Caru Helps to Feed Homeless Pets

Caru Dog Food DonationsFlorida-based Caru Pet Foods recently donated 5,700 pounds of their Natural Stews to six Chicago area rescues and animal care facilities: Tender Loving Care, Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society, K9 4 Keeps, Chicago Canine Rescue, Pet Project Rescue, and One Tail At A Time.

And the sharing didn’t stop there. One Tail At A Time, allocated a large portion of their Caru Natural Stews to the local Animal Care & Control; and Project Rescue Chicago shared with Animal Welfare League’s Chicago intake facility and Be Fido’s Friend.

Not only does this generous stock of donated product help feed animals currently awaiting homes, it will help feed future pets in need, too. That’s because Caru’s Natural Stews are packaged in Tetra Pak packaging, making it shelf stable for up to two years!

Additionally, its compact, rectangular shape makes stacking and storing easy − perfect for facilities and organizations with limited storage.

This isn’t the first time the pet industry newcomer has taken a special interest in caring for animals waiting for their forever homes. In July, the brand donated $1,500 worth of stews (600 pounds) to It’s A Pittie Rescue as a part of Daily Kibble’s rescue initiative.

With more than 6,000 pounds of product, worth more than $40,000 in retail value, donated to-date in its first year of business, “Caru is really living up to it’s name, which means ‘to love’ in Welsh,” comments Caru CEO and Co-Founder Adrian Pettyan.

The company looks forward to supporting other rescues and shelters in the future.

Photos from Caru Pet Foods

Happy Belated National Cat Day

Cat DayI dropped the ball by neglecting to mention that yesterday was National Cat Day, an observance that takes place each Oct. 29 in the U.S. But better late than never.

Animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige launched this informal holiday in 2005. Not only is the idea to worship our whiskered pals, the day is meant to generate greater awareness of the plight of homeless cats and kittens, and advocacy for their care − with the support of American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

But as anyone who has ever owned or, I should say been owned by a kitty knows, everyday is National Cat Day!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

Halloween dogsMany people now include their pets in their Halloween celebrations. This is an especially great opportunity for fur kids and their humans to have lots of fun. However, there are some potential dangers involved. Below are some important tips for keeping your pets safe and secure this Halloween.

Keep Black Cats Indoors

As a long time kitty parent, I am of the mind that cats should never be permitted outdoors unsupervised, ever. This is especially true of black cats during the Halloween season, as there are some crazy people out there who will torture or even kill these kitties during this occasion.

Black-Cat-HalloweenMany animal rescue shelters actually refrain from adopting out black cats during the entire month of October for this very reason. I, for one, kept an especially close watch on my Omar, who was very friendly, at this time of the year. The same goes for his black kitty predecessor, Murphy, who is very curious and enjoys checking out the trick treaters who come to our door. So I strongly encourage other black cat parents to keep an especially close eye on their kitties.

Some Cautions About Pet Costumes

As for dressing pets in costumes, the ASPCA advises that people should only do this if they are certain that their pets will enjoy this, as opposed to being uncomfortable or even traumatized. Pet parents should also check to ensure that pet costumes don’t have dangling or other types of decorations that the pet could chew off and ingest.

Make sure that the costumes fit properly and are not constrictive in any way. The pets should be able to move and breathe without effort. Furthermore, pets should wear their ID tags, at all times.

Make Sure that Pets Are Happy

Dr. Simon Starkey, pet care expert for PetSmart, offers these important Halloween safety tips: “Before having pets join in the Halloween fun, it’s important to assess whether your pet will be comfortable participating or if the festivities will cause undue stress.”

He added that some pets might be frightened when rambunctious, strangely dressed trick or treaters show up at the door. So it’s advisable to keep especially skittish pets in a safe place, in a quiet part of the house that’s removed from the Halloween festivities.

Make Sure that Pets Don’t Ingest Potentially Deadly Treats

Many treats that are perfectly safe for people can be downright toxic for pets. Chocolate is one Halloween favorite that can be especially deadly for dogs and cats. That’s because chocolate contains theobromine, a highly caffeinated compound that can have an extremely adverse affect on a pet’s central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Plus, chocolate can cause profuse vomiting and diarrhea in certain animals.

Pet parents should also be especially mindful of the dangers of candy wrappers such as foil and cellophane. These can cause intestinal blockages if ingested by pets, so it’s best to keep all candies and other objects that may be dangerous to pets in a safe place where they won’t have access to these. Instead, have plenty of pet treats on hand, so that the furry ones can safely join in the fun.

Make Sure that Pets Are Safe If Going Outdoors

PetSmart’s Dr. Starkey advises: “If you plan to walk your dog around the neighborhood in the evening, make sure he’s properly outfitted and at ease around strangers and crowds. An adult should always have control of the dog’s leash, and reflective leashes, collars or ID tags are essential accessories.” Many pet retailers now carry reflective costumes for critters, which is another excellent way to keep pets safe when they stroll outdoors during Halloween.

Beware of the Hazards of Halloween Decorations

It’s also important to keep in mind the potential hazards of certain Halloween decorations. Thus, the doc cautions pet parents to ensure that lights, candles and other such decorations are not accessible to curious cats and playful pooches, especially puppies.

Halloween should be scary in a fun way, and not dangerous for pets. So be sure to follow these tips to ensure that everyone has a “boo-tiful” time.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

NJ Sen. Introduces Mental Health Screening Law for Adult Animal Abusers

Shyanne
Shyanne

If New Jersey Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11) gets her way, all convicted animal abusers will be required to undergo mental health screenings in an effort to better prevent further harm to animals, and humans.

Beck recently introduced Bill S2449, also called “Shyanne’s Law,” in honor of a dog of the same name that died while under the care of a pet trainer who had a history of abusing animals, and had previously been convicted of this.

Poor Shyanne died from injuries sustained due to blunt force trauma.

Per current laws, only minors who abuse animals are required to receive mental health evaluations, in an effort to determine if they possess mental defects that may render them a continued danger to others.

If the bill were passed, this would extend to adult animal abusers, as well.

Sen. Jennifer Beck
Sen. Jennifer Beck

“Often, acts of animal cruelty are not just symptomatic of a personality quirk,” Beck said. “Such behavior is often telling of a serious psychological issue that poses a greater threat to society. This bill will allow us to punish those who would hurt animals, as well as prevent potential violence upon humans that could evolve from pattern acts of animal cruelty.”

Sounds like a good start to me. What do you think? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photos from the office of Sen. Jennifer Beck

N.J. Votes Against Pig Gestation Crates, With Support from Danny DeVito

Danny-DeVito-PigDespite a previous veto from N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, the Garden State Legislature has voted once again in favor of a bill that would prohibit pig farmers from keeping pregnant oinkers in gestation crates, with the strong backing of actor Danny DeVito and animal welfare groups.

The Humane Society of the U.S. today issued a statement from native New Jerseyan DeVito, who grew up in Asbury Park, in which he appeals to Gov. Christie: “You know my heart is in New Jersey. Chris, please sign the ban on gestation crates — cages used to confine breeding pigs! Man, that sounds like something we should do right away. I’d be proud of you for signing that one, Gov. You sign this ban and I think you go straight to heaven. Not for a long while of course, but, no question this kind of thing opens the gate!”

The bill was passed once before, but Christie vetoed it. It passed the N.J. Legislature again yesterday by a 53-13 vote, with nine abstentions.

New Jersey is home to about 250 pig farms, most of which do not use the crates — which make for cramped, uncomfortable conditions for the expectant moms.

As New Jersey is my home state, I am as happy as a hog in you-know-what about this development, and hope that Gov. Christie thinks twice before vetoing it again.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons

Check Out My Paw-some Articles on Catster and Dogster

Vito Vincent
Breakfast at Tiffany’s star Vito Vincent at the feline fashion show. Photo by Alissa Wolf

As I mentioned a while back, I am now writing articles for the acclaimed pet websites Catster and Dogster.

You can check out my latest works by clicking on the links below:

I am having a great time writing for these wonderful sites, and have many other fun, informative articles in the works.

If you have any suggestions for stories or topics that you are especially interested in, be sure to let me know and I will pass them along to the editors.

In the meantime, wish me luck!

Get Set for the 2015 Pet Fashion Almanac

Photo from Lauren Darr
Photo from Lauren Darr

Calling all furry fashionistas. The 2015 Pet Fashion Almanac is going to be released tomorrow, and it promises to be better than ever.

The handy how-to guide was the brainchild of marketing maven/animal lover Lauren Darr, founder of the International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals.

This fount of info about divine dogs and fashion-forward felines, which was inspired by Ben Franklin’s iconic Farmer’s Almanac, contains loads of tips and resources for those in the booming pet fashion industry, plus a comprehensive zodiac section courtesy of acclaimed astrologer Ellen Zucker.

You’ll also find loads of other helpful info such as a list of pet holidays, pet media and publications, pet trade shows and conferences, pet fashion events and more.

Lauren will officially kick off the release with a big Best Seller Campaign on Amazon. Those who purchase a copy of the book tomorrow will receive a free gift of a downloadable PDF of the 2015 Pet Holiday Calendar. You can set up a reminder on an event time converter by clicking here. You can also check out Lauren’s video about the campaign here.

Last year, the book was a best seller on Amazon’s list of almanacs. It’s available as a paperback and on Kindle.

Even those who are not in the pet fashion biz will find this book informative and enjoyable. So let’s all support Lauren and her furry heartfelt endeavor!

AAFP Offers Help for Fat Cats

Cat-ObesityToday is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, and the American Association of Feline Practitioners is marking the occasion with the launch of a new educational resource for chubby kitties, which you can access here.

The association points out that a whopping 57 percent of cats are now overweight or just plain fat, which can lead to such health issues as diabetes, heart disease, liver ailments and more, along with a potentially decreased life span.

In addition to altering their diets and encouraging them to get more exercise, the AAFP suggests that kitties receive routine check-ups, which are vital to promoting a long, healthy life for your cat. Obesity is one of the conditions your vet will examine during a yearly check-up. Cat-Obesity-Poster

Since just a few extra pounds can put your cat at risk or even in pain, your veterinarian will assess this and create an individualized plan. Some cat owners avoid vet visits because they can be stressful for both the cat and themselves. However, choosing a vet who has earned the AAFP’s Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) designation is an effective way to mitigate stress.

The CFP designation means that a practice has made changes to decrease stress and provide a more calming environment such as feline-only waiting areas and examination rooms.

Their staff has also been trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding cat behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat. To locate a CFP in your area, visit: http://www.catvets.com/cat-owners/find-vets-and-practices.

Photos from the AAFP

How You Can Help During Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Each October, the pet world celebrates Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, as a way to promote and help to find fur-ever homes for the many pooches housed in shelters.

Even if you are not in a position to adopt, Petfinder.com has come up with a list of ways that everyone can help the cause.

Here are some easy ways you can still help:

  1. Donate your Facebook status. Just paste this message into the “What’s on your mind?” box at the top of your page: “October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. Save a life: Adopt a dog! https://www.petfinder.com”
  2. Tweet, retweet and repeat the following (or your own brilliant message): “October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. Save a life: Adopt a dog! https://www.petfinder.com #savedogs”
  3. Contact your local shelter or rescue group (you can search for groups near you here) and ask if they have a donation wish list or other flyer they’d like to you to post around your office or neighborhood. They may be holding special events for Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, which you can help promote.
  4. Share an adoptable dog or a Petfinder dog-adoption Happy Tail on your blog, Facebook or Twitter (hashtag #savedogs) page each day of the month.
  5. Sign up as a foster parent or shelter volunteer then tell your friends how great it is. Contact your local shelter or rescue group, or register in our volunteer database.
  6. Add a Petfinder widget or banner to your Web site or blog.
  7. Write an op-ed about the importance of pet adoption for your local paper.
  8. Contact your local shelter or rescue group and offer to photograph their adoptable pets and upload the pics to Petfinder.
  9. Donate to your local shelter or rescue group or to the Petfinder.com Foundation in honor of Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month.
  10. Pass on an understanding of the importance of pet adoption to the next generation. Talk to your kids, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and other up-and-comers about animal shelters and why Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, and pet adoption in general, is important.
  11. Did we leave anything out? Tell us your own ideas!

Petfinder also has tips about how to care for a new dog during the first 30 days after you adopt one, which you can see here. Let’s all do our share to prmote this doggone worthy cause.

How to Pick the Best Pet Groomer

Photo by Judy Reinen/ Creative Shotz
Photo by Judy Reinen/
Creative Shotz

The pet groomer profession is booming, as more people than ever take their dogs, cats and even bunny rabbits and guinea pigs to groomers for services ranging from baths and clips to “paw-dicures,” facials and other pampering treatments.

As this is an unregulated industry that does not require licensing or formal schooling, it’s very important to thoroughly vet any groomer to which you entrust the care of your beloved companion animals. In recent years, there have been some cringe-worthy stories in the news about pets that were maimed and even died under the watch of incompetent pet groomers.

Here’s how to go about finding the most reputable pet groomer.

Research Pet Groomers in Your Area

One of the most effective ways to find a great groomer is through word of mouth. You can ask other pet parents, your vet and even pet store owners (provided that they don’t offer these service themselves, as they will be biased) for recommendations.

Thanks to the advent of such Internet business sites as Yelp, Google+ and such, you should also check for any reviews that may be contained on these platforms. You might also check with your local Better Business Bureau, to determine if there have ever been any complaints lodged against a groomer you are considering.

Take Into Consideration the Groomer’s Years of Experience and Training

As with any profession that involves the health and safety of living beings − which pet grooming definitely does − the more experience a groomer has, the more likely they are to have proficient skills and enhanced knowledge of best practices. That’s not to say that all experienced groomers are great, and newer ones are incompetent. But those who have seen and experienced it all are more likely to be sufficiently skilled at working with animals.

And while training is not required, a great many groomers do attend reputable schools or, at the very least, apprentice with established, reputable groomers. There are three pet groomer educational institutions in the U.S. that offer certification: International Professional Groomers Inc., the National Dog Groomers Association of America and the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists. The instructors at these schools are certified master dog groomers, and students are required to take comprehensive practical and written tests in order to graduate.

Photo from there's the National Cat Groomers Institute of America
Photo from the National Cat Groomers Institute of America

As for kitties, which are increasingly seeking grooming services, there’s the National Cat Groomers Institute of America Inc. and the Professional Cat Groomers Association of America, which offer education, training and certification for groomers who wish to service felines.

Otherwise, even those who have been working in the pet grooming profession for a long time take it upon themselves to pursue continuing education and certification in specific practices, and attend trade shows, workshops and seminars to keep their skills fresh and up to date. So always ask about your prospective groomer’s schooling and credentials.

Take Note of the Pet Groomer’s Shop, and Attitude

When vetting a prospective groomer, always pay close attention to the conditions of the salon in which they operate. Is it clean? Do the pet customers appear comfortable? Is it free from funky odors, such as urine and/or feces? Are the cages in which the pets are kept up to snuff? Do the personnel appear calm, focused and confident?

It’s also worth determining if the groomer you are vetting actually likes animals. That may seem like a non-brainer, but a surprising number of groomers don’t care for pets; they are just in it for a paycheck. So a professional that actually loves pets is far more likely to do a good job and care about their well-being.

Overall, trust and pay attention to your instincts, because your pet’s health and safety depend on the competence and care of a pet groomer.