I’ve been thinking a lot lately of recent events. How many of you have heard the news of one million species will go extinct by the human race if nothing is done to stop our destruction? With it being Endangered Species Day, I am truly reflecting on this heartbreaking issue and what can be done. I went to the Audubon Society’s Women in Conversation gala luncheon yesterday at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. I get a little glimmer of hope of all the wonderful people doing thankless work to preserve our plant and animal life.
Even our beloved domestic pets are not safe from our hands. The heartbreaking stats of the abandoned cats and dogs that overpopulate the shelters only to be destroyed are staggering. Thanks to animal rescue initiatives such as TNR, animal sanctuaries, and strong effective adoption and fostering drives, the stats has lessened over the years but they are still overwhelming. Their plight is also due to our species’ manipulation of uprooting them from their natural homes and wild behaviors. Because of this, it is our duty to take care of them and provide them with the best life possible.
Cecil’s death sparked a debate but so much still has to be done. Reports of his brother and son also suffering the same brutal fate of being killed by trophy hunters hurts my heart but heartbreak won’t help these animals – consistent active participation to stop this will. We all have to do better.
PetCon2018 was held last November at the Jacob Javits Center. It was a weekend-event featuring vendors, pet celebs and their owners, along with some very excellent panel discussions of varying topics to building a social media pet platform to the devastating effects overfishing for human and pet consumption is leading to the disastrous eco imbalance to ocean wildlife.
To Grain or not to grain. The veterinarians addressed the question if owners should feed pets a grain-free diet. Many people are unaware that dogs not strictly carnivores, like cats. Their dietary needs are similar to people. They need an omnivore diet with carbs and grains to stay nutritionally balanced.
Vaccinations on dogs. Overvaccination is a real concern for pet parents. The veterinarians have seen if a puppy gets the proper amount of vaccines during that young stage in their life will help reduce the need for more vaccines in the future. The procedure of titers (measurement of how many antibodies are in the animal’s blood) is expensive but effective. A sufficient amount may prevent needing additional vaccination. However, the law does not recognize titers for rabies, and if your animal bites a person, they can quarantine the animal or order the pet to be destroyed. Vaccinations for rabies must be administered regularly to stay in the state’s compliance.
Dental care. How many of us are regularly cleaning our pet’s teeth? I don’t clean Lancelot’s teeth as much as I should. The veterinarians couldn’t stress enough the importance of regular dental hygiene, starting when they are kittens and puppies. Circular motion with a pet toothbrush, wipe, etc., is the best technique to dislodge the plaque buildup. Years of oral hygiene neglect may require a professional dental cleaning – x-rays are strongly suggested before any dental cleaning. Dental disease can transfer to other vital body organs with fatal consequences. Teeth and gum care are of paramount importance! Daily or every other day.
Heartworm medication. This can be an agonizing choice for dog owners. Depending on the dog’s lifestyle will determine what heartworm medication will be best. One size does not fit all. Older or dogs with compromised immune systems may have to look for alternatives than pesticide treatments. Heartworm is debilitating if your pet contracts it. The treatment is a long process so prevention is key. The mosquito carrying disease is on the rise with pet animal rescue from disaster areas such as Puerto Rico.
The raw food diet movement. Feeding raw food is not a new concept but it has certainly gone mainstream by more companies offering raw food products for pet owners. The veterinarians strongly cautioned administering such a diet because of the risk of food poisoning like salmonella. They have seen some animals do better on a raw diet due to their unique health issues. Please speak with your veterinarian about a raw food diet.
The final question was about veterinarian checkups. How often? Once a year is sufficient until the pet becomes eight years or older. All the panelists agreed the animal should come in every six months with bloodwork to measure the function of their liver, kidney, etc. A very good discussion. I look forward to PetCon 2019.
Today is National Pet Day. It’s making me a bit nostalgic to relive a time when a feisty, loving tortie cat entered my life. This is a bit of a long read but ones that tugs on your heartstrings.
Not so long ago, I noticed a small tortoiseshell cat on the corner of a major avenue intersection. She crouched down looking at the world around her of rowdy teens and overtired adults.
When I got closer to her, I noticed her fur had several bald patches. Despite her obviously ill appearance, she had an outgoing and confident personality living up to the tortie legend. Petting her I felt the bones protruding under the skin. I began a routine of feeding her breakfast and dinner when I came home from work. People noticed me feeding her and giving reports she’s been chased by angry homeowners and fighting the more seasoned street smart cats. I knew I couldn’t let her stay on the street.
I took to my vet. She tested negative for FIV and FeLV, plus, she had a spay scar. The bad news she had friends of fleas and their internal buddies – parasites. The craziest part came when the vet scanned her shoulder to discover she was chipped! The office called the owners registered to the chip number. They shamelessly said they were not interested in the cat anymore.
I thought this had to be a divine sign. I had been wanting to get Lancelot some company, perhaps this girl was the one. Because of her infections, the vet instructed she and Lancelot could share the litter box or food/water bowls. This meant their interacting together had to be very closely monitored. The saying you never get a second chance to make a first impression certainly fit Lancelot and Swee’Pea’s (her new name) encounter. Disaster from day one and even after two months, it never got better. Only worse.
Lancelot became obsessed with her. He wouldn’t give the poor thing space, nor would he take the cues of her growling and hissing to leave her alone. I got Lancelot from the ASPCA and his origins are somewhat of a mystery. I always suspected he did not have the opportunity to be around his siblings and his mother long enough for proper socialization. I tried switching them in different rooms, giving Swee’Pea towels he laid on to get used to his scent. These two were so incompatible, my then boyfriend at the time put a pet gate in between them when we went to work. By the approach of the third month, I knew she couldn’t stay but she would stay as long as it took until she could find a loving home.
I told a cat-loving coworker about my stressful situation. He said to call the Mayor’s Animal Alliance for NYC’s Animals. They helped him out when he rescued a stray off the street. I hesitated hoping I could find her a home but a lot of people were not interested in adopting (understandably so) a cat when they were still undergoing parasitic treatment. I finally broke down and spoke to a representative at the Mayor’s Animal Alliance, she said since the cat is chipped look if it can be traced back to a shelter or rescue. She said if they’re a no-kill shelter they will want her back
The people at HomeAgain would not release the origin of her microchip number. They said it had to come from a veterinarian’s office or animal rescue. My boyfriend had lady luck on his side. He said the customer service person told him right away Swee’Pea’s original chip owner was on other than the ASPCA! I immediately called them, and they verified that Ms. Swee’Pea was indeed theirs. They would be more than happy to take her back and finish up her medical treatment.
While joy and relief swept through me, I also had a horrible feeling. Those owners who dumped Swee’Pea adopted her from their organization. Their vetting process isn’t very thorough as I got Lancelot for a mere $30.00 and filled out an application. With a cautious heart, I did take Swee’Pea back to the ASPCA. They told me she has been here twice times already. One family took her back after they adopted her followed by those demons who left her to die on the street. I wanted to cry right then and there. They said they will continue treating her and when she is well enough to be put up for adoption.
I wanted to know about the people who abandoned her and left the cat to die. She said they are now flagged on their database and will be escorted off the premises if they fail to leave voluntarily. I asked who is in charge of their adoptions. They gave me the contact information of the executive director of their adoption center. I wrote a heartfelt and very detailed letter about Swee’Pea. I gave her the chip number all the information I could about this very sweet girl. I explained it can’t be stressed enough that due to this poor girl’s history of abandonment, stricter vetting procedures must be made in her case.
I got a response back that Swee’Pea is doing well and I could call anytime to check up on her. I did just that. They told me she is healing up nicely and getting a lot of interaction with staff as she has been through a lot. I kept checking up on Swee’Pea until I found out she got adopted. I pray in my heart of hearts this is her final home. It’s too bad she and Lancelot couldn’t stand one another. A definite love connection fail. I won’t give up hope. I know his “Guinevere” is out there for him.
Most of us have been there more than once in our lives. Life can be a cruel irony at times. We get knocked down with one crisis followed by another. A lot of these crises hit us financially.
It’s taboo, and rightfully so, although people should get the assistance if they truly need it, for parents to give up their children when they run into hard times. You can’t dump your child off at a shelter because you lost your job or suddenly, they become an inconvenience. I’m not saying beloved pet has more importance than human children, but I do find it odd how easy you can discard a sentient being that you have voluntarily decided to adopt into your life to take care of.
Unfortunately, the law in our society view pets or any animal you are taking care of as property, with little to no rights, although this “property” unlike inanimate objects, can think and feel. Organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund is working to change how the legislation views animals as property.
I remember years ago when I was working a terrible and stressful corporate job in the Wall Street area while going to school at night for my master’s degree. I knew I wouldn’t be able to successfully graduate unless I gave up that toxic job. The degree was an investment in my future, and I wasn’t going to let a dead-end job with a boss who was notorious at stringing her team along with hopes of advancements that would never come. I quit with a few thousand dollars in savings. I would be alright for only a couple of months. Plan B? I had none.
During this time, I had my beloved two cats – two sibling brothers who I loved dearly. Looking back, I never ever even entertained the idea of giving them up, even when I had the fear that I couldn’t make the rent. Failing them would not even enter the equation. I managed to get full-time employment in the nick of time after a few months of leaving the Wall Street law firm. I knew I would.
I am sympathetic to people who are struggling to make ends meet that has children. The children are the priority, yet, at the same time, I hope those families exhausted every possibility of trying to keep their entire family intact with their pets as they weather the storm.
Usually, the storm always subsides. How long it stays before it leaves is another matter.