Thursday, March 10, 2011

Animals should not die in swimming pools

I am so distressed right now. I just read an article about four dogs and a raccoon drowning in a Jacksonville swimming pool.

Seems the pool had been neglected so badly and the water was so murky, the poor animals couldn't tell it was water they were stepping onto.

Stuff like this just makes me crazy. I mean, we have a lovely inground swimming pool in our backyard for which we are extremely thankful. It provides us with many hours of fun and exercise. Right from the beginning we spent a lot of effort to make it safe for people and animals.

The first step we took to protect everyone was to have the screen enclosure people out the very next day after the pool was installed. They erected a screen room over the entire pool and deck area, one with 2 doors with handles and key holes so high only adults are able to reach it.

Next, we never, ever, did I say, never, walk away from the pool without making sure those doors are locked and we have the key in hand. We never leave the key in either door, even if we intend on returning to the pool in a few minutes. Frankly, we just assume all children in the neighborhood are 7 feet tall and waiting to get the slip on us so they can take over our pool.

Also, much to the amusement of my father, we purchased something called a Frog Log a few years back. It looks like a little sliding board made of Styrofoam. The Frog Log provides a place for small animals - including raccoons, frogs, squirrels, etc., to climb up out of the pool in case they chew through the screen and fall in. These little devices are affordable, easy to use, and they work.

The last thing we do to keep our pool safe for all is to keep it pristine. Please, all you pool owners out there, take precautions and always keep your pool clean. If you don't know how, contact your nearby pool supplies store and ask them to show you, step by step, what to do.

In the tragedy mentioned above, the city has stepped in and will send someone in to "secure" the pool. I hope the property owner will be held responsible for the deaths and the materials required to do what he should have done from day one of his pool ownership.

There are many awful things that should never happen in this world and allowing animals or children to lose their lives in unsupervised, non-maintained swimming pools is certainly one of them!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Feral cats finally catch a break in Duval County

Until recently, colonies of feral cats in Duval County had been well cared for by a group of dedicated volunteers, but in a shadowy world, without any legal protection.

Then in December, 2010, Duval County’s Animal Control Ordinance 2010-527 passed. The ordinance contains a couple of provisions that will prove helpful to animals, including the Feral Freedom pilot project, funded by Best Friends Animal Society.

The feral project has been active in the area for a couple of years, but is now incorporated into Duval County’s Ordinances. Getting to this point has been a collaboration between the City of Jacksonville, Best Friends Animal Society, First Coast No More Homeless Pets, and the Jacksonville Humane Society.

Short story: Feral cats, or “community cats,” as animal advocates refer to them, will no longer be rounded up and killed in Duval County. It will now be legal to care for them.

The Feral Freedom pilot project uses the TNR (trap, neuter/return) formula to keep community cats out of humane societies and rescue groups where they don’t usually thrive. Another benefit to the project is that spaces not taken by feral animals will be available for more adoptable animals which should help increase adoptions rates across the county.

Under the new ordinance, community cats will be exempt from rules that apply to pet cats, such as licensing fees - if those caring for them have followed TNR procedures and have also vaccinated the cats. Ear tips will be placed on the community cats for identification purposes. Many involved in the project said the tips will eventually be considered to be licenses.

Note from Patricia: First, a rhetorical question, to no one in particular: “Why do laws have to be passed to allow people to be humane?”

OK, I’ve got some feelers out to learn how many cities and counties throughout Florida have hooked up with the Feral Freedom pilot project. Once I learn of more, I will write about them here. Meanwhile, if your area has such a program, please post the info in the comments section below.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Focus on pet travel safety

I just found about something called, "Pet Travel Safety Day." The first annual celebration was January 2, so I'm a couple of days late to the discussion. But it's a topic I feel deserves some attention, especially because so many people in Florida travel with their pets.

Pet Travel Safety Day was designed to focus people's attention on the risks pets face when traveling with their human companions via automobiles and airplanes, as well as the dangers that lurk for them in hotels and recreational facilities.

We like the website because their philosophy echoes ours.'s logo is, "They're part of the family, so take them along." And the Pet Travel Safety people remind us to also, "Protect your pets as you would yourself and your children."

The Pet Travel Safety group was started by a former paramedic who too often saw the results of unrestrained animals in vehicles. The site offers tips for keeping a beloved travel buddy safe, such as: How to properly install pet car seats or restraints, and more.

For more information on this topic, visit National Pet Travel Safety Day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Seniors for Seniors

What is a new year? It's 365 brand new days, filled with fresh opportunities and retooling. Humans and animals alike deserve second chances.

Safe Animal Shelter (SAFE) in Middleburg is working to help older cats in Florida get their do-overs. They've developed "Seniors for Seniors" as a way to match up older felines with older people in an effort to give both groups some special love.

A Snuggle Session is scheduled every Tuesday at the Safe Animal Shelter to give some awesome folks an opportunity to hang out with some cool cats. There's lots of petting and purring going on, but this action isn't rated R. Like humans, animals understand touch, voice, and attention. Also like humans, they downright thrive on all of it.

If you don't yet have any new year's resolutions, here's an easy one to keep: visit SAFE on a Tuesday and find a furry buddy with whom to enjoy every day in 2011 - and beyond.

Should you fall in love with one of the cats you meet at a Snuggle Session, SAFE will make him or her available to you as a no-cost adoption after the application process. If adoption isn't the best arrangement for you at this time, you could consider a long-term foster plan (whether you are a senior or not.)

For more information about "Seniors for Seniors", visit Safe Animal Shelter.