Some health practitioners recommend pets over pills

Pets may be as effective as medications in some patientsDoctors, nurses and medical researchers are increasingly finding that the best prescription for some illnesses in older adults may be a dog. New studies have found that the presence of pets can help patients, especially those recovering from joint replacement surgery, minimize medication.

This development has resulted in a new sector of the pet industry, the Times of India reports. Julia Havey and Frances Vlasses have entered a fringe business of the healthcare industry by raising puppies to become assistance dogs.

"Evidence suggests that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can have a positive effect on a patient’s psycho-social, emotional and physical well being," Julia Havey, a senior systems analyst at Loyola University Health Systems, told the news source.

She added, "Data further support the benefits and build a case for expanding the use of pet therapy in recovery."

Canine Companions for Independence, the nonprofit organization Havey and Vlasses founded, provides specially trained dogs to people with physical and developmental disabilities for free.

Focused on advancing the new AAT field, the National Institutes of Health have begun accepting proposals for studies which investigate how interactions between humans and animals affect development, especially in patients with autism.
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Los Angeles pets find new hot spot

A sushi bar for pets marks the latest trend in pet careLos Angeles is home to rows of chic spas, boutiques and eateries which give its most fashionable residents the chance to indulge and be seen. But where are the LA pets to go when their owners are busy glamorizing and dining? For the last two years, the city’s most posh pets have steered their owners to Belmont Shore’s modish pet store, Pussy & Pooch.

The electronic music, color motifs and clientele of the store gave one columnist at the Long Beach Press Telegram reason to describe the retailer as more of a booming dance floor than neighborhood pet shop.

Complete with a health spa and sushi bar, Pussy & Pooch provides pet care that offers luxury accessories and – even better – raw meat.

"It’s food as nature intended," co-owner and operator Janene Zakrajsek told the news source. "Cats are natural carnivores. They need to eat meat, not grain, not filler, not kibble."

Purchasing local products when possible, and always opting for natural, organic foods, Zakrajsek stocks the store’s shelves with cuisine that is high in animal protein, with smaller amounts of plant products to simulate what a carnivore may find in its prey.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, annual costs of caring for cats and dogs can range from $670 to $1,580.
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Abandoned pet cemetery draws special attention

One pet-lover is showing his devotion by restoring an old pet cemeteryPet care can hold many different meanings to animal owners. Some seek to provide their dogs with a leader and companion, taking relish in a game of fetch or a new trick. Others, who consider their pets to be members of the family, feature their dogs and cats in Christmas cards and fit them with the highest quality winter sweaters.

A man in Joplin, Missouri, has taken pet care to mean honoring the memories of the animals which have in some way enriched a household.
Melvin Hutton told St. Louis Fox affiliate Fox2Now he is working to restore a pet cemetery that has been deteriorating after it was left abandoned years ago.

Records of the cemetery show that the grounds were established in 1949 and expanded in 1973. According to Richard Copeland, president of the Joplin Humane Society’s board of directors, the last official animal burial occurred in 1979.

Though many pet owners still bury their animals in Joplin’s cemetery on their own, Hutton believes owners who laid their pets to rest years ago would be unhappy with the graveyard’s current conditions.

According to Dr Amy Kurowski of St. Marks Veterinary Hospital, about 90 percent of pets die by euthanasia performed in a vet’s office, the Village Voice reports.
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Heroic dog found in Afghanistan

War-torn Afghanistan is no place for a lost dogMissing pets can cause adult owners to worry and bring an absolute heartache to kids. Aside from missing the companionship that pets offer, their owners may agonize over the misfortunes that may befall their beloved animal when the pet is not in their care. Now imagine your favorite dog gets lost in the war-torn recesses of Afghanistan!

A bomb-sniffing dog that went missing during a turbulent battle in Afghanistan was found and returned to its unit earlier this week after being gone for more than a year, the Associated Press reports.

Sabi, a black Labrador, accompanied a joint Australian-Afghan army patrol that was ambushed by Afghan rebels in the beleaguered Uruzgan province in September 2008.

Once the fighting quieted, Sabi was nowhere to be found, and months of searching proved futile.

But on Thursday, officials at the U.S. Department of Defense reported that an American soldier discovered the retriever at a patrol base in a different part of Uruzgan. The dog was promptly returned to the Australian base, where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was paying a visit.

"Sabi is back home in one piece and is a genuinely nice pooch as well," Rudd told the news source.

According to the Missing Pet Network, about 10 million owned animals wind up in shelters each year.
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Texas entertainer releases ‘Celebrity Pet Files’

Texas entertainer talks about his pet farm in a new bookKinky Friedman has pursued a career most people only read about. The well-known goofy Texan has been an author, humorist, musician and gubernatorial candidate. In addition, according to his new book, Friedman is the "spiritual leader of 63 dogs, 22 horses, three donkeys, nine pigs, two goats, 11 cats, 15 chickens, two turkeys and a rooster named Alfred Hitchcock."

Kinky’s Celebrity Pet Files, a recently-released book about pet-loving celebrities includes stories, pictures and interviews with celebrities who have in some way provided pet care to an array of animals.
Himself and animal lover, Friedman co-owns the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, a never-kill shelter in Kerrville, Texas, which has been operating since 1998.

In addition to the shelter animals he cares for, the Texas satirist owns four dogs, a cat that sleeps on his head and an armadillo that eats bacon grease!

Friedman’s book recounts tales like the death of pianist Fats Domino’s dog in Hurricane Katrina, the animal shelter built by country singer Emmylou Harris in Nashville, and the 51 horses that Willie Nelson saved from slaughter.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average veterinary expenditure for pet care on cats or dogs in 2006 was $366.

As Friedman puts it, "Money may buy you a fine dog, but only love will make him wag his tail."
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