Animal Advocacy

Factoring the finances of furry friends

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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By Dolores Proubasta

When applying to adopt a dog from a shelter, a woman estimated that she would spend $40 annually to feed and care for her new pet. Her application was turned down because $40 will not pay even the average monthly bill for keeping a mid-size dog – properly.

In reality, it costs approximately $700 annually (about $60 monthly) to cover minimum humane care for a medium size dog and the same for a cat, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The organization also estimates that a newly arrived medium-size dog costs approximately $1,500 for the first year and $1,000 for a new cat’s first year, factoring in spay/neuter surgery, essential vet care, housing equipment and supplies. Don’t forget to factor in the costs of unexpected vet care, and other subjective decisions such as travel and boarding, pet sitters, training. Costs can vary, too, based on geography, climate and cost of living. Not all 93.6 million cats, 77.5 million dogs, and other pets such as horses, small mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish get an equitable share of the $47 plus billion the American Pet Products Association says was spent on them in 2010.
Pets’ quality of life has little to do with the ability of the owners to afford them. Household income is an indicator of quality of care an animal could receive. The attitude of the pet owner who treats the pet as a “partner,” entitled to comparable food, shelter, medication, and more is what mainly drives pet care costs.

This seems a simple rule of thumb, but it isn’t. In economic downturns, companion animals are turned over to shelters or denied medical care by some owners who state that they cannot afford the pet, but, for example, may deem the expense of a weekly manicure more important.

The basic laws of Pet Economics are: (1) Every dollar saved at the expense of quality and best practices will require a larger outlay later, and (2) Expect unexpected expenses.

Here is a listing of “penny wise, pound foolish” pet care practices
• Not spaying or neutering pets. Caring properly for a pregnant or nursing dog and her pups, even without medical complications, is as expensive as having her spayed at the swankiest veterinary clinic.
Ditto for patching the wounds of intact males.
• Skipping routine checkups, vaccines, and parasite prevention.
Undetected or preventable ailments will result in higher vet bills.
A veterinarian can give valuable pet care information to owners.
• Feeding cheap food. Many of the ingredients in low quality kibble lack nutritional value, most of it is lost to bowel movements, and the pet’s health is compromised by a poor diet.
• Buying products from countries with little or no quality controls.
Cheap, imported leashes, bedding, toys, and other items need frequent replacement; some may even harm the animal.
• Not providing exercise and obedience training. The costs associated with destructive, unruly, or aggressive behavior can be substantial.
Plenty of exercise (time = $) and obedience class fees are a small price to pay to avoid fines, replacement of property, medical bills, and legal fees resulting from a dog running amok.
• Poor or no grooming. All animals, and long haired breeds in particular, require regular bathing and/ or brushing, trimming, or other care to help prevent parasites, skin diseases, ear and eye infections, and more. You can choose between a professional groomer or do it yourself at home, after buying the equipment and products.

Additionally, all animals confined to cages, terrariums, etc.
need meticulously clean environments to groom themselves and stay healthy.

• Asking neighbors, children/teens to look after the pets. If they fail on their duties, the owner has no recourse, because a “favor” is not a contract. Boarding at a reputable kennel or clinic, or hiring a bonded, experienced pet sitter (with references) are contractual guarantees of safety and care for the pet. Professional services are less expensive than the potential consequences of negligence.

Prepare for the unexpected and maintain a fund for eventualities such as: • Major veterinary expenses. Also, accidents and health emergencies often occur on weekends or evenings when only emergency clinics are open. This is the costliest care.
• Repairs and installations (such as fencing), replacements (tile instead of carpet), and other onetime outlays making home and yard more pet-friendly.
• Moving next door may require only a pet deposit; moving abroad can add up with consular pet processing fees, veterinary certificates, animal cargo fees, and more.
• Legal actions due to alleged injury or property damage caused by the pet.
• Naming a trustee in your estate planning with access to funds sufficient to cover needs of the pet in the event of illness or death of the owner. This could include temporary boarding while a home is found, or pay shipment to a predetermined owner, or make a donation to a no-kill shelter to take in the pet and care for it while awaiting adoption.

It takes money to keep pets and the commitment to provide what is best for them. The third law of Pet Economics: Time and care given an animal is repaid a thousandfold.

Additional Source:  www.aspca.org/adoption/petcare costs.aspx

Watch for Red Flags in Ads

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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By Ruth Steinberger

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned. Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight. With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned.
Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight.
With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.
Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs.
The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact.
Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.
High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell.
They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there.
Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.
It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).
Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments.
Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.
Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.
The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.
Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it.
“Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs. The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact. Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.

High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell. They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there. Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.

It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).

Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments. Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.

Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.

The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.

Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it. “Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned.
Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight.
With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.
Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs.
The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact.
Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.
High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell.
They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there.
Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.
It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).
Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments.
Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.
Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.
The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.
Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it.
“Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

So me tips:
• Visit the breeder to see the facility.
• Do not buy from a pet shop.
• Do not buy online or mail order.
• Ask the breeder for a veterinarian reference. Does the animal have immunization records?

SB 637 Ready for Vote

posted May 4th, 2011 by
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Oklahoma Capitol

by Ruth Steinberger. 

Tulsa Pets Magazine reached Dr Brian Renegar, (D-McAlester) for an update on SB 637 and the status of the pending regulations of high volume breeders in Oklahoma.  Representative Renegar is a co-author of SB 637, a bill introduced by Senator Charles Wyrick which created a compromise in the proposed rules of the new Commercial Pet Breeders Board and which enabled the rules to reach the governor’s desk this session.      

      SB 637 is scheduled to be voted on this week although it could come to the floor as late as next week.   If you have not reached your legislators to express your support for SB 637, now is the time to do so.

      Following an outcry by breeders regarding the original regulations proposed by the board, there was a groundswell of support in the Oklahoma legislature to overturn the entire measure which created the agency through a measure which passed in 2010.  Renegar’s compromise addresses breeders’ concerns while strengthening the ability of the agency to do its job.  Originally the amendments made by Renegar enabled the new agency to issue directives, an action in case of disease or other emergencies. At the request of the governor’s legal staff, that portion of the amendment was removed.

       Renegar pointed out that SB 637 passed the house last week with a margin of 90 to five, showing that an overwhelming number of legislators support the measure and are ready to move forward.

        Renegar said, “This compromise gives some relief to the breeders, but leaves rules in place which address the ones that are operating below acceptable standards.”

        Renegar was asked to comment for Tulsa Pets Magazine. He said, “Not as a legislator but as a veterinarian I look forward to this going into effect.  Probably 95 percent of breeders try to do a good job, this will address those that don’t.  I know people wanted the regulations…my sole idea was to help those dogs that exist in horrible conditions.”

Puppy Mill Bill Assaulted

posted March 23rd, 2011 by
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Oklahoma Capitol

By Patty Mandrell

            The puppy mill bill is being assaulted.  Charles Wyrick’s SB 637 disallows

ALL rules and regs set up by the puppy mill bill’s Board of Commercial

Pet Breeders.     These are common sense rules from a common sense bill…

it  would be a travesty and huge setback for very basic animal welfare

considerations  if Wyrick et al succeed with this maneuver.   Board president

Soriano makes some very cogent observations in the World article.  Note the

thoughtful, involved process in developing the rules.   Where was Wyrick during

this process?

            Mr Wyrick’s disallowing  the rules will effectively

neuter and defang the puppy mill bill in one cut, and he won’t have 

to mess with trying to repeal the whole puppy mill bill, a la senator Bresheen,

which probably  doesn’t stand much of a chance of happening.  

 The bill passed the Senate 29-13 and now goes to the House.

It’s a short one page, kills the rules.

http://newlsb.lsb.state.ok.us/BillInfo.aspx?Bill=sb637

Advocate Clova Abrahamson  sends this site to see how your senator voted,

go to page 712:

http://www.oksenate.gov/publications/senate_journals/sj2011/sj20110316.pdf

Tulsa World article:

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20110321_11_A1_CUTLIN553521&archive=yes

Educate yourself about SB 637, decide how you feel and then take action.

Bad News for Dogs

posted March 18th, 2011 by
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Oklahoma Capitol

By Ruth Steinberger

SB 637, a bill to disapprove the proposed rules of the Oklahoma Commercial Pet Breeders Board, passed in the Oklahoma senate on Wednesday by a margin of 29 to 13.  This is bad news for dogs and great news for puppy mill operators.

Blinded by ammonia fumes

The title was “struck” on the bill, meaning it is likely to be seriously altered before making it further through the legislature.  The next step will be a committee assignment in the house to determine if it will be voted on by the full Oklahoma house in the coming weeks.

Arguments in favor of this bill have been inconsistent and senate author Charles Wyrick (D-Fairland) argued in the senate agriculture and rural development committee against rules which he knew had already been removed from the bill.  Contrary to speculation, according to the standard procedures, it is not possible to use this step to alter the rules.  

The current rules are almost entirely consistent with USDA regulations.  Portions which have been altered or added include a mandate for monitoring of ammonia levels.  Ammonia fumes are damaging to the eyes of many dogs in high volume breeding facilities, with many dogs actually becoming blind from years of exposure to these fumes.  Tragically, McAllister veterinarian Brian Renegar, DVM is at the forefront of the effort to keep puppy mills in Oklahoma unregulated; Renegar is the house author of the bill to disallow these rules.

What you can do:

  • Support the passage of the rules proposed by the Oklahoma Board of Commercial Pet Breeders, the agency formed by the 2010 passage of SB 1712.
  • Please contact Representative Kris Steele, Speaker of the House and Representative Jeffrey Hickman, Speaker Pro Tempore to ask that this bill not be heard.  Contact them at [email protected] and [email protected]
  • Contact your own representative to urge them to vote against SB 637 and to support the passage of the current proposed rules. 
  • Contact Governor Mary Fallin to ask that she sign the rules submitted by the Board of Commercial Pet Breeders.  Contact Governor Fallin at [email protected] or call 405-521-2342
  • Thank the following Senators who voted against SB 637.

Anderson                     [email protected]         

Bingman                      [email protected]            

Branan                                    [email protected]

Crain                           [email protected]

Halligan                       [email protected]

Holt                             [email protected]

Johnson, R.                              [email protected]

Jolley                           [email protected]

Marlatt                        [email protected]

Myers                                      [email protected]

Rice                             [email protected]

Stanislawski                 [email protected]

Treat                           [email protected]

The following senators voted for SB 637

Aldridge                                     

Allen                                            

Ballenger                              

Barrington                              

Bass                                             

Brecheen                            

Brinkley                   

Brown                                 

Burrage   

David

Eason Mc           

Ellis

Fields  

Ford   

Garrison

Justice

Laster 

Lerblance

Newberry

Paddack          

Reynolds

Russell 

Schulz

Shortey          

Simpson

Sparks

Sykes

Wilson

Wyrick 

Black Dog (And CAT) Bias – Last Adopted, First Euthanized

posted March 15th, 2011 by
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BY DOLORES PROUBASTA 

DADS (DIME A DOZEn) and BBDs (big black dogs) are labels for black dogs at municipal animal shelters in America. And these dogs often pay the ultimate price for their coat color.

They are routinely passed over for adoption in favor of other color-coated dogs, which is why they are the first ones to be “pulled out” for euthanasia when there is no room for new arrivals with better chances.

Older black dogs are sometimes killed as soon as they exit the animal control truck, because of the attitude “why even try.” Black cats and kittens fare no better due to superstition and lower visibility as they hide in the back of cages. Visit your local shelter with an eye out for black dogs and cats and you will understand. Even cute black puppies don’t sell well by retailers or breeders.

This is nothing new. Even Celts, Vikings, and Romans linked black dogs with bad omens and demonic incarnation. Primitive minds in today’s world still do.

Black dogs and cats which languish at rescue shelters are sought for adoption before Halloween by those practicing witchcraft and associated superstitions and blood sacrifices. Reputable rescue organizations prohibit adoption of solid black, solid white and black/white cats and dogs during the Halloween season.

British Islanders believe eerie black dogs haunt castles and graveyards, while Central and South America are rich in negative “perro negro” legends. Superstition and fear may explain the curious moniker “black dog” for depression and drug induced hallucinations.

Because domestic animals reflect human preferences, the idea that dark-colored dogs are more effective deterrents to enemies was not lost on those who selectively bred black from wolf grey. Over time and breeding, black became the “default” color for domestic dogs.

However, black is not evident in the Canidae family – wild dogs such as Dingo, Culpeo, Dhole, Bush Dog or wolves, jackals, foxes or coyotes. Only the endangered African Wild Dog or Painted Dog has splotches of black.

Part of the reproductive success of darker dogs is that they are more resistant to the UV spectrum and therefore less susceptible to skin malignancies. While they are more prone to heat exhaustion, cancer claims fewer lives and that favors their genetic lineage.

The fact that black dogs appear more forbidding is also an advantage in the survival game. Even sheep are quicker to react to black and dark-colored stock dogs than to lighter coat colors.

Many people, however, do admire the elegant, slick, intense good looks of darkcoated breeds and their mixes. Dog behaviorists, veterinarians, responsible breeders, and human companions agree there is no link between the color of an animal’s coat and undesirable character traits.

Black dog bias, low adoption rate and high euthanasia in municipal shelters is hard to prove with numbers because animal control shelters and humane organizations do not keep data on size, breed and color of dogs euthanized or adopted. Empirical data, however, indicate that more black animals wait longer to be adopted and run out of allotted time in city shelters.

Discussions are beginning about how to encourage adoption and create appealing environments that show off dark-coated dogs, cats, and other small animals such as rabbits.

“Not only black, but dark brown, grey, brindle or merle dogs are also long-stay residents at shelters,” says Jess Chappell, a volunteer photographer at the Royal SPCA in York, UK. “They simply just don’t stand out in poorly lit facilities, and so they are less noticeable or attractive. It would certainly be interesting to compare adoption rates in shelters with good and with bad kennel lighting!”

Ambient lighting is one of several image enhancements that humane societies and animal control departments can provide. Other solutions are suggested at the various websites in the information list.

Essentially it all boils down to exposure with pizzazz: “Black Coat Gala,” “Hair O’ the Black Dog Happy Hour,” “Black CatWalk Night,” “Shelter-Black-is-Beautiful Pageant,” are some of the imaginative fundraising and adoption event themes shining the light on black dogs.

A friend, owner of a black dog, acknowledged recently that he did not know about black-dog bias. Eddie’s beloved Labrador retriever, Danner, is his first black dog. “Now that you mention bias,” he said, “I realize that while I can’t clone Danner, because of him there is no question that the next dog I adopt will be black. That’s my bias.”

Reverse bias for BBDs would be welcome.