How to Create an Animal Friendly Yard

Spring is just around the corner, and it’s never too early to start planning your garden, especially when you’re getting tired of winter!  This spring, make sure your gardening and landscaping plans take your local animals, birds, and insects into account.

How can you make your yard a humane haven for neighborhood wildlife?  The Humane Society of the United States has put together a practical list of tips.  Here’s how you can ensure that your backyard is safe for local wildlife.

  • Provide a source of fresh clean water, such as a birdbath.
  • Offer natural food sources like flowering native plants and bird feeders.
  • Avoid lawn products with harmful chemicals such as pesticides.

  • Build or purchase a bat house so bats can control insects and pollinate plants on your property.
  • Convert all or part of your lawn into a natural native plant habitat for local animals.
  • Place yard debris in a brush pile to create a shelter for small animals like chipmunks and toads.

  • Plant flowers that attract bees and put up specially-designed bee houses for them.
  • Make sure your swimming pool has an escape route like a ramp for wild animals that fall in.

  • Attract beneficial insects like butterflies and beetles with appropriate native plants.
  • Keep cats indoors for their own safety and the safety of local wildlife.

  • Watch out for nesting animals like rabbits and birds while mowing and pruning in the spring.
  • Use humane methods to trap and release wildlife that gets into your home.
  • Prevent deadly bird strikes by applying a few cling decals to your window panes.



Animal Lovers Search for “Fire Cats” Lost in California Wildfires

A recent article in The New York Times highlights some amazing work being done by dedicated California animal advocates.

Many pet cats fled their homes during the devastating wildfires that swept through Sonoma County.  Quite a few of these cats remain missing.

A woman named Jennifer Petruska has made it her mission to track these cats down every night since the fires.  So far, she and her team have found more than 70 cats, but they believe dozens more remain lost.

This volunteer group calls itself Pet Rescue & Reunification.  They set up night vision cameras and traps with food in places the lost cats are thought to be hiding.  The traps are checked every hour until morning.

Many people who lost their homes and all their possessions in the fires are still heartsick over the loss of their cats.  Animal experts say that cats flee danger by instinct and can survive in hiding for weeks.  This gives rescuers and owners hope that the cats are still alive.

A few found cats have yet to be claimed by anyone and are being housed at the Sonoma County Animal Services Department.

Images:  Jim Wilson/The New York Times.



Dog Colored with Human Hair Dye Suffers Severe Burns

A recent heartbreaking story on the Newsweek website serves as an important reminder that hair color intended for humans should never be used on our pets.

A Maltese mix named Violet was taken in by the Pinellas County (FL) Animal Services Department.  Poor Violet was dyed purple with human hair dye, suffered severe burns, and was then abandoned on the street by her owner.

Violet was brought to Animal Services with skin burns and her eyes swollen shut.  Her skin began to slough off during cleaning.  Staff didn’t think she would survive the first night.

Treatment for Violet included pain medications, antibiotics, IV fluids, and countless topical treatments and bandage changes for her damaged skin.

Violet needed three months to recover, and happily, she was adopted once she got healthy again.

Pinellas County Animal Services posted this important warning along with Violet’s story on their Facebook page:

“Express yourself, but please do not use hair dye intended for humans to express your pet’s style. Let’s all say that together–Do NOT, under any circumstances, use hair color intended for humans on your pets. Chemicals in hair dye are TOXIC, causing a wide array of external injury to your pet–possible burns, blindness, and because an animal’s first instinct is to lick, it can cause poisoning or internal burns. Just don’t.”


Shelter Animal Database Sheds Light on Homeless Pets

Shelter Animals Count is a new, collaborative initiative of animal welfare stakeholders and advocates.  They have created a national shelter animal database, designed to provide facts and raise awareness about the plight of shelter animals in the US.

4,448 shelters across the US are participating in this large-scale effort to track and analyze shelter animal data.

They have recently shared an impressive amount of data on US shelter animals for the years 2011-2017, which you can explore in detail on their website HERE.

The FACE Foundation is a non-profit with a mission to save beloved family pets from economic euthanasia due to a family’s inability to pay for all or part of the animal’s emergency or critical care veterinary expenses.

Sadly, many dogs, cats, and other companion animals are relinquished to shelters for economic reasons.  As data from Shelter Animals Count shows, owner surrender of pets is an ongoing issue for shelters.

Here is the relevant data for the years 2011-2017:

  • Total number of dogs relinquished by owners: 878,460
  • Total number of cats relinquished by owners: 820,476
  • Total number of dogs relinquished for owner-intended euthanasia: 124,203
  • Total number of cats relinquished for owner-intended euthanasia: 61,837

A total of 186,040 dogs and cats were relinquished to shelters for owner-intended euthanasia between 2011 and 2017.

It is likely that many of these animals were sick, injured, or elderly and suffering from chronic health conditions.

We thank the directors and member shelters of Shelter Animals Count for the work they are doing to save the lives of companion animals and end pet homelessness.

You can see the latest updates on the work they are doing HERE.  To register your shelter and participate in the data collection program, click HERE to learn more and sign up!


British Veterinary Association Launches #BreedtoBreathe Awareness Campaign

With the growing popularity of brachycephalic (short-nosed) dog breeds like French Bulldogs and Pugs, veterinarians are increasingly concerned about the health and well-being of these dogs.

Many short-muzzled dogs suffer from a condition called BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome).  Symptoms include respiratory noise, narrowed nostrils, gastrointestinal problems, sleep apnea, heat intolerance, cyanosis (low oxygen), and collapse.

The British Veterinary Association has recently announced its new #BreedtoBreathe campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about the health problems of brachycephalic breeds.

You can read the BVA’s official policy statement on brachycephalic dogs HERE.  In it, they outline their concern about breeding practices (and advertising campaigns) that promote brachycephalic dogs, and provide guidance for vets on how to raise awareness about the health problems of short-muzzled dogs with clients.

The #BreedtoBreathe campaign provides a 10-point plan for veterinarians that emphasizes the need for vets to educate pet owners about the health and quality of life problems faced by many brachycephalic dog breeds.

Interested in learning more about the health issues of brachycephalic dogs and the #BreedtoBreathe campaign?  Watch this short video: