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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Dogs of Ground Zero

I saw them that day: hard-working heros who stopped at nothing to help with the search-and-rescue effort, and all too soon, the recovery of the dead.

The dogs who worked the huge, smouldering debris pile suffered burns, cut paws, exhaustion and dehyration, but according to a new study, not the respiratory ills that afflicted many human search-and-rescuers. A lot of dog handlers dispute the findings.

Click here to read the story.

Animal-Care Job Openings

Miami-Dade Animal Services has several openings for kennel staff. This is direct care: feeding the cats and dogs and cleaning the cages. It's not glamorous work, but it provides crucial contact between humans and animals.

The paycheck is $11.17 per hour (plus benefits, even for part-timers). The payoff is knowing you provided badly-needed attention - a pat, a scratch, a kiss - to a lonely and confused critter desperate for a home.

For more information go to and scroll down to Animal Services. The position title is Animal Care Specialist and requires six months' experience. Input "part time," which is 35 hours, but there also are fulltime positions available.

Looking for Unconditional Love? Try the Litter Box

If you're an American female of a certain age - that would be "middle" - you might recall an early '80s joke book called Cucumbers are Better Than Men Beacuse....This was considered fairly risque at the time, and was a hot item at bachelorette parties and the like. Not much imagination is required to list the reasons why a cucumber might be preferable to an actual male human being.

So now comes the feline-lovers' version: 101 Reasons to Dump Your Man and Get a Cat: So you man's just NOT that into you? Your cat is! (William Morrow, $14.95). The subtitle, of course, goofs on the relationship best-seller, He's Just Not That Into You.

The author is Molly Katz ("yeah, really!" as the title page says), who was inspired by Buddy, "a beautiful tuxedo with a delicious soft coat and an irresistible baritone purr."

Among her reasons:

"Cats hunt alone, not out with the guys."
"When a cat thinks he's doing something charming, he is."
"There's only so much pillow a cat can hog."
And my personal favorite: "Your cat won't admit he;s wrong either, but at least he doesn't keep you up all night trying to prove he's right."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

PETA Goes Head to Head With Primarily Primates

There's a nasty situation in Texas concerning what is supposed to be an animal sanctuary but, according to PETA and a court-appointed caregiver, sounds more like a torture chamber for 800 critters, including retired research chimps.

PETA sued after observing horrendous conditions - filth, isolation, lack of shelter - at Primarily Primates in San Antonio. On its website, PETA calls the facility's director a drunk, and claims he's been misusing donated funds in addition to neglecting the animals.

He, of course, denies everything.

Click here
to read an AP story about it, then click here to go to the PETA site.

Sad Story About the Lost Love of a Homeless Man's Life

Her name was Precious, perfect for a dog who was a man named Joe's greatest treasure. Homeless in our nation's capital - a street preacher who has travelled the country pushing prayer as a cure for violence - Joe hung out with Precious in and around Dupont Circle.

On Sept. 11, Precious was shot and killed by a park police officer, devastating Joe and enraging many animal lovers.

Click here to read the story in the Washington Post.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Are You a Choc (Lab) -a-holic?

This guy needs a home ASAP. Not good with small children; big ones and adults are fine. Call Robbie at 305-799-1567.

Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Few things are more amusing than pets dressed up in silly costumes. I have to believe that most of them actually enjoy it. And I know they enjoy sweets, although candy should be off limits (for health reasons).

Here's a comprehensive list of do's/don'ts for the upcoming night of spooking and snarfing, from Brenda Beck, president of Pets & Animals in Distress.


1. No tricks, no treats: That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for
Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms can be very dangerous for dogs and
cats, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset should pets ingest them. Intestinal blockage could even occur if large pieces are ingested.

3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their "birthday suits," however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe or bark. Keep a look out for small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume that your pet could choke on.

7. Take a closer look at your pet's costume and make sure it does not obstruct her vision in any way. Even the sweetest animals can get snappy when they can't see.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

Please remember keep your pets safe. if you suspect that your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance - around Halloween or any time of year - please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

March for "Bullies"

Not the kind who push your kid around on the playground: Pit Bulls.

It'll be downtown West Palm Beach, according to Melody Owens of Ethical Bull Breed Rescue & Referral "to help with the growing problem of BSL (breed-specific legislation) against bullies." She urges everyone to bring their bullies.

Time: Oct. 28, 10 a.m.
Where: Meet behind the West Palm Beach Library, 100 Clematis Street.
More info: Call 561-373-3882; e-mail

Monday, October 16, 2006

Beware "Free" Pets Scams

I'm happy to report that the Herald has added a $1.99 surcharge to pets-for-sale ads on the website: It's one way of discouraging scammers claiming to have animals for sale or free, who take your money and never deliver a critter.

We've gotten e-mail from several people who've fallen victim to this fraud, which I call "Son of Nigerian Bank Scam." You know that one: someone claiming to have millions needs your help - and a few hundred or thousand of your cash - to help move his money around. For this assistance, he'll cut you in for a big, fat percentage. Incredibly, otherwise sane people fall for this, and end up losing a fortune.

Here's part of an e-mail to the newspaper from someone who nearly got scammed:

I was online searhing for a Yorkie to buy and all the ones that I looked at had
the same contact number with different names or had a fake contact number. So what I did was e-mail these ads telling them I was interested in these Yorkie puppies. I’d say I contacted up to six or seven of these people. I got e-mail responses back [from] all different names and e-mail address but they all had the same exact stories.

The website ads that have snagged some unsuspecting buyers have certain red flags: They're practically illiterate. They promise a free pet but will charge for shipping. Some originate in Cameroon, and many try to play the "Good Christian" card.

Now think about it: Why would anyone in the continental U.S. need to get a Yorkie or English Bulldog or macaw shipped from West Africa? Who offers a puppy that usually costs $400-$600 for free? What relevance is religion to buying a pet?

Here's what some of the ads look like:

For a "free" bulldog puppy: The baby is lovely playfull and never mean at anyone,she gets well with other pets and perfect friendmaker.Very affectionate towards children and other pets with a Current vaccinations,vet exam,health certificate from a licensed vet and a written guarantee of health( 1yr).recently checked by a licensed Vet Doctor for heart, knees,skin,correct bite and eyes.I have been feeding her maily on Kibbles,dry dog food and fresh water.and are akc and ckc registered also thier worming records and health...

And this: Two litters 10 days apart 7 little bullies in all. 3 girls and 4 boys. ACK registered Vet checked with shots and wormed. Only intrested buyers please.Im a rev resident in the US FLORIDER but im now on a mission as a missionary in CAMEROON taking care of one center known as the CHILDCARE CENTER OF MARY.i came here with my bulldog and she has just given birth to 7pups,3girls and giving them out for christains and pets loving homes and i need only the money for shipping them to you

Do NOT get involved with these people! If you must have a purebred dog, there are plenty of legitimate breeders in Florida (and every other state) who will sell you one. Better yet, go online and find a rescue group for the breed you want. And even better than THAT, go to a shelter and save a life. I've said before that I have nothing against purebreds - in fact I have one - but there is really no need to spend hundreds, maybe thousands, on an animal when you can get anything you could possibly want at a shelter or through a rescue group.

The Herald is trying hard to rid our site of scammers; the public needs to do its part by refusing to be sucked in by these jerks. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, IT PROBABLY IS!

Lost Dogs and Homes Needed

From Celina in Cutler Ridge, south Miami-Dade County:

"I lost my two purebred Miniature Doberman Pinschers on Friday, Oct. 13. They left my house about 11 a.m. and were spotted walking east on Friday evening. Their names are Coco Chanel (female) and Tiny (male). Coco is unable to walk on her left hind leg and suffers from severe pain if she does not recieve her medication. Neither one is wearing any form of identification, but it is highly probable that they would be found together. If you can help, please call 305-975-5212. Thank you for your support and cooperation, it is highly appriciated.

From Mary in the Daytona area:

"My daughter is terminally ill. I must find a home for her dog, Jake, a 3 1/2-year-old neutered male chocolate Spanish water dog. He's a rescue dog from Jensen Beach, very sweet-natured but frightened of men until they show him they are kind and soft-spoken. He takes seizure medication and has had all his shots.

He's fine with my two Portugese water dogs my two little grandchildren. I need a place fast. Thank you for your time. Call 386-428-0720.