Thursday, December 25, 2014

Austin Dog Alliance therapy dogs spread holiday cheer

Four legged friends are making Christmas Eve a little bit brighter for area nursing home esidents.
Buddy, Mollie, Blue, and several other therapy dogs snuggled up with residents at the Clairmont Retirement Community.
The dogs are part of Austin Dog Alliance.
This is the 5th year for the group to visit residents on Christmas Eve.
In all, volunteers will visit a total of nine locations Wednesday.
The alliance says studies show therapy dogs can make a difference in how a patient recovers and even help lower blood pressure.
“When you see the smiles on their faces, just by bringing a dog in is extremely therapeutic and makes everyone smile and nothing better than making someone happy," said Erica Simono with the Austin Dog Alliance.
This year, 120 alliance pet therapy dog handlers and their partners visited more than 100 hospitals, nursing homes and hospices in Austin.
They gave more than 3,500 volunteer hours.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Love doesn't leave


Puppy found unharmed after fire destroys Austin home

Published:   Updated: 
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A puppy feared dead in an East Austin house fire last week was found unscathed by firefighters during a second check of the home. The Austin Fire Department posted a picture Thursday of the dog pulled from the home on Dec. 8.
Jesse Escalante says his son escaped with most of their dogs in hand, but they thought three puppies were dead inside. But when the dogs’ mother refused to leave the yard and kept whining, firefighters went back inside. They found one of puppies unharmed under some insulation in a front bedroom. The dog was reunited with its mother and the owner of the home.
“How it survived is a mystery, but it certainly gave all of us around here hope,” the department’s Facebook post said.
The fire was caused by a space heater sitting too close to combustible materials, the department said.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Jamie Baxter, a fire specialist with AFD. “We didn’t think there’d be anything alive in the structure. It was pretty heavily damaged.”
Escalante has been through a lot this year; his wife passed away and his grandson was killed in October while working as a security guard at a bar.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No central heat at Austin Pets Alive


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Down at the Townlake Animal Center off Cesar Chavez, Austin Pets Alive is struggling to keep their dogs warm during these cold spells because the central heat doesn’t work. Instead they’re using propane space heaters to keep the dogs warm and keeping them confined to the inner portions of the kennel — which is making some a little stir crazy.
The operations manager of the nonprofit said it would cost them $10,000 to fix the heating system, so they are hoping someone would be willing to donate their services to help put something else in its place to keep the animals warm. In the meantime, they are working with what they have.
“Right now we have to unplug the space heaters when we leave and it does keep the heat but when it gets to freezing and below we pay staff overtime hours to keep the space heaters running so we can keep them running all night long and they do walk-throughs to make sure we don’t have any fires happening,” said Faith Wright, Operations Manager, Austin Pets Alive.
They need donations of blankets and bones — specifically to keep the dogs busy. But they are also looking for foster families who can take a dog for the holidays or even just picking one up at night and dropping it back off during the day.
For more information, click on this link.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Central Texas SPCA: Barktoberfest raised over $12,000

Barktoberfest was a Success!

The weather was fantastic on Saturday, 10/25, and hundreds of animal lovers and their dogs came out to make our 12th Annual Barktoberfest a success.  We raised over $12,000 to save homeless dogs and cats in the months ahead.

The costume contest winners for most original and scariest were adorable as were all the other entries. 

The crowd was wowed by the awesome demo put on by Cedar Park Police Department's K-9 Unit and all of our attendees enjoyed more than 20 vendor and sponsor booths, great food, and our 2K walk around the lovely Champion Park in Cedar Park. 

Special thanks goes out to all our sponsors for their generous support.  We hope you'll thank them if you have a chance.

Kudos to KVUE for investigation into confusion over Trifexis

"He lost complete function of his back end. He couldn't walk. He could get up. It was very hard," said Melissa Baker. "He just held his head up almost as if saying, 'Momma help me.' I still have that vision in my head."

From: Terri GrucaKVUE

Linda Holmbeck's companion of 5-and-a-half years, Toby, started acting strangely last summer while taking a walk.
"It was horrible," said Holmbeck. "He came around the corner, he was ahead of me and he just passed out. I gave him the heartworm preventative Trifexis and he became deadly ill overnight."
Both Baker and Holmbeck had to euthanize their pets and both blame Trifexis.
Holmbeck filed a report with the FDA and Elanco detailing why she believes Trifexis is at fault.
Trifexis has become popular with pet owners because it's the first treatment to combine both a heartworm prevention and something that can kill fleas into one pill.
Since 2011, approximately 70 million doses of Trifexis have been sold in the U.S.
FDA records obtained by the Defenders show thousands of pet owners and vets report dogs became violently ill from the two drugs that make up Trifexis.
That includes more than 23,360 reports about vomiting, more than 1,363 reports of seizures and 344 deaths.
In response to our questions about the drug, Elanco - the company that makes Trifexis - wrote:
"There is no certainty that the drug caused the adverse event". These reports "may have been related to an underlying disease, other drug or other non-drug related causes…"
"We continue to monitor and investigate all the adverse event data and look for potential product-related trends", but "there continues to be no established link between Trifexis use and death."
The FDA is scrutinizing complaints like it does any other drug during the first three years on the market.
"We're very concerned. We're watching things very closely," said Bill Campbell, DVM, a veterinarian at Parmer Lane Vet Hospital.
Dr. Campbell knows Trifexis well. His clinic has dispensed 15,000 doses since 2011.
"People need to be aware. They need to know what to look for," he said. "If you're seeing vomiting, it's time to move to another drug."
Part of the problem in connecting any drug to a pet death is that few people get necropsies on their pets, Baker and Holmbeck among them.
"I started comparing and every time I would give him that pill, within two to three days I was calling the vet. I was at the vet," said Holmbeck. "To me it's crystal clear."
Elanco doesn't agree it is at fault. Arguing, "Neither the attending veterinarian, nor a specialist at Texas A&M believes Trifexis was a factor" in her dog Toby's death.
"You don't want to minimize their grief and distress, but on the other hand we want to be smart about this," said Dr. Campbell.
Both Baker and Holmbeck just want other pet owners to be aware of the potential side effects.
"People need to be aware," said Baker. "They need to know what to look for. If I would have known, if someone had told me when I bought that medicine watch out for these things, if this happens then I would have stopped the medicine immediately, but I never knew."
Their hope is that no one has to see their pet suffer, the way they said Toby and Rhett did.
Elanco does list potential side effects on the label, among them vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. Any pet owner who has concerns can contact Elanco at 888-545-5973. You can also file a report with the FDA here.
How to look up your pet's medicines
The complaints pet owners file with the FDA are online. It's important to keep in mind that these reports do not necessarily link a pet's death with a drug, they are what pet owners believe is to blame for their pet's condition. You can type in any pet drug name and find the reports pet owners and vets have filed here.
More information on the Adverse Event Reports from the FDA
  1. For any given ADE (Adverse Drug Event) report, there is no certainty that the reported drug caused the adverse event. The adverse event may have been related to an underlying disease, using other drugs at the same time, or other non-drug related causes. And, this listing does not include information about underlying diseases, other drugs used at the same time, other non-drug related causes, or the final outcome of the reaction.
  2. The accuracy of information regarding the ADE is dependent on the quality of information received from the veterinarian or animal owner.
  3. Accumulated ADE reports should not be used to calculate incidence rates or estimates of drug risk, because there is no accurate way to determine how many animals were given the drug. For example, if a drug is widely used to treat certain conditions, there may be more ADEs for that drug than another product that is not used as often. This would not mean that the first drug was more unsafe than the second. The number of reports simply represents the numbers of ADEs received for a particular drug, by species, and route of administration.
  4. Information on how the drugs were used (for indications on the product label or in an extra label manner) is not provided.
  5. Adverse experiences are listed by the active ingredient of each drug in the ADE Report. One of the active ingredients in the list may represent more than one brand name. Interested individuals can find a complete list of brand names associated with each active ingredient by using Animal Drugs @ FDA and selecting Section 2:Active Ingredients.
This is the report the FDA sent the Defenders in regards to the complaints on the two medicines that make up Trifexis – spinosad and milbemycin oxime. These reports are more detailed than what you find on line. Dog issues start on page 7.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Faux real and only in Austin: First ever annual dog beard and mustache competition

On Saturday, November 15th, dog lovers throughout central Texas will convene and show off their canine’s coiffure.  Please join Austin Facial Hair Club, and Austin Animal Center at Mohawk for the 1st Annual Dog Beard and Moustache Competition.
Mohawk and Austin Facial Hair Club are teaming up with Austin Animal Center to help pets in need of forever homes. Austin Animal Center runs the largest animal shelter in central Texas, providing shelter to more than 18,000 animals each year, as well as animal protection services to Austin and Travis County. This open intake facility accepts lost and surrendered animals from all of Travis County regardless of age, health, species, or breed. Come strut with your mutt and help raise awareness for this amazing organization.
Doors will open at 2pm. This family-friendly event will be free of charge with a $5 suggested donation upon admittance.

Dog & Owner look-a-like contest- Pet and owner​ must be similar in appearance, style, and attitude​
Freestyle category​-​ Styled beard and moustache. Styling products permitted, any shape or color! Emphasis on creativity and complexity of design. No artificial hair.
Best groomed​- Neatest looking, well-kept dog beard. Emphasis on symmetry, clean lines, and a neatness of the canine beard.​
Gnarliest beard​-​ Wild looking, gnarly dog beard! The wilder the better!
Short groomed​- Clean cut, “Business beard​”. Neatest looking, well-kept dog beard. Emphasis on symmetry, clean lines, and a neatness of the canine beard.​
Sideburns​/​chops​- Sideburns or hair on the sides of the dogs face.​ Emphasis on symmetry, style, and appearance.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jason Biggs Uses Twitter to Find His Lost Dog

Sweet Gina escaped on Halloween, but after Biggs put his half million followers on the case, she quickly made it home


In the old days, if a celebrity lost his dog, he might call the mayor or the chief of police -- or even the president of the United States if he was George Lucas and Star Wars had just hit theaters. 
OK, maybe not. But the point is: Twitter. Twitter has revolutionized lost-dog-finding operations, and celebrities, with their follower counts that run into the hundreds of thousands, are uniquely situated to put those followers to work -- finding their dogs.
Witness Jason Biggs (American Pie and Orange Is the New Black). He lost his adorable dog on Halloween night, and he and wife Jenny Mollen (Angel) immediately turned to his half million followers to get the word out. They ran a perfect campaign. First, the announcement, paired with a precious photo:
He included vital information and again showed how adorable Gina is.
He got RTs from other Twitter celebrities with huge follower counts, like TMZ and Jenny Johnson
He provided updates as they came in:
And then, the miracle happened. The tweets eventually made their way to the woman in the van who had picked the dog up, and Gina was returned to Biggs. The Good Samaritan had scooped up Gina off the road, assuming she was lost. Biggs quickly relayed the good news to his followers:
And then he set about thanking all the people who helped him, including TMZ:
Finally, he gave us the victory shot: Gina back at home with her family.

Texas Humane Legislation Network: Go to the polls for animals

She can't vote, so please make sure you do! Photo by Larry Berman. 

If you haven't already voted, be sure you get out and vote on Tuesday November 4th! Candidates who care about protecting animals against abuse and cruelty need your vote so that they in turn can pass humane legislation. Without the efforts of humane legislators in Texas, we would have none of the following laws:    

Animal Cruelty Statute: Certain acts of animal cruelty are a state jail felony.   

Dog Fighting: In 1983, the Texas Legislature made dog fighting illegal. In 2007 and 2009, the Legislature increased the punishments for dog fighting. 

Horse Slaughter: Humane legislators time and again have had to defend Texas' horses against those who wish to process horses and ship the meat abroad. 

Cockfighting:  Cockfighting, once defended as a sport, is now illegal in Texas.

Animal Friendly License Plates: This  law provides funds for no-cost and low-cost pet spay/neuter surgeries.

Horse Tripping: Without this law, it would be legal to rope or trip a horse at full gallop. Horse tripping is horrifically cruel and leads to severe injuries and death.  

Pet Evacuation Bill: In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, legislators recognized that people consider pets to be family and would stay in harm's way rather than abandon their animals.  

The Puppy Mill Law: Also known as the large scale commercial breeders act, without this law, there would be no inspection or regulation of large scale pet breeders in Texas.   

Use of the Gas Chamber as a Method of Euthanasia in Shelters: In 2013,legislators voted unanimously to stop the use of carbon monoxide gas to euthanize pets in Texas Shelters.

You can check to see if a candidate in your district received our endorsement by clicking here. Clichere to find your polling station.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

To your cat you are a huge unpredictable ape

Shingles isn’t my condition; he’s my cat. I love him like crazy, but he gets under my skin.
I’m not alone as a conflicted cat fancier. Tony Buffington is a veterinarian at Ohio State University, and he recently told me many cat owners are constantly frustrated by their feline companions. Even though we feed them, clean up after them, and pet, hug, and hold them, Buffington says that few of us know how to listen to our cats. This can make things more frustrating for them than for us. That’s because no matter how much we love them, cats are our captives, domesticated aliens with no way of explaining their customs, or of interpreting ours.
Dr. Buffington (a great name for your next kitten, by the way) sat down with me to explain how to listen to cats. These aren’t just tricks to score more cuddle time, but ways to create a more harmonious home that could improve your cat’s health. For years, he’s been studying the root causes of interstitial cystitis, a painful and chronic inflammation of feline bladder tissue. His research indicates a stressful home environment may cause the condition, and perhaps other chronic cat diseases as well. He believes the best cure is learning to listen to your cat, giving him choices, and reducing the environmental factors that trigger his stress response.
You are a huge, unpredictable ape
You hear the unmistakable sound of claws on couch. You snap, shout, squirt water, and maybe even throw a pillow. It’s all futile, because eventually he’s at it again. Your cat isn’t ignoring you, Buffington says. He just doesn’t know how to connect your negative reinforcement with his behavior. This is because cats evolved as solitary hunters with little need for reading social cues, especially those for behavior modification.
“How the hell is your cat supposed to know that you’re yelling at him because you want him to stop scratching the couch?” Buffington says. Without the cognitive ability to connect your outburst to their scratching, cats see only chaotic aggression. “To the cat, you’re this crazy primate who is attacking him for no reason,” he says.
Instead of discouraging the act, you become an object of fear. What’s more, your cat becomes frustrated, and eventually stressed, because you constantly interrupt natural feline activities like raking his claws or jumping on something high. “Cats get sick when they want to express their natural behaviors and they can’t,” he said, and will continue to do the thing when you aren’t around.
“The way to train a cat is through their environment,” Buffington said. For example, put two-sided tape on the corner of your couch, or tinfoil on the kitchen counter. Then, put the now-more-attractive alternative nearby: A scratching post covered with catnip, or the awesome cat tree you built from scavenged driftwood. When your cat does the thing you want her do to, reward her with a treat, or affection. “You let the house provide the negative reinforcement, while you provide the positive reinforcement,” Buffington said.
Feline feng shui
In those few hours each day where he isn’t sleeping, your cat is a little bundle of energy that wants to move through your home as harmoniously as possible. But you’ve disrupted his flow by placing the food dish next to the refrigerator, the litter box by the dryer, and his favorite cardboard box alongside the sliding glass door leading to the yard.
You might be deaf to the fridge fan or the spin cycle. But Buffington says it sounds like a monster growling at them while they eat or poop. Put the dish and the litter box in quiet, calm places where kitty has an escape route if he feels threatened (i.e., not in a closet).
Sights also can be stressful. Cats are curious about other animals, but if there is no visual barrier between the dogs, cats, goats, horses, or alpacas outside, the cat will feel threatened. “Cats don’t understand glass, but they do understand height,” Buffington says. Give your cat access to high places, like a cat tree or bookshelf, where she can observe in peace.
Leave Fluffy’s tummy alone
Sights and sounds aren’t the only things in your house that assault your cat’s senses. Humans are much more touchy-feely than cats, and we sometimes find their fluffiness irresistible. But cats, like us, want some say in how they’re handled. “Would you appreciate it if someone was always picking you up, hugging you, rubbing you?” Buffington says.
The best bet is to let Fluffy guide the interaction. If she’s rubbing some part of her body against you, she’s given you permission to pet that part of her.
Fat Nasty Cat being fat and nasty
You touched her no-no place.Steve Hardy/Flickr
Other feline behaviors are tricky, because they appear to be an invitation for petting. The classic is when Fluffy exposes her belly. When you go in for a rub, she bites and scratches you. “Exposing her belly is not a trap the cat is setting,” Buffington says. “The cat is biting you because they feel violated and afraid.” A cat’s belly is its most vulnerable body part, and exposing it is the cat letting you know she trusts you—not that she wants a belly rub.
That’s not the only place that’s off limits. Have you ever been petting your cat and all of a sudden she slinks off to the other side of the room, cowers behind something, and stares at you?
“If your cat is acting weird, then something probably triggered this behavior,” Buffington says. Perhaps you kept petting the base of her tail, because she kept raising her butt. This area is filled with nerves, and being pet there can be overstimulating, much like being tickled is to us. Also, being cradled is not normal for cats. If your cat is curled up in your lap, it’s not necessarily an invitation to be picked up.
What’s that? Your cat is totally fine with you picking her up, snuggling her, and rubbing her angel-soft belly? That’s fine. Nobody’s jealous. Just stop talking about it.
You want your cats to be friends more than they do
Shingles and I recently moved into a house with two other cats, and my roommate and I have been trying for months to get them to play. It hasn’t been going well. Time and again, we put them in the living room and watch as mild curiosity turns into panic and fighting.
Did we just become best friends?Jetske/Flickr
Buffington says we’re doing this all wrong. Start slow, he says, by rubbing each cat in turn with the same dry towel to get them used to each others’ scent. Before introducing them, make sure each cat has eaten, pooped, and received affection from their respective owners. In other words, ensure they are comfortable. Once the cats are together, let your cat know you have its back by giving it lots of affection. Don’t pressure them to mingle, and make sure each has an unimpeded escape route.
And if your cat isn’t feeling the play date and decides to bail, let him go. Buffington says one of our biggest misconceptions is that cats need to be around other cats. In the wild, cats hunt alone, and they don’t share. Other cats aren’t friends; they’re competition.
Your cat cares about you
Your cat is not as indifferent about you as she may seem. She wants to bond, and the best way to do so are with petting, food, and play. If your cat doesn’t like to play, you might be doing it wrong. If you’re using a laser pointer, don’t wave it like you’re at a rave. Move it at natural speeds and let the cat catch it occasionally. The same rule applies with the feather-on-a-string toy.
Shingles used to cry incessantly whenever I left for the day, and I worried that leaving him home alone was making him neurotic. Buffington suggests I create little rituals for coming and going. “Before you leave, you can call to the cat, give him some affection and let him know you are saying good bye,” Buffington says. And he says to have a similar ritual for coming home. “Some married couples survive on less than an hour a day of contact. Your relationship with your cat can survive on 10 minutes a day, as long as it’s really quality,” Buffington says.