Animal Advocacy

Here We Go Again

posted January 15th, 2016 by
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Coconut Oil

Here We Go Again! – A Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen
As I sit here and watch this kitten gaze into my eyes, I cannot help but think: “Here we go again!” This little girl came to me on Thanksgiving Day from a litter of three orphans. One kitten was already dead, with mama cat nowhere to be found. As spring approaches, this scenario will play out all too often. Fortunately, this girl and her brother were in good shape and readily took a bottle. Others will not be so lucky.
What can you do? Spay and neuter now before the major mating season begins!
You, the TulsaPets reader, probably think I sound like a broken record because you care about your pets. However, the Tulsa area still has a problem with pet overpopulation. Statistics for 2014 are incomplete as of this writing, but here is the depressing news for 2013 from Tulsa Animal Welfare: 3,785 cats were taken in, and 2,562 were euthanized! This doesn’t even include dogs or animals from suburbs such as Broken Arrow, Sapulpa or Owasso.
Nationally, some progress is being made on pet sterilization. I was excited to read recently in a Wall Street Journal article, “Too Many Dogs: A Simple Solution,” about a new chemical method for males which could be significantly cheaper—as low as $1 per animal. It consists of an injection of calcium chloride into the testicles and requires only a light sedative with no need for anesthesia or incisions. This method has been studied primarily on dogs but could be applicable to cats as well. An extensive study was done in India, and calcium chloride has been used on dogs on the Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota. Closer to home, an animal shelter in Lawton, Okla., has been using it since last spring.
Although the calcium chloride research goes back to the 1970s, it has not been approved by the FDA. It is such a common chemical that it cannot be patented, so drug companies have no motivation to invest the money ($10 million, according to the Wall Street Journal) for FDA approved trials. A few local veterinarians with whom I spoke seemed somewhat ambivalent.
Ruth Steinberger of SpayFirst! says her organization uses calcium chloride, but did not run blindly into the method without first conducting research. They had testosterone tests run at the endocrine lab at Colorado State University. After reading all of the already conclusive research, they still worked on this for months before feeling that they had enough data to support using it in the field. On another front, an approved sterilant called Zeuterin should be available for about $20 per animal to nonprofits.
Regarding feral cats specifically, most experts feel that sterilizing females is more effective than working on males. If a female goes into season, it doesn’t matter how many males in the colony are fixed; one from somewhere will likely find her. Neutering colony males only stops that particular male from being the father; it may not prevent a litter. But another chemical, megestrol acetate, is being tested on female cats. This is added to canned food on a weekly basis. It could be beneficial when a feral colony is being fed but cannot be captured. Apparently this method has been known about for decades, but is being ignored because there is no profit in it.
While a few dedicated researchers continue their studies in new methods, education of the public is the biggest challenge. Not everyone knows about the low-cost spay and neuter clinics available. What’s worse, not enough people care! My hope in writing this article is to bring this problem to your attention once again. When I tell people the sad story of how many cats are euthanized (I prefer the word “killed”) everyday, they are shocked. They cite rescue societies without realizing that they are always overloaded.
Locally, SpayOK is a great resource, with two locations in Tulsa, and StreetCats issues vouchers for low-cost spay/neuters. Both Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and StreetCats have traps available for loan. Please spread the word. We do not need more homeless orphans like the kitten pictured here. Let’s continue to speak out for her and others who cannot speak for themselves.

Dumped to Die

posted January 11th, 2016 by
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Looking Back

Dumped to die is something that no one who loves animals will ever understand!  How can people can drive to a deserted place and put  a box of puppies on the side of the road …then drive away.  Or leave them next to a mailbox……by the railroad tracks……or in a dumpster.  For those who are in rescue, it causes high blood pressure, insomnia and anger management issues to name a few.

It may not be an epidemic in rural, northeastern, Oklahoma, but it sure feels and looks like it is.  How someone can look at themselves in the mirror, face their family and live with the memory that they sentenced innocent puppies to death – – – puppies who had no voice – – who were born because oh dear lord we can’t spay our momma dog and we sure aren’t going to neuter our male.  SERIOUSLY!!!!  Then you take care of the offspring, raise them yourself and provide for them.  But do not dump them!!!!

There is an organization,  The Link Coalition, which tracks animal, child and spousal abuse.  There is a connection between the three.  Oklahoma has a high percentage of child abuse and spousal abuse per capita ratios.  If we tracked dumped, abandoned dogs we would be shocked.

The answer – is spay/neuter.  If you have a litter of puppies that need a home and you’re not willing to get the mother dog fixed, I have no words to describe how angry/sad that makes all of us who, every day, look into the eyes of scared, homeless dogs and work tirelessly to find them new homes.

I’ve said it before – I’ll say it again.  Oklahomans make a difference!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kay Stout, Director 

PAAS Vinita

[email protected]

918-256-7227

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Pets for the Elderly

posted January 6th, 2016 by
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Pets for the Elderly

Pets for the Elderly

by Barbara Ballinger
from AgingCare.com

For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn.

“A new pet can stimulate someone to read up on an animal or breed, which can be very mentally stimulating and important at that age,” says Dr. Katharine Hillestad, a veterinarian with the office of Doctors Foster and Smith in Rhinelander, Wis., which provides online advice and retails pet supplies and pharmaceuticals.

Pets provide other intangibles. “Dogs—and other pets—live very much in the here and now. They don’t worry about tomorrow. And tomorrow can be very scary for an older person. By having an animal with that sense of now, it tends to rub off on people,” says Dr. Jay P. Granat, a New Jersey psychotherapist.

And pets can reduce depression and lessen loneliness. “Older pet owners have often told us how incredibly barren and lonely their lives were without their pet’s companionship, even when there were some downsides to owning an active pet,” says Linda Anderson, who with husband Allen founded the Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis. The couple speaks about the joys of pet ownership and has authored books.

In Angel Dogs: Divine Messengers of Love (New World Library, 2005), the Andersons tell about Bonnie, a golden retriever Marjorie and Richard Douse adopted, which became an indispensable family member. “We never felt alone when Bonnie was in the house. As we aged and tended to go out less, she provided us with loving companionship,” the Douses say in the Anderson’s book.

Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld, who brings her golden retriever mix Sandee to her New York City office, has even witnessed her ability to rev up elder owners’ memories. “I’ve seen those with memory loss interact and access memories from long ago,” she says. “Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.”

Pets benefit, too, particularly when older folks adopt older pets. “These lucky pets go from the pound to paradise. Since most of the adopters are retired, they have lots of time to devote to a previously unwanted pet,” says Chicago veterinarian Tony Kremer, who with his wife Meg operates Help Save Pets—Humane Society, which operates adoption centers.

Here are some things caregiver’s should consider when purchasing a pet for their senior mom or dad.

Right pet for the right owner. But because people age so differently, the decision needs to be made carefully—and not just by grown loving children who think it sounds like a way to provide camaraderie. Because there’s no single right pet, ask the following questions to help narrow the field, says Dr. Donnenfeld.

Are you set in your ways? If you don’t like change, you may not be a good candidate, say the Andersons.

Have you had a pet before? Amy Sherman, a licensed therapist and author ofDistress-Free Aging: A Boomer’s Guide to Creating a Fulfilled and Purposeful Lifethinks it’s best if the elderly person is an experienced owner.

Do you have disabilities? Dogs can be wonderful companions who encourage a senior with no major physical limitations to walk and interact with others, Dr. Donnenfeld says. For those who are physically challenged, cats often need less care than dogs, she says. A small dog that’s paper-trained or an indoor bird is also sometimes preferable, she says.

Do you need a therapy pet? If the person is very infirm or impaired, they may be a candidate for an assistance or therapy dog to help them function or interact.

Is the pet the right age? A puppy or kitten may not be the best choice for elderly owners because of the care they require. A young pet may outlive its owner. Birds especially have long life spans. Yet, it’s also important that the pet isn’t too old since it may start to have physical limitations and get sick, Dr. Donnenfeld cautions.

Does the pet have a good temperament? Although some older owners may think a Great Pyrenees would be too big to handle, Daffron found one mixed two-year old so mellow that it would have been a good pet for a senior. “Many older people might think they’d do better with a Jack Russell terrier because it’s small but they are very, very, very high energy and require more effort and commitment. So much depends on personality,” she says.

Is the pet healthy? It’s important that any pet be examined by a professional. “You don’t want to compromise an older person’s immune system since some pets carry diseases,” says Dr. Hillestad.

One pet or two? While multiple pets can keep each other company, that may not be a good idea for an older person, says Dr. Hillestad. “Two puppies may bond with each other rather than with the owner,” she says.

Are finances an issue? Pets cost money. A small puppy can run more than $810 its first year for food, medical care, toys and grooming while a fish is less expensive–about $235, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If the pet takes ill, dollars snowball. Groups are available to help allay costs.

Susan Daffron, author of Happy Hound: Develop a Great Relationship with Your Adopted Dog or Puppy (Logical Expressions, 2006), has taken pets to nursing homes through shelter outreach programs. “I go down halls and people will say, ‘Oh, this looks just like my dog,'” she says. She has also helped elderly folks adopt the right animal. One woman, 86, wanted to be able to walk a dog but didn’t want a hyper pet. “She was good at judging her limitations,” Daffron says.

Angie Jones became interested in training therapy dogs after bringing her dog Hunter to visit her late father in a retirement home. “It took us half hour to get to my dad’s room because everyone stopped us along the way and wanted to pet the dog and tell me about their dog,” she says. “Hunter brought my father great joy and opened the door of communication since he was more of a recluse,” says Jones who started Central Ohio Good Shepherds, a chapter of Therapy Dogs International Inc.

Where to find the pet. While breeders are a good source, some shelters also provide a pet for less and offer the advantage of rescuing it from euthanasia. Purina Pets for Seniors partners with 200 shelters nationwide to provide seniors pet adoptions at a reduced cost (www.petsforpeople.com). Local services also exist such as Paws/LA in Los Angeles (www.pawsla.org).

Shelter employees often know the pet’s personality well and can make a good match, says Daffron. Online pet shopping is also possible, thanks to sites like www.petfinder.com, which pairs owners with 250,000 adoptable pets from 11,000 animal and rescue groups nationwide.

How to provide care long-term for a pet. Because an older owner may take ill or die, it’s important that the pet is provided for in a will and a caregiver named, says Dr. Hillestad. Even more basic is that someone knows that an elderly person has a pet. “If the person is rushed to the hospital, it could be left alone if nobody knows,” says Allen Anderson.

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Pets and Seniors: Avoiding Painful Separation

posted December 29th, 2015 by
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Seniors and Pets

Pets and Seniors

 

Last Updated: April 2, 2013 Pets and Seniors

By Steve Duno

For generations, pets have been a part of the fabric of our lives, keeping us company and providing us with steadfast, loyal devotion. Most of us have felt their unconditional love, and the sheer joy that comes from having a best friend who accepts us for who we are, faults and all, in an uncomplicated, mutually satisfying intimacy. Pets just make people feel happy.

Enjoyed by over half the households in the country, pet ownership is especially common amongst seniors, who, often living on their own, find the company of a good cat, dog, bird, or other pet to be of great comfort. The bond they develop with their pets can be deep-seated; indeed, the elderly’s closest confidants often walk on four legs rather than two.

THE TRAUMA OF PET SEPARATION

When the decision is made to move an elderly loved one to an assisted living facility, the fate of that strong pet/owner bond can become a major issue for the senior. “What on earth will happen to my friend?” is sometimes their biggest concern, often even above and beyond their own welfare. And some seniors, though relieved by the surrender of caring for a pet, can become remorseful over it; ironically this can mirror the mindset of their own families, who too may feel guilty over the senior’s move to the assisted-living environment.

The deteriorating health of our elderly, besides being the major motivator for a move to an assisted- living facility, can also adversely affect their pets. No longer able to go for regular walks, seniors aren’t able to properly exercise their dogs, or attend to basic pet needs such as feeding, cleaning up, and taking the pet in for a veterinary checkup. Those without the ability to drive or use transit can no longer get to the store for pet food and other supplies. And if the pet is a large, healthy dog, the senior might even get hurt trying to manage or control it. Though smaller pets such as cats or birds pose less of a problem, the ability to care for them properly is still diminished, often to the detriment of the pet. Clearly, when fading health becomes an issue, the pet/owner bond suffers.

THE BENEFITS OF PET OWNERSHIP

Despite the elderly pet lover’s diminishing capacity to care for his or her pet, studies show the health benefits of regular contact with an animal to be significant, especially for the aged. Contact with a dog, cat, or other pet has been clinically shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and to reduce the incidence of depression as related to failing health and fading autonomy. Pets help reduce boredom and feelings of hopelessness, and instill in the owner a sense of purpose born from being accountable for the welfare of an animal. Fewer doctor visits are reported, and aerobic activity levels tend to rise. In addition, caring for the pet becomes an “events calendar” of sorts for the senior, who without the pet would have precious little to do during the day. The pet provides a sense of obligation and duty, acts as a social catalyst, and gives the elderly owner someone to talk to and confide in. For all pet owners, but especially those in failing health, a pet can literally add years of health and happiness.

DEGREES OF PET SEPARATION

The good news is that most seniors today need not be denied the company of a pet, even when relocated into an assisted-care facility. First, as per federal housing laws, publicly-run facilities cannot prohibit pet ownership by residents,provided they are able to care for the pet. This would allow the pet/owner relationship to continue as long as the pet is adequately trained and socialized, and does not pose a threat to other patients. Though private facilities need not abide by these same federal laws, many still do allow pet ownership on varying levels. Staff and family providing elder care support can assist the patient when needed, with feeding, walking, and other pet-related duties. Patients with a good degree of autonomy are often fully able to care for a pet, especially when the living arrangement closely mirrors a normal home environment.

“Many homes allow pets on the premises,” says Michelle Cobey, spokesperson for the Delta Society, a Bellevue, Washington volunteer organization that helps incorporate pets into the lives of the ill, elderly, or disabled. “But sometimes it can be difficult to manage without help from the staff, or from volunteer case workers.” Cobey’s organization specializes in sending volunteers and their well-mannered pets into managed-care facilities, and in helping the elderly care for any resident pets on hand.

Resident pets don’t always work out well though, especially when the senior in question has a dog evidencing territorial behavior. If the resident does not properly socialize the dog with other patients, the animal can become overly-protective and guarded. This is especially common with the dog of an elderly owner, as it can sense its master’s failing health, and often compensates with increasing protectiveness.

“It usually works out better to have one resident-shared pet at the facility than to have many individually cared-for pets, especially dogs,” says Ron Baker, administrator at the North Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center in Bothell, Washington. “That way you avoid territorial issues that can lead to injury or trauma.” Baker adds that pet care volunteers are always welcome at his facility, to bring in pets or help with ones at the center.

PET SEPARATION ALTERNATIVES

If the senior cannot adequately care for a resident pet, family members can bring the animal into the facility for regular visits, rules permitting. Or, volunteer organizations such as the Delta Society, Pets On Wheels, Therapy Dogs International, or dozens of others can be called upon to send their legions of volunteers to facilities all across the nation, bringing with them friendly dogs or cats to delight both residents and staff. Trained to help seniors, children, hospital patients, and the cognitively impaired to enjoy interaction with gentle, loving pets, these volunteer visits are often the highlight of a pet-loving resident’s entire week.

In some cases, when the family or senior is unwilling or unable to care for a pet, it may have to be surrendered to a shelter for placement with another family. This pet separation can be devastating or liberating to the pet lover, depending upon the outcome. With a well-funded “no-kill” shelter in charge of placement, though, most healthy adult dogs have a good chance at finding a new home, especially if the pet is well-behaved and sweet. National organizations like the SPCA and the Humane Society, as well as countless quality regional shelters can all help with the difficult task of finding the appropriate home for a good pet whose owner can no longer care for it.

“Often it’s a last-minute decision made not by the elderly resident, but by the family,” says Judith Piper, director of Old Dog Haven in Arlington, Washington, dedicated to finding homes for older dogs often surrendered up by the elderly. “Often I find the physical and mental condition of these dogs mirrors the condition of the elderly owner, who might be suffering from reduced cognitive capacity. A dog’s poor hygiene and worsening physical and behavioral state is often a clue to the owner’s inability to care for it. Families can get a good feel for their loved one’s state of mind by noticing any health or behavior problems in their pets.” Piper adds that, if a family or resident plans to surrender a pet up for adoption, it is essential to provide the shelter with pertinent veterinary records, especially if the pet is old.

If the pet is being cared for in a managed care facility by a resident, certain practices can be taken to make caring for the pet easier. With a cat for instance, the litter box needn’t be located on the floor, where it might be difficult for the senior to access. Better to locate it at waist height on a counter, where the resident can easily attend to it. For walking a dog, residents can use a halter-type collar instead of a traditional neck collar, to prevent pulling on leash. The halter collar fits on the pet’s face like the bridle of a horse, and makes leash control nearly effortless. The same goes for a bird cage; place it at the appropriate height and location so the resident can access it easily. All food, litter, and pet supplies should be easily accessible and light enough not to cause strain. Buying smaller bags of food and litter can prevent muscle strains and back injuries. And for medical concerns, consider having a mobile veterinary service visit the facility, instead of requiring the senior or a family member to make a trip.

With proper family help, institutional elder care support, and volunteer assistance, our elderly loved ones need not deny themselves the elixir of the pet/owner bond. It can continue on, helping to motivate and inspire them for years to come, providing the love and good cheer they so deserve.

Veteran pet behaviorist and authorSteve Dunolives in Seattle with his family and an ever-changing assortment of rescued pets, and has authored seventeen books and numerous articles for magazines and the Internet.

RELATED RESOURCES

Find Pet-Friendly Senior Living Communities

Assisted Living Checklist

PAAS 2015

posted December 29th, 2015 by
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Looking Back

2015 has been a year of firsts for PAAS.

Header

PAAS opened our doors on April 17th 2015.  By May 17th it was clear we needed to implement a plan B in order to save the homeless dogs and cats in our area.Plan B was transport out-of-state.  Thanks to Denver Dumb Friends League, Boulder Valley Humane Society and Cheyenne Animal Welfare 255+ dogs have found new homes.  Cats – – we’re still working on a solution – – it may be The Netherlands!!!

Miss Ruby is first on the video – she was our first rescue (pregnant – sick – malnourished).  Her puppies quickly found homes in Wyoming.  Miss Ruby now lives the life of luxury in Enid, OK.  Our fantastic volunteers, Tom & Vicki, established the Richardson Birthing Center – the go-to place for all our pregnant dogs.

We’re busy, we’re saving lives and we’re so grateful for all the financial support – –

Watch the video – – support our mission – – help us save lives.

http://tinyurl.com/zmqzrmw                Donate Now

Kay Stout, Director   PAAS Vinita  [email protected]  918-256-7227

How Pet Therapy Has Changed Assisted Living

posted December 27th, 2015 by
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Pet Therapy

Pet Therapy in Senior Living

from a place for mom

By Mary Park Byrne

Last Updated: January 12, 2015

It doesn’t take a scientist to know that pets make humans feel good; anyone who’s ever stroked a dog’s fur or felt a cat’s thrumming purr knows this. Science can, however, tell us how and why pets can be therapeutic. Just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels immediately drop. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke. This is why pets for the elderly can be so beneficial.

PET CARE & SENIOR LIVING

One of the biggest concerns of allowing seniors to bring their beloved pets to assisted living communities is that the program needs to ensure the pets’ well-being. Duvall, Washington veterinarian, Dr. Kevin Sievers, comments on the importance of the pets’ needs: “Humans benefit greatly from the companionship of a pet. An animal in the life of a senior can give them new meaning and improve their well-being, so it is important for seniors to have a pet in their living environment. I also think it’s very important to remember the health needs of the pets. Seniors can forget to properly medicate or even feed their pets. Senior living communities need to be able to help their residents care for their pets to ensure the health and happiness of both the seniors and their pets.” So the key to an overall healthy relationship for both the senior and the pet is to have a pet friendly assisted living community that can ensure proper care for the pet, if the owner is not capable.

Fortunately, many senior living communities are on board with this service and even have a Pet Care Coordinator at their communities to help make sure all the pets are well cared for and are up-to-date on vaccines and veterinary care. This ensures the pets are groomed, fed, walked and happy when they otherwise wouldn’t be if the senior is not able to perform these responsibilities.

PET THERAPY’S AMAZING IMPACT ON QUALITY OF LIFE

For seniors, the benefits of a furry companion can be life-changing. Walking a dog is great cardiovascular exercise, but just the simple act of caring for a pet-petting, brushing, feeding-provides both mild activity and a means to stay engaged with the world. Pets can make the elderly feel needed, and that feeling can translate into a greater sense of purpose and self-worth. During what can be a lonely time of life, the unconditional love of a cherished dog or cat can be a bridge to more socialization with others, lowered stress, mental stimulation and a renewed interest in life.

In the past, a move to a nursing home or retirement community meant giving up this important bond with the animal world. While many retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes still don’t allow pets, it’s great that many of these assisted living communities have decided to integrate pets into their communities, as the pet therapy benefits to the elderly is overwhelming.

“We don’t just let them in,” says Steve Winner, co-founder of Silverado Senior Living with a chuckle, “we require them. Pets are an integral part of what we do.” From the start, Silverado has embraced the power of pets and pet therapy for the elderly to make happier lives for those affected by dementia.

Assisted living communities in the Silverado network not only have dogs, cats and fish on site, but also miniature horses, llamas, chinchillas, and even baby kangaroos. “We ask senior residents to help us care for them,” says Winner. “The responsibility of caring for other living beings builds self-esteem.”

Pets are not only beneficial to their owners, but have also proven to have positive effects on other senior residents at assisted living facilities. “Sometimes new residents can be withdrawn and not very communicative, and it’s the first interaction with an animal that draws them out,” says Winner. “They’re pulled out of their shell by the pets.”

PET THERAPY’S IMPACT ON SUNDOWNERS SYNDROME & DEMENTIA

Pet therapy for the elderly has also proven to be a powerful tool for what’s known as “Sundowners Syndrome” evening periods of increased agitation and confusion in those with Alzheimer’s. Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets.

The San Diego Humane Society’s Pet-Assisted Therapy Program has noticed how even the most profoundly affected patients have displayed improved appetite, more social interaction and tactile and cognitive stimulation after interactions with pets. “Animals provide unconditional love and emotional support in a way that is unparalleled. Our Pet-Assisted Therapy program brings the joys of animals to people who are otherwise unable to have an animal in their life, such as those living in facilities such as convalescent homes, hospitals, mental health centers, children’s homes and juvenile detention centers,” says Judith Eisenberg, Pet-Assisted Therapy Coordinator for the San Diego Humane Society. “What an animal can give and teach is a powerful source of healing and personal connection.” In this way, pet therapy is an excellent way to provide an extra dimension of happiness to senior citizens.

We encourage you to contact communities individually to learn about their pet policy and find out if there are weight or breed restrictions as well as community pet care programs.

RELATED RESOURCES

Find Pet-Friendly Assisted Living

Pets & Seniors: Avoiding Painful Separation