Watch Tip: Doggy Dumpster Diving

Posted on November 9th, 2011 by admin

Watch Tip LogoKeep those tempting garbage bins and cans fastened or locked, out of reach of curious pets. Inside garbage receptacles especially kitchen waste is very attractive to many dogs and cats. Enclose bins inside of closets or cupboards. Outside garbage can attract unwanted visitors too. Garbage can be highly toxic: spoiled foods, old cleaning containers, light bulbs, expired prescriptions. Prevent those preventable problems!

Dumpster Diving Doggy Style

We all have had that sinking feeling of walking in the house and seeing the overturned garbage can. There’s nothing like being met with the sight of banana peels and discarded food carton packages strewn across the kitchen floor to make you feel good about being home. But as bad as the sight makes you feel, doggy dumpster diving can make them feel MUCH worse. In fact, this bad habit can literally kill your furry friend.

Sure, those dinner leftovers can smell great to your dog. But yummy smelling garbage could contain things that could kill him. Things like chicken and turkey bones could stick in their throats or guts, causing them to bleed to death. Sharp items like broken glass and even staples can get eaten with discarded and old food. What about discarded home cleaners or other poisons? Your dog might not pay any attention to caustic cleaners when they are on your counter or under it but what happens when food residue gets mixed in with the garbage? Dogs may not notice the poisons as they go after the tasty bits. Then, just like poisoning mice with peanut butter your dog could take the deadly bait.

Let me tell you a sad story of two beloved dogs and a Thanksgiving dinner. A few years ago a friend of the family had two very loved Weimaraners. He and his wife had friends over for Thanksgiving and planned the usual extravagant feast. The only problem was that the friends didn’t like dogs. (No accounting for taste I guess). So his wife made the family friend put the two dogs in the backyard. That would have been the end of the story except that there was one other item in the backyard with the dogs – the garbage can. In the rush and excitement of the feast the family left the garbage can in the yard with the dogs. No problem until after dinner when the wife put the turkey carcass in the can. The Weims took the opportunity to get the carcass and they paid the ultimate price for it. Cooked bird bones are extremely dangerous because they can splinter in dogs’ guts. These did and the family was too slow in getting the dogs to the vet to save them.

With just a little more thought to keep the dogs and the garbage safely separated the dogs would have lived many more years and Thanksgiving could have continued being a happy time for all.

The point is, keep your dogs and your garbage safely separated. Save yourself the heartbreak of a preventable death. Keep your garbage behind a locked fence, closet door or put a chain and lock on the garbage can. Don’t discard attractive things like dinner leavings or old food in a garbage can that is easily turned over by dogs or other household pets. Teach children in your home that they must be careful too, and not throw things in the garbage that could hurt their furry family members. Make sure that compost piles are protected from pet incursions as well. Odiferous old food could be a real temptation to a nosy dog.

With just a little planning you can keep your floors garbage-free and your dogs safe for many holidays to come.

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
The Pet Fund
Cats in Crisis
Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance


Watch Tip: Pets in Costume

Posted on October 22nd, 2011 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoWatch for pets out in costumes that constrict, restrict, or impair them in any way. Pets that are stressed out by their costume or the festivities should be removed to a quiet, safe place, and their costumes removed.  Set the example by making sure your own pet, if dressed in costume, is outfitted appropriately and is tolerating the ensemble well.

Halloween costumes on pets can be a hazard if care is not taken.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many a pet parent, and there are few things that are more adorable than your furry friend dressed up as a pirate, a clown, or Yoda.

But just as you would exercise caution while dressing two-legged children, you want to exercise caution dressing up four-legged ones. Some tips to keep your pet safe:

  • If your pet is participating in a costume contest or some other type of Halloween event, definitely have them try on the costume beforehand – check to see if your pet shows any signs of being distressed or allergic to their costume. A distressed pet can chew or tear at their costume, and ingest pieces of it, making them sick. If they do not respond well, or have an allergic reaction, maybe a festive collar or bandanna would be a better choice.
  • Costumes should not restrict your pet’s ability to move, see, breathe, or hear.
  • Ensure that the costume does not have temptingly small, dangling, or easily chewed pieces that could be a choking hazard, especially if they are prone to chewing.
  • Make sure your pet’s costume fits appropriately, and will not get twisted on external objects or your pet, possibly leading to injury.
  • If your pet has never worn a costume, teach them to enjoy it, the way you would teach them to enjoy anything new – by getting them used to it a little bit at a time, reinforced with yummy treats. Put it on them for short increments of time, praising them and treating them to make it a positive experience.
  • Always supervise your pet at all times while they are in costume – if you will not be able to do so, remove the costume.
  • No matter what they are wearing, do not remove their ID. If something spooks them and they get away from you, they will absolutely need their identification, and make sure your contact information is up-to-date.
  • Know your pet: does he or she have the temperament, patience, and personality for getting dressed up and actively participating in the craziness of Halloween? Be realistic, and don’t put your pet through the stress of dressing up if they are not up for it – no matter how fun you think it would be.

In addition to the above costume safety tips, remember to always keep candy out of your pet’s reach, keep stressed pets safely crated or in a quiet room away from the hubbub, and make sure they do not have the opportunity to escape during the constant flow of trick-or-treaters at the door. Happy Howl-o-ween!

Watch Tip: Microchip Pets

Posted on September 17th, 2011 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoWatch tip for week of September 18

Aside from a collar and identification tags, having a microchip implanted is one of the most important methods one can employ to ensure the return of a pet, in the event a pet is lost. Set an example in your community and have your pets microchipped and communicate with your neighbors, family and friends about the benefits of doing so. A chip is the size of a grain of rice, and does not harm or hurt pets when injected. Once implanted, be sure to adhere to three rules – register, re-scan, and rechip.

Follow the Three Rules of Microchipping

Register…your pet’s chip with your current contact information. Chipping your pet alone does not ensure their safe return; you must register your pet’s chip along with your contact information. Be sure to add a second contact that will be available to pick up your pet for you, in the event you are out of town, or somehow unable to retrieve your lost pet from the shelter or individual that finds them. Most shelters will not release an animal to an individual that is not listed on the registration, and if you are unable to retrieve your pet prior to the shelter’s “hold” period, your pet runs the risk of being euthanized if it is a “kill” shelter. If you adopt a pet and do not know if the pet is chipped for certain, take him or her into your vet to have them scanned, so that you can register the chip with your contact information.

Re-scan…have your pet’s chip scanned and read from time to time, to ensure the chip is working, and to keep yourself informed on potential chip-reading issues. A woman in Phoenix, Arizona recently had her dog’s chip scanned at her vet, just to confirm its working condition, and found that her vet’s scanner did not pick up the chip’s information. Since she volunteers at the local shelter, she took her dog to the shelter that afternoon and asked them to try scanning. The shelter’s scanner indeed located the chip and was able to read it. Types of chips and chip readers can vary in use, but universal scanners are becoming more widespread and utilized to address this issue.

Rechip…find out what type of frequency your pet’s chip operates on, then find out if your local pound or shelters utilize scanners that only work with a particular frequency. Chips emit a frequency that scanners can read, and vary in frequency emitted from 125 kilohertz to 134.2 kilohertz, depending on manufacturer. If your pet is chipped with a 134.2 kilohertz chip, and your shelter’s scanner only reads 125 kilohertz chips, you should rechip your pet with a chip that is compatible with your shelter’s capabilities to avoid any potential problems. Be sure to update the contact information for both chips whenever necessary. Also, if you have moved here from abroad, chances are the chip your pet has will not be read by U.S. scanners, and you should rechip with one that is compatible.

Although no method of identifying your pet is fail-safe, microchipping raises the chances of your pet being returned to you. According to an American Veterinary Medical Association study in 2009:

“…more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time.”

In cases where pets were not reunited with their owners, most often it was because the owner had not updated the contact information for their pet’s chip and were unreachable.

The benefits of chipping definitely outweigh any potential issues or problems that may be encountered by chipping, and when combined with a collar and current identification tags, practically ensures your lost pet’s return to you.  Remember—your pet, once lost from the safety of your home, has no way of getting back to you except for whatever identification you take the time to give them.  They cannot tell anyone where they live or who they belong to—that is your responsibility.

Helpful Links:

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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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.

Sunbear Squad Has Partnered with People Saving PetsTM

Posted on March 25th, 2011 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Petsmart Charities, Inc. has launched a new movement that incorporates and empowers the animal-loving public in the fight against homelessness and euthanasia of companion animals.  The inaugural cities for the People Saving Pets movement are Phoenix, AZ and Oklahoma City, OK. Needless to say, Sunbear Squad jumped at the opportunity to partner with this effort that dovetails so well with our mission – to educate and empower everyday citizens with the tools and inspiration they need to be Good Samaritans for the companion animals in their own neighborhoods and communities. Sunbear Squad offers free tools such as an on-line neglect and abuse tutorial, Roadside Rescue Kit, Wallet Card, Pocket Posters in 2 languages, free ad materials, and disaster plans for pets, and provides inspiration with amazing true-life animal rescue stories, inspirational sayings, and an Animal Bill of Rights.

Like Sunbear Squad, People Saving Pets strives to inspire the public to take action in their communities, by educating and providing information to increase adoptions, spay and neuters and to encourage more people to volunteer for animal welfare organizations.

We encourage Sunbear Squad readers and members to learn about this program and join the movement.  While People Saving Pets is just getting started in two cities, this will be a nationwide program, coming to a city near you, very soon! Getting involved is easy and a few simple actions can make a big difference for our pets.

  • Join the cause: Visit to sign up and join us in the effort to end pet homelessness.
  • Share the news: Spread the word about People Saving Pets by inviting your friends and family to join. Visit People Saving Pets on Facebook and People Saving Pets on Twitter to share your commitment to save pets’ lives with your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and other social networks.
  • Adopt a pet. If you’re considering adding a new four-legged member to the family, adoption is the way to go. You can search for the perfect adoptable pet on the People Saving Pets site. And if you can’t adopt a pet, please, encourage your friends and family to do so.
  • Spay and neuter. Help control the pet overpopulation issue by spaying or neutering your pet and encourage the people in your life to do the same. This simple procedure can be done in half-a-day and will can reduce behavior issues and help your pet live a longer, healthier life. Find a spay/neuter program near you on the Spay & Neuter Program Locator.
  • Volunteer. Sunbear Squad can use your help! Check out our site and start your neighborhood pet watch today by downloading materials or requesting a watch kit today at Then, ask your friends to join you.
  • Donate. If you don’t time, but still want to give – we can always use your generous donations of money.

People Saving Pets has the tremendous goal of ending pet homelessness in our communities – a goal Sunbear Squad supports wholeheartedly. If we work together, we can do it. Please join us in supporting this movement today.

Watch Tip: Identification is Essential

Posted on December 17th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip for week of Dec. 19:

Watch for collars that are too loose or too tight, and that don’t have ID tags. Pets deserve better from their families. A roaming pet without identification is at high risk for being picked up as a stray and might even be euthanized. Reasonably-priced ID tags are available nearly everywhere. Speak with the owners or just do it anonymously. You may save a life.

War Hero Dog is Dead for Lack of a Collar and Tags

Target’s family didn’t put a collar and tag on her or get a microchip implanted. They didn’t prevent her from escaping from her yard. And the neighbor who found Target without wearing any identification of course had no idea who she was, so called the pound. She was picked up by animal control and her photo was posted on the internet.

Her family found her photo but did not check the web site to learn the weekend hours that the pound was open. They came on Monday to pick her up. At the pound earlier that morning, a careless employee was performing her routine euthanasia duties and picked Target by mistake, not following the organization’s process. “Oops.”

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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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