Understanding Animal Organizations: Shelters, Humane Societies, and Sanctuaries

If you search the Internet for pet adoptions or volunteer opportunities, you may get overwhelmed: shelters, rescue leagues, humane societies, sanctuaries, refuges. They seem interchangeable (and some do use them interchangeably), but each provides different services. Some of the services overlap, but all animal organizations missions align to prioritize animal health and safety. Regardless of the organization, do your research before adopting, donating, or volunteering. Ask local veterinarians, groomers, and walkers about them. If you can’t get information about the organization from trusted local sources, it’s probably best to avoid it. Animal Shelters The word “shelter” brings to mind dogs confined to cages and cats piled into a small space. But a shelter is simply a government-owned facility that takes in and cares for homeless animals. Depending on the town income and funding assignments, they … Read More

What You Need to Know About Canine Influenza

While we battle one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory, it’s important to remember that there is a variation that affects dogs and cats. Most dog owners are familiar with kennel cough but don’t think about canine influenza, which shares some of the same symptoms. Dog flu isn’t as severe (kennel cough is often a combination of different viruses or bacteria), but it can be debilitating and some cases lead to pneumonia. Prevention There isn’t a season for dog flu. Since its discovery in 2015, it has appeared all over the U.S. at different times of the year. Dogs transmit it to each other through their breath and saliva. Because it’s a virus, it can stick to objects for up to two days, which means humans and other pets can transmit it. Dogs … Read More

Pets and Cold Weather

If you’re on the East Coast, you probably experienced some part of the recent blizzard, caused by a historic bomb cyclone on January 3. In New England, we saw two feet of snow in one day and over 75-mile-an-hour winds. Needless to say, it was cold. Unless you have a Samoyed or a Maine Coon, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your dog or cat. Yes, pets have fur and padded paws. Humans make up for their lack of fur and pads with clothes and shoes and gloves. So we’re about even in the winter. Pets can experience similar problems to humans in the winter. These can be as simple as dry skin or as extreme as hyperthermia. And, like humans, issues can begin to arise minutes after being outside. … Read More

California Wildfire: Safe Ways to Help Animals

For the last two weeks, California and much of the western-coast has been subject to raging wildfire, caused by extreme heat, high winds and unusually low levels of humidity. The Thomas fire has so far damaged a staggering 800 homes and 230,000 acres of land across both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.[1] While the priority has been saving as many human lives and preventing as much damage to property as possible, there has also been a lot of news coverage regarding animal safety and rescue; this applies to both livestock and household pets. Some of this coverage has provided contradictory guidance in terms of whether or not you should help these animals, and how you can do this without putting yourself at risk. With this in mind, we thought we would list a few ways … Read More

Animals in Trauma Recovery: Formal Classifications

A Look at the Different Roles an Animal Can Play in Trauma Recovery There are countless benefits to owning a pet. Therefore, it is no surprise, that there are countless “roles” that an animal can play in an owner’s life. For a long time now, some of these roles have come to be quite formalized. Think of how long dogs have been “put to work” in the medical community. We have all become accustomed to seeing-eye dogs and service dogs for people with other physical disabilities. Dogs have even been trained to sniff out cancer or high blood sugar in diabetics. These dogs provide their owners with an invaluable service that allows them to function in society where they otherwise may not be able to. Recently, the psychological community has begun to take notice. Countless … Read More

6 Signs that You’re Ready to Foster an Animal

PetsEmpower enables people to move through crisis with the knowledge that their relationship with their pets will be preserved. As a result, short-term fostering is one of the most helpful services a volunteer can do for PetsEmpower, and it’s one of the most fulfilling experiences you’ll have. If you’re trying to decide whether or not fostering is right for you, we’re happy to discuss the opportunity with you. You may be surprised to learn that you’re more prepared than you think you are. You Want to Assist Animals and Humans You’ve considered fostering many times, but you’re torn between this volunteer opportunity and others that benefit social causes for humans. PetsEmpower isn’t your typical short-term fostering organization. Our program allows a crisis survivor to leave a dangerous situation. Fostering with us prevents an animal from … Read More

Study Reveals that Cats Prefer Human Social Interaction

credit: colostate.edu Researchers at Oregon State University have published the results of a study on household and shelter cats. After offering four different types of stimuli to individual cats, they discovered that, overall, cats preferred social interaction with humans to food. Because cats have developed an unemotional reputation based on independence, many found this surprising. However, if you’ve ever lived with a cat, these results probably didn’t reveal any new information. They won’t follow you around like puppies do, but cats do show affection in a variety of ways. Behavioral Study of Household and Feral Cats There are dozens of short articles summarizing the study’s findings without an explanation of the testing.  If you were on social media in 2013, you probably remember a similar viral story about domestic cats killing billions of birds and … Read More

Caring for an Abused Cat

Cats have a reputation for independence, where living with a cat is more akin to having a roommate than a loving companion. There’s some truth to this myth—especially when compared to their obedient canine counterparts—but they do have an affectionate side. In fact, a recent study found that, when given the option, most cats will select human interaction over food. For a species that developed special communication for their human companions, this shouldn’t be surprising. The unique bond that cats develop with their owners isn’t based on pack behavior. Cats develop individual relationships. When a human abuses that relationship, the effects can be more drastic than what we see in dogs. Dog instinct tells them to find safety in a new pack. Cat instinct tells them to find safety hidden away and alone. As a … Read More

Caring for an Abused Dog

Prolonged exposure to abuse affects dogs in different ways. A 2015 study discovered that abused dogs displayed a dozen different behavior issues, including excitability, hyperactivity, attention seeking, and barking. While it sounds intimidating, most behavior issues can be trained out of a dog. Obviously, we don’t expect foster households to hold rigorous training for their foster dogs, but using the experience of experts can help an abused dog adjust to his temporary home. Some behavior issues can be approached with multiple tactics, so select one that works best for you and your foster dog. Consistency and repetition are paramount, and working together will help build your relationship. A Safe Home Your foster dog should know that their temporary home is safe. Establish a loose schedule that he will learn, including walks and eating. Don’t force … Read More

Pets Make Perfect Best Friends

Similar to people, pets also make exceptional best friends. In fact, sometimes they seem to be better friends than a human companion. They don’t talk too much, never argue and are too cute and cuddly to feel irritation or anger towards. Quite possibly the best friend someone could ever hope to find is their pet. Providing Comfort in Distressing Times Pets like dogs or cats, for example, love unconditionally. Depressed or otherwise unhappy people don’t often have the energy or courage to face the world, or even go out the door, for that matter. Many times they’re feeling so down that they don’t want to see even their family or friends. Probably every person who owns a pet knows that they’ll provide the comfort they need when no one else will. Like a hot bowl … Read More