Month: July 2014

Oh, deer!

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Fawn School 101 started for me the weekend of the July 4th holiday.

Most people celebrate 4th of July weekend in a relaxed state.  Cool drink in hand, sneakers kicked off, lounging on the deck to the smell of the grill.

Not so for this July 4th at our house!

It started out with, what we thought, was going to be a quick drive to the store for more ice.  As we turned down the street to the main road, there, in the meridian, was a teenie, tiny fawn.

Teenie Tiny Fawn did not realize what a big deal s/he was, hanging out in the middle of a busy intersection, nibbling on fallen leaves from the three ornamental crab apple trees there, seemingly without a care in the world.

Only it WAS a big deal, since s/he had decided to make that small area under the trees THE place to spend afternoons – so close to the busy road (so close), and open enough to entice sneaky coyotes after dusk.

Being such a Momma Bear when it comes to animals, after more than a few drives throughout the afternoon to the meridian to make sure no harm had come to Teenie Tiny Fawn, I wanted to call someone knowledgeable about deer to find out if we should be doing something about our newest spotted neighbor from a safety standpoint (Internet searches were too varied in their information).

I must have left over 25 messages at different numbers that afternoon. But of course, every place we called was closed in observance of the long holiday weekend.

However, never let it be said that there are advocates who don’t work ‘round the clock to ensure the safety of animals!  It was the Western New York Wildlife Service who called me back as soon as they received my message (which they checked daily, no matter what the holiday).

What were my main worries? they wanted to know.

  • Teenie Tiny Fawn was VERY tiny.
  • The meridian was next to a very busy road.
  • No matter what time we checked, we did not see Momma.

For the remainder of the weekend, our plan (per the Western New York Wildlife Service) was to make a few trips through the weekend to see if Teenie Tiny Fawn was still hanging out in the same spot, to note what time(s) s/he appeared, and to see if we could spot (from the car) Momma.  Many times, Momma will leave her fawn(s) alone for many hours per day.   But at least once every few days, if you look around, you will spot her around the area since they are never far from their young.  Usually, a fawn that is abandoned will begin bleating for its Momma after a few hours, and will continue to bleat until it becomes too tired or too dehydrated.

I was to report back on Monday.

Monday arrived and nothing had changed.  Teenie Tiny Fawn continued to hang out, alone, in the hot sun, for hours in the same spot.

Western New York Wildlife Service asked for pictures so they could estimate the condition, weight and age of Teenie Tiny Fawn, which was now nicknamed Frankie.

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  • It was determined that Frankie was healthy but underweight.
  • There was no way to know if Frankie was abandoned or if Momma had been hit by a car.  Although I did talk with our town’s Dead Animal Collection representative who stated that at the time we spotted Frankie, he was not notified of any dead deer that needed to be picked up – so that was good news.
  • Although Frankie seemed to be nibbling on leaves on the ground, he was still too young to properly forage for him/herself.
  • Although Frankie was mobile and alert, he was at risk of dehydration because there was not a reliable water source nearby.
  • Although Frankie was able to run, he was too small to properly defend himself against harm (ie, coyotes).
  • Frankie was very close to a very busy road.

There were discussions of capture, but usually unless the fawn is injured or in distress, this is used as a last option.  Capturing ANY animal will cause it severe anxiety, sometimes to the point of death.  And since Frankie seemed okay, and in the event Momma was around, this was not a reasonable solution.

Our new game plan was put in place:

  • Put up two large signs at each end of the meridian, letting traffic know there was a baby deer in the area.
  • Buy a bag of Calf Manna and place some in a bowl (along with a tub of water) under of the trees that Frankie was hanging around.  **Note that it is illegal to feed wild deer in a domestic setting.  In order to do this, you need specific permission from a DEC Representative and you should notify your local Animal Control.
  • Check the area every day for Momma.

Happily, once the water was put out, Frankie found and enjoyed it.  Relief that we didn’t have to worry about dehydration!

During this time, I was also put in touch with a member of the Western New York Wildlife Service who takes in abandoned fawns on her animal farm (which is DEC certified).  Virginia T. sees to their shelter and nutritional needs until they are old enough to be taken to a deer sanctuary.

After a few weeks, Frankie had vacated the meridian.  I’d like to think that s/he put on a little more weight, and found Momma or a companion herd.  We continue to see deer and fawn in our neighborhood, and it’d be nice to know that Frankie is one of them.

Virginia and I have remained in touch, and more recently, I made the trip to Virginia’s animal farm.  Virginia was waiting, with baby bottles of deer formula.  I got to feed my first fawn – who looked just like Frankie.

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And, I kept the Baby Deer signs – just in case.

Do you have a baby animal story?  We’d love to hear it.

Note:  Have you come across a baby animal?  NEVER approach a baby animal unless you can see immediate injury or danger.  Call Animal Control immediately if you have concerns or questions.  Since our local Animal Control was closed when we first spotted Frankie, I searched the Internet to see who else I could contact with my immediate questions.

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Guest Blogger, Denise Fleck (

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Disaster Preparedness Tips To Keep Your Pets Safe


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Hopefully you will never experience a fire destroying your home, yet you plan ahead — install fire alarms, smoke detectors and purchase insurance. You certainly hope never to be involved in a car accident, but you have airbags and wear a seat belt (and should safely restrain your dog as well). Being prepared makes sense as we can minimize potential injury to those we love. However, most people are not prepared for a major disaster. “Be Prepared” works for the Scouts, and it’s a motto we should carry into our adult lives. Planning ahead is the best way to keep yourself and your dog safe.

At The Very Least

  1. Place a Pet Alert Sticker near you front door recording how many and what type of animals live there. If you aren‘t home when tragedy strikes, trained professionals will seek out and help your pets.
  2. Designate a Pre-Arranged Meeting Place for your family and identify several Places That Can Take Your Pets. Red Cross Shelters do not permit pets, so organizations like the Surf City Animal Response Team, United Animal Nations, American Humane Association, Noah’s Wish and the Humane Society of the United States are working hard to train communities to set-up temporary animal shelters, but it could still be days before these facilities are in place. Making arrangements ahead of time with out-of-town friends and relatives is your best bet, but have a “Plan B.” Susan Keyes, President of the Southern California Animal Response Team says, “Long-term housing and care for pets is the area we have found people to be least prepared.” Check with pet day care and boarding facilities as well as your Veterinarian to see if they will accommodate during a disaster. Compile a list of hotels where pets are welcome and set aside one credit card just for emergency use. It’s also a good idea to have cash (in bills smaller than 20s) easily accessible as ATM Machines will not be working.
  3. Stash the following for each pet in an easy-to-carry backpack or crate (that way you’ll have the carrier to evacuate in):
  • A two-week supply of food stored in an airtight container and a manual can opener if needed; water (for medium to large dogs, one gallon per day); medication. Remember to exchange these items regularly so they are fresh when needed.
  • A water-proof container with vaccination & micro-chipping records and photos of your pet with your family as proof of ownership.
  • Treats, toys, bedding, food & water dishes; Collars/harnesses and leashes; Litter, scoop & boxes for kitties; specialty items for pocket pets, birds, reptiles and amphibians; Disinfectant for cleaning crates, paper towels, flashlight with batteries, zip ties, garbage bags and a well-stocked Pet First-Aid Kit.

Where To Put It All
Even with the best laid plans, life happens, so consider storing your goods in several locations in the event they are un-retrievable when the ground shakes, the flames rise or the mud slides. Positioning items close to an outside wall in your home will allow easier access should buildings collapse and you need to rummage through rubble to get to your supplies. Also, stowing duplicate items in your car is a good idea.

Don’t Forget The Two-Legged Family Members
Stash food and other items for the humans including a battery or solar-powered radio, rubber-soled shoes and a flashlight near your bed so that you can help your pets and stay safe!

The one good thing to be said about Hurricanes is that they are predictable — The National Hurricane Center tracks weather patterns and notes possible disturbances long before they pose a threat. It’s imperative that you monitor your local news channels and once a Hurricane Watch is issued, realize you have 24 – 36 hours before it hits, so do the following:

  • Keep pets indoors and easily accessible should you need to suddenly pack them up and leave. Cats can sense impending doom and often hide, so get them into a carrier early.
  • Stay tuned to news stations for evacuation routes and make sure you completely understand the plan.
  • Have at least one week’s food, water and any medications stored for your pets and prep your house for the storm (board-up windows, stow away items that can blow such as patio furniture, secure gates, etc.).

A Hurricane Warning is issued when the storm is 24 hours away or less. Complete all preparations before the rains and high winds arrive, and stay in your home only if it is safe. If you evacuate, take Fido and Fluffy with you.

Once underway, Wildfires can consume millions of acres and blow in changing directions. For this reason, you should plan several escape routes for you and your pets in the event the flames block your path.

  • Create a “fire break” around your home by clearing away vegetation, especially dead brush, about 30 feet from all structures.
  • Use fabric, rope or leather leashes and collars. Nylon ones melt when heated and can badly burn your pet.
  • Take all animals with you. Monitor your pets for burns and smoke inhalation. Knowing how to perform Rescue Breathing & CPR could save your dog’s life!

Unlike most natural disasters, there is no advanced warning for an earthquake allowing no time for last minute precautions. In addition to covering the three steps above:

  • Never position dog runs, crates or enclosures underneath objects that could fall during a tremor.
  • Add a pair of bolt cutters to your disaster kit in case damaged cages or fencing need opening.
  • Know where to turn off the gas to your house, barn or kennels.
  • Include your pets in the family earthquake drill and make sure all family members know how to handle them realizing that a frightened pet may bite or scratch.
  • If you board your pet, make sure the facility knows of your earthquake preparedness plans.

Should an earthquake occur, confine your pets. Dogs that escape sometimes return at mealtime, but there are no guarantees! Be prepared to handle cut and burned paws, know how to splint broken bones and stop bleeding in humans and animals alike — take a Pet First-Aid Class before you wish you had.

Flooding can occur in any part of the world and can even be confined to only your home or apartment building. Every year though hundreds of thousands of people are forced to evacuate due to rising water. Slowly rising water is usually due to rivers, streams or even a pipe leak in your home. Flash floods however can hit quickly caused by heavy rain or melting snow as well as failure to a dam or reservoir.

  • Map out several evacuation routes for yourself and your four-legged family; don’t rely on only one which may be in the path of the floodwater. Head for the nearest high ground with your pets, and it is always better to err on the side of caution and evacuate early. If it is a false alarm, you and your family have practiced a meaningful drill instead of the real thing.
  • Never leave any animal behind or certainly don’t tie up an animal if flood waters threaten. You can not anticipate how high water may rise, so even birds enclosed on high perches could perish.
  • Remember that danger of disease can be an issue after a flood. Keep pets away from standing water. Have a good fresh supply of water on hand for everyone (1/2 gallon per day for small dogs; 1 gallon for larger animals) as even tap water may not be safe if contaminated water has entered the drinking supply.

Preparing for the worst may just prevent the worst from happening!


Denise Fleck is an award winning author and freelance writer.  After extensive training and practice, she developed her own Pet First-Aid & CPR curriculum as well as a 5 month long Animal Care course for high school students in conjunction with the Burbank Unified School District.  She has shared animal life-saving skills on CBS –TV’s The Doctors, Animal Planet and other shows. To complement her teachings, Denise created a line of Pet First-Aid Kits, posters and books for children teaching animal respect and care!  Visit or call (818) 951-7962

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Let’s Talk Veterinarians!

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Five ways to “vet” your veterinarian:

  1. Visit The free AVMA tool for finding the perfect veterinarian is just a mouse click away. Here you can discover veterinarians in your area, the type of animals they treat, their hours, if they offer emergency services, and information on their staff.
  2. Ask about your veterinarian’s office operations. This includes who does procedures, how much services cost and payment options.
  3. Inquire about their experience with your particular type of pet
  4. Ask about emergency care. When your pet has acute health issues in the middle of the night, you’ll need to know where to call or go. Ask where you should go when things go wrong, and make sure you figure out how to get there BEFORE an emergency – you certainly don’t want to be driving around asking for directions in an emergency situation
  5. Talk with neighbors and other clients of the veterinarian. Selecting a veterinarian is like selecting a pediatrician. You will be the individual communicating with the veterinarian. Make certain you have a good working relationship.

Top 5 things to think of BEFORE you visit the veterinarian:

You know how it is. You have a million questions about your pet before you get to the veterinary clinic but when asked, your mind is blank. Veterinarians rely on you to be your pet’s voice. You need to keep your eyes and ears open so that you can report any changes in your pet’s behavior to the veterinarian.

Sharing information about how your pet is behaving—including eating, drinking, sleep, urinating and/or passing stool—could help make a lifesaving diagnosis.

  1. Ask about vaccinations. Vaccinations are essential to your pet’s health and should be tailored to your pet’s lifestyle. A pampered high-rise dweller that never sets foot outside won’t need the same vaccines as a mud hound forever rolling in the grass, even if they live across the street from each other.
  2. Ask about parasite prevention and control for fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms that is appropriate for the region of the country in which you live.
  3. Ask about proper behavior training and socialization. Many shelters report behavior problems as a primary reason people give up their pets. Your veterinarian can assist in evaluating your animal’s disposition and provide advice and tips on how to appropriately train and socialize your pet.
  4. Ask about nutrition. What type of food should you feed your pet? What serving size is appropriate? And does their age impact what you should be feeding them? If your pet is overweight and, if it is, how you can get your pet back to a healthy weight as in humans, weight control for pets is essential for good health.
  5. If you have a pet older than 7 years of age, ask about senior care. Note any changes you’ve noticed in your pet’s energy level, water intake, behavior or any lumps and bumps your pet has developed. Although many of the lumps and bumps are not problems, some of them are cause for concern. It’s best to have all of them checked out, just to make sure. Older pets are more prone to conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, dementia and other problems, and prevention and early detection of problems are essential to helping your pet live a longer, healthier life.

Do you have any other tips for readers about finding good veterinary care?  Share it with us, and we’ll share it with everyone!


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A Comfy July 4th for your Pets

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While we pet owners love the 4th of July and relish in the celebrations, our pets feel differently. A lot of dogs and cats are afraid of the fireworks and/or just even the loud sounds that they might hear outside. And if you decide to take your dog with you to an outdoor event, you need to keep an eye on your dogs at all times.

Below are some safety reminders for you and your pets.

  • Make sure all pets, even indoor cats, are wearing a collar with an identification tag that includes your name and telephone number. A microchip is also a good idea. Terrified animals may end up miles from home or deep under a neighbor’s porch. This simple precaution will save a lot of anguish, time, and energy.
  • Walk your dogs in the early evening, before the evening falls, to prevent stress from noises and to tire them out so they can sleep the night away (hopefully).
  • During neighborhood firework displays, keep all cats and dogs safely inside. Dogs and cats who are scared of noises should be put into a bathroom or other room with a secure door no windows. A screen door will not keep in a fearful dog. It is better not take a dog to watch a large commercial firework display as it only increases the chances of him or her becoming lost in an unfamiliar area.
  • Be sure to talk with all family members, including children, about the importance of keeping dogs and cats indoors this time of year. Get them accustomed to opening doors carefully to prevent animals from bolting.
  • It is safer to keep your pets at home during Fourth of July celebrations instead of bringing him to your neighbor’s party. Keep your pets in the house, rather than in your yard. He will be a lot happier indoors, and not tempted to leap over a fence to find you.
  • Dogs can be startled by the loud noise of fireworks. Once the festivities begin, keep your pet in a safe room where he can feel comfortable. If he is crate trained put your dog in his crate covered with a blanket to make him feel secure.
  • Remember to ensure that any room you place your pet to feel safe should be clean, have a light, be well ventilated and is a safe room temperature, and that there is access to fresh water and food.
  • Block outside sights and sounds by lowering the blinds and turning on the television. Play soothing music in the background to counteract the noise of the fireworks.  You don’t need to turn up the volume – louder noises, even common ones, can add to anxiety.
  • If your pet is very sensitive to noise, or has anxieties even on low-stress days, talk to your veterinarian now. Pets that are very fearful of noises might need a prescription of anti-anxiety medication from their veterinarian.
  • If your dog or cat seems overly anxious, spend some time with your beloved, speaking soothingly to help your dog or cat to relax.
  • Avoid spraying your dog with insect repellent and only use special sunscreen that is intended for your pets. Keep your pets away from matches and lighter fluid. They can be extremely irritating to the stomach, lungs and central nervous system, if ingested. When striking up the barbecue, make sure your dog or even outdoor cat is far away.
  • Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where cats or dogs can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, your dog or cat could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma.
  • Keep sparklers, candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
  • Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Just remember that loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for cats or dogs, so it’s best not to take them along to your 4th of July festivities. Keep them safe at home in a quiet, sheltered area where your cat or dog can’t escape. They will be fine if you just make sure they have a safe place to reside during the short-lived firework celebration.

Is there something else you do to help your pet survive a July 4th comfortably?  Let us know, so we can let everyone know!

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10 Tips to Help Birds on Hot Summer Days

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Did you know that leaving your outside faucets dripping just a little, can save a bird’s life?  THAT maybe the only source of water around.



1. Leave baby birds alone.

If you find a baby bird out of its nest, don’t pick it up or bring it indoors. In almost all cases, the parents are nearby and know best how to care for their young. An exception are injured birds, which can be taken to a local wildlife rehabilitator for treatment.


2. Ensure dogs and cats stay away from young birds.

If you have an outdoor cat, make sure he has a collar with ID (for your cat’s safety) and a bell to warn birds of his presence. Loose dogs also have an impact on nesting birds; for example, roaming dogs are suspected of recently wiping out a colony of threatened Least Terns in Florida. Keep your pets contained, and be especially cautious near beach-nesting birds.


3. Keep things fresh.

Your birdbath or other water feature should be cleaned regularly and kept filled with fresh water. Hummingbird feeders also need special attention, as hummingbirds will be switching back from an insect-rich diet to nectar in preparation for flights south in the fall. Be sure to thoroughly clean hummingbird feeders and replace the sugar water before it ferments—usually within three to seven days depending on the heat and sun.


4. Maintain your land in a bird-friendly fashion.

Consider letting some of your yard or other property go “wild,” or garden with native plants. Even small wild areas act as sources of food and shelter for birds through the summer. Avoid or minimize tree trimming to prevent disturbance to nesting birds. Where possible, avoid mowing grass in large fields and roadsides until after July to enable ground-nesting grassland birds to safely fledge.


5. Be a good landlord.

If you’re lucky enough to have swallows or phoebes nesting on your porch or carport, keep the nest intact. The birds will be gone soon enough, and in the meantime, they will help you out by eating hundreds of insects each day. If you have active nest boxes, clean them out after the young have fledged. Old nesting material attracts parasites and can be a source of disease.


6. Stay away from pesticides.

Many home and garden products include neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” which have been found to be deadly to both bees and birds in even minute amounts. See this list of products to avoid.


7. Ban balloons.

Birds can become entangled in the long ribbons, and may ingest the deflated balloon, which blocks the digestive tract and causes the bird to starve.


8. Turn the outdoor lights out.

Bright artificial lights can disorient migrating birds and make collisions with windows, buildings and other structures more likely.  Consider putting steady burning lights on motion sensors. You can consider blue and green LED lights as they are less distracting to night-migrating birds.


9. Be a bird-friendly boater.

If you’re boating, avoid disrupting birds. Boats operated in proximity to nesting birds can cause behavioral changes, even leading to nest abandonment and failure in some cases. If you notice congregations of birds, steer clear to enable them to spend their energy on gathering food and raising their young.


10. Gone fishing?

Discard fishing line properly in trash receptacles, since entanglement in line is a common and preventable source of bird mortality. If you accidentally hook a bird, don’t cut the fishing line. Instead, net the bird, cut the barb off the hook, and push it backward to remove. Just as important, be sure to use only non-lead fishing gear. Scores of birds suffer mortal poisoning from ingesting lead weights in fishing gear.


Have other tips?  Let us know, and we’ll add them!

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