The Time to Reach the Next Generation is Now

19 02 2011

As I write this post, I am sitting at a Starbucks in the middle of a busy mall.

Directly in front of me is a rescue group “Going Home Greyhounds” out of Pennsylvania. They are here with several dogs in an attempt to educate and adopt these beautiful animals out.

 As I sit here watching the interaction between the group, the dogs and the crowd it strikes me that there are many children drawn to the booth. Sure, they are more interested in seeing the “doggies” but it became so apparent to me that with the natural draw children have toward animals, it only makes sense that they be the future voice of animals.

  Children, particularly younger ones, have minds like sponges and still want to help and please others. Isn’t it wise to use that natural urge to please to teach them the importance of being kind to animals and how to teach others to do the same?

Our Animal Rescue Superhighway has just the vehicle to help teach tomorrow’s generation today. The Koala Kid’s Club™ is our children’s humane education program designed with elementary-aged children in grades 1-6 in mind. We believe that by reaching children at this young age, we’re preparing a whole new generation to deal with the plights of animals and how to protect them.

By taking part in a humane program like the Koala Kid’s Club™ – a program that reinforces positive behavior and positive attitudes – children learn to extend mercy and kindness to animals, which in turn, allow them to become more considerate and caring in their relationships with others.

If you would like more information on how to bring a Koala Kid’s Club™ program to your area, please visit our site to learn more and contact us today. It’s never too soon to start.

To Insure Or Not To Insure…Pros and Cons of Pet Insurance

17 01 2011

If you are like most of the “pet people” I am proud to associate with, chances are there is no cost too big or too small when it comes to your four-legged companions.  But is pet insurance a gimmick or a good investment against going into debt to cover your pet’s medical needs? It is my hope that this post will help guide you in the direction that is best for you and your pet.

The pet industry is a $45 billion (yes, billion) industry. This may or may not be a surprise, but what you may not know is that approximately 27% – or about $12 million – of that $45 billion was spent on pet medical needs in 2009 alone. That’s an increase of 10% from 2008. The costs continue to creep up from $8.7 billion in 2005 and $9.4 billion in 2006. In fact, since 2000,  pet healthcare costs have inflated 80.4%. Keep in mind, this inflation only covers vet visits and treatments, NOT medication.

Do I Need It?

Maybe. Maybe not. The average lifetime premium of a pet insurance policy can range from $2000 to $6000 over the average life span of your pet. Being a doting pet parent, chances are you’ll probably never need to fork over that amount for medical treatment for your pet. But what if…?

Veterinarians have many new, technologically-advanced equipment and treatment options that were once reserved only for humans. For example, radiation treatments and even kidney transplants are now readily available for our pets. The costs for the treatments of these once terminal illnesses: between $1000 to more than $5000. MRIs are also now readily available to diagnose illnesses or problems that previously would have gone unnoticed. While these are medical milestones for our pets, the fact remains that they have driven the costs of veterinary care through the roof.

Is My Pet Covered?

Here’s where things tend to get a bit hairy when it comes to pet insurance. There are plenty of pet insurers out there who will give you a rundown on what their policies will or won’t cover. Here are a few of what appear to be industry “norms”:

  • Most policies have deductibles, co-payments and annual caps of what they will pay.
  • With the exception of Embrace Pet Insurance, most will not cover pre-existing or hereditary and chronic conditions such as hip dysplasia.
  • The older your pet, the higher your premiums and most companies won’t insure a pet is older than nine.

What Happens If I Can’t Cover The Costs?

If you aren’t able to cover an emergency situation for your pet’s medical care, it may be wise for you to look into pet insurance but be sure to look before you leap:

  • Like mama said – Shop Around: Policies vary widely and so do their premiums. Be sure to ask about deductibles, co-pays, and annual pay outs. Do they offer multiple pet discounts?
  • Check with the state: Like their human counterparts, pet insurance companies should be registered with your state.
  • Understand exclusions completely: what pre-existing, hereditary or chronic conditions are covered? Which ones aren’t?

The Bottom Line

Most experts will agree that for most pet owners, pet insurance will cost more than it will save. Responsible pet owners take their animals to the vet regularly, provide maintenance medication for heart worm and flea and tick control, control their pet’s diet, etc. All of these steps help to stave off more serious problems down the line.

Buying pet insurance is no different than buying home or auto insurance: you’re expecting your vet costs to be higher than your premium, deductible and co-pay. If you have a breed of animal prone to hereditary and/or chronic health problems that will cost your more in the long run, pet insurance may be your answer. If you have a “healthy” or hardy breed with little expectations of health problems, you’ll probably be fine without it.

Pet insurance tends to be a discussion-friendly topic – we welcome your comments and questions!

Breeding Responsible Pet Owners: Deck The Halls But Keep Pets In Mind

8 12 2010

Keeping up with our “Breeding Responsible Pet Owners” Series, it’s time for our holiday edition. No doubt, like millions of people across the country, your home is in full holiday mode. Decorations are being placed, goodies are being prepared, gifts are being wrapped. It’s a magical time of year, but one that can turn dim if care isn’t taken when it comes to our pets.

The holidays are a time of shiny decorations and wrappings and rich and tempting foods that are hard for even our pets to turn down. The most common situation seen in veterinary emergency rooms is chocolate toxicity and the darker the chocolate the more dangerous it is. While milk chocolate tends to be less of a threat, ultimately, it depends on the size of your dog. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, vomiting or other changes in behavior, chances are he’s gotten into the candy dish. Do youself a favor and keep it out of reach. Even a dog who doesn’t normally go after something on a table or shelf could be drawn to the candy dish.

While cat owners don’t have as many food worries, they do have holiday concerns when it comes to their pets. Cats are curious creatures by nature and love dangly, sparkly things they can bat and bite at. Enter tinsel. They love this shiny decoration and if they eat enough of it, you can have a serious and life-threatening problem on your hands. If you think your cat has eaten tinsel, it’s best to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Lights, handwarmers, mistletoe and holly all pose threats to your pets – keep what you can out of reach and if you suspect that your pet has ingested something harmful, call your vet or pay a visit to your local animal hospital immediately.

Happy Holidays to you, your family and your pets!

Dog Auctions: Just An Extension of Puppy Mills?

28 11 2010

As puppy mills continue to operate, dog auctions continue to spring up across the country. Much like horse and cattle auctions, dogs are paraded in front of potential buyers in hopes of collecting the highest amount of money possible. Where does the money go? Back to the breeders who are running the puppy mills and the vicious cycle continues.

So what’s the big deal? The puppies are being saved from the puppy mills and going to loving homes, right? Wrong! The big deal is these dogs are not being saved and the people involved with these auctions are not acting in the best interest of the animals.

The majority of the dogs being auctioned off are puppy mill cast offs – dogs who are either unable to reproduce or who have reached their breeding age limit and are no longer of any use to the puppy mill owner. Or, the breeder may have a surplus of a particular breed and “need” to sell them off to make room for more puppies.

Puppy mill dogs are a special breed – they have had little to no human contact, no socialization and are plagued with a host of medical problems. They have never lived in a house, never walked on a leash and are scared of simple, everyday things we take for granted. If these problems aren’t visible to those who attend the dog auctions, it’s likely they won’t be voluntarily shared by those hoping to get top dollar for the dogs. Buyersare not necessarily made aware of the problems a puppy mill dog has and may be getting more than what they bargained for.

While dog auctions are illegal in some states, Ohio and Wisconsin seem to be a hot bed of activity for these barbaric practices of peddling puppies. So much so that they have caught the attention of animal lovers and activists who are attempting to have the auctions shut down and banned – something the Animal Rescue Superhighway supports fully.

Why get involved? If you’re an animal lover, it makes perfect sense to ban dog auctions. The animals being sold by people who have had not one, but several, violations of the Animal Welfare Act, have been convicted of animal cruelty or both. The animals are being sold with visible physical impairments and the not-so-visible temperament issues.

Dog auctions are carried out for one reason only: financial gain for the breeders. They do NOT have the animals’ best interest at heart, but rather their bank accounts. The dogs are brought into this world under horrid circumstances, suffer unspeakable treatment and living conditions only to be auctioned off to the highest bidder – and not necessarily one who is going to take care of them, or is even equipped to properly do so.

If you would like to stand beside Animal Rescue Superhighway and the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions, please contact us today. We not only need your voice, but also your signature to have the petition put on the ballot in 2011. Please help us be the voice for the voiceless…after all, if we don’t speak for them, who will?

It’s F-R-E-E But Don’t Tell Bella!

25 11 2010

Thanksgiving is here and so comes sharing time with family and friends and our pets.  This particular blog post finds us in Lancaster, South Carolina at the home of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law – two of my favorite people in the world. Dean and Diane have a cat named Bella who is less than thrilled that her home has been invaded by all of us. She glares at us from her favorite seat in the dining room and I’m sure she’s thinking “when are these people going to leave?!”

Like all pet owners Dean and Diane spoil little Bella, and rightly so. As you can see, she’s a little beauty. And smart! Whoever says cats aren’t smart has never met Bella. She knows when the treat can shakes it’s time to come out from hiding. She also knows when “daddy’s home” and when it’s time to go “out.” My favorite, though, is her food preferences. Of course, she knows “tuna” and comes running. Diane bought has a special turkey dinner for her and said to me “It’s F-R-E-E, but don’t tell Bella!” I, of course, giggled at the thought of Diane spelling the word instead of saying it and Bella knowing what she meant by the word “free.”

Bella doesn’t really know the word “free” but it just goes to show the lengths we go through to give our pets the very best, especially at the holidays. Our pets are members of the family, it’s only right they get special treatment on the holidays just like everyone else.

Be thankful today and every day! Be thankful for your families, friends, the time you have with them and of course, your pets. Remember that the holidays aren’t only a stressful time for you, but for your four-legged family members, as well. Spend extra time with them and be sure to give them plenty of downtime to decompress – and yourself, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly – But Not To Give Pets As Gifts

23 11 2010

The holidays are upon us – time for spending time with family, baking and shopping for the perfect gift. Each year we seem to be on a mission to outdo what we’ve done in past years for our children. A common and mistakenly popular gift? Pets.

Why “mistakenly popular” you may ask? A pet – no matter what time of year you decide your family is ready for one – is a commitment of at least 10-15 years. It should not be an impulse decision or purchase. There are many factors to consider when adopting a pet. And yes, I said, adopt. We at Animal Rescue Superhighway stand firmly behind the idea of “don’t shop, adopt” and will never tell anyone to buy a puppy or kitten from a pet store or breeder.

On to why pets are a bad idea at Christmas time. Besides the obvious reason of choosing a pet that’s right for your family and lifestyle after researching what is available, the holidays are a very hectic time of year. With the constant cooking, baking, shopping, gift wrapping and parties, bringing a new animal into this chaos is not going to be good for any of you involved. If your home is like most at the holidays, you have a revolving front door as guests and well-wishers make their holiday rounds. This can be confusing to a new pet as they can become confused about who lives in the house and who doesn’t.

Still not convinced? Keep reading. A new puppy or kitten needs a calm environment in the beginning, particularly when leaving the chaos of a shelter. With the constant holiday traffic in and out of your home, it’s no wonder your new puppy will constantly be tinkling all over your home. Your pet needs to be secure in your home, with those who live in the home full time, before introducing them to a large group of strangers.

Strangers aside, there are still a few other things that can be dangerous for a new pet. Piles of crumpled wrapping paper and ribbons are prime “chew toys”, sweet treats that can be fatal and even alcohol all pose serious threats to your new puppy or kitten – and all things that need to be considered. What about your holiday travel plans – have you considered those? It’s a strain for a new pet to become accustomed to their surroundings in a “normal” state – it’s hardly fair to bring them to your new home for a day or two, only to further stress them by putting them in a boarding facility.

It’s understandable that you want to make a special memory for your family at the holidays – ’tis the season. But the last thing you want to do is cause your new pet to end up back in the shelter or worse. Don’t make an impulsive decision. If you and your family feel you are ready to take on the long-term responsibility of a pet, wait until after the holidays, when things are calmer and you, your family and your new pet can truly enjoy each other.

Every Dog Deserves A Chance – Even Puppy Mill Dogs

22 11 2010


Unless one is living under a stone in a remote village on another continent, it’s impossible to not be aware of the puppy mill problem plaguing our nation today.

In case someone reading this isn’t fully aware of what a puppy mill is – let me enlighten you. Puppy mills, puppy farms, backyard breeding – take your pick – they all mean the same thing: breeding dogs in squalid conditions with an emphasis on profits over the lives and welfare of the dogs. Puppy mills are NOT meccas for dogs where they lounge around all day being fed from silver-lined dog dishes. The dogs who are subjected to these living conditions are piled into kennels – often two or three per kennel – in puddles of urine and piles of their own feces, have never been to a groomer and likely have spent very little, if any, time in a veterinarian’s office.

The sanitary conditions, or lack thereof, are just one of the problems the dogs stuck in these environments endure. In most cases, females are bred during every heat cycle and puppies are more times than not, weaned from the mother well before the eight to ten week recommended weaning time.

Because of the constant breeding and the poor breeding conditions, puppies who are sold from these backyard hell holes often suffer from serious health issues and/or socialization issues. Before the puppies are sold off to pet stores or unsuspecting owners over the Internet who have no idea what the true living conditions for these dogs are, they are cramped in kennels with little to no human contact, no vet care and then transported over long distances, sometimes in poor condition, all of which lead to animal stress and even death.

Those who survive are left to face a different kind of hell – life after the puppy mill, likely stuck in an animal shelter because no one wants to take a chance on “damaged goods.”

We posted a poll recently on whether or not puppy mill dogs could be rehabilitated and discovered that those who read are blog believe unanimously that puppy mill dogs CAN indeed be rehabilitated. With so many who agree that there is hope for these dogs, why are the shelters still full of them?

It’s true, puppy mill dogs are a special breed fraught with special needs thanks to the environment in which they were brought into and ultimately rescued from. Along with the socialization issues, many dogs, as they grow older are subjected to respiratory problems and hereditary problems like hip dysplasia. Many have temperament issues.

So does all of this mean they are doomed to a shortened life in an animal shelter, which we all know presents its own set of problems, only to have their lives ended when their “number comes up?” Why should they be cast off as damaged and unloveable when they didn’t ask to be put in their situation?

Puppy mill dogs, if handled with the right touch, are no different than any other adoptable animal. They simply need a patient touch from someone who can love them for what they are and give them the life of love they desperately want and deserve.

Dogs are natural pleasers and want only to be loved unconditionally – in the same manner they love their families. As the title of this post says: every dog deserves a chance – even those from the puppy mills. They don’t deserve a death sentence simply because of where they were born.

As always, we welcome your comments. This is an important issue and one that needs not to be swept under the rug or for anyone to pretend it doesn’t exist. Please share this post with others. The more dialogue we participate in and the more awareness we raise, the better off these dogs are and the more likely they are to have a chance at a happy and normal life.