Defraying the costs of sick puppies

Customers who buy sick animals from pet stores have legal recourseLemon laws have long been in place to protect consumers who may be duped into purchasing a product with a polished appearance that belies its functional drawbacks. When the product is an everyday commodity like a used car, consumers can leverage the law to cover refunds and additional expenses; but what happens when the "lemon" is a new pet?

According to some animal welfare advocates, animals bought in pet stores are more likely to have health problems than those purchased from shelters and independent breeders.

Several options have emerged for pet owners trying to foot the bill for vet services required by their store-bought sick puppies. Many states have adopted pet owner protection laws, like New Jersey’s Pet Protection Act of 2000, which stipulates that if a veterinarian certifies a sick animal was unfit for sale with two weeks of the purchase, the owner may be reimbursed for the pet, or for expenses associated with veterinary pet care, the Atlantic City Press reports.

Pet warranties, issued by companies like Household Pet Protection in Colorado, and veterinary pet insurance plans have also become common in defraying pet health costs.

The U.S. Human Society estimates that up to 4 million puppies were bought in pet stores or over the internet last year.

Health officials confirm H1N1 in cat

Health officials confirm H1N1 in catLast month, a cat in Ames, Iowa, influenced how animal owners across the country think about pet health when it returned from a visit to the vet with a H1N1 flu diagnosis.

The 13-year-old tabby cat was the first documented case of the swine flu being passed from a human to a pet, after its owners came down with the virus in late October, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Kimberly May, a veterinary doctor and assistant director of professional services at the American Veterinary Medical Association told the news source, "In general, cats are not considered susceptible to human flu viruses, but this cat got H1N1 flu from its owners…It seems to be the first time a cat caught flu from a human."

While no dogs are known to have caught H1N1, May is not ruling out the possibility. In addition to cats, animals known to be susceptible to the infection include ferrets, domestic turkeys and pigs.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have emphasized that there is currently no evidence that suggests swine flu can be passed from pets to people.

FDA issues salmonella warning for pet foods

FDA issues a warning to pet ownersThe majority of pet owners today consider their animals to be part of the family. Though cats have nine lives, some families celebrate their every birthday; though dogs are not supposed to eat from the table, some family dinners aren’t complete until the favored canine licks the plates clean. It comes as no surprise then, that pet health and safety have become primary concerns for households across America.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a health warning to alert pet owners that Pig Ears and Beef Hooves pet treats manufactured by Pet Carousel may be contaminated with salmonella. The products were distributed to pet food and retail chain stores nationwide.

While to date, no illnesses associated with the treats have been reported, the FDA notes that the products were manufactured under conditions that facilitate cross-contamination with other batches.

Pets with salmonella may become sluggish and experience fever, vomiting, or abdominal pain. The FDA recommends contacting a veterinarian if these symptoms become apparent, as pets with salmonella can infect other animals or humans.

According to CNN reports, pet insurance plans can cost about $5 to $30 a month for the average healthy pet.

It’s a bird, it’s a flame?it’s a Fireman!

Fire hits an Oregon pet storeFirefighters rushed to the rescue of birds, reptiles, dogs and other pets in an Oregon pet store after responding to an early-morning fire on Friday.

Though the firemen evacuated a large number of the animals and hurried some to a nearby veterinary animal clinic, unfortunately, not all of the would-be pets survived.

Just before 3 a.m. Friday, a fire broke out at the Zany Zoo pet shop in Eugene, Oregon. Glenn Petter, spokesperson for the Eugene Fire Department said he believed the blaze to be caused by a grouping of overloaded electrical circuits, KVAL reports. The fire likely started in the reptile room, which was fit with devices providing intense heat and light to the animals.

On the bright side, the firefighters were able to save more than two-third of the animals, and no puppies died in the fire.
"We were able to rescue a large number of birds, rodents, reptiles, puppies, cats and they [were all transported] to the vet emergency clinic that’s just about two blocks away," Eugene fire chief Mark Grover told KMTR reporters.

Damage to the building is estimated at $100,000, with $25,000 in lost property.

The blaze comes as a reminder that pet insurance plans are available to ensure that animals remain safe, with a limited expense to animal-loving households.

Elephant tries to forget collision with SUV

A circus elephant wandered onto Okahoma's highwayAn Oklahoma veterinarian got a big (really big) surprise when he was asked to treat the wounds of an elephant that was hit by an SUV after escaping from a nearby circus.

Bill Carpenter and his wife were driving home from church late on Wednesday when the driver swerved all too late and wound up sideswiping a 29-year-old female elephant in Enid, Oklahoma, the Associated Press reports.

"I didn’t have time to hit the brakes. The elephant blended in with the road," Carpenter explained to the news provider. "At the very last second I said ‘elephant!’"

Thankfully, the couple was not injured, but the 8-foot-tall, 4,500-pound elephant was brought veterinarian Dr Dwight Olson on Thursday to be treated for a broken tusk and leg wound. The animal’s tusk punctured the side of the vehicle, tearing through the sheet metal.
I don’t believe there’s a broken bone," said Olson, "but I don’t have an X-ray room big enough to examine it."

The elephant was identified by the Family Fun Circus, which performed at the Garfield County Fraigrounds earlier that day.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average veterinary expenditure for pet care on cats or dogs in 2006 was $366; the organization does not keep statistics on pet elephants.

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