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Friday, April 21, 2006

Duds for Dogs (and other ways to spend a LOT of dough on your pet)

I've been perusing dog magazines of late and am amazed, first, at their proliferation - there are about 50, general interest and breed specific, from what I can tell - second at the fashion spreads and ads. (This picture is the Nov. 2005 cover of New York Dog, featuring interviews with Mafia princess Victoria Gotti and fashion icon Oleg Cassini about their dogs).

Now, I'm neither inclined to dress my guys up, beyond the occasional bandanna, nor in possession of sufficient disposable income to splurge on things like $320 hand-carved beds or $120 cashmere sweaters (which would probably be torn to shreds in minutes).

But anyone who wants to can find unlimited ways to spend in these magazines, as well as Q&As with vets, trainers and pet psychics. Articles might be about grieving for a lost pet, pet-friendly travel, or doggie makeovers (really. The March NY Dog has a ''Queer Eye for the Scruffy Dog'' feature, transforming a shelter Yorkie named Charming into such a magnificent creature that he was adopted the next day).

I've just subscribed to a couple of these publications, and will be passing on tidbits. For more on New York Dog, click here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kitties for Keeps

From the Cat Network:
PetSmart Charities' annaul Spring Adoption Event is coming up, Friday-Sunday, May 4-6, because, “Each year, 10-15 million pets are abandoned in the U.S. Of those, 6-8 million enter shelters, and an estimated 3-4 million are euthanized, simply because they do not have a loving home.”

Cat Network has more than 300 ''beautiful, adoptable adult cats'' that need loving homes, as well as kittens ''of all colors and ages.''

Volunteers will have cats at the PetSmart adoption centers during store hours. Others will be shown at the following PetSmart locations on Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.:

13621 South Dixie Highway, Palmetto Bay
14025 SW 88 Street, Kendall

The Cat Network, Inc., is a nonprofit ''dedicated to humanely reducing cat overpopulation by educating the public about the need to sterilize their pets and strays; providing access to low-cost spay/neuter services for stray, homeless and abandoned cats; helping members in their efforts to place adoptable cats in loving homes; and advocating non-lethal population control and humane public policy.

''Its grassroots efforts have resulted in the spaying and neutering of over 29,000 of South Florida’s stray felines and the adoption of over 5,000 cats & kittens since it’s inception in 1995. Cat Network urges everyone who feeds cats to ensure they are sterilized.''

Call 305/255-3482 for more information, or click here.

Be Kind to Animals Week (which should be EVERY week)

National Be Kind to Animals Week is coming up, May 7-13. Of course for real critter lovers, EVERY week (day, moment) is an exercise in kindness to the furry/feathered/finned ones in our lives. But raising public awareness on this subject is certainly a worthy endeavor. It's the 90th year for the "week," originated by the American Humane Association.

There are plenty of local and national events planned, including one at Miami-Dade Animal Services' shelter, NW 74th St./NW 74th Ave. in Medley.

The department, in a press release today, asked schools to submit student artwork ''to celebrate the unique bond between humans and animals...Kids and pets have always had a special bond. This important art project serves as a great way to acknowledge and reward the unique relationship between pets and their owners, and, hopefully will inspire others to share their love and affection for our furry friends.

''The artwork will brighten the animal shelter's kennel hallway and serve as a reminder to potential adopters that shelter animals make wonderful, loving pets.''

Call Aileen Sanchez, 305-805-1778, if you know kids who are interested in participating.

I'm here to tell you that shelter critters make great pets, being the stepmom of a fantastic fellow named Cowboy, Golden/??, headed for certain death at the shelter last fall. He was terribly sick with flu and cost many hundreds of dollars to treat, but it was worth every cent 10-fold.

He is smart, playful, and endlessly amusing. He cocks his head like a cartoon dog when he's listening, and has a habit of very deliberately crossing his front paws when he lies down.

The shelter is a controversial place constantly battling airborne disease because it's old and badly ventilated. But a new one is in the works, which should markedly improve conditions.

What will REALLY improve life for animals in South Florida is if pet owners spay, neuter and STOP PATRONIZING PUPPY MILLS. Thousands of animals die at the shelter every year because irresponsible owners fail to do these simple things. People behave badly, and animals pay the price.

Universal spaying and neutering will sharply reduce the number of unwanted animals. Puppy mills are notorious for breeding and selling sick dogs, and MUST be boycotted out of existence. In addition, there is no reason to pay (sometimes absurd) fees for dogs when thousands are available nearly free at the county shelter, the Humane Society, and through a myraid rescue groups (breed-specific and general).

So tell anyone you know who's thinking of getting a pet that the greatest kindness is to save the life of a stray, during the upcoming Be Kind to Animals Week or any week.

To read more about national events, click here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Famous British Feline Passes Away

Humphrey, a stray cat that took up residence at 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Minister's home in 1989, died recently, making front-page news in the UK.

The Brits are arguable nuttier about their pets than Americans, and it caused an uproar in 1997 when PM Tony Blair "evicted'' Humphrey from the official residence.

Here's the obit, from Reuters:

LONDON - Humphrey, a stray cat who wandered in to the official residence of Britain’s prime minister in 1989 and caused a scandal when he “retired” in 1997, has died, a spokesman for Tony Blair said on Monday.

The black and white one-time “mouser in chief” was perhaps the most famous pet in a country of animal worshippers.

“World of politics mourns a legend,” headlined the Sun, Britain’s largest circulation daily newspaper.

“It is true. We learned last week that Humphrey has died,” a spokesman confirmed. Humphrey was thought to be 18.

He had wandered into No. 10 Downing Street under Margaret Thatcher and remained throughout the tenure of John Major. But he was sent away to live with a civil servant in “retirement” months after Tony Blair was elected in 1997.

At the time, Conservative opponents accused Blair of having Humphrey put down because the new prime minister’s wife Cherie didn’t like the cat. Questions were raised. Fur flew.

“Humphrey is now a missing person. Unless I hear from him or he makes a public appearance, I suspect he has been shot,” opposition Conservative politician Alan Clark declared at the time.

The government finally arranged for press photos to prove Humphrey was still alive, saying he had gone to live with a civil servant to be treated for illness.

He was photographed, hostage-like, with copies of the day’s newspapers to show the pictures were fresh. Blair’s office issued a statement saying Cherie was sad to see him go.

It was not the only time Humphrey had been embroiled in scandal. In 1994 the government had to issue an official denial after the cat was accused of killing a family of robins.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Want to Captivate New Yorkers? Try the (Latest) Trapped-Cat Story

That was Sunday's headline in the New York Times, after Molly the cat was rescued from a shop wall in Lower Mahnattan. I was there until Sunday, and followed the story with amusement (and concern), because even in America's most sophisticated city, animals-in-distress stories can rivet the populace. The genre has a long history.

Here's some of the story, and a link to the rest:
It is easy to hide in New York City. Sometimes it is even easy to get trapped. Ask the cats.

Molly was reunited Saturday with her rescuer, Kevin Clifford.

One October day in 1941, a black Persian named Mickey climbed out of his owner's apartment at 178 Fifth Avenue, went as high as he could and fell five stories down an inaccessible part of the chimney, the start of a 24-hour ordeal that ended when a restaurant owner next door gave rescuers permission to break through his storeroom to pull Mickey out to safety.

In 1947, another cat, Suzie, was trapped for five days under a Brooklyn pier until she was rescued. The bait: milk and doughnuts. The reward: She got her picture in the paper.

The saga of Molly — the black cat freed from the wall of a Greenwich Village shop on Friday night after a frenzied two-week spectacle — was merely the latest chapter in a rather old New York story, the Story of the Trapped Cat. No one knows how many cats have gotten stuck in the chimneys, walls and crevices of this city, but one thing is certain: Molly was not the first to cause a scene and attract the attention of onlookers, the authorities and reporters.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Humane Society of the U.S. Gives More Money for Katrina Recovery

From the Humane Society of the United States:

The Humane Society of the United States announced more than $800,000 in additional grants to organizations working on pet welfare issues in the Gulf Coast. The HSUS is providing $445,000 in recovery and rebuilding grants to animal shelters affected by Hurricane Katrina and to groups who assisted with relief and sheltering of animal victims. The HSUS also identified two organizations that will receive a total of $375,000 for spay and neuter work.

To date, The HSUS has spent or committed more than $25 million on emergency aid and programs to help people and animals recover from Hurricane Katrina and other disasters that occurred in 2005.

"Recovery is a long process, and we are committed to providing long-term and sustainable solutions for pets in Louisiana and Mississippi," said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. "These latest expenditures are part of The Humane Society of the United States' ongoing commitment to help reestablish animal care and sheltering systems in the Gulf region and to deal with the historic pet overpopulation and heartworm problems in the region."

The new rebuilding grants include $100,000 to the Clearwater Wildlife Sanctuary whose buildings were either damaged or destroyed by the hurricanes; $100,000 to St. Tammany Humane Society for facility repairs and toward costs of serving a huge increase in people and animals in its community; $10,000 to TRANS/Feral Cat Consortium for the construction of additional feral cat housing areas in New Orleans; $15,000 to Heckhaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for the purchase of replacement equipment; $20,000 to Ascension Animal Advocates, a foster care program, for covering expenses incurred from caring for rescued Katrina animals; $20,000 to the Washington Parish Humane Society for structural repairs and the purchase of a replacement truck; $15,000 to Used Dogs for structural repairs and replacement equipment; $15,000 to Cajun Clickers to reimburse for more than 1,400 hours of computer work; and $40,000 to Humane Society of Louisiana to purchase a replacement animal transport vehicle.

The new recovery grants include $50,000 to the Santa Cruz (Calif.) SPCA, which coordinated airlifts of animals from the disaster zone, managed reunions, and treated numerous animals for heartworm; $45,000 to the Animal Sanctuary of the United States (Texas), which is still housing more than 300 cats and several dogs rescued from Katrina; and $15,000 to Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals for its handling of Katrina animals, including many with major medical issues.

Earlier this year, The HSUS announced that at least $1.5 million would be allocated to address the problem of animal overpopulation in the Gulf. Today, The HSUS has awarded the Southern Animal Foundation in Louisiana $250,000 to allow for an expansion of the group's spay and neuter work. The HSUS had previously made a grant of $75,000 to the group.

In addition, The HSUS and American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have each awarded $125,000 to the Humane Alliance and its "Big Fix Rig" to conduct high-volume spay and neuter activities in the Gulf region. Also, The HSUS is working with Louisiana State University in developing a major spay neuter program. Finally, The HSUS has committed $200,000 for a spay and neuter program organized by the ASPCA with financing from PetSmart Charities.

"With the many major programs we are supporting that will very dramatically enhance the spaying and neutering capacity in the Gulf region, we truly hope to conquer the pet overpopulation problem so that there is a home for every animal in need," adds Pacelle.

The HSUS has asked federal and state agencies to adopt new public policies related to animals in disasters. The HSUS is also promoting House and Senate legislation, the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (S. 2548 and H.R. 3858), to require that state and local authorities include pets and service animals in their disaster evacuation plans. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved H.R. 3858 last week.

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