Month: April 2014

Guest Blogger, Christine A. Dorchak, Esq. – GREY2K USA

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The fight to end dog racing worldwide

GREY2K USA is a non-profit team dedicated to passing stronger greyhound protection laws and ending the cruelty of dog racing. I co-founded the organization with political strategist Carey Theil, veterinarian Dr. Jill Hopfenbeck and the Reverend Tom Grey in 2001. We advocate for greyhounds in the legislative and judicial process and also promote the adoption of these gentle hounds worldwide.

The inspiration behind GREY2K USA dates back to 1992, when my dog Kelsey and I were struck by a speeding train while out for a walk one day.  Kelsey managed to pull us slightly off course, preventing a head-on collision and saving our lives.  When I awoke from a coma, my first words were, “How’s Kelsey?”  I promised right then and there that if I could ever walk again, I would devote my life to helping dogs, and that she and I would do this work together.

My dear Kelsey had suffered a broken hip the day of our accident, but she was to live until the age of fifteen, dying just a few days after I finished law school.  She helped me through my rehabilitation, four years of evening law classes and the early days of our campaigns, staying by my side as long as she could.  It is Kelsey’s inspiration that continues to motivate my work for her fellow dogs each day.

Our Work

In recent years, GREY2K USA has phased-out dog racing in many states and successfully prevented its introduction to countries such as South Africa, Jamaica and the Philippines. The organization’s most rewarding campaign involved a voter referendum in which four million people were asked to shut down the two tracks of our home state.  In November 2008, Massachusetts citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of the greyhounds, starting a chain of events that quickly led to the prohibition of dog racing in our sister states of New Hampshire, Rhode Island and most recently, Colorado.

All told, we have helped close more than half of all US tracks over the last decade, and we are now looking to apply our strategy to help end dog racing worldwide.

The key to our efforts is a reliance on bona fide, official documentation only.  Where previous efforts to end dog racing often amounted to a “he-said she-said” debate, today we let the greyhounds to speak for themselves through their own track records and photographs.  As government documents show, racing greyhounds spend an average of twenty or more hours a day inside small stacked cages which are barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around.  When taken out of their cages to race, these sensitive dogs face the risk of serious injury and death at every turn.

Greyhounds suffer terrible injuries while racing.

At tracks nationwide, greyhounds routinely suffer serious injuries. These include dogs that suffer broken legs and spines, paralysis, head trauma, puncture wounds and death from cardiac arrest.

  • At two West Virginia dog tracks, 4,796 greyhound injuries were reported between January 2008 and June 2013. During the same period, 289 dogs died or were destroyed.
  • At Southland Greyhound Park in Arkansas, 476 greyhound injuries were reported from January 2008 and December 2013, including at least thirty-three dogs that died or were destroyed.
  • At Gulf Greyhound Park in Texas, 2,080 greyhound injuries were reported between January 2008 and December 2013.  Eighty-six dogs died or were killed.
  • At Bluffs Run and Dubuque Greyhound Parks in Iowa, there were 747 greyhound injuries reported from January 2006 through July 2012.
  • In Florida, 74 dogs died at racetracks between May 31 and December 31, 2013. At least one of these dogs was electrocuted.

More than just numbers, these figures tell the stories of individual dogs who lived and died so that a gambler could place a $2 bet on them.  One-year-old WW’s Laos who broke his leg at the Wheeling,West Virginia track and was destroyed in one of his first races.  He had only left the breeding farm a few months before.  SE’s Angel Fire was a two-year-old white and black greyhound who broke her back during a race at the Hollywood track in Florida.  She was put down.  A red brindle-colored dog named SH Transporter was destroyed after breaking his right front leg at the Dubuque track.  He was carried off the track and killed.  And LNB Night Mare was a young dog who fell into the electronic lure and died while racing at Tucson Greyhound Park.

Small cages are greyhounds’ only homes.

When not at the track, racing greyhounds endure lives of terrible confinement.  They are kept inside warehouse-style kennels inside stacked cages that are barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around — for twenty or more hours a day!  There are no toys for them and no play.


The minimum size for dog track cages is 32 inches high by 31 inches wide by 42 inches deep, with some slightly larger.  According to the American Greyhound Council, greyhounds stand between 23 inches and 30 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between fifty and eighty-five pounds.  Using these dimensions provided by the industry, this means that large greyhounds cannot stand fully erect in their cages.

Since there are no required turn-out times, the only extended period that a racing greyhound is outside of his cage is when he is trucked over to the track to perform several times a month.  Otherwise, life is marked by the four walls of his cage.

This is no way to treat a dog!

Greyhound racing breeds misery.

Beyond the industry standards of confinement, injuries and fatalities, and the killing of young, healthy dogs, the industry has a fundamental problem of perspective:  In the eyes of racetrack promoters, dogs are merely short-term investments. Even the fastest dogs can only race for a few years, and are expected to generate enough profit during that time to make up for the cost of their food and housing.  The pressure to generate profits can lead to negligent care and outright cruelty such as the use of drugs to alter a dog’s performance.

Another essential problem with dog racing is that thousands of dogs are over-bred every year in an effort to find younger, faster dogs. The older ones are then displaced, and their very lives put in immediate jeopardy. Will they be rescued or will they be destroyed?  The lucky ones who do reach adoption will then displace other needy animals (cats, dogs, rabbits, others) also seeking homes.  In this significant way, the racing industry aggravates a homeless animal population which is already overwhelming and immensely sad.  I believe that best answer is to get to the root of the problem and end dog racing as quickly as possible.

A dying industry.

Even as this cruelty continues, attendance is shrinking by the year.  The Association of Racing Commissioners International reports a 67% decline in wagering on dog racing since 2001, the year GREY2K USA was founded.   Where there were once nearly fifty dog tracks in fifteen states at that time, today there remain a total of twenty-one facilities operating in seven states.  Similarly, state revenue from greyhound racing continues to drop catastrophically.  Between 2001 and 2011, state dog racing revenue declined by more than 80% nationwide.  In Florida, the country’s biggest dog racing state, regulatory costs have now exceeded revenues by as much as $3.3 million yet dog tracks continue to receive tax breaks and other incentives. States like West Virginia continue to subsidize live racing with tens of millions of dollars per year.  This is money that would be better spent on schools, law enforcement, infrastructure and other important community needs.

You can help the greyhounds.

It’s time for a change, and we would like your help in making that change.
Please join us in our fight to end dog racing.

My greyhound is truly one of the lucky ones.  As Kelsey before her, Zoe gives life to this struggle and reminds me that every dog deserves to be loved and protected.

To learn more about dog racing, and to work with us to save greyhounds, please go to

Please sign up for action alerts, find us on Facebook and join the team that is working to give greyhounds the second chance they deserve.

Guest Blogger and Friend, Zoe:










Christine A. Dorchak, Esq.
GREY2K USA President and General Counsel, GREY2K USA

Thank you to our Guest Blogger


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How to Workout With Your Dog Safely!

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As warm weather approaches, building a workout routine with your mutts can be extremely beneficial. A lot of people find it fun and motivating to workout with your dogs. However, there are certain cautionary steps pet owners should take when exercising with your mutts. Here are some tips:BEFORE THE WORKOUT

  • Evaluate your mutts’ physicality – Don’t just dive into an intense workout session with your dog; build up to it. Make sure you know what your dog is capable of and consider its breed and age for certain exercises. It would be good to consult your trusted vet before you start a workout regiment with your mutts.
  • Environmental Considerations – Running, hiking, biking, or walking in cold or hot weather may not be the best times for you or your mutt. If you’re exercising outside during the summer, try to go early or late evening when the pavement is not hot on your mutt’s feet. During the cold winter, consider walking or running your dog on a treadmill.
  • Prep Yourself with Food & Water – Make sure you bring some food and water for both you and your mutt, especially if you plan on doing a lengthy or intense workout. Dog treats and an energy bar may help boost you and your mutt’s energy and water will help prevent heat stroke.


  • Train Your Dog – Properly train your mutts to walk or run the same side of you every time to avoid tripping each other. Teach them not to pull on the leash or not to run ahead of you unexpectedly to avoid throwing you off balance.
  • Safety Comes First -Make sure you wear a helmet, knee pads, and other protection when appropriate. Don’t tie the leash to your wrist in case your dog pulls and jerks you off balance. Don’t push you or your mutt too hard. If either of you are starting to show signs of exhaustion, pain, or trouble breathing, then that’s a good indication to stop the workout and rest.
  • Again Stay Hydrated – Allow you and your mutt to drink plenty of water throughout the exercise and a little bit of food here and there to boost your energy (but don’t exercise on a full stomach either).


  • Cool Down & Body Check – After your workout, make sure to cool your body down and stretch out your muscles. Also take some time to check your mutt’s leg and paws for any cuts, bruises, ticks, and other foreign objects. You may also reward your dog with a treat for working hard.
  • Once Again, Hydrate You and Your Dog – Also be sure to allow the proper amount of rest for you and your mutt in between workouts for your bodies to recoup.

Keeping your mutts happy, healthy, and hearty! 

Hearty Mutts
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Guest Blogger, Ellen Wilson – Animal Advocate

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“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” (William Wilberforce)

 Last June I took five students to Puerto Rico to volunteer at Save a Sato (“sato” is Puerto Rican slang for street mutt), an organization whose mission is to rescue abandoned dogs from the streets, provide them with medical care, food, and love, then work to find them loving forever homes. Save a Sato is run by Gloria Martí, who has made rescuing and re-homing these dogs her life.

I came to learn of Save a Sato when my family agreed that the time was right for us to get a dog. I already knew how loyal and loving rescue dogs are and that I could find the perfect dog for our family at a shelter, although it would probably involve going to several shelters before we would find “the one”.  As I was reading the newspaper shortly after we made that decision I saw an article about a shelter in Puerto Rico that rescues “satos” from the streets and sends them to partner shelters in the states (only no-kill shelters!) to find them loving homes. There was to be a new group of satos coming to Danbury Animal Welfare Society in Danbury, Connecticut in a few days and we were the first ones there when the shelter opened.

When the satos were let out into a fenced yard they came joyfully running out, chasing each other and running to the visitors for attention. My family was blessed that day; we were “chosen” by a loving nine month-old cocker spaniel named Happy who certainly lived up to her name. The love was mutual and Happy, now Phoebe, is a healthy twelve year-old. When it comes her time to cross the rainbow bridge, I will be comforted in knowing that this sweet dog who was once a hungry, mistreated puppy living on the streets spent the rest of her life basking in the love that all dogs deserve.

Phoebe in the yardPhoebe, today at home

As the years passed since we adopted Phoebe, I never forgot about Save a Sato and the thousands of dogs they have rescued.  I made monetary donations, but I always wanted to do more. I decided that volunteering at Save a Sato would offer our students a unique life experience while giving back to this wonderful organization that rescued my dog.

When announcing the trip, I told the student body that this was not a trip for them if they were looking for a Puerto Rican beach vacation. I stressed that in order to go they must love dogs, be a hard worker, and not mind getting dirty. I warned that we would spend most of our time there cleaning cages, not playing with cute puppies; we were going to WORK. In fact we did spend most of our time cleaning cages, but the students were up to the task.

Em, Nick, and Rose cleaning cagesCleaning Cages at Save a Sato

Save a Sato has very few volunteers on the weekdays so there are typically about three people (including Gloria) to do all the work. It took the five students and me all afternoon to clean the cages, feed, and water the dogs. Gloria was so appreciative of the time it freed up for her to catch up on other necessary work at the shelter. And although we did spend most of our time cleaning cages, there was time to interact with the dogs each day. Lucy was the only volunteer who could speak English and she wasn’t at the shelter several days so the students who were taking Spanish had the added benefit of using their language skills in a real life situation.

unnamedStudent volunteer Eva Y. assists Gloria as she applies medication to a sato.

I was very proud of these kids who worked so hard without complaining, knowing that they were making a difference in the lives of the dogs. At the end of our trip, the students asked me to organize a repeat trip for 2014. They didn’t have to twist my arm very hard! This year I will be taking eight students, two fellow faculty members, and a past graduate who will have just finished her first year of vet school. I am even more excited about this trip than I was the first one since I know what a rewarding experience it will be.

The experience of working at Save a Sato gave me one of the biggest “ah-ha” moments in my life and through it I found my true passion, which is to spend the rest of my life working to make the laws in the United States reflect that neglect and cruelty towards animals is something our society will not tolerate. Educating the public is key and this is something all of us can be doing every day. If people learn about the realities of puppy mills and that buying a puppy or kitten from a pet store keeps this inhumane industry in business, I believe most will choose to adopt a rescue or buy from a reputable breeder.  I believe that in learning there are significant health benefits to the spayed or neutered pet and that increasing the number of dogs and cats being altered will result in lower rates of euthanization, more people will choose this simple and inexpensive procedure for their pet.

We aren’t all in the position to adopt or foster a pet or volunteer in a shelter, but every one of us can educate others about the ludicracy of supporting an industry that produces puppies as fast as it can while each year 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized (, 2012-2013 statistic).

  • We can all call or email our state and federal representatives to encourage them to vote in favor of bills that protect animals and oppose those that allow cruelty.
  • We can all teach our children that getting a pet is a long term commitment and that if you don’t think of it that way, you aren’t someone who should have a pet.
  • Every day, we can all contribute to easing the suffering of animals simply by speaking. I hope you will.

–  Written by Ellen Wilson, Spanish teacher at Canterbury School, a private high school in Connecticut.

Some great organizations to check out:


Animal Cops Philadelphia 11: Puppy Mills Exposed (43:01)
If you are not familiar with puppy mills, this 43-minute video will give you quite an education.

The Sato Project (5:21)

Five Days of Freedom: Ziva’s Story (6:47)- This short video featuring Theresa Shrader of National Mill Dog Rescue highlights the realities of puppy mills.

Finding Forever: The Story of the Satos of Puerto Rico and the People Who Save Them (5:41)

100,000: Saving the Stray Dogs of Puerto Rico (5:04) Interview with the Emmy Award winning director of the documentary 100,000.

100,000 (full documentary w/English subtitles) (53:53)

Daylight Raid at Ballarat Puppy Factory (4:44)


Thank you to our Guest Blogger

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Compassionate Thoughts On Euthanasia

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One of the hardest things about having an animal beloved is trying to figure out what is best when the end of life seems imminent.  Death comes to all creatures, of course, but when we bring our fellow animals into our families, we take on the responsibility for his or her health, well-being and even the possibility of deciding when he or she will die. While euthanasia can be a blessing in certain cases, few of us want to take on the role of this type of decider.

Many of us working in animal care are asked, “When is it the right time to euthanize?


Like many of my colleagues, I have good news and bad news for you.   The bad news? There is no one answer that fits all cases. As New England Pet Hospice & Home Care Founder and Director Heather Merrill tells our clients:

“We don’t believe in an objective standard or a list of criteria. Why not? Because we, like the AVMA, believe that our animals are sentient beings, capable of feeling and consciousness. Whether a particular animal wants to live is very individual and subject to change from moment to moment.  So instead of a list of factors that may or may not matter to that individual animal, we ask instead, ‘Do you think your animal wants to live in this moment?’ Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no.”

And the good news?  With interdisciplinary support services like New England Pet Hospice & Home Care, you have choices and can follow the path that feels right to you for your animal.You are no longer locked in to simply “when” but can also consider “whether” – knowing that there is an alternative to euthanasia: that it is possible for pets to die a natural, peaceful, pain free death at home with the support of hospice.   One of the most important services we provide to our client families is acting as a sounding board, helping them find the answer within themselves, whatever that may be, without agenda and without judgment. About two-thirds of our clients choose euthanasia at some point and about one-third do not, but almost all are satisfied that they have honored the wishes of their pet and are at peace with their decision, whatever it may have been.   Sometimes there can be enormous pressure to euthanize your pet – from friends, family, even the veterinary community.


We at NEPHHC believe that there is no moral obligation to euthanize our pets as long as we are able and willing to provide the following three things:

1.   Good pain management;
2.   Cleanliness of the pet’s body and surroundings; and
3.   Stimulation, attention, and love.

Afraid you won’t know when and will wait too long? Don’t be. In our experience, if you have any doubt, the answer is,“Not yet.” On the other hand, if you have an overwhelming sense that your pet wants help moving on, you have your answer and will not regret the euthanasia decision.

We absolutely believe that you know your beloved best, and whether he or she wants to live.You are the one who knows best your own resources – how much time, money and nursing skill you can devote to end-of-life care. You are the one who knows best what will be the most merciful and loving way for your pet’s life to end. As Heather pointed out, each pet is unique, and each pet’s situation can change from moment to moment.

Loving is not neat and tidy, and it can be least so as its ending.We know that each person, each family, has the wisdom to decide what is right, what makes sense for the well-being of their beloved friend. And we trust that when the time comes, you will draw on love and wisdom, with the help and support of others as needed, to make that decision.

Read More from New England Pet Hospice & Home Care HERE.


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Guest Blogger, Sunny Weber – Animal Behaviorist, Animal Welfare Consultant

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“EMERGENCY ALERT!” So began an e-mail I received recently. I read on quickly, trying to decide if this message was spam or for real. I was shocked and saddened to read that a member of one of the local Australian Shepherd dog clubs was killed the night before in a car accident. He left six dogs of varying ages and show levels that had been taken in on the spur of the moment and boarded by a kindly veterinarian. The next of kin were driving in from out of state but were a day or two away. 

Because I was active in Aussie Rescue efforts this e-mail was bulk-mailed to many others and me. What eventually happened was the family arrived, signed over ownership of the dogs to Rescue who were then free to find homes for them. They were all placed within a month of the man’s death.

But not all pets are lucky enough to have a rescue organization that can quickly mobilize and help a grieving family. Another acquaintance of mine died of AIDS. He had been shunned by family and most of his friends were also dead or dying. His beloved cocker spaniel was placed by AIDS hospice in a local shelter. We never heard of this poor, displaced dog’s fate.

Do you ever let yourself wonder what would become of your pets if misfortune befalls you? What would become of them if no one in your family wanted them? Whether you have one pet or twenty, they are your responsibility and you owe it to them to provide humane care during your life and after.

Legal wills help estates stay out of state probate courts and therefore save human heirs much expense. But legal documentation of your wishes for your pets after your death must also be respected in many states. Drawing up documentation is not complicated and need not be expensive but can save your pets much confusion, trauma and possible euthanasia.

Imagine how your dog would feel if suddenly taken from his quiet, comfortable home and placed in a cage with hundreds of other barking, bedraggled homeless strays. How could he understand he would never see you again, much less comprehend this new, hostile environment? What if nobody wanted him?

Preparing your pet’s care instructions is not difficult but does require some thought and communication with your family and friends. This was my solution following research into the various options available. You will have to check with your own attorney regarding your state’s peculiarities.

I sat down one day and pictured a worst-case scenario for my pets and myself. We are currently a happy little family of two dogs, two cats, and two parakeets. My wish in a perfect world, of course, is to have them all lovingly adopted together to keep the family intact. But I had to face the fact the likelihood of that occurring was slim.

So I called a friend who had bred my Australian Shepherd. I asked her if she and her family would be willing to take him back if anything happened to me. Thankfully she was enthusiastic about it. She also said she would take my little poodle-mix and would find her a home if keeping her wasn’t an option at the time.

I knew had one “agent.” An agent is a person who will act according to wishes stated in a “Trust,” a legal form of determination of distribution of personal property. I could not find a personal agent for my cats or birds.

However, in my area there is an animal shelter that has a division called, “The Guardianship Program.” If the shelter is named in your will as a beneficiary of any amount, they will agree to take your pets and find them homes. All adoptable animals will be placed, not euthanized. I submitted all the shelter’s registration information including pets’ names, descriptions, lifestyles, diets, medical histories, microchip registration numbers, pictures, and known human vocabulary such as command words.

I also laid out my wishes for my “Pet-Care Trust Fund.” I set aside certain monetary assets that were to be earmarked for the Trust. Paragraph One was “Selection of Homes.” In this paragraph agents and the shelter were stated and my preference that my two cats be adopted together, since one is blind and the other acts as her “eyes.” Paragraph Two was titled, “Payments to Caregivers.” In this paragraph the conditions for the payments from the Trust were defined. Paragraph Three concerned “Adoptive Payments” or how each adopter would receive a lump sum reward for such adoption. Paragraph Four defined, “Shelter Arrangements,” in case the Guardianship Program is not functioning or any agents should back out. Paragraph Five explained, “Termination and Disposition” of the trust, or when the Trust was no longer needed, what to do with the remainder of funds.

My written instructions were translated into “legalese” by my attorney, and the Trust Fund was inserted into the main body of my will, following the designations of distributions of financial and physical assets to a) my family, and b) my favorite charities by percentage. The Trust Fund was a lump sum not a percentage so it would come off the top of the estate after expenses.

If you suspect that someone who is a human heir may dispute the money going into the Pet Care Trust Fund, you can have your attorney add a statement that says anyone who disputes any part of your Will will simply cease to be an heir of anything.

I believe when you choose to become a pet owner it is as important as choosing to become a parent. A good parent would not leave a child to the whims of fate and so a humane pet owner should be as responsible. It is difficult to face your own mortality but ignoring the possibility that your pets could be “orphaned,” will not help them and may end up killing them prematurely if no one steps forward to take them or find them homes.

Shelters are overcrowded as it is so pets that are elderly, need special medical or behavioral care may end up invisible statistics in the cruel world of pet overpopulation. Painful as it may be, a bit of foresight and concern on your part may just win your beloved companion another loving human to continue life with.

By Sunny Weber
Animal Behaviorist, Animal Welfare Consultant, Humane Educator, Writer

Thank you to our Guest Blogger



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News Release from Rochester Animal Services

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City of Rochester
News Release

City Offering Dogs for Adoption at No Charge. 

Rochester, NY (April 14, 2014) — The City of Rochester will be waiving adoption fees for select dogs on Saturday April 19, 2014.  All dogs that have been spayed or neutered will be available for visitation and adoption at no charge except for the state-mandated dog license fee. The event is being supported by the Verona Street Animal Society and will run from 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Animal Services Center at 184 Verona Street.

Although spring is generally viewed as “kitten season” with shelters becoming inundated by litters of unwanted kittens, Animal Services has recently experienced an increase in dog intakes and has been operating at capacity for the past few weeks. “There are dogs in our impound area that have been cleared for adoption and are just awaiting cage space in the adoption areas,” said Chris Fitzgerald, Director of Animal Services.  “We have some great dogs; too many and it’s not even the busiest season yet.  We need to find homes right away for the dogs at the shelter and those in foster care to open up those spaces for new dogs that keep coming in.”

The promotion is focused on dogs but the shelter also has dozens of cats available for adoption.  The City invites you to visit the Animal Services Center to adopt a pet, become a foster caregiver, join the volunteer program, or to learn about Animal Services, the Verona Street Animal Society, and how to get involved in helping animals within the Rochester community. If you cannot attend but are interested in becoming a foster caregiver, contact Animal Services at 585-428-7274 or

Rochester Animal Services is the City of Rochester’s animal care and control agency located in Rochester at 184 Verona Street just north of Kodak and Frontier Field.  For more information on adoptions, spay and neuter, volunteering, or becoming a foster care-giver, contact the Center at (585) 428-7274 or visit us online at

More Information about Rochester Animal Services (RAS):

●    RAS provided shelter for 2,714 cats and 3,182 dogs during 2013.

●    RAS operates the animal shelter where stray and surrendered pets are temporarily housed.

●    The animal shelter serves as a pet lost-and-found resource, pet adoption center, and low-cost spay neuter clinic.

●    The shelter is open to the public Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Wednesday until 7:30 p.m.), and is closed Sundays and select holidays.

The Verona Street Animal Society is dedicated to raising awareness and providing the resources necessary to enable Rochester Animal Services to more effectively serve the public need for animal care and control, pet sterilization, and animal adoption services.  In cooperation with the City of Rochester, the Verona Street Animal Society supports the mission of Rochester Animal Services. For more information about the Verona Street Animal Society visit our webpage at and “Like us” on Facebook at Follow us on Twitter at

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Adding to Dog/Cat Misbehavior

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A Veterinarian’s Point of View:

Veterinarians are in a unique position to observe unfortunate pet-related behavior on a daily basis. Here are my top eight, offered in no particular order:

1. Unruly or aggressive dogs in the office.
Sure, the vet office is an anxiety-provoking place, but that’s still no excuse for bad manners. Dogs who run circles around the waiting room, disrespectfully sniff at carriers (whose contents are almost certainly more stressed-out than they are), or lunge impolitely at passersby are altogether too common.

This behavior becomes especially problematic when owners bring in two or more misbehaving dogs at the same time. Sure, I get that it’s more convenient to bring in more than one at a time, but if you can’t control them, you should know you’re probably being impolite to others.

Nonetheless, it’s true that some dogs are still early in their training process or are hard to control under certain circumstances, but, luckily, most veterinarians will offer a solution: Keep them with you outside and let the front office staff know you’ll be waiting patiently until the vet is ready to see you. This way you can move gracefully through the lobby and into the arms of a veterinarian who doesn’t mind being jumped on and slobbered over. (I don’t!)

2. The unnecessary, in-hospital “meet and greet.”
The waiting room of your veterinary hospital is not like the dog park. Vet-stressed pets can behave in ways you might not expect, which means that allowing (even promoting) a “meet and greet” between two or more dogs is probably a bad idea. Yet I see it happen almost daily.

It’s also generally considered a bad idea to approach a pet who’s waiting his turn for what’ll probably be the most anxiety-inducing event of his year.

Now, most of these pet-to-pet and human-to-pet interactions end well, but are they really worth risking a bite (or worse)? I don’t think so.

3. Inconsistent (and unhealthy!) litterbox habits.
I’ve written about this many times before, and I preach about it in the exam room anytime I get the opportunity, yet most of my cat-owning clients still insist on a) switching up the brands and types of litter, b) keeping too few litterboxes for the household’s population of cats, and of course, c) not keeping the litterbox clean enough.

4. Retractable Leashes.
Have I mentioned how much I hate these? The super-extendo setting on these not only encourages bad manners while out on walks in public, they’re downright dangerous: I’ve seen humans get “hog-tied” by their excited pups. One client even hit the floor once after getting all wrapped up (and it wasn’t even her dog!). And another client’s dog was hit by a car when she bolted off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic while still on leash. Scary, right?

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have one. I’m just saying you shouldn’t have one if you don’t know how and when to use one.

5. Untrained little “lapdogs.”
Just because they’re pocket-sized doesn’t mean they shouldn’t undergo basic obedience training. Yet I know of few tiny-breed dogs who know even the most common commands. What’s up with that?

I propose that this human-induced behavior problem persists because purse-sized dogs seldom hit the floor when they’re out in public. Nonetheless, it’s true that a lack of simple training in basic manners leads to undersocialized dogs who are effectively allowed to become more snappy, yappy and problematic.

6. Expecting perfect feline behavior at home under less-than-perfect circumstances.
Keep more than two or three cats? Then you should know it’s unlikely they’ll all get along peacefully. While this might not seem like a problem to you (indeed, most owners are unaware of subtle inter-cat issues), feline stress is commonplace under these circumstances.

Cats are territorial animals and they don’t often like being forced to live in close quarters under one roof. Crowding can make for undesirable litterbox issues, promote stress-induced diseases, and, consequently, isn’t always conducive to keeping cats happy and healthy.

7. Bottomless bowls, begging behavior, and other pet feeding misadventures.
How can I put this delicately?

Most pet owners adore their pets so implicitly they manage to induce unwanted feeding-related behaviors (and obesity!) through well-intentioned but misguided actions such as:

a) Keeping bowls filled to the brim with kibble (especially common for cats), b) failing to adhere to a feeding schedule (thereby allowing pets to dictate feeding times), c) feeding under the table or after family mealtimes, d) offering treats willy-nilly (whenever they walk into the kitchen, for example), and e) promoting inter-pet stress by feeding them side-by-side.

8. Cats outside of carriers.
Why do people do this? Do they not understand that a feline armful in the waiting room of a vet hospital makes for dangerous dog-related behavior? Moreover, it stresses out the waiting dogs along with the unprotected cat.

Fortunately for these vulnerable felines, there is a solution: We take them to a quiet, dark room until it’s their turn. In fact, we’re starting to do this with all our feline patients. After all, our waiting room is small, and the above-mentioned disorderly dogs understandably freak them out.

All of the above represent this veterinarian’s top eight behavior pet peeves, but I’m sure you have more to offer. Fire away!

From VetStreet’s Dr. Patty Khuly

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Guest Blogger, Melissa Norbeck – Faculty Advisor of Animal Advocates

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The Animal Advocates club of Gloucester County College began in September of 2010. Gloucester County College is located in Sewell which is South Jersey. As an instructor at the college, I started Animal Advocates because there wasn’t already an animal rights club on campus. I figured there had to be students who’d be interested in this type of club. So far, I’ve had a good amount of interest and positive feedback!

However, we’re always looking for new members and new ideas!

The club’s mission is to raise awareness about animal cruelty and to promote animal kindness. The Animal Advocates club members have done this in various ways which include organizing or attending events, holding collection drives for animal shelters, raising & donating money, protesting at animal cruelty events (Ringling Bros. Circus and No-fur), adopting wild animals to help with legislations, signing & sharing petitions, blogging, showing ways to help or get involved, sharing information, and by giving away free materials.

Animal Advocates of GCC uses Facebook as a way to spread awareness about many varieties of animal cruelty and to promote animal kindness. We post and share information, petitions, and facts; give ways to help; share vegan/vegetarian recipes; and much more. You can find and “Like” our Facebook page: Gloucester County College Animal Advocates Club.

We also have a blog that can be found at: We encourage people to share our blog with others and to comment on the posts. The only way things will really change is if people know about the atrocities that occur and tell others. Progress is made every day, so there is hope yet!

An Advocacy & Earth Day event is planned for Thursday, April 24th p.m. in the College Center on campus. We’re expecting several organizations to join us in raising awareness about alternatives to some of the cruel methods that are currently being used. There will also be information about pet adoption, the environment, and more! We are inviting people to stop by the college to get some free stuff, talk, learn, and have some fun.

Animals depend on us for many things, and as human beings, we are obligated to protect and take care of them. When we stop the suffering and killing of animals, we can then begin to restore humanity.

Melissa Norbeck
Faculty Advisor of Animal Advocates

Thank you to our Guest Blogger


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25 Ways to Help an Animal Caregiver

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Does this sound familiar: your friend or loved one is caring for an ill animal. Your heart breaks for them and you really want to be helpful, but you don’t know how?

girl hugging dog

Usually, even the most heartfelt, “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help” falls on deaf ears. Already overwhelmed with care-taking, your loved one can’t figure out what they need or how you fit into the puzzle.

Instead of a general offer, you can help your loved one much more by suggesting something concrete that you can do, something perhaps they wouldn’t have even considered. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Spend time with them, even if you don’t know what to say or do.

2. Send a quick note to let them know you are thinking of them.

3. Lend an ear. Almost everyone in crisis needs a sympathetic friend to listen.

4. A check in regularly. After the initial crisis is over, the wave of support may dry up leaving your friend feeling very alone. Let him or her know you are there for the long term.

5. Raise funds for veterinary and other care expenses ( is an excellent site for this).

6. Organize meals for the family using or

7. Use to create meaningful memories. You and other loved ones can record what they love about the animal, then you can download the finished product and send it to your friend.

8. Loan a baby monitor.

9. Offer to care of their other pets – walk the other dog, clean litter boxes, etc.

10. Give or arrange for home massage, acupuncture or Reiki session for the caregiver or the pet.

11. Offer to watch the animal while they take a nap.

12. Offer to grocery shop or run errands.

13. Prepare meals for the pet (such as stew or boiled rice and chicken).

14. Bring flowers.

15. If the animal is in the hospital and your friend is spending a lot of time there, bring a care basket to the hospital with drinks, snacks, magazines, puzzle books, a cell phone charger.

16. Give hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.

17. Be silly and make jokes; laughter is healing.

18. Bring pictures and talk about your favorite memories.

19. Offer to drive.

20. Help with the kids.

21. Do the laundry.

22. Give your frequent flier miles so family can come visit.

23. Send loving messages.

24. Arrange for an artist to draw or paint a picture of the animal. You can find talented artists in many places – you may even know one! Try for a quick and inexpensive option.

25. Let them cry – without trying to cheer them up. Some things can’t be fixed and truly are sad. Crying is therapeutic. Be a safe place where they can express their real feelings.

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
~ John Wooden

“New England Pet Hospice & Home Care supports those caring for ill, elderly and special needs animals at home following the human hospice and palliative care models of interdisciplinary care. Learn more and get your FREE subscription to Wag & Purr: Your Guide to Comfort Care for Pets at

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Guest Blogger, Denise Fleck –

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Take Part in National Pet First-Aid Awareness Month

By Denise Fleck,

Although Sunny had been adopted into a loving home, her time as a stray left her with a compulsion to never pass up a free meal.  One morning her “mom” (that’s me) awoke to find the 80-pound Labrador with all four paws on the kitchen countertop and her snout in a no-longer-covered bowl of chocolate kisses.  Luckily this pet parent’s timing saved the day and only a few chocolate morsels were consumed by the mischievous canine.  The dog suffered only a disappointed look, but a much smaller dog might have experienced rapid heart beat, vomiting, seizures and even death.

Each year, thousands of pets needlessly suffer and many die from ingesting common household foods as well as from injuries and sudden illness.  Knowing what to do during those first few moments can truly make a difference between life and death for your pet.  According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), one out of four additional pets could be saved if just one Pet First-Aid technique was applied prior to getting veterinary help.

Pet First-Aid is the FIRST step (and often the most critical) in a line of treatments before complete medical attention can be administered.  The most accomplished Veterinarian will not be able to bring your dog or cat back to life once they have died, but by knowing Pet CPR, YOU can keep their heart and lungs working until professional medical help is available.  If you know how to treat your pet for Heat Stroke, you can prevent brain damage and death.  If you learn how to bandage a Wound, you can stop bleeding and prevent infection.  If you learn how to alleviate Choking, you can prevent your pet from losing consciousness, and…if you learn how to properly induce vomiting, you can expel poison and save your pet’s life!  Fortunately Sunny didn’t need such drastic measures due to the chocolate that day, but the incident made me want to be prepared in case Sunny, or any of the six canines who have since crossed our threshold, needed help, so I studied, practiced and keep on learning but developed the curriculum I have been teaching since 1999.

April is National Pet First-Aid Awareness Month, and although it is a topic pet parents should have on their minds year-round, this is a great time to make sure you get trained in these life-saving skills. Without warning, tragedy can strike your cat or dog.  Should this happen, YOU must know what to do.  Has your dog’s tail ever been accidentally closed in a door, or have you discovered ticks on your gorgeous long-haired cat?  Have you found a dog left in a parked car?  Learning to treat heat stroke is First-Aid 101.  Have you ever feared your cat would chase a Rattlesnake or been stung by a bee?  Has your puppy been given too many scraps under the dinner table and suffered an upset stomach, diarrhea or vomiting?    How about when you take your pet along for a car ride?  Although children are usually strapped safely into car seats, do your pets get the same attention?  When brakes are applied, an unrestrained cat or dog can become a projectile.  Pets too should be in seat belts or crates/carriers that are secured in the back – never the front passenger seat where a deployed air bag could prove deadly.

Statistics show that accidents are the leading cause of death among non-senior dogs and cats, and according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), one out of four additional pets could be saved if just one Pet First-Aid technique is applied.  Even if you have taken a human First-Aid & CPR course, realize that humans, canines & felines do not share anatomies, and although the concept is the same, the technique differs as does our ability to communicate with each other.  We can’t ask our cat, “Where does it hurt?” or our dog, “What did you eat?”  Therefore, pet-specific training is essential to being a responsible and caring pet mom, pet dad or animal care worker.  I think one student summed it up best when she said, “The last thing you want is to wish you HAD taken a Pet First-Aid & CPR Class.”

Don’t think it won’t happen to your furry best friend!  Until you can get yourself to a Pet First Aid & CPR Class, take your responsibilities as your dog or cat’s protector seriously, and follow these tips:

1).  Learn the shortest route to your nearest 24-hour Emergency Center.  Putting the address on the refrigerator isn’t good enough.  Actually drive there so that when you need them, you know where they are located.  If you frequently take your pet hiking or to a park, you should also learn where the nearest emergency center is to that location.  We can’t predict that our dog won’t be bitten by a snake, sprain or break a leg on treacherous terrain or encounter an aggressive animal.  Just in case…YOU must know what to do!

2).  ID your pet.  In addition to tags, it is important to get your pet micro-chipped (and keep the information up-to-date) so that he can be quickly identified in case tags are lost.  As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” so carry one of your dog or cat with you at all times so that you’ll be prepared to make a flyer or show a photo of your precious pet.

3).  Observe your pet.  Knowing what is normal for your dog or cat will help you identify something abnormal.  Be aware of how many times a day you fill water bowls and let pets outside.  If suddenly your pet is asking you to perform these tasks more or less frequently than usual, they may need a check-up.  Notice how your pet sits and stands.  Are they suddenly leaning on one hip or seeming to labor getting up off the ground?  Periodically feel for lumps and bumps (a woman in class located cancerous tumors after going home from one of my classes and saved her dog’s life by doing so), and always check for fleas, ticks and foxtails when your animals come in from the yard or a hike.

4).  Always keep dogs on leash or in a fenced yard so that you can keep them safe from traffic (the #1 most preventable injury to animals), other animals, pesticides that might be on your neighbors lawn, poisons in garbage cans and more.

5).  Establish a good relationship with your veterinarian and take your pets for annual check-ups and special tests for seniors.  Brush their teeth regularly with toothpaste designed for pets (never human toothpaste which contains detergents) and check for “bubble-gum” pink gums, white teeth and no odor which are signs of good health.  Also have your pet’s teeth cleaned professionally twice annually.  If you are concerned about anesthesia, there are great anesthesia-free clinics – no excuses!

4 Paws Up for Pet Safety,
Denise Fleck, Instructor / Author
SUNNY-DOG INK: Pet First-Aid & CPCR Kits & Classes
AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR:  Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover
ANIMAL CARE ROP Instructor / Burbank Unified School District
THE EMMA ZEN FOUNDATION / Safety Council, Team Pet 1st Aid
WOMEN IN THE PET INDUSTRY (WIPIN) / Solopreneur Finalist
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