Important Corrections About Flying With Your Dog

Traveling with dogs

I received a most informative email today, right on the heels of the most recent podcast of the DOG TALK show in which Dr. Nick Dodman talked about the (mis)use of tranquilizers for dogs when they are traveling.

I received this detailed and well-informed rebuttal to several of the points that came up in our interview from a pet travel professional. Joe, who’d had a pet travel service for many years and transported close to 500,000 animals before selling the company, said they never had a loss or injury during that time. He wanted to dispel some of the extreme warnings made in the radio interview and thinks everyone should be reassured that there are many regulations in place to protect animals being flown.

Here are some of Joe’s points about the protections in place to fly with your dog:

  • Pet transportation regulations for both the owners and the airlines have become very tough in recent years.  Live animal compartments are inspected and verified to be in order before each flight.
  • The compartments in which the animal crates are secured are heated or air-conditioned the same as the passenger cabins;  the air is circulated to prevent air borne health issues.
  • The temperature consideration of whether an animal can be flown is not based on the live animal compartment conditions inside the plane, but rather on the outdoor temperature on the tarmac.  If the external temperatures are extreme, the airline will not allow the animals to be transported.  However, the temperature in the aircraft would nevertheless be perfectly suitable.
  • In Joe’s experience, there is only one airline that has the proper equipment for animals to travel without having concerns about temperatures on the ground, because they have climate controlled ground service equipment for the animals. That airline is United.
  • In regards to tranquilization, it is against federal law to use drugs on any animal introduced for transport, unless there is a certified licensed vet traveling with the animal. The person presenting the animal must verbally confirm and sign a statement that the animal has not been drugged.
  • If any animal dies in transit the animal will receive a necropsy.  Should they learn the animal has been drugged, US Marshals can arrest the shipper.
  • Airline employees are trained to look at the animals to check whether they are in any physical distress. For example,  a pup that has a runny nose will be rejected from the flight.   Also, each airline has emergency vets on call should they be needed.  There are also professional kennel people to care for the animals should there be travel delay etc.

Joe also pointed out there are many steps to preparing a pet to fly by having the right equipment and taking the time to introduce the pet to his crate long before flying.  My book The Dog Bible has a section on pre-flight preparations in the travel chapter like introduction to the crate and spending relaxed time in the crate at home before the flight. One of the simplest ways to do this before you know you’re going to travel is to bring the crate with a kennel pad into your living room or bedroom, prop the door open,and throw a few tasty treats in there every so often. [Halo’s beef, chicken or salmon Liv-a-Littles work really well as positive reinforcers!]

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

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Living With Dogs Appears To Help Humans Live Longer

Maybe someday doctors will advise patients at risk of cardiovascular disease to not only improve their diet and physical activity, but also to adopt a dog!

Photo Credit: Bethany Meissner

Photo Credit: Bethany Meissner

 

Most people who have adopted a dog believe that their life is better for having done so. Now those happy adopters can point to a study by Swedish scientists for evidence in support of that belief.

Tove Fall is an epidemiologist at Uppsala University. She studies patterns and causes of diseases and health conditions in populations. Tove also has a background in veterinary medicine. Her team looked at the association between life expectancy and dog ownership. The group analyzed data for more than 3.4 million Swedes. They concluded that those who lived with dogs were more likely to live longer than those who did not live with dogs.

Healthcare coverage in Sweden is universal.  All residents are able to access inexpensive, publicly-financed healthcare. According to the CIA’s comparison of life expectancies in countries around the world, Sweden ranks 16th, with the average Swede living to be 82 years old. To put that in context, the CIA ranks Canada and the United States 21st and 43rd respectively. Swedes all have unique personal identity numbers. Those numbers are used to record all visits to hospitals. In addition Sweden has required all dog owners to register since 2001. This information is in national databases that researchers are able to access after the data has been made anonymous. The data can be cross-referenced, but cannot be tied directly to specific individuals, so no one’s privacy is at risk.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. With that in mind, the team examined whether dog ownership had any relationship with cardiovascular disease or death from it. The team discovered that dog owners seemed to have a reduced risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. In addition, dog owners were not only less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, but from any cause whatsoever. The study authors noted that three unrelated studies in the United States also suggested that dog ownership seems to reduce the risk of death after heart attacks and strokes. However Tove’s study has a sample size 100 times larger than any previously reported similar study. The large sample size, more than 3.4 million people, gives the study’s results particularly strong credibility.

Tove acknowledged in the university’s press release that the type of study her team performed does not show exactly what contributes to the longer life expectancy of dog owners. She speculated that “a higher level of physical activity…could be one explanation” for the study’s results. For example, dog ownership might help people recover from heart attacks or strokes “by acting as motivation and support to” resume walking.

Other explanations she hypothesized about include dogs improving their owners’ sense of well-being and the number of people they see, or even a dog’s effect on the bacteria to which their person is exposed. She noted that there could “also be differences between owners and non-owners” before someone chooses a dog.

Regardless of the reason dog owners seem to live longer, we all owe it to our dogs to help them live their best lives. Great nutrition, such as that supplied by Halo’s different varieties of whole meat dog food, is one component of helping our dogs live happier and healthier lives.

Photo credits: Nils Fall

Photo credits: Nils Fall

 

According to PBS, Tove herself has a dog. Her dog’s name is Vega. Whatever the reason that dog ownership is linked with people living longer it seems likely that Vega will help Tove. Tove plans to continue researching how living with dogs helps people and we can’t wait to see what she discovers next. Maybe she’ll even present at a Human Animal Interaction conference in the United States!

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Is This Dog Dangerous? Shelters Struggle with Testing “Aggressive” Dogs

Dog

For decades, animal shelters have evaluated whether a dog was dangerously aggressive by poking a rubber hand attached to a pole into a dog’s food bowl while he was eating – then pulling the bowl away from him. If the dog lunged or bit at the rubber hand, he was determined to have “failed” the “aggression” testing. The shelter could deem the dog too dangerous to be placed with a family and – depending on how crowded the shelter was – the results could mean the dog would be euthanized as a “behavior risk.”

Fortunately, thinking has been changing about how to evaluate a dog’s personality or temperament, especially in the stressful, unfamiliar shelter environment. [I’d be so bold as to say that if any of us at home were to stick a weird looking/smelling rubber hand into our own nice dog’s bowl during her dinner, and tried to remove the bowl, there’s a chance her natural instincts would kick in and she would not look kindly on this intrusion!]

Even some of the behaviorists who were involved in developing the rubber hand test are now realizing that the test results are not good predictors of whether a dog will be aggressive out in the world or in an adoptive home. Shelters are struggling to decide whether to abandon behavior testing altogether in their work to match dogs with adopters, while still trying to determine which dogs might turn out not to be safe pets.

As THIS New York Times article pointed out,” these tests were an attempt to standardize measurements of a dog’s behavior. But evaluations often became culling tools. With overcrowding a severe problem and euthanasia the starkest solution, shelter workers saw testing as an objective way to make heartbreaking decisions. Testing seemed to offer shelters both a shield from liability and a cloak of moral responsibility.” The Times article then quoted Aimee Sadler, a leader in innovative thinking in the shelter world [who happens to have been my first dog trainer – and whose first training client was my adopted Weimaraner, Lulu!].

As the article pointed out, “We thought we had the magic bullet,” said Aimee Sadler, a shelter consultant. “‘Let’s let Lassie live and let Cujo go.’ From a human perspective, what a relief.” That quote may sound sincere when taken out of context, but knowing Aimee as I do, I recognize this was a sardonic comment, indicating her belief there is a fundamental flaw in the thinking behind this behavior testing. Listen to my radio interview with Aimee Sadler last year on DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) which centered on her unique training program, Dogs Playing For Life, that she brings to shelters around the country, bringing that shelters dogs out to play together in carefully chosen playgroups.

All of this is important food for thought – take it as further encouragement to adopt from shelters, with the understanding that we need to cut some slack for dogs while they are in the shelter, and realize that much of their behavior is influenced by the unfortunate circumstances in which they find themselves.

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

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Adopted Cat Protects Florida Family from Poisonous Snake

Oreo the Cat

Photo credit: Inside Edition

Many people are afraid of snakes. It’s lucky for one family in Leesburg, Florida that their cat isn’t. Without their adopted cat’s courageous actions the family likely would have suffered far more than a fright from a poisonous diamondback rattlesnake who slithered into their yard.

As first reported by Inside Edition the Peterson family had been enjoying time with their cat, Oreo, in their backyard on a warm late autumn day when they decided to go inside. They had adopted Oreo a little over a year ago and the black and white feline was already a beloved member of the family. They all enjoyed spending time with Oreo, but never assumed he would be their hero.

The family’s enjoyment came to a halt when they suddenly saw a diamondback rattlesnake in the yard. According to National Geographic these snakes can grow up to eight feet long. Although hospitals in areas where these rattlesnakes live are generally able to treat people who have been bit, their venom can be deadly as well as painful. 

Oreo apparently did not want to take any chances that any members of his family would be hurt that day. He leapt into action and fought off the snake. Unfortunately Oreo was not unharmed during the struggle – the snake had managed to bite Oreos leg. Jaden Peterson, age 10, told reporters that the cat’s “leg was swollen…and he was bleeding.” The family rushed their protector to their veterinarian’s office where he was successfully treated.

Cindi Anderson, Jaden’s grandmother, told reporters, “I think he was protecting the people of the home because that’s just the kind of cat he is.” Jaden agreed, calling Oreo “a little protector.” We suspect Oreo is enjoying a lot of grateful attention and treats from the family he so bravely protected.

Oreo the Cat

Photo credit: Inside Edition

 

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Halo CEO on the Alaskan Bristol Bay Watershed Conservation

Salmon at the Alaskan Bristol Bay Watershed

Photo courtesy of The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

In a Letter to the Editor to newspapers in local communities affected by the Pebble Mine efforts, Halo® CEO Myron Lyskanycz, lends the company’s voice to the importance of conserving the Alaskan Bristol Bay Watershed, the globally critical wild salmon fishery it supports, and the permanent protection of the Bristol Bay Fishery Reserve from the impacts of large-scale, open pit metal mining.

Below is the full Letter to the Editor:

“We at Halo pet foods wish to lend our voice to the importance of conserving the Alaskan Bristol Bay Watershed, the globally critical wild salmon fishery it supports, and the permanent protection of the Bristol Bay Fishery Reserve from the impacts of large-scale, open pit metal mining. Furthermore, we support the Natural Resources Defense Council’s belief that the proposed Pebble Mine needs to be stopped since it has the very real potential to destroy (in perpetuity) Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery and devastate the livelihoods of the people and communities that depend on it.  

Our company’s goal is to deliver the healthiest, most bioavailable and holistic whole food nutrition to our companion animals, while fostering farming, animal husbandry and fishing practices that treat our life-giving soil, waterways and animals in a manner that is sustainable, natural, non-degrading to our environment, and respectful of every animal’s normal life cycle. It is important for communities to be conscious of global and local ecosystems and sustain the animals that maintain the balance of these fragile ecosystems. Consumers increasingly understand that they have a choice, with their purchase decisions, to select goods from companies that actively support the environment, family farmers, natural ranchers and local fisherman. This is an issue that ultimately impacts millions of Americans, pet parents, companion animals, and wild animals. We believe that people everywhere need to be aware of it and given an opportunity to have their voices heard.”

Myron Lyskanycz, CEO, ?HALO, Purely for Pets®

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Myron Lyskanycz, CEO, HALO, Purely for Pets®

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