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Friday, May 12, 2006

The Queen Gets a New Castle

Queen Guenevere, the Miami-Dade Animal Services pet of the week, certainly brightened up the county's - how to say this nicely - really boring website.

This was called to my attention by my colleague, Tere Figueras Negrete, who covers county government and so trolls the website daily in search of news and tips. Yesterday she spotted Guenevere, resplendent in royal garb.

"This is by far the cutest thing on the county's web portal," said Tere. "Especially when you consider what else is on there. Water and Sewer Department? Trash pick-up? Can't compare to a cat with crown. Not even close."

Animal services today advised that she'd been adopted, but to see her on the site, click here.

I'm happy to report that the Queen's new family promises she'll have her own room with a tv and VCR. Now, THAT'S a cat's life!

APB on a Lost German Shepherd

This urgent "all points bulletin" came to me a few minutes ago from Suzanne, a rescuer in the Naples area, on Florida's West Coast. She's looking for Mandy, a shepherd that she fostered for four months then placed with a family in the Jupiter Farms area, clear across the state.

"She ran away from the family the very next day," Suzanne wrote. "It has now been 19 days! I have made 7 trips from my house to the Jupiter Farms area searching for Mandy, placing flyers, walking kennels at Palm Beach County Animal Control."

She's been getting calls from people who say they've spotted Mandy, "but she is probably so scared right now she's running from anyone! I have called professional trappers who tell me, 'She will come home,' and hang up the phone. I do have wonderful ladies and men who have taken days off from work to search for her, even a helicopter company who looks when they are up.

"We have, however, faced some opposition from the cowboys who say we cannot "walk" their property and say they will shoot her if they see her. With no help from the sheriff office either! I guess they think it's just a dog. Well, they are right: she's a dog, and our dog!"

Please, everyone in the Jupiter Farms area, keep an eye out for a lost, scared dog. If you have information, e-mail Suzanne at

The Pet Name Game

Got a press release today from the Social Security Administration listing the most popular (human) baby names in 2005. Which were:





This led me to wonder about the most popular pet names. So here, from the ASPCA, is the Top 30 list, which I believe is cats and dogs (sorry about the formatting. The technical apsects of certain blogging operations escape me):

1. Max 16. Jake
2. Sam 17. Bandit
3. Lady 18. Tiger
4. Bear 19. Samantha
5. Smokey 20. Lucky
6. Shadow 21. Muffin
7. Kitty 22. Princess
8. Molly 23. Maggie
9. Buddy 24. Charlie
10. Brandy 25. Sheba
11. Ginger 26. Rocky
12. Baby 27. Patches
13. Misty 28. Tigger
14. Missy 29. Rusty
15. Pepper 30. Buster

Chipping Tips

If you've been following the Bogey saga, and have rejoiced in his safe (if tick-ridden) return, you should know that his "dad," Stan Pinder, has informed me that to the family's shock, he didn't have the microchip that they believed had been installed.

"They charged me and stuck a needle in his back in front of me but did not scan him to ensure that it was there and working," Stan Pinder wrote. "I didn't know about these things as I have never bought a dog before. I've always rescued one."

A vet scanned Bogey's whole body and no chip turned up. They even did x-rays, and found no chip.

"I was livid!!" said Stan.

The lesson here is that you should insist on having the chip scanned in front of you after installation. If you have any doubt about whether your pet is chipped, take him/her to the vet and have a scan.

But there's a second part to the chipping process: registering the number. And here I give you the thoughts of a blog reader who sent the following:

"I work for one of the major microchip companies, in the recovery department. I CANNOT EXPRESS STRONGLY ENOUGH how important it is for those people out there who have their pets chipped to make sure they are registered. For the most part, registration is separate from the implanting and does require a one-time, minimal for a lifetime membership.

"DO NOT assume that your vet, or the Humane Society where you may have gotten your dog, does this for you. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone call to update their information only to find that they have never been registered. We have had people say that their vet told them it was not necessary since the information is at the vet. But, most animals are not considerate of the hours that vets work and tend to get lost at all hours of the day and night, not to mention that if someone were to find your pet and wanted to keep him, if there is no registered owner, they CAN register that chip.

"So PLEASE, if anyone reading this has a microchipped pet and has any doubts about whether they are registered or not, call and find out! It is also important the vets and the shelters tell people that they need to register.

"If you are given paperwork, READ IT ALL. The chip companies have brochures that have registration information and applications to register in them. DO NOT toss anything into a drawer before reading!

"I hope this helps spread the word. Thanks from a customer service rep!"

Oh no-- thank YOU, Mr. or Ms. Customer Service Rep, for the valuable tips.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Poster Pooches

These are TOO cute! New Tri-Rail posters from the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority. Thanks to Bonnie Arnold, marketing director, and her critter-loving colleagues, for sending them along.

New Tricks Threaten Old Shelters

That's the headline on a story from the Raleigh News & Observer about a guy whose shelter - which seems like a little slice of feline heaven - is facing possible demise at the hands of state regulators.

There are stringent new rules governing building and furnishing materials, all of which would render a homey, natural-habitat shelter as sterile as an operating room. Clean is good,of course, but comfy is also good for animals who might have to spend months in a shelter.

To read the story, click here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Do These Dogs Deserve the Death Penalty?

This is a chilling story. Of course it's horrible that someone died, but if there's any question that these dogs were the culprits, lets hope no one rushes to do something that can't be undone.

DECHERD, Tenn. — The owner of two Franklin County dogs accused of killing a local woman Saturday may face no criminal prosecution because of weak state laws, authorities said.

The charge of allowing dogs to run at large, off their leashes, "may be the worst thing that could be charged" in the death of Dianna Acklen, 60, Sheriff Mike Foster said.

"The DA will have to make that call. If I had to guess, I don't think any criminal charges will be filed," the sheriff said.

His comments came Tuesday, the same day Acklen was eulogized and buried.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

And to read related stories, click here
and click here

This is Just Silly...But Sometimes We Need a Little Silliness

Oh, if only getting rid of wrinkles was so easy!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Advice from a Rescue Pro

Cyndi Lenz, from Tropical Dawg, the Golden Retriever rescue operation, checked in with some observations and advice following Bogey's return, which I'm pleased to share.

She thinks it's a ''really bad idea'' to leave dogs outside in South Florida.

''Dogs that stay outside a lot develop terrible skin problems that are really hard to get rid of. It is too hot and humid here. Besides skin problems, there are ear infections.''

Quite charitably, she doubts that the person who took Bogey had bad intentions, but didn't know ''the routine when you find a dog,'' which should include posting on websites, placing a ''found dog'' ad in the newspaper, knocking on doors, checking with local vets (who can scan for a microchip), shelters and rescue groups, and putting up signs.

She continues: ''Having said that - dogs get stolen out of yards all the time and many times for neferious reasons. Goldens are used as bait for teaching dogs how to dog fight. This is not some charming New England hamlet where you let your dog out and expect to find it in your front yard when you get home.''

She points out that thunderstorm season is coming up, and recommends Rescue Remedy, a calming supplement, for nervous canines who might try to bolt if scared.

''My dog Casey has thunderstorm phobia, and even if my house is shut down like Fort Knox, he finds his way out,'' she said. ''He can open doors, flip up locks, open windows, push out screens and jump like the "Cow that jumped over the moon" if spooked.

''This from a dog who needs a hand up to get into the car.''

Thanks, Cyndi.

To learn more about Tropical Dawg, click here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Thoughts on The Outdoor Life of Dogs

From a reader signing herself Paws, who was keeping up with the Bogey saga. She's offering level-headed, nonjudgmental advice (and I certainly don't think her heartless).

But this is a tough one. No one wants to leave pets cooped up all day inside if there's a fenced yard available, especially in beautiful weather. But no one wants to go through what Bogey's family endured, either.

Given the habits and inclinations of my particular dogs, I'm comfortable leaving the three of them in the fenced yard, with a doggie door into the garage. They have each other for company, and aren't jumpers or diggers. But this might not work for other folks (and other dogs).

So here's what Paws had to say:

Please don't think me heartless, but you cannot leave your dog unattended in your yard - no matter the fencing and gates. Dogs don't think about getting out and the dangers - they are live for the mo' kind of creatures. Puppies especially haven't a clue - perhaps that is why I am a "gimme an old dog" kind of gal.

I am delighted the family was reunited with their dog, but you have to keep your pets indoors when you are not home. I know that when I find a dog running loose, I stop to help, and sometimes I take that dog home with me. Do I risk leaving the dog running loose in the streets? We get a leash and go back to the neighborhood and I hope the dog takes me to his home. If not, the dog comes back home with me.

Signs are posted, flyers handed out, and contacts are made with animal control, humane organizations, breed rescue, local vets, and Pets911. Sometimes the dogs are reunited with their owners, other times no one steps forward. There are rules you have to follow when you find a stray animal and we should all observe them; but sometimes the humans don't make that effort.

Bogey's escape should serve as a reminder to pet owners everywhere, that it is OUR responsibility to keep our pets safe from their own sense of adventure. When you leave, the animal is inside your home. If you have a dog who can get out of any collar - you look until you find one he can't get off - Martingale type collars are good choices.

Accidents happen - I've been there myself; but you take as many precautions as possible so that you can say you've done your best.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bogey's Back! His Family is Overjoyed and Grateful

From Stan Pinder, whose Golden, Bogey, was snatched from a neighbor's yard sale:

''Praise God and thanks to everyone's efforts ... BOGEY IS HOME!!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much! We are exhausted after going to EVERY GARAGE SALE in town and posting hundreds more flyers.

''The thief must have freaked out at all the exposure and CUT HIM LOOSE! We got a call from an Angel who has a Golden. Her neighbor saw him playing with some kids around SW 147 avenue and 72 St. (about 5 miles from our house). She knocked on the lady's door and said: 'Here's your dog!' She said: 'It's not my dog; he's right here!'

''Anyway [the lady] called her dog trainer at Pet Smart, Kathryn O'Dell, and Kathryn gave her our number! Wow! We are so happy around here, completely spent and exhausted but happy and [the lady] is $1,000.00 richer.

''We went straight to Pet Smart to meet Kathryn and buy some stuff for Bogey. He's a bit stressed out and full of ticks, so we have some work to do but, I wanted to thank everyone first.''

Of course, being a Golden, he headed right for the pool, as you can see from these pictures.

This is great! If you read down, you'll see postings about Bogey's disappearance and the family's efforts to get him back. Happy endings are all too rare, as you'll see from the posting below. I wish things had turned out this way for Bronja's owners.

Sad News About a Lost Dog

I'd seen the Lost Dog; Needs Medication postings in my neighborhood: two snapshots of a regal, 9-year-old black German shepherd named Bronja who disappeared on April 24.

I kept my eye out but never saw her.

Then in yesterday's mail came a postcard with the same pictures and the desperate owners' phone numbers.

''Please, please help us find our baby girl!'' it read.

So I called Barbara and Artie Malesci to tell them I'd be happy to post the information here on the blog. Barbara stopped me.

''It's really kind of you to call, but...''

From the tone of her voice, I knew she'd gotten bad news. A neighbor found Bronja's body floating in canal that runs through El Portal and the Upper East Side.

''We had construction going on and someone left something open,'' said Barbara, sad and weary. ''I hadn't seen her since I kissed her goodnight two weeks ago.''

She and her husband, in the film/tv production business, got Bronja when she was less than 2. Four years ago, she was the ringbearer in their wedding. They loved her like a child.

What Barbara can't understand is how Bronja ended up in the water.

''She loved to swim and was an excellent swimmer. She would throw herself into the pool. Watching her was the most life-affirming thing.''

Perhaps, she specualtes, someone hit her with a car and threw the body in the canal.

She's determined to find out what happened, even if it means consulting a pet psychic.

''I had a pet detective right in my living room, because my husband is working on CSI Miami. He had a helicopter and boats and tracking dogs, checking every canal. We put out 1,200 fliers.''

She's hoping that this posting will get to people who got the mailer - which went to everyone in their zip code - so they'll stop calling and she can stop explaining something so painful.

''People have been so sweet and caring,'' she said. ''I'm pretty blown away with how nice everyone's been.''

Their other dog, Hugo, 4, knows something's wrong.

''We're trying to be real strong for him,'' said Barbara.

Time is the only thing that makes this kind of pain decrease, and I hope that Barbara, Artie and Hugo eventually find some peace, so that their only thoughts of Bronja can be of all the love and laughs she brought them.