Sunday, June 3, 2007

Ukranian Crocodiles

Check Owner's IQ Story #2

The Associated Press is reporting that an animal trainer brought a crocodile to the beach in an effort to drum up interest in his circus, but got some unwelcome publicity instead when the animal broke free and swam off into the Azov Sea. The 3-foot croc, named Godzi, escaped near the city of Mariupol on Thursday, according to a spokesman for the regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Ministry workers were searching for the crocodile and reported that it has been seen swimming in the sea, which lies north of the Black Sea between Ukraine and Russia. Officials issued a warning to area beachgoers, but Ukrainian media reported that many sunbathers and swimmers were undeterred and came to the shore anyway.

If the crock bites someone, then what? Mmm... tastes like Chicken Kiev?

Rains Came, Dog's Gone

Hank was swept down this drainage pipe. PHOTO CREDIT: WTVT-13Two days ago we wrote about preparing for this year's hurricane season in the article "Hurricane Season 2007". One of the things we mentioned was to be aware of your pet's needs after the storm. Heavy rains tend to erase all the familiar smells that help dogs navigate their local haunts. We also warned against allowing pets off-leash immediately after a storm or allowing them to venture into standing water.

That was June 1st, the first day of hurricane season. It was also the day a rain storm in the Gulf of Mexico was designated Tropical Storm Barry and headed toward Tampa Bay. The next day, June 2nd, Tampa's WTSP-10 and WTVT-13 TV reported that Hank, a lovable 20-month old yellow lab living in Largo's Green Meadows Mobile Home Park, jumped into a retention pond to get a toy football as it floated past. The pond had filled to overflowing in the wake of over six-inches of rainfall from the storm. The water was moving so swiftly that Hank couldn't fight the current and his owners watched as he was swept into a drainage pipe.

The storm has subsided. The rains have stopped. The water level of the pond has fallen. Hank is still missing.

UPDATE 5 June 2007
After hearing Hank's story, county work crews were out at the retention pond removing vegetation. So far they have not found Hank's body, so the family is holding out hope that Hank is still alive.

UPDATE 6 June 2007
The news has come to us that Hank has been found, but the end of the story is not a happy one. His body was found several hundred yards downstream. He has been laid to rest in his human's back yard.

Creature Comforts

Animated comedy debuts Monday [4 June 2007] at 8:00 PM on CBS.

Creature ComfortsPorcupines talk about the fear of needles. A police dog explains how to spot a liar. A female bird rattles off her health problems. A fish talks about an unusual condition: "Dry skin. Can you believe it?" Creature Comforts excels at gallows humor. Lobsters in a boiling pot are interviewed. A snake is asked about the worst thing it has ever done -- and it's clear the reptile has been dining on something it shouldn't have. Just as in daytime TV, sex is a vital topic in the animal kingdom. Chickens and horses talk about attraction. Birds and bees expound on the "birds and bees," ie. the facts of life.

If you ever saw the Chevron commercials with the animated talking cars, you know the people behind this show. From the creators of "Wallace and Grommit," Aardman Animations, Ltd., this adaptation of a British hit has no plot. Rather, the program takes interviews with everyday people and lets those words come out of the mouths of animated animals. The show unfolds like a series of fast-paced sketches.

This is a must see if you like animals, Wallace and Grommit, or any of the other Aardman animations that have been available for download on the Internet for years. I know where I will be at eight on Monday night.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Hurricane Season 2007

O.K., you've heard it all before. Be prepared, be prepared, be prepared, ya da ya da ya da... and it goes on. You're probably tired of hearing it or regard it as hype. No problem.

On the other hand, you've got pets. What about them?

Are they ID microchipped? Are they tattooed? Is the information up to date? In other words, if your pet becomes lost and is later found, will they be able to find you to get your pet back home? If you bought a dog or cat that was already microchipped, the chip company may have no information about you at all. If your vet chipped your pet, the information is probably correct and up to date, unless you've moved or changed your phone number (hint, hint).

If your pet has an Avid chip go to for information or call PETtrac directly at 800-336-2843. For a Home Again chip go to You can also visit or call 866-597-2424. Otherwise, check with your vet — soon.

What if the phone isn't working at your house after the storm? If the only number for you in your pet's information is your home phone, then what? Provide a phone number for a friend or family member that lives elsewhere, somewhere that would not be affected by a storm that affects your home. Be sure to tell them about it too or this can happen...

"Hi. Did you lose a dog?"
"No, not me."
"Oh, sorry, bye."

If there is a storm on the way, do you have enough water for you AND your pet? They say to have enough food and water to sustain yourself for at least THREE to SEVEN days. Unfortunately, dog and cat food will be low priority items in the wake of a major storm and its resulting damage. It is recommended that you have enough pet food on hand for at least TWO WEEKS. How about a first-aid kit? What will you do if Fluffy cuts her paw on that glass from the broken window? It will take more than a band-aid.

Regardless of your situation, if you live in the state of Florida, most batteries, flashlights, weather radios, tarps, tie downs and other hurricane-related supplies are available without having to pay sales tax through June 12th. NOW IS THE TIME to buy the things you and your pet may need during and after a storm.

Make a plan. Get prepared. Be safe. It is important for you and your animal family members.

Test Buyer IQ Before Selling Dog

In The Category: Where Do They Find These People?!?!

Late Thursday [31 May 2007] a report came to Lee County, Florida, Animal Control about a dog biting someone. An Animal Control officer went out to the home in Bonita Springs. After the owner laughed and told the dog to attack the officer, backup was called in the form of sheriff's deputies.

According to police reports, when the deputies arrived, they knocked on the door and also called the homeowner on the phone. Police say the owner laughed again and tried to excite the dog with respect to the people outside.

After multiple attempts to talk to the homeowner, the door eventually swung open and the dog reportedly bounded out, charging at the officer and deputies. One of the deputies shot the dog as it ran toward him, killing the animal.

The 34-year old owner was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. When asked why he acted as he had, he reportedly told the deputies that he didn't realize it was a sheriff's officer at the door.

Editor's Note: The report did not indicate the breed of the dog or the IQ of its owner, or if the owner was under the influence. Hopefully, they will add a charge of cruelty to animals for inciting the animal to the point where it was killed. According to the title of an animated movie, "All Dogs Go To Heaven," but owners like that need to go and do a little dance in hell.

Palm Beach Canine Flu Alert

The Palm Beach Post is reporting that their county's Animal Care and Control Department has quarantined 25 to 30 dogs and suspended rabies vaccinations and microchipping for pets after a dog tested positive for canine influenza at the shelter. The dogs will remain under quarantine for 10 days, the length of the disease's incubation period. Officials are cautioning pet owners to be careful when going to public places with their dogs and to consult their dogs' veterinarians if symptoms are observed.

This is a big deal and very serious. Last July over 500 dogs were put down and adoptions suspended at the PBC facility in an effort to quell a canine influenza outbreak and due to a lack of space for incoming animals. They don't want to euthanize any of the dogs, according to community programs manager Karen Buchan, but if the dogs get sick, depending on the severity of the illness and the situation, they might have to.

Canine influenza does not affect cats or people.

All dogs are susceptible to the virus which is spread by moisture droplets that are expelled when they cough or sneeze, and it's in their saliva. They can catch it simply by breathing in the vicinity of another contagious dog, by playing with another dog's toy, or through contact with a human who has been around a contagious dog. The virus can remain viable for several days outside a dog's body. Dogs spread the virus for two to five days before they begin to show symptoms and are contagious for about seven days.

About 20 percent of dogs will be contagious but will not show symptoms. Symptoms include a soft, gagging cough for up to a month. About 15 percent will develop a sudden high fever and runny nose which may mean that pneumonia caused by opportunistic bacteria has developed. Dog flu is probably fatal less than 8 percent of the time but much higher numbers die if they develop pneumonia.

Police K-9s Good And Bad

Police Officer and Retired K-9 Are ''Partners for Life''

Officer Michael Erwin and his K-9 partner, Banook, display a plaque received from Chief Dorene Thomas. Photo Credit: Julie RobertsJulie Roberts, reporting for the Pinellas Park Beacon, wrote that "Mayor Bill Mischler and the City Council were present recently as man and dog took center stage in the City Hall meeting room. Both ''police officers'' stood at attention to receive the award recognizing five years of dedicated service. Chief Doreen Thomas held out a hand – that was immediately licked by the grateful recipient, whose partner smiled proudly.

"With that solemn ceremony, Banook the K-9 dog, partner to Officer Michael Erwin, officially retired and was transferred from active duty to family pet status. ''Not go home with me? Not be my partner for the rest of his life? That was never an option. I would not have let it happen,'' said Erwin, a K-9 field training officer and an 11-year veteran of the force. Outside city hall after the ceremonies, Erwin relaxed and soothed the anxious dog. The response was immediate. Banook, a sable-coated German shepherd, twisted his head around and saturated the officer with trust and adoration.

" ''For the last five years, it’s just been Banook and me, 24/7,'' said Erwin, who left the K-9 unit and returned to patrol. ''His big reward, what made him happy, was earning my approval and my reward. Now it’s my turn. That’s what we do in this business. That’s what you do in life. You look after each other.'' "

Read the whole story of Banook and his Partner here.

The Flip Side Is Considerably Less Happy

A 26-year veteran of the Miami-Dade County Police Department, and 23-year member of the police K-9 unit, has been charged with animal cruelty in the alleged kicking death of his K-9 partner, a 4-year-old German shepherd named Duke. Sargent Allen Cockfield, who has been on paid administrative leave since the June 2006 incident, surrendered to authorities Wednesday [30 May 2007] on charges of animal cruelty and killing a police dog, a felony. He was released after posting $6,000 bail and has been relieved of duty without pay.

The story has received wide coverage from numerous news agencies. For a special insight to the case, read this article on Miami Herald reporter Ellie Brecher's blog, Crazy for Critters. Apparently, soon after the K-9's death, a number of people and agencies received an anonymous e-mail that detailed the alleged events leading to the dog's death, including, ''Duke was on a leash at his partner's side. He barked at a time when his partner, Sgt. Cockfield, did not want him to. He was then strung up by his neck and kicked repeatedly. Duke let out a prolonged yelping cry, shook and went limp. When put down on the ground he died IMMEDIATELY.''

No matter how this happened, it is dreadful.

SARDS Dogs Regain Sight

Blind Dogs Can See After New Treatment For A Sudden Onset Blinding Disease

If two dogs are any indication, Iowa State University veterinary researchers may have found a cure for a previously incurable disease that causes dogs to go blind suddenly.

In the past six weeks, two dogs have been successfully treated for sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) by a research team led by ISU veterinary ophthalmologist Dr. Sinisa Grozdanic in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The experimental treatment is the first to reverse blindness and restore sight to dogs diagnosed with SARDS. The treatment restored sight to the two dogs that were treated on April 12 and April 27.

Read the whole story in Science Daily.

Vick Loses Sponsor

AirTran Airways has ended its relationship with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who has been a pitchman for the airline since 2004. ''Michael's contract expired May 8, and we advised him then that we would not renew it,'' AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said Thursday. Hutcheson said Vick had appeared on five billboards and did radio commercials under a one-year contract, which had been renewed twice before.

There have been a string of publicity gaffes on Vick's part. His name has recently been dragged into a Virginia investigation of dog fighting. He was sued by a woman who claimed he gave her herpes, he made an obscene gesture to spectators while leaving the field after a game, and security screeners at Miami International Airport stopped him from boarding an AirTran flight in January with a water bottle that turned out to have a hidden compartment.

Especially stinging to AirTran was when Vick's publicist blamed the airline when the quarterback failed to arrive in Washington to speak before Congress. AirTran said Vick had ample opportunities to get to his destination on AirTran but chose not to.

Authorities say that informants have come forward that can directly link Vick with dogfighting at his Virginia property, according to the prosecutor in that case. The jury is still out on what the NFL Commissioner is going to do, if anything, or what plans the Atlanta Falcons have for their star quarterback. It is probable that Vick's other sponsors are gauging the worth of retaining his services.

Doggie Fun Facts

There are about 73 million dogs owned in the U.S., according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Web site (

Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households have at least one dog.

Twenty-five percent of U.S. households own two dogs.

Fourteen percent of U.S. households have three or more dogs.

Assistance dogs are changing too. They can be a lot smaller than one might expect. There are now mental disabilities that qualify having a psychiatric service dog. The dogs are trained to assist the handler with a psychiatric disability, such as bipolar or post-traumatic stress disorders, autism, and schizophrenia. The Americans with Disabilities Act says the majority of the dog's work is to provide environmental assessment such as dealing with paranoia or hallucinations. The dog may respond to ''alerting behaviors'' like interrupting repetitive behaviors or reminding the handler to take his/her medications. The dog may also be trained to recognize the onset of epileptic seizures. You don't have to be big to do those things.

Pet-Friendly Venues Needed

It's always nice to find someplace where you can take your pet. If you're like me, that is often limited to PetSmart and the Bark Park. So, when I saw this item, I thought it should be shared...

In the Miami Herald's After Dark column by Gabe Berman, he mentions the following:

"Coconuts, 429 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. ''Upscale,'' or any of its synonyms, barely applies. You won't need the keys to an Italian sports car to fit in at Coconuts because this Intracoastal cafe feels more like a Keys hideaway.

"While you'll be welcomed at Coconuts wearing anything except your birthday suit, I've included it because the service is exceptional, the wine list is impressive and the surroundings are immaculately maintained. It feels like the bar at the Four Seasons compared to the neighboring Elbo Room and Treasure Trove.

"Enjoy live music Thursday through Sunday. Coconuts is a pet-friendly venue and the manager Karen Coffey will treat you, and your four-legged loved ones, like you're VIPs."

Do you know a great pet-friendly place to take your four-legged friends? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Just click the comment link.

Dog Bolts, Owner Killed

This is such a sad situation. WSEH-TV Channel 2 in Orlando is reporting that a man and his dog were standing outside a fast-food place on Thursday night [31 May 2007]. Witnesses said the man was on a pay phone arguing with someone when the dog ran off. The man ran into the street after the dog and apparently tripped on his untied shoelaces. A driver struck and killed the man. Police say the driver will not be charged and there is no information about the fate of the dog.

If only the dog were on a leash. If only the dog were better trained. If only, if only, if only.

My dogs are pretty well trained. They regularly accompany me into the unfenced front yard sans leashes. They know the boundaries. Stay out of the neighbors' yards and never go into the street. I trust them around the house and when they are outdoors in the front yard, so am I.

Away from home, they are never allowed off-leash unless in a secure area, even in a friend's front yard. They get leashed in the car and then we exit to visit our friend. Despite my efforts at training, I'm not willing to risk an unforeseen desire on one of their parts to chase something at the worst possible moment.

That the man was willing to run into traffic to save his dog is either heroic or extremely foolish. That he was killed is tragic. That his shoelaces were untied at the time is proof that Murphy's Law is still in effect.