Watch Tip: Foster Pets for Storm-Stricken Families

Posted on April 30th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoBe prepared to help companion animals and their families in communities that have been devastated by tornadoes, floods, and fires. If your home has been spared, offer to foster pets for those families who have lost their homes. Animal shelters quickly become overcrowded and euthanasias skyrocket. Not only are you helping a needy family, you are helping keep a life-saving kennel open. Please help.

Foster: Be a hero to a storm-stricken family and a life-saver to their pet

Imagine that a disaster has struck. You have lost everything! Yesterday your life was normal and today everything is GONE. Your home, your belongings and valuables, your family photos, your favorite slippers, your grandmother’s antique clock. You may have injured children in the hospital—or even worse. Your home is an ugly pile of rubble. It is a TOTAL DISASTER. Where will you go? How will you take care of your family? How will you take care of your cats and dogs? … And these life-changing decisions must be made immediately!

Imagine how relieved you would feel if you knew someone could help you by caring for your pets for a short time. You could find shelter without dealing with restrictions for pets. You could avoid surrendering them to a shelter, perhaps saving their lives. You would feel secure in their safety. And that special foster family would be a hero to you.

Please, if you are one of the lucky ones that survived the disaster without damage or injury, open your home and heart to those less fortunate. Foster a pet or two. How can you get started? First, think about your home and lifestyle and then make a decision on what foster help you can reasonably offer for a period of one month.

  • Call your Red Cross and offer to foster pets for a homeless family victimized by the disaster
  • Call your shelter or pound with the offer
  • Call your church or school

Be sure to get complete contact information and vet clinic information for the pets you are fostering, and do discuss what to do if the pet becomes ill. Remember, the owners must make veterinary decisions for their pets. Encourage the family to visit their pet, unless it becomes apparent that the pet suffers unreasonably from those visits. Plan to call the family once a week to keep them informed about their pets and keep up with their plans to bring their pets home.

Can you also help by donating pet food to your shelter or local food pantry? Remember it is people like you helping neighbors that truly make the world a better place.

Watch Tip: Easter Traditions Can Kill Pets

Posted on April 23rd, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWeekly watch tip for the week of April 24:

Easter traditions can kill your pets. Easter lilies, Easter baskets, Easter gatherings—all are dangerous! Keep your pets in closed rooms or crates during parties so they do not get into trouble while you are busy. Remember, an over-stimulated pet can bite or scratch your visitors. IMPORTANT: immediately put your potted lilies and baskets high up and out of reach of inquisitive cats and dogs. Instruct your children to hide their baskets in drawers or closets.

The Pet Poison Helpline is fully-staffed and ready for business this weekend!

It’s too bad that cats and dogs don’t come with “warning” labels! If they did, certainly fewer of them would die during the Easter holidays. Keep this number handy if you have pets and plans for a traditional holiday in your home: 1-800-213-6680. This helpline is staffed by board-certified veterinary internal medicine (DACVIM) and emergency critical care (DACVECC) specialists and costs just $35 per call. Easter dangers include:

  • Easter Lilies are deadly to cats if eaten. Even small pieces of plant leaves and flower petals can cause sudden kidney failure and result in death. Do not grow these plants in your yard if you have cats or wandering cats live nearby: Easter, Tiger, Asiatic, Stargazer, and Day lilies. Emergency veterinary treatment is required to save your cat.
  • Easter grass can be deadly to cats if eaten. Cats will swallow strands of Easter basket grass, string, rubber bands, and thread. (They will even swallow needles.) Long strands of grass or thread or string can wind around the intestines, resulting in blockages that cut off circulation or it can “saw” through and cause death to intestinal tissues. Surgery can save your cat if diagnosis is prompt.
  • Chocolate candies and baked goods are toxic, but did you think only to dogs? Guess again. Chocolate is toxic to cats too.  A chemical found in chocolate and cocoa, theobromine, causes vomiting and diarrhea if eaten in small amounts. If your cat or dog eats a lot of it, seizures and heart arrhythmias will result. Immediate veterinary care is required.
  • Sugarless gum and candies sweetened with xylitol are poisonous to dogs. It causes liver failure within days and death can result.
  • Fatty ham scraps can cause digestive upset and pancreatitis in cats and dogs, leading to abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.

Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Neighbors Who Would Do Harm

Posted on April 16th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch Tip for week of April 17:

Watch for people in your neighborhood who would do harm to pets. They might hate free-roaming cats and dogs in their yard or pets making noise at night when they are trying to sleep. In more rural areas, if they keep chickens or farm animals, they might shoot to kill because it is legal when livestock is threatened. Be protective—not everyone loves animals like we do!

Family dogs shot and their bodies dumped in a ditch

In a small midwestern town recently, two beloved family dogs were inadvertently let loose from their fenced yard by one of the children; the friendly, chubby, collared dogs wandered off and turned up at a rural homestead not far away. It appears they may have worried a flock of chickens but no chickens were actually harmed. Still, both dogs were shot to death and their bodies dumped near a river; the family and many in the town are grieving for them. The shooter has not been identified.

No animal lover would dream of killing pets without severe provocation. But this true story is important because it reminds us that there are people out there who will kill pets without good cause … lots of them.

In just one Wisconsin town, three stories:

A wandering dog was shot to death just one block away from his home as he was crossing an empty lot, I was told by his tearful owner, a woman who owns a pet store and has done much to help shelter dogs and cats in the region. The shooter was never identified.

Read the rest of this entry »

wwtips_a2Tell your family, friends and neighbors that keeping quiet when they know of an animal in distress is just plain wrong; it is completely unacceptable behavior. If anyone knows of an animal in distress, basic standards for human decency require communication with authorities or with rescuers. We animal lovers must change our culture one person at a time!


In memory of the starved puppy “Snoop” in Oshkosh, WI

A young couple in a small city purchased a pit bull puppy in January and named him Snoop. They kept him in a crate in their living room. They fed him well for several weeks and then they stopped feeding puppy chow regularly, later saying that “it was too expensive and too stressful.” For the next 8 weeks or so, they watched Snoop grow thin and weak from starvation inside his 2 x 3 foot crate from the comfort of their living room couch.  Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Keep Pocket Posters Handy

Posted on April 2nd, 2011 by Anna Nirva

wwtips_a2Do you know of a pet living nearby in neglectful conditions? Use pocket posters to send a strong message to the household in English and Spanish. There are 10 messages. Print them now and have them ready in your vehicle or bag. When you encounter a neglected animal, put the appropriate pocket poster in the entrance or on a fence. If the pet is too weak to move or is bleeding or is trapped inside an empty building, use your phone to call 9-1-1.

Sunbear Squad “Pocket Posters” speak for you
to point out a pet neglect problem

As you travel through your busy day, you can help protect a neglected animal by communicating with the owner with a pre-printed note. They are free; download the files today. Four pocket posters print on one letter-size sheet; cut them apart for use. Print one side in English and the reverse side in Spanish, if you are in a bilingual region.

Messages in English and Spanish include:

  • Give your dog more water.
  • Your pet needs more food.
  • Your dog needs a dog house.
  • Your pet needs medical attention.
  • Your dog needs attention from you.
  • Your dog needs shade.
  • Your dog needs water and shade.
  • Your dog needs a wind block.
  • Your dog needs straw insulation.
  • Evacuating? Take Pets Too!

Click to download the Pocket Posters (PDF)

April is “Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month” for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This month we’ll highlight ways you can help prevent cruelty. Sunbear Squad provides tools, knowledge and inspiration to help you help needy or neglected pets in your neighborhood and community. Be ready to prevent cruelty by keeping Pocket Posters handy. Be a voice for those who have none.