Watch Tip: Party Animals

Posted on June 26th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWhen attending holiday gatherings that include pets, be observant and proactive. Remember that parties can become very stressful for resident and visiting pets, especially when active, curious, pet-loving children are present. Take on the responsibility of watching over pets and children and be prepared to intervene when you see pets under stress, to help prevent bites or scratches.


RIP Sunbear. His ordeal began around July 1. He was trapped in an empty townhouse until Aug. 11. He will never be forgotten!

Help prevent injuries at parties: offer to be the party “children and pet protector”

Our collective memories cherish the beloved, iconic dog who played happily with children all day long. But our busy world is very different today. It’s far less commen for children to play outside in groups all summer long accompanied by several neighborhood dogs while being casually supervised by neighborhood mothers. Family dogs are now more likely to  be undersocialized to children and pets outside of the home. During parties, dogs and cats might react to the unfamiliar adults, children, and visiting animals by nipping or biting. Excitable, energetic puppies and kittens with their sharp little teeth and claws are especially worrisome.

Every sizable party that includes children needs at least one pet-savvy children and pet protector. Remember, most bites and scratches happen between people (of all ages) and pets that know each other at least a little bit, according to the Center for Disease Control. When you get to the party and see wandering dogs and/or cats among a crowd that includes children and teens, approach the party organizer and casually question “can I help keep an eye on the pets and the kids” unless of course you are very sure it isn’t necessary. Busy hosts and hostesses might be delighted with your offer, and if not, you will at least get a better understanding of the situation during the reply.

Watch for signs of stress in cats to possibly prevent bites and scratches to children. The most obvious sign is body language: the cat will scamper out of reach. If captured, the cat will wriggle and twist in an effort to get free of a child’s body clasp. Quickly pluck the struggling kitty from the child and set it down in an open area; likely it will run and hide. If the cat stays, use this as a teachable moment. Teach the child to “be gentle” and guide little hands to softly, slowly stroke the cat’s back. Be sure to exclaim “Ouch!!!” on the cat’s behalf if a child roughly handles the cat; explain “that hurts!” because  “cats can get owees just like kids.”

Dog stress and the associated body language can be less easy to spot; much has been written on the topic. Dogs evading capture or avoiding contact with children and/or vocalizing (barking, growling) are obviously stressed and should be moved to a quiet room far from the party. Some dogs however will appear to enjoy playing with children but might eventually become over-stimulated or over-tired and suddenly could nip without warning. Everyone has heard “My dog has never…”  or “My dog would never…” along with “Your kid should not have…” offered as the defense for a bite. Yet the bite could have been avoided if an observer had watched for signs of stress in the dog or for inappropriate behavior by the child. In the end, the dog or cat’s owner is responsible for their pet’s behavior AND for protecting their pet from too-young or poorly-trained children and adults.

Young children should be taught these pet “never-never” rules:

  • Never hug or hold tight onto a stranger pet; you can frighten the pet or hurt it
  • Never shout at or strike out a pet; you can frighten the pet or hurt it
  • Never throw objects at a pet or hit a pet with sticks; you can hurt the pet
  • Never go near a stranger pet who is eating or sleeping or resting; it might bite
  • Never take away toys or treats away from a stranger pet; it might bite
  • Never give food to a stranger pet with your hand; it might bite your fingers
  • Never approach a pet that is growling, hissing, or barking; it is angry or frightened and might bite or scratch
  • Never run from a dog that is chasing and nipping at children; stop playing and get help from an adult
  • Never stay alone in a room or a yard with a stranger pet unless the owner is present

Have a safe and happy holiday with your two-legged and four-legged family members.

Watch Tip: Search Immediately for Lost Pets

Posted on June 19th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoTip for week of June 19:

If your dog or cat goes missing, start your search immediately. For dogs: Search your neighborhood, enlisting help, but when your dog is spotted, LURE your dog to you with treats. Do not chase, which could become a dangerous game of keep-away for your dog! For cats: Search near your home. Search tree limbs, shrubbery, and under outbuildings with flashlights. Don’t give up!

Don’t wait! Search immediately. It’s dangerous out there.

Sometimes pet owners opt to just wait for their missing dog or cat to come home. They give up before even trying. They won’t even leave the yard or make a phone call. Yes, the missing pet knows where it lives. Yes, the pet might just be walking it’s territorial boundary, a daily occurrence. Yes, every neighbor might know your pet. Yes, they might just wait until the morning. Yes, their pet can take care of itself. No it can’t; that is foolish thinking. All those excuses won’t keep their pet safe. Read the rest of this entry »

Phoenix Pound Pups Get a New Lease on Life

Posted on June 19th, 2011 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

“It makes me too sad to go to the pound.”

“If I go to the pound, I will be so overwhelmed by all the animals needing homes that I won’t be able to choose just one.”

These concerns, and many similar ones, are often expressed by individuals when you suggest they adopt a pet from the county shelter here in Phoenix.  I have heard it said over and over again, and I know how they feel.  It can be a sad, overwhelming experience to visit our county shelters and try to pick out a pet.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (“MCACC”) is trying to address those impediments to adopting a “pound” pet with two new offsite adoption centers.

On February 12, 2011, MCACC launched a unique partnership with PetSmart, in Scottsdale, Arizona, that will hopefully be the foundation for similar partnerships around the country.

MCACC opened its first offsite adoption center located in PetSmart store, in the Old Town Scottsdale PetSmart located on Miller Road.  The adoption center can hold up to 44 dogs, and 16 cats, and is expected to save up to 1300 animals per year.  It has an area for potential adopters to “meet and greet” animals and a play area for the dogs.  The county animals selected for the cheerfully designed location will stay there, and will not be shuttled back and forth between the shelter and the store.

On February 26, 2011, MCACC, with the help of PetSmart Charities, launched its second offsite adoption center, in the Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix, called Under One Woof, in a vacant storefront inside the mall.  Metrocenter offered the space free of charge to MCACC.

“Our experience with our in-store adoption centers proves that satellite locations provide great visibility for shelter pets and expose them to new potential adopters,” said Susana Della Maddalena, Vice President and Executive Director, PetSmart Charities, Inc. “The mall location will provide Maricopa County Animal Care and Control the opportunity to showcase their adoptable pets to mall visitors and save more lives through adoption,” she added.

Under One Woof has 30 kennels, six retail display areas, a “meet and greet” area, a play area for the dogs, and will also offer onsite licensing for pets.  Like the location in Old Town Scottsdale, the animals will stay on location and not be shuttled between the shelter and store.   MCACC is hoping to adopt at least 20 animals each week from this location.

Both of these unique partnerships for MCACC address a long-standing concern for our shelters – getting exposure for homeless pets in a way that makes the adoption process a positive experience and less overwhelming, thereby assisting in creating better opportunities for  successful adoption matches for the animals.

Dr. Rodrigo Silva, Assistant County Manager, said that the partnership is a great opportunity. “Any time we can get the homeless animals in front of the community, good things happen,” he said. “I am sure that many adoptions will result from this new opportunity.”

Under One Woof – 9617 N. Metro Parkway, Suite 1116, Phoenix, AZ.

MCACC Adoption Center, Old Town Scottsdale PetSmart store, 4380 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale, AZ.

Watch Tip: Boarding Facilities

Posted on June 12th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch tip for the week of June 12:

Be thoughtful about the care of your pets during your summer vacation. Remember, your pets will not understand that you will return; they absolutely will be stressed unless boarding or day care is a very regular event in their lives. Some sensitive pets can be traumatized. Choose a boarding facility that is somewhat like a place they have lived in the past if possible. Arrange trial visits of hours or an overnight to learn if your pets can tolerate the facility.

If petsitters or neighbor visits are not an option, boarding can be a good solution

…but only if you are careful. Imagine your pet’s point of view. Your dog or cat is living with you happily in your home, and suddenly it all changes drastically. After a car ride, your pet is abruptly put into a pen or small room. There are lots of stranger dogs or cats nearby; are they safe? They are all making too much noise whenever a human comes by. The water doesn’t taste right. There are awful sharp smells from cleaning solutions. And worst of all, your mom or dad, your protector who keeps you safe and fed and loved, has vanished. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Reciprocal Foster Arrangements

Posted on June 5th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip Logo

Make reciprocal arrangements with friends or family to foster each other’s pets in case of emergency. Download the free Sunbear Squad form to structure the arrangement. You’ll rest easier knowing that your plans can prevent your pets from becoming homeless if a tornado, flood, hurricane, or other extreme event should happen.

Make your contingency plan for reciprocal foster care today

Do you have a trusted friend or family member who shares a home with companion animals and lives a 30-mile distance away? Agree in advance to foster each other’s pets should one of you suddenly lose a home due to fire, flood, tornado, etc., to avoid surrendering pets to a pound or shelter during the emergency.

Sunbear Squad’s free form makes it simple. You will find the link here (upper right hand corner) on our “Disaster Plans for Pets” page.

This Reciprocal Foster Agreement is designed to help enable two parties to agree to foster each other’s pets in case of an emergency. It is a “good faith” agreement, not a legally binding contract. The two parties should be a significant distance apart, so that if a regional disaster occurs, one party may be less affected. After completing the form, make copies for both family’s records. Keep an extra copy in the safe deposit box, along with your other important papers. Be sure to exchange copies of Rabies vaccination certificates for each dog or cat, registration forms, any pet prescription information and other relevant documentation. As you enter text, the form will expand to fit. Type into the gray boxes.

Please take this simple step to bring peace of mind now and lifesaving shelter for your pets if ever the unthinkable should happen.