Pets to curl up on Santa’s lap

Pets to curl up on Santa's lapWorking as a mall Santa Claus presents occupational challenges which are certainly unique. While some children throw fits when placed on Santa’s lap, others slyly devise plans to yank off the gift-giver’s beard. In addition, the responsibilities of playing Santa take on a new meaning when pets, rather than children, seek some time on St. Nick’s lap.

"My most memorable pet was a black tarantula that ended up in my beard," Allan Cameron, veteran Santa Claus for Pet Assistance, told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

Over the years Cameron has donned the red suit and posed with cats, dogs, parrots, turtles, iguanas and potbellied pigs to help fund projects administered by the Pet Assistance League.

The organization raises money to pay for spaying or neutering procedures to help pet owners who are unable to afford the veterinary services.

Pet Assistance treasurer Linda Furlano told the news source, "I started this project with just a Polaroid about 16 years ago."

She added that spaying and neutering helps control the pet population, keeps animals healthy and reduces the number of pets that end up in pounds or rescue shelters.

According to the Bill Foundation, which aims to rescue homeless dogs from shelters, the procedure to fix a pet usually costs between $50 and $100.
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Car sickness drug lets pets hit the road

Car sickness drug lets pets hit the roadMany pets enjoy exploring beneath the Christmas tree, receiving a new gift-wrapped squeak toy or getting a little extra attention from visiting relatives. However, one aspect of the holidays that some animals may not relish is the the necessity to endure long car rides for family visits and vacations.

According to a recent survey commissioned by AAA and Best Western International, more than 75 percent of pet owners said they would bring their pet with them on every vacation if possible. Unfortunately, car sickness, especially common in puppies, can result from extended travel.

The prominent pharmaceutical company Pfizer is taking steps to support families who are concerned with pet health but are unwilling to leave their pups behind when they hit the road, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

In 2007, the FDA approved Pfizer’s drug cerenia to prevent vomiting caused by motion sickness. More recently, the company launched a Twitter feed named Dog on Board to offer tips on traveling with a young dog.

For pet owners seeking drug-free remedies to car sickness, the news provider offered several pieces of advice. Specifically, trial runs, fresh air, a good view and an empty stomach will help animals get used to the ride.
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Looking to adopt a dog? Be colorblind!

When my friend Mark told me he was taking his family to his local animal shelter to look for a dog to adopt, I asked what breed they were looking for. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, “as long as it’s good with the kids. Happy and playful. We’ll know the right dog when we see it.”

Later, after he got back from the shelter, I asked him how it went. He said he was amazed at the number of big, black dogs that were available for adoption. Walking past row after row of kennels, the family saw an array of black faces looking out at them. “It made me start to wonder if there was something wrong with them,” he told me. “Why are there so many large black dogs at the shelter?”

Though animal shelters generally don’t keep statistics on animals based on color, lots of shelter employees confirm that big black dogs are often overlooked by people looking to adopt. In fact, they’ve even coined a phrase to describe the situation, referred to as “black dog syndrome.”

Mark wonders if people shy away from black dogs because they think the dogs might be mean. My theory, though, is that it’s harder to get a read on a black dog’s personality—there’s less contrast between their dark eyes and dark face, so if you don’t know the dog well, you might have trouble seeing and understanding his expressions.

No matter what the reason, if you’re ready to adopt a shelter dog, overlooking large black dogs would be a mistake; you’ll probably miss out on some real gems. After all, there’s no evidence that fur color has anything to do with an animal’s attitude or behavior. And plenty of black-dog owners will testify that they’re often loaded with personality.

So what kind of dog did Mark’s family choose? A sweet, loving black lab they named Skipper. “She may be a black dog,” says Mark, “but she has a heart of gold.”

Iowa council tackles country’s first municipal pet cemetery

Iowa council tackles country's first municipal pet cemeteryAn 85-year-old retired engineer in Iowa is pushing the Spencer City Council to fund and develop the first city-owned pet cemetery in the country.

Ted Cate, whose German shorthaired pointer Elizabeth Ann died five years ago, has been advocating for the municipal animal burial ground for half a decade, wishing to honor his fallen hound and offer a benefit to the environment, the Chicago Tribune reports.

"It provides a legal and respectful place to bury your family pet," Cate told the news source.

He added, "By burying your pet in a pet cemetery as opposed to burying it in your backyard, you eliminate the possibility of polluting the groundwater and hence your neighbor’s well."

In the meantime, Cate keeps the ashes of Elizabeth Ann in an urn in his home office.

Cate’s proposal would establish the pet cemetery in a 10-acre park on the town’s eastern edge and would charge $60 for the burial of a cremated pet and $70 for other pets.

Spencer City Manager Bob Fagen said the council agreed to pursue the idea and will announce details about finances and procedures in March or April.

According to Costhelper.com, the cremation of dogs that weigh more than 50 pounds can cost up to $350.
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Arizona woman claims to converse with pets

Anxious turkeys, and other pets, could benefit from a session with JohnstonePet owners typically rely on veterinarians to diagnose and treat issues pertaining to an animal’s physical health. But when frightened cats, lonely dogs and turkeys struck with seasonal anxiety endure emotional pain, one Arizona woman claims to pick up where veterinary medicine leaves off.

Debbie Johnstone, who calls herself an animal whisperer, says she depends on her sight, hearing, smell and taste to read animals’ thoughts, the Arizona Republic reports.

"As a child, I collected stray animals," Johnstone told the news source. "I thought everybody heard them the way I do."

The self-proclaimed animal communicator typically services clients who are dealing with the possibility of euthanizing an animal or those who want to know if a deceased pet has passed on to a better place.

An at-home visit from Johnstone costs $125 per hour, though the specialist can perform sessions over the phone and by e-mail.

Though Johnstone has made a modest business with her niche enterprise, her line of work is not free from judgment.

Arizona veterinarian Dr Gregg Townsley told the news provider that owners are taking a "dangerous risk" when they rely on animal whisperers as an alternative to veterinary services.

The North American Pet Health Insurance Association says veterinary insurance can be used to protect pet health and ensure the financial stability of the animal’s family.
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