Entries in Pets (11)


Top 10 States with Highest, Lowest Percentage of Pet Owners

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Among residents of the 50 states, Vermonters are more likely to have pets, according to a new survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The AVMA released its U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, revealing which states have the largest number of pet owners, which have the fewest, and spending trends among pet owners.

Thomas McPheron, spokesman for the AVMA, said the survey didn't collect information that might indicate why certain states had higher rates of pet ownership.  However, one of the factors may be related to the type of dwellings, such as rural or suburban.

"One clue might be that Washington D.C., which is completely urban, has the absolute lowest pet ownership numbers," McPheron said.

Total veterinary expenditures for all households with pets were estimated to be about $28 billion in 2011.  Dogs represented 68.1 percent of total veterinary expenditures; cats, 26.3 percent; birds, 0.5 percent; horses, 2.9 percent; and specialty and exotic pets, 2.1 percent.

The mean veterinary expenditure per household for all pets was $375 in 2011.

Households that considered their dogs or cats to be family members spent more on veterinary expenditures than those that considered their pets to be pets/companions or property.

The AVMA retained Irwin Broh Research to conduct the research for the study.  A questionnaire was distributed by email to 222,244 U.S. households.

Here is a list of the 10 states with the highest percentage of pet owners:

1. Vermont: 70.8 percent pet owners
2. New Mexico: 67.6 percent pet owners
3. South Dakota: 65.6 pet owners
4. Oregon: 63.6 percent pet owners
5. Maine: 62.9 percent pet owners
6. Washington: 62.7 percent pet owners
7. Arkansas: 62.4 percent pet owners
8. West Virginia: 62.1 percent pet owners
9. Idaho: 62 percent pet owners
10. Wyoming: 61.8 percent pet owners

And here are the 10 states with the lowest percentage of pet owners:

1. District of Columbia: 21.9 percent pet owners
2. Massachusetts: 50.4 percent pet owners
3. New York: 50.6 percent pet owners
4. New Jersey: 50.7 percent pet owners
5. Utah: 51.2 percent pet owners
6. Nebraska: 51.3 percent pet owners
7. Illinois: 51.8 percent pet owners
8. Maryland: 52.3 percent pet owners
9. California: 52.9 percent pet owners
10T. Minnesota: 53 percent pet owners
10T. Rhode Island: 53 percent pet owners

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


How Much Is a Pet Worth? Texas Supreme Court to Rule

Courtesy Medlen Family(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A case that may reflect a pet owner's worst nightmare has made its way to the Texas Supreme Court, which must decide if a family can place sentimental value on a pet that was accidentally euthanized.

Approximately three years ago, Jeremy and Kathryn Medlen's family dog, Avery, escaped from their yard during a thunderstorm.

Days later, the Medlens were happy to hear Fort Worth Animal Control had found their beloved pet and they could come by to pick him up.

"When Jeremy and his two small children went to go pick up Avery, they were told they accidentally killed him the day before," said Medlen's attorney, Randy Turner.

Fort Worth Animal Control had labeled Avery's cage "hold for owner," meaning don't euthanize, Turner said.  But a worker at the facility apparently euthanized Avery anyway.

"She went through and picked the dogs that needed to be euthanized and accidentally picked Avery," said Turner.

It was then that the family decided to hire Turner, who took the case free of charge, to sue the worker, Carla Strickland, for negligence and accidentally euthanizing Avery.

The Medlens, Turner said, "wanted to know if there's anything they could [do to] stop this from happening to anyone else."

In 1963, Texas adopted a "sentimental value rule," which provided that if property is wrongfully destroyed and that property had no market value, then the parties involved could sue.

"Problem is, they never applied sentimental value to dogs," said Turner.  "You can sue and recover the sentimental value of a photograph, but not the dog itself."

Originally, the case was dismissed after a judge ruled the Medlens could not recover damages for companionship with their dog.  However, an appeals court ruled in favor of the Medlens and the case went to the Texas Supreme Court.

Carla Strickland's attorney, John Cayce, said his client feels terrible about the situation.

"Ms. Strickland, from day one, has been devastated by the unfortunate accident that occurred that led to Avery's death," Cayce said.

However, he added, assigning sentimental value to pets would have broad implications.

"This case really goes beyond the dispute between Strickland and the Medlens," said Cayce.  "It would have an adverse impact on just the average citizen in the state that might accidentally run over a dog on the way to work.  With that kind of liability, the insurance rates would go up."

Furthermore, Cayce said, "They have proved that the emotional sentimental value of a pet could be as high as the national debt."

Turner said that the Medlens are not looking for money, but rather, "We're simply asking the court to recognize the value society places on animals, now."

The court will rule on the case sometime in the next nine months, according to both attorneys.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


ASPCA Helps Superstorm Sandy Victims Reclaim Missing Pets

ASPCA(NEW YORK) -- Three months after Superstorm Sandy made landfall, devastating parts of New York and New Jersey, thousands of victims still await aid from the government, while lost animals wait to be found by their owners.

Now, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is encouraging pet owners uprooted by the Oct. 29 storm to visit its temporary shelter in Brooklyn, N.Y., and reclaim their missing pets.

“After 45-plus days in an emergency shelter environment, these pets really need to get in a home,” said Tim Rickey, senior director of the ASPCA Field and Investigations Department.  “It’s not healthy physically or mentally.  We’re trying to get these guys out of here and get them into forever homes.”

At last count, there are 137 pets awaiting possible reunions with their owners.  So far, the boarding facility has been successful in reuniting many of the pets displaced by Sandy.

Six weeks ago, the ASPCA opened the boarding facility as a temporary emergency shelter serving the needs of animals seven days a week in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.  About 300 pets -- mostly dogs and cats -- were taken in.  As the shelter prepares to close down its temporary operation, Rickey and his team are trying to find these pets permanent homes.

“We’ve talked to folks who have been struggling for the last month and a half and come and get their pet,” said Rickey.  “For some, tonight will be the first night their family has been complete since Superstorm Sandy hit.”

In the days after Sandy, when pet owners weren’t walking through the doors, the not-for-profit corporation took a grassroots approach to connect owners and their pets by posting flyers, creating public service announcements and uploading photos of lost animals through the website Animal Care and Control of New York City’s lost pets.  As the ASPCA winds down its Brooklyn operations, it’s also encouraging owners who are unable to come to the shelter to search online for their four-legged companions.

“We want to give residents every opportunity to be reunited with their pets,” said Rickey.  “We’re hoping to see a lot of folks throughout the weekend.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NJ Lawmakers Consider Pet Seat Belt Bill

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TRENTON, N.J.) -- It may be “Click it or Ticket” for pet owners in New Jersey, as state lawmakers consider a bill that would require drivers to secure pets in seat belts or pay a fine. Penalties could run up to as much as $1,000 in extreme cases of animal cruelty, such as keeping a pet unsecured in the bed of a pickup truck.

The fines would not apply to pets kept in crates.
Other states, such as Hawaii, Connecticut, Illinois and Maine have banned motorists from driving with pets in their laps, but New Jersey is apparently the first state to require that pets be strapped in.

The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, who owns a Pomeranian, five cats and a rabbit, and was endorsed by New Jersey’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


N.J., Other States Turn Focus to Pets in Fight Against Distracted Driving

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- First, it was pedestrians distracted by their cellphones and other gadgets. Now, New Jersey is taking a hard look at drivers who travel with their pets unrestrained.

Under a new law, police and officers with the state’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals could fine a driver $250-$1,000 for giving a four-legged family member free rein of the car while it’s moving.

Some in the Garden State scoffed at the news, but New Jersey is not the only state to consider or take up legislation to curb what transportation experts consider another contributor to distracted driving.

Arizona, Connecticut and Maine residents can be penalized under distracted-driving laws if they’re driving with a pet in their lap. In Hawaii, drivers are not allowed to drive with pets in their laps; Rhode Island and Oregon are considering doing the same.

According to a 2011 pet passenger safety survey by AAA and Kurgo pet products, 65 percent of dog owners admitted to engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving with their dog.

In that group, 52 percent said that activity included petting their pet, even when the animal was in the back seat. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, looking away from the road for just two seconds can double a driver’s risk of being in a crash.

“The devastation to your pet and any other passengers can be incredible” in the event of an accident, Heather Hunter, a AAA spokeswoman, told ABC News Tuesday.

In Cranberry, Pa., David Reed ran a red light in April and crashed into another vehicle after his dog crawled into his lap. His 2-year-old basset hound hit the windshield and landed on the dashboard but didn’t sustain any injuries.

He and his daughter were not hurt but the other driver had to be treated for injuries.

“You see people doing it [driving with a dog] all the time,” he said. “You just don’t think it’s going to happen....I never gave it a thought -- my pet being a distraction to me when I was driving or anything.”

AAA’s Hunter said restraining a pet while traveling in a vehicle minimized distractions to the driver, protected other passengers and also allowed emergency personnel to get to the vehicle and treat passengers if an accident occurred. Restraints also stop a pet from running off when a door is opened.

Gordie Spater, Kurgo’s president, said that many pet owners simply didn’t know that car restraints existed for their pets and that they were easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

He said that even though his company did not advocate laws such as New Jersey’s, it had partnered with AAA and Toyota to get the message out.

“Our biggest thing is to get the word out that [restraints] are available,” he said. “Things are available [and] the cost is low. You should be doing this.”

Click here for a 25-percent discount off harnesses at the ASPCA’s online store using the code SAFETY. The deal is available through Friday.

And click here for tips on traveling safely with your pet this summer and any time of the year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man with Zebra, Parrot in Front Seat Charged with DUI

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DUBUQUE, Iowa) -- Police in Dubuque, Iowa, responded to an unusual call this week: reports of a zebra and a parrot in the front seat of a truck parked outside a bar. The striped animal and his fine feathered friend were there to keep their owner company, but weren’t allowed in the bar.

Jerald Reiter, 55, told police the zebra and maccaw parrot enjoy going for rides in his truck, so he brought them to the bar, which he says usually allows animals inside, ABC affiliate KCRG-TV reports.

When the motley crew got to the bar, they were told because food was being served, the animals wouldn’t be allowed inside. Bar owners told KCRG no animals are ever allowed inside.

When officers arrived on the scene, they stopped Reiter in the parking as he was driving his truck away. Field sobriety tests found he had a blood alcohol level of .14, nearly twice the legal limit, according to police.

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His girlfriend, Vickie Teters, told KCRB the animals are like their children, and do everything with them.

“They love going for rides. They’re just a part of the family,” Teters said. “They were not left alone in the car, not even a second.”

Reiter also disputes the drunk driving charge, saying he realized he was too drunk to drive, and was about to let a passenger take the wheel when he was arrested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dog Rescues Unconscious Owner from Oncoming Train

Courtesy Angell Animal Medical Center(BOSTON) -- A Massachusetts pit bull named Lilly took on a freight train last week to save her owner, who collapsed unconscious onto the tracks during a late-night walk in Shirley. The 8-year-old dog used her teeth to pull Christine Spain, 54, off the tracks as the train approached. While Spain emerged unscathed, Lilly lost a leg.

The train's engineer, who didn't want to give his name, said he spotted the woman and her dog on the tracks just after midnight on May 3, according to the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He said he tried to stop the train in time, but feared he'd hit them both. When he got out, he found that Spain was unharmed, but the train's wheels had sliced through Lilly's front right leg, which was bleeding heavily.

An animal control officer rushed Lilly to an emergency animal hospital in nearby Acton, where Spain's son, Boston Police Officer David Lanteigne, met them in the parking lot. Lanteigne said he had a feeling of dread as he got out of his car, but Lilly let him know she was OK.

"The first thing I see is just those big, beautiful eyes just looking at me, and next to her, I saw her right front paw was severely damaged," he told ABC News. "I saw her tail wagging the first time right there."

Lanteigne said he rescued Lilly three years ago, thinking she'd make a good therapy dog for Spain, who had battled alcoholism, depression and anxiety for many years. He said Spain doted on the dog, and often defrosted packets of green beans to cut them up and put them in Lilly's food. Eventually, he said, Spain's drinking decreased.

"We saved Lilly, and Lilly saved my mom's life," he said. "My hope is that this story is going to get out and show what pit bulls are truly about. I hope by Lilly going through this, it's going to get other dogs homes."

Lilly underwent two surgeries last weekend at the Angell Animal Medical Center. Steel plates were implanted to repair her fractured pelvis and support her left leg. She now has a long scar where her right front leg was amputated. Angell spokesman Rob Halpin said Lilly's doctors expect she'll be able to walk again, but adjusting to three legs will be hard for the senior dog.

Spain, who Lanteigne said relapsed before her collapse last week upon hearing some bad news, was arrested on the scene and arraigned the following day in Ayer District Court on charges of obstruction and danger on a railroad track, walking on a railroad track and animal cruelty, Shirely Police Executive Secretary Ann Whiting told ABC News. Spain was not arrested on any alcohol-related charges, but she was placed in protective custody because of intoxication, said Whiting.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dozens of Animals Seized in 'Extreme' Hoarding Case

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MARICOPA, Ariz.) -- Ninety-three dogs and five exotic birds were seized from a private residence in Maricopa, Ariz., in what officials called an “extreme” case of animal hoarding.

“The floors were covered in fecal matter.  There was a soiled mattress with exposed springs that the owners were sleeping on.  At some point there was a fire at the site and there was a hole in the roof that had a tarp over it,” Heather Murphy, spokesperson for Pinal County told ABC News.  “It was the most awful living conditions I have ever seen.”

Officials received an anonymous tip on Tuesday and began removing the animals from the home and placing them in a shelter, which is now running over capacity.

“The immediate crisis we’re in now is we have to house all of the animals. They have to be checked by a vet before they can be placed for adoption,” Murphy said.

After each of the animals is examined by a veterinarian, the findings will be passed along to the county attorney, who will make a determination regarding whether the owners will face animal cruelty charges

“Some of them looked to be in pretty good shape, health wise,” Murphy said.  “We hope we can make the adoptable and place them in great homes.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida Opens Door for Owners to Surrender Exotic Pets

Courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation held its first Exotic Pet Amnesty Day on Saturday -- an event for exotic pet owners looking to give up their animals, no questions asked.

In all, 64 animals were turned in, including a leopard gecko, two Madagascar giant chameleons, pythons, boas, turtles, fish, and about 30 Australian sugar gliders -- marsupials from Australia similar to flying squirrels -- according to the FWC.

During the event, pet owners were allowed to turn in their animals without facing any consequences.  But according to FWC officials, most people who turned in animals said they just couldn't keep them.

"In many cases, people said they just couldn't care for them anymore.  One of the turtles kept growing and they couldn't accommodate its space needs," FWC's Joy Hill told ABC News.

"Things just got out of control for the woman who impulsively bought a sugar glider and then a couple more to breed with it," Hill said.  "She ended up turning in about 25 of them, including a few little babies -- they are prolific breeders."

Veterinarians at the event taught attendees about the animals and their proper care, and all of the animals were adopted by individuals or facilities capable of caring for them, as determined by the FWC.

The main idea behind the event, and the no-questions-asked policy, is to prevent people from simply releasing the animals into the wild once they can no longer care for them -- a practice that can cause some serious problems, Hill said.

Last month, the release of dozens of dangerous animals from a private farm in Ohio drew national attention to the problem.  Before killing himself, owner Terry Thompson opened the cages of his dozens of lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and monkeys, many of which were killed while running loose.

The tragedy in Ohio prompted renewed calls for stricter laws regarding the ownership of exotic animals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pets Rescued from Southern Flooding, Tornadoes Need Homes

Comstock/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- The tornado outbreak that struck the southeastern United States two weeks ago was the worst one in nearly 40 years.

At least 248 people were killed in Alabama; 34 in Mississippi; 34 in Tennessee; 15 in Georgia; five in Virginia; two in Louisiana; and one in Kentucky.

But the situation was not just devastating for people.  Hundreds of pets were abandoned or stranded, and many families that were left homeless were forced to relinquish their animals, said Beth Ostrosky Stern of the North Shore Animal League.

The Port Washington, New York organization deployed emergency rescue teams to help hard-hit animal shelters in Alabama.  The teams rescued dozens of animals.  The pets were brought to New York and given medical and emotional evaluations.  They will be put up for adoption on May 12.

North Shore is the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world, according to its website.  The organization works with a national network of shelter and rescue partners and provides information, education, and resources about pet adoption.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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