Month: June 2016

Please share — maybe we can make a difference this year. It’s not just the pets: Combat veterans can also be affected by backyard fireworks

Pet Dish Fourth

I have always encouraged my readers to refrain from exploding loud fireworks on the Fourth of July, because of the adverse effect it has on pets, especially – dogs. But the noise, and vibrations, can also be upsetting to our combat veterans, many suffering from PTSD.

Everyone flies flags, praises our veterans and supports them, but then, on Independence Day, seem to forget what these men and women have been through. Please, if you are sincere about your support of the troops, reconsider those fireworks in the backyard.

Most communities have free firework displays. Go to them instead of spending money on store bought fireworks that may traumatize your military neighbors, and  the pets in the area. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on some more stuff for the barbecue?

Getting away from the sound of fireworks isn’t easy, especially if you live near one of the public display sites. Before dusk, take your pups out, securely on a leash. I don’t care how well-behaved your pets are normally, please don’t take the chance – use a leash. One exploded firework can send the best dog running.

Once inside, set them up in their crate, or a quiet room in the house, soothing music on low (not the time for John Philip Sousa), and a favorite blanket or toy. If you are not going out, stay in the room with them. The company will be appreciated. Leave lights on. The flash from the fireworks will be less noticeable in a room that is lit.

Thundershirts may also help with some of the fear. These don’t work on all dogs. For us, it takes the edge off for Buddy, but it doesn’t completely calm him.

Do not take your dog to public displays. It isn’t good on their ears or their nerves.

If you are having a family barbecue, make sure your dog is safe and secure inside. Many dogs will dig out, or jump a fence, to “get away” from unfamiliar noises.

Should your dog get out, please check with local humane societies, and post on local animal rescue Facebook sites. As always, make sure your pets have up-to-date identification on them.

For our veterans, I hope I have dissuaded some of your neighbors from exploding fireworks. There are noise reduction headphones, which I have been told work fairly well, and I know some of you will go camping to get away from the celebrations.

Our thoughts are with you this weekend, and Thank You.

Shelter from the storm

Dogs, but generally not cats, often have a fear of storms, making States like Florida a tough place to live.

EESamantha's things 2

Our household is hoping for a quiet hurricane season. On June 6, Tropical Storm Colin rolled through our section of the state with some wind and rain. Certainly no Hurricane Frances or Charley – thank goodness.

The Estes dogs were not impressed with Tropical Storm Colin. This is especially true for Buddy, the Jack Russell.

Buddy was adopted in Orlando but was moved to Arizona almost immediately. Arizona doesn’t have hurricanes, and not that many thunderstorms . 

He came home with us last December because he was not adapting well to our granddaughters’ new found mobility. He liked her fine – if she stayed in one place.

So to keep the peace, and the dog, good old mom and dad brought him back to Florida. A place where there are thunderstorms, tropical storms and hurricanes.

As the bands of rain from Colin passed through the area, both dogs were quite upset, even while wearing their ThunderShirts. Buddy curled up on the bed, curtains drawn, and Kodi went to a favorite spot by the couch. They are where they feel safe, and that’s all that matters.hurricane

Tropical Storm Colin was a weather nudge. We are into hurricane season, and we need to be prepared.

If you live in an area where you might have to evacuate; this include wildfires, hurricanes, or even into your own tornado shelter, your emergency preparations need to inlcude your pets. Preparing an evacuation bag now for your pets will only take a bit of your time. It will be time well spent.

The kit isn’t just for those who live in evacuation areas. It’s for those inland, who may lose power, or be unable to get out for a couple of days.

Here are a few items to gather for your pet: Veterinary records for proof of vaccinations (put these in a zip lock bag. Tags are not recognized as proof of vaccination); pet medication; two, 2-liter plastic soda bottles for water; zip lock bags of dry food or extra cans of pet food; plastic food and water dishes; cat litter and disposable pan; crates for each pet and blankets; extra leash; doggie bags; one or two favorite toys (these can be tossed in at the last minute); ThunderShirts (if your dog uses them).

If you need to evacuate, or if you are sheltering in place, fill up the 2-liter bottles when you fill up your family’s water needs – before the storm.

Microchip 1
The dog is scanned for a micro chip. Like most dogs that come into shelters. this one did not have a micro chip.

Now is also the time to verify that your pet’s ID is up to date on their collar or their microchip.

The best crates I have found are the open wire style. These allow for more ventiation than the hard side, airline-style crates. Select one that is large enough for your dog too stand and turn around in. Too big is not better. When scared, most dogs prefer a smaller “cave.”

This is also a good time to find out where the emergency shelters that are pet-friendly are, in your area. These are last resort, for survival, shelters. They are not like sleeping in a hotel far away from the disaster or hunkering down in your, or a friend’s, home.


Turning in a hoarder isn’t easy, but you will be saving lives.

There was a time, when the kids were home, we had two dogs, two cats, and a couple of birds. When we evacuated for Hurricane Floyd it took all three of our vehicles to transport them. Today, my husband and I have one cat, two dogs and one bird, and at this time in our lives, with our schedules – that is enough.

When I first began writing a pet column in the mid 1990s it required a weekly visit to the humane society. This made my husband nervous, because we both are “animal people.” On two occassions, he returned home and said; “This (dog/cat) wasn’t here when I left this morning.” This was in reaction to Luna, a golden retriever/chow mix, and Samantha our current feline in residence. I was well aware I couldn’t save them all – but I would do my little part.

I confess this because I know how easy it is to fall in love during every visit. I always believed that hoarders were folks with good intentions, who became overwhelmed.

Hoarders are now being recognized as individuals with mental health issues that can result in horrific consequences for the animals they are “helping,” and their own families.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are a quarter of a million animals who become victims to hoarders every year. Statistics show that hoarders are generally female, over 60 and live alone. They have an unusual number of “pets” without the financial means to house or care for them, and they deny this inability.

The process is a gradual one, starting with a pet or two, but then the numbers increase. Sometimes people bring animals to them, or they start picking up strays – to protect them – and soon there are too many to manage. The person will go without necessities for herself, and may even become reclusive, to try and provide for the animals. But animals are expensive to properly care for.

There is help for people who suffer from pet hoarding, but the first step is intervention. Pet hoarders will deny they have a problem. Many friends and family members worry about getting their friends and loved ones into legal trouble, but it is important to remember that the situation is inhumane for all involved and must be resolved. Animal hoarding cases do not have to end with criminal prosecution of the hoarder.

It is important is to get the animals out, to eliminate the possibility of the hoarder obtaining new animals, and to get long term help for the person suffering with the mental illness.


Gary Patronek, VMD, PhD and founder of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC) says most pet hoarders fall into one of three categories:

Overwhelmed caregivers: They begin rescuing or helping animals in a small way and/or acquire pets passively but become overwhelmed by their growing pet population and inability to say no. People in this category tend to be the most willing to consider downsizing when offered help.

Rescuer hoarders: The people in this group are driven by an extreme sense of mission. Patronek says a profound fear of death and/or loss drives them. Caring for animals provides a strong sense of identity; losing the animals is a loss of who they are. When Animal Services finds this type of hoarder the first options are offering help and negotiated settlements. If the hoarder cannot or will not improve conditions for the animal, sometimes confiscation and prosecution become necessary.

Exploiter hoarders: These people may be true sociopaths. Exploiter hoarders lack empathy for people or animals. They are manipulative, cunning and can be vicious. Prosecuting them with every legal option is often the only path to saving the animals and a successful intervention.

If you know of a hoarder call your local animal control agency.