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

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

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

10 Tips to Keep Pets Healthy this Holiday Season

10 Ways to Keep Pets Healthy this Holiday Season

The holidays can be filled with joy, but they can also be stressful for both you and your pets. Whatever you have on the agenda this season, read on for our tips to keep all your furry friends happy and healthy. Watch out for these decoration don’ts. Make sure Christmas trees and other heavy decorations are secured, and always unplug lights when you’re not at home. Skip the tinsel, as many pets are tempted to eat it and it can cause intestinal blockages. Last, avoid putting any additives (such as aspirin) in your Christmas tree water, which pets may drink. Know your holiday plants. Amaryllis, poinsettia, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly can all be toxic to pets if eaten. Skip them all together if you have an especially young or curious pet, or keep … Read More

Animal Assisted Interventions for Trauma and PTSD

The Role that Animals Play in Treating Domestic Violence Trauma and PTSD When times got tough, my friends and I used to joke that all we really wanted was to switch lives with a well-kept house pet. I must admit, it still sometimes seems like a good gig. I thought there could be nothing better. Then, in 2009 I adopted my first dog. After a few months of bonding, I came to see that the only thing better than being a well-kept pet might be owning one. My dogs, I adopted a second in 2013, have come to be the greatest companions in my life. They are a source of endless snuggles, kisses, fun, and unconditional love. As great as these things are to me, I can only imagine how great they must feel to … Read More

A Long-time Foster Shares Her Secrets

Shae's foster, Rex

Fostering a pet can seem like a challenge: you don’t know the pet, how they’ll act in your home, or maybe you worry about getting too attached. But for every challenge, there are rewards that outweigh it. We recently caught up with an active foster, Shae S., who shared her experience and tons of amazing advice for anyone out there considering becoming a foster. Read on to find out how she got started, why baby gates are her best friend and her tips for what to expect in 3 days, 3 weeks and 3 months. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a 33-year-old introverted graphic designer. I love the mountains, traveling, gardening and just being outside. I’ve lived in Colorado, Arkansas, Minnesota, but I bought a home and found my dream job in Utah … 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

Animal Magic: Dog Edition

Last week, I asked a few friends to write me a small testimonial about their cats, and how they bring joy and comfort to their homes, through both the good and the bad. This week, I approached the dog-lovers in my life, and asked them to do the same! I grew up with my nanny’s dog; a sweet old black Labrador called Annie. I remember tugging her ears, chasing her around the garden and taking naps with her- but mostly I remember the feeling of a friend while my elder sister was at school. 90% of the time I was probably a little monster, but she never barked at me or scared me; she put her head in my lap to calm me down, and the soft scurry of her paws on the kitchen tiles … 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