Archive for March, 2008

Meet and Ruthie Ray
March 28, 2008


Meet Amaretta


Meet Ruthie Ray

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Welcome to Rabies Time!
March 26, 2008

Spring has sprung!  Daffodils are coming up, tulips are popping, birds are singing and, unfortunately, Rabies cases are starting.

Spring and Fall are peak times for the Rabies virus to rear its ugly head among the animal population.  Not sure why it’s these two times, but it is.  So, with that in mind, let’s go over a few things to remember…….

If you see a normally nocturnal animal around and it’s daytime, DO NOT PANIC!  It may not be anything other than a foraging for food thing.  Hey, if the only time you could get a good meal was at 3am, you’d be out there, too!  Just because they’re out and about doesn’t mean they’re sick.  They’ve been semi-hibernating all winter and they’re hungry (some are even pregnant and need that extra meal).

If, however, you see ANY animal acting in a strange manner, it’s time to call the local animal control officer RIGHT AWAY!  Keep an eye on the animal and note where it goes (obviously you need to do this from a SAFE DISTANCE!)…  Make sure any pets or children are safely in the house.

As Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain, the symptoms are sometimes neurological in nature – stumbling around, acting as if drunk, and looking as if the animal’s back end is paralyzed (like it was hit by a car).  These symptoms can also be that of distemper or other illnesses so it doesn’t mean its Rabies for sure.  However, there is another avenue that Rabies can take, and that’s what is called “Furious” – the symptoms are that the animal appears to be enraged and will attack anything and anyone.  The animal can flip-flop between the two as well.  There is no guess-work on that one – the animal looks as if it’s going to kill anyone it sees.

Rabies is transmitted via bodily fluids.  An opening in the skin as small as a hangnail can be big enough to transmit the virus.  The virus travels from the site of entry (via bite, scratch, open wound exposure) to the spinal cord where it then travels up to the brain.  That’s where the virus takes hold and does its work.  If the site of entry for the virus is, say, on the foot, it will take longer for the symptoms to appear than if the site of entry was, say, on the head or neck area.  This is because that virus has a longer way to travel so it takes more time. 

So for dogs and cats, getting in a fight with a rabid animal or even having them come into contact with a dead, rabid animal means an immediate call to the local animal control officer and a trip to the veterinary hospital for a Rabies vaccination booster.  The State will test the animal and determine if it was rabid or not.  The State has procedures set up for exposure to rabid animals and your animal control officer can fill you in.

So what can you do to better ensure you don’t have an issue this year?  Easy.  Keep an eye on your pets.  Never leave your dog out, unattended (this also goes for small children!).  A rabid animal can climb into a kennel so that’s not protection.  Make sure your dog or cat is properly vaccinated against the Rabies virus.  And make sure you keep that vaccination current!  This will make a HUGE difference if your animal is exposed. 

Check your animals daily for injuries.  If you do notice one, contact your veterinarian immediately.  If you don’t know where the injury came from, it could be from a rabid animal exposure.  This goes for dogs and cats as well as horses and farm animals.

Don’t assume that a dead animal can not transmit the virus!  The Rabies virus can live in warm, moist environments or cool, moist environments.  So if your dog or cat finds a dead animal (most commonly affected animals are raccoon, opossum, woodchuck, skunk, etc) and starts to play with it (I know, eewwww!), you still need to contact the animal control officer right away.  The animal control officer can have that animal tested.   Better safe than sorry on that!

Rabies is a nasty, deadly virus that has no cure.  It’s been in Connecticut for a while now and it’s not going anywhere.  While there is no need for panic, knowing what to look for and what to do can save you a lot of time and trouble.  And it will keep your pets safer, too!

Watch Liz’s Video

Meet Bailey and Ziggy-Stardust
March 21, 2008


Watch Video: Meet Bailey


Watch Video: Meet Ziggy-Stardust

Happy Easter!!!!
March 20, 2008

Well, it’s that time again — Time to remind you of what NOT to let your pets get into! Every year, veterinary hospitals are flooded with calls about pets getting into substances that can be potentially lethal.  The following is just a sampling of what you might have around the house this time of year.

  • Dafodils
  • Tulips (usually, it’s the bulbs from these plants, but I believe any part can be toxic)
  • Easter Lillies
  • Crown of Thorns (plant)
  • Amarillis
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Calla Lily
  • Ivy

Symptoms of toxicity from these are usually limited to oral reactions although some of these can be lethal if ingested.  Best to be safe and avoid contact!!!

Avoid: Chocolate, coffee grounds, tea grounds (it’s the caffeine, not the chocolate, that does it). Symptoms may include:

  • Hyper irritability or excitability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Increased urination
  • Muscle tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Avoid Artificial Sweetener. Symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Ataxia (uncoordinated movements)
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Liver dysfunction and/or failure

Also avoid raisins, grapes and onions. 

Now, if you think your pet may have gotten into one of these substances, don’t panic. Make sure to have the phone number of your veterinary hospital posted by the phone. When you call, make sure to be as clear as possible as to how much the pet ate and when, and what substance.

Remember, symptoms can come within minutes or can be delayed 24 hours. Best thing to do?  Keep these things OUT OF REACH! Another Easter no-no is that plastic grass they use in the baskets. Cats and dogs LOVE to eat that stuff and it can only cause issues.  I’ve seen it cause intestinal blockages which lead to VERY COSTLY VETERINARY BILLS!  Avoid it altogether — use tissue paper instead!  Much easier to clean up!!!

For more information, please visit the following web sites:

Here’s hoping your Easter is happy, and your jelly beans are plentiful!

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  • Meet Tucker & Minnie
    March 13, 2008

    Name: “Tucker”

    Greyhound/Labrador Retriever Mix

    18 months old

    Altered Male

    Tucker is an active young man looking for a forever home where he will get the opportunity for LOTS of exercise and playtime. He would be a great choice for people who love to take long walks while enjoying the beauty of nature. He prefers the company of adults and would be overjoyed to be the only pet in your home. Believe me, he’ll have more than enough love to go around. He is fully housebroken but is very interested in attending training classes with his new family. He is eager to learn.

    CAT:

    Name: “Minnie”

    Domestic Short Hair

    8 years old

    Spayed female

    Minnie is definitely 8 years YOUNG. She is quite active, extremely cuddly and just about as friendly as can be. She is suited for older children and will consider living with a polite dog. But she would love to be the feline queen of your castle, so no other cats please. She requires a special diet in order to maintain her health; a relatively small bit of additional work when you stop to consider the lifetime of love that she is ready to share.

    Both of these wonderful animals are currently available for adoption at the Connecticut Humane Society, located at 701 Russell Road in Newington.

    The Easter Bunny, Continued …
    March 13, 2008

    OK – last week, we chatted about whether or not giving a bunny to someone for Easter was a good idea or not. We chatted about the pros and cons of rabbit ownership. So, you’ve weighed the decision and decided that owning a bunny is really what you (and your kids) want to do. Wonderful!!!!

    What about getting one from a rescue? Right now, there are over 150 rabbits of all ages, sizes and breeds in CT alone looking for a place to call home. Maybe one should be at yours!

    Getting a rabbit from a rescue will do a few things. First, it will help break the cycle of breeding, adopting and abandoning unwanted rabbits. When I was an animal control officer, I was sent to a farm where someone had dumped 15 baby and young rabbits. Thankfully, we found homes for all of them, but I was amazed at how easily they were just cast off. It just proved to me how these little creatures are so easily tossed aside; I was very thankful to be able to catch them. I wasn’t sure how many were originally left and eaten by local predators, which is so often the case. Domestic rabbits, dumped in wooded areas, have little chance of survival. They have no idea how to forage for themselves and die from starvation, if they don’t die from predation.

    Second, rescuing an animal helps teach kids that animals are not disposable. When we rescued Jake the Bunny after he had been abandoned in the woods, it was wonderful to see how “special” that rabbit became to my kids. Jake wasn’t injured, he wasn’t a baby, but he was abandoned and in need. My kids really felt like they saved his life (which was really the case -– left alone in the woods for any longer and he would have died). It made the bond between them and Jake a strong one. They learned a wonderful lesson that every life has value, every life is to be treasured. No animal deserves to be abandoned and unloved. It made them understand that rescuing is much, much more rewarding than simply going to a store and buying a pet. It made them feel GOOD.

    So, think about it. Go to www.Petfinder.com and look up rabbits in CT. Go see the variety of what’s out there -– you’ll be amazed! And, think about this: Contact your local 4-H club and get involved with other kids who have rabbits! It’s a great organization and your kids will love the fact that other kids their ages have the same interests that they do!

    The Easter Bunny!
    March 5, 2008

    When I was a kid, my mother bought us dyed baby chicks for Easter. They were SO cool! There were four -– one for each of us kids. We loved playing with the little things and we thought they’d be there forever.

    Well, they started to grow and were messy and lost their colored feathers, which were replaced by adult feathers. My mother said they had to go and they went to “The Farm,” where, I supposed all would be well and they could be happy and carefree.

    One fall not too long ago, a friend called me in a panic. She had been driving by the reservoir and saw a black rabbit running around. It was obvious to her that the rabbit had been dumped off (as there are no pure black, wild rabbits -– that we know of!). Well, she and I spent a good amount of time trying to catch it and when we did, I brought it home for my kids. My stepson and my daughter named it Jake the Bunny. Jake lived out his life here, happy and content.

    The point of these two stories is that in both cases, the plan was not thought out very well. Sure, colored chicks are really, REALLY cool to have but what happens when they grow? Much like Jake the Bunny, once grown up, these babies lose their “cuteness” and, too often, their appeal.

    Too many times, we bow to impulse and get these animals for our kids, not realizing that they require a lot of care and maintenance that maybe our kids are not yet willing or able to take on. I don’t blame my mother for the chicks -– they WERE cool and if I had my way they would have stayed at our house!

    Every Christmas, I get requests for puppies. Every Valentine’s Day, the request is for kittens. And, every Easter, folks are looking for baby rabbits. Let’s take a look at what it is to own one.

    Believe it or not, rabbits are easily housebroken -– Jake was! They’re great pets –- they are affectionate and smart. As a kid, my rabbit loved to go sledding! They’re very social and require little grooming (unless you get a longer haired one). They will chase the family dog around if allowed to (safely!) and love to play. They are charming creatures.

    They need to be cleaned if homed in a pen. The pens that are often sold at pet stores, however, are WAY too small for them. Rabbits have legs -– LONG legs -– and they need exercise! I’d recommend at least a 5×10 foot pen for them to play in. They can be kept outside but remember, these are social animals! And, the likelihood of the kids keeping up with cleaning and feeding OUTSIDE in the winter is, well, slim. They can live to be around 10 years old so your child may lose interest (vs. hampsters, which live about 2 years). They have teeth that constantly grow so they must be given something to chew so that they can wear down these teeth. They can get illnesses, just like any other animal, so they have to be treated by a veterinarian who knows rabbits.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: If you want to get your children a cute, fluffy bunny for Easter, go ahead. But understand that YOU will probably be the one, in the end, who takes care of it after the newness wears off. And you’ll be the caretaker for up to 10 years.

    Here’s another thought, though: Every year, hundreds of rabbits are dumped because owners no longer want them. So, instead of buying a baby rabbit, why not teach your kids the value of rescue by adopting a rabbit from a rabbit rescue? It’s an experience they’ll remember for a life time! Contact your local humane society or look up rabbits on PetFinder.com.