New Product: Nintendo Wii for pets

Donkey Kong won't be the only animal playing gamesThe popular interactive video game system, Nintendo Wii, now allows pet owners to let their favorite animals get in on the fun.

The game Wii Fit Plus, and update of Wii Fit, lets users involve their pets by creating avatars of their dogs and cats and entering profile information such as the pet’s name, birthday and weight, the Associated Press reports. Through use of the game’s balance board controller, the owners may weigh themselves with their pets; the game then continues to monitor the pet’s weight.

While the updated game does not provide any training exercises for pets, it includes three strength training exercises, three yoga activities and 15 balance games for humans.

Katie Cray, manager of trend marketing at Nintendo, told the news source, "It’s so fun to have a motivator when you’re working out."

She added, "Obviously, if you have a dog, you’re probably out there walking it, and that’s exercise in and of itself, so it’s nice to have the ability to track the progress of both your dog and yourself." The game provides owners who have taken out veterinary pet insurance to monitor their animal’s health.

An article published by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine claimed that daily exercise for dogs reduces hyperactivity, prevents depression, builds confidence and controls weight.
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Catholic churches honor animals with pet blessing

Saint Bernards and all sorts of pets will be invited to churchThis Sunday, Catholic churches around the country are inviting community members to bring their pets to church in an annual Blessing of the Pets mass.

Guided by tradition, churches this week will celebrate St. Francis of Assisi, who is best known as the patron saint of animals. Though the saint left few writings he is accredited with the popular hymn, "All creatures of our God and King."

A representative of the Church of Our Savior in Massachusetts told the Middleboro Gazette, "What we know of St. Francis and his connections to animals only comes from legends. However, the celebration and remembrance of his life and work reminds us how we as creatures of this earth are all connected to God and are present because of God’s joy and mercy in creation."

The La Quinta church in Palm Springs, California, has been offering the pet blessing ceremony for the last 10 years. In 2008, more than 200 pet owners brought their animals to be sanctified in the church’s courtyard and then received a personal certificate acknowledging the blessing.

Some churches advise that owners of aggressive animals bring a photograph or stuffed animal as a stand-in for their pet.
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Study: Pets are looking out for our health

Study: Pets are looking out for our healthA Missouri veterinary research center is preparing to study the ways in which animals provide mental and physical health benefits to older people.

The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) has conducted preliminary studies which suggest that pets help to lower blood pressure, encourage exercise and improve psychological health, the USA Today reports.

A 2008 study by the researchers paired older adults with shelter dogs and encouraged them to walk outdoors for one hour, five times a week. Another group of adults were partnered with a human "walk-buddy."

After 12 weeks, the study found that the individuals who walked dogs exercised 24 percent more than those paired with another person.

While the human walking partners often discouraged each other and made excuses for staying indoors, the participants with pets consistently hit their favorite trails. ReCHAI director Rebecca Johnson told the news source, "Pets provide unconditional love and acceptance and may be part of answers to societal problems, such as inactivity and obesity."

While pets work wonders to miraculously improve our health, 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 the pet’s family.
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House Bill proposes tax breaks for pet owners

House Bill proposes tax breaks for pet ownersU.S. legislators are considering the extension of tax deductions to pet owners for their animal’s healthcare expenses.

Last month, Republican representative Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan introduced H.R. 3501 before the House of Representatives, dubbing the bill the Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act. The proposal would amend the IRS code to allow taxpayers deductions of up to $3,500 for certain pet care expenses.

To justify the change in IRS code, the bill mentioned that the 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey determined 63 percent of U.S. households own a pet and that the "Human-Animal Bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people’s emotion and physical well-being."

The legislation defined "qualified pets" as legally owned domesticated live animals, exempting animals used for research or owned in association with a trade or business. Qualified expenses are "amounts paid in connection with providing care (including veterinary care) for a qualified pet other than any expense in connection with the acquisition of the qualified pet."

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, where it remains under consideration.

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, depending on the commodities and services purchased.
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A Few Reviews From Our Customers

Pets Best Insurance – Sep 30, 2009

In an effort to continually better our service and to learn valuable information from our customers, we recently conducted a random survey which many of you participated in. We want to thank those of you who participated and wanted to share our results with all of our policyholders. These results will be utilized to focus our efforts on what is important to you.

Results:

Most pet owners heard about us through the internet or their veterinarian, referrals from friends were ranked third.
The internet, veterinarian and friend were the top secondary referral sources as well.
91.2% purchased pet insurance for financial protection.
90.3% made the decision to purchase Pets Best based on benefits and coverage and 86% utilized the website content for making their decision.
77.84% were first time buyers of pet insurance and 22% had previous experience with other providers.
97% were extremely or likely to recommend Pets Best to a friend or pet owner.

What We’ve Learned:

We need to better communicate your benefits, coverage and how to effectively use your policy.
Our Wellness/Routine Care needs better explanation of how it works. We find some want minimal benefits, while others want much more broad benefits.
We identified several areas where we can improve our service to you and will begin to implement these within the next few months.
Overall we felt we had a great rating on our most important measurement, “Would you recommend Pets Best?” at 97%.
We need to make it easier for you to contact us with specific questions when they arise or when you need an answer regarding your policy or a claim.
We heard overwhelmingly that you would like an option of direct payment to your veterinarian for claims and direct deposit for claims paid by you. Direct deposit is a feature we’re already working on, with the projection of being able to deposit most funds within 24-48 hours of claim receipt. Watch for the announcement of this new feature coming to you soon!

Congratulations also to the following policyholders who were randomly drawn for the $50 gift certificates:

Gian B. – San Jose, CA
David K. – West Hollywood, CA
Karen S. – Raleigh, NC
Chris E. – Incline Village, NV
Jacquie A. – Thornton, CO
Eva A. – Santa Rosa, CA
Tanner S. – Helena, MT
Dennis F. – Lodi, CA
Maggie T. – Portland, OR
Serge L – North Hollywood, CA

From comments made on the survey, we realized that there is some confusion about policy details and coverage. We thought the following list might be helpful for you.

Clarifications on Items that May Not Be Clear:

Wellness/Routine Care Clarifications:
No Deductible and No Co-payment
You will be reimbursed up to wellness amount listed, or the total amount you paid your vet for the wellness service if it is less than the amount listed. (For example, if you paid $25 for your annual exam, you would be reimbursed $25.)
Utilize wellness benefits at any time during policy term, after the two week waiting period from enrollment.
Dentals or teeth cleaning are covered for up to $100 annually in our wellness plan. This amount is additive to the annual exam fee of $35 and any other wellness benefits provided at that time or any other time during the policy year.
To learn more about our wellness plan, visit our website at http://www.petsbest.com/plans/routinecare.aspx Accident/Illness Policy Clarifications:
We provide per incident limits of $2,500 with Pets Basic, $7,000 for Pets First and $14,000 for Pet Premier. There is only one deductible per incident, and the incident can carry forward year after year until the maximum payment is reached.
We provide $42,500 lifetime limit for Pets Basic and $100,000 for Pets First and Pets Premier. Any number of incidents can occur over the policy terms and there are no annual limits.
Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions (conditions present prior to enrollment and the waiting period.) However, conditions which existed prior to enrollment and become “cured” and then reoccur may be eligible. If in doubt, call us or send in your claim.
Prescription medications are covered and included in our 80% coverage of your bill.
Claims Process Clarifications:
You may dispute a claim if you feel it was denied in error. Our goal is to pay all legitimate claims and correct any mistakes if we make them.
While we want your claims submitted quickly, we allow 6 months or more to submit your claims. If in doubt about your coverage, simply submit your claim or give us a call!

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