. Bill Galvano
Chair, Rules & Calendar Council
Go here to send email to Rep. Galvano
Phone: (850) 488-4086

RE: Greyhound racing
The Florida House and Senate remain divided about whether or not to expand gambling in Florida. One proposal under consideration is to allow greyhound and horse tracks to add "Historic racing" games, computerized machines that replay previously run, but unidentifiable, races that viewers can bet on. These games have been called "slot machines in disguise." If approved, the profits from these games will prop-up dog tracks, ensuring that the cruelty of dog racing will continue for years to come.

The following legislators are members of a committee tasked with creating a compromise gambling bill. Please contact each member and urge them to oppose the addition of "historic racing" games or slot machines at dog tracks and other pari-mutual facilities in Florida.


Representative Sandy Adams
Send an e-mail here
Phone: (850) 488-0468

Senator Ken Pruitt
Phone: (850) 487-5088

Representative D. Alan Hays
Send an e-mail here
Phone: (850) 488-0348

Representative Joseph Abruzzo
Send an e-mail here
Phone: (850) 488-4791

Representative Joe Gibbons
Send an e-mail here
Phone: (850) 488-0145

Senator Dennis Jones
Phone: (850) 487-5065

Senator Ted Deutch
Phone: (850) 487-5091

Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla
Phone: (850) 487-5109

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tails a-wagging about Twitter

You can now follow us on Twitter.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ew, dog spit! Not so fast.

Remember the times when Snoopy would plant a big ol' smacker on little Lucy van Pelt and how she would run away screaming, "Germs! Disease! Infection!" - yes, those were the days.

I'm sure Lucy would be aghast to hear what Kansas State University veterinarian Kate Stenske has to say about dog spit. Stenske studied the incidence of the E. coli bacteria in both dogs and their people. The results? Dog people who were OK with face-licking were no more likely to harbor the bacteria than those who were not OK with canine smooches.

Here's the part of the study that won't really surprise dog people. People with pets had more multiple-drug resistant strains than their pets. That means people are more likely to spread the E. coli bacteria to their pet, rather than the other way around.

So, it appears, sleeping with your dog and allowing him to give your face a few licks isn't going to increase the threat of you acquiring the E. coli bacteria. But you should still wash your hands after petting your dog since you don't want to give her the germs!

The study is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of the

American Journal of Veterinary Research.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Aid for Pets

I talked about this in November and I finally got a page together. Aid for Pets is in the early stages, but I'm adding new info every week.

If you have any resources that could help people having problems keeping their pets - and keeping them healthy - during these precarious economic times, please leave a comment below.