Wellness: Health Care
Making the cost of pet care easier to swallow
In many veterinary practices, dispensing of prescription drugs, nutritional supplements and parasite prevention makes up 17 percent to 20 percent of practice revenue. Historically, selling these products has been a relatively passive revenue source for veterinary practices. In the past, there has been little competition for products, and consumers did not routinely “shop around” for medications. However, that landscape is rapidly changing.
There is new legislation that is currently being discussed in congress that, if passed, will mandate that veterinarians provide a written prescription, even if the prescription is filled on the premise. This legislation is called the “Fairness to Pet Owners Act of 2011,” or H.R. 1406, which will allow pet owners to go to their neighborhood pharmacy for prescriptions, or to have them filled online. The legislation was modeled after the Contact Lens Consumers Act, with the intent of giving pet owners a copy of the written prescription so they can shop around.
The legislation calls for new rules regarding veterinary prescriptions that include:
• Requires veterinarians to offer written disclosures about off-site pharmacy options for prescription dispensing;
Many veterinarians and medical associations feel this idea is a tough pill to swallow and here’s why:
• The American Veterinary Association believes this law is redundant and will cause undue regulatory and administrative burdens on veterinary practices. They feel it is burdensome and unnecessary to require a written prescription be provided, as well as a written notification that the prescription may be filled elsewhere, regardless of whether or not the client is having the prescription filled by the veterinarian.
• The provision that requires the vet to verify the prescription, regardless of whether the pharmacy is accredited or licensed, which places the veterinarian in both a legal and ethical dilemma. At the same time, it puts consumers at risk.
• Clients already have the flexibility to fill a prescription at their veterinary clinic or off-site at a pharmacy of their choice. The AVMA is supportive of a client's right to choose where they have their prescription filled.
I see both sides of the fence, and overall, I feel that the concept is an excellent one; I just hope it doesn’t get lost in translation. I feel pet parents have the same right to shop around for the best prices on the medications they buy for their pets, just as they do for products they buy for themselves.
While the various lobbyists continue the battle of semantics, did you know? Yes, it is true: most states already do require by law that a written prescription be provided to you, should you just ask. Did you realize that you most likely have this option available to you? What are your thoughts with this proposed legislature after hearing “both sides?”
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Reactions to the photo vary
The photo of Andy Murray’s Border Terriers on Twitter wearing his Olympic medals has met with different reactions. Some found it quite endearing that Murray wanted his dogs to be a part of the sweetest victories of his life. (Competing in his home country, the tennis star won a gold medal in singles and a silver medal in mixed doubles in the London 2012 Olympics.) My reaction was in this category—kind of an “Aww, look at that” response.
Many other people consider the photo further evidence that tennis players don’t value the Olympics enough since there are other events in their sport that have long been more prestigious. Those with this perspective think that putting them on his dogs degrades the medals or shows that Murray doesn’t care about them. It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t care after seeing his emotional reaction to winning the gold medal, and I just don’t ever think that dogs degrade events, because I think they enhance them. The photo suggests to me that Murray values his dogs, rather than that he doesn’t value his Olympic medals.
Of course, among the worldwide audience are many people who don’t view dogs as favorably as I do, so the difference in perceptions is hardly surprising. What is your response to this photo?
Growing up, I never missed an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. The program was pure hokum, but a tonic that was hugely popular during the unsettling times of 1960s America. Each week Andy dispensed wisdom and homilies to his young son Opie (played by a young Ron Howard) and a cast of characters named Aunt Bee, Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle. Griffith seemed born to play the part of the small town law officer, a role he developed from his popular monologues and a successful stage career. Griffith was so comfortable in the role, he never seemed to be acting. It wasn’t until much later that I gained a fuller appreciation of Griffith’s talent, watching his film debut in “A Face in the Crowd” directed by Elia Kazan. It’s a memorable performance, as complex and dark a character as his sheriff Andy was simple and sunny. In the fictional town of Mayberry, we saw how life could be, with good trumping bad, neighbor helping neighbor, and when Opie finds a stray dog—a lesson in humanity. See the full 1963 episode titled “Dogs, Dogs, Dogs.”
News: Guest Posts
Spend any time in a city and you’ve seen it—am older man rummaging through a trash can for bottles or his next meal, a young puppy playfully at his side, or a dirty teenager clothes held together with patches asking passerby’s for change with a dog curled up on a blanket near her feet. The site of a dog living on the streets with a person experiencing homelessness tugs at the heartstrings of many, even people who are normally made uncomfortable by the site of homeless folks, and wouldn’t give a second glance to someone in the same circumstance who wasn’t accompanied by a dog. There are an estimated 3.5 million people who experience homeless in the United States on an annual basis, and like every other segment of our population many of them are dog lovers, and many of them (an estimated 5-10%) share their lives with companion animals, the reality of which often leaves dog lovers concerned about the welfare of the dog.
Although Rhode Island is expected to pass the nations first Homeless Bill Of Rights, which will formally ban discrimination against homeless individuals and grant them equal access to jobs, housing and services, there is a national trend where many cities legislating discrimination against homeless residents by outlawing behaviors like eating, sleeping, and panhandling in public spaces. While San Francisco is one of those cities that has in recent years passed what are commonly referred to as sit/lie ordinances criminalizing the daily survival activities for homeless residents, starting August 1st, the city is breaking new ground by taking a friendlier and fuzzier approach at decreasing behaviors associated with homelessness—specifically panhandling. Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos, or WOOF as it is being called is a new program, the first in the nation that is pairing homeless individuals with difficult to place dogs in the shelter system. The individuals will receive financial incentives ($50-75 per week) to care for the dogs instead of panhandling. They will also receive vet care, dog training classes, leashes, toys and food for the dogs in their care courtesy of Animal Care and Control.
Program participants will go through an intensive screening process by the San Francisco Animal Care and Control program to assess stability and appropriate fit for the program. Individuals cannot be street-homeless and must be residents of a supportive housing program. They will also need to prove that they do not have a history of violence, aren’t in substance abuse treatment, and are not severely mentally ill. Additionally, because the program is specifically aimed at stopping panhandling in the city, program participants must commit to not panhandle while participating, and if caught doing so they will be removed from the program and the puppy returned to the shelter. WOOF will give difficult to place dogs the chance to have one-on-one human contact and exposure to living in a home, while giving the homeless participants an opportunity to gain animal-related skills that may be transferable into the job market.
WOOF is the newest in a growing trend of social service providers who are recognizing the unique and powerful bond between people and dogs and pairing individuals who are experiencing homelessness with dogs in order to foster a mutually beneficial relationship. Outside In a leading homeless youths service provider in Portland Oregon runs the groundbreaking Virginia Woof Doggie Daycare facility, which now has two locations in the Portland area. Virginia Woof is more than another daycare option in Portland, it is a job training program that hires homeless youth, giving them dog training and work experience in the ever-growing doggie daycare industry.
Virginia Woof and now WOOF are two examples of great programs that are working to pair individuals experiencing homelessness with dogs with the intent to develop workplace skills, but there are also an increasing number of programs that are working directly with homeless people who are the guardians of companion animals. UC Davis Veterinary School runs the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless, a student operated organization that offers free medical care through a monthly clinic for the pets of homeless people in the community. Others, like the nonprofit organization Pets of The Homeless works to provide pet food and veterinary medical care to the pets of those experiencing homelessness across the country.
Many dog lovers struggle with understanding why someone who is homeless would choose to have a dog, but think for a moment about the important role dogs play in so many of our lives, the unconditional love and nonjudgmental companionship. For many homeless people who have been thrown away or abandoned by families and communities a relationship to a dog is the most important and secure relationship they have in their life. It is unfortunately often those same vital relationships that keep people street homeless instead of homeless shelters, as most shelters do not permit people to bring animals with them. Thus, many people unwilling to be separated from their dogs live in their cars, or on the streets in order to remain with their dogs. There are however an increasing number of drop-in centers, especially targeted at youth who allow clients to bring their well-behaved companion animals into the center and not forcing them to choose between access to needed social services and their beloved dogs.
As an advocate for both human and animal rights, I applaud the steps being made by WOOF and other programs to work proactively with homeless communities and dogs. I also look forward to the day when amongst dog lovers talking about programs and support for individuals experiencing homelessness receives as many smiles and as much support as talking about of homeless dogs on the streets and in shelters.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Facebook to the rescue
Communication is critical when an animal or a child is lost or in danger. If more people know to be on the lookout for an individual in trouble, the likelihood of rescue increases. Such was the case for a stray dog with her head stuck inside a jug, a situation that can lead to suffocation, dehydration, hunger and many risks. When a picture of this animal and her predicament was posted on Facebook, a lot of people took notice, including a local TV station in Nashville.
Eventually, one of the volunteers out searching for the dog found her and people were able to remove the jug and take her to a veterinarian. Ecstatic that she survived an ordeal that could have ended less happily, the dog has been named Miracle.
Has Facebook helped a dog in need in your area?
We’re easing our way into another summer season, tuning up for vacation flings, scoping out dog-friendly resorts and venues, and hoping to find time to settle back and simply enjoy a few peaceful moments with our dogs.
As our cover proclaims, at long last, I went to New York for a much-anticipated visit with the “Daily Show” dogs. We had put out a few feelers earlier this year, and some of you might have been wondering what came of them. In late February, I made a trip to New York and spent the day at “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” offices—and yes, I met the man himself. Since then, we’ve been reviewing the more than 700 photographs that our pal, ace photographer KC Bailey, took during my visit to come up with the one on the cover. You’ll be meeting Parker and Kweil, our cover dogs, and some of their colleagues (and seeing more great photos) in my story. Preview these exclusive sights and sounds from our visit!
Talk about a good time being had by all … not only does this have to be one of the most imaginative, intriguing and invigorating spots in which to work, its über-dog-friendly environment catapults “The Daily Show” into the stratosphere of the country’s most appealing workplaces. To honor that, we’re bestowing our first-ever The Bark’s Best Place to Work Award on “The Daily Show.”
Elsewhere in this issue, we share practical advice from our cadre of experts. Karen London gives us the scoop on the alleged differences between big and small dogs from a behavioral perspective; Pat Miller tells us how to tame door-darters; and attorney Rebecca Wallick provides a primer on pet insurance: Is it the best option? What should you look for when choosing a provider? What are the alternatives?
Then we take on one of dogs’ most profoundly embarrassing behaviors. Who’s missed out on seeing (or living with) a dog who tries to mount another dog, or his bed or toys or Uncle Louie’s leg? Julie Hecht helps us figure out what’s behind all those “good vibrations.” We go from R-rated to squeaky clean in a Q&A with a grooming pro, who gives us tips on the best way to brush and bathe our co-pilots, as well as the best tools (you can toss the one brush you’re likely to have but probably never use), methods and general advice on keeping our dogs looking spiffy.
In accordance with the season, the big focus of this issue is “Outside.” We introduce you to stand-up paddleboarding, a water activity that’s likely to have your dogs hopping aboard for the ride. We learn the ins and outs of backpacking with dogs and hear about a fisherdog. Carrying on in this vein, Lee Harrington describes her “back to nature” experience with Chloe.
In the last issue, we asked for your insights on two important subjects. One involved living in a multiple-dog household, and your responses convinced us that we need to examine this further. We’ve asked University of Michigan animal behavior researcher Barbara Smuts, PhD, to tackle it, and her findings will appear in a future issue. (We’re running highlights from your responses in this issue’s letters section, as well as online.) Keep them coming—we want to hear more about your life with a pack!
Our second request had to do with challenges you may have had while trying to adopt a dog from a rescue group or shelter. Again, the outpouring of letters showed us that this is also a topic that merits closer investigation. Contributing editor Julia Kamysz Lane, who’s been active in many rescue groups (both as an adopter and an adoption coordinator), will be taking the lead on this one. We hope to hear more from you. Did you encounter unexpected roadblocks during the adoption process? If so, what actions did you take? We also want to hear from rescue groups and shelters about their experiences: How were adoption criteria and processes developed? What kinds of challenges are involved? To get your feedback, we’ll be opening up this topic on both our blog and FB; any suggestions that may help increase adoption rates are definitely welcome.
That’s it for now. Let’s hope that the summery months give you time to chill, to kick back and relax with your pup at your side.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Bronco has become Bronx
Football player Tim Tebow ‘s every action seems to attract attention, so it’s no surprise that when he changed his Rhodesian Ridgeback’s name recently, it made the news. The name Bronco, which was such a great name when he played for the Denver Broncos, became awkward once they traded him to the New York Jets.
Many sportswriters are discussing how cruel it was to make this name change and claiming that the dog will suffer terribly as a result. Most dog professionals, myself included, think that changing a dog’s name is fine, even if the new name is nothing like the old one.
Bronco to Bronx is a minor change, which makes me suspect that Tebow made a real effort to change his dog’s name to something similar. Most people do think that it’s a big deal for a dog, so this gesture may have been prompted by a thoughtful attempt to minimize any issues for his dog.
Love him or hate him, Tebow’s big news is a sign of many things: his status as a cultural icon, the pattern of naming our dogs after what’s important to us, and the ever-increasing importance of dogs in our culture.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The bad guy was caught
I hope I never outgrow feeling greatly satisfied when bad guys’ evil deeds are thwarted. That feeling showed up this morning when I read about 8-year old Cade and his dog Roscoe, who together alerted the parents to an intruder in the home who was attempting to make off with the purse belonging to Cade’s mother. Cade saw a stranger in his house and called out in a way that told his parents something was really wrong. When they opened the door to the house, Roscoe gave chase to the robber, followed by Cade’s dad.
The robber was chased until he was hit by a car. (He is expected to recover.) While I take no pleasure from his injuries, I am glad that he did not get away with his crime. Though it is obviously risky to chase down an intruder (law enforcement recommends calling the police instead), it’s still invigorating when good guys stop the bad guy.
What interested me most about this story is that the dog gave chase at all. Was he chasing for fun because the guy ran and that was enough of a stimulus to trigger the dog’s chasing behavior? Or did Roscoe give chase because he understood, at least to some degree, what was going on?
News: Guest Posts
This week we mourn the loss of a dog lover extraordinaire: Dick Clark. He was 574. In dog years.
Clark was a big-time dog person. He designed his Malibu home so it could accommodate all his dogs—he sometimes had as many as five at a time. The showers were extra large so that he could wash the pups himself, he told LA’s Pet Press in 2001. It was even his dog, he’d said years earlier, who’d picked out the place: His Lab, Mort, got loose one afternoon on the beach, and Clark found him on a beautiful piece of beachfront property. He liked it as much as Mort did, so he called the owners and arranged to buy it. There, he and his wife Kari celebrated each dog’s birthday with plates of meatballs with candles in them. Kari was in charge of the party hats. He would take photos.
In recent years, the Clarks had a pug named Mrs. Jones, and Henry VIII, a 110-pound Weimaraner. There was also Lucille, a Dalmatian who was a gift from Gloria and Emilio Estefan—flown in via private jet. Bernardo was a Dachshund-mix the Clarks found on the streets of San Bernardino. They dropped him off at the pound and then made a U-turn and picked him up. (He would become their fourth Dachshund.) Many of the Clarks’ dogs were named for songs: Maybelline was a pup birthed by Mort’s girlfriend, Molly; Eleanor Rigby was a stray the Clarks took in.
In the office of Dick Clark Productions in Burbank, dogs roamed as they pleased. They took the elevators rather than the stairs; they trained human staffers to push the buttons for them. They also convinced all Clark’s employees to feed them leftovers, leading Clark to affix “Don’t Feed Me” signs to his charges when they made the rounds in the office.
“There are a few people that don’t like dogs, so they don’t pay any attention to them. But for the most part people pet them, feed them, bring them presents, and talk to them. It has a nice effect on a place that tends to have a lot of tension,” he told The Pet Press’ Lori Golden. “When the dogs enter, it breaks the ice. I’ll say sorry, we’re in a meeting, and they’ll turn around and leave. But everybody sort of laughs and it loosens up the meeting.”
“They’re pressure relievers,” he continued. “You’ll be on the phone at work dealing with something stressful and they’ll just walk up and want a pat.”
As his health began to decline in 2004, Clark told the Associated Press that he didn’t think that he’d had a stroke; when he awoke partially numb one morning, it was a feeling he was familiar with: He thought a dog had slept on his side.
In the 1980s, a then seemingly-unageable Clark had several popular TV programs. Although he tended to keep his own brood off camera, he occasionally invited other people’s dogs on his shows. Here, on Live! Dick Clark Presents, he interviews Spuds Mackenzie, Bud Light’s Bullterrier mascot. He asks his pretty (and very ’80s) handlers about a vicious rumor he’d heard: Spuds was really a woman. The ladies deny it, but Clark was actually correct—his real name was Honey Tree Evil Eye.
On his Friday Night Surprise show in 1989, Clark orchestrated one of the most charming kid-dog segments I’ve ever seen on the boob- or YouTube. Witness Dick Clark’s surprise talking Basset Hound.
Sources: Blisstree.com, The Associated Press, The Pet Press, ILoveDogs
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
N.Y. pup chases away an intruder and survives a bullet to the skull
Pit Bulls get a bad reputation in the media, especially in my area of New York. But a heroic Staten Island pup brought the bully breed a bit of much deserved positive press this week.
On Saturday, Justin Becker and Nicole Percoco had an intruder visit their apartment, posing as a FedEx deliveryman. As the man tried to force his way inside, Justin trapped the armed suspect in the doorway, but was unable to shut him out. That’s when the couple’s 12-year old Pit Bull, Kilo, sprang into action.
As the brave dog leapt towards the door, the intruder fired a shot into Kilo’s head and ran off. There was so much blood, Nicole thought for sure that they would have to say goodbye to their beloved dog. But Justin rushed him to the veterinarian and Kilo turned out to be very lucky.
The bullet ricocheted off Kilo’s skull and exited through his neck, sparing him from certain death. Kilo’s veterinarian called the case “one in a million” and credited Kilo’s thicker skull for protecting his brain. Apparently, Pit Bulls have particularly thick skulls as compared to other breeds, such as Yorkies. The hospital staff was so impressed by Kilo’s loyalty and sweet personality that they drew an “S” for “superhero” on his head bandage.
I am always in awe of our dogs’ selfless behavior. Kilo could certainly sense the danger of the situation at Justin and Nicole’s apartment, yet he rushed to protect his people in a split second.
Kilo is lucky to be alive, but Justin and Nicole are just as lucky to have him as a part of their family.
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