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

Posted by & filed under Bloggers, Talk Radio, Tracie Hotchner.

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.

Adopted Cat Protects Florida Family from Poisonous Snake

Posted by & filed under Bethany Meissner, Bloggers, Pet Stories.

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

 

Halo CEO on the Alaskan Bristol Bay Watershed Conservation

Posted by & filed under Halo Sourcing.

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®

How To Protect Paws on Icy Sidewalks

Posted by & filed under Bloggers, Pet Health, Pet Tips, Tracie Hotchner.

Protect your dog's paws on icy sidewalks

Photo credit: MyDogLikes

With an extended cold wave across the Northeast and other parts of the country, dogs have their own particular challenges when going outside. A recent New York Times article on the subject called “Don’t Make Me Go Out There” with some fun photos – described how city dogs have the added burden of dealing with the ice-melting substances sprinkled on sidewalks. When it’s really cold underfoot, you’ll see even country dogs hold up their paws after only a few minutes outside because the frozen ground is that painful. Beyond that, de-icers pose a health challenge to city-dwelling dogs.

De-Icing Materials Can Hurt
Some big buildings use chemical de-icers on their front pavement, substances which are good at removing the ice (and the possibility of a lawsuit from pedestrians who might otherwise slip and fall), however they are not pet-friendly. Many of them contain ethylene glycol – the antifreeze liquid, which is known to be fatal to dogs who lick it up.  Some urban buildings use rock salt, which has rough edges that can cut a dog’s paws and also cause a burning sensation.  In both cases, contact with your dog’s paws is painful – and then if she licks her paws back at home, she can get sick from swallowing either one.

Blue Pellets Are the Dog Safe Ice-Melter
If you’re able to see the residue of any ice-melting substances on the melted sidewalk, look for salt that has a bluish tint. This paw-safe de-icing substance is one of the ways to de-ice the sidewalk, while keeping dogs safe.  If you live in an apartment building, try to convince the powers-that-be to switch to this dog-friendly product, which usually contains propylene glycol, (rather than the potentially deadly ethylene glycol).  It can be costlier than the other chemicals de-icers but your dog (and those in the neighborhood) will thank you for lobbying for it!

Remedies for City Walking

  • Get your dog to wear booties, if you can – ones that have a rubber tread on the bottom so they give her some traction. Try the boots indoors at first since most dogs have a hard time accepting boots. Use positive reinforcement and encourage your dog to walk without looking down at her feet. Get her used to the boots by giving lots of top notch treats while she’s wearing them.
  • Before you go out, spread a generous layer of a thick cream called Musher’s Secret all over the underside of your dog’s paws. This will form a protective layer. Petroleum jelly can also work but not as effectively.
  • As soon as you come back indoors, wipe your dog’s feet and chest and belly area with a warm, wet towel.
  • You can also use a deep bowl and fill it halfway with warm water and dip your dog’s paws in one at a time, to rinse them off – then towel dry.
  • Check the paw pads for any cuts or reddened areas.

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.

Dog Saves Woman from House Fire in Texas

Posted by & filed under Bethany Meissner, Bloggers.

Mikey the dog from Texas

Jonene Burton loved her adorable dog Mickey, but never imagined the small pup would one day save her life. According to 12News, she had lived in her two-story home in Mauriceville, TX for around 18 years. Her house had withstood hurricanes, most recently Hurricane Harvey less than a year ago. Mauriceville is a small town, not far from Beaumont, whose director of Animal Services headed out with rescuers from the Humane Society of the United States in the aftermath of Harvey to save pets.

Unfortunately, even when there aren’t hurricanes, devastation can happen. Although investigators are not yet certain what caused the fire, Jonene told reporters that she believes it began in the room right next to where she was sleeping on the ground floor! She did not notice the fire and continued to sleep deeply until her beloved Mickey began licking her face.

The determined dog’s licking woke Jonene who quickly realized the situation. She grabbed Mickey and escaped through a window. Both were unharmed. However, although her home survived Hurricane Harvey, it didn’t survive the fire. When firefighters arrived shortly after 3 a.m. that night, the house was completely engulfed in flames.

Jonene’s brother-in-law, Phillip Labarbera, has worked in emergency medical services for 20 years. He has hurried to many calls like Jonene’s and hoped for the best, but never has a call hit so close to home. He told reporters that he hurried over as soon as he heard about the fire because he wanted to see that Jonene was safe.

Phillip told reporters that he was grateful Jonene and Mickey weren’t hurt in the fire, “You know the things in the house can be replaced, but thank goodness there wasn’t any personal injury. It was very relieving to see that everybody turned out okay.”

We’re also grateful for Mickey’s quick thinking that woke up Jonene so that both were able to get out safely. We bet that as Jonene rebuilds, she’ll be giving Mickey lots of praise and treats for saving her life.