Saturday, May 31, 2008

UGA Workshop Helps Counties Handle Animals During Disasters

After Hurricane Katrina, Don Hamilton and other University of Georgia employees took care of 3,000 abandoned animals for 10 days at a shelter in Mississippi. The experience sparked them to develop a workshop to help keep Georgia animals and citizens safer during disasters.

They’re now taking the “Handling Animals during Disasters” planning workshop to counties around Georgia.

“If you don’t have a place to shelter animals in disaster, people aren’t going to evacuate,” said Hamilton, homeland security coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Georgia requires that each of its 159 counties have a local emergency operations plan. This plan contains a section on agriculture and natural resources, which includes handling companion animals. This is also required through the national Pet Evacuation Transportation Standards Act.

“After evacuation and disaster, there’s a tremendous problem with abandoned animals – dogs, cats, birds and livestock,” said Jeff Doles, director of Peach County’s Emergency Management Agency. “Before you can re-inhabit an area or allow citizens to return, you have to control the animal population. Now the encouragement is to take your animals with you so they don’t have to take care of themselves.”

Through the workshop, UGA experts helped Peach County research and develop its plan and guided various county players through mock disaster situations.

“They did a lot of groundwork where the rubber hits the road,” Doles said. “I can’t tell you how much help they were to us. We’re a small county. It would be virtually impossible for us to accomplish a plan of the magnitude we’ve got using our local resources.”

In February, Dole, UGA Cooperative Extension coordinator Frank Funderburk and others from the Fort Valley area tested their on-paper plan for handling animals in a disaster situation.

The two mock disasters “taught us to adapt,” said Doles, who is also the county’s fire chief. “We had some problems that we identified in our exercises, but we had a lot of strengths. I think it’s some of best training done in a while.”

The Georgia Department of Agriculture was a key player in the effort. UGA’s Fanning Institute helped facilitate it.

The county’s board of commissioners has since added the animal plan to the local emergency plan, which the city and county use to respond to and recover from any manmade or natural disaster.

As part of the plan, Doles is the first person county officials will call if there is a disaster. The third person on that list is Funderburk, who keeps a copy of the plan close by, ready to grab in case a tornado hits a veterinarian’s office or a hurricane sends evacuees up I-75, pets in hand, looking for shelter.

“I hope we don’t ever have to use it, but at least we’ve got a plan,” he said.

Hamilton is now helping emergency management officials in Brooks and Houston counties develop their own plans. These counties were chosen because of their proximity to Georgia’s interstates, their willingness to participate and their local resources.

The workshops are funded by a Department of Homeland Security grant through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency on behalf of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Essential Tips For Beginner Fish Keeping

NAPSI-For millions of Americans, aquariums represent an opportunity to put aquatic life on display--a peaceful, relaxing diorama for the home or office. In order to make sure that things go swimmingly, here are some essential tips for selecting and maintaining an aquarium.

1. Choosing an Aquarium and Fish. It is important to select an aquarium that will match the decor of a room while providing a healthy environment for your fish. When choosing a tank, keep in mind that fish will grow. Work with the aquarium expert in your pet store to make sure that the different species you choose will all get along and determine how large your fish will be as adults. Once you know the best aquarium size, Aqueon aquarium kits make starting an aquarium easy and simple. Each kit comes complete with an “Aquarium Set-up & Care Guide” book, premium fish food, water conditioners and a filtration and lighting system.

2. Heaters. When choosing a heater, consider that submersible heaters tend to be the most efficient. Heaters should always be paired with an accurate thermometer to ensure the appropriate temperature range is maintained. Check the heater regularly to ensure that it is working properly and keeping a steady temperature; water that is too warm can result in the fish suffocating.

3. Food. Fish require a diet that contains proper nutrients from quality ingredients, such as krill, kelp and whole fish meal. Feed your aquatic pets a food that is appropriate for their size, feeding level and dietary needs. Check the food packaging for recommendations regarding how much to feed and how often. For instance, Aqueon fish foods have natural ingredients with easy-to-follow instructions that are perfect for the beginner aquarist.

4. Filters. All aquariums accumulate debris from fish waste, uneaten food and plant detritus. This is usually simple to remove with the aid of a mechanical filter. Some things to look for in a quality filter would be flow rate, stages of filtration and noise. To be most efficient, filters should be slightly oversized for the tank they will be placed in. Higher flow rates ensure the amount of water being filtered per hour as well as provide proper circulation and aeration by continually breaking the water surface. Using a multistage filtration system ensures better aeration for healthier, more active fish. Aqueon Power Filters feature four stages of filtration for the cleanest, clearest and healthiest water.

For more basics on keeping fish and maintaining an aquarium, as well as additional information on available supplies and equipment, visit

With just a little effort, aquariums can be a relaxing, enjoyable hobby for the entire family.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pirate Jack

AAAG Note: We received word earlier this morning about the disappearance of Pirate Jack. We are thrilled to tell you that he has been found safe and sound.

Pirate Jack, the one-eyed dog (shown with Joyce Woodall), has been a fixture at Georgia Heartland Humane Society's booth at the Renaissance Festival for a number of years.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tricks for Snapping Prize-winning Dog Portraits

ARA – “He’s so photogenic!” gushes one mother. “She’s so lovely, I’m thinking of getting her into modeling,” asserts another. Are these would-be “stage moms” comparing the beauty of their babies? Not quite. For millions of dog-loving Americans, their pet pooch is among their favorite photo subjects.

From YouTube and pet-oriented Web sites to photography competitions like the Make a Milk-Bone Moment contest that celebrates the 100th anniversary of the popular dog snack and those special moments between pet and pet parent, there are ample opportunities for pet-owners to show off their dog’s charms—and their own photography skills. So how do you get the shot of a lifetime, the winning snap that communicates to all who see it just how special your dog really is?

Celebrity Photographer Christopher Ameruoso, who has photographed hundreds of celebrities with their pets, offers some advice on how to get a howling good shot that captures that special bond between you and your pet:

* Use the Great Outdoors for Great Shots

“Most animals look better outdoors,” Ameruoso says. Plus, natural sunlight will make for a better picture. Take your pup outside and look for a background that enhances the subject – but doesn’t distract from it – with complementary colors, textures and visual interest. Natural light is warmest at sunrise and sunset. Position your pet with the sun behind him. For darker animals, direct sunlight can be ideal. Get down to the animal’s level, so that your head and hers are at the same level when you’re taking the photo.

“Some of the best photos I have ever taken are not just of the dog alone but of a dog and his parent,” Ameruoso says. Consider adding man’s best friend to the shot to capture the special bond and interaction between pet and pet parent.

* Be Patient

“Working with animals requires a lot of patience,” Ameruoso says. If your pet seems to be getting distracted, antsy or over stimulated, let him run around for a while, burn off some energy and then come back for the shoot. Keep the mood casual, and remember that once you start snapping you’ll probably have just 20 minutes to get the shot.

* Squeak and Shoot

Who doesn’t love the sight of a dog with his head cocked to the side and ears raised inquisitively? To get a dog’s attention, Ameruoso hides a small squeak toy in his hand and squeezes it just before he’s about to take a shot. Don’t overuse the trick, however; most dogs will catch on to what you’re doing after five to 10 shots, he says. Also, unless your pet is already trained for treats don’t bring them to your shoot. They’ll only distract the animal.

* Safety in Numbers

Ameruoso often takes hundreds of pictures to arrive at one he really likes. Digital cameras make it easy to take the numerous shots you’ll need to get one outstanding picture. Digital photos also allow you to touch up your picture. Use editing software to adjust color, contrast, brightness and saturation.

Once you’ve got that irreplaceable moment you share with your pet, why not enter it in the Make a Milk-Bone Moment contest? The contest commemorates the 100th anniversary of the famous dog snack first invented in a small bakery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The top 100 entries that display the special times between pets and pet parents will be posted on where the public can vote for their favorite photo and select the grand prize winner, who will receive a $100,000 contract to serve as the first ever Milk-Bone 100th Anniversary SpokesDog. All entries must be received by Sept. 18 and must be accompanied by a brief essay that explains why the pictured Milk-Bone Moment is special. Visit to learn more or to enter the contest.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Sunday, May 25, 2008

G.W. Exotic Animal Park Gives Birth to First Liger Twins in Oklahoma

On May 20, 2008 The G.W. Exotic Animal Park was able to announce the birth of long awaiting twin Liger cubs. "Two Females were born after 9 years of waiting," said Park Director Joe Schreibvogel.

These beautiful twin little girls are the first Ligers known to be born in Oklahoma. One other Liger lives within the State at Safari's Sanctuary in Broken Arrow Oklahoma.

The G.W. Exotic Animal Park also houses Oklahoma's only pair of Taliger cubs which were born last year. The Liger is an offspring of a Lion Father and a Female Tiger giving an offspring of a Liger. Now the Taliger is an offspring of a White Tiger Male and a Liger Female giving an offspring of a Taliger.

Millions of years ago back in the dinosaur age the world only had a Saber Tooth Tiger, which looked like a lion but with large K-9 teeth. When the continents divided it is believed that Saber Tooth Tigers got trapped on different continents and grew to the environment that which they lived in creating the Tigers and Lions. Being from the same feline family they are able to breed together creating the Liger which is born without the growth gene allowing the Liger grow much larger. Worlds largest being nearly 11 foot tall living in Miami Florida.

"The interesting thing is to find out through letting these cats grow up together, the Ligers and the Male Taligers if they will breed again without human interference. We plan to find out," said Joe Schreibvogel. "We are going to let the male Taligers and the female Ligers grow up together and see if they will breed again giving us offspring of giant Lion offspring. Since the Taligers already have ¾ Lion and the Liger has ½ lion this should in theory get rid of all the stripes and spots and produce even a larger offspring than that of a liger," says Joe. "Letting this all happen in a natural environment in a large habitat under trees and tall grass is the only way this will happen for us, we will not make them breed or use any artificial means to make this happen," Joe says.

The cubs will all be on display now and in late August of 2008 they will be moved to their 40,000 foot display with a pond, hills, and plenty of play room for interested people come watch them become part of Oklahoma's history. The G.W. Exotic Animal park is located south of Oklahoma City on Interstate 35 at exit 64. For more information contact

Friday, May 23, 2008

Enjoying The Last Days of Serenity

We just couldn't resist these shots! A couple of ducks were seen swimming at a pool in the south part of Peachtree City. We guess it was one of their last days to enjoy the peace and quiet before the summer season begins!

© 2008 A. S. Eldredge
Photos used with permission

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bad Dog Or Medical Condition?

NAPSI-If your dog has soiled your new carpet, attacked the door molding or shredded your favorite pair of shoes, he has likely been in the doghouse--figuratively.

But this behavior may not be a case of a good dog gone bad. It could be separation anxiety, an underdiagnosed and undertreated condition in which animals become so upset by their owner’s departure they resort to what is considered bad behavior to cope with the situation. It is estimated that up to 17 percent of all dogs in the U.S. may show signs of separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is usually triggered when the owner leaves or shortly after. Because dogs are historically pack animals, the dog views the family as its pack and experiences distress when separated from that family. That stress leads to problem behaviors, including:

• Excessive barking, whining, howling

• Destruction, chewing, clawing or digging

• Urinary or bowel accidents indoors

• Depression/inactivity

• Constant pacing, circling

• Excessive licking, drooling.

Separation anxiety is a treatable condition. New medications have been introduced recently to help ease the pain of separation anxiety for dogs and their owners. Most veterinarians choose to use a combination of medication and behavior modification training, which offers the best chance of success in managing separation anxiety.

If your dog’s “bad behavior” sounds more like separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to know that your “bad” dog isn’t so bad after all, just misunderstood?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Defend Your Bird Feeder and Send Squirrels Packing

ARA – The birds are back … and unfortunately so are the squirrels. There are few sights that ignite as much frustration in the hearts of bird-lovers as a squirrel’s bushy tail bobbing happily in the bird feeder. Serious birders and casual bird lovers alike know that when the squirrels move in there’s not often much left for the birds.

It is possible, however, to provide for your feathered friends and send the squirrels packing. With the right seed mix and some nature-friendly squirrel control tactics you might just be able to win the age old battle of the birds and the squirrels, and keep everyone happy in your backyard habitat.

The first step is to draw the birds to your back yard. Next, provide alternatives or deterrents to convince squirrels to stay out of the bird feeder. Here are some steps for doing just that:

Start with the Right Seed

Birds, like people, are selective – even picky – when it comes to food. To attract the most birds to your feeder, buy the best seed possible. Many commercial feed mixes contain cheap filler seeds like red milo that most songbirds just don’t like. They’ll sort through the undesirable mix to get to the “good stuff” – and leave the rest in the feeder or on the ground. What the birds won’t eat, the squirrels will love, so reducing the waste will help reduce your feeder’s appeal for squirrels.

Opt for a mix, like Cole’s Wild Bird Products, that offer birds select natural seed choices specially formulated just for them. Cole’s feed is comprised of top-of-the-crop seeds pulled from the top 1 to 2 percent of every crop. The complete line of wild bird feed was developed and based on factual research about what birds really eat.

Finally, select seed mixes that attract specific types of birds. A good mix will contain seeds that appeal to bright favorites like goldfinches, woodpeckers, cardinals and bluebirds, as well as colorful migrating species.

Birds are like people; give them what they like to eat and they'll keep coming back - and they’ll bring their friends. For more information on Cole’s products visit

On to the Squirrels

Squirrels need not be an inevitable element of bird feeding. Love them or loathe them, most birders agree they don’t want squirrels in the feeder, where they can damage the feeder itself and devour seed meant for the birds.

One alternative is to stock your feeder with a seed that the birds will love, but squirrels will hate. Squirrels will eat just about anything you put out for birds … but they won’t like Cole’s Hot Meats. It’s top quality sunflower meats infused with an exclusive Habanero chili pepper and Safflower oil that birds find delicious but squirrels simply hate. The blend is a safe, effective and a humane way to feed the birds and not the squirrels.

Another option is to serve the squirrels something they’ll find even more appealing than bird seed. It is possible to enjoy both the squirrels and the birds in your back yard if you lure them away from the feeder. Squirrels love whole, dried corn-on-the-cob, loose dried corn and Critter Munchies, a blend of whole yellow corn, striped sunflower, peanuts in the shell, black oil sunflower and raw peanuts. Provide Critter Munchies on an open platform style feeder, an ear of dried corn on a stick, or even a stake (or pinecone) coated with peanut butter, and hopefully squirrels will be less of a problem at the bird feeding station.

Finally, if you just can’t stand the bushy-tailed pests in your back yard, consider an organic solution that sends them packing safely and effectively. Messina Wildlife Management’s Squirrel Stopper is an OMRI certified 100 percent organic animal repellent. Easily applied in a ready-to-use spray bottle, it dries clear, has a pleasant aroma and works for 30 days before reapplication is needed, no matter the weather. Spray it around your feeder and the squirrels will stay clear. It won’t harm the squirrels or the birds. For information of Squirrel Stopper, and the full line of Messina’s pest repellents visit:

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thoroughbred Charities of America Given UPS Donation of $10,000

BUSINESS WIRE--The UPS Foundation (NYSE:UPS) has pledged $10,000 to Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) to support its mission of providing a better life for thoroughbreds, both during and after their racing careers.

Although UPS was thrilled to see Big Brown cross the finish line first at the Kentucky Derby, we were saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Eight Belles, said Ron Rogowski, UPSs director of sponsorship. The UPS Foundation wanted to honor this incredible filly by making a donation to TCA to support this organizations focus on the continued humane treatment of animals.

TCA is a fundraising organization that gives annual grants to equine-related non-profits that focus on the following sectors: thoroughbred rescue, rehabilitation and retraining for secondary careers post-racetrack; research in all equine scientific fields; equine educational organizations and thoroughbred-based educational programs; support of backstretch workers including disabled jockeys, farm and track employees; and therapeutic riding programs that incorporate thoroughbreds.

UPS long has been a sponsor of horse racing and its supporting organizations. The company became the Official Delivery Company of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in 2006 and has created several cross promotions with its other sponsorships, including NASCAR. UPS also has an exclusive marketing agreement with jockey Kent Desormeaux and IEAH Stables, the ownership group for Kentucky Derby champion Big Brown.

Founded in 1951 and based in Atlanta, Ga., The UPS Foundation's major areas of focus include community safety, nonprofit effectiveness, economic and global literacy, environmental sustainability and diversity. The UPS Foundation pursues these initiatives by identifying specific projects where its support can help produce a measurable social impact. In 2007, The UPS Foundation donated more than $46 million to charitable organizations worldwide. Visit for more information about UPS's community involvement.

Friday, May 16, 2008

UGA researchers fight deadly game bird parasite

They look like pinecones with feet. But the baby quail, pheasants and chukar partridges that wobble around the University of Georgia poultry science farm in Athens will help save game birds everywhere.

Coccidia parasites can decimate a generation of farm-raised birds. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, where large numbers of pheasants and chukars are raised, farmers report a 50 percent loss in severe outbreaks, said Larry McDougald, a poultry parasitologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Birds that survive an outbreak typically don't grow as large as uninfected birds.

McDougald has spent 30 years studying coccidiosis, the disease caused by coccidia, in chickens and turkeys. “The problem with parasites was brought under control in chickens,” he said.

He now wants to help game birds. And the North American Game Bird Association and the Midwest Poultry Consortium have provided funding to control the parasites in their industry, he said.

Just like dogs and cats get sick from different germs than humans, different parasites affect different kinds of birds. A vaccine developed to fight coccidiosis in a chicken, for example, wouldn’t help pheasants, chukars or quail.

But a vaccine developed for each of these top game birds would work. It would also save farmers money. McDougald and molecular biologist Robert Beckstead, also with CAES, are guessing that each bird will have two to three important parasites.

A vaccine is the long-term goal. The first step in their work will be to identify which coccidia are most deadly for quail, pheasants and chukars. They will then identify parasite-controlling drugs for more short-term relief.

To do the testing, they’re using technology Beckstead is an expert in – polymerized chain reaction. It can quickly identify the parasites they’re seeing in the field.

“Until now, the only way to tell was to infect a bird,” Beckstead said. “Through PCR, we’re reducing times and also reducing the number of birds used in the study.”

By developing vaccines and treatments to control parasites in farm-raised birds, they can also help reduce the potential for wild birds to become contaminated with coccidiosis, Beckstead said.

The UGA researchers are getting help from undergraduate and graduate UGA students, a veterinary scholar from Iowa State University and two high school students in the summer Young Scholars Program. Researchers from North Dakota State University, Iowa State and Pennsylvania State University will send samples and help with grant applications.

Georgia farmers don’t raise many pheasants or chukars. But they do raise quail. Last year, farm-raised quail production in Georgia was worth $31 million, four times more than it was seven years ago, according to the recent UGA Georgia Farm Gate Value Report. The jump is due to the decline of the wild quail population, which has faded in recent decades because of land development and reduction of their habitat.

The birds are raised for specialty food markets as well as hunting.

“Game birds are a growing industry,” McDougald said. “Some people are raising several million birds per year. They get more for those than for chickens. It’s a good cash crop.”

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Petiquette for the Modern Pet Owner

ARA – For anyone that owns a pet, you know that they are part of the family. But even though they bring lots of joy, they can also cause a bit of strife. They make messes, shed an astounding amount of fur, can be expensive and simply make life a bit more hectic.

“Like with any relationship, there are pros and cons. And because they are amazing creatures that give an incredible amount of love, they are worth the time, energy and expense that it takes to care for them,” comments Charlotte Reed, pet expert and author of “The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette.” As an owner of three dogs, three cats and one parrot, she knows both the joys and stress that pets can cause.

“The modern pet owner considers pets one of their children, but they need to be socially responsible as well. There are some things that should to be considered in order for your pet to be a positive part of your life without taking it over. Pet etiquette or rather petiquette, is about understanding that good behavior has to be practiced at both ends of the leash.”

* It is good manners to have a clean pet?

One of the first issues that many pet owners have with their pets is that they can be very messy. They spill food, ravage furniture, and leave fur everywhere and can be smelly. But just because you have a pet doesn’t mean you should let your house go.
“My cats love to curl up by my printer and computer because they give off heat. The hair sticks to the static and collects fast. For fast cleanups, seek out vacuums that are known to be tough on pet hair.”

The vacuum Reed recommends for pet owners is the Dyson DC16 Animal handheld vacuum. Specially designed for pet hair pickup with a motorized brush bar and twice the suction power of other handhelds, Reed says “it’s great for quick cleanups for an upcoming date, family dinner or any unexpected visitors. I even use it in my car.”

To eliminate odors, Reed advises to wash or groom your dogs monthly. If you find it difficult to give your cat a bath, brush your pet at least once a week to remove loose hair and debris from the feline coat. Additionally, scoop feline litter boxes daily. And for dogs, she says to train them to use one area outdoors so that waste is confined -- that area should be cleaned regularly. For senior, ill or toy dogs that use indoor potty areas, she recommends changing their papers daily. Also, cleaning pet beds and toys regularly -- at least once a month -- also contribute to a healthier pet and tidier home.

* Traveling with furry friends can be fun.

More people travel with their pets than ever before, whether it’s in the car to run errands or on a plane for a vacation. All pets can be excellent travel companions with the right expectations and planning.

“Always call ahead to where you are staying to verify their pet policy. Bring plenty of food, supplies and toys so that your pet feels comfortable. Try to keep your pet on his regular food and exercise schedule to eliminate stress for both of you. And make sure that your pet practices its best obedience,” says Reed.

Keep cleanup items like an odor eliminator and stain remover on hand in case there is an accident in the car or at your hotel. Be prepared to replace or repair any items destroyed by your pet.

If your pet is well-behaved, only ask a close family member or friend, if you can bring your pet along for a visit. If your host declines, do not be offended. Find a professional pet sitter or kennel by contacting your veterinarian, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Pet Sitter International or the American Boarding Kennel Association. Confirm that the animal professional is bonded and insured and has at least three references.

* You can love your pet, but keep a balanced life.

You might love your little critter, but not everyone wants to hear every detail about your pet, especially a date. Practicing petiquette is an important part of the modern pet owner’s life. Balance is important to understand and implement at work and at home.

For example, one picture of your pet on your desk or in your wallet is perfectly fine. But make sure that your office doesn’t become a shrine to your furry companion. Not everyone shares your enthusiasm and subtlety is a virtue every pet owner must have.

Besides keeping your home clean, it’s important to keep your clothes clean as well. “There’s no need to go to work looking like your cat or dog slept on your clothes all night. A quick swoop with a vacuum or sticky roller should do the trick,” adds Reed.

For more pet tips, please visit And for more information about the Dyson DC16 Animal, please visit Charlotte’s book, “The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette,” is available everywhere books are sold.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

High-Tech Pet Innovations and the People Who Love Them

AAAG Note: We found this interesting and thought other pet lovers who are internet junkies would enjoy this as well. If you're just cruising around, check some of these ideas out.

(ARA) – The Internet or their pets – which could Americans live without?

No need to live without either, thanks to some particularly enterprising participants in the pet industry – a market the American Pet Products Manufacturers’ Association estimates at $40 billion a year. Technology has literally gone to the dogs . . . and cats. While humans revel in their smart phones, hi-speed Internet access and high-definition everything, their pets can also reap the rewards of living in a techno-savvy society.

Here are three pet-related Internet innovations that just 10 years ago you probably wouldn’t have believed would exist.

1. An Online “Digg” for Pets – There are probably as many pet Web sites as there are pets in this country. Love pictures of cats wearing clothes? It’s out there. Craving the company of like-minded canine lovers? You can find it online. From sites for lovers of specific breeds to ones on health, behavior and emotional support, as well as blogs on every pet-related topic imaginable, it’s possible to spend hours online sniffing out the content you seek. How can you quickly find the “best in show” when it comes to pet-related online content?

Now there’s a unique site that fetches top pet-related news, video, photos and blog content and brings the best stuff together in one spot. Purina Pet Charts - (type as is, don’t add www in the browser address) - acts as a “Digg,” gathering timely pet-related content from across thousands of Web sites, including professional and amateur sites and blogs, pet articles, photos, videos and Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Purina created the site in order to tap into the vast amount of published and user-generated pet content on the Web.

A custom search engine pulls pet content from sites like The New York Times, Yahoo! Pets, YouTube, flickr and nearly 50 pet blogs. Then a human curator reviews all the stories, photos and videos filtered by the search engine, and posts only the pick of the litter on the Pet Charts site. Pet lovers can filter content by dogs, cats or both and vote for their favorite pet-related content – be it a video of a cat on the top of a computer monitor or a story of a dog saving a man from a bear.

2. Social Networking – Social networking sites are all the rage these days for humans and now their canine and feline companions are getting into the act. Petcentric Place ( is unique because it is an online social network that encourages profiles for both pets and their owners. Participants can share information and photos about themselves and their dogs and cats, become friends with others, send out friend feeds and chat. This site educates, entertains and supports pets and their owners.

3. Talking E-cards – In keeping with being "green" many people are replacing paper birthday/holiday cards with more environmentally friendly e-cards. And now, their pets can do the talking for them. DOGGIE-mail and KITTIE-mail, featured at, allows pet lovers to upload a photo of their pet and send customized e-cards featuring their dog or cat speaking in the owner’s voice. Don't have a photo handy? No problem. Dog and cat owners also have the option to choose from six dogs or cats already provided, along with a variety of cute phrases, backgrounds and props.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Will Fifi Go on Vacation Too?

ARA - Summertime is a great time for a vacation. Everyone looks forward to the annual family outing when you pack up the family and head for the car, airplane, train or bus and take that getaway you have been waiting for all year long.

But there is one big question - should the family pet go on vacation, too? Is it okay to travel with your pet? Will your pet miss the family too much while gone and whine and be stressed the whole time? Will the children miss their pet so much they will rush through the vacation to get back home and life as they know it with their four-legged family member?

These are valid questions that are up for debate and discussion in households all over the world. Is vacation time a suitable outing for a pet? Of course we think of our pets as part of the family, with full rights and privileges. The more serious question becomes -- is vacation travel really good for our pets?

Ann Weaver Ph.D., an ethologist and assistant professor of psychology at Argosy University, Sarasota says it is important to make sure that the travel experience is safe and enjoyable for the pet. “How you handle it depends on the type of pet you have, but some things apply to all pets, and the type of travel you plan, airplane or car.”

“Animals that travel via airplane must endure rough, rugged travel in the luggage compartment that is cold and unmanned,” Dr. Weaver says. “In the summertime, the luggage compartment can be hot with poor air ventilation while the plane awaits take-off from the airport. Some people do not realize that their animals are handled by luggage handlers, not flight attendants. Many times dogs, cats and other animals that are transported in a carrier can experience rough treatment by luggage handlers because their carriers are mistaken for luggage and are unknowingly tossed around.”

She also says it is important to avoid long flights and pet owners should consider two hours as the maximum acceptable air travel time. Some international travel with pets requires a quarantine period in the foreign country for up to six months to prevent the spread of diseases.

Another frequent mode of vacation travel is by van or car. This too can pose problems for a pet. It is important that family members keep an eye on the pet to ascertain its condition and level of comfort. If the pet is shaking, whining and appears fretful, then the family must do something to relieve the animal’s anxiety.

“Sometimes, you can let a dog or cat rest its head on your lap or lay on its blanket with recognizable scents to provide a sense of familiarity and comfort,” Dr. Weaver says. “It is also important to line the interior of the carrier with a blanket for additional comfort and secure the travel carrier to avoid excessive jarring and motion.”

Just as family members like to stop, eat, stretch their legs and make trips to the rest room; animals appreciate and need the same treatment. It is important for animals to have food and water and relieve themselves, Dr. Weaver explains.

“I have taken road trips with a parrot on my shoulder, a six-foot boa constrictor on my lap and a dog resting on a blanket on the back seat. It’s truly about making the animal comfortable and feel relaxed during the travel experience,” she says.

Dr. Weaver also indicates that there is not a species of dog or cat that is considered better suited for travel. “It all depends on the temperament of the animal and if it is accustomed to riding in a vehicle.”

The decision to bring a pet along on vacation is genuinely a family decision. The main concern is to determine the best way to make the family vacation experience fun and safe for every person and pet traveling.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Friday, May 9, 2008

Outdoor Fun With Man’s Best Friend

NAPSI-Taking your canine out for some exercise can be more than a doggone good idea. Outdoor exercise is a good chance for you and your dog to make new friends, burn off excess energy and bond with each other.

Here are some ideas for outdoor fun with your dog:

• Take a long walk. Vary the length and direction of your walks from day to day to keep them interesting. Dogs need variety to stimulate their senses just the way people do.

• Play games. A simple stick, ball or chew toy is all you need to play fetch with your dog.

• Go hiking. Dogs love to explore new terrain. But if you’re hiking through woods or tall grass, be sure both you and your dog are protected from ticks. And before you go on a long hike, consider if your dog needs to build up his stamina with shorter walks.

• Enjoy the park. If you walk in the park, be sure there are no restrictions. Can dogs walk there? Must they be on a leash?

• Visit a dog park. Many communities offer dog parks and trails, which offer dogs plenty of opportunities for exercise and a chance to meet new friends.

When you do take your dog outside, a few pointers can make the experience more pleasant:

• Don’t forget the leash. Most communities require your dog to be on a leash and it helps you keep a hold on your dog should he become startled and tries to bolt. Leashes also help when training a new pet. Make sure your dog wears identification just in case he does break loose.

• Stay hydrated. If you are heading out for more than a few blocks, don’t forget water for yourself and your pet so you both stay hydrated.

• Take a break. Be sure to take plenty of breaks if it’s hot or humid so neither of you gets overheated.

• Be a good pet neighbor. Don’t forget to clean up after your pet in both your own yard, neighbor’s yard and anywhere else you may roam. Cleaning up prevents the spread of disease, keeps your neighborhood clean and beautiful and could save you a fine. Many communities now charge fines of a few dollars to over $350 for people who don’t clean up after their dogs.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to pick up after your pet. For example, you can make it easy on yourself by using products such as Bags on Board, a refillable waste pickup dispenser that comes in a variety of designs including either a fire hydrant and bone shape or polka dot and geometric designs.

Each dispenser houses a roll of 15 biodegradable bags and the dispenser can be refilled as needed. The dispenser attaches to any kind of leash--retractable or standard--and fits neatly under the leash handle. For more information, visit

Exercise is an important part of every dog’s day and can help prevent destructive indoor behavior in pets.

Dogs love an adventure, so take them for a walk in a new and interesting place. Be sure to clean up afterwards.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fido’s Flea Problem Is A Pet Owner’s Nightmare

BUSINESS WIRE--A beloved pet is scratching up a storm on the family couch. A closer examination of the animals coat and the owner sees tiny brown specs scurrying along the animals skin fleas. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), fleas are not only an itchy annoyance. These pests can also be a major headache for homeowners trying to control infestations.

Fleas are known for their quick breeding capabilities and a handful can quickly turn into hundreds if left unchecked, said Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. Their small size and mobility make it impossible to find them on surfaces such as carpets and linens, but a pest professional can help to eradicate an infestation.

Fleas feed on warm-blooded hosts, including humans. Known for leaving itchy, red bumps, these parasites are also known for transporting themselves on rodents and other mammals by using their powerful legs to jump as high as 8 inches vertically and 16 inches horizontally.

NPMA offers tips for pet owners this season:

  • Check pets frequently for fleas and flea dirt, especially after being outside. Be aware of excessive scratching, licking and nibbling grooming behavior in pets.
  • Avoid walking pets in tall grass where there is a greater chance of fleas hitching a ride
  • Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals as fleas can jump from host to host.
  • Talk with a veterinarian about prevention and treatment options available to kill fleas and flea eggs.
  • Wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys
  • Wash bed linens and vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently. Empty vacuum bags/collectors and throw the contents away in an outside receptacle.
  • If you suspect a flea infestation, contact a licensed pest professional immediately to treat the pest problem.

To learn more about fleas or to find a pest professional in your area visit or

NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 5,000 members, was established in 1933 and in 2008 celebrates its 75th anniversary supporting the pest management industrys commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Taking the Stress Out of Vet Visits

ARA - Spring is here and for many pet parents that means taking their family cats and dogs for their annual veterinary check-up to ensure they are in good health and prepared for the upcoming flea and tick season. As most people with pets have experienced, leaving home and going to the veterinarian can be stressful for both pets and pet parents due to many new sights, smells, sounds and sensations. By preparing your pet for their annual visit in advance and keeping them calm during the process, the experience can be made less stressful for all.

“It is important to help your pet adjust to traveling and the new environment of a veterinary clinic,” says Debra Nickelson, D.V.M. at Central Life Sciences. “Using pheromone-based products such as Comfort Zone can be a tremendous aid in helping dogs and cats remain calm in stressful situations.”

To make the trip to the veterinarian as easy as a walk in the park, try these simple solutions:

Crate comfort:
Many pets, especially cats, should be placed into a crate when traveling in the car. Pet parents can make the crated car ride to the veterinarian less stressful by allowing their pet to become familiar and comfortable around the crate a week prior to the scheduled vet visit. Keep the crate out for your pet to investigate or place him in the crate for short periods of time. This will condition them to feel more at ease and will reduce his reluctance to enter and exit it on their own. Pets that are apprehensive toward riding in cars will also benefit from taking a few short rides around the neighborhood prior to a vet visit.

Preparation for the car ride:
Preparing in advance is the best way to ensure the ride to the veterinarian office goes smoothly. Pets may become carsick as a result of motion sickness or stress caused by being removed from their home environment. To decrease the likelihood of your pet becoming anxious or ill while traveling, pet parents should be sure their pet has recently gone to the bathroom before entering the car and has been fed at least five hours prior to the car ride. Dogs and cats should be restrained in either a travel crate or approved harness to keep pet and driver safe. Pheromone based products, such as Comfort Zone will help to calm and soothe pets having trouble coping with the stress of the car ride.

“Usually my dog is a nightmare when she goes for a car ride,” says Paul Peterson, pet parent to golden retriever Bella. “I used Comfort Zone with D.A.P. spray on her collar before we left for the vet and sprayed it in my car 30 minutes before we left and I found it helped reduce her stress significantly during the car ride.”

In the waiting room:
Upon entering most veterinary offices, pet and pet parents must wait in an area filled with not only other pets, but a plethora of unfamiliar smells and noises. Some pets may find this situation stressful which is why it’s a good idea to keep them crated if that is how they traveled. Provide plenty of attention and praise to help them remain calm and distract them from their surroundings. To keep pets safe from other animals in the waiting room, pet parents should always make sure their dog is on a leash.

During the exam:
Once in the exam room, pets will likely be placed on a table to be assessed by the veterinarian. The combination of being in a foreign environment, isolated up on a table and touched by an unknown person can cause extreme levels of stress in dogs and cats. It is important to comfort your pet with petting and verbal praise to help alleviate any stress. Having a few treats on hand will also help your pet remain calm and forget about his current surroundings.

Despite returning your pet to the comfort of their home and normal environment, many pets may continue to show signs of stress in the hours after a vet visit. If they seem anxious and whine excessively, be sure to act normal and do not to provide excessive attention as this will only reinforce their stress. If your pet is having a difficult time calming down several hours after the vet visit, provide them with plenty of exercise such as a trip to the dog park, their favorite special treat or a new fun toy. It is also important to stay home with your pet for several hours following a vet visit to help reassure him that life has returned to normal.

Pet parents looking for additional tips and advice can visit for more information.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Governor Perdue Signs Dogfighting Legislation

Today Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 301, making dogfighting a felony in Georgia.

“I am pleased today to make it clear that dogfighting is an activity that we will not tolerate here in Georgia,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “This legislation makes the crime of dogfighting the felony it deserves to be, while ensuring that we do not confuse these illegal activities with those who are lawfully training dogs for hunting, agricultural and law enforcement purposes.”

The new legislation enacts tough penalties for any person convicted of activities related to dogfighting: owning, possessing, transporting or selling any dog with intent to do so for the purposes of dogfighting. In addition, the law covers those who bet on or advertise and promote events that include dogfights. It also makes attending a dogfighting event a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

State Rep. Bobby Reese sponsored HB 301.

“This is a big step in closing a legal loophole in Georgia, and I hope this deters future violence against dogs,” Rep. Reese said.

Governor Perdue and Rep. Reese were joined at the Capitol today for the bill signing ceremony by State Sen. Chip Rogers, State Rep. David Knight, State Rep. Rich Golick, K-9 law enforcement teams from Cobb County and representatives from animal rights group such as the Georgia Canine Coalition and outdoors groups such as the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

“The signing of Georgia's new dogfighting law sends a loud message to those who would torture man's best friend for their own sick enjoyment,” Sen. Rogers added. “Dogfighting will be prosecuted and those taking part in this heinous act can expect to go to jail. No longer will Georgia be a haven for these depraved dogfighters.”

In the past, the Humane Society of the United States has ranked Georgia 49th in the nation because of a lack of laws against owning dogs for fighting and not having a law that makes it illegal to be a dogfighting spectator.
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Sunday, May 4, 2008

FDA Strengthens Safeguards for Consumers of Beef

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a final regulation barring certain cattle materials from all animal feed, including pet food. The final rule further protects animals and consumers against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as "mad cow disease").

"This FDA action serves to further protect the U.S. cattle population from the already low risk of BSE," said Dr. Bernadette Dunham, Director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. "The new rule strengthens existing safeguards."

The new measure builds on FDA's 1997 feed regulation, which prohibited the use of certain mammalian proteins in ruminant feed.

The materials that can no longer be used in animal feed are the tissues that have the highest risk for carrying the agent thought to cause BSE. These high risk cattle materials are the brains and spinal cords from cattle 30 months of age and older. The entire carcass of cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption is also prohibited, unless the cattle are less than 30 months of age, or the brains and spinal cords have been removed. The risk of BSE in cattle less than 30 months of age is considered to be exceedingly low.

The removal of high-risk materials from all animal feed will further protect against inadvertent transmission of the agent thought to cause BSE, which could occur through cross-contamination of ruminant feed (intended for animals with four-chambered stomachs, such as cattle) with non-ruminant feed or feed ingredients during manufacture and transport, or through misfeeding of non-ruminant feed to ruminants on the farm. The added measure of excluding high-risk materials from all animal feeds prevents any accidental feeding of such ingredients to cattle.

Today's regulation finalizes a proposed rule that the FDA issued for public comment in October 2005. The final rule is effective 12 months from today to allow the livestock, meat, rendering, and feed industries time to adapt their practices to comply with the new regulation. Under the new requirements of the final rule, renderers that process cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption must make available for FDA inspection their written protocols for determining the age of cattle and demonstrating that the brain and spinal cords of cattle have been effectively removed.

Scientific studies have linked BSE to cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans, an invariably fatal disease that most likely results from human consumption of infectious material from cattle with BSE. Rules issued in 2004 prohibited specified risk materials from use in the human food supply. There have been no vCJD cases linked to consumption of U.S. beef and the risk of BSE among U.S. cattle is low.

FDA regulates animal feed and drugs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and FDA promulgate and enforce the regulations that ensure the exclusion of specific risk materials from the human food supply.
For more information about the FDA's work on BSE, go to

FDA Proposes Recommendations for Two Animal Drug Funding Programs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today delivered recommendations to Congress for two programs that provide funding for the review of pioneer and generic animal drugs.

If adopted by Congress, the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) reauthorization would provide funding for the review of new animal drug applications for the next five years. In addition, the first generic user fee program (the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act or AGDUFA) would support the review of generic animal drug applications and maintain current standards of safety and effectiveness. The funding is tied to meeting specific performance goals that will ensure efficient scientific evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of animal drugs.

"We are pleased to provide our recommendations to Congress today, as they are important components of our desire to provide the best products possible for animal care," said Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

The ADUFA recommendations include an "end review amendment" process which will enable the FDA to work with a drug manufacturer at the end of a review to make corrections to an application, resulting in reduced review time. In addition, the proposal will help fund an information technology initiative that will advance the review process towards an electronic environment, substantially cutting down on the use of paper and the need for storing paper documents. The recommendations include an agreement by the agency and industry to participate in 10 public workshops over the next five years in order to improve communications between regulators and industry. The reauthorization also allows for the increase of current user fees in line with inflation.

First authorized in 2003, ADUFA created a framework by which drug manufacturers pay fees that supplement the agency's appropriations and animal drug reviewers meet demanding performance deadlines. The ADUFA program, which must be reauthorized by Congress every five years, has enabled the FDA to dramatically reduce its review time of new animal drugs, bringing medications to the market more quickly while maintaining high standards for safety and efficacy. In fiscal year 2004, FDA reviewed 90 percent of all new animal drug applications within 295 days. In fiscal year 2008, FDA reduced review time for 90 percent of new animal drug applications to 180 days.

If reauthorized, ADUFA is expected to generate $98 million in user fees over the next five years to support FDA review of these new animal drug applications.

AGDUFA would provide for drug manufacturers to pay fees that supplement the Agency's appropriations to speed review of generic animal drug applications. AGDUFA would place timeframes on the review of generic animal drug applications, similar to the process already implemented in the review of novel animal drugs applications. The proposed legislation will generate an estimated $27 million in user fees over five years.

Currently, the FDA's review of generic animal drugs is entirely funded through appropriations.
For more information, visit

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Female Golden Retriever Mix Needs Temporary Home

To: Georgia Heartland Humane Society volunteers and fellow animal lovers
From: Barbara Grosse, President of GHHS
Hello Everyone,

Last Saturday at adoptions a lady brought in an 8 year old female Goldy mix that she found wandering down the road. She is a very sweet girl, but had not been well taken care of. She was dirty, matted and her toenails curled up under her feet. The lady who found her offered to take her home and bathe her and shave her down, but couldn't foster her. We took her to the vet Monday and she has arthritis and is heartworm positive. Her arthritis is so painful that she doesn't want to move around much and therefore has become overweight, which adds to her problems. The vet put her on steroids and pain medicine to make her more comfortable. We need to find a foster who would be willing to help her get back on her feet. Someone that would give her her medications and see that she gets up and moves a little, takes a 15 minute walk everyday to make her joints more flexible and the blood circulating. She is really no trouble and has a very nice disposition.

Is there anyone out there who would open their heart and home to this sweet old girl and give her a chance to to get well and find a loving home of her own. After years of neglect, she deserves a chance to find happiness.


GA Heartland Humane Society
P. O. Box 72197
Newnan, GA 30271-2197
(770) 830-2820