How to Help Florida and Caribbean Pets Affected by Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma left a widespread trail of flooding and destruction throughout the Caribbean and Florida.  What can concerned animal lovers do to help the dogs, cats, and other animals left homeless by the hurricane?  Animal rescue and relief efforts are underway, led by both U.S. and international animal welfare organizations. Here’s an update on a few ongoing rescue operations.

The Humane Society International and the H3 Foundation are teaming up to help the animals of the British Virgin Islands that have been impacted by Hurricane Irma.  An emergency veterinary team has already arrived on the island of Tortola, with more rescue and relief efforts scheduled to arrive in the BVI in the coming days.  Click HERE to learn more.

The islands of Antigua and Barbuda were hard hit by Irma.  While there are no animal shelters on Barbuda, Antigua humane organizations are helping the pets and farm animals of both islands.  Check out the Facebook page of Paaws Antigua for the latest news and updates on their ongoing efforts to save the animals in both places.

The Florida Keys SPCA is on the front lines of helping the homeless pets of the Keys.  Their facilities were damaged and all their resident shelter animals have been moved into foster homes.  Not only will they need help with repairing shelter buildings on Key West and Marathon, they also expect an influx of many more displaced pets in the coming days and weeks.

South Florida’s wild animals need help, too!  The South Florida Wildlife Center rescues and rehabilitates the wildlife of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.  Hurricanes can flood birds and animals out of nests and burrows, so wildlife rescue efforts are especially critical after storms.

 

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FAQs: Airline Travel with Pets

Thinking about bringing your fur kids along when you visit family and friends over the holidays?  If your holiday travel will involve an airline flight, it’s never too early to start planning for a smooth trip for both yourself and your pet.  What do you need to know to book a pet on a flight?  Make sure you check the specific pet policies of each airline you are considering, and be sure to book early, as many airlines reserve a limited number of spots for pets in the cabin (or cargo) section.

What else do you need to know to make flying with dogs, cats, and other pets as stress-free as possible?  Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions…but always remember to check with your airline for definitive information!

Are there government regulations for pet airline travel?

Yes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service maintains a website with valuable information on both domestic and international travel with pets.  They also provide a heads-up on which animals actually qualify as “pets.”  Be sure to check the USDA site if you have an exotic companion animal!

How can I compare airline pet policies?

The pet-friendly travel website Bring Fido has a web page that lists most major U.S. and international airline pet policies.  From Aer Lingus to Turkish Airlines, you can easily click between sites to find the perfect pet policy for your needs.

Do I need to see the vet before I fly with my pet?

According to American Veterinary Medical Association, most airlines require a current Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for your pet to travel.  Your vet will certify that your pet is healthy enough for travel, and that it has no diseases that could be passed on to humans or other animals.  Certain vaccines need to be up-to-date before your pet can travel.  Don’t forget that international pet travel health requirements can be more stringent than domestic ones, and your pet may have to go into quarantine upon arrival.  This applies to Hawaii as well.

Is it safe for my pet to fly in cargo?

Many concerned pet owners have heard scary stories about pets’ health being harmed by flying in cargo.  A recent article in Conde Nast Traveler cites a U.S. Department of Transportation report on statistics for pet cargo travel in 2016.  Out of approximately 500,000 pets that flew cargo, 26 died and 24 were injured.  That’s about a 1 per 10,000 pet incident rate.  United and Hawaiian have the highest incident rates.  Flying with your pet in the cabin with you is safer than putting your pet in cargo, but that is only an option for smaller pets.  Large dogs must fly cargo unless they are service animals.  Many experts suggest avoiding placing your pet in cargo unless it is absolutely necessary, such as for a cross-country move.

What kind of pet carrier should I get for airline travel?

Each airline’s pet policy page will have specific dimensions for under-the-seat pet carriers.  Generally, they allow hard or soft carriers, as long as they fit under the seat in front of you.  Remember, you cannot remove your pet from the crate during flight, so the carrier must be large enough to keep your pet comfortable.  Some pet stores sell carriers specifically designed for airline travel.  The carrier company Sherpa Pet works with American and Delta, so you can get carriers specifically designed for those airlines.

Happy travels!

 

Helping Pets Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

The news images of thousands of Texans escaping the devastating flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey have been heartbreaking.  We’ve also seen distressing photos of people carrying their rain-soaked pets through the floodwaters to safety.  Sadly, not everyone is able to evacuate with their pets, and not all evacuation centers can accommodate animals.

As we saw with Hurricane Katrina, many pets are displaced during natural disasters.  While some are lucky enough to eventually reunite with their owners, others end up in animal shelters across the affected region (and in many cases, across the country) in need of food, shelter, care…and eventually, a new forever home.

What can you do to help pets affected by the hurricane?  The Louisiana SPCA provides some valuable advice, based on their experience with Katrina (Louisiana is also expecting flooding from Harvey).  As tempting as it is to donate items like food and other pet supplies, sending things that will need to be stored in a flood zone can create serious problems for overwhelmed shelters.  The best option?  Send monetary donations to local animal welfare organizations like the SPCA of TexasAustin Pets Alive is also doing great work helping evacuated pets.  Sending local shelters some pet store gift cards or fulfilling amazon.com wish lists are also helpful ways to donate effectively.

CLICK HERE to view an informative video from CBS News about post-Hurricane Harvey pet rescue efforts.

 

 

Study Finds Dog Ownership Significantly Improves the Health of Seniors

The correlation between pet ownership and our mental and physical well-being has been well-documented.  Sharing our lives with dogs, cats, and other companion animals makes us happy, and has health benefits like lowering stress and blood pressure.  But owning a dog and taking your best friend outside for regular walks and play sessions can be particularly beneficial for sedentary older adults.

A study published in the journal BMC Public Health examined the physical activity of seniors living in a retirement community, and compared the activity levels of dog owners versus non-dog owners.  43 pairs of dog owners and non-dog owners were studied, using both activity monitoring devices and detailed questionnaires.

The results?  The dog owners demonstrated a significantly greater amount of time engaging in physical activity than those seniors who did not have dogs.  They spent an average of 22 additional minutes per day walking.  Measured in steps, they walked around 2760 more steps per day than the non-dog owners.  The walking was of a moderate intensity.  The dog owners also had fewer “sitting events” than the more sedentary non-dog owners.

The happy conclusion?  In addition to the many mental health benefits of dog ownership, it can be an important way to incorporate regular, healthy activity into the lives of seniors.

 

Clear the Shelters Day is Saturday, August 19th!

It’s coming…the annual event known as Clear the Shelters Day is happening this Saturday, August 19th at animal shelters around the U.S.  Clear the Shelters is an event sponsored by local NBC and Telemundo television stations around the country to encourage shelter pet adoptions.  Many shelters will waive adoption fees on Saturday, so it’s the perfect time to open your heart to a shelter pet in need of a loving forever home.

Check out this map on the Clear the Shelters website to find a participating shelter in your community.  And here’s a cute video from sponsor VIP Pet Care to get you in the mood!