Thursday, March 19, 2009

This weekend's Charleston Dog Events

Lowcountry Lab Rescue & Noble Ones Bully Breeds Meet & Greets, Pet Helpers Oyster Roast and Silent Auction. More info here:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Food Safety Recalls Also Affect Pets

It seems like more and more cases are reported every day of contamination to our food supply. The recent case of Salmonella found in peanut butter products is just one example of this potentially dangerous problem. While the media coverage about these outbreaks typically centers on the human food supply, there is also a danger to the food we feed our pets as well.

Dr. John Bauer, Professor of Small Animal Medicine & Faculty of Nutrition at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, puts it this way, “Pet food safety is family food safety. Not only are pets increasingly part of our families, but any food we prepare for them will come in contact with our hands or kitchen surfaces.”

While people are more and more concerned with their pet’s well-being, it is also important to note that there is a similarity in the physiology of humans and our pets. Therefore, we can contract many of the same diseases, disorders and syndromes that they can from contaminated food.

“Salmonella, E. coli, and Lysteria are the most common of the harmful bacteria that are found in both human and pet food. All three of these can cause mild to very serious gastro-intestinal problems including vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration in both humans and animals,” explains Bauer.

As with humans, those that are the most susceptible to these bacteria are pets that are very young, very old or immunocompromised in any way.

“For these ‘at risk’ animals, food contamination can cause symptoms so severe that it can cause neurological disorders and even death,” notes Bauer.

Although food contamination can be dangerous, it is also somewhat preventable. Washing and cooking food properly can reduce a large portion of biological contaminants.

“Food safety is everyone’s responsibility,” states Bauer. “People want to blame the food companies, the restaurants or the grocery stores, but safe handling of food should extend to how it is handled at home.”

Some foods that are most susceptible to food safety issues are raw foods and meats. Fruits and vegetables can contain biologically active contaminants if they are grown with non-potable water or if run-off from animal facilities gets into the ground water.

“There seems to be an increased interest in feeding pets a raw diet,” notes Bauer. “While I personally recommend cooking all food you give your pets, if you do feed your pets raw foods make sure you are handling and washing them properly. However, no matter what food you give to your pets, consult your veterinarian to make sure that it is safe and contains the proper nutrients your pet requires.”

In addition to safe food handling and preparation, pet owners should also be diligent in making sure that the food they are feeding their pets is not currently suspected of contamination.

“The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) website has a variety of resources and alerts users to any pet food re-calls and suspected contamination,” recommends Bauer. “The FDA also has an animal and veterinary section that includes warnings of known pet food contamination.”

While these resources can be helpful in avoiding foods that are already known to contain harmful contaminants, unfortunately there may be some out there that have not yet been recognized.

“If you think your pet has eaten something that has made it sick your first line of defense should always be your veterinarian,” advises Bauer. “Veterinarians are just as worried about all aspects of pet safety as you are and it’s important that they are aware of any possible food contamination so any problem is identified and dealt with as quickly as possible.”

Although the FDA, food companies, and pet food companies test for all contaminants they know can cause illness, it’s impossible to test for all the unknowns.

“If everyone whose pet is experiencing problems with a particular food or product takes their pet to the veterinarian then a pattern can emerge quickly and fewer animals will ultimately be affected,” concludes Bauer.


Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at

Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My sympathies to the Teffeteller family. What a terrible tragedy.

Dogs are animals and no matter what the breed, amount of training and socialization received, or the type of family environment, animals will always have the potential to be "unpredictable." All dogs have the potential to bite. A loving family, good training, and socialization will lessen a dog's chance of acting inappropriately, but the animal instinct is always there. Dogs are dogs. Not "furry children." They don't think like humans and we shouldn't expect them to have human rationale. They don't comprehend size differences between themselves and another dog, for example.

I love dogs and they are my livelihood. However, I am not a dog apologist. There are some that no matter what, will ask what was done to "provoke" the attacking animal. I'm not a member of that group. Sometimes dogs will act in a way that we cannot understand. They are animals, and will behave as such.

I for one owned a dog who became aggressive toward small dogs. Lovely dog with people and medium to large sized dogs but "unpredictable" with small dogs. I have no idea why she became this way. Sometimes she was "provoked," other times her aggression seemed to come out of thin air. Was she trained? Of course! Was she loved? Without doubt. How did I deal with this issue responsibly? She was never off leash and in most cases I muzzled her every time we were off our property. She simply had a very strong self-protective impulse and I knew that at any moment, no matter the amount of training, she could give in to her instincts. I took the right measures to protect myself, my dog and those in my community by keeping her restrained and under my control at all times.

Dogs interact with each other physically, and it is only wise for dog owners to supervise their dogs at dog parks AT ALL TIMES, and only wise for the CCRPC and all other area dog parks to create safe zones for small dogs to play. A small dog play zone WILL cut down on tussles between dogs of mismatched size and strength and WILL lessen the number of dogs severely injured during such tussles.

A breed ban is not the answer. Many people have suggested looking to England, a country that placed a ban on pits several years ago under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Unfortunately, that ban has not been effective because it does not focus on the true problem, irresponsible pet owners. reported that dog attacks, irresponsible dog owner practices, and animal abuse and neglect have actually risen since the Act's creation in 1991. Irresponsible pet owners are attracted to a pit bull due to its "tough" reputation and are only more attracted to the dog once it is banned. Or they move on to other protective and physically daunting breeds such as German Shepherds and Dobermans. It is exactly these sorts of dogs that need RESPONSIBLE dog owners. Banning such breeds or restricting them makes them attractive to the exact opposite type of owner these dogs are in need of.

Perhaps the answer instead is to require permits to breed and own any breed or breed mix of a certain size and stature - a sort of dog ownership suitability permit. Those who own certain breeds without such permits would face jail time. Of course this takes time and money.

In the meantime, the city of Charleston has a new leash law and I think it's a good one. Unless on personal property or within a fenced, off-leash dog park, dogs must be on leash. I believe an enforced leash law will cut down on roaming dogs, pet overpopulation, and dog attacks.

When you go to an off-leash dog park, you do accept some risk. A small dog play area will help minimize this risk but that won't stop all dog fights from happening. As dog owners, we must come together and find a real solution for keeping our dogs safe while at dog parks. Perhaps a licensing program that requires a temperament test? The license must then be presented at area dog parks before admittance? But what about un-manned dog parks such as the dog run at Hampton Park? These are the sorts of questions we must ask of each other , with respect and without heightened emotion. Please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts at the LCD message board:

Educational programs that promote responsible pet ownership are crucial for every community. We are fortunate here in the Charleston area to have many educational programs through groups such as the Charleston Animal Society, Pet Helpers and the various breed specific rescue groups. Lowcountry Dog is committed to promoting these programs and policies in every way possible.

Leah England

Monday, March 09, 2009

photo courtesy:
Training Tip

Jumping – The following suggestions work in general for most dogs, (none of them will apply to all dogs because every dog is an individual like people and every situation is different):
• Swivel your hip into the dog as he leaps on you. Unless you have REALLY bony hips, this shouldn't harm the dog, but will deflect the force of the jump off the more vulnerable parts of your body.
• Step forward and invade the dog's space, possibly also getting him off balance. This move needs to be timed accurately, and used only with dogs that are not fragile or aggressive.
• Give your dog a “sit” cue; a sitting dog is not a jumping dog.
• Give your dog a “down” cue; a dog lying down is not a jumping dog.

Need more training advice? Contact Karen Anderson at PetAgreed Dog Training

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Help protect South Carolina’s pets from domestic violence by supporting House Bill 3117

Help protect South Carolina's animals from abuse

Make a difference today.

Each year throughout South Carolina, countless domestic violence victims risk their lives to protect their defenseless pets from harm. Research has shown that up to 48 percent of battered women remain in abusive homes out of concern for leaving their pets behind.

Children who grow up in an environment of animal abuse live in constant fear that a beloved family member will be harmed. Children often intervene to protect their mothers and pets from being battered, and some may even allow themselves to be victimized to save their pets from being harmed or killed.

To address this issue directly, Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a longtime advocate for domestic violence survivors, has introduced House Bill 3117. Spearheaded by the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the bill encourages judges to include pets in domestic violence protective orders. A protective order is a legal order issued by a court that requires one person to stop harming, stay away from and/or cease contact with another person or, in the case of this bill, that person's pets as well.

We owe it to the countless domestic violence survivors throughout South Carolina to get HB 3117 passed.

HB 3117 is currently in the House Judiciary Committee. Please ask Committee Chairman James H. Harrison to schedule the bill for a hearing and to vote for its passage.

Click here to send a letter to representative Harrison.