Thousands of international strays are finding a new home in Canada
by Charlie Gillis
His story begins in a phone booth—or, more accurately, under it. The puppy had pawed out a refuge from spring monsoons and lay mewling as shoppers in Mussoorie, a mountain town north of New Delhi, passed him by. The wails of stray dogs are part of India’s sonic wallpaper; an estimated 250,000 roam the streets of Delhi alone, yipping and howling amid the din of car horns and motorcycles. But after several days of listening to this one, a group of schoolboys decided they’d had enough. Wary of the animal’s fleas and mange, they gathered him into a section of newspaper and prepared to throw him over a nearby cliff.
Barb Gard was not a rescuer in those days. She’d come to Mussoorie in 2003 to teach a session at its famed international school for girls and was booked to fly home to B.C. in two days. But she’d heard the pup on her walks to the town’s open-air market, and now, with the life of one bedraggled canine hanging in the balance, she decided to act. Advancing on the boys, she held out her waterproof jacket and—ignoring their warnings that the dog was dirty—wrapped him up and spirited him away.
Gard has rescued more than 200 street dogs from near-certain death in India (Brian Howell)
Ten years on, that dog sprawls on Gard’s bedsheets in Abbotsford, B.C., a portrait of health and tranquility. His name is Francis, after the patron saint of animals, and his life story is only slightly less remarkable than the Assisian friar’s. After 24 hours on an electrolyte-heavy formula, a de-worming, a de-fleaing and a battery of shots at a local vet clinic, he was tucked into a crate for a two-stop flight to Canada, with Gard as his escort. In Singapore, airline officials paged her to the tarmac to calm her screeching animal and contend with his diarrhea. “By the time we got to Vancouver,” she recalls, “he was screaming so loud, they waived the inspection fee.”
A dreadful odyssey, in short, but one that changed Gard’s life. In 2006, she returned to India and brought home five more of the ubiquitous street dogs, known as “desis,” finding adoptive homes for them once she got back. During a third voyage in 2009, she partnered with a pair of activist veterinarians in Delhi to create a non-profit called Adopt an Indian Desi Dog (AAIDD). Gard, now a retired school psychologist, has since airlifted another 219 canines facing near-certain death from disease, starvation or euthanasia, and found most of them permanent homes in B.C. by advertising them on the adoption website, Petfinder.com. In 2011 alone, she brought 100 into the country, promising herself she’d scale back the airlifts because she’d worn herself out. Then, a few weeks before Christmas this year, her phone rang again. “I brought in another seven in January,” sighs the 58-year-old. “I couldn’t resist.”
Somehow, without notice, Canada has become a refuge to the huddled masses of the canine world, as thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—flood into the country each year. It’s a Wild West sphere, with no one tracking the number of rescuees entering the country, nor their countries of origin. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which regulates the importation of animals, has recorded a spike over the past five years in the number of adult dogs imported annually for commercial use, from 150 to 922 (some rescued dogs are included in the “commercial use” category because organizations collect adoption fees to offset costs). But that represents a fraction of the inflow, because some rescuees enter the country designated as pets rather than commercial-use animals, and because border officers don’t keep count of the dogs they inspect for proof of rabies and for general health. One Calgary-based agency contacted byMaclean’s, Pawsitive Match Inc., says it trucked in about 800 dogs from the southwestern U.S. and Mexico in 2012 alone. It continues to receive another 80 or so per month.
Meantime, animal rescue organizations from this country are a fast-proliferating sub-group onPetfinder.com, where North American non-profits and charities line up homes for needy animals. As many as 80 new Canadian groups join each year, and while not all import their dogs, enough do that a few mouse clicks can raise the profiles of canines from such far-flung locales as Greece, Taiwan and Iran. Some must be flown to Canada; others have already made the trip and are waiting in foster homes for adoptive families.
This is, in part, an outcome of our shrunken world: a dog located halfway around the globe can be in Canada a week after someone in Halifax or Toronto spots its profile on the web. But it’s also a sign of how deeply animal-welfare values have penetrated Canada’s mainstream. Gone are the days when an impounded stray was a dead dog walking: only 14 per cent of dogs taken in by SPCAs and humane societies each year are put to death (compared to 60 per cent in the United States), while the once idealistic-sounding rhetoric of the animal rights movement has gained near-universal public acceptance. Nearly nine out of 10 respondents to a 2011 poll commissioned by the Canadian branch of the World Society for the Protection of Animals said they wish to “minimize and eventually eliminate all forms of animal cruelty and suffering.”
Not everyone in the animal welfare community sees cross-border dog rescues as the next step in our moral evolution. Humane societies at both the local and national levels have raised their voices against the practice, arguing there are plenty of dogs in Canadian pounds and shelters in desperate need of homes. “We need to direct Canadians to adopt here,” says Barbara Cartwright, chief executive of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. “It can be very frustrating for a local humane society that has a dog overpopulation problem, and is looking at euthanizing animals, while dogs are being brought in from a different continent.”
Yet the airlifts go on. Last month, a group in Nova Scotia announced it hoped to bring 100 dogs from the U.S. over the next year; on Feb. 12, Pawsitive Match took 12 more dogs across the border at Coutts, Alta.; Toronto-based rescuer Dianne Aldan is expecting two more to arrive next week from Greece. Dogs, it seems, are the new beneficiaries of Canada’s fabled openness to newcomers—a furry diaspora, unleashing the joys and discontents that come with the designation. With each new shipment, the debate over who gets in intensifies, producing an echo of our periodic clashes over human immigration. “If you do want to help out in another country,” says Cartwright, “donate to the local agency that’s trying to make a difference there. The problem should be dealt with in that country, by the people of that country.”
Pet rescuers have been with us a while, of course. Animal sympathizers the world over were inspired in the 1980s by British activists who began seizing donkeys from neglectful owners, or taking stray dogs to “no-kill” shelters whence they could be adopted. Their Canadian imitators initially focused on animals on death row at their local shelters, marshalling volunteers to provide foster homes and seeking permanent owners for the condemned. By the late 1990s, some were turning their attention to Aboriginal reserves and northern towns, where a lack of funding and infrastructure for animal control had resulted in chronic overpopulation by dogs. The sight of sick canines scuttling around reserves was enough for some empathetic visitors to mobilize airlifts on the spot.
That gut-level reaction served as the impetus for many an international rescue group, as globe-trotting Canadians got a look at deplorable conditions for stray dogs in the countries they visited. For Aldan, a financial analyst from Toronto, it happened during her 1984 honeymoon in Greece, where the state of the country’s strays struck her as profoundly as the azure seas. “The dogs were just skin and bones, walking around the street,” she recalls. “If they got sick, people would just abandon them.” When she and her husband returned for subsequent vacations, they found conditions largely the same and, in 2001, Aldan took action. The result was Tails from Greece, a charity that has since airlifted 292 dogs to Canada, housing them in foster homes while seeking out permanent owners in southern Ontario.
Aldan’s modus operandi is widely replicated. She works with Greece’s handful of private shelters, identifying dogs that would make good pets and saving them from death row. She recruits tourists willing to accompany the dogs to Canada and maintains a network of foster families to keep the animals while they await what rescuers call “forever homes.” In 2011, Tails from Greece declared $40,000 in revenue, much of which Aldan spent on vaccinations and flights (about $1,200 for a crate carrying two adult dogs). Still more went to food and unexpected veterinary treatment while the animals were being fostered.
If the movement had a coming-of-age moment, though, it was Hurricane Katrina and the TV images of 15,000 dogs and cats left to fend for themselves in the aftermath of the 2005 storm. Media coverage of a Vancouver-based team that rushed to the Gulf Coast to save sodden, frightened animals inspired others to get involved—donating money, adopting dogs and, in a few cases, launching their own relief organizations. Four-legged refugees found homes as far away as B.C. and Ontario. By the time of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan two years ago, a template was set: groups swept in to execute daring rescues of animals from Fukushima’s exclusion zone, providing a level of care the wave’s human victims might have envied. Some were taken to a special animal rescue program at Azabu University, west of Tokyo, where they were diagnosed with, and treated for, post-traumatic stress disorder.
Heartwarming stuff, but for the rescue movement, the legacy of these efforts has been mixed. A handful of people evacuated from Katrina’s wake sued afterward because they never got a chance to reclaim their animals before agencies adopted them out. Years later, questions arose as to whether these self-appointed guardians of animal welfare are, themselves, adequately monitored. Last June, the SPCA removed 52 dogs from the property of a woman in Burnaby, B.C., who had helped save animals after the hurricane. Officers alleged the dogs—which were not hurricane victims—suffered from rotting teeth, infections and untreated skin ailments.
Still, the value of the rescuers’ service, post-Katrina, was hard to deny. Removing strays from the street means reducing the threat to humans of diseases like rabies and tetanus, proponents point out. Even in the absence of disaster, the self-styled saviours have ingratiated themselves to local residents by providing a humane option to deal with dog overpopulation. Aldan points to economically downtrodden Athens, where broke owners increasingly take their animals to international adoption groups, rather than simply abandoning them. “In the larger centres,” she says, “things are getting better.”
Better for people and—more important in the new ethos of animal welfare—better for dogs. That’s a key distinction to anyone trying to understand the values behind the global rescue movement, says Jean Harvey, a philosophy professor at the University of Guelph, who has studied the ethics of the animal rights movement. In past decades, she notes, animals were held in the mainline public view as objects of human use—food, labour, companions. Now, says Harvey, “you’ve got a very different group of people. You’ve got people who see animals as having intrinsic value similar to that of human beings.”
Typical is Ashley Bishop, a 28-year-old office worker from North Vancouver who, with her husband, Mark Alford, went looking for a dog last year. The couple had criteria: the animal had to be quiet because they live in a small apartment; Alford wanted a dog he could take running. They settled on Hank, a lanky, young desi Barb Gard had imported and advertised on Petfinder.
Bishop admits they made their choice without a second thought about animals languishing in Canadian shelters. “A creature in need is a creature in need,” she says. “Yes, there are lots of dogs here that need homes. But if you don’t adopt these dogs [from India], they’re going to die.” She expands: most countries lack the bylaws, subsidized spay-neuter programs and shelter infrastructure Canadians take for granted; that means strays live shorter and more brutish lives than their homegrown counterparts—lapping up brackish water, foraging in landfills and, in many cases, succumbing to disease.
The couple was even less disposed to forking over $800 to $1,200 for a pedigreed dog, repelled by the idea of an animal weakened by generations of inbreeding done for human benefit. “We didn’t want to spend thousands on vet bills,” says Bishop, “because the dog we got can’t breathe properly or has bad hips because it was bred down so far.” Here, too, they typify a new generation: to hundreds of thousands of North Americans who adopt dogs each year, pure-breeding is impractical, and arguably inhumane.
And the truth is, many rescue groups can source dogs of a given breed without a whole lot of effort. Pawsitive Match has in recent years been importing hundreds of the chihuahuas that proliferated in southern California in the early 2000s, says Tracy Babiak, the chief executive of the Calgary agency. That was about the time Paris Hilton was seen carrying one in her handbag, prompting women to buy “chis” as fashion accessories. The fad gained new life when the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua came out, adds John Murray, a rescuer based in Norco, Calif., who trucks dogs to Alberta on Babiak’s behalf. Now, with Hilton off the tabloid radar and the movie in bargain bins, Murray says he can “get anyone a chihuahua any time they want” by plucking it off death row at a California shelter. “The same thing happened with Dalmatians when 101 Dalmatians came out,” he says. “People just don’t think.”
Here, then, lies the paradox for domestic SPCAs and humane societies. On one hand, the country has largely come around to their world view. Canada has halved its euthanasia rate in the last two decades. Fully half the dogs admitted to shelters get adopted. But if the life of a chihuahua in San Bernadino, Calif., is as important as one in Saskatoon—and its death more imminent—how do you ensure the ones left in Canadian shelters aren’t forgotten?
Cartwright, the CEO at the federation of humane societies, spends a lot of time trying to answer those questions without sounding hypocritical. At least some of the tens of thousands of Canadian dogs put to death each year would make fine companions, she insists (surveys of shelters, SPCAs and vet clinics suggest three per cent have neither physical nor behavioural problems), while others could be rehabilitated.
Cartwright also raises concern about the potential for imported dogs to carry pathogens like rabies or the deadly parvovirus—though that concern seems minimal, given CFIA requirements for canines entering the country. While Canada doesn’t typically quarantine dogs, it does demand either proof of an animal’s rabies vaccinations or a vet’s note assuring that it comes from a rabies-free country. The rules are more stringent for younger dogs and for animals not accompanied by their owners (most rescuees arrive with volunteers). All puppies less than eight months old must have certificates of health showing they don’t have parvovirus, distemper or the canine flu, among other ailments.
Certainly, those who adopt foreign dogs seem motivated to keep them healthy. Last November, Jessie Oliver-Laird and Pinder Chahil, a young couple living in downtown Toronto, offered to foster one of Aldan’s so-called “Greekies,” with a view to adopting the dog if the relationship worked. The dog, alas, had cancer in a right front toe, and a vet in Toronto was forced to amputate. No sooner had Aldan’s charity swallowed the $3,000 surgery bill than the dog, Sven, tested positive for a hypothyroid condition. If they chose to keep him, Oliver-Laird and Chahil would have to pay about $100 per month for tests and medication—on top of the $350 adoption fee they’d be paying Tails from Greece.
By then, however, Sven was lumbering happily about the couple’s one-bedroom suite, located just east of Toronto’s financial district, stealing the hearts of his hosts. A wire-haired pointing griffin, he stands about a half-metre tall at the shoulders and eats about $50 worth of food per month. Aldan figured him to be eight years old—rocking-chair age for even a well-raised pooch. But to ensure he got enough exercise, Oliver-Laird, a daycare worker, took him for four walks a day outside their mid-rise co-op.
Of course, like all rescued animals, Sven had the power of narrative working in his favour. He was found abandoned on one of Greece’s many islands and spent a year in a shelter before his guardian angel descended in the form of Aldan. “We think he was just left by someone who couldn’t afford to feed him,” says Chahil solemnly. By the time he reached Toronto, Sven was solitary and diffident, rejecting a fluffy bed the couple bought him in favour of the parquet floor. But a steady flow of affection from his caretakers slowly revived his spirits. Soon visitors to the apartment were met by a friendly and well-behaved pooch—pretty much an ad for the entire rescue movement.
So when Aldan called Chahil and Oliver-Laird in early February to ask if they wished to keep Sven, the pair never hestitated. He was everything they’d wanted, and they’d played their small part in relieving the worldwide epidemic of animal suffering—a plague in which, to their thinking, borders are no longer relevant. “Any abandoned dog needs a home,” says Oliver-Laird lightly. “It just happens that this one was abandoned in another part of the world.”
Source MacLeans March 2013
For years, Canadians have been buckling up. The proper use of lap/shoulder belts have been shown to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat car occupants by 45 percent, while reducing the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent. Further research has shown that non-belted rear seat passengers increase the death rate of front seat passengers by up to 5 times. We buckle up ourselves and children to ensure all passengers safety, or do we? What about our pets?
With pet travel on the rise, more and more dogs and cats are suffering severe injuries from not being properly restrained. A pet that is not properly restrained in a vehicle is a danger to itself and other passengers in the vehicle. Even the best behaved pet travelers can get overly excited or frightened while riding in a car. This behavior can easily distract the driver, causing an accident. An unrestrained pet can potentially become a flying projectile in the event of a sudden stop or accident “a lethal danger” to the pet and other passengers in the vehicle. Unfortunately, instances of pets being thrown through the windshield are all too common in severe accidents.
The dangers are more likely than one may think. A vehicle involved in an accident traveling at only 30 mph can cause a 15 pound child to create an impact of 675 pounds. Similarly, a 60 pound dog can cause an impact of 2700 pounds. Imagine the injury such an impact would cause for the helpless pet as well as other passengers.
Responsible pet owners need to take heed of the dangers of unrestrained pets. Many pet owners believe restraint is not necessary for “around town” travel like the bank, the post office, or the pet store. However, this is when most accidents occur.
Yet another important consideration is that in the event of an accident, a frightened pet may run out into traffic while rescue workers enter the vehicle to assist passengers. Or it may attack those who are trying to help. There are many pet vehicle restraint options available. Pet safety belts, pet car seats (with built-in seat belts), pet travel crates & kennels, and vehicle pet barriers are some excellent options. Selecting the proper restraint option, best suited for your dog or cat is essential. Whatever method you choose to properly restrain your pet in your vehicle, be sure to give your pet ample time to adapt.
For example, if you choose a travel crate, place the crate in your home and put some of your pets favorite toys or blanket it. Allow your pet to go in and out of the crate at its leisure. Eventually, put the crate in your vehicle and place your pet in crate. Start out taking short car rides and gradually increase the time until your pet is comfortable. If you choose a pet safety belt, let your pet wear the harness around the house. Allow them time to feel comfortable in the harness prior to strapping them in the car. Similar to the travel crate, start out with short car rides and gradually build up. No matter what method of restraint you utilize, back seat or cargo travel is the safest.
In addition to safety, make your pet’s comfort a priority. Just as it’s important for your “seat” to be comfortable your pet’s seat should be comfortable too.
Let’s all do what’s right for our pets. Pets are members of the family and their safety is our responsibility.
Please check out the following vehicle pet restraints at our online store:
Pet Seat Belts
Pet Car Seats
Travel Crates and Kennels
Vehicle Pet Barriers
TripsWithPets.com is the #1 online resource for pet travel. It was named BEST pet travel site by Consumer Reports! TripsWithPets.com offers resources to ensure pets are welcome, happy, and safe when traveling. The website features a directory of pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly restaurants and beaches, search by route, pet travel tips, pet travel supplies, along with other pet travel resources.
About the Author
Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her popular web site features pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the US and Canada, along with other helpful pet travel resources. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels.
Source: Worldwide Traveler
To find out whether your pet can travel with you in the cabin or in the hold, call your airline or travel agent before booking your flight. Generally speaking, only cats and dogs are accepted on regular flights. Do research in advance and shop around: every company has its own rules. Transporting animals by air is subject to various laws that can vary considerably from one country to another. In some cases, you may have to change your transporter, destination or dates to travel with Fido or Fluffy.
Check with your airline. For example, Air France and Swissair accept dogs and cats in the cabin, whereas Air Canada requires that any animal, except recognized trained service animals, travel in the cargo hold.
- only cats and dogs under 6 kg (container included) for Air France / under 8 kg for Swissair. USAirways accepts caged birds.
- guide dogs, regardless of their weight
- the animal must travel in a specific container that must respect very specific standards,
- the container must be sufficiently ventilated and allow the animal to stand up and turn around,
- in no event must the animal leave its container during the flight.
- the animal must be clean, healthy, not dangerous, no odor.
- not pregnant.
- must not disturb passengers.
- The container may not exceed a combined length, width and height of 115 cm.
- The container must remain stowed away under your seat for the duration of the entire flight
- the carrier is considered a baggage item.
in order for the animal to travel peacefully, it is recommended that passengers administer, after consultation with a vet, a product to prevent the animal suffering from air sickness or any negative reaction during the flight,
To avoid any unpleasant surprises, find out in advance about the rules in effect in the countries of origin and arrival (e.g., vaccinations, quarantine).
For further information and to find out about costs, contact the reservations department.
In order for your pet to travel on the same flight with you, you must make the request in advance when you make your own reservation with the airline. Keep in mind that ventilated temperature-controlled cargo holds are available only on certain aircraft.
Annual holiday blackout dates
Due to increased passenger and cargo loads, some airlines (such as Air Canada) are not able to transport pets during:
- Christmas holidays
Clients wishing to travel with pets must book flights that fall outside this embargo period.
Additional winter restrictions
On some airlines, the temperature and pressure in the hold are practically the same as in the cabin (Air France, Swissair). From November 1 through March 31, and at any other time when the temperature is 0° C and below, pets are not accepted on some aircraft (Air Canada) since the hold is not heated and the temperature can fall to 2° C.
Obviously there’s a difference between a Labrador and a toy poodle. Dogs and cats under 4.5 kg (10 lb.) are not accepted on some aircraft in the winter.
Check with your airline. For instance, in the US, because of the extreme heat and USDA regulations, airports in the folliowing cities do not accept pets in the baggage compartment between June 20 and September 28: Atlanta (ATL), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Houston (IAH) Las Vegas (LAS), Miami (MIA), Orlando (MCO) and Phoenix (PHX).
Making a request to travel with your pet
- Pets for which reservations have not been made in advance will not be accepted at the airport.
- You must provide details to the reservations department regarding the dimensions of the cage, as well as the weight and breed of your pet when you call.
- A pet and kennel with a combined weight of less than 70 lbs (32.5 kg) is accepted for travel in the baggage compartment provided the owner is flying on the same flight.
- A passenger may not travel with more than two animals.
- Two pets travelling in one kennel are counted as two pets regardless of combined weight.
- A passenger may not travel with an animal being transported for commercial purposes.
- Submit your request up to 30, and not less than 7, days before the date of your travel. The number of animals is limited by the type of aircraft, so you may have to change your reservation in order to travel with your pet.
Choosing the right carrier
To ensure your pet carrier is suitable for travel and secure for your pet, we recommend that you check in advance with the airline and ask your veterinarian for advice so that your pet can travel comfortably and safely.
Pet carriers must meet the following conditions in order to be accepted for travel
- Only hard-sided kennels are accepted as checked baggage. The majority of carriers are made of hard plastic with holes for ventilation. No part of the animal is allowed to protrude from the carrier. As a result, wire carriers are not permitted. All carriers must be secure and leakproof. Collapsible kennels are not accepted.
- International regulations state that the pet carrier must be big enough to allow the animal to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably.
- Animals over 31 lbs (14 kg) must have their own separate kennel. A maximum of 2 dogs not weighing more than 31 lbs (14 kg) each may travel together in same kennel.
- Any wheels must be removed from pet carriers prior to check-in.
Since airlines assume no responsibility for the care or feeding of pets while in transit, it is most important that you prepare both the cage and the animal ahead of time.
- Feed your pet four to six hours prior to departure, as a full stomach may cause discomfort during travel.
- Give your pet water right up to the time of travel. Be sure to empty the dish at check-In, otherwise spillage during the flight will give your pet a wet and uncomfortable ride. Leave the dish in the kennel so that airline agents can provide water in the event of an extended wait before, between or after the flight.
- Tranquilizers and other medications are not recommended. Consult your veterinarian.
- Cover the bottom of the kennel with absorbent material such as a blanket.
- Do not lock the kennel door as Air Canada personnel may need to access your pet in the event of an emergency.
Many countries place restrictions on the entry of animals. It is imperative that you comply with all restrictions, and are in possession of all documents required by the destination country. Be certain to obtain information on the particular requirements on your countries of departure and arrival. Failure to do so can lead to refused entry, or lengthy quarantines.
All animals are inspected by government veterinary officials upon landing. You may be required to pay for veterinary inspection fees. Local veterinary health certificates obtained from animal clinics are not sufficient to clear government veterinary inspections. In order to obtain these additional documents, such as government approved health certificates, you should contact the consulate or embassy of each destination country.
It is best to take out insurance since most airlines do not assume responsibility in case of loss, delay, injury, illness or death of an animal, whether a pet or not, that they accept to transport.
Animals not permitted to travel
Category 1 and 2 dogs, as defined by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing, are not permitted to travel in the cabin, in the hold, or as cargo:
- Category 1 > dogs
So-called attack dogs which do not belong to a breed but are similar in physical appearance to the following breeds: Staffordshire terrier (pitbulls), Mastiff (Boerbulls) and Tosa.
- Category 2 > dogs
So-called guard or defense dogs, including the following breeds: American Staffordshire terrier, Rottweiler, Tosa and dogs with physical characteristics similar to the Rottweiler breed.
The Washington Convention
Implemented in 1973, the Washington Convention restricts or forbids international trade in animal and plant species that are threatened with extinction. It is now in force in 150 countries.
For example, the Convention forbids international commerce of some animal species (gorillas, elephants, deep sea turtles) and carefully regulates trade in others (chimpanzees, parakeets, boa constrictors). For those animals that can be transported, you must obtain a CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) permit.
Source: Worldwide Traveler
Further to my last post about getting ready to spay Ava – here is some more information from Pet Informed. I hope it giver you more information to make your decision and feel more informed about the process. I am booking Ava in this month!
Rani & Ava
Dog spaying (bitch spaying procedure) – otherwise known as female neutering, dog sterilisation, “fixing”, desexing, ovary and uterine ablation, uterus removal or by the medical term: ovariohysterectomy – is the surgical removal of a female dog’s ovaries and uterus for the purposes of canine population control, medical health benefit, genetic-disease control and behavioral modification.
Considered to be a basic component of responsible female dog ownership, the spaying of female dogs is a simple and common surgical procedure that is performed by veterinary clinics all over the world.
What is Spaying?
Dog spaying or desexing is the surgical removal of a female (bitch) dog’s internal reproductive structures including her ovaries (the site of ova/egg production), Fallopian tubes, uterine horns (the two long tubes of uterus where the fetal puppies develop and grow) and a section of her uterine body (the part of the uterus where the uterine horns merge and become one body). The picture on the right shows a dog uterus that has been removed by dog spaying surgery – it is labeled to give you a clear illustration of the reproductive structures that are removed during surgery.
Basically, the parts of the female reproductive tract that get removed are those which are responsible for egg (ova) production, embryo and fetus development and the secretion of the major female reproductive hormones (oestrogen and progesterone being the main female reproductive hormones). Removal of these structures plays a huge role in canine population control (without eggs, the female dog can not produce young; without a uterus, there is nowhere for the unborn puppies to develop); canine genetic disease control (female dogs with genetic disorders can not pass on their inheritable disease conditions to any young if they can not breed); the prevention and/or treatment of various medical disorders (spaying prevents and/or treats a number of ovarian and uterine diseases as well as various hormone-enhanced medical conditions) and female dog behavioral modification (e.g. estrogen is responsible for many female dog behavioral traits that some owners find problematic – e.g. roaming, blood spotting during proestrus, attractiveness and attraction to male dogs – and dog spaying, by removing the ovarian source of female hormones, may help to resolve these issues).
What age to spay?
Throughout much of the world, it has always been recommended that female dogs be spayed at around 5-7 months of age and older. As far as the “older” goes, the closer to the 5-7 months of age mark the better – there is less chance of a female dog becoming pregnant or developing a ovarian or uterine disorder or a hormone-mediated medical condition if she is desexed at a younger age. In addition to this, it has always been advised that it is best if a female dog is desexed prior to the onset of her first season as this will greatly reduce the risks of the animal developing mammary cancer (breast cancer) in the future.
The reasoning behind this 5-7 month age specification is mostly one of anaesthetic safety for elective procedures.
When asked by owners why it is that a dog needs to wait until 5-7 months of age to be spayed, most veterinarians will simply say that it is much safer for them to wait until this age before undergoing a general anaesthetic procedure. The theory is that the liver and kidneys of very young animals are much less mature than those of older animals and therefore less capable of tolerating the effects of anaesthetic drugs and less effective at metabolizing them and breaking them down and excreting them from the body. Younger animals are therefore expected to have prolonged recovery times and an increased risk of suffering from severe side effects, in particular liver and kidney damage, as a result of general anaesthesia. Consequently, in order to avoid such problems, many vets will choose not to anesthetize a young puppy until at least 5 months of age for any elective procedure, including dog spaying.
For more detailed information, images of the procedure and what to expect at the clinic please click here.
Traveling with pets has never been more popular amongst pet parents. Traveling by car is by far the most common mode of pet travel and dogs are the most frequent travelers. “Want to go for a ride?” is music to a dog’s ears. They go just about everywhere with their parents…running errands around town, to beaches and parks, going on family vacations, and staying in pet friendly hotels. If pets are welcome – they come along! Unfortunately, most pet parents do not properly secure their pets when riding with them in their vehicles. They love their pets and would do anything for them…but probably don’t realize that they are putting their pets at great risk.
Did you know that at only 35 mph, a 60 lb. pet becomes a 2,700 pound projectile and that unsecured pets commonly escape from vehicles and run off post-accident? How often are you distracted by your excited or rambunctious pet while driving? Did you know that driver distraction causes more accidents than anything else?
Securing your pet during car travel is essential to ensuring their safety. There are many ways to properly secure your pet in a vehicle. Buckling them up in pet seat belt is a very easy and affordable way to help ensure that your pet stays safe while traveling in your vehicle. Pet seat belts range in price from about $9 – $40. They come in different sizes to accommodate most all sized pets and most are adjustable.
Most pet seat belts attach onto your vehicle’s seat belt. Some come with leads that have a buckle at one end that fits into your vehicle’s seat belt receptacle, and the other end of the lead has a clip that attaches onto your pet’s harness. Other pet seat belts have leads that have a loop at one end in which you put your vehicle’s seat belt strap through and the other end has a clip which attaches to a harness. If you choose to give your pet more freedom in the back seat, you can get a pet seat belt that has a zip line which attaches between the two rear passenger side handles, creating a tether which attaches to your pet’s harness.
No matter what type of pet seat belt you choose, you must always use a harness – never a collar. A collar can easily choke or strangle your pet if you stop fast or are in an accident. In addition, pet’s should never ride in the front seat. Deployed airbags can seriously injure pets.
With pet travel growing by leaps and bounds, pet parents must step up and be sure to take the necessary measures to ensure their pet’s safety – pet seat belts are an effective way to do this. Safe travels and please buckle up your precious pets!
For more information, visit www.tripswithpetscom. TripsWithPets.com is the premier online guide for pet travel-offering resources to ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe when traveling. Visit www.tripswithpets.com to find a directory of pet friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, airline policies, pet travel tips, pet travel supplies, along with other pet travel resources.
Contact: Sherry Burdic
Guest Post: Gail T. Fisher
I recently got an email from a friend with the subject line “Mulch Toxic to Dogs”. I’m always suspicious of emails like this. My first thought is that it’s one of those made-up scary rumors that spread like wildfire across the Internet. There was the Swiffer WetJet scare claiming it contained antifreeze – false; or that several pets have died when their owners sprayed the furniture with Febreze – also false.
These anonymously written and widely spread stories sound plausible enough to be real, but are actually the invention of people with far too much time on their hands – or perhaps a grudge against a manufacturer? But this email was different. It included a link to the website I visit whenever I get one of these scary emails: www.snopes.com, the urban legends website that separates rumor from truth. So I checked it out.
It is pretty much common knowledge (at least we hope it’s commonly known) that chocolate is bad for pets, and that consuming chocolate can be fatal to a dog or cat. Whoever would have thought, however, that some bark mulch would contain even more theobromine – the toxic element – than dark chocolate (my dear and good friend).
Here’s what is on the Snopes website (the full link is http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/cocoa.htm):
“This warning began appearing in our inbox in May 2003. Unlike the majority of scary alerts spread through the Internet there is a good deal of truth to this one, although we’ve so far been unable to substantiate the claim that ‘Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks.’”
This page contains further information from the ASPCA: “Cocoa beans contain the stimulants caffeine and theobromine. Dogs are highly sensitive to these chemicals, called methylxanthines. In dogs, low doses of methylxanthine can cause mild gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain); higher doses can cause rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, seizures, and death.)
“Eaten by a 50-pound dog, about 2 ounces of cocoa bean mulch may cause gastrointestinal upset; about 4.5 ounces, increased heart rate; about 5.3 ounces, seizures; and over 9 ounces, death. (In contrast, a 50-pound dog can eat up to about 7.5 ounces of milk chocolate without gastrointestinal upset and up to about a pound of milk chocolate without increased heart rate.)
“According to tables we’ve examined, cocoa mulch contains 300-1200 mg. of theobromine per ounce, making cocoa mulch one of the strongest concentrations of theobromine your pet will encounter in any chocolate product. Yet the question of the gravity of the risk presented by this type of gardening mulch remains a matter of debate. According to Hershey’s, “It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won’t eat it.”
While this may sound like a reassuring statistic, it becomes 100% if your dog is one of the 2% that will eat bark mulch. The danger is especially high for puppies, who will pick up and eat virtually anything within their reach. Rather than take the risk, choose another type of mulch, and supervise your dog, stopping him from munching mulch if you walk him off your property.
It isn’t just cocoa mulch that poses a danger to your pet, it’s chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. Milk chocolate contains between 44-60 mg. per ounce, while unsweetened baking chocolate contains 450 mg per ounce.
The lethal dosage of theobromine is between 250 and 500 mgs per kilogram of body weight. For those of us who aren’t metric-minded, that’s between two-thirds to one and a third ounces for every 2.2 pounds of weight.
If you suspect your dog may have consumed chocolate in any form contact your veterinarian or animal emergency clinic immediately, or the National Animal Poison Information center at the University of Illinois in Urbana. They have computer-supported telephone consultations and a website www.napcc.aspca.org, as well as a toll free number (888) 426-4435.
Time is of the essence. Again, from the ASPCA: “Theobromine affects the heart, central nervous system, and kidneys, causing nausea and vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and increased urination. Cardiac arrhythmia and seizures are symptoms of more advanced poisoning. Other than induced vomiting, vets have no treatment or antidote for theobromine poisoning. Death can occur in 12 to 24 hours.”
It’s our responsibility to keep our pets’ environment as safe as possible. Avoid dangerous products, keep harmful substances safely away from your pet, and supervise them when you’re away from home. You never know what hidden dangers exist in something as seemingly harmful as bark mulch.
Copyright © Gail T. Fisher, 2007. All rights reserved. http://www.alldogsgym.com
I love this ad! It follows brilliantly from the one with the little boy dressed up as Darth Vader – really fantastic!
This was definitely the year for dog ads – will post more soon!
The Dog Strikes Back from DTan on Vimeo.
Before You Go
Choosing a Park
There are all kinds of dog parks. Some are situated in open areas, some include walking trails through the woods, and some are located at beaches or near lakes. Some are enclosed by fences and others aren’t. Some parks are formal-recognized by a city or county, with rules created and enforced by a board or committee. Others are just areas where people gather informally to let their dogs play.
Ideal Dog Park Features
Though they vary in design and terrain, the best dog parks should have a few ideal features:
- Enough space for normal interaction The area should be big enough for dogs to run around and space themselves out. If there’s not enough square footage available, a park can easily get crowded. Crowding can lead to tension among dogs and, as a result, fights can erupt.
- Secure fencing and gates Even if your dog reliably comes when called, it’s safest to take her to a securely enclosed area to play off leash. Before you let your dog run free at a dog park, make sure that fencing is sturdy and free of holes. It’s also best if the park enclosure incorporates double gates or an interior “holding pen” at the entrance, so people and their dogs can enter and exit without accidentally letting other dogs slip out of the park.
- Clean-up stations A dog park should have trash cans and bags available for people to clean up after their dogs.
- Water and shelter Especially in warmer climates, exercising dogs should have access to both drinking water and shade.
- A separate area for small dogs Small dogs need exercise and play time too, but they can sometimes get injured or frightened by larger dogs. Many dog parks designate separate areas for smaller or younger dogs so that they can play safely.
Preview the Park and Prepare
Go Alone and Observe
It’s important to visit the dog park a few times without your dog, just to check it out in advance.
- Note the park features. Are you comfortable with them? Do they meet your needs? Also read any posted rules and make sure you agree with them. Can you bring treats and toys with you? Does your dog need a special license? Do you need to pay a fee to use the dog park?
- Go to the park at different times, on different days. Note the best days and times of day to visit. If the park’s always packed on weekend mornings or weekdays after work, for example, you can take your dog at off-peak hours instead.
- Observe the park-goers. Are people actively supervising their dogs or are they letting them run amok while they chat and sip lattés? Does anyone in particular seem to have trouble effectively controlling his or her dog? Are there specific dogs who consistently play too roughly or fight with other dogs? If you identify people or dogs who seem to cause problems, you can avoid visiting the park when they’re around.
Prepare in Advance
- Think about what you’ll need to bring. Find some comfortable clothes and shoes to wear. Put together a dog-park kit that includes essentials, like a leash, water for you and your dog, bags for clean-up, toys and treats.
- Teaching your dog a few key skills helps keep her safe and contributes to a more enjoyable dog-park experience for all park users. One essential skill is a reliable recall. Please see our article, Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called. Sit, down, stay, drop it, leave it and settle are also very useful. For general information about dog training, please see Training Your Dog. Don’t hesitate to contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) for group or private classes in dog training. Please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate a CPDT in your area.
- It will help to train yourself, too. Learning about canine body language and communication will help you interpret what’s going on during play and prevent conflict before it escalates to a fight. Please see our article, Canine Body Language, for illustrations and information about how dogs communicate.
You should always use a dog seat belt for your pup. End of story.
It has many benefits including redusing distracted driving tendencies. Distracted driving caused by your beloved dog? Yes, it’s true. In a recent AAA survey, more than 60% of dog owners admit to being distracted when their pets are in the vehicle. More than half admit to petting their dogs while in the car. One in 5 have driven with their dog on their lap. And only 1 in 6 dog owners claim they have ever used restraints for their dogs (dog seat belts, dog car seats, etc).
Keeping your pet unrestrained is not only dangerous for you, but imagine what would happen if you were involved in an accident and your dog isn’t buckled up. A scary thought!
All dogs should be buckled up
Not only will using a humane restraint for your dog limit your distracted driving, but it will also keep your beloved pet safe in the event of a sudden stop, or traffic accident. Many people claim their dogs are part of the family. So why is it they buckle up their kids, but leave their pup completely exposed to any vehicle accident? Besides, an unrestrained pet can pose a huge risk to you and any other passenger in the vehicle during a crash. They also tend to run away after a car crash, or can prevent rescuers from reaching victims.
A dog harness or seat belt is completely safe and humane.
So what’s stopping you from using a dog seat belt for your pup? Do you think it’s mean, or the dog won’t like it? Well, consider this; the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends the use of dog vehicle restraints each and every time you drive. With all new things, dogs simply need some proper training and guidance. Once your dog gets used to it, everyone will be safer and less distracted.
A word of caution..don’t overpay for a dog safety harness. Find one that you think would work well for your dog. The price of a dog seat belt is well worth the safety of you and your dog. Wouldn’t you agree? If you don’t have a doggy seat belt yet, what are you waiting for?!If you do have one, start using it, immediately!
Having your dog in the car is a huge form of distracted driving. Dogs are normally more distracting than any other passenger in your vehicle and may even be worse than eating while driving, cell phone driving, or even texting while driving. So do what you can to minimize the distraction. I know you love your dog and dogs can be simply irresistible at times, especially when they are excited during a car ride, but try to resist the temptation. Focus on driving, allow your dog to calmly enjoy the ride, and have fun with your pet once you reach your destination. Use a dog seat belt everytime!
And of course, drive safely!
mart way to keep track of your pup. The Tagg pet tracking system uses advanced GPS tracking technology to allow you to see where your dog is and be notified if he or she wanders off. The lightweight tracker attaches to your dog’s existing collar, and is designed to be worn at all times, even while swimming.
There is a three step set-up that is pretty simple to get you going. The first step can even be completed before you receive your dog location system. First, create your account. Once you receive Tagg – The Pet Tracker, activate it. And finally, set up your Tagg zone, “a geofence,” for your dog.
The Tagg tracker securely attaches to your dog’s collar with a two-piece clip. Once the collar clip assembly is attached, putting on the pet GPS device is a snap. If your dog has multiple collars, they recommend one set-up per collar.
You will be notified from texts about your dog leaving the Tagg zone to emails that tell you it’s time to charge your GPS tracker, Tagg notifications make it the most efficient dog GPS tracking system on the market.
Priced under $200 and service for a year this is a pretty slick device for added safety.
Check it out: TAGG