Entries in Pets (34)


Oregon Teen Discovers Trick to Avoiding Cat Allergies

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For anyone who has ever wanted to have a cat for a pet but was prohibited by allergies, one Oregon teen may have found a solution.

Savannah Tobin, 17, is a high school senior in Oregon who volunteers at a local humane society. Savannah's love for cats was never a question, but she could never keep one as a pet because both she and her mother suffer from allergies. Her work at the Willamette Humane Society in Salem, Ore., made her wonder whether there were certain types of cats that would not affect her or her mother.

After doing some research, Savannah found out that it isn't hair or dander that causes allergic reactions, but rather the cat's saliva that prompted her allergy attacks.

"As they groom themselves, they're covering their body in that protein. So we're actually allergic to the saliva and it's not the hair," Tobin says.

Now, Savannah can perform swab tests and analyze a cat's saliva to determine which of her furry friends are hypo-allergenic. Her idea won her the Intel bio-chemistry award this year. This autumn, Tobin will attend the University of California-Davis.

No word yet on whether she will bring along a furry friend.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


More Pets Donating Blood

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pet owners are opting for more surgery to keep their pets alive and as a result demand is rising for dog and cat blood donors.

The University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital has a list of nearly 2-dozen dogs and cats who give blood on a regular basis to help meet the need.

Vets say that a pet’s temperament is critical to their ability to be a blood donor, as they have to sit through the drawing. Dogs have to lie on their side for five minutes during the process.

As with human blood donations, there are some other criteria. Dogs have to be at least a year old and weigh a minimum of 55 pounds. The donating pets cannot be on any medication, but must be up to date on their vaccinations and flea and tick protection.

And, just like people, these pets deserve a cookie after donating.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Dognition Test Helps You Better Connect with Man's Best Friend

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- We all think that our dogs are the smartest ones in the park. But how can you really tell?

ABC News' David Kerley decided to test his 10-year-old French spaniel Belle. Although he thinks she’s special, there is now a way to find out whether she is an Einsten, a maverick, a charmer or a socialite.

Brian Hare says these different labels can tell you a lot about your dog. Hare is an associate professor at Duke University’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the dog whisperer behind Dognition, an online test that tells you about the brain behind the bark.  It’s run by a start-up company in North Carolina.

“It’s to help people understand their dog in a way that they have never been able to understand them and to enrich their relationship with them as a result,” Hare said.

The people at Dognition have designed a way for you to find out what makes your dog’s brain tick.

“It’s not going to show you, ‘OK, your dog is X percentile compared to other dogs,’ because essentially what we know from the best science on animals [is] that there isn’t just one type of intelligence that you can just rank,” Hare said.

The experts say, however, that there are several types of dog intelligence. The question is what type does your dog rely on more.

Kerley ran Belle through the $40 online test, which included a questionnaire, a set of science-based games to play at home and an in-depth report detailing your dog’s cognitive profile.

The games took at least an hour and included hiding treats under cups, covering the dog’s eyes and even turning your back. How will she react? Does she follow verbal directions or her nose?

The games tested Belle's memory, her reasoning, her cunning and her communication. Kerley entered Belle’s results and send them back to Dognition.

Hare looked at her results. Belle could fall into one of nine categories: ace, expert, Einstein, charmer, renaissance dog, maverick, socialite, protodog or stargazer. Dognition says it uses a series of algorithms to compare dogs from all over the world.

“So Belle is a really interesting case. Belle ended up having the profile of a charmer. And a charmer is a dog that is really socially very sophisticated, and uses those skills to make their way through the world. A charmer is a dog that is really so bonded and trusts you so much that it would prefer to solve problems using information you give them than information they get with their own eyes,” Hare said during his assessment.

A 15-page report online from Dognition confirmed Hare’s assessment.

“It means charmers relative to other dogs are amazing at solving social problems using you [the owner],” Hare said. “You are really their secret weapon.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pet Acupuncture: Treating Animals with Human Therapies

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- There is a growing movement to treat animals with the best that human medicine has to offer, including physical therapy, hydro-therapy, and even alternative therapies -- like acupuncture, to be precise.

When dog owner Joe Bowerman's beloved Shitzu, Snoot, was suffering from chronic back problems, which is common among the breed, and became paralyzed, Bowerman started looking into acupuncture treatments.

"He couldn't use his back," said Snoot's vet Leilani Alvarez of Animal Medical Center in New York City.  "Acupuncture works primarily with the central nervous system, so there really isn't an equivalent conventional medicine."

Three million people in the United states use the ancient Chinese therapy for debilitating pain, to help them quit smoking, and more.  But at Animal General Hospital, also in New York City, veterinarians are using it extensively for cases like Snoot's.

There, three acupuncture treatments a week cost a $100 a visit.

"You make sacrifices for the things you care about, things that you love," Bowerman said. "We all do it in a different way.  This guy has given me great companionship, and I didn't want to lose him so I made those sacrifices for him."

Delilah's owner Mark Rindler swears that acupuncture made all the difference for the dachshund.

"She has a bad back, a back neck...and acupuncture saved her life," he said.  "We almost had to put her down last August she was in such bad shape.  Medicine didn't help."

While animals can't verbalize whether the treatment works or not, their owners said they could see a difference.

"I know it was acupuncture because the other stuff didn't work," Rindler said.  "After these treatments, she was like a little puppy again."

But there is a lot of skepticism too.  Some veterinarians say there is no science to prove that sticking dogs with tiny needles is good medicine. 

David Ramey helped shape the guidelines for alternative therapies for animal treatment plans for the American Veterinary Medical Association and said the root of the issue is "there is no consensus" on if acupuncture has any effect on the animal's health.

"You will find some studies that show there is an effect, and you will find that there are studies that show there is no effect whatsoever," Ramey said.  "Another half-truth is that there is no such thing as an acupuncture point.  Nobody has ever been able to demonstrate that there is such a thing anatomically."

But even critics can agree that the best medicine for pets is a lot of TLC, which doesn't cost anything and yet, is still priceless.

"I think they should spend time with their animals and take them on walks and massage them and pay attention to them," Ramey said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pet Therapy Pig at Center of Local Law Dispute in Florida

Ray Family(CORAL SPRINGS, Fla.) -- Hoping to help their son, Kason Ray, 8, cope with the emotional problems that result from Down’s syndrome, his parents got him a therapy pet. Because his father and older brother are severely allergic, they couldn’t have any animals that could set off a reaction. After lots of research, the Coral Springs, Fla., family settled on a Juliana pig to help their son, who has significant developmental and speech delays, and has the mental age of a 4-year-old.

Three weeks ago, the tiny spotted piglet joined the family. Kason’s mother, Heather Ray, named the animal Twinkie, and she said the pig has already had a big impact on her son’s life.

“You know, he does get mad. He throws fits. He doesn’t like things, and Twinkie has a very calming effect on him. It mellows him out, it calms him down,” she said. “It’s so good for him. He loves her so much.”

Twinkie has become a beloved member of the Ray family, but the city of Coral Springs has strict ordinances prohibiting the keeping of pigs.

Ray told ABC News on Sunday that she did her research on local laws before she bought the pig. She found out that Broward County and several cities surrounding her own allowed pet pigs to be kept, and when she learned of Coral Spring’s rules, she contacted city officials to request a waiver or special exemption because of her son’s disability. On Oct. 15 officials said they couldn’t grant her request.

In a written statement to ABC News on Monday, the city’s communication and marketing director, Bob Goehrig, wrote: “A city ordinance does not allow pigs as pets. Pigs are considered livestock. If the Rays can show us there is a medical necessity and can bring documentation, we’ll be glad to look into it.”

But Ray said she’s already sent the city all the documentation they’ve requested, including a letter from her son’s doctor supporting the recommendation for a therapy pet for Kason.

In the letter, a copy of which Ray provided to ABC News, Dr. Juan Carlos Millon wrote on Oct. 23, 2012, that Kason had “certain limitations coping with stress and anxiety…I am prescribing an emotional support animal that will assist Kason in coping with his disability.”

Ray even spoke with the U.S. Department of Justice, which told her she could have grounds to keep the pig under federal laws that protect Americans with disabilities.

Twinkie cannot be registered as a therapy animal until she is 1 year old, but Ray says she intends to complete the process when the animal is eligible, adding that she is already taking a course to become a registered therapy pet handler.

Now 7 weeks old, Twinkie weighs just 3 pounds. When she grows to adulthood, she will measure about 12 inches tall and weigh between 20 and 40 pounds.

She is strictly an indoor pet, Ray says.

Juliana pigs are gentle, affectionate animals that can be litter-trained.

Ray said having Twinkie around has helped enhance Kason’s speech. He can talk about how the pet looks and what she does. In addition to that, Twinkie gives Kason the total acceptance he may not always find in society, Ray added.

“For children with special needs, anyone with special needs, acceptance is a big deal,” she said. “Unfortunately in our society, you know, people with special needs just are not always accepted…an animal loves you no matter what. They don’t care what you look like, they don’t care how you talk, how you walk, you know, they don’t care, as long as you love them they love you unconditionally, so that’s very important to him, for us to have that for him.”

So far Ray says the city has not imposed any penalties because of Twinkie’s presence in the home, which the family owns.

“They haven’t threatened us with fines, not yet, no, not yet,” she said. “However they’ve made it clear that a person could be fined up to $500 a day.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


PETA's Thanksgiving Ad Asks Kids Would You Eat Your Dog?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The animal rights group PETA is planning to attack the tradition of eating turkeys on Thanksgiving by putting up billboards near schools asking kids if they would eat their pet dogs.

The group, known for its often controversial advertisements urging people to "Go vegan" or not to buy fur, intends to put up the billboards Reno, Nev., Boise, Idaho, and Sacramento, Calif.

The billboards depict a turkey with the head of a dog and the message, "KIDS: If you wouldn't eat your dog, why eat a turkey?"

PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, defended targeting children in their ads.

"Children have a natural compassion for animals," said project manager Alicia Woempner. "They are also bombarded with constant fast food advertisements and we'd like to offset that negative influence with a message of kindness."

Lamar Advertising Co., a nationwide billboard company that owns outdoor ad space in Boise, confirmed to ABC News that the animal rights group requested approval of the content of the billboard and received it.

"We don't approve everything PETA sends," said Lamar spokesman Hal Kilshaw, "but we did approve this."

Kilshaw did say that some of the group's past ads have been so extreme that they must have known they'd be denied. "And when they've been denied," he said, "they have been quick to have press conferences about it in the past."

Last year PETA put up similar ads Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn., and this past October the ads appeared in Saskatoon for Canadian Thanksgiving.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Max the Dog Survives Sandy's Wrath and Death of Owner

Jessie Streich-Kest was walking her dog when a tree fell and killed Jessie on Oct. 29, 2012. (Courtesy NYCCommunities)(NEW YORK) -- Max, a friendly pit-bull-pointer-shepherd mix, was saved by a good Samaritan Tuesday, after he was found trapped under a fallen tree with the bodies of his owner Jessie Streich-Kest, and her friend Jacob Vogelman.

Max, a shoo-in for the Target dog with a brown patch over his eye, was taken to Verg South, an emergency veterinary hospital in Brooklyn, where he is expected to recover from head injuries, a broken jaw and some lacerations to the mouth.

For him, it was a second rescue -- he was a shelter dog. And now, Verg South will take care of him pro-bono until he can go home to live with his owner's family.

"It's just a testament to Max's spirit that he pulled through this tragedy," said veterinarian Brett Levitzke, who is treating the dog.

"It's also a testament to his owner that she went to a local shelter and saved putting him to sleep," he said. "That's why the whole story is really heartbreaking, but hopefully it will have a happy ending for Max."

He, like hundreds of pets up and down the East Coast, were separated from their owners or killed as hurricane-force winds and flooding took down everything in their path.

NYCVert, which since 9/11 has worked with the city's Office of Emergency Management to develop disaster planning for pets, estimated about 100 animals pets have been rescued and taken to shelters in New York City during superstorm Sandy.

"And that's not counting those that ended up in hospitals or were stranded," said Levitzke, 41.

The hospital, with generators, has been operational 24/7 since the storm. One dog had salt water toxicity from being stuck in flood waters, causing his brain to swell. Others have suffered from stress that causes vomiting.

"It runs the gamut," he said of the injuries. The hospital also takes in abandoned pets.

Max was found alive Tuesday when a neighbor went outside in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn to take pictures of the fallen tree.

"He was mentally very dull because of head trauma," said Levitzke. The dog will likely need jaw surgery after his head injuries subside.

He described Max as a large "Brooklyn garden variety mutt," with a "sweet face and a sweet disposition."

Max had been adopted by Streich-Kest, a special education teacher at the Buschwick High School for Social Justice, from the ASPCA. She was an activist who championed the homeless and even the carriage horses in Central Park.

"Jessie was a wonderful, amazing human being and they were a perfect match, so I am happy he is surviving," Barbara Gross, a friend of the family, said of Max. "They were inseparable."

Her parents, Jon Kest and Fran Streich, both community organizers, were devasted by their daughter's death and plan to keep the dog, according to Gross, 54.

Streich-Kest got Max from the ASPCA when she moved into her first apartment about two years ago, according to Gross.

"He was a real comfort and anchor for her," she said. "Everyone said the dog thought he was human."

At Verg South, Max has been "definitely critical for the past few days, but over the past 24 hours, he has taken quite a turn for the better in terms of his neurological status," said Levitzke.

As of Friday, Max was out of his cage and eating. "He's a ton better," he said. "The fact is, Max is a real trooper."

Levitzke said the city had done a "good job" of looking after pets, informing them how to make preparations for evacuations and even providing accommodation for family pets at evacuation shelters.

"For all those reasons, the numbers aren't going to be as staggering as Katrina," he said, where an estimated 600,000 animals were lost or perished.

For future weather emergency preparedness, Levitzke advises families to pack "go bags" for animals, with food, blankets, carriers and leashes, and most importantly ID for your pet and even a photo taken with you in case you are separated.

"Everyone is dealing with the aftereffects of Sandy," said Levitzke. "Max is welcome to stay with us as long as he needs. And while they get their feet on the ground. We will take care of his injuries."

"The family has lost everything," he said. "But pets are family and now they have one less thing to worry about."

For questions and to help reunite pets and their owners, call the city's Pet Hotline at (347) 573-1561.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Sandy: Tips for Pet Owners

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Among the chaos of boarding up windows and stocking up on food and supplies, pet owners are being encouraged to make sure their furry friends are prepared to weather Hurricane Sandy.

“We want to encourage everybody if they are evacuating to take your pets with you,” said Tim Rickey, senior director of field investigations and response with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“If your home is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pet,” he said.

New York City shelters are pet friendly, something Rickey said many people did not realize during Hurricane Irene.  He encouraged people in the path of Sandy but outside of New York City to check with their local shelters to see if pets are allowed.

“It’s really sporadic.  A lot of areas are [pet friendly] but some still aren’t,” he said.  "We’re actively working on that front, trying to get supplies into the Northeast.”

The ASPCA has issued the following tips for pet owners:

  • Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster.
  • Make sure all pets wear collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification.  Micro-chip your pet as a more permanent form of identification.
  • Keep a pet emergency kit and supplies handy with items such as medical records, water, pet food and medications, and pet first aid supplies.  Take this with you if you evacuate.
  • Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation.  Do not leave your pets behind.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bone Tired: Study Shows Yawning Dogs Empathizing with Owners

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LUND, Sweden) -- We’ve all heard that a dog’s bark can be worse than its bite, but what about its yawn?

It turns out that aspect of canine behavior may provide evidence that dogs really are man’s best friend. A study out of Lund University in Sweden found that our canine companions often yawn in reaction to seeing a human do the same thing.

The phenomenon, known as contagious yawning, is prominent among many groups of animals, humans included. However, the process, which is believed to indicate empathy and help contribute to group mentality and social structure, has been less studied between species.

Elainie Madsen, a doctor of psychology at Lund University who co-authored the study, told ABC News dogs were chosen because “they spend so much time with us, and we spend so much time with them.”

“For those of us who have dogs,” she said, “we often feel this very close connection with them, and we feel that they must understand or sympathize with our emotions and our emotional states.”

The study took 35 dogs between the ages of 4 and 14 months and exposed them to various yawning human beings. Madsen found the results fascinating.

“We showed that the dogs were yawning contagiously – not just yawning but they also took on the emotion that yawning usually signifies, which is usually sleepiness and tiredness,” she said.

As with humans, age proved to be a significant factor in whether or not a dog exhibited contagious yawning.

“They go through what seems to be an empathy development that somehow mirrors humans’ empathy development, so it’s just obviously on a very different time scale,” Madsen said. “Human children don’t begin to yawn contagiously until they’re about 4 years old. Below that age, they seem pretty immune to others yawning at them. In dogs, this happens when they’re about 7 months old. Dogs below that age don’t seem to yawn, either.”

So what does this mean for dog owners?

According to Madsen, it’s a reason to rest assured that your dog really does love you as much as you love it.

“Dogs really have a close emotional connection with people,” she said, “with owners as well as with other people.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More than Three Out of Five Pet Owners Share Bed with Their Animals

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nine out of ten pet owners say they consider their pet to be a member of the family, and for 67 percent of those folks, that relationship includes frequently or occasionally sharing a bed at night.

Thirty-three percent of pet owners say they rarely or never share a bed with their pet.  The stats come from a new Harris Poll on Americans and their pets.

Additional findings:

  • 60 percent of Americans have a pet.  Among these pet owners, two-thirds have a dog while just over half have a cat.  About one in ten have a fish, and less than one in ten pet owners have a bird or some other type of pet.
  • 61 percent of dog owners have just one pooch, while 28 percent have two dogs and 11 percent have three or more dogs in the house.
  • 46 percent of cat owners have just one cat while one-third have two felines.  Twenty-two percent have three or more cats.  Four percent of the surveyed cat owners admit to having six or more in their home.
  • 31 percent frequently purchase holiday presents for their pet, while another three in ten occasionally do so.
  • 18 percent frequently buy their pets birthday presents and 22 percent do so occasionally.
  • 19 percent admit to frequently or occasionally dressing up their pet in some type of clothing.  Eighty-percent say they rarely or never do.
  • 10 percent of pet owners have taken their pets with them to work, while 82 percent say they have never done so.

The Harris Poll surveyed 2,634 U.S. adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio