Archive for the ‘Other Pets’ Category

Heathrow Animal Reception Centre handles traveling animals great and small

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Every year, London’s Heathrow Animal Reception Centre handles 37 million animals traveling to or through the London area, working to ensure the animals are comfortable while traveling, properly vaccinated and microchipped. The center encounters all manner of species from elephants and poisonous snakes to dogs, cats and even four cheetahs in need of a microchip check. The Guardian (London)/Shortcuts Blog

Whether it’s pets, elephants or cheetahs being flown in legally, or dangerous wild animals being smuggled, the animal centre at London’s major airport must deal with them.

A confiscated dwarf crocodile at the Animal Reception Centre, Heathrow.<br />
A confiscated dwarf crocodile at the Animal Reception Centre, Heathrow. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

On an industrial estate less than a mile from Heathrow, an anonymous yellow-walled building echoes with barks, mewls and shrieks. The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) is the first stop for every one of the 37 million animals that pass through the airport every year, whether it is an elephant moving between zoos, or an impulsively purchased gift someone has tried to sneak through customs.

“We’ve had a couple of tortoises down a man’s pants,” says the centre’s deputy manager Susie Pritchard, “and some turtles in someone’s bra.”

Turtles, it turns out, are particularly prevalent. Animal welfare officer Chris Sampson explains that snapping turtles, such as the one lurking beneath a log in one of HARC’s rooms, are often abandoned when they become too difficult to look after. Next door is a cayman, seized by police from an owner without a licence to keep dangerous wild animals. Both the cayman and his neighbour are now used as part of the centre’s hazardous animals training programme.

HARC houses around 20 dangerous reptiles. Alongside an innocuous-looking chameleon and a pair of monitor lizards, two huge pythons lie curled in the corners of their tanks. One was discovered roaming around Heathrow’s car park, and the other was given up by an owner who found it too aggressive. Exotic pets are increasingly popular in the UK – the RSPCA dealt with 7,073 calls about 32,426 exotic animals in 2011 – and for the authorities who have to deal with them, HARC is an invaluable training resource: “It’s about explaining to people what you need to do if you go into someone’s house and there’s a room full of rattlesnakes,” says Pritchard.

A confiscated Yemen chameleon. A confiscated Yemen chameleon. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Most of HARC’s visitors enter the UK legally, and the centre reunites 17,000 cats and dogs with their anxious owners every year. “It’s like arrivals at terminal four,” says Pritchard. “People react like they’ve not seen their pets in a decade.” In reality, they are normally only in the centre a few hours, long enough for staff to scan the animals’ microchips and confirm rabies vaccinations (both legal requirements for pets entering the UK), and in the case of long-haul flights, let them get some exercise. Regulations governing animal transit are strict – unlike budget-airline passengers, dogs and cats need to be able to sit, stand and turn around – and the City of London, which operates HARC, is responsible for ensuring airlines meet those welfare guidelines.

The glass-walled reception has seen its share of famous faces, and a signed headshot above the door marks out Orlando Bloom’s dog Sidi as a frequent visitor. “That always gets the girls quite excited,” says Pritchard. “You’ll get staff appearing on shift who aren’t on the rota.” But for Pritchard, Hollywood stars are far less interesting than some of HARC’s more highly strung arrivals: “I got a call last Christmas asking if I might chip-read four cheetahs. That was a bit of a handful.”

Rare bird hatched from surrogate egg

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

hatching_egg.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleA team of scientists in Dubai hatched a rare bird from a chicken egg, a potentially groundbreaking conservation advancement. The method involved the transfer of fertilized yolk from the houbara bustard, a threatened desert bird in the Middle East, into the white of the chicken egg. TreeHugger (8/28)

Researchers from the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai say that have just successfully hatched a rare bird species from the egg of a chicken.

In a development being heralded as a major advancement for conservation, a team of scientists have proven that embryonic transfer from one bird species’ egg can successfully develop in that of another. Fertilized yolk from a houbara bustard, a threatened desert bird native to the Middle East, was placed into the ‘white’ of a surrogate chicken egg.

And sure enough, the transferred bustard chick embryos continued to grow and hatch normally, despite the unnatural setting of their development.

While the technique still has some refining, scientists are optimistic that the use of surrogate eggs to hatch unrelated bird types will be a boon to conservation efforts. For a rare species like the houbara bustard, which has declined by over 60 percent in recent decades, this method would give embryos in cracked or damaged eggs collected from the wild a renewed chance of survival.

Over the long term, embryonic transfer into surrogate eggs holds the potential to hatch birds from genetic material alone — pushing science one step closer to reviving extinct species once thought lost to the ages.

Therapy Dove, Cloud

Monday, August 19th, 2013


Animal Connections: Our Journey Together

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

smithsonianHave you ever wished a popular Smithsonian exhibit could come to you rather than the other way around? Thanks to an exciting collaboration initiated by the AVMA and joined by the Smithsonian and Zoetis, “Animal Connections: Our Journey Together” recently made its debut at the AVMA Convention. Housed in a mini-museum inside an expandable 18-wheeler, the exhibit features interactive displays introducing visitors of all ages to the many roles veterinarians play and the complex bond between humans and animals. View a video from Tuesday’s public opening of the exhibit.

Physical therapy gets bunny back in action

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Veterinarian and rehabilitation specialist Cory Sims of North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has been helping 5-year-old Belgian hare Edie get back on her feet. Edie was diagnosed with a degenerative condition that left her weak and lacking coordination in and awareness of her hind limbs. Edie’s therapy includes strolling on an underwater treadmill, stretching on a peanut-shaped ball and zipping around in her custom-made mobility cart. Dr. Sims says she also works to support Edie’s bond with her owner because the human-animal bond is the driving force behind what veterinarians do. (7/24)


At NC State, underwater treadmills aren’t just for humans undergoing physical therapy. They’re also proving useful for treating hares – as in rabbits – suffering from degenerative illnesses.

Meet Edie, a five-year-old Belgian hare (which is a breed of domestic rabbit, not an actual hare) who came to NC State’s exotic animal service and was diagnosed with a progressive spinal disease that affects her rear legs.

Edie first started showing symptoms of the degenerative disease last October. As the disease progressed, Edie became unable to control the movements of her back legs. By the end of the year, the condition seemed to have plateaued, leading NC State veterinarians to recommend physical to preserve her mobility as much as possible.

Cory Sims, clinical veterinarian and rehabilitation specialist, uses a variety of tools to help Edie: time on the underwater treadmill, which slows movement and allows Edie to focus on where her legs are and how to keep them in position; stretching on the “therapy peanut,” a rubber exercise ball that encourages balance and strengthens the core; and finally a cart that will keep Edie upright so that she can practice balancing on her .

“Edie’s condition is chronic – we can’t make her back into the bunny she was,” Sims says. “But what we can do is support her as long as possible so that she maintains mobility over a longer period. It’s about promoting the quality of life.”

As exotic pets become more popular, the range of therapies available to these animals has increased. Rehabilitation and therapy are still fairly new and unique services for exotics, according to Vanessa Grunkemeyer, assistant professor of exotic medicine with NC State’s exotic animal service. But the benefits of these new services go beyond helping pets like Edie.

“We provide primary medical care and for ,” Grunkemeyer says, “but part of our job as veterinary scientists involves doing research, which helps us learn more about these species, improve their treatment options and educate the next generation of veterinarians.”

Texas A&M veterinary school adds hands-on experience in addressing cruelty, trauma, neglect

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Houston SPCA LogoTexas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has teamed with the Houston SPCA to give fourth-year veterinary students a chance to work alongside experts in investigating and treating dogs, cats, horses and other animals that have been subject to neglect and abuse. “We will be graduating new generations of vets who will disseminate throughout Texas and beyond with a deep understanding of animal welfare and shelter medicine,” said dean and veterinarian Eleanor Green. The Bryan-College Station Eagle (Texas) (7/12)

By Brooke Conrad

The Houston Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences announced Thursday a partnership that will offer veterinary students a deeper look into cases of cruelty, trauma and neglect in a wide array of animals.

The Houston SPCA, the largest animal protection agency in the Gulf Coast area, investigates more than 9,000 cases of animal abuse and neglect and advocates for more than 50,000 animals a year. Through the partnership with the flagship university, fourth-year veterinary students at Texas A&M will undergo a two-week program at the SPCA, working alongside experts in cruelty, trauma and neglect to dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, farm animals, exotic animals and native wildlife, it was announced at a news conference in Houston.

Though Texas A&M veterinary students already receive a world-class, hands-on education, Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said students will experience an “intimate immersion in the handling of animal abuse cases” because of the partnership.

“We will be graduating new generations of vets who will disseminate throughout Texas and beyond with a deep understanding of animal welfare and shelter medicine,” Green said. “It’s truly a win-win for the students, Houston SPCA and society.”

Green said some students have been exposed to cruelty cases, but the partnership will allow students to work with law enforcement in investigating the cases — something they likely haven’t done before. They’ll also experience going to court to see how the cases play out.

The first group of students began their rotations on June 3. Joe Pluhar is in the midst of his rotation, an experience he called “unique, both in volume and variety.”

Pluhar, who said he hopes to become an equine veterinarian after graduation, was able to care for a horse this week that had been mistreated and was unable to walk.

“There’s no other type of education opportunity like this for vet students anywhere else in the country,” Pluhar said. “[By the end of the rotation] we will have done upwards of 30 surgeries. At other schools, some students do maybe two.”

During their rotation, students live near the SPCA in an apartment that is funded by the college and outside donations. The SPCA is working to add a housing units on to its existing facility, Green said.

Kenita Rogers, associate dean for professional programs at the college of veterinary medicine, sparked the partnership over a year ago after she was urged by a longtime Houston vet to contact the SPCA.

“The reason this is so special is because it’s the largest partnership of its time,” Rogers said. “Just the breadth of species that are involved here — they handle up to 1,000 cases every day. It’s not just dogs and cats. It’s pocket pets, horses, farm animals and native wildlife of 240 species every year. There’s an incredible breadth of knowledge there to share with our students.”

Goats groom airport grounds while helping endangered species

Monday, July 15th, 2013
goatFor the past five years, San Francisco International Airport has brought in goats to clear brush near a runway to prevent fires and protect nearby homes. It’s an eco-friendly plan not only because machinery is not needed, but also because it allows the clearing to proceed without disturbing two endangered species. Goats R Us supplies some 400 goats as well as a herder and a border collie to keep them in line, and the crew takes about two weeks to clear the area. The Huffington Post/The Associated Press (7/5)

Passengers flying out of San Francisco International Airport recently might have caught a glimpse of something bizarre: goats munching away at overgrown weeds.Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice and nearly 400 other goats were chomping on brush as part of the airport’s unique – and environmentally friendly – approach to fire prevention.Airports are mini cities, often with their own firefighters, baristas, doctors and even priests.But goat herders?Brush in a remote corner of the airport property needs to be cleared each spring to protect nearby homes from potential fires. But machines or humans can’t be used because two endangered species – the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog – live there.So for the past five years, the airport has turned to Goats R Us, which charged $14,900 for the service this year.”When passengers takeoff and fly over the goats, I’m sure that’s a thrill,” said Terri Oyarzun, who owns and runs the goat-powered brush removal company with her husband Egon and their son Zephyr.The goats travel 30 miles each spring from their home in Orinda, Calif. to the airport in a 16-wheel truck that Oyarzun calls her “livestock limo.” With the help of a goat herder and a Border Collie named Toddy Lynn, the goats spend two weeks cutting away a 20-foot firebreak on the west side of the airport.When Oyarzun’s goats aren’t clearing brush at the airport, they are busy doing similar work on the side of California’s freeways, at state parks, under long-distance electric lines and anywhere else with overgrown vegetation. The family has about 4,000 total active goats.Working at an airport does come with its own set of challenges, namely loud, frightening jets constantly taking off.”There was an adjustment period,” Oyarzun said. “But they have a lot of confidence in their herder.”At least one other airport has taken note. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has requested bids for goats to clear brush in a remote area of the airport’s 7,000-acre property and expects a here to be at the airport sometime this summer.When goats become too old to work, they are typically sold for meat. But fear not, Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice won’t end up at the slaughterhouse. The Oyarzun family lets its goats peacefully retire at its farm.At least one part of air travel is still humane.

Selection of family pet should be well-thought-out decision

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

dogs11Families interested in getting a pet should give careful consideration to the type of animal that best fits their lives, according to Tanya Roberts of the Oregon Humane Society. Roberts lists factors each family should weigh, such as how often the animal will be alone and how active the family is. Parents are encouraged to initially visit shelters without their children to evaluate pets before the whole family visits. Finally, once a pet is taken home, Roberts notes that parents must teach children how to interact properly with pets. The Oregonian (Portland)

A busy family with two working parents and a spunky 5-year-old turned recently to Omamas for advice on how to choose the right pet, so we turned to the experts at the Oregon Humane Society.

Tanya Roberts, who manages the training and behavior department for the shelter, helps evaluate the cats and dogs that come into the human society’s shelter. The shelter’s website even allows the public to search for pets that may be a good fit for kids.

She offers these tips:

– Consider your family’s lifestyle and circumstances. Will the pet be home alone much? Is your family an active one? What’s a typical day for your family? How much extra time will you have to spend with a pet?

Those factors should drive your decisions about the type and temperament of the animal best suited to your family, Roberts said. For instance, if your family isn’t home much, a cat may be a better choice than a dog.

“It’s about digging deep within your own situation and coming up with, ‘This is how we envision a pet in our lives,’ ” she said.

Said Roberts: “If you have a family with a lot of activity and you go to the park regularly and you go camping and you want a dog to be integrated with a good part of that, sometimes a good choice is a puppy. You can raise a puppy with all that in mind.”

– Get everyone on the same page. Do Mom, Dad and kids want a cat? Talk about the kind of pet everyone wants and how it would fit into your family. “We speak to some families who only want a large dog or where the dad wants a dog but the rest of the family wants a cat,” she said.

– Consider scoping out potential pets without your young children in tow. This approach limits kids’ disappointment if you leave the shelter without a pet. Roberts said parents often visit the shelter on their own to look for a suitable cat or dog, “then they will place a hold and go home and bring their child back with them.”

“It really saves a lot of stress and time if the parent comes in first,” she said.

– Once your new pet is home, keep a close eye on your child’s interactions with it. If you’re bringing home a cat, talk to your child the importance of being gentle. Teach your child the proper way to pet the cat. If you have a dog, ask your kids not to yell or run around the dog.

“You have to watch your child and train your children how to appropriately interact with pets,” she said.

– Encourage your kids to play with the pet. If you have a new dog, enjoy a game of fetch at the park. Or allow your child to help you hold the dog’s leash on a walk or even teach the dog to sit on command. (Just make sure Mom or Dad is around.)

“Some children are brilliant at training,” she said. “They have that aptitude.”

–- The Oregonian

Angel Fund helps Red Eared Slider Turtle

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

The Larchmont Animal Clinic reached out to the Angel fund to help pay for Tesla picturethe repair of the Gillin family’s red eared slider turtle’s shell.  Tesla is recovering nicely!

This is a first for the Angel Fund!

Click Red Eared Slider for more information about this turtle.


Boomers fuel spending on pets

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Americans’ affection for their animals continues to fuel a booming pet products industry. Owners are on track to spend $55.5 billion on their furry friends this year. Growing spending on pets has its roots in the 1950s and ’60s, when baby boomers became the first generation to routinely grow up with animals kept in the home, experts say. Today, boomers are filling their empty nests with companion animals. The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

This year, Americans will spend an estimated $55.5 billion on their pets, a little more than the gross domestic product of Bulgaria.

And Americans probably will spend even more next year, just as they have every year for the past two decades.

Little wonder, then, that these are boom times in the pet industry. In one example, Petsmart reported it sold $1.9 million worth of goods and services in the fourth quarter alone.

“It’s an industry that continued to grow during the recession,” said retail analyst Chris Boring, principal at Boulevard Strategies. “In Ohio, the number of dog licenses issued is growing faster than the birth rate.”

The reason for such unstoppable growth can be traced to the baby-boom generation and its humanization of pets, Boring said.

“They grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, and one of the most-popular TV shows for families was Lassie,” Boring said. “Every little kid begged his folks to buy a dog.”

As a result, “the baby boom generation was the first generation, really, that commonly had household pets,” Boring said. “Prior to that, most domestic animals were kept outside. Cats were kept in barns or on porches, and dogs had dog houses out back.

“Now that baby boomers have become empty nesters, they’re adopting pets in record numbers. I think it’s to fill an emotional need when the last child leaves home.”

They’re not only adopting pets in record numbers, but spending more on each pet, said Dave Bolen, CEO of Pet Supplies Plus, which just opened two more stores locally — one in Grove City and one in Delaware — bringing its Columbus total to seven. The 280-store chain has been doing business locally for about 25 years.

“The people who shop our stores don’t own pets. The pets own them,” Bolen said. “It’s true. The pets run the household. If you go to our stores, you’ll note that all of the signage is the pet talking to you. Our marketing is the same thing, it’s all in the voice of the pet. The pet’s the boss.”

As might be expected, food is the highest annual expense for most pet owners, according to the American Pet Products Association. Owners on average spend $239 on food for dogs and $203 on food for cats. Overall, pet owners will spend a total of $21.3 billion on food this year.

But it’s not just quantity of food. Pet owners — or “parents,” as they’re known in the industry — are going after high quality in their food, too. “That’s a really big deal, organic food,” Bolen said. “It very much follows the trend in natural food in the human space.” In response, his company offers 33 brands of pet foods that don’t contain synthetic additives, artificial preservatives, fillers or animal byproducts.

Pet Supplies Plus is hardly alone in the move toward organic pet food.

In the Short North, “a particularly pet friendly area,” Boring said, Three Dog Bakery touts that its “all-natural dog food” is something that owners “can feel good about sharing with their furry family members.”

Pet People, another national chain which has its divisional headquarters in Columbus, also touts its “high quality, natural, wholesome, and nutritious pet foods and treats.”

The big spending doesn’t end with food. Pet owners are also spending more on human-style fashion gear, grooming and boarding. The American Pet Products Association expects pet owners to spend $5.5 billion on grooming and boarding services this year.

At the prompting of one franchise owner who noticed the rising demand for grooming, Pet Supplies Plus began offering a self-service dog wash, Bolen said. “Sometimes trying to give a larger dog a wash in the home is hard. It’s much easier to do in the dog wash.”

Among the offerings at Posh Pets Boutique in the Short North, for instance, are “the newest organic cotton crocheted toys” and “new winter styles to keep your favorite pet toasty!”

“They’re at a point where they can afford to spoil their pets — and they do,” Boring said. “People are cooking special meals for their dogs, and then there are some of these places where, you call it boarding, but it’s more like plush hotels. It’s almost like anything you can apply to humans can apply to dogs. And it is usually dogs. Cats don’t really care. I say that as a cat owner.”

The pampering even extends to psychological considerations. One product, Neuticles, “allows your pet to retain his natural look, self-esteem and aids in the trauma associated with altering.” Pet owners have bought more than half a million of the prosthetic testicular implants, which sell for about $1,000 a pair.

“I saw a cat stroller the other day for some ridiculous price,” Boring said. “My first question is, what cat would let you put it in a stroller?”