<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - ]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcmiami.com/feature/all-about-animals http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:13:22 -0400 Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:13:22 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 08:35:49 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Manny+A1727078.JPG Check out the animals up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[All About Pets]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 14:03:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000020261630_1200x675_537379907959.jpg Miami-Dade Animal Services explain the importance and benefits of adopting shelter dogs.]]> <![CDATA[Hollywood Dogs Rescued in Pilots N Paws ]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 13:26:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/100215+pilots+n+paws+flight+hollywood.jpg

More than two-dozen local dogs who were slated to be euthanized are getting a second "leash" at life thanks to a nationwide initiative.

The staff at Hollywood Animal Hospital spent Friday afternoon prepping the dogs as they were being taken to a non-kill shelter in Philadelphia thanks to Pilots N Paws - an organization that helps transport animals in need of rescue around the country.

Friday and Saturday marks the group's National Annual Flyaway. This year, Pilots N Paws has a caravan of more than 85 planes that will transport more than 400 rescue animals from 37 rescue organizations from 13 states - including Florida - and take the animals to non-kill shelters throughout the U.S.

The pilots offer their services free of charge.

Due to Hurricane Joaquin, the organization stated on their Facebook page that not all of the transports would be taking place by air this year, but that they are still working to make sure all of the animals make it to their destinations. Many animals are instead being transported by bus.

The annual flight, also called "Brock's Memorial Flight," is named in honor of Brock - the first dog flown by Pilots N Paws and the inspiration behind the organization.

Pilots and Paws has connected with more than 5,000 volunteer pilots from every state in the U.S., and has helped organize lifesaving flight for more than 75,000 animals.

For more information, visit Pilots N Paws on the web.

<![CDATA[Firefighters Rescue Kitten from Car in Fort Lauderdale]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 05:21:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/1001+fort+lauderdale+kitten+stuck.jpg

Firefighters came to the rescue of a furry friend, trapped inside a car in Fort Lauderdale Thursday.

Fire Rescue received a call from a concerned resident who heard "meows" coming from the wheel well of his vehicle.

The caller said he had just driven from Lauderhill to Fort Lauderdale Beach when he got out of the car and heard the muffled meows. Firefighters responded and found a kitten entangled within the suspension arm of the car.

The driver did not have a jack to lift the car so firefighters used their TRT and extrication equipment to lift the vehicle, remove the tire and untangle the kitten.

The animal was removed unharmed but was frightened and covered with dirt and grime from the ride. Firefighters believe the kitten had surfed through some of the wet areas of east Fort Lauderdale during his ride due to the extreme high tides.

There was no identification on the animal so one of the firefighters claimed the kitten to bring home to become part of his family.

Photo Credit: Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 19:50:58 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Blacky+A1726286.jpg Check out the furry friends up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[Dog Recovering After Suffering Animal Abuse]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 21:01:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/092815+emilio+recovering.jpg

It's a happy ending to a case of animal cruelty in South Florida.

Emilio the dog had to be fed and medicated through a tube after suffering two jaw fractures earlier this year.

On Monday, Miami-Dade Animal Services released video showing a playful Emilio recovering and on the mend. His treatment costs were covered in part by donations to the Paws 2 Care Coalition.

As for Emilio's former owner, he was sentenced to five years probation as part of a plea deal. He also can't keep animals on his property.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[All About Animals: Pet Vaccines]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 14:04:02 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000020165190_1200x675_532367427632.jpg Miami-Dade Animal Services explain the importance of getting your pets the vaccines and show Roxanne Vargas a pair of adorable pooches in need of a home.]]> <![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 21:45:05 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Sparky924.jpg Check out the furry friends up for adoption in Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Dog Found in SoFla Being Reunited With Memphis Owner]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 18:17:58 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/092415+pit+bull+reunited.jpg

It's a happy ending for China the pit bull. After being lost from her owner for eight months and over 1,000 miles away, she's finally been found.

"We got her back now, so she'll be around her lovely little family again, so we got our furball back," said China's owner, James Haney, who lives in Memphis.

Haney, who spoke with NBC 6 via Skype, said he recognized his dog after seeing a picture of her on Instagram, "I saw her pop up on my screen and that's my baby, that's my furry baby."

Haney worked with animal advocates Chew Davis and Dahlia Canes and they called Miami-Dade Animal Services to get the dog.

It was a long and hard journey for the three-year-old pit bull who ended up in South Florida. She was picked up wandering the streets around Miami Gardens.

Employees at Miami-Dade Animal Services said they believe China was stolen. She's a purebred pit bull so it appears the dog nappers used her for breeding.

"She was over-bred and over-bred and now when she can give no more, they threw her on the streets," Canes explained.

Haney got emotional when he heard that someone found his beloved sidekick, "That was my baby. I ain't gonna lie. I'm 50-years-old and I broke down and cried like a real child."

Animal services waived all redemption fees and even put in a free microchip so she doesn't get lost again. A local animal advocate is now safely transporting the dog back to her loving owners in Memphis.

"The dog has been missing for eight months but the moral of the story here is you don't give up on your dog when it's stolen or missing," Canes said.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 22:28:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Sasha+A1625015.JPG Check out the adorable animals up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[Trapped Kitten Saved by Hialeah Fire Rescue Crews]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 13:38:23 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/091815+trapped+kitten+palmetto+expressway+hialeah+fire+rescue.jpg

A kitten that got pinned inside a support wall of the Palmetto Expressway was rescued by Hialeah Fire Rescue crews Friday morning.

Fire rescue crews spent nearly an hour freeing the kitten, which became stuck in the concrete support wall of the Palmetto at W. 60th Street, officials said.

Using the Jaws of Life, workers were able to free the cat unharmed. It's being cared for by a 911 dispatcher until the owner can be found.

Photo Credit: Hialeah Fire Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets - Sept. 17, 2015]]> Thu, 17 Sep 2015 19:56:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Brutus+538302.jpg Check out the furry friends up for adoption in Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Wed, 16 Sep 2015 17:31:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Julliett+A1724232.JPG Check out the adorable animals up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[Your Unsocialized Hound Is Not A Service Dog!]]> Wed, 16 Sep 2015 17:14:11 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Fake-Service-Dogs-Blurb.jpg

Ah, the fake service dog. Like out-of-sync traffic lights and above-ground power lines, they’re one of those things that make my normally mild British temperament fall by the wayside. 
Allow me to rephrase that - it’s not the dogs that make my blood boil, but rather their owners. Who are these people? You’ve probably seen them. For me, the most recent was a lady in the grocery store with a teacup poodle in a Coach purse. Before that, there was the guy in the health food store pushing a Yorkshire terrier in a stroller. A few years ago it was a rather surly gentleman on a bus in Philadelphia. His “service dog” kept trying to attack an elderly passenger’s footed cane. And remember my friend Sue from last week’s column? Yeah, her actual service dog was recently attacked in public by a Corgi wearing a homemade service dog vest.
For the past five or so years, there has been a marked increase in incidents of pet owners who attempt to pass off their unsocialized pets as emotional support animals. Add to that the growing number of handlers who attempt to pass off their emotional support animals as service dogs, and you have the makings of a perfect storm that makes life more difficult for a demographic that already faces considerable challenges: the disabled. If you think I’m exaggerating for effect, think again.
Airline complaints against ESA’s and their handlers have risen steeply, causing many to demand a crackdown. As a response to this very issue, a recent law was passed banning so called service dogs from riding in shopping carts.  Another new law makes misrepresenting a pet as a service dog a second-degree misdemeanor
In all of the events I have personally witnessed, the humans handling these canine culprits shamelessly bullied service providers who were unaware of their rights. They blindsided these hard-working individuals by brandishing letters, threatening lawsuits, and throwing the kinds of public temper tantrums that would put a toddler to shame.
If you are one of these people, I am calling you out. If you would like to leave nasty comments, send me indignant emails, or blow up my social media accounts, be my guest. The traction is awesome and brings lots of hits to my website. I probably won’t bother to respond to you because I don’t have time to be bothered with entitled jerks - and that, my dear imposter, is exactly what you are. If on the other hand, you’re one the many beleaguered employees that has had to deal with said jerks, then listen up.
An emotional support animal is NOT, repeat NOT a service animal. They are not the same thing. ESA’s are NOT working animals. They are pets. For a refresher course on the differences click here.
A service dog has the right to accompany a handler wherever the general public is allowed. ESA’s are pets. If pets are not allowed, then neither are ESA’s. Period! Exceptions are made in matters of housing and air travel, but that’s it.
Emotional support animals are not required to go through any special training - and oftentimes, to be perfectly honest, it shows. If a so-called service dog is barking, sniffing, exploring, socializing, growling, lunging, freaking out at the sight of an old lady’s cane,or doing anything other than focusing exclusively on its handler, it is probably not a service dog.
If the animal is not a service animal, it is not entitled to be there. You can ask them to leave, and you should. This is not just a matter of principle. It’s a matter of complying with the rules and laws that may govern your place of business. Do you really want to be saddled with health code violations and the fines that accompany them because a hyper-attached pet owner just had to bring Fluffy to brunch? No pets allowed means just that. Even legitimate emotional support animals are still pets. You have every right to ask their handlers to leave, even if they get nasty.
If you’re reading this article and wondering what kind of person would risk jail time and fines for the privilege of schlepping their pets around, you’re not alone. As long as they’re promised anonymity, fakers are very frank about their motivations. They often cite reasons such as not wanting to leave their pets home alone, not wanting to hire dog walkers, not wanting to crate-train, separation anxiety (presumably the pet’s!), convenience, not wanting to pay a fee to fly with their pet, or my personal favorite, “This country is so backwards. In Europe, you can bring a dog anywher.!” I’m European and guess what? When my wife and I go out to brunch, we leave our dogs at home. Here’s why:
It’s. The. Law.
Perhaps the all-time prize-winner was the pet blogger who bragged that her fake service dog was the best trained dog she knew. I will not publish her name or the link to the article because I refuse to reward her behavior with money and/or attention, but the long and the short of it was that she felt the privilege of taking her dog in public was her reward for having put so much time and effort into training said dog. The piece reeked of entitlement and sent my blood straight to the boiling point. Thankfully, the author’s self-righteous attitude was ripped to shreds in the comment section, so perhaps the world has not gone completely mad just yet.
I’ll close this article with a missive from a client whom I’ll call Bob. Bob is combat veteran who survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and a second in Iraq. He came home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and his service dog has been vital in helping him along the long road to recovery. He explained his frustration with the fake service dog phenomenon as follows:
“When people get burned by a fake service dog team, they develop anti-bodies. Then I come along with my legit service dog, and there’s an issue. They get defensive, or they ask questions they’re not supposed to ask, they give me attitude, they tail me like I’m some kind of criminal. Dude, the ‘S’ in PTSD stands for ‘stress’. I don’t need that “expletive”. And on a bad day, I can’t handle it. I knew when I enlisted that my choice involved risk, so I’m not looking for anybody’s sympathy. I’m looking to get my life back. All I want is for people to respect a set of laws that allows people like me to keep going. I don’t think that’s so terribly much to ask.”
Neither do I.
But if you’re surfing Etsy to find a convincing-looking service dog vest for Snowflake, well, apparently you do. Way to go thanking our wounded warriors for their service. I told you I was going to call you out, and while I realize the animal section is generally a place for feel-good pieces, I hope I made you feel bad about yourself. If I did, don’t despair. The fix is an easy one. Instead of the faker-vest, buy Snowflake a nice fluffy bed and an interesting toy. She’ll have great fun with both when you go out for brunch and leave her - and your “letter”- at home.
For more information about service dogs, please visit the Americans With Disabilities Act’s website


Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee? Send him an email by clicking here.

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<![CDATA[It’s National Service Dog Month]]> Fri, 11 Sep 2015 13:30:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Cosmo+Emotional+Support+Animal.JPG

September is National Service Dog Month. The relationship between a service dog and its handler is, in my opinion, one of the most extraordinary kinds of human-animal bonds. Animals enrich our lives in many unique and special ways, but the service dog is an invaluable companion for individuals with disabilities. While many types of animals provide many types of aid, not every assistance dog is a service dog. This month, we’ll get to know some of these “helping hounds.”
Service dogs
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog is defined as a dog that has been specifically trained to do work, or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Such tasks must be related to the handler’s disability, with the aim of mitigating the effect of said disability. Service dogs are trained to help handlers with physical, sensory, intellectual, psychiatric, or mental disabilities. Some of the most common tasks performed by service dogs include (though are absolutely not limited to), guiding handlers who are blind, or have low vision, pulling a wheelchair, alerting a deaf handler to sounds, or to the presence of others, assisting a handler during a seizure, alerting a handler to the presence of life-threatening allergens, retrieving dropped items, dialing 911, providing stability to a handler with balance or mobility problems...the list is both impressive and extensive! For the sake of clarity, service dogs are sometimes categorized as follows:
Guide dogs
A guide dog is trained to help navigate a handler who is blind, or has low vision. While they are often referred to as “Seeing Eye Dogs”, this term is only correctly used to describe dogs trained at a specific facility in Morristown, New Jersey.
Signal dogs
A signal dog, or hearing dog, is trained to assist a handler who is deaf or hearing impaired. They signal the occurrence of certain sounds, (such as sirens, alarms, phones, doorbells, etc.) by giving the owner an alert. Signal dogs may also be trained to alert the handler to the presence of other people or objects.
Medical alert dogs
A medical alert dog may be trained to recognize the subtle changes in body chemistry that precede a life-threatening event. For example, a medical alert dog may trained to warn an epileptic owner that a seizure is about to occur. Others can alert a diabetic handler to dangerous changes in blood sugar, or alert a handler to the presence of life-threatening allergens or toxins.
Mobility Assistance Dogs
A mobility assistance dog may pull a wheelchair, help steady individuals with balance or coordination issues, or retrieve dropped objects. Again, this list is not comprehensive.
Psychiatric service dogs
A psychiatric service dog may be trained to assist handlers with anxiety disorders, PTSD, depression, or other psychiatric disabilities. They must be trained to perform tasks that specifically help to alleviate the clinical signs of the handler’s disability. For example, a psychiatric service dog may alert a handler to the presence of something that might trigger an anxiety attack. If a handler is at risk of slipping into a dissociative state and walking into dangerous situations, a psychiatric service dog can be trained to physically block the handler from harm.
This list has been truncated for the sake of brevity, so if you have an awesome service dog in your life, we’d love to hear about him or her in the comments.
Service dogs and their handlers have rights and privileges that are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. By law, service dogs are defined as working animals, not pets, and are therefore legally permitted to accompany their handlers wherever the general public is allowed. Establishments that do not allow pets are required by law to make exceptions for service dogs. Denying entry to a service dog due to allergies, fear of animals, or concerns over hygiene is a violation of federal law. I’ll go into more detail in a later column, but the bottom line is that service dogs can go anywhere we can. Handlers must be able to control their service dogs at all times.
Therapy dogs
While therapy dogs also receive extensive training, their work is very different than that of service dogs. Therapy dogs are well-behaved dogs with stable temperaments who provide emotional and psychological therapy to people other than their handlers. These dogs typically visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, hospice care centers, mental health facilities and other such institutions. They are encouraged to interact with as many people as possible, as opposed to a service dog, which must focus solely on the needs of the handler.
A therapy dog may provide comfort to patients, or help build the confidence of children who are recovering from injuries. While the work they do is important and valuable, therapy dogs are not designated as service dogs. They are not afforded the same rights and legal protections as service dogs, and are not permitted in places where pets are generally not allowed. While a service provider is legally obligated to allow access to a service dog, they are not required to do so for a therapy dog.
Emotional Assistance Animals
An emotional assistance animal, or ESA is not the same as a psychiatric service dog. An ESA does not require any specialized training, and does not perform specific tasks aimed at reducing the consequences of a handler’s disability. They are handled by people who have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and many other psychiatric disabilities.They provide comfort and security to their handlers simply by being present. 
Like therapy dogs, ESA’s are not designated as service dogs, and are not allowed in establishments with “no pets allowed” policies. However, the Department of Justice/HUD’s Fair Housing Act does allow ESA’s to live in residences with “no pets allowed” policies. This is considered a “reasonable accommodation”. Additionally, the Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act allows ESA’s to accompany their handlers in the passenger cabins of airplanes. In both of these cases, documentation must be provided by a mental health professional stating the need for the service animal. This cannot be done by a veterinarian or a dog trainer.
Due to the vast number of individuals fraudulently claiming their pets are ESA’s or psychiatric service dogs, many legitimate handlers complain that their rights are being violated, or their privileges are being eroded. This is a huge problem, and is one of the reasons it is so important to understand the proper roles and designations of these animals. Throughout the month, I’ll talk about ways to legally - and politely - interact with service dogs and their handlers. And if you’re one the aforementioned service dog “fakers” I’ll be talking about you, too. Fair warning: you may want to take cover!
Stay tuned…


Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee? Send him an email by clicking here.

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<![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets - September 10, 2015]]> Thu, 10 Sep 2015 21:26:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Angelica+538051.jpg Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets - September 10, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Clouded Leopard Kittens Make Debut at Zoo Miami]]> Wed, 09 Sep 2015 17:54:09 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/090915+clouded+leopard+kittens.jpg

Six-month old clouded leopard kittens made their official public debut Wednesday at Zoo Miami, as they were introduced with their mother.

Serai, the four-year-old mother, led the two female kittens, Malee and Suree, onto the open-air exhibit where at first, they hesitated to enter.

After several minutes, the kittens ventured out and began to climb up the sides of the enclosure exploring the new areas.

Zoo employees said it will probably take several days before the kittens are comfortable with their new surroundings but it appears they are adapting well.

They are scheduled to be on exhibit Thursday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. They will be off exhibit Friday and Saturday this week.

The schedule will be reevaluated next week, eventually leading up to daily exhibition.

Photo Credit: Zoo Miami]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Wed, 09 Sep 2015 17:08:22 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Mo+A1719618.JPG Check out the adorable animals up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[Manatees Spotted in the Water in Kendall]]> Tue, 08 Sep 2015 23:40:49 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000019909744_1200x675_521769539594.jpg An NBC 6 viewer snapped photos of manatees in the water near Southwest 103rd Street and Kendall Drive. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to the area and determined they were not in danger.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Miami Firefighters Rescue Kitten from Storm Drain]]> Mon, 07 Sep 2015 18:50:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000019891774_1200x675_520725059863.jpg Miami firefighters came to the rescue of a tiny kitten that was stuck in a storm drain. They washed it off, gave it a little towel dry and gave it a good meal at the fire house.]]> <![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Emmy]]> Sun, 06 Sep 2015 11:27:17 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/090615+emmy+pet+of+the+week.jpg

Our pet of the week is Emmy, a one-year-old Shepard mix, who is looking for her forever home.

Lisa Mendheim with Broward Animal Care stopped by NBC 6 on Sunday with Emmy. She said Emmy is very smart and loyal, and friendly.

Emmy would make a great family pet.

If you're interested in Emmy or other animals up for adoption, contact Broward Animal Care at (954) 359-1313.

For more animal news, visit our All About Animals section.

<![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Henry]]> Sat, 05 Sep 2015 10:41:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/090515+pet+of+the+week+henry.jpg

Our pet of the week is Henry, a Miniature Pinscher mix, who is about 8-9 years of age and is looking for his forever home.

Tracy Calvino with Pooches in Pines stopped by NBC 6 on Saturday with Henry. She said he has a lot of spunk, despite his age. He loves to run and play.

Calvino said Henry is fine with other dogs and cats, but isn't fond of children. He'll need to go to a home without kids. But, Henry loves to be around people.

If you're interested in Henry, contact Pooches in Pines at (954) 431-2200 or visit their Facebook and Twitter pages for more information.

For more animal news or to view other pets up for adoption, visit our All About Animals page.

<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Adoptable Pets]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 09:12:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Tito+537571.jpg Check out the adorable animals up for adoption in Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Safe Car Travel for Your Pets]]> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:11:32 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/161*120/Travel+with+your+pet.jpg

We’ve all seen them - those happy hounds riding along South Florida’s roadways, tongues lolling, ears flapping wildly in the breeze. You’ve probably laughed, or pointed, or reached for your camera. I’ve done that too. But since last week, I’m doing it considerably less often.
Last week, one of my patients was enjoying such a ride when something outside the window caught his eye. He took a flying leap out the window, regardless of the fact that the car was still travelling at 25 miles per hour. Thankfully, his injuries were not life-threatening. That being said, he scared the living daylights out of his family, and the bill for his care came at a very bad time.
We all love seeing the look of unbridled joy displayed by a dog riding shotgun. But when you combine unpredictable animals with moving vehicles and (let’s face it) Miami drivers, you get a recipe for potential disaster that puts both human and animal lives at risk. Here are few things to think about before hitting the road with your pet.
Lack of impulse control
While we love projecting human attributes onto our pets, the fact remains that they are animals. Many dogs descend from lines that were bred to independently hunt prey. These dogs have a natural prey drive that can be very difficult to control once it is triggered. From the window of a moving car, just about anything can look like a running prey animal. If you happen to pass an actual animal, be it a small dog, free-roaming cat, or squirrel, all bets are off. I like to think my intelligent, high drive dachshund would have enough sense not to jump out of my car to chase a child’s soccer ball. Truth be told, I wouldn’t bet my life on it, and I certainly wouldn’t bet his.
No one ever plans to have an accident, yet they happen often. Additionally, they are most likely to happen close to home and at low speeds. If you’re in a situation that requires you to slam on your brakes, the dog that is hanging out the window is going to fall. Every veterinary professional has horror stories of dogs who were run over by the cars in which they were riding, crushed by the other car involved in a wreck, or who died of strangulation when collars or leashes became caught. Others still bolt from the scene of an accident never to be seen alive again. Sorry to be graphic, but these deaths are senseless and can easily be prevented.
Bear in mind that a loose pet can even cause or exacerbate an accident. Small dogs and cats who climb onto drivers, or crawl under brake pedals have caused many a serious crash. And even in a low-speed wreck, a loose pet can easily become a dangerous projectile. Animals are not likely to survive these situations, and frankly, neither are you. Always secure pets who are travelling in your car. I’ll get to how to do that shortly.
Several years ago, one of my clients was driving to Central Florida with her show dog riding in her lap. Another driver ran a stop sign, and the airbag deployed in the ensuing crash. The impact of the airbag shattered Max’s shoulder. Extensive surgery was needed to save his leg, and while he survived, his gait was never the same. His promising show career was over. While his story is a sad one, the silver lining is that he is incredibly lucky to have survived.
The National Highway Safety Transportation Agency has long contended that airbags are dangerous for children aged 12 and under. If a 12-year-old kid is at risk of dying from the impact of an airbag, our pets don’t stand a chance.
So what’s a pet owner to do?
For starters, retrain yourself and your family to place pets in the back seat. Always. Also, the bed of a pickup truck does not count as a back seat. While it is not uncommon to see large dogs riding in this manner, it is actually illegal to do this. As of 2011, travelling with a loose pet in an open truck bed is against the law, and punishable with a fine.
While it is not illegal for a secured pet to travel in a truck bed, the experience can be frightening for him. It is also important to remember that he will be exposed to South Florida’s extreme summer weather.
Every driver in the household should be on board with the new plan of keeping pets out of the front seat. No riding in laps, no goofy heads hanging out the windows. While the NHTSA does not issue guidelines on specific pet restraint products, the Center for Pet Safety, sponsored by Subaru, performed an extensive study on the crashworthiness of some of the most commonly used travel harnesses and carriers. It’s a long read, but it’s comprehensive. We’ve always been fans of the Sleepypod, and not surprisingly, it did not disappoint!
If your pet is not happy with the new travel accommodations, a catnip toy or stuffed Kong should help keep the objections to a minimum. It only takes little bit of due diligence and follow through to help create a safer holiday road trip for everyone!

Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee? Send him an email by clicking here.

Click here for special deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 fans!

<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Fri, 04 Sep 2015 09:14:39 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*125/Carrie+A1718197.JPG There are numerous furry friends up for adoption at Miami-Dade Animal Services.]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:41:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Jazz+537002.jpg Check out the adorable animals up for adoption in Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Hospice Therapy Dog Comforts Dying Woman in Viral Video]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:44:52 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/11947441_573392259466012_4851857357828377335_n.jpg

A registered nurse posted a video of her therapy dog, JJ, caring for a hospice patient in her last month in a display of affection that has been shared more than 240,000 times on Facebook. 

"What we do is absolutely touching, but the depth of the response to the video is amazing, as well as heart-warming," Tracy Calhoun, a nurse and JJ's handler, told NBC affiliate King5.

JJ's Facebook page, where status updates are written from the dog's perspective, said the woman in the now viral video has "very few people visit her." The woman died a day after the video was filmed, Calhoun said.

"She cannot see and often does not wake up, but she did like having her hand on my fur," JJ explained. "She was very calm during my visit. We were listening to Yeats, by the way. I was very insistent to have her touch me, more so than usual. We fell asleep later with her hand splayed on my head, both of us snoring (no proof of that!) I sure can be silly at times, but I also know when to be quiet and present. Her caregivers were very appreciative when they saw this video."

Since the video has been posted, JJ's following on Facebook spiked from 1,800 supporters to 7,000 in 48 hours, according to King5. As of Wednesday afternoon, the page had more than 54,000 "likes."

JJ has been a certified therapy dog since she was 1 year old, the dog's Facebook page says. The golden retriever is part of Project Canine and is also a HOME Animal Assisted Crisis Response K9. 

Photo Credit: Facebook/JJ Hospice Therapy Dog
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<![CDATA[Hurricane Planning and Pets]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:49:25 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Hurricanes+and+Pets.JPG

Before The Storm
The most important thing you can do for your pet right now is to get him or her microchipped. Many pets go missing during and after storms for reasons I’ll get to in a moment. Every pet should have a microchip anyway, so now is a good time to check this very important box. If your pet already has a microchip, be aware that these chips are not locators. To increase the chances of being reunited with your pet, call the company who manufactures your pet’s chip, and make sure all of your information is registered and up to date. Your veterinarian will be able to scan your pet’s chip and advise you how to contact the manufacturer. Roughly 60 percent of pet microchips are either never registered, or are registered with outdated information, so take this step whether Erika hits or not. Since storms often disrupt the flow of business, place an ID tag with your pet’s contact information on your pet’s collar.
Next, figure out where your pet will ride out the storm. I recommend keeping pets crated in the same room where your family will be staying. Try to stay calm, as storms can be frightening for pets as well as people.
While litter boxes make it easier for cats to handle being inside during a storm, dogs may require a place to void inside the house. Puppy training pads and newspapers work well, as do indoor grass patches such as the Fresh Patch or the Potty Patch.

Even if a storm is not predicted to become a major hurricane, it’s a good idea to ask yourself what you would do if such a storm were to threaten our community. Should you decide to evacuate ahead of a storm, make sure you can take your pets with you. For a list of hotels that accepts pets, please visit www.dogfriendly.com. If you plan to use a public shelter, bear in mind that not all of these facilities allow pets. Check out these lists of pet friendly shelters in Miami-Dade http://www.miamidade.gov/animals/disaster-preparedness.asp and Boward Counties http://humanebroward.com/hurricane-news/hurricane-pet-friendly-shelter/ and be advised that you cannot use these shelters unless you are pre-registered to do so. If you think you will need to use these facilities, you must pre-register NOW!

When you’re stocking up on food, water, and extra medications, don’t forget about your pet. Finally, make sure your pet’s first aid kit is well-stocked and ready for action.
During The Storm
Be sure to provide your pet’s favorite chew toys and food puzzles to keep his mind on something other than the chaos outside. If your kitty enjoys catnip, by all means, allow her to partake! If she just wants to hunker down and be left alone, that’s okay too. Watch her closely after the storm for inappropriate urination. This can be the first sign of stress-related cystitis or urinary tract infections.
This is a great time to run your dog through his favorite trick and obedience routines. It gives them the sense of confidence they need to get through a potentially frightening experience - and may help to refocus your frazzled mind as well! Zohan will be literally jumping through hoops while sporting his awesome Thundershirt! For more tips on keeping pets calm throughout the storm, click here. If you think your pet may need some anti-anxiety medications, now is the time to see your veterinarian.
After The Storm
Even during a relatively minor storm event, the fences, gates and pool guards that keep our pets safe can be first things to take a hit. Sadly, this is how quite a few of our patients have perished in the aftermath of storms. It is very easy to fall into our pre-storm habits and simply open the door for our pets. Please do not do this until you have had the chance to thoroughly inspect your property. Make sure fences are holding steady and gates are firmly in place. Many homeowners take down their pool fences to prevent them from blowing away. Several of our patients drowned in their owners’ pools after Katrina and Wilma in 2004. If your pool fence is down, secure any doggie doors to prevent your pet from entering the yard unattended.
Storms also stir up nasty critters such as snakes and bufo toads. Flushed from their homes by heavy rains, these these animals are likely to feel more defensive and will not think twice about harming your pet. To best preserve your sanity, it’s best to err on the side of caution and leash-walk your pets in the yard until life returns to normal. Have maps to the nearest pet emergency clinics handy just in case.
In addition to hiding downed power lines, standing water can carry nasty parasites. Make sure your pets are current on heartworm and parasite prevention, and do not allow them to drink or play in standing water.
If you lose power, monitor pets for signs of heat exhaustion. Provide plenty of fresh drinking water, and consider seeking out an air-conditioned boarding facility for pets who may be having a tough time. Keep pets, especially cats, away from burning candles. About 100 house fires per year are started by pets, and candles are often the main culprit.
Finally - try to stay calm. We’ve got plenty of time to prepare for Erika, if we even need to do so at all. Our pets take their cues from us, so the more we relax, the more they relax. We’ve only just entered the most active part of the season, so think of it as a fire drill - and above all, stay safe,

Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee? Send him an email by clicking here.

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<![CDATA[Dog Recovering After Found in Miami With Jaw Tied Shut]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 00:13:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/082615+dog+rescued.jpg

A Chihuahua was rescued by a local animal shelter after it was found starving with its mouth tied shut.

Anita has gone through a lot of abuse but she was recovering and being cared for by the folks at Miami-Dade Animal Services. 

She was found wandering the streets of Miami and was brought to animal services with her jaw tied shut, very emaciated and thin. She's healing from a broken jaw.

Animal Aid, a no-kill shelter, embraced Anita with loving arms. They are slowly nursing her back to health.

"There's no telling what happened. There's cruel people out there. They really are and, you know, who knows, maybe she needed medical treatment. Maybe she barked a little too much. We'll never know," said Kasha Palmer with Animal Aid.

The shelter sees a lot of animals in desperate situations, but it's rewarding to give the furry friends a second chance on life.

"Anita hopefully will recover fast and speedily so, you know, we can introduce her to her new loving home," Palmer said.

Vets said Anita will continue to undergo treatments at the shelter until she returns to being a healthy and happy dog.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[South Florida Celebrates National Dog Day!]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 16:04:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/dogs_generic_shelter_puppies.jpg

Happy National Dog Day, South Florida!

Started in 2004 by pet and family lifestyle expert and animal advocate Colleen Paige, National Dog Day aims to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, and also acknowledges the every day dogs that save lives, keep us safe, help make our lives easier and complete our families.

Besides sharing photos of our furry friends, dog owners and non=dog owners alike are encouraged to support National Dog Day by volunteering time or making a donation to their local animal shelter.

We want to see pictures of the dogs who bring joy and companionship to your life! Send us a picture and you may see it on our air and in a gallery on our website and app.

Email your photos to isee@nbc6.com and/or share your photos on social media using the hashtag #NBC6!

<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 15:32:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Joe+A1715035.jpg Check out the adorable furry friends up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[Stuck Puppy Rescued by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:01:25 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/082515+mdfr+stuck+puppy.jpg

They aren't only here to help humans!

A puppy has a new "leash" on life after he was rescued Tuesday by crews with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

The small, brown puppy became helplessly stuck in a heavy timber pile at 222nd Street and Southwest 137th Avenue in Miami-Dade.

Crews were called to the scene, and helped pull the puppy to safety.

The dog was taken to a local veterinarian for proper care, and is said to be doing okay.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue
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<![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Joan]]> Sun, 23 Aug 2015 15:19:23 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/joan+potw+082315.PNG

Our pet of the week is Joan, an 11-month-old shepherd mix at Broward Animal Care who is looking for a loving home.

Joan is a sweet pup who loves to give kisses. She is a smart dog who is eager to learn. Joan would make a wonderful family pet.

Joan's adoption includes spaying, vaccinations and microchipping. Adoption fees are waived through the end of August as part of NBC's "Clear the Shelters" initiative. For more information on how to adopt her or any other animal, call (954) 359-1313 or visit Broward County Animal Care's website.

For more animal news, visit our All About Animals page.

<![CDATA[Helping Pets Cope With Back-to-School Blues]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 08:59:18 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/kupkee+pets+back+to+school+082215.jpg

As the lazy days of summer begin to wind down, South Florida families start turning their attention towards sending the kids back to school. The many preparations and changes in routine can be stressful for both children and caregivers. They can also be a source of anxiety for our pets.

For many households, summer is the perfect time to add a new pet to the family. If you’re one of the 500 families that adopted last week and helped us #ClearTheShelters, listen up! Summer is a great time to help new pets get adjusted, and to bond with the family while the children are spending lots of time at home. While this reasoning is both sound and logical, a new pet, especially an adolescent puppy or kitten, can become easily confused and upset by the sudden change in routine. This is especially true of a shelter pet who has already been through a major life re-boot. Even older pets, who have been through this drill before, can become depressed or anxious when summertime fun gives way to an empty house. Here are some tips to help your pets avoid the back-to-school blues.

Start the school year routines early.

While nobody wants to admit that the party is almost over, most parenting experts agree that gradually transitioning to a schedule resembling the school year will help children make the necessary adjustments. This gradual transition can help your pets as well. During the tail end of summer vacation, start the days earlier, and discourage dawdling through morning chores and rituals. Feed your pets one of their main meals at this time, as they will be more likely to sleep throughout the the day if their belly is full and happy. Schedule play times with pets and kids at roughly the same time the kids will be arriving home from school. When school starts, keep this ritual in place. Pets are much less likely to mope throughout the day if they have something to look forward to later. Additionally, both kids and pets are less likely to act out when they are getting plenty of exercise. When school resumes, and playtime is followed by homework, allow the pet to sit or sleep quietly near your children while they study. Get a head start on encouraging earlier bedtimes, and more efficient use of time during bedtime rituals.

Avoid anxiety triggers.

The things we do in preparation for leaving the house do not go unnoticed by our pets. Jingling keys, calling the kids, grabbing a purse or cell phone - all are cues to our pets that they are about to be left alone. The back-to-school essentials our children require can act as additional anxiety triggers for pets. Before school resumes, hang uniforms in a place where your pet can see them. Leave lunchboxes and backpacks in obvious, visible places. Encourage children to pick up these items and walk around the house with them two or three times per day. Next, try gathering all the gear and walking out the door. You can even drive around the block a few times. The goal is to desensitize your pet to the cues that he will quickly associate with being left alone for long periods of time. Present the activity to children in the form of a game that will help Fluffy to not be sad while they are in school. If they protest, explain that keeping a pet happy is one of the many requirements of a responsible pet owner. Obviously, parents are the most qualified to decide on the best way to get the kids on board, but most will happily step up to the plate if they understand the reasoning behind it.

Separate the Velcro.

Now is the time to really observe Fluffy and ask yourself if she is a “Velcro pet”. Does she shadow family members constantly? Does she always have to be physically touching someone? Does she cry when you leave the house? Does she whimper when a family member is out of sight? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a Velcro pet, one that is seemingly not happy unless physically attached to a human family member. While these behaviors can be endearing and flattering, they can also be an early warning sign of separation anxiety. Before these behaviors become a problem, start teaching your pet the coping skills she needs to self-soothe when she is alone. Teach her how to go to her crate or bed, and stay there using “place” or “stay” commands. Give her a mentally stimulating toy like a food puzzle or stuffed Kong toy to keep her mind occupied while she is alone. If you suspect your pet already has separation anxiety, or need some help teaching the commands, please consult with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.

Give her something to do while you are gone.

At Casa Kupkee, Grendel and Zohan spend their alone time with frozen “Kongsicles”. These consist of a durable Kong toy stuffed with baby food and peanut butter that has spent the night in the freezer. It takes hours for them to empty the toy, and the excitement of getting them before we leave crowds out any possible fears of abandonment. When school resumes, have the children give these special treats to the pet. Do not give them at any other time. The goal is to replace the feelings of dread associated with the emptying of the house with the anticipation of something interesting, fun, and delicious. Dispense the treats calmly. Long, apologetic, emotionally charged goodbyes will only add to any existing anxiety. If your pet does not do well in a crate, hide interesting toys, treats, food puzzles, and food-stuffed Kong toys throughout the house for your pet to sniff out and find while you are gone. (Do not do this in multiple-dog households as it can lead to fighting). The kids can be given this task as well. In addition to being fun, it also a great opportunity to teach them about responsible pet ownership.

Don’t tell the kids…

...but all of these rituals will help them adjust to new routines as well! Both children and pets respond well to routine, but replacing old habits with new ones is often met with resistance. By assuring them that these new initiatives are all about making Fluffy happy, parents are likely to get a lot less blowback. Changes made for the sake of Fluffy’s well-being will help everyone make the transition smoothly. But that can be our little secret!

Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee? Send him an email by clicking here.

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Photo Credit: Sabal Chase Animal Clinic]]>
<![CDATA[Manatees Mating in Fort Lauderdale]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 23:38:10 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000019655070_1200x675_510721603706.jpg Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue went out to investigate a report of 10 manatees in distress. But when they pulled up, crews found the manatees were actually mating in shallow water.]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 22:33:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Audrey+536557.jpg Check out the furry friends up for adoption in Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[NBC 6 Visits Newly-Adopted Blind Dog]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 08:14:11 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/081615+linda+upper+keys+humane+society+clear+the+shelters.jpg

A dog that spent a whopping six years at the Upper Keys Humane Society was adopted during Saturday's Clear the Shelters event.

Linda, a 12-year-old poodle mix, was one of 11 pets from the shelter that found a home during the event that saw NBC 6 and Telemundo 51 partner with animal shelters throughout South Florida.

After she was found in a parking lot in Homestead six years ago, Linda was brought to the shelter where she quickly became beloved by the staff, who let her hang out in the office most days.

She had been fostered out shortly after her arrival but was returned after she started to go blind. But Kellie and Joe Pardo, of Key Largo, took her home Saturday.

"She's real sweet," Kellie Pardo said. "A little confused because she's a little blind, but she's adjusting."

Pardo said she'd seen Linda at the shelter about a week earlier while she was making a donation, and said she was looking for a senior dog after losing an older dog recently.

"Linda was a joy to have here, we all miss her," said Nicole Navarro, with the Upper Keys Humane Society. "But it's great that our community is so supportive and they're willing to take on the responsibility of having a senior dog."

Exactly 500 pets were adopted from five South Florida shelters during Saturday's initiative. Nationwide, more than 17,000 animals found homes.

<![CDATA[SoFla Helps Clear the Shelters!]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 14:05:44 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/081915+clear+the+shelters+kids.jpg Thank you, South Florida, for helping us Clear The Shelters! Thanks to you, more than 500 animals found "furever" homes on August 15th.]]> <![CDATA[Police ID Suspect in Humane Society Vehicle Vandalism]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 15:15:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/081915+edwin+morales+humane+society+vandal.jpg

An anonymous tipster helped lead police to the man responsible for vandalizing nine vehicles belonging to the Humane Society of Greater Miami.

Edwin Angel Morales, who was already in police custody for stealing car batteries, has been identified as the person responsible for the vandalism, North Miami Beach Police confirm.

Security cameras were rolling the morning of Aug. 5 when Morales is alleged to have broken into the humane society's nine vans in the shelter's parking lot along West Dixie Highway in North Miami Beach.

The hoods were forced open, all of the batteries were removed and vital cables were cut, leaving all of the vehicles inoperable, officials said.

The vehicles are used to transport animals to hospitals for emergency care, take animals to Pet Supermarket for adoption, and to bring food and pet supplies to the shelter. The vandalism left the organization crippled in their efforts and unable to carry out normal operations.

Police say an anonymous tipster informed them that Morales was the one responsible for the crime, and informed police that he was already in custody. 

Morales admitted to police that he stole the batteries because he needed money to help pay bills.

In addition to his confession, detectives also found Morales' fingerprints under the hood of one of the Humane Society vehicles. Investigators determined that Morales has been selling car batteries over the past three months to a scrap yard in Opa-Locka.

In regards to the Humane Society case, Morales has been charged with seven counts of burglary, two counts of grand theft, and two counts of criminal mischief - one for $1,000 or more, and the other for $200 but under $2,000. Jail records did not indicate whether Morales has hired an attorney.

The Humane Society received an outpouring of support after the incident. Several local companies donated supplies, labor, batteries and towing services to help get the organization back up and running, in addition to numerous acts of kindness from the community.

The organization was able to participate in the "Clear The Shelters" initiative on Aug. 15, finding forever homes for 71 of their animals.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 15:52:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Amber+A1713984.jpg Check out the adorable animals up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[#ClearTheShelters: More Than 500 Adopted in South Florida]]> Sat, 15 Aug 2015 18:58:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/ctskeys3.JPG

More than 500 animals were adopted in South Florida, with more than 15,000 and counting rescued nationwide through Clear The Shelters on August 15th!

See photo galleries of adopted pets across South Florida:

<![CDATA[#ClearTheShelters: Upper Keys Humane Society]]> Sat, 15 Aug 2015 14:38:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/ctskeys3.JPG Pets Adopted At Upper Keys Humane Society on #ClearTheShelters Day]]> <![CDATA[#ClearTheShelters: Broward County Animal Care & Adoption]]> Sat, 15 Aug 2015 17:58:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*213/cts_bcac_dottie.JPG Pets Adopted At Broward Co. Animal Care & Adoption on #ClearTheShelters Day]]>