Tragedy struck the US Gulf Coast last month, and Americans jumped in to help our fellow citizens and their pets. As usual, human charities dived in to help people displaced by the storms. As news of the extent of devastation filtered out of the south, attention turned to animals - animals left in their homes in hopes they would be safe, animals set loose to fend for themselves, and animals whose owners refused to leave them.
Volunteers poured into Louisiana and Mississippi to help these animals. Animal charities put out the call for dollars and supplies, and people gave millions of the former and truckloads of the latter. We cannot possibly list all of the groups, organizations, and companies that answered the call for help, but here's a small sample of the largesse that poured into the Gulf region following the devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rite.
National animal charities and regional and local animal shelters rushed to Gulf Coast states to save animals made homeless by hurricane devastation. The Humane Society of the US collected millions of dollars and organized a temporary shelter at Gonzales, Louisiana. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals drew on its disaster relief fund to provide grants and donations of more than $1 million and pledge an additional $2.5 million to shelter reconstruction in the region. The American Animal Hospital Association pledged reimbursement up to $125 per physical exam of hurricane rescued pets given by member veterinarians.
The American Kennel Club stepped up to offer assistance through its Companion Animal Recovery division; CAR provided hundreds of crate and thousands of dollars worth of supplies to the rescue effort and arranged to airlift more than 50 dogs to St. Hubert 's Katrina K-9 Care Center in New Jersey. Hundreds of AKC-affiliated clubs donated money to the CAR effort.
Shelters in several cities sent staff members south to help with the thousands of animals brought to the Lamar-Dixie facility in Gonzales, Louisiana, and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Veterinarians responded. AVMA donated $100,000 in immediate aid and pledged $500,000 in matching funds. All four national Veterinary Medical Response Teams responded to provide emergency care to rescued animals.
SPCA Cincinnati is one regional shelter that responded to the tragedy. The shelter put together a broad coalition of veterinarians, foster homes, and volunteers and received donations to cover the cost of shipping animals to the Cincinnati area for housing until their owners could be found or the dogs and cats could be offered for placement in new homes. The shelter also rented a motor home and sent a field supervisor to the Lamar-Dixon facility to help with organization and animal-handling.
Companies selling pet-related products and services stepped forward as well. The Iams Company sent $200,000 worth of dog and cat food for rescued dogs and cats. Nestle Purina shipped nearly 150 tons of Purina products (dog and cat food and cat litter) to the hurricane zone. PetsMart Charities, a affiliate of PetsMart collected nearly $3 million in donations to be disbursed as grants to purchase food, crates, litter, beds, medical supplies, vaccinations and fund capital repair costs for shelters. Pet supply company Drs. Foster and Smith sent pet carriers, pet food, and cash. Petco established a relief fund that sent more than $100,000 worth of pet foods and supplies.
The magnitude of the mission was overwhelming, especially in the early days of the recovery following the storms. As a result, animal disaster relief is likely to remain in the forefront of animal welfare concerns for some time to come. Several organizations have asked Congress and the President to help establish a program for rescuing animals modeled on the American Red Cross human disaster relief plans, and a bill has been introduced in the US Senate to require states to include evacuation plans for pets in order to receive federal disaster planning funds.
For more information about continuing efforts to help animals displaced by the hurricanes, see
The kids are back to school and Fido is lonely after a summer of constant companionship. Mom may find herself at loose ends during the day as well, so why not enroll the pooch in an obedience class for fun, to instill some good dog manners before the holidays, or to learn a skill that can occupy his mind and body?
Every dog should be a good citizen at home and in public. Fido should learn to sit to get fed; stand to be groomed and have his feet and legs cleaned after a romp in mud, slush, or snow; and lie quietly while you watch television or read a book. Every dog owner can cement the bond with the family pet by teaching and expecting good dog manners that open the door to Fido's participation in family events, walks in the park, visits to friends' homes, and more.
Various types of dog training schools exist, so it is likely that you can find one that meets your needs. The two general categories of schools are clubs and businesses. Some clubs are affiliated with the American Kennel Club, and some are independent. Dog training businesses range from individual trainers who teach classes in their homes or yours to businesses that conduct group classes and private lessons. Some grooming shops, day care centers, and veterinary clinics offer classes on their premises.
Techniques differ as well. Some clubs and instructors use a wide variety of appropriate. humane techniques and equipment to best meet the needs of a broad spectrum of dogs and owners. Others train without discipline in the hopes that Fido will go along to get along. While the latter method may work with many dogs, it also creates canine brats that dominate households. Hints for selecting a training school can be found on the Dog Owner's Guide website at http://www.canismajor.com/dog/yobed.html
The American Kennel Club lists its affiliated obedience clubs by state at http://www.akc.org/clubs/search/index.cfm?action=obed&display=on
A magnificent dog bred to guard castles and hunt wild boar, the Great Dane is a favorite pet and show dog. This update of the Dog Owner's Guide Great Dane profile at http://www.canismajor.com/dog/grdane.html highlights the breed's benefits and drawbacks for potential owners.
Years ago, we wrote about microchip identification of dogs as an aid in finding lost pets. We still think that voluntary microchipping is the best way to identify a lost pet, and we still like the AKC/CAR database as a microchip enrollment service. But some things have changed: some laws and shelter policies require chipping of adopted dogs and competition among chip companies is so fierce that lawsuits have been filed and federal legislation is imminent. So, we rewrote the microchip article (http://www.canismajor.com/dog/microchp.html) to bring it up-to-date.
The latest scare for pet owners is canine influenza, a viral flu that may have jumped from horses to dogs and left several greyhounds dead in Florida. The flu can now be found in pet dogs in several states.
Scientists emphasize that the virus is not as serious as Internet chatter and the media would have us believe. However, the death rate falls in the range of one-to-five percent with dogs that are not diagnosed early and those that develop pneumonia at the highest risk.
Initially, the disease resembles kennel cough. Symptoms include a cough that can last up to three weeks, a high fever, a nasal discharge, and, in severe cases, pneumonia. Although the primary disease is viral, secondary bacterial infections are possible. Puppies and old dog are most at risk for pneumonia and death. Virtually all dogs will carry the virus when exposed and 75-80 percent may show clinical signs.
Treatment includes fluids to prevent dehydration and antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections. The virus is sensitive to two anti-viral agents, but these drugs are not approved for use in dogs. Because this flu is a new pathogen in dogs, pets have no natural immunity and a vaccine is not yet available. However, there are diagnostic tests available to find out if the disease is present and scientists beleive that a vaccine will be relatively easy to develop.
For more information about canine influenza, see the following articles:
"A new deadly, contagious dog flu virus is detected in 7 states," by Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Carin Rubenstein, New York Times, September 22, 2005; http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/22/national/22canine.html?ex=1285041600&en=5ce0e29cf9f98dfb&ei=5089&partner=rssyahoo&emc=rss (News articles often change location within a website, so this link may no longer work.)
Media briefing on canine influenza, Centers for Disease Control, September 26, 2005; http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/transcripts/t050926.htm
"Canine influenza virus detected in dogs in New York," NYS Animal Health Diagnostic Center at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, September 29, 2005; http://diaglab.vet.cornell.edu/pdf/CIV-NYS.pdf
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