Watch Tip: Veterinary Financial Assistance Funds

Posted on January 22nd, 2012 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoThe economy can affect ill or injured companion animals too. If you are lucky enough to be financially secure, think about those who have lost their jobs and can’t pay for vet treatments for their sick or injured pets as a result. They need assistance but some large financial assistance non-profits are struggling now too because giving is down. Some have closed! Please consider donating.

Economic Hardship results in Euthanasia for Treatable but Ill Companion Animals

If a family must choose between keeping a roof overhead and paying for life-saving surgery for their beloved companion animal, that animal often ends up surrendered to pounds and shelters now. Sometimes the companion animals have only minor ailments but their treatment cost is beyond reach. Shelters and pounds experience the same economic constraints, as we are all afloat in the same economic sea; they euthanize those pets to save money for their taxpayers. And so dogs and cats die when they should have lived.

If you are a compassionate person, this double tragedy of pet loss and family guilt is hard to contemplate.  And you could do something about it: you could support those national organizations that provide financial assistance to families with ill or injured pets. Keep them going! Add a few to your annual giving list. Some have closed their doors permanently, such as Feline Outreach, or temporarily, such as American Animal Hospital Association Foundation’s Helping Pets Fund.

Your local shelter, rescue, SPCA or humane society might provide a special fund for ill or injured homeless animals in their care as well; please inquire.

Check out this list of life-saving financial assistance organizations for pets:

In alphabetical order, with text taken from their web sites:

The Brown Dog Foundation:
Bridging the gap between the cost of medical care and saving the family pet, in memory of a special Chocolate Lab, like Sunbear was, named Chocolate Chip. The Donate link takes you to PayPal.

Cats in Crisis:
Cats in Crisis Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping cats and kittens with special medical needs receive the veterinary treatment they need to live happy, healthy lives. Their donation page provides a good variety of options.

Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program:
We are a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Charity Organization that provides emergency financial assistance to cat and kitten guardians who are unable to afford veterinary services to save their companion when life-threatening illness or injury strikes. Their “Please Help Us” page provides both PayPal and ChipIn options.

In Memory of Magic:
Since 1998, IMOM has funded non-routine veterinary care for more than 1800 companion animals. They have a a strong desire and determination to help people help pets, founded in memory of Magic, a special black cat. See the handy ChipIn widget that makes giving easy on the home page.

The Pet Fund:
The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit association that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need veterinary care. This group provides many ideas for giving on their web site.

RedRover Relief Fund (Formerly UAN Lifeline Grants):
The RedRover Relief program provides funding to Good Samaritans, animal rescuers and pet owners to help them care for animals in life-threatening situations. The donation page is slow to open but is secure.

The Humane Society of the United States maintains a comprehensive list at this link that includes funding for specific types of illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

The needs are so great just now. Please do pick a fund to support and share this post with others with means to do the same. Even small gifts matter to the lives of those animals and families being helped; you can imagine how uplifting it feels to know that faraway animal lovers care and understand how desperately they want to help their pet to live.

Watch Tip: Products Not Tested on Animals

Posted on January 15th, 2012 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoBe a compassionate shopper; this is a New Year’s resolution you can keep. Purchase products for your home and personal care (including cosmetics) that are not tested on animals, so that you do not support animal testing laboratories and the companies that contract them. Proven alternatives to animal testing are available, especially for consumer products. Test-free consumer products are widely available now and many are no more expensive. Read labels; look for the words “not tested on animals.” If you don’t see those words, assume that the product is tested on animals.

Shoppers, start here, if you don’t find compassionate products locally:

None of these lists is all-inclusive. Each has different participation criteria. A company may choose not to sign the required statements or agreements required to participate in a listing.

What is animal testing?

Personal care products, cosmetics, and household cleaning products are tested on animals in laboratories, but USA laws do not require it. Large consumer product manufacturers typically contract with animal testing laboratories. Rats, mice, rabbits, dogs, cats, monkeys, and other animals are kept in small cages and kennels throughout their short lifetimes. They are forced to swallow or inhale test substances, and in one common test, up to 50% of them are expected to die. Caustic chemicals are applied to sensitive eyes (or applied to fur and skin). (Medical testing is a related subject not addressed here but very serious concerns exist.)

Yet test results are often unreliable, inconclusive or inapplicable to humans, many believe. The tested products are often included in consumer products, even if test results indicate some level of toxicity. If you are concerned about household or personal care products being safe for your family, you should also the question that animal testing used to justify that professed safety. And for animal lovers who believe animals suffer pain and deserve compassionate treatment, you should boycott products and companies that do not align with your values.

More information about testing:

Be aware that some types of products, including pharmaceuticals and some chemicals, require animal testing by law.

Five Simple Things You Can Do to be Compassionate to Animals

Watch Tip: First-time Pet Owners

Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoFirst-time pet owners, especially those who have not grown up with a pet in the family, may lack the knowledge needed to keep the pet safe and healthy.  They may not understand the physical and emotional needs of their a young puppy or kitten. If your neighbors or friends are first-time pet owners, watch and listen for signs of problems. Offer friendly advice, loans of pet-related items and even pet sitting to the new family. Be a voice for that pet; you could even save a life.

Puppy was dangerously neglected by an ignorant owner

A reader recently wrote to me about how her sister made a dramatic, life-saving rescue of a neglected puppy; the story is now posted on our stories page. I love hearing from readers with true-life rescues like this. Sometimes hearing a new story like this enriches my understanding of the root of neglect, which is ignorance. The short-haired puppy was chained continuously to a picnic table in a northern climate and winter was coming on. The chain was very short and it was deeply embedded in her growing neck. I won’t spoil the story by telling you more; read it. It does have a heart-warming ending.

I imagine that the puppy’s original owner made an impulsive decision to adopt a cute, free puppy offered at a yard sale or something like that. The owner was not prepared nor knowledgeable nor even thoughtful. The owner was flatly oblivious. If the kind-hearted rescuer had not been curious about source of the pitiful whining on the other side of the fence, that puppy would have certainly died of exposure within a few hours. This type of scenario is unfortunately all too common. And while I don’t recommend theft as a solution to neglect, certainly the owner violated state animal neglect laws. It was a tricky situation. I know I would not have turned my back on that suffering puppy either.

Does a first-time dog owner know that a picnic table is not safe shelter?

We all have learned one way or another that a picnic table is not shelter for pets. A deck is not a dog house, nor is a clothesline pole. A tree trunk is not a dog house. The side of a house is not shelter. A hole under a porch is not shelter either. A proper shelter in most climates is a dog house; it has a raised floor and a roof and walls and a doorway. (Read my Watch Tip about adequate shelter.)

But first-time pet owners might see dogs living in neglectful conditions and make the assumption that it is acceptable thereby perpetuating the practice. That’s one of the ways we learn, through observation. If that learning is not reinterpreted by someone more knowledgeable, we remain ignorant, sometimes dangerously so. And so puppies continued to be tied to picnic tables with chains that are too short. So first-time owners don’t understand that puppies need their collars expanded weekly while they are growing. They have not been taught so.

First-time owners might not know how to house-train their puppies

I wonder if the puppy in the story above was banished from the house for peeing on the carpet. It happens so often! Many dogs end up in pounds and shelters because their owners didn’t learn how to house-train them, or for intact male dogs, they didn’t learn that neutering prevents territorial marking (if house-trained). In the shelter where I volunteer, we have had three recent toy dog strays, all intact male dogs, all extremely cute. Today I photographed two of them and they both marked spots within seconds of entering the room. Nothing more need be said.

First-time owners might not understand the importance of spaying and neutering

Our nation is experiencing a crisis in feral cat overpopulation. Cats, both feral and domesticated, are more likely to be euthanized in pounds and shelters than dogs. Inexperienced cat owners likely don’t understand how quickly young cats can reproduce. Even experienced dog owners might not provide sterilization surgery to cats, who are second-class pet citizens in some families. First-time owners might not understand that kitten shots and parasite treatments are absolutely necessary as well.

I’m so grateful that kittens raised with litter boxes nearby easily train themselves! That instinct alone has saved millions of lives I think.

Share your knowledge of pet care, house-training, and your love of companion animals with neighbors and friends, especially first-time owners. You’ll be bringing so much good into the world!

Financial aid and assistance programs for pet parents suffering hard times

Posted on November 6th, 2011 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

The United States is still reeling from a recession so severe it’s been dubbed the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and Arizona was one of several states hit especially hard with foreclosures and job loss.  This has translated into some dire consequences for pets and their parents.  Inability to keep up with vaccinations and routine care, much less emergency care, is widespread throughout the country.

There has been a decent amount of communication about options for aid and assistance for pets in need, but the subject bears repeating, as there are still masses of people out there suffering fiscal hardship, and their pets are suffering along with them.  Rescues are seeing a huge uptick in sick and injured animals being surrendered to the county shelters – because of the owner’s inability to provide medical care for them.

Please share these links with others, and keep them handy for the day that you might need assistance yourself – don’t hesitate to reach out for help for your furry friend; there is no reason that they should suffer because of man-made economic ills – they are relying on you to seek out solutions to their healthcare needs!

National resources for assistance with veterinary costs:

AAHA Helping Pets Fund
Red Rover Relief Grants
Breed Specific Assistance Programs
Angels 4 Animals
IMOM
The Pet Fund
Cats in Crisis
Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance

 

Watch Tip: Prevent Puppy-Kitten Diseases, Vaccinate

Posted on September 25th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip Logo

Deadly pet diseases are everywhere these days. Prevent tragic death of puppies and kittens by following a strict schedule of vaccinations recommended by your vet. If you can’t afford vaccinations immediately, don’t get a baby dog or cat until you can. DO NOT let your puppy or kitten paws touch the ground or floor in parks, public places, pet stores or vet clinics until a week past the day that vaccinations are completed. Don’t surrender your unvaccinated baby pet to any pound or shelter or they will likely contract disease and die or be killed after falling ill.

Deadly germs are common, live for months, and are very hard to kill

With the economy challenging millions of families, pet illnesses are spreading like never before because more families are trying to reduce money spent on pet care. Your personal health rule for adopting a puppy or kitten should be to start vaccinations immediately. Get that series of vaccinations started because you will track home deadly viruses on your shoes and tires. Remember, some deadly germs are only killed by harsh chemicals.

Germs live up to a year in dirt, grass, roads, sidewalks, store floors, parking lots. Some veterinary health experts question if annual vaccinations may be necessary, but don’t be misled by this. Virtually all experts insist that puppies and kittens absolutely NEED their baby shots to survive those early months. Do not doubt it. Do not delay.

Follow these rules:

  • Vaccinate your kittens and puppies, following your veterinarian’s recommendations carefully.
  • No paws on the ground in ANY public place until a week past the final vaccinations. If you see a baby pet playing on the floor of a retail store, go speak with the owner. You may save a life.
  • Clean the soles of your shoes with bleach & water mixture after visiting vet clinics or stores with vet clinics inside, until after your baby pet has finished final vaccinations plus one week. Some keep a plastic dish tub near the house entrance door with a folded towel and bleach-water mix to step into upon entering. It’s simple and quick.
  • Visiting baby pets must follow the same rules or don’t allow the visit to your home.
  • Don’t accept free kittens or puppies from Craig’s List, backyard breeders, or “oops” litters as they are likely to be already infected with disease, parasites, and fleas, and treatment is expensive. Good breeders always vaccinate their baby pets. (Don’t ever buy puppies or kittens from a pet store because they acquire them from puppy and kitten mills.)
  • If you adopt a baby pet from a pound or shelter, ask about vaccinations. If the baby has not had vaccinations, go to your vet immediately with your new pet. Adult pets for adoption are likely to have developed immunity to the common baby pet diseases.

In addition to diseases, parasites are extremely common. You must actively prevent disease and parasite infestation in young puppies and kittens so they survive to adulthood, and you must guide others to do the same if they have not been taught about the extreme dangers of puppy and kitten germs and parasites.

This post is written with great sadness to memorialize all puppies and kittens that have died in the past week of preventable diseases, especially sweet shepherd mix puppy Tawny in Indiana, who contracted parvovirus in a city pound and died, despite dramatic efforts by her rescuer Tara Harris and volunteers to save her. RIP in peace, Tawny. She showed first symptoms on Thursday morning and was dead by Saturday morning.

Read one vaccination schedule for puppies and kittens here. Vaccinations may vary; follow your veterinarian’s recommendations.

Andy Nibley is the Director of the new documentary, Madonna of the Mills, running August 24th on HBO.  Author, Sunbear Squad Board Member and Editor Emeritus of Dogster’s own For Love of Dog Blog caught up with Andy for this interview.

 

Andy: The idea behind the film was really to show a couple of things. One, that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Laura is an office manager for a dentist on Staten Island and yet she, on weekends on her own nickel, rents vans and drives down to Amish country and picks up somewhere between 35 and 50 of these puppy mill dogs who have spent their entire lives in cages the size of dishwashers. They’ve never been petted. They’ve never been walked. They’ve never been bathed and she’s saved over 2000 dogs and she’s done that all on her own.  So that was one thing.

The other was what happens when you spare a life? So I follow four of the dogs that get saved and you see them rehabilitated from the point where they couldn’t walk because they’ve spent their lives in cages. There’s a nice story about an autistic boy and a golden retriever and one about a childless couple who end up with a cocker spaniel. It really shows these dogs can make wonderful pets if they’re adopted.

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Madonna of the Mills — Catch this documentary on HBO!!!

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by admin

Set aside the evening of August 24th for the HBO unveiling of the insightful documentary “Madonna of the Mills.” This is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. The filmmakers have done an excellent job of revealing both aspects — the rescuers and those who run the mills. Director Andy Nibley and his team have crafted a film that needs to be seen by every American.

You’ll remember the enchanting determination of Laura, the woman who, with her family and friends, has rescued over 2000 dogs from the living hell of puppy mills. You won’t be able to look at the misleading pictures of seemingly gentle Amish country folk without remembering the ugly truth of the torture of puppy mills behind the barn doors. Of course, you’ll remember the dogs who Laura and her friends help escape. But what I hope stays with you and I know will stay with me is the casual craven disregard for the animals that is so ubiquitous among the puppy millers and their defenders.

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Watch Tip: DEET is Poison for Dogs & Cats

Posted on July 17th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoTip for week of July 17:

Important: NEVER apply human bug repellents to your dogs or cats, especially those with DEET (Off®, Cutters®, Repel®, etc.). If a product label does not specifically state it is safe for use on a dog or cat, assume that it is toxic for either type of pet. Purchase and use products made specifically for dogs on dogs and for cats on cats. Teach your children and grandchildren about the dangers too.

Yes, they are family, but they are not human

Loving pet parents could find themselves in vet clinics, praying desperately for a miracle, because they naively sprayed a human insect repellent on their pet—or perhaps their uninformed child did it. Without thinking about the power of chemicals and the differences between our species, they created a tragedy.Veterinarians can tell many stories about the dogs and cats they have treated for DEET toxicity. This danger is widely known.

If your dog or cat that was sprayed or wiped with a DEET product and is showing symptoms such as skin irritation or burn, vomiting, tremors, staggering gait, seizures, you must immediately rush your pet to the vet for intensive care.

I understand very well how it can happen. Years ago I nearly killed my favorite tree in our yard, a young red oak tree, with Cutters spray. It was being attacked by large buzzing June bugs and I lost patience one evening. Without thinking, I angrily grabbed the first can of insect repellent I found and sprayed the tree thoroughly, hoping to kill the bugs. I felt immediate satisfaction about having taken action, but my heart dropped the next day when all the leaves fell off the poor tree. Thankfully the tree recovered and grew a new set of leaves before the summer ended. If the bugs had been chewing on my dog or cat, I shudder to think of what I might have done. That was one powerful chemistry lesson.

Protecting your pet from insects and the diseases insects carry is very important. If you haven’t already, resolve to visit a pet retailer soon to purchase specific repellents for your pets so you are prepared for your next outing. (Again, remember to use only dog products on dogs and cat repellents on cats.) There are many natural formulations available now. Also you can easily find recipes for home-made repellents online that just might work very well for your four-legged family.

Remember too that topical spot-on products purchased from your veterinarian and properly used may provide the protection your pet needs. Be aware that some sensitive dogs and cats won’t tolerate these products, so watch them carefully for 24 hours after applications. Also, near the end of the monthly use cycle, the products might lose some effectiveness in some environments.

Turning it in

Posted on September 13th, 2010 by admin

Hello, readers.  My name is Gerri Bara – I’m a Realtor, a Rescuer and a Writer – not necessarily in that order.  The following post was originally an email that I sent to my rescue contacts in Maricopa County, AZ (Phoenix area). We have a horrible animal overpopulation problem here and there are (thankfully) hundreds of people who make up an informal network of rescuers. We reach out to each other to save homeless animals, share information and – sometimes – vent.  I was asked to post this story on the Sunbear site to help create awareness of the issues we face.  The “E” referred to in the story is the Euthanasia List.

Turning it In
Gerri Bara, Chandler, AZ

My car found its way to the East Side county shelter yesterday again…  all by itself, darned thing.  I brought home a little guy – I think he’s a Beagle mix and maybe some chi – he’s small.  He needs neuter surgery and has been in some nasty fights – he was a stray and street life was cruel to him.  Extremely sweet and gentle.  Great with our dogs, cats, LOVES kids.  While we were filling out paperwork in the lobby at Eastside he wanted to go up to every kid in the place.  Tail never stopped wagging.  They say he’s about 2.

He was on the E for fear.  Same old story.  G et him out of there and he’s a charmer.  :-)  He’s sleeping on the floor by my chair and I sit here and think “if I hadn’t stopped there yesterday he’d be dead now.”  Makes me sick to my stomach.

He has a nearly healed puncture wound on one ear and an open puncture wound on his flank – lots of little and not-so-little scars.  But the biggest concern is his right front paw.  He hobbles and scoots – full of energy – but won’t put that paw down.  Holds it out in front of himself when he walks or runs. I can’t tell if it was broken and healed wrong or if it’s a current injury.  Waiting to hear back from Suzy at CircleL re: vet appointment.  He is already using the doggie door.  Had a bath last night and was very good.  Loves being in the car.  Loves being alive.  We will foster him until we can find him a loving permanent home.

I lost my temper with a lady yesterday … well, not a lady – a lady wouldn’t take her dog to the pound and dump it off like a sack of garbage. I was standing in line in the back at Eastside, waiting for my little guy to get his rabies shot and a much needed Frontline treatment.  He was snuggled in my arms – I swear they know it the second they’ve been saved off the E list.

Anyway, here comes this well-dressed woman with an old black and white chihuahua in a cage.  Just a little tiny dog. He was stressed, panting, laying on his side and looking up at the woman with both love and fear in his eyes. He already had a sense of what was to come. It was SO hot, and I had just looked at so much heartbreak in so many upraised eyes behind a hundred kennel doors.  I was not feeling politically correct.

So I said, “Is that your dog?”

“Yes,” she says.  A little haughty.

“What are you doing?” I asked, knowing, heart sinking – but still hoping I was wrong.

“Turning it in.” she says, with not even a tiny hint of a crocodile tear.  I notice her use of “it” instead of “him.”  Not a good sign.

“Why?” I asked, in a voice I still had control of, but half an octave higher.

“We’re moving,” she explains in a condescending voice, as if that is the reason the world is round. Like those two words provide a perfectly reasonable justification for the fact that we are murdering thousands of animals in this country every day and she has generously let silly little me in on an insider’s tip.

And just like that, here comes my Scottish temper, boiling to the top.  It doesn’t happen often (thank the Lord, because I can’t control it), but when it’s here, it takes over my vocabulary and I never know quite what to expect.  “How can you DO that?” I demanded.  I looked more closely at the dog.  So cute, so tiny, so trusting.  The woman turns her back to me. “They’ll probably euthanize him.  Don’t you know that?” I say in a pleading voice.  “No one adopts the old ones. He’ll be terrified and confused, and he’ll will wait and wait for you. He won’t understand that you’re never coming back. And he’ll shake and cower and cry, and finally he’ll just shut down, and then they’ll put him on the kill list for fear, and that will be the end.  Because you moved.”

She didn’t answer me or turn around.  I think we were both stunned – maybe me more than her. I couldn’t believe those words came out of my mouth, but there they were.  The truth – hanging right out in the blazing open air.  No sympathy and no empathy for her lack of responsibility or her lack of compassion.  How can there be?

Come on.  A chi eats what – a quarter cup of food a day? The lady had a diamond on her hand worth thousands.

“We’re moving.”  We sure as heck are. And it isn’t in the right direction.

Maybe some rescuer with a kind heart will see that dog and step up to the plate – assume responsibility for a life that the woman so casually threw away.  I sure hope so.

The guy behind the counter called “Next?”  I turned around and went inside, out of the heat, carrying my little guy and my paperwork.  He looked at the cute little dog in my arms and asked, “Turn-in?”  Then he saw my paperwork, with the bright, shiny rabies tag stapled to the top and smiled a little.

“Nope,” I smiled back.  ” New Hope .”

As we drive home I think my normal thoughts and dream my normal dreams: the shelter I’ll build when I win the lottery, the never-ending need for creating awareness, my inability to understand a heart that could leave a loving, trusting animal behind, my gratitude for the thousands of others who rescue, and for those who love their pets “’til death do us part.”

Then the little guy on the seat next to me whimpers a little, and I reach over to give a reassuring pat, and for a while I just think about him.

One at a time…

How 24 circles of loving arms saved Mary and George

Posted on July 30th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

“Someone found them in an abandoned old building in Floyd County”

… said the rescuer in an email.  Someone looked inside, maybe alerted by kids, and saw two thin, friendly dogs with red patchy skin, swollen faces, and runny eyes. Someone noticed how Mary’s teats dangled long and thin. Someone knew the breeding cycle would begin again soon, and decided to take them away from the horrors of backyard breeder life in coal country Kentucky. This is how Mary and George’s rescue begins. (This is Mary at left).

Mary and George needed urgent medical care and weeks of recuperation, too much for this kind but poor Good Samaritan. So they were given to someone else who searched for a rescuer to take them. Mary and George were lucky; they were purebred Boxers. An independent rescuer, Moran, took them. (This was the third temporary home.) She wrote that they didn’t even know how to eat food from a bowl. They had only been fed on hard ground.

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