Fear & Loathing on the 4th

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4th of July fireworks can sound like the end of the world to pets. Managing a fraidy-cat or jittery dog can mean a long and trying holiday for you, too. Every year, countless panicked pets get hurt or lost trying to flee the terrifying sights and sounds, but these coping strategies will keep you and yours happy and safe until the skies clear.

Give dogs a good walk or playtime early in the day so they’re happily tired before nightfall.

Keep pets at home and indoors. You might need to do this for several nights, depending on how many days of revelry your neighbors observe.

Close the drapes and turn on soothing music to drown out the scary stuff.

Consider a fun distracting game. Coax a mildly nervous cat into a stress-relieving game with a laser or toy. Or fire up the hot-air popcorn popper for an entertaining, chase-worthy dog snack that also makes a distracting white noise.

If you know your kiddos get seriously worked up, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety meds.

Talk to a good pet supply store: many can recommend over-the-counter treatments.

If — Dog forbid — a pet escapes and goes missing, get in touch with nearby shelters ASAP. Shelter staff work hard before, on, and after the holiday reuniting panicked pets with their worried people.

Hot New Lifesaving Law

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Oregon’s “Good Samaritan Law” — which allows bystanders to free children or pets from overheated parked cars — is one year old. It’s always advisable to call authorities and wait for help, but the law now protects you if you break a window or pry open a door because it’s too dangerous to wait, and:

You have a reasonable belief that a pet or child is in immediate danger

You call police before or immediately after entering the car

You use minimum force needed to get into the car

You stay with the child or pet until police or rescue crews arrive

Even on a mild 75-degree day, the inside of a parked car can reach a miserable 104 degrees in 20 minutes, and a deadly 118 degrees in an hour. 

CAT Celebrates 20 Years, 44,000 Adoptions

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It was May 1, 1998, when a few hearty souls opened Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood, OR. The fledgling nonprofit had 35 adoptable cats and a vision to save lives.

The vision became reality: this summer, on its 20th anniversary, CAT celebrates 44,000 cats’ lives saved, and a community far different from the one that existed in 1998.

For years, Portland-area communities were overburdened with lost, stray, and feral cats. Shelter euthanasia rates were high.

Today, Portland is a beacon for the nation, with high adoption and sterilization rates, thanks in large part to the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland. Since CAT and other member organizations formed ASAP in 2006, the community’s shelter euthanasia rates have dropped 90%.

In its 21st year, CAT plans to home another 3,300 cats, with an emphasis on helping elderly or under-socialized cats find forever homes. The shelter highlights its first two decades in a photo album at catadoptionteam.org/20years, and executive director Karen Green says, “We can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring!”

Sink or Swim! Water Safety for Your Dog

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If you have a water-loving dog, you know there are few things more inviting than cool water on a warm day. There are risks such as overexertion and toxic algae, so it’s important to take precautions to help keep things fun and safe.

Don’t push a scared or reluctant swimmer — not all dogs are natural swimmers.

Take along: Ear cleaning/drying solution if your pup’s floppy ears are vulnerable to infection, a dog flotation vest, and knowledge of pet first aid.

Water-crazy dogs don’t automatically rest when they’re cold or tired. Watch for signs of fatigue, and get your dog on dry land for regular rest breaks.

Safe fencing to prevent unsupervised swims by pets or kids in pools and ponds.

Watch the waves. They can be deadly to tired or distracted swimmers.

Heed all warnings and advisories about toxic algae. Get help right away if you see signs of illness (lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea) as toxic algae poisoning can be fatal in under 24 hours. Check for affected areas at by searching "Algae Bloom Advisories" at oregon.gov.

That rule about swimming right after eating applies to dogs, too. Avoid any heavy physical activity for several hours after a meal. 

Sighting in on Puppy Mills

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Coming soon to a City Hall near you: advocates in Portland and the Willamette Valley hope to pass local ordinances barring pet stores from selling pets from so-called puppy mills. Stores would offer adoptable dogs and cats from shelters and rescues rather than sell animals bred in facilities known for unhealthy and inhumane conditions.

At an April meeting in Portland, organizers from Best Friends Animal Society and the Humane Society of the United States shared experiences gleaned from passing 270+ similar bills now on the books across the US. “Some lawmakers worry that people won’t be able to buy purebreds if the bill passes,” said one organizer, “but this doesn’t ban breeding, and reputable breeders don’t sell their puppies in pet stores.”

Advocates are gathering support to introduce a bill in the next legislative session. Learn more at PuppiesArentProducts.org.

Pongo Fund rolls out mobile vet hospital

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The Pongo Fund, Oregon and SW Washington’s emergency pet food bank, introduced Pongo One in December, a state-of-the-art mobile veterinary hospital bringing critical veterinary care and other services to underserved and underprivileged families and pets throughout Oregon and SW Washington.

The 23-foot mobile hospital, featuring two surgical suites, a laboratory, x-ray, pharmacy and more will provide advanced veterinary services at no cost to qualified pet owners in need, including the homeless, seniors, veterans, victims of domestic violence, residents of low income housing and more. The Pongo Fund is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit. Learn more at thepongofund.org.

Sit Stay Fit resumes play groups

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Sit Stay Fit has resumed trainer-led play groups the first and third Saturdays of the month. The groups are kept small, and a trainer is on hand to help keep play appropriate and work on skill building. Play groups run two hours at the SSF studio, located at 7100 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd in Portland. Participating dogs must either be clients or have trainer approval. Learn more at sitstayfit.com.

Bone Up on winter pet safety

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While it’s been a mild winter in the Northwest this year, some chilly days and weeks still lie ahead.

Despite their fur coats, pets feel the cold just as humans do. The follow safety tips are offered by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

  • Know your pet.  Pets’ tolerance for cold varies. When out for walks, provide a jacket for short-haired, elderly or frail dogs.
  • Forgo haircuts.  Save shearing for warmer months.
  • Check ears, paws and tails regularly.  Check for signs of frostbite, raw spots or debris.
  • Wipe your pet’s belly, legs and paws. Have a clean towel ready for when your dog comes inside to remove ice-melting chemicals, which can irritate and cause serious illness if licked or swallowed.
  • Clean antifreeze spills. Attracted to the sweet smell and taste, pets will lick or drink antifreeze, which is toxic to cats and dogs. Clean spills and consider using a brand made from propylene glycol, which is less toxic.
  • Keep water flowing. Dry winter weather can be dehydrating. Keep fresh water free of ice inside and out.
  • Provide a warm bed. Give your pet a warm, cozy bed and plenty of elevated places inside to warm up.
  • Leave Fido at home. You know the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car, but did you know the practice can be just as hazardous in winter? When running errands, it’s always best to leave dogs at home.

Wild burro project seeks volunteers, adopters

The Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, based in San Angelo, TX, is currently working on wild burro projects in Arizona, California, and Nevada in conjunction with the federal government. Burros are a non-native species in the US and can quickly overpopulate in deserts, causing destruction to ecosystems, competition with indigenous species, and damage to Native American sites.

PVDR uses humane techniques to rescue these burros. The animals are then chipped, vetted, and then shipped to a PVDR training facility to be made ready for adoption. Burros deemed unadoptable due to medical conditions are moved to PVDR’s main facility in Texas, where they receive care for life. Burros deemed too wild or aggressive for adoption are placed on one of Peaceful Valley’s sanctuaries, where they too receive care for life.

PVDR is currently seeking adopters, and volunteers to become satellite adoption centers for PVDR. Learn more at pvdr.org.

Report says 50% of owners prefer staying in . . . with their dogs

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More than half of American dog owners admit they flake out on social events to hang out with their pet(s) according to new research. The study of 2,000 dog owners found skipping out on human commitments specifically to get a bit of quality furry friend time is a common occurrence.

Clinical Forensic Psychologist Dr. John Huber says that bond is understandable given the way dogs aid our mental health — from their ability to lessen relationship stress to softening bad days at work and more, the average dog gets their owner through nearly five (4.83) stressful events every week. Learn more at mainstreammentalhealth.org.