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World Animal Day: Breaking Common Animal Myths

Tuesday October 4th, 2022

Join the World Animal Day Movement

By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Volunteer

October 4 is World Animal Day and we celebrate all month long (well, all year, really)! The mission of the World Animal Day movement, as described on its website, is as follows:

“To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals.  It's celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology.  Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.”https://www.worldanimalday.org.uk/

          Here are some facts about World Animal Day (WOAD):

  • Over 1,000 events are held every year around the world to celebrate the occasion.
  • World Animal Day has 97 Ambassadors in 75 nations.
  • The organization’s grant program has funded numerous projects since the program’s inception in 2014.
  • World Animal Day has been celebrated on October 4 since 1929.

The WOAD website is replete with resources, event schedules, and suggestions as to how you can get involved.  The WOAD’s efforts around the globe bring fresh hope that animals may one day be recognized universally as sentient beings who deserve the same dignity, respect, and kindness that we humans expect. 

Refuting Animal Myths

          In the spirit of affording respect and dignity to all animals, we thought it would be appropriate to examine a few of the widespread myths about certain animals, which have no factual basis or reliable support.

          Are Pigs Unclean?

“Pigs are filthy animals,” says Jules to Vincent in Tarentino’s Pulp Fiction. But contrary to that widely held belief, pigs are not dirty. The National Geographic website for kids notes: “Despite their reputation, pigs are not dirty animals. They’re actually quite clean. The pig’s reputation as a filthy animal comes from its habit of rolling in mud to cool off. Pigs that live in cool, covered environments stay very clean.” https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/pig#:~:text=Despite%20their%20reputation%2C%20pigs%20are,covered%20environments%20stay%20very%20clean.

           Will Touching a Baby Bird Cause Its Mother to Abandon It?

No. Mother birds will not abandon chicks merely because they have been touched by a human. This myth apparently stems from the belief that birds can detect the scent of humans and are put off by it.  According to the Sierra Club: “In fact, most birds have a rather poor sense of smell and are unlikely to readily abandon their young. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should go picking up every young chick you find. Young, seemingly helpless birds often have their mothers close by, carefully watching. Human disturbance (rather than human touch) near a nesting site is far more likely to contribute to a mother bird stranding her young ones.”  https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-2-march-april/green-life/9-myths-about-animals-you-probably-think-are-true

          Do Bears Hibernate in the Winter?

No.  The Sierra Club website also offers the following clarification: 

“Ask anyone which animal comes to mind when they hear the word ‘hibernate’ and their response will likely be a brown or black bear. It may be common to picture a burly, fattened-up mama grizzly slumbering away in her winter den deep in the woods while the white snow blankets everything in sight. This follows with the dangerous misconception that sleeping bears are nearly impossible to arouse during the winter months.

“True hibernation occurs when an animal drastically lowers their body temperature to nearly match their surroundings, and sleeps through the winter. Hibernating animals, like woodchucks, appear lifeless and are not easily awakened.

“Bears, on the other hand, exhibit torpor, a shorter-term reduction in body temperature accompanied by lethargy. Heart rate drops, but not as much as that of true hibernators. Though less active than usual, bears in torpor can readily respond to external stimuli. So don’t forget your bear spray on your next snowshoeing trip.”

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-2-march-april/green-life/9-myths-about-animals-you-probably-think-are-true

          Are Bats Blind?

          No, they are not, according to the Norfolk, Virginia Zoo’s website: “Bats are not blind! They can see almost as well as humans can, but at night they can use echolocation, or using echoes from sound waves, to locate meals and places to land. Bats are nocturnal like a lot of other animals, so they prefer to sleep during the day and hunt at night.”  https://virginiazoo.org/animal-misconceptions/

          Will An Ostrich Bury Its Head in the Sand?

          Nope.  The Norfolk, Virginia Zoo website sets the record straight:

“Those pictures you see online of ostriches with their heads in the sand aren’t what you may think. Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand to hide from predators, but will instead either run or flop on the ground and flatten their heads to blend in with the random vegetation in their surroundings. Ostriches do, however, use their beaks to help dig holes to make nests and hide their eggs in. They will then turn the eggs several times a day. It would be hard for an ostrich to keep their head in the ground as they wouldn’t be able to breathe.”

https://virginiazoo.org/animal-misconceptions/

          Are Daddy Longlegs Venomous Spiders?

Daddy longlegs is the nickname most commonly given to an arachnid whose correct name is the Harvestman. Contrary to the common assertion that daddy longlegs are “the most venomous spiders in the world,” they are neither spiders nor venomous.  Harvestmen no fangs, and have one main body part instead of two.  Source: https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2015-2-march-april/green-life/9-myths-about-animals-you-probably-think-are-true

          Do Frogs Spread Warts?

“No, amphibians can’t give you warts. Yes, frogs and toads may have little bumps on their skin, but these glands don’t secrete anything. You also can’t get warts from a frog or toad’s urine. Warts are caused by viruses that can only be spread by humans. This one is toadally false and Prince Charming, the African bullfrog might take offense to you blaming him and his friends.”  https://virginiazoo.org/animal-misconceptions/

          Are Black Cats Harbingers of Bad Luck?

In some places (including the U.S.), popular lore suggests that black cats bring bad luck, particularly if they cross your path while walking.  It should be noted, however, that folks in Great Britain and Germany apparently believe that it is good luck to have a black cat cross your path – but only if it crosses from left to right. And Scottish lore indicates that if a strange black cat arrives at a home, this portends prosperity.

But the weight of superstitious belief appears to tip in favor of the belief that black cats bring bad luck as opposed to good.  The historical roots of this belief can be traced back to medieval times.  According to the History Channel’s website:

“Written records link black cats to the occult as far back as the 13th century when an official church document called “Vox in Rama” was issued by Pope Gregory IX on June 13, 1233. “In it, black cats were declared an incarnation of Satan,” says Layla Morgan Wilde, author of Black Cats Tell: True Tales And Inspiring Images. ‘The decree marked the beginning of the inquisition and church-sanctioned heretic and/or witch hunts. Initially it was designed to squash the growing cult of Luciferians in Germany, but quickly spread across Europe.’”

“ . . . Given the belief in medieval Europe that the devil and witches were capable of taking the form of black cats, it makes sense that the superstition surrounding crossing their paths developed, says Phoebe Millerwhite, a folklorist and artist. ‘Therefore, a black cat crossing your path might very well be on a mission from a witch,” she notes. “Just as easily, it could be the devil in disguise—and no one wants to cross paths with the devil. This explains why a black cat crossing your path is considered a bad omen.’”

https://www.history.com/news/black-cats-superstitions

Nautical lore is particularly hard on black cats.  It is said that if a black cat wanders aboard a ship and then leaves, the ship will sink on its next voyage. Not surprisingly, no reliable research can be found either to support or disprove these myths and superstitions about black cats.

*Note: Jameson Humane believes black cats are some of the sweetest around and can make amazing companions. Bad luck? We think not!

Why I No Longer Support Horse Racing

Monday September 12th, 2022

The Reasons I Won’t Watch Horse Racing Any More

By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Volunteer

I have enjoyed the past year or so of writing monthly blog pieces for Jameson Humane. But having been asked to look into horse racing for this month’s article, I was forced, at long last, to grapple with an ethical dilemma. As someone who grew up in a household that held dear certain annual, traditional American sporting events, I have always loved the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA finals, the major golf championships, the Indy 500 and, yes, the Triple Crown of horse racing. Truth be told, my favorite among those was the Triple Crown. None of the other events provided such a concentrated fix – in about two minutes’ time – of exhilaration, athleticism, beauty and suspense.

As an admirer of racehorses, I’ve been saddened of course by tragic deaths of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses on the race track.  But I and other horse racing fans have told ourselves that these supremely gifted equine athletes are doing not only what they are bred to do but also, as a result, what they love to do – run! Using this rationale, we have mourned the loss of horses but continued to follow the races and to idealize and even idolize the great ones.

We all remember the heart-rending breakdown of Barbaro during the 2006 Preakness Stakes. Barbaro’s dominating spirit and prowess were celebrated, and his tragic death mourned, by racing fans around the world. He is memorialized at Churchill Downs by a beautiful sculpture – one of only two equine statues at the fabled site of the Derby.

Many, perhaps most, of those who make their living in horse racing no doubt love horses deeply. They revere the horses that they own, train, care for, and ride. But if they were to examine objectively the statistics for equine mortality (both on the track and in slaughterhouses) and other evidence of mistreatment of horses, they might recognize the bitter taste of hypocrisy. The love for Barbaro and other great racehorses is genuine but may serve to distract us from the serious systemic ills of horse racing.  And those hundreds of thousands of folks who enjoy (or are by nature compelled to take part in) gambling on horse racing apparently also choose to look the other way.  But at what cost to the horses?

The horse racing industry is exploitative and inhumane. This is demonstrated in many ways during a racehorse’s passage from foaling stable to grave. The sport compels young horses to race at full tilt, time and time again, while their skeletal system and musculature are still growing into adulthood.  As shown by the statistics below, many horses who succeed in reaching the racing stage face death from being over-raced and over-trained. And thousands of horses who don’t make it on the racetrack or in the breeding stable then face death in Mexican or Canadian slaughterhouses.

Horse Racing Deaths

According to Bloodhorse.com (the online version of a Thoroughbred racing newsletter published since 1916), in flat-course races in the U.S., there were 1.68 equine fatalities for every 1,000 races during 2018. This was down from 2.0 fatalities per 1000 races in 2014 but up from 1.54 deaths in 2016. Generally, the U.S. horse racing business yields higher mortality rates than the United Kingdom or Japan and much higher than Hong Kong.  https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/237024/comparing-equine-injury-rates-suggests-u-s-can-improve

What does this equate to in total numbers? According to an October 31, 2019 online article by USA Today, during the prior decade, an average of more than 600 Thoroughbreds a year died because of racing.  (https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/horseracing/2019/10/31/breeders-cup-horses-go-racetracks-slaughterhouses/2485345001/)

Similarly, in May 2019, National Geographic published an article entitled “Why Horse Racing is So Dangerous.” https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/horse-racing-risks-deaths-sport#:~  According to National Geographic, in 2018, 493 Thoroughbred horses died in U.S. racing incidents, resulting from, for the most part, “limb injuries, followed by respiratory, digestive and multiorgan system disorders.” The article cites Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, as attributing the large number of deaths to the fact that horses are not “getting the rest they need, especially in temperate place like southern California, where the animals race year-round….” “It’s hard to keep an athlete absolutely at the top of their fitness 12 months out of the year.” This may explain the unusually high frequency of equine fatalities at Santa Anita Park in Pasadena, California where the weather is almost always fine for racing. From December 2018 through January 2020, more than 40 horses died at Santa Anita alone!

Largely in response to this alarming fatality rate at Santa Anita, the California Legislature passed several measures that are ostensibly intended to protect horses. In 2019, a bill was passed to give the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) authority to suspend a race meet license when necessary to protect the health and safety of horses or riders and created a review group at Santa Anita Park to provide additional examination in order to determine whether an individual horse has an elevated risk of injury before racing.

Then, in September 2020, additional legislation was passed.  One of the bills requires all horses at licensed meets to be subject to veterinary monitoring during morning training, and creates new rules for medication administration. The bill also expands veterinary monitoring and screening to morning training and other related activities and establishes criteria for examination of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses to determine eligibility and appropriateness to enter a race. The bill also creates new requirements and procedures for placing horses that are unsound or lame on the veterinarian’s list and ensures the use of diagnostic imaging to be an accepted component of prerace examinations by an examining veterinarian.  The other bill requires the CHRB to publish weekly horse fatalities that occur within a licensed facility, authorizes veterinarians to make available the entire medical records of racehorses to specified parties involved in horse racing, and requires the CHRB to post results of nonconfidential official racehorse drug test results within five business days of test confirmation.  [This description of the bills is excerpted from: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/09/29/governor-newsom-signs-horse-racing-reform-legislation-increasing-safety-and-transparency/]

Even if such legislation proves to be effective in California, measures must be taken across the country to provide better protection for racehorses. And here in California it remains to be seen whether these new laws are helping. On December 6, 2021, Sports Illustrated reported that three-year old Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, died of a heart attack after a training run at Santa Anita. Famed trainer Bob Baffert had earlier been the focus of criticism for possible use of a banned steroid after Medina Spirit failed a drug test in the aftermath of the Derby.

Then, in May 2022, Fox NewsLA reported that Barazza, a four-year old gelding (with five wins in 14 races) was euthanized due to a leg injury suffered during a workout. It was later reported that two other young horses, Pray for My Owner and Speedcuber, died within a few days of Barazza’s death at Santa Anita.

Far too many horses are still dying across the country as a result of being over-raced and over-trained, especially as juveniles. I am not naive enough to believe that horse racing will be abolished, at least not in my lifetime. The industry is too big and the fan base too large. However, the sheer number of racing-related deaths cries out for implementation of broader protections. I am no expert but such measures might entail phasing in of a minimum age at which horses may be raced, and limiting the number and frequency of each horse’s races. Such changes would face stiff resistance because they would alter deep-seated traditions and impact the economics of horse racing. But I suspect that unless age limits or racing frequency limits are adopted, no genuine improvement in fatality rates will occur.

What’s Even Worse: Racehorses and Slaughterhouses

If the annual average of about 600 racing-related Thoroughbred fatalities were not bad enough by itself to lead me away from the “sport,” then the true tragedy of the industry’s overbreeding, and profiteering from sales to slaughterhouses, is.  Such overbreeding results in a huge percentage of “also-rans” and “also-breds” who end up in slaughterhouses. Breeding is big business. Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses are mass-produced in the hope of finding that one horse in a hundred that will run fast enough to win races. And even if that horse wins, when its winning ways are over it may still receive a one-way pass to the slaughterhouse.

An estimated 7,500 American Thoroughbreds each year are slaughtered for human consumption in slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada, according to Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).  (https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/horseracing/2019/10/31/breeders-cup-horses-go-racetracks-slaughterhouses/2485345001/ ) That is a shocking statistic from so many angles, especially when the math shows that this is about 38 percent of all (approximately 20,000) Thoroughbreds foaled each year.

The historical numbers of Thoroughbred slaughter – as a percentage of total foaling—may actually be much higher than that.  A May 2019 online article of the Courier Journal newspaper stated:

“A 2012 study of U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics by the Wild for Life Foundation calculated that more than 160,000 thoroughbreds were slaughtered between 2004 and 2010, a total equivalent to 70 percent of the U.S. foal crop during the same period.”

(https://www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/horses/horse-racing/2019/05/23/slaughterhouses-horse-racing-big-issue-track-deaths/3770484002/)

According to USA Today, “From the racetrack to a dinner plate, it has been said of thoroughbreds that are slaughtered and end up in restaurants and markets throughout Asia and Europe in countries such as China, Japan, Germany and Russia. ‘The problem is that the entire industry is a conveyor belt for slaughter,’ said John Holland, president of the Equine Welfare Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the slaughter of American horses. “They just keep cranking them (out).’’’

The number of Quarter Horses sent to slaughter each year is even more troubling. An online article on the website of HorseTalk explained how massive overbreeding of Quarter Horses has resulted in the sale of so many of them to slaughterhouses:

“The reality is that the AQHA [American Quarter Horse Association] recently registered their 5 millionth foal and that in 2007 the AQHA reported 140,000 registered foals. That is almost five times the number of registered Thoroughbred foals for the same year and is very close to the number of American horses that were slaughtered in 2007, which, according to US Department of Agriculture records, totals 122,459.

So how is it that so many American quarter horses are brought into the world in one year?  Three words answer this question, VOLUME VOLUME VOLUME, especially since the AQHA endorses the use of artificial insemination.

Using this method, a quarter horse (QH) breeder can likely get 8 to 10 of his or her mares pregnant with just one visit to the farm stallion.  Think about this for a moment. The AQHA keeps arguing that slaughter is needed to prevent the United States from being overrun by "unwanted horses" while QH breeders are busy churning out 140,000 registered foals in a year's time.”

(https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/features/horseslaughter-149.shtml

Such overbreeding, and the resulting slaughter of huge numbers of Quarter Horses, has continued.  In 2015, more than 80,000 U.S. Quarter Horses were sent to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses, representing approximately two-thirds of all slaughtered U.S. horses during that year.    

[See: https://awionline.org/content/horse-slaughter-statistics

And https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/horse-racing-2/horse-racing-industry-cruelty/overbreeding-and-slaughter/

The undeniable truth is that these statistics – and the utter cruelty they reflect – are shocking to the conscience, and compel me from now on to just say “no” to horse racing. 

*Note from Jameson: There are, on rare occasions, guardians (aka, owners), that are the antithesis of over-raced, over-trained horses that are sent to slaughterhouses; they care for their horses from birth on, and find homes after they retire, or keep them as companion animals. Jameson knows as we cared for one such horse!

 

 

 

 

Keeping Pets Safe During Fires and Other Disasters

Monday August 8th, 2022

Keeping Pets Safe During Fires and Other Disasters

By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Volunteer

The Role of Dedicated Animal Protection Organizations During Emergencies

Jameson Humane and other animal welfare and rescue organizations play a vital role during wildfires and other calamities in securing pets that become loose or lost, and in protecting, sheltering, and arranging for treatment of animals impacted by disaster.  Throughout the country, volunteer-based organizations have been formed to offer disaster preparedness training and to provide emergency services and other resources needed for animal rescues during catastrophic events. One such exemplary organization in Napa County, California is the Napa Community Animal Response Team (CART). Jameson Humane partners with CART in their shared mission to protect animals and serves on CART’s Community Advisors Board. CART also coordinates their efforts closely with the Napa County Office of Emergency Services and the Napa Sheriff. 

CART’s mission includes educating the public on how to prepare for disasters in order to protect animals, providing disaster response and recovery services by sheltering, evacuating and caring for animals (including providing “animal-specific rescue equipment”), and training first responders and community volunteers in animal rescue and trauma care practices. Just one example of the vital animal rescue services of CART – working hand-in-hand with the Napa County emergency operations team and CART’s partner organizations such as Jameson Humane – were those provided during the 2020 LNU Lightning Complex fire. According to CART’s summary of the outcome of the team’s efforts, nearly 400 domesticated animals of many kinds (ranging from cats to llamas to horses) were evacuated, provided with shelter, or transported to veterinary hospitals.  For more information about CART (and to find out how to volunteer), go to

https://napacart.org/volunteer/

How to Prepare for Disasters and Emergencies With Your Animals In Mind

            Jameson Humane’s website includes detailed articles on disaster preparedness for (1) cats and dogs, (2) horses, and (3) farmed animals. You can explore those pages by going to the home page of this website, highlighting the top menu item of “Our Work,” and clicking on disaster preparedness or you can use the following link:  https://www.jamesonanimalrescueranch.org/our-work/disaster-preparedness.

            For cats and dogs, Jameson provides a detailed checklist of things to include in an evacuation kit:

  • Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)
  • 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
  • Litter or paper toweling
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  • Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
  • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  • Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
  • At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  • A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
  • Especially for cats: Pillowcase (for cats to hide in or for emergency transport), toys, scoop-able litter
  • Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner
  • You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

The same Jameson webpage also includes three essential steps to take to be fully prepared for emergencies:

Step 1: Get a Rescue Alert Sticker

These are stickers to affix on or near the front door stating that you have pets inside the home.  The sticker should describe the number and types of animals and provide the name and phone number of your veterinarian. A form to use for such stickers is available on the ASPCA website or at most local pet supply stores.  The rescue alert sticker might also include (or be accompanied by) the pet identification information recommended by CART (see below).

Step 2: Choose Designated Caregivers (both Temporary and Permanent)

For temporary caregiving if needed, select someone you trust who lives close to home and who is generally home during the daytime.  Give them keys to your residence.

You should also select someone (after making sure they are willing) to act as a foster parent for your pets on a longer-term basis if necessary.  Your selections might also be something to include on the rescue alert sticker (see Step 1 above).

Step 3: Arrange a Safe Haven

Arrange a safe haven for your pet in the event of evacuation. Above all, if possible, do not leave your pet behind.  Before the need to evacuate arises, determine where you can house your pet. Among the resources to contact in order to make that determination are your veterinarian (who should have a list of preferred kennels and other facilities), your local animal shelter, and hotels or motels outside the immediate area that allow pets, and friends and relatives outside your immediate area who would be willing to take in your pet.

            CART also provides extensive advice and checklists to help prepare and protect your animals for emergencies and disasters. See, https://napacart.org/emergency-preparation/pre-plan-for-emergency/  That webpage provides links to valuable resources for all kinds of animals, including livestock and horses. Among many tips offered, CART encourages all pet owners to do the following:

  • Sign up for the NIXLE emergency notification system in your area
  • Complete a pet identification sheet for each of your pets and attach a photo of you and them together. Place the sheet in a laminated sleeve and post it in a visible spot near your pet food storage area. (The full contents of the identification sheet are set forth on a linked webpage).

Caution: Pets May Be Preyed Upon or Injured by Displaced Wildlife During Fire Season

The San Francisco Chronicle carried a story during Napa County’s devastating Glass Fire in October, 2020, about the many wild animals that were displaced by the fire and forced to seek refuge in populated areas.  https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/Glass-Fire-zone-teeming-with-displaced-wildlife-15628837.php  Cal Fire Battalion Chief Sean Norman told the paper that during the Glass Fire he had seen more mountain lions than in his entire firefighting career. He advised pet owners to be especially watchful of their pets. 

The danger posed to pets during such fires comes not only from predators such as mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats or bears, but also from other animals such as deer who may attack pets and people if they feel threatened. John Comisky, President of Napa Wildlife Rescue, observed: “Full-grown deer are one of the most dangerous things in the forest . . . Their front hooves are very sharp — with one slip, they can disembowel a human.” Consequently, he advised that the overriding rule is to avoid contact with wildlife. Mr. Comisky also stated that the danger to pets posed by potential encounters with wild animals could extend for several weeks beyond a fire’s extinction, while wildlife migrates back to the wilderness.

Pet owners should, therefore, limit their pets’ outdoor activities during fires and for several weeks afterward, and maintain close supervision when they are out.  Dr. Deana Clifford, senior wildlife veterinarian for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, warned pet owners never to leave pet food and water outside the house, as this may attract wildlife. Dr. Clifford advised people to check any crawl spaces under their homes and accessory structures periodically because they may be used by wildlife for shelter. 

Summer Travel With Pets

Friday July 1st, 2022

Traveling With Pets This Summer

By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Volunteer

The pandemic – or at least, we hope, its life-altering impact – is behind us. We are traveling again, and many of us want to travel with our dear pets who provided so much comfort during our time at home. But before you hop into your car with your pet or book a flight with the intent to bring your pet along, be aware of the challenges that traveling with pets can pose. 

            [Joke alert] How do dogs travel across the country? They take the Greyhound.

But you probably have other modes of transportation in mind.

If By Car

The Importance of Using a Good Pet Harness or Pet Seat in Your Car

Just as we humans need the protection of seat belts, it is vitally important to use a pet car seat or harness that keeps your pet secure in case of an accident or other sudden stop.  This not only protects the pet from potential injury but also avoids driver distraction. According to a AAA study cited by PetTravel.com, pet movement in the car is the third most prevalent cause of diver distraction. Use of a car seat or harness for your pet also reduces any chance that the pet might run off when car doors or windows are opened.

Other Recommendations for Car Travel With Pets

One resource for information about traveling with pets by car is the PetTravel.com website. In addition to a checklist of items to bring with your pet in the car, PetTravel.com provides the following tips:

  • If your cat is traveling with you, make a place for a portable kitty litter tray. Behind the front seat will do well in some cars.
  • Pack their pet carrier and/or pet crate as these are essential for traveling pets. Many hotels will not allow pets in rooms unattended unless they are crated.
  • Make sure your air conditioning is working properly and that you use it while driving.
  • Don't roll down the windows and let your dog hang its head out of the window, and never have your pet in the back of a truck.
  • Stop every two to three hours to let your pet stretch its legs.
  • Always keep your pet on a leash while in public and respect the space and rights of other travelers.

Another resource:  Keeping Pets Safe While Driving

If By Plane

Potential Issues to Consider

If you plan to travel by air with your cat or dog on board, one of the biggest potential obstacles will be “pet embargoes” that many airlines impose to restrict pets’ air travel during hot weather in order to protect them from harm. The TripsWithPets.com website (https://www.tripswithpets.com/twp-blog/too-hot-to-fly-summer-airline-pet-embargoes) provides information as to which airlines had imposed embargoes as of the date of its publication. You should, of course, check with each airline that you are considering.  If an embargo is in effect on the day of your flight, the airline will work with you to re-route your flight, if possible, or schedule your flight for another day.

            TripsWithPets.com also provides a list of questions they advise travelers to answer before they book a flight with the intent to bring their pets:

  1. Is your pet healthy enough to fly?
  2. Is your pet brachycephalic?

“Pets that are brachycephalic –those with short muzzles and flat, “snub noses,” such as Persian cats, pugs and bulldogs – are more susceptible to breathing problems, and may have a harder time adjusting to pressure and air changes during flight.”

  1. Is your pet’s temperament well-suited to flying?
  2. Does your pet meet the US Dept. of Agriculture guidelines in order to fly? (At least 8 weeks old and fully weaned for five days).
  3. Will your dog be allowed to fly with you in the cabin? (Generally, airlines allow in the cabin only those pets that weigh less than 20 pounds and are transported in a compliant kennel that fits securely under the seat.)
  4. Will your pet fly in the cargo hold? If so, what is your airline’s track record for loss or injury to pets in the cargo area? The Dept. of Transportation publishes a monthly Animal Incident Report that is publicly available.
  5. Do you have (or need) a health certificate for your pet?
  6. Are you flying during extreme temperatures?

“If your pet is particularly sensitive to temperature or pressure, or has breathing issues, the cargo area may not be safe.”

  1. When will you be traveling?

“If you need to fly during peak travel hours, such as late afternoon or early evening, or peak travel seasons, such as summer or spring break, expect more crowds, less space, more stress and less comfort for your pet.”

  1. Are you planning to take a direct flight?

“Layovers increase the chances of something going awry with your pet. Taking a direct flight will reduce the possibility of complications and minimize stress on your pet.”

Pet-Friendly Airports and Airlines

In planning your itinerary with those questions in mind, it may be helpful to know which airports and airlines make accommodations for pets. TripsWithPets.com provides a summary of some of the most pet-friendly airports at https://www.tripswithpets.com/twp-blog/pet-travel-made-easier-top-us-pet-friendly-airports The listed airports include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Reno, Phoenix, and San Jose among others.

            According to a 2021 article on MillionMileSecrets.com, the following airlines are pet-friendly:

  • American Airlines: Best for West Coast travel
  • United Airlines: Best for East Coast travel
  • Delta Airlines: Best for small pets
  • Southwest Airlines: Best for cheap pet fees
  • JetBlue: Best for pet amenities
  • Allegiant Air: Best for pet check-in process
  • Frontier Airlines: Not really the best for anything
  • Alaska Airlines: Best for unique pets in checked baggage
  • Hawaiian Airlines: Best for inter-island flights in Hawaii

The Cost of Pet Travel by Air

Be prepared for the expenses that come with pet travel by air.  According to an article in the online edition of Travel and Leisure magazine, travel with your dog may entail the following costs (which are likely to be similar for feline passengers):

  • Veterinary costs if a health certificate is required by the airline
  • The cost to microchip your dog – about $45
  • “Airlines typically charge a $100 to $125 one-way fee to bring your dog in the cabin. And, if you want your pet to fly in the cabin, you'll need to purchase an airline-compliant pet carrier, which can cost from $30 up to $250, according to Consumer Reports.”
  • “Alternatively, having your pet fly in the cargo hold can range anywhere from a few hundred [dollars] to well over $1,000.”

https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/pet-friendly-travel/how-much-it-costs-to-travel-with-your-dog

      Who Can Help You?

            The following bonded and insured companies are among those that offer pet air travel services and assistance. (Note: By noting these companies, Jameson Humane does not guarantee or vouch for the quality of their services, but has found positive reviews online). Although these services are usually used in connection with residential moves, they are also available resources for vacation travel. 

  • Pet Porters (https://thepetporters.com/) handles transportation of pets on international and domestic flights and also moves pets by ground. They also provide “pet nanny” services to transport small pets eligible to ride in the aircraft cabin.
  • Blue Collar Pet Transport (https://bluecollarpettransport.com/) is another company that offers “pet nannies” to accompany small dogs and cats in the aircraft passenger cabin.

Three: Where to Go With Your Pet

[Joke alert no. 2] What type of market should you never take your cat or dog? A flea market!

BringFido.com provides extensive information about pet-friendly hotels, destinations, and activities.  For instance, let’s say you are traveling to North Carolina and want to learn about good places to hike with your dogs, you would go to www.BringFido.com and click on the pull-down menu in the search window on the home page. Select the “activities” menu choice and type in “hiking in North Carolina.” If you then click on “fetch,” the search yields several recommended hiking activities suitable for dogs including the North Carolina Arboretum, the Appalachian Trail, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center. The search engine allows you to explore a way range of activities, places to stay and events.

Another resource to find pet-friendly destinations across the country is DailyPaws.com.  The site includes ways to search for dog-friendly vacation destinations and hotels:

https://www.dailypaws.com/living-with-pets/pet-travel/dog-friendly-vacations

https://www.pettravel.com/pet-friendly-hotels-search.cfm

            Please enjoy your summer travel with your pets.  And remember: never leave them unattended in your car. (See last month’s article on heat exhaustion and heatstroke.)

Keeping Your Pets Cool in the Heat

Friday June 10th, 2022

Keeping Your Dogs and Cats Cool and Safe During Hot Weather

By Jeffrey Richard, Jameson Humane Volunteer

            The lazy, hazy days of summer – when we and our pets enjoy more time outdoors – will soon be arriving.  So now is the time to raise awareness of how we can protect our cats and dogs from harm that may result from exposure to heat and sunshine.

            Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

            The condition known broadly as heat exhaustion (aka hyperthermia) occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises above a healthy range, accompanied by various harmful symptoms. The seriousness of heat exhaustion ranges from mild heat exhaustion (which can sometimes be treated adequately at home) to heatstroke, depending on the severity of the pet’s fever and the dehydration that may accompany it. Heatstroke poses a serious threat to your pet’s health, and may result in organ failure, brain damage and even death. Immediate treatment by a veterinarian is essential. Please seek advice and treatment from your veterinarian whenever you observe signs of heat exhaustion in your pet. Do not rely on this article (or any article) as a substitute for veterinary aid!

With dogs, any temperature above 103 degrees is abnormal and may indicate heat exhaustion. The more severe condition, heatstroke, occurs in dogs when body temperature exceeds 106 degrees. With cats, look out for a temperature above 102.5 degrees; anything above 104 degrees may mean heatstroke.

            Many people are unaware of the impacts of heat on pets. In particular, many pet owners are not aware of the real danger to their pets when left in unventilated cars or other confined spaces. Even on a comparatively cool day of, say, 70 degrees, the air temperature inside a car – if exposed to the sun without adequate ventilation – will rise to 115 degrees or more within an hour. Please never leave your pet unattended in a closed vehicle.

            Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke in Cats

Although heat exhaustion and heatstroke affect dogs more than cats because dogs are left in cars and other confined spaces more often, cats can and do suffer heat-induced trauma. Cats are not as physiologically well-equipped as people to regulate their body temperature. The human body produces perspiration that cools the body when the weather heats up.  Cats cannot sweat to cool down, and (unlike dogs, who use panting as a way to regulate body temperature to some extent) they don't normally pant until they are already heat-exhausted.  

Instead, cats instinctively move to cooler locations as soon as they feel too warm. They also engage in self-grooming (licking), which helps them stay cool to a limited extent.  Most of the time, they are able to cool themselves or escape the heat before they approach heat exhaustion. However, a cat may become trapped in a hot area (e.g., a garage or shed) and fall victim to heat exhaustion.

Kittens, senior cats and sick cats are more vulnerable because they are less able to take steps on their own to avoid the heat. In addition, short-nosed cats like Persians and Himalayans often have constricted airways and are more sensitive to heat. Cats who are overweight are also more prone to overheating. For all of these higher risk kitties, it is especially important to make sure they stay in places that won’t get too hot.

Here are some of the more common indications of heatstroke in cats:

  • Body temperature of 104 degrees or more (less severe heat exhaustion may be indicated by a temperature between 102.5 and 103.5 degrees)
  • Rapid breathing, panting, or respiratory distress
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Dizziness and/or disorientation
  • Dark red gums and tongue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Drooling with thick saliva due to dehydration
  • Tremors or seizures

            Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke in Dogs

As with cat breeds, any canine breed with a short or flat nose is at an increased risk for heatstroke. The more constricted structure of the nasal passages limits their ability to breathe efficiently (and to pant as a way to cool off). Examples include English bulldogs, French bulldogs, pugs, and Shih Tzus.  Here are common symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke in dogs (which, as you’ll see are similar in a number of respects to feline symptoms):

  • Body temperature of 106 degrees or more (less severe heat exhaustion may be indicated by a temperature between 103 and 105.5 degrees)
  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing. If your dog is panting constantly or faster than normal (hyperventilation), they could be overheated
  • Signs of dehydration, which may include bright red, gray, purple, or bluish gums, dry nose, visible tiredness, and sunken eyes
  • Excessive drooling. Keep an eye out for lots of drool, or drool that is thicker and stickier than usual
  • Lack of normal urine production
  • Rapid pulse. The easiest way to take your dog’s pulse is to place your hand on their chest near their front elbow joint. If their pulse seems elevated, they could be overheated. (Normal pulse rate depends on the size of your dog—bigger dogs tend to have slower pulses, while small dogs and puppies have very quick pulses)
  • Muscle tremors, shivering or shaking
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Abnormally soft stool, or stool with blood in it
  • If your dog seems to have trouble walking in a straight line or keeps bumping into furniture, they might be lightheaded from dehydration or heat exhaustion

Prevention and Treatment

To prevent heat exhaustion and to take steps to lessen the impacts of heat exhaustion if it occurs, there are a few things to keep in mind. Do not shave off your pet’s fur. Although reasonable and normal trimming of the coats of some dogs is fine, never shave the dog’s fur off entirely to keep it cool.  The coats of both cats and dogs shield them not only from cold weather but also from the heat of summer. For all pets, including those that spend some of their time outdoors, provide access to cool indoor areas and provide cool, fresh water at all times.  Make sure to leave the air conditioner or fan on when you are not home. Before running the clothes dryer, always check to make sure your cat has not snuck inside.

If you observe symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible if you have any doubt about whether the heat exhaustion is mild enough to be treated at home
  • If the pet is alert, offer cool water to drink but do not force it. Many animals resist drinking water when they are overheated. If your pet refuses to drink, use an eyedropper or syringe to drop a couple of beads of water in its mouth at a time
  • Use cool/tepid water to soak a towel and place your pet on it if possible. Do not wrap your pet in the towel as this may trap heat. Change the towel out when it becomes warm from your pet's body heat
  • Note: Use of ice or cold water may be counterproductive and harmful. Ice or very cold water may constrict the blood vessels and prevent cooling, or may even cause hypothermia
  • Turn on a fan or air conditioner if possible
  • Continue to check your pet’s temperature. Stop cooling methods once the body temperature falls below dangerous levels. Excessive cooling at this stage increases the risk of hypothermia

Sunburn

The ASPCA has published a good online article about the risk of sunburn to your pets.  See, https://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/resources/sun-safety-concerns-for-dogs-and-cats/  The following are some key excerpts: 

“Pets without hair, like the Sphynx cat or Mexican hairless dog, are certainly at risk for getting a sunburn. But any pet can get burned in areas that have no or minimal fur, including the tips of the ears, lips, and mid-section. For instance, pets who like to sunbathe on their backs can end up with a burned belly. Other pets who are more prone to sunburn include those who have thin or light-colored coats or suffer from health conditions that cause hair loss, such as allergies or Cushing’s disease. Additionally, if your pet has been shaved for surgery, you should be extra careful about their sun exposure. You may also be surprised to know that indoor cats are at risk for sunburn. Regular windows do not filter out harmful UV rays so cats who like to nap in windowsills or snooze in sunbeams can get sunburnt. Cats with white or beige coats tend to have lighter colored skin, which can burn more easily.”

“Treatment:  While a minor case of sunburn will generally heal on its own, you should bring your pet to the veterinarian if the burn is red and painful. They can assess the severity of the burn and recommend the appropriate treatment. This will usually involve shaving the affected area, carefully cleaning the burn, and applying a topical ointment. You may need to apply the ointment at home as well. . . ."

“Prevention: The best way to prevent sunburn is to keep your pet out of the sun as much as possible, especially when it is at its hottest. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go outside with your pet, but you can take steps to keep them safe from sunburn:

  • Use a pet-safe sunscreen on exposed areas of skin . . .
  • Have your pet wear clothing designed to provide sun protection
  • Take walks in the early mornings or late evenings when the sun isn’t as strong
  • Stick to shadier routes when you’re out with your pet

“If your pet is getting sunburned by basking near a window or sliding glass door, you can look into installing solar shades, which block harmful UV rays." 

“A veterinary-approved sunscreen is recommended to help protect areas prone to sunburns, such as your pet’s belly and the tips of the ears. Avoid using human sunscreen products, since they can contain harmful ingredients that may irritate your pet’s skin or make your pet sick if they lick it off. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a good choice for your pet and get suggestions on how best to apply it.”

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