Watch Tip: Breed Identification

Posted on March 26th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

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Watch Tip for week of March 27:

Learn to recognize dog breeds. Misidentification of dog breeds is a common cause of lost dogs not being found in shelters. Learn the terms professionals use to describe dog appearance. Understand that mixed-breed dogs can vary widely even among litter mates.

Being a Good Samaritan for Animals includes Learning About Animals

Do you have a heart for mixed-breed dogs? So many of us love random-bred dogs for their unique appearance and their hybrid vigor. They are typically healthy.  But if your mixed-breed dog runs off, you’ll find out quickly that shelters might not identify your dog in the same terms at you would. You might not get your dog back as a result. Your dog can be euthanized because of misidentification after the minimum state-mandated stray hold period expires. It is a widespread problem.

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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: Animals Abandoned Outdoors

Posted on March 19th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch Tip for week of March 20:

Watch for animals abandoned outdoors. They might wander in your neighborhood, confused and shy. They might be tied to trees, parking meters, or dumpsters. They might be waiting for days beside the road where they last saw their people. They might even be seen chasing their owner’s vehicle, running desperately to catch up. Help them. (Remember, some actually could be lost, not abandoned.)

A rescuer in Texas followed the dog following the truck and saved him!

A long-time animal rescue volunteer was driving behind a truck in Texas not long ago when the truck slowed, swerved to the shoulder, the passenger-side door popped open, and a big shepherd-type dog was pushed out while the vehicle was still moving! The agile dog scrambled to his feet and immediately raced after the now-accelerating truck. The driver realized he was being followed by his dog, so he continued to increase his speed. The dog was left behind but he kept running in the same direction on the pavement, determined to find his people. The rescuer realized the desperate dog was in serious danger of being killed by a passing vehicle or of succumbing to heat exhaustion and followed him at a safe distance. After 2 miles, the now-exhausted dog collapsed in the grass of a small park, panting hard. The rescuer was able to approach him and he was saved. The savvy rescuer was also able to get the license number of the truck and pictures! Charges were filed.

Animal abandonment is a crime. We are not free to get rid of our pets by forcing someone else to assume their care. Yet many people are unaware of this! The truck driver’s companion pushed his dog out of the vehicle in broad daylight on a well-traveled road. He made no attempt to conceal his illegal behavior.

My neighbor attended another neighbor’s party and the adult daughter approached my neighbor and asked innocently, “Did you ever find that kitten I put down at your place? It was driving me nuts and I had to get rid of it.” Argh!!!

Well, yes, she had. Months earlier she and I had been walking our dogs together and we heard the tiniest “mew” coming from the woods across from their home. I held the dogs while she followed the tiny voice to find a very young tortoiseshell kitten, who ran right up to her. My friend adopted her on the spot, paying for her tests, shots, and later, her spay surgery. My friend and her husband have nearly a dozen cats and nearly all have been dumped at their place or nearby. I’ve got a cat on my lap right now that was dumped there a few years ago.

Three new cats have shown up at their place in the past few months. I think they need a big sign that reads “Animal Abandonment is a Crime! Surveillance Camera Posted!” But I wonder, would it actually stop them? Or would it just attract more irresponsible pet owners looking for a likely place to dump their pets?

If you witness the act of an animal being abandoned, be sure to snap a picture with your phone if you can, and write down the license number and the maker and model of the vehicle. Then call the police!

Watch Tip: Venomous Snakes

Posted on March 12th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch Tip for week of March 13:

Keep pets away from snakes in spring, summer, and fall. Be very watchful! In southern regions, snakes are waking from hibernation and leaving their dens. Dogs and cats may be curious or playful when encountering snakes; they might be bitten. Rattlesnakes, cottonmouths (water moccasins), copperheads, and coral snakes are venomous. If bitten, your pet needs emergency veterinary care to live.

Consider snake avoidance training for your dog

If venomous snakes are common in your area, you have a responsibility to keep your dogs and cats safe from snake bites. Consider enrolling your dog in snake avoidance training if you live in a region where snakes are common. Trainers typically use shock collars and live, muzzled or defanged snakes to train dogs to associate the smell, sound, and sight of snakes with an electric shock. This might sound harsh but it undoubtably saves animal lives. Or keep your cats and dogs indoors. Get professional help to remove any venomous snake dens near your home.

Curious dogs and cats are often bitten in the face or neck as they investigate the strong smell and slithery movement of snakes. A snake bite requires urgent veterinary treatment; using the correct antivenin is key to saving the life of your pet. You must quickly identify the snake to treat the bite most effectively. Take a quick photo of it with your phone. If you have killed it, be extremely careful not to pick it up because reflexes can still cause bites for up to an hour!

Learn to identify the venomous snakes in your area by sight before an emergency occurs. Keep a snake ID guide with you if that helps. Don’t attempt to kill or injure non-venomous snakes unless you have an infestation. Bites from all animals will cause infection; don’t provoke bites by attempting to kill a snake that is not dangerous to people or pets.

If your roaming dog or cat returns home with a bite mark in the face, neck, or front leg area, take immediate action. Is your dog having difficulty breathing? Is there pain, swelling, discoloration, trembling, lethargy, or drooling? Race immediately to your veterinarian; every minute counts! Enlist a companion to go along to call the vet during the trip, in case you are given instructions for care such as applying pressure above the bite.

PUPS Act: Call your Congressman or woman

Posted on March 8th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

On March 1,  lawmakers in the House of Representatives reintroduced legislation to close the loophole that allows large breeders to sell puppies over the internet and direct to the public without any federal oversight whatsoever. Lack of licensing and regulation has resulted in gross abuses of breeding animals and sick puppies sold to unsuspecting animal lovers by commercial dog breeders nationwide. The long-time obvious need for reform has galvanized animal lovers from coast to coast.

Called the PUPS Act, for “Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act”  H.R. 835 is sponsored by Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Bill Young, R-Fla., and Lois Capps, D-Calif.

The bill amend the Animal Welfare Act to require all breeders selling 50 or more dogs per year directly to the public to be licensed and inspected by the USDA. Dogs must be provided opportunity for exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes per day, separate from their living enclosure.

Read text of the bill here. It was written in 2010. (The final version will likely be somewhat different.)

Call your congressman or woman today to voice your support of this bill. Thank you to sponsors Gerlach, Farr, Young, and Capps!

Watch Tip: Rescue Cards for your Window

Posted on March 5th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

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Watch Tip for week of March 6:

Storm season is already starting! Will emergency teams know how many people and pets live in your house? Likely not—and they will risk their lives searching for victims. Help them help you. Post a “Rescue” window card near your front door. Sunbear Squad has a unique design that includes both people and pets. Click to download. Do it today—share with family and friends too.

Our rescue card (pictured at right) provides emergency personnel, such as firemen and police, the most important information about your home: the lives inside it.

Our card tells the numbers of adults, children, and seniors, as well as dogs, cats, rabbits, bird cages and fish tanks. Of course rescuers might not be able to take action to save all lives in the home, but if they know about them all, the likelihood increases that more can be saved in an emergency. Remember, many emergency personnel want to save animals too, if it can be done safely.

Download the free file at the link above, and print it on white card stock. Speak with a neighbor about including their phone number on the window card, and offer the same for their card.

The file also includes a Sunbear Squad Wallet Card, so you can keep emergency numbers handy in your wallet (or enter them in your phone). Print extras for neighbors, family, and friends as a caring and potentially lifesaving gesture.

Heartwarming rescue dog scrapbook

Posted on March 5th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

“Our Rescue Dog Family Album”
By Diane Pomerance, Ph.D.

Often recommended as a therapeutic strategy to overcome loss and commemorate significant happenings in our lives, creating a personal scrapbook is a meaningful activity that countless numbers of animal lovers enjoy. Therefore it is no surprise that a certified Grief Recovery Specialist, founder of a Pet Grief Counseling Program, and Ph.D. in Communications would “scrapbook” her pets to share with animal lovers everywhere. Dr. Diane Pomerance has created the quintessential scrapbook of her and her husband’s fur family in Texas, “Our Rescue Dog Family Album.”

This lovely hardcover book is designed to look like a colorful scrapbook with homespun, cheerful page backgrounds and jaunty photographs of their dogs. A long, meandering narrative chronicles the stories of the 43 rescued dogs who have found a loving home with the Pomerances to date (including 21 current family members as of the publish date). The book also describes the sometimes heartbreaking work of a truly dedicated and lifelong dog rescuer.

This is a book to enjoy and share with dog fanciers who have something to learn about the special love of rescue dogs that fills your heart with joy. A profound connection springs up between you and the dog who would have likely died if not for you. Dr. Pomerance inspires readers to think about that connection in a gentle way that does not preach. I’d love to see copies of this book given to people planning to purchase puppies at pet stores or over the internet; would it change their minds? I must believe that it would. Thank you Dr. Pomerance!