By: Arden Moore
It is never easy to admit that you have a bias. But when you do and can work on overcoming it, the results can be amazing.
I guess that is why a tiny mixed breed dog came into my life about a year ago. For years, I declared that I was more comfortable around dogs medium size and larger. I used to joke that I never wanted a dog smaller than my cats.
Then Cleo showed up. She arrived in the backyard of my elderly neighbor, Flo, at night. Flo’s dog, Buddy, a vocal mini-Schnauzer, sounded the bark-bark-bark alert that something was shaking and whimpering on the back porch. Flo saw this small, frightened dog and was not certain how Buddy would react if she brought in this dog, so she called me.
My dog, Chipper, a 60-pound Golden retriever/Husky mix, is a former shelter mascot who is used to dogs and cats of all sizes and attitudes. She, like my two cats, Callie and Murphy, also know what it is like to be without a home and then to be rescued. My three pets welcomed Cleo without a growl or a hiss.
Cleo weighed barely 10 pounds when she arrived. Her coat was matted and dry and her teeth were nearly brown. I could feel and see her ribs. She sported a collar that was too tight bearing her name and a phone number from an area two counties away. I tried calling the number, but it was disconnected. I also left word with that county’s animal shelter as well as those in my area. I posted signs. I alerted neighbors.
No calls. Something told me that this little dog either ran away or was dumped. What was certain was that she was in dire need of good nutrition, a bath and a complete physical exam by my veterinarian. Within a month, I had spent $500 plus to provide her with the necessary vaccination, dental cleaning, food, grooming, bedding, leash, collar, cool toys – and most importantly, pet insurance.
Cleo has taught me that little dogs sport big hearts. She now weighs 12 pounds and her once too-skinny body is toned and muscular. She easily trots next to Chipper on our daily 40-minute walks and cuddles with my cats during afternoon naps. She races to greet me when I come home and is learning tricks to earn healthy treats.
Like many of you, I didn’t plan on adopting a second dog. It just happened. But something told me that she deserved a second chance in a caring home. On June 27, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of her arrival into Flo’s backyard and my home. For Cleo, June 27 marked a new beginning — and for me, it marked the end of a bias toward dogs smaller than cats.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Recently Pets Best joined the Morris Animal Foundation’s campaign to find a cure for cancer in dogs. Pets Best made a multi-year $1 million pledge to the Morris Animal Foundation for their quest to fund research that could find a cure for cancer. This effort by the Morris Animal Foundation is notable even for non-pet owners, because finding a cure for dogs will be a shortcut to finding a cure for human cancer. I will speak to their efforts and progress in future communications, as well as in our newsletters.
As you may know from previous blogs, my wife and I love our dogs. They are truly family members. The following photo was taken in our car as we drove to Colorado to be acknowledged by Morris Animal Foundation for our pledge. Four of our little guys went with us on the three-day, 1,600-mile round trip from Idaho through the middle of beautiful Colorado.
The return trip was not as leisurely, and we drove eleven hours straight through in order for me to be back at the office on Monday. Torrey, Skeeter and Cooper are seasoned travelers both by car and air, and Pepper, our new addition, fit right in. They had two beds, a pillow and, of course, our laps from which to choose their round-robin siestas for the long drive. Torrey, however, seldom relinquished my lap during the trip.
One night we had to drive an extra sixty miles in order to find a hotel that accepted pets. But I must say, both my wife and I marvel at how much more relaxing a long road trip is with our pets than in the days when our human children were young. Two years ago we took a 4,000-mile trip with six of our dogs and thoroughly enjoyed the entire time! Each night was a chore, with the kennels and taking turns to “do their business,” but they enjoyed the experience and all the new smells and places to pee. Dogs simply accept their circumstances and do not have any great expectations, other than the simple pleasure of our company and some attention.
Finding a cure for canine cancer is special to me, not only because of my own prior cancer, but because I lost a special pet to its devastating affects. Treatments are much better now, but costly and cost-prohibitive for many pet families. As a resource, we will be sharing with you in the near future how you can find the best treatment options and expected outcomes for all the many types of cancer.
I will also be sharing with you the many other things that Morris Animal Foundation does for animals and how you can help also. They are truly working in many diverse ways to help animals throughout the world.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
Who Is Actually Buying Pet Insurance?
In one of my previous posts, I talked about the myths of pet insurance that we learned from our recent series of pet owner focus groups. The pet owner focus groups also told us in these sessions who they thought would buy pet insurance, and the results may or may not surprise you.
We found that:
The Pet Owner Perception of a Buyer Is Someone Who:
1. Considers the pet part of the family.
2. Sees the cost benefits of insurance.
3. Has had experience with the cost of veterinary care.
4. Is a first-time pet owner who is concerned with the unknown expenses of veterinary care.
5. Is a high-income, well-educated, sophisticated purchaser.
People Who Actually Purchase Insurance Are People Who:
1. Consider their pets part of the family.
2. Are professionals who see the value of insurance.
3. Are pet owners who want to budget for their pets’ care.
4. Are primarily women who make the actual purchase.
5. Purchase insurance for their puppies and kittens (which may or may not reflect first-time ownership).
6. Have previously experienced high veterinary costs for a pet.
7. Have a pet who already has a medical problem.
As you can see perceptions and reality were actually very similar regarding the value of obtaining pet insurance, that is, those who are buying and the core reasons they purchase insurance.
Typically a pet insurance policyholder lives in a household where the pet is a family member, the family has experienced a high veterinary expense in the past and now wants peace of mind and protection for their pocketbooks. Pet owners also want their coverage to be broad, yet reasonable in cost and payable monthly, so it fits into their budget.
Of course there are other factors that pet owners take into consideration before purchasing, such as the level of customer service of the company, few plan exclusions, how quickly claims are paid, and options that provide for routine care, to name a few, but these are usually a concern only after they have made the initial decision to buy pet health insurance.
Once a pet owner has made the decision that pet insurance may be right for them, then they begin to seek out information about pet insurance and the different types of plans available. Most pet owners will use the Internet for information, but many will turn to their veterinarian or the pet hospital staff regarding their final decision. If in doubt, ask your vet or their staff for their recommendation. They’ve heard all the stories and can direct you to a plan and company that’s right for you.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
While the FDA is assuring pet owners that 99% of all pet food is still safe, Sunshine Mills joined the recent recall by pulling dog biscuits sold under five different brands, including Ol’ Roy, Lassie and Pet Life.
ABC reported in its “Pet Food Recall Expands to Include Biscuits” <> that Menu Foods has also once again expanded its recall by covering “cuts and gravy”-style products made between Nov. 8 and March 6, which is earlier than the original recall date of Dec. 3.
T.W. Enterprises of Ferndale, Wash., is also asking consumers not to use their American Bullie A.B. Bull Pizzle Puppy Chew and Dog Chew products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
The Associated Press is now reporting that another company, not connected with Menu Foods, is recalling dog, cat and ferret treats that could be contaminated with salmonella. The announcement that came yesterday from Eight in One Inc., is unrelated to the more extensive recall of melamine-tainted dog and cat food that led to kidney failure in pets around the country.
Eight in One Inc., a division of United Pet Group Inc., is recalling all packages of Dingo Chick’N Jerky, Dingo Kitty Chicken Jerky and Dingo Ferret Chicken Jerky.
Salmonella can cause serious infections in pets and children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. In pets, salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and abdominal pain. Animals that do not get sick can infect other pets or humans.
The bacteria could also infect people handling the pet treats. Humans infected with the salmonella can experience fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. It could also cause more serious problems such as arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract problems.
Eight in One said they received a report of a dog infected by salmonella, which lead to further testing of this product. Some, but not all, of the samples tested were contaminated.
The treats were sold around the country at Target, PetSmart and other stores.
Speculation is that the Menu Foods recall and testing has led to more diligent testing of other brands and may have revealed the presence of salmonella in the Eight in One treats.