Classroom pet brings home salmonella

Most lizards are carriers of salmonellaWhen an elementary school child gets the chance to take home the classroom pet, salmonella poisoning is likely the absolute furthest thing from their mind. However, one father in Louisville, Kentucky, is claiming that the two lizards his kids brought home from science class infected his family with the bacteria.

After getting the necessary permission slip signed, Jerry Curtsinger’s kids arrived at home one evening with two green anoles, a type of small, green lizard adored by their science class, NBC affiliate WBAL reports.

Curtsinger told the news source, "We thought we were doing a good thing, unfortunately we endangered our family by bringing [the lizards] into our house." As a result, the family’s youngest child developed a fever of about 102 degrees.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7,400 Americans contract salmonella from reptiles each year and about three out of four lizards carry the bacteria.

Lee Ann Nickerson, a science specialist from the Curtsinger’s school district issued a warning to parents adopting any classroom pet, subsequent to the incident. She also notes that common pets such as dogs can carry salmonella and recommends hand washing for anyone practicing cautious pet care.
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Food bank helps families keep their pets

Food bank helps families keep their petsThe economic downturn has forced many families across America to decide what commodities in their lives are most valuable. Many households have cancelled their accounts with cable television providers or begun purchasing generic brands at the grocery store. Families more deeply impacted by the recession may even have to consider cutting costs by surrendering a beloved pet to an animal shelter – an action a food bank in Georgia is trying to prevent.

Daffy’s Pet Soup Kitchen in Lawrenceville, Georgia, is asking community members for monthly sponsorships of about $25, so they may keep their doors open, feed dogs and cats in the area and keep families together, the Examiner reports.

"Our mission is to help those who are in financial crisis continue to feed and care for their pets," the food bank’s founder Tom Wargo told the news source. "In addition to the heartache the family or individual endures by giving up part of their family, there is the additional cost on the community for every surrendered or abandoned pet."

The food bank also provides pet healthcare through a network of participating veterinarians.

According to the Human-Animal Bond Survey by The Hartz Mountain Corp, about 75 percent of pet owners consider their animals a member of the family.
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Nonprofit group brings care to vets’ pets

Nonprofit group brings care to vets' petsVeteran’s Day gives Americans the opportunity each year to collectively show appreciation for the sacrifices made by soldiers and veterans. One company, however, has built a business based on honoring soldiers all through the year.

NetPets, a nonprofit based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, services military households by ensuring that someone is available to care for soldiers’ pets when the troops are deployed.

Since 2001, NetPets has arranged foster homes for 12,000 military pets and has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense as their unofficial pet assistance provider, Zootoo.com reports.

"There are organizations that are supporting troops in lots of different ways, taking care of the wounded and supporting children of soldiers," Linda Spurlin-Dominik, the director of a pet foster organization in Arkansas, told the news source. "But we are making sure that the pets aren’t forgotten about either."

NetPets has found foster parents that provide pet care to military dogs, cats, hermit crabs and pigs for up to 16 months in all 50 states, in addition to South Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Spain.

According to the U.S. Humane Society, there are approximately 88.3 million owned cats and 74.8 million owned dogs in the country.
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Protesters woof at proposal to reduce kennel inspections

Dog owners support more frequent kennel inspectionsState lawmakers in Nebraska could almost hear the growl of local dogs as they considered a proposal on Monday that would have decreased inspections of commercial pet breeding facilities.

The Agriculture Committee of the Nebraska Legislature eventually voted 7-0 to dismiss a state bill that would have diluted a 2007 law which required dog kennels and other pet-breeding outlets to be inspected every two years, the North Platte Telegraph reports.

The unanimous decision was in part influenced by protesters from the Nebraska Human Society and from citizens around the state who balked at the idea of weakening pet care laws and barked in supported of their four-legged companions.

State senator Tom Carlson had proposed reducing the regular inspections to save money, following the state’s projected budget deficit of about $334 million. Inspections would have been preformed only following complaints.

Judy Varner, CEO of the Nebraska Humane Society, told the news source, "No one ever goes to a lot of puppy mills – everything is sold over the internet." She added, "Nobody would ever know the conditions" if the inspections weren’t regularly performed.

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Synthetic pheromones can help pets chill out

New synthetic pheromones can reduce stress in petsIt’s not a rare occurrence for a professional to return home from a long day at work and pour themselves a glass of wine or drop of scotch. For some people, the end of the day cocktail has become a ritual, allowing the laborer to calm themselves, fall into a state of relaxation and reduce irritability. Now, some pet care companies are offering the pet cocktail – an array of animal pheromones that can reduce the animal’s perception of stress and curb behavioral problems, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Pheromones are chemicals dogs and cats are able to sense via the vomeronasal organ at the back of the nose, some of which contain substances that calm the pets. The chemicals are used for communication among animals of the same species to suggest alarm, locate food, or express sexual interest.

According to animal behaviorist Gary Landsberg some pheromones calm cats that are being introduced to a new environment, and work well to reduce furniture scratching and to soothe the pets on long car trips.

As far as dogs go, a study of a puppy training course found that dogs who were introduced to a synthetic version of a pheromone released by mother dogs to calm puppies were better socialized and adapted faster to new situations.

Retailers such as Feliway are selling the pet-soothers in spray bottles for about $50.
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