Ordinance holds owners responsible for pet overpopulation

By law, Las Vegas residents will have to fix their petsThere are unwritten rules for being a pet owner: food stays on high shelves, going for a walk is a necessity, not an option, and accidents will happen. However, the city of Las Vegas has added a written rule to the books this week when it passed a law requiring owners to spay or neuter all dogs and cats by the time the pets turn four months old.

The bill, which was introduced last month and was passed by the City Council on Wednesday, is aimed at curbing Las Vegas’ purported problem with pet overpopulation, NBC affiliate News 3 reports. Owners would be granted a one-time warning for not having their pets fixed before receiving a citation on the second offense.

Representatives from Lied Animal Shelter, which services Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Clark County, told the news source the facility houses about 50,000 animals each year, of which about 86 percent are not spayed or neutered.

Additionally, the legislation requires all dogs and cats to be embedded with a microchip for tracking purposes, before they are adopted or recovered from a city pound.

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.

Entrepreneur turns pet droppings into gold

A pet service brings new meaning to 'waste management'The national unemployment rate has exceeded 10 percent and families are cutting back on everything from vacations to gym memberships. Nonetheless, the pet care industry is proving that there are jobs to be had and money to be made for entrepreneurs with a bit of creativity.

According to this year’s National Pet Owners Survey, about 62 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet and contributed to the $45 billion spent this year on animal services and products.

With figures like these, it’s of little doubt why business like DoodyCalls are thriving in the marketplace. The company, which opened in Charlottesville, Virginia, and spread to 49 locations in 22 states, charges $15 to $20 each week to remove droppings from the yards of pet owners, Forbes.com reports.

In total, the business is expected to net $3.2 million this year, representing a 40 percent increase from total revenue in 2008.

The pet care business isn’t just for those with strong stomachs (or weak noses), as Mutt Huttz, a manufacturer of cages and dog beds that launched last year, made more than $40,000 in revenue through October 2009, according to the news source.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals asserts that the costs of caring for cats and dogs can range from $670 to $1,580 each year.

Cleaner cages may spare cat’s lives, research says

Cleaner cages may spare cat's lives, research saysResearch funded by the Morris Animal Foundation’s Happy Healthy Cat Campaign found that small changes in shelter housing conditions could prevent the spread of feline upper respiratory infection (URI), which is among the most frequently cited reasons for euthanizing cats in animal shelters.

The research, led by Dr Kate Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, investigated the prevalence of certain animal diseases, as well as cage layout and sanitation methods, to seek a correlation between shelter housing and stress-related illnesses in cats.

The study revealed a significant difference in the prevalence of feline URI in kennels around the country, with anywhere from five percent to 60 percent of cats contracting the illness. According to Hurley, environmental factors such as the quality of sanitation and housing in the shelter seem to be the source of the vast discrepancy.

"Our hope is that we will find something that not only helps cats stay healthy but also helps them get out of shelters alive," Hurley commented.

The U.S. Humane Society estimates that 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year, and about half are eventually euthanized.

Companies feature pet insurance in benefits packages

Though unemployment rates have climbed to their highest levels in over 15 years, competition remains fierce for growing business in the U.S. While standard benefits packages help companies draw and retain top talent within their field, some businesses are beginning to offer pet healthcare as an added incentive.

As many owners complain about the expenses of veterinary pet care, large corporations like Google, Disney, AOL, Home Depot and eBay are offering insurance plans for their employees’ dogs and cats, the Associated Press reports.

“We do offer voluntary pet insurance as one of our benefits,” Google spokesman Jordan Newman told the news source.

He added, “Google is committed to helping our employees lead healthier lives, and we try to support personal well-being in a number of ways.”

According to David Lummis, a market specialist at the research firm Packaged Facts, more than one million U.S. households currently have a pet insurance plan – a figure that is double the number in 2002.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that the average dog-owning household spent $356 on their pets in 2007.

Sick as a dog? Some vets say vaccine may help

Are vaccines necessary for sick pups?An Iowa cat and two Nebraska ferrets had Americans sweating last month after the animals’ owners and veterinarians reported that the pets had contracted the H1N1 virus. A stir of concern and activity pertaining to pet health recently resulted in debate over the use of a vaccine for H3N8, a new virus that has caused influenza in dogs.

Though the vaccine proved successful in 2004, when diseased horse meat was fed to a few greyhounds in Florida, some veterinarians are not recommending the preventative treatment, the North Platte Telegraph reports.

"We are simply not seeing this virus at all in the Midwest," Dr Craig Kelly, a veterinarian from the Westfield Small Animal Clinic told the news source.

"There have only been isolated breakouts in a few states, so we are not recommending something that is unnecessary at this time," he added.

However, Dr Ron Green from Heartland Animal Center in Nebraska believes that the canine flu is more widespread than just a few isolated cases. Green, who has already begun vaccinating dogs, told the news provider that 80 percent of all dogs in the Nebraska area are susceptible to the virus, which carries about a five percent mortality rate.

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

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