April 19, 2012 – Collars Are Not Enough - It's National Pet ID week
By ASPCA estimates, only one third of all pet owners keep adequate identification on their pets at all times. How often we hear people say that “he's just an indoor cat”, or “my Yorkie only goes out in the yard and she's never out of my sight”. If you think that you and your pet could never be separated, think again.
In the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, countless dogs and cats were separated from their owners and left to fend for themselves on the streets of New Orleans and across the devastated Gulf Coast . Due to the widespread nature of the disaster, many pets were never reunited with their owners. For this reason, this week - National Pet ID Week - takes on special significance for those of us in hurricane prone South Florida . No matter where you live, though, if you are a pet owner, you should take some time out this week to consider what would happen to your beloved dog or cat should they be separated from you.
You should be aware that any number of disasters, both natural and man made could separate you from your pet. Hurricanes are not the only potential disaster we South Floridians face - fires, home break-ins, tornados, floods, or even (God forbid) a terrorist attack, are all good reasons to take extra steps to make sure your pet is properly identified.
Collars, while important, are not always the best way to insure that your pet can be identified in the event disaster strikes. Collars can be broken, slipped out of, or even not put on the animal by forgetful or distracted owners. The best way that we have found to cheaply and reliably make sure your pet can be identified, is by microchip implant. Microchips are tiny, static, electronic devices that are implanted under your dog, or cat's skin and remain there for the life of your pet. All laboratories, veterinary clinics, animal shelters and rescue organizations check all incoming stray and abandoned animals for the presence of microchips. Animals are checked using a device much like a hand held scanner used in department stores to scan merchandise. When the chip is detected, your name and contact information are displayed on a monitor, and a happy reunion takes place soon thereafter. Microchips are not expensive, and in some cases are available from local humane societies for less than $20.
There are also a number of GPS products that can be used to track your pet. In most cases GPS tracking products use a small device that secures to the animal's collar. If your pet is lost, he or she can be tracked using a mobile app on your smart phone. Since I have not had any experience with these, I can't speak to their effectiveness. For day-to-day ‘lost animal' scenarios, such products seem like a good investment (as long as you can afford the $200 or so yearly fee). For disaster planning, however, any device that adheres to the collar would be lost should the collar be removed, or if the animal should slip out of it. Also, remember that immediately following a disaster, electric and telephone service - even cellular service - will likely be down, thus rendering a GPS tracking device virtually worthless.
As a final word regarding pet identification, you should have an up to date photo of your pet on hand at all times. This should be a photo taken with the express purpose of identifying your animal. It need not be professionally taken, but that cute Christmas picture that you took of your Siamese in a Santa hat won't do.
If your pet has any unique identifying markings, make certain that they show in the photo. If you live in a hurricane prone area like South Florida, I recommend you make 50-100 copies of your pet's photo to use in case you need to make fliers to post in your neighborhood should your pet be lost. As a cheap way to seal your fliers, purchase plastic sheet protectors from any office supply store. Place the fliers in the sheet protectors and seal all edges with tape. Store your fliers in your hurricane kit along with a staple gun and extra staples. Make sure that in addition to your own telephone numbers (land line and cell both), that you include an alternate number of a friend or relative in a distant location – one that is likely to be outside of the storm impacted area. In this way, even if telephone service has not been restored in your area, rescue workers will be able to contact someone to tell them your pet has been rescued.
Well that's about all for today. By the way, the holidays are on the way – Memorial Day and the 4 th of July. We are booking fast for these dates so call us as soon as you know your travel plans.
Happy Spring Everyone!!
March 23, 2012
Hi everyone. It has been awhile since I have blogged, but things have been pretty busy here at A1A Pet Sitters. It is spring here in South Florida , and as many of our snowbird friends/clients are preparing for the trek back ‘up north', the rest of us down here in the sub-tropics are getting ready for the hot summer days ahead.
Before the heat of summer (and another hurricane season) descends upon us here in Broward and Palm Beach Counties , I would like to ask that you take a moment to assess the general health of your pet. When was the last time your pet visited the vet for a routine exam? If your pet is overdue for a checkup, now is a great time to make an appointment.
I was thinking about this topic the other day, when I received an email from a friend listing the top 5 health concerns that now face our pets. I was somewhat surprised to find that the number 1 concern was lack of proper veterinary care. This is being directly attributed to current economic conditions. It seems that today's turbulent financial times are taking a toll not only on we humans, but our pets as well, as many people are being forced to forego proper medical care for their pets, in order to meet the needs of their own families. The study that my friend sent to me indicates that back in 2007 (before the height of the Great Recession of 2008), the average dog visited the vet only 2.6 times per year, while cats averaged only about 1.7 times per year. Today's statistics are projected to be lower yet. Fewer vet visits mean that more and more pets out there are developing potentially serious, and undiagnosed, health problems such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, flea and tick problems, worms, and ear and eye infections to name only a few.
Pet owners who are worried that they cannot afford proper health care for their pets may be relieved to find that there are many affordable, and yes – sometimes free options - available to them. In Broward County , a good place to begin a search for low-cost pet care is with the Broward Humane Society (local Humane Societies are a great place to begin looking for low-cost veterinary services no matter where you live). These folks offer a low-cost spay and neuter program, and they also work together with private vets to assist people with limited resources in obtaining affordable care for their pets. Go to their website for contact information:
As another valuable resource, see the information provided at floridapets.net. Here, site owner Patricia Collier has compiled an exhaustive list of resources for pet owners in need:
In Palm Beach County , the non-profit ‘Pawz-2-Help', offers many low-cost services for between $7.50 and $15.00:
There are many other fine organizations in our area that offer similar services. They are out there if you reach out.
Happy spring to all!!!
February 10, 2012
As I drive the streets and highways of South Florida these days, I can't help thinking of how things have changed over the course of the past ten years. Back in 2002, when A1A Pet Sitters opened for business, the meteoric housing boom that would take our little piece of paradise by storm had not yet begun. The term ‘foreclosure' was a word that few of us thought about, and the telling “Bank Owned” sign in front of a home was rare indeed. As we all know though, dramatic changes were in the offing, and South Florida would soon be at the ep icenter of an economic earthquake. Within a few short years, the unemployment rolls would swell, and the so called housing ‘bubble' would burst with a vengeance.
Right here in our very own Broward County , Florida , the toll on human beings has been great, and to take the misery index to an even higher level, a new term has been coined: foreclosure pets . Homeowners driven from their homes often have to part with their beloved pet companions as they are forced to move to rental units that do not acc ep t pets, to move in with relatives, or perhaps to travel across the country to look for employment. In some cases, an owner may simply no longer be able to afford the financial burden of caring for their pet. Many people have to make agonizing decisions -- decisions that in many cases result in having to give up their pets to shelters, releasing them to roam free, or as in some documented cases, leaving them behind in abandoned houses or garages. It should be emphasized that the later two options are NEVER acceptable.
Today's heavily domesticated pets are totally d ep endent upon we humans for their survival. Pets released to roam free are destined to starve to death, fall victim to predators, or succumb to disease. A similar fate most certainly awaits those animals left behind in abandoned structures. Organizations such as foreclosurepets.orgs are working with displaced homeowners to help give shelter, and find homes for foreclosure pets, as are local shelters. A1A Pet Sitters is committed to spreading the word about this, and similar organizations and supporting them with donations.
So what can you do to help? I suggest the following:
Contribute – Shelters nationwide r ep ort that while it is difficult to attribute the housing crisis directly to the large number of drop offs (owners often simply tell shelters that they are ‘moving', without going into details), the number of animals dropped off has surged as home foreclosures have increased. Shelters, especially ‘no kill shelters' are in dire need of funding. If you can afford to contribute, then please do so.
Speak up – If you suspect an animal has been abandoned in a home, don't wait. Call local animal control immediately. Constant barking from a house that appears abandoned is often the first sign that an animal is trapped inside. Similarly, you should r ep ort loose animals to the authorities immediately. You are not doing an animal a favor by allowing them to roam free. It is also important to note here, that it is never a good idea to approach a loose animal. Large dogs especially may become aggressive when they are hungry and frightened.
Adopt – But only if you are really ready to take on the added burden of taking care of a pet. If your time and finances allow, taking an animal into your home can be a richly rewarding experience. Also, be aware that some pet owners are simply looking for a good ‘foster parent' for a specified period of time. Sometimes a pet owner just needs a good caregiver for a month or two, or just long enough to move into a pet friendly apartment or home. If you can help in this way, we at A1A Pet Sitters encourage you to do so.
So that is all for this blog. See you all next time, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter.
January 26, 2012
Hi Everyone -- We are now well into the New Year and I am so excited when I think of what lies ahead for A1A Pet Sitters. This year, we have decided to make a few ‘online' changes. While I believe that change, simply for the sake of change, is not always a good idea, I believe that change that brings us closer to our clients, and the pets that we care for, is change for the good.
We decided that in 2012 that it was time to retire the original A1A Pet Sitters website (you know the one – pink background - white palm trees), and put up a new site. In retrospect, a lot has happened since that site went live, and we were in our ‘pet sitting infancy', back in 2002. Dusty, our golden retriever who has graced our homepage for the past ten years, passed in February 2010, after a long battle with lymphoma. For this reason, the fight against canine cancer is very close to our heart. We realize that times are hard right now for many people, but we ask those who can to consider this a cause worthy of contribution. Our pets give us a great deal of love and joy and they ask little in return.
If you were among our early clients, you may recall the ‘A1A Paw Prints' newsletter that we published monthly. Rising production costs and postage rates eventually forced us to discontinue the newsletter, but today – thanks to the ‘blogosphere' we are able to convey this same content to you via forums such as this. And don't forget that we now Tweet…(no comments please, bird owners) - join us on Twitter by clicking the icon at the top of our home page. Become a follower and we promise not to inundate you with worthless information (really).
And finally, I want to mention our new look on the web. For this, we give huge kudos to Matthew LoBello, at LoBello Arts for making this happen, and in record time too. Thanks Matt.
And thanks most of all, to our loyal clients who have been with us during this past decade - to all of you who trust A1A Pet Sitters with your furry family while you are away!
-- Mary Jane