<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - ]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcmiami.com/feature/all-about-animals http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.comen-usMon, 22 May 2017 17:34:31 -0400Mon, 22 May 2017 17:34:31 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Dylan]]> Sat, 20 May 2017 15:02:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/259*120/pet+of+the+week+dylan.JPG

Our pet of the week is Dylan, a 2-month-old Shepherd mix, who is looking for his forever home.

Allison Nash with Humane Society of Greater Miami stopped by NBC 6 on Saturday with Dylan. Dylan may only be a puppy but he is playful, loving, and easygoing.

Dylan would make a great pet for a family with kids or a single person. Dylan gets along great with everyone and plays nicely with other animals.

If you're interested in Dylan or other animals up for adoption, contact Humane Society of Greater Miami at (305)-696-0800.

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

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Does My Pet Really Need All Those Tests?]]> Fri, 19 May 2017 12:57:25 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Doc+diagnostics.jpg

Several months ago, I met with a new client who informed me she was looking for a different vet. She had been seeing a colleague of mine, whom I’ll call “Dr. X”, for many years, but was looking to make a change.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she explained. “I really like Dr. X. And I understand that she doesn’t have a crystal ball. But so many tests! And I could never get a straight answer when I asked what they were for. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was funding her continuing education.”

Ouch. So why do we run all of these tests?

The short answer is that it’s responsible medicine. As more and more people begin to see pets as members of the family, the demand has increased for state-of-the-art medical treatment. Modern thinking means modern medicine, and higher expectations of the veterinary profession.

Routine bloodwork, regular dental cleanings, advanced diagnostics, and specialty hospitals were certainly not the standard of care when I was a kid. But does your pet really need them? Or as a friend put it recently, “How do I ask my vet if a test is really necessary without sounding like I’m cheaping out, or questioning his judgement?”

I have a saying I’ve used since my first year out of vet school. Twenty-one years later, it’s still relevant. “I never run a test unless I think the results might change my plan.” A culture and sensitivity, for example, will let me know exactly which antibiotic will kill the bug your pet is fighting. Yes, it’s another test. Yes, it’s an additional charge. But superbugs are becoming more and more common.

If I know exactly exactly what I’m fighting, I can rest assured I’m not blindly throwing useless antibiotics at a pet whose immune system is already compromised. I can also make certain I’m not contributing to the superbug epidemic by creating one in your poor pet! A culture is a test that may change my treatment plan. And while pre-anesthetic bloodwork on a healthy, bouncy puppy may seem excessive, I’m looking for signs of problems that may not be visible during the course of a routine physical exam.

For instance, if the bloodwork reveals liver values which are not within normal ranges, I’ll need to rule out a congenital liver problem before putting your pet under anesthesia - even for a routine procedure like a pediatric neuter. Yes, this too means yet another test. It also means I have something to address before even thinking about anesthetizing your puppy. In other words, the result of the test may absolutely change my plan.

However, another recent example was a second opinion on a dog who had been diagnosed with a severe reproductive tract infection. I concurred with the original vet’s assessment, as well as his recommendation for immediate surgical intervention. The family took several days to decide on a course of action. By the time I saw the dog again, she was barely clinging to life. In a textbook world, we would have run a similar pre-anesthetic panel.

But the twenty minutes it would have taken to collect the sample, run the test, and interpret the results, were twenty minutes Candy the poodle did not have. I was fairly certain the bloodwork would come back showing a sky-high white blood cell count, which would tell me what I already knew - Candy was suffering from a life-threatening infection, and immediate surgery was her only hope.

The test would have told me she was a poor candidate for anesthesia, that the risk of losing her on the operating table was dangerously high. But surgical intervention gave me the one and only chance to save her life, regardless of what the labwork revealed. In other words, it was not a test that would have changed my plan. We rushed Candy to surgery, and she pulled through with flying colors.

I can hear the horrified gasps of some of my colleagues as they frantically scroll to the comment section. “No bloodwork?! But there might have been something else going on! He missed the opportunity to pick up any additional, underlying conditions! Like diabetes! Or Addison’s Disease!” And indeed I did. But frankly, when presented with a patient that is close to death due to an infection, I’m not going to obsess about their calcium levels.

It’s the equivalent of worrying about the lawn when the house is on fire. When Candy came in two weeks later to have her stitches removed, we collected a blood sample to ensure her body had cleared the infection - and of course, to look for signs of any underlying conditions like diabetes or Addison’s Disease!

Diagnostics are vital and necessary tools for veterinary practitioners. Most veterinary horror stories involving cases gone wrong are directly connected to owners who decline recommended tests; please don’t think I’m endorsing carte blanche for pet parents to decline diagnostics.

Neither I nor any colleague in my circle has access to psychic powers or a crystal ball. We’re good, but we’re not that good. That said, clients should never feel as though they are being coerced into agreeing to pointless tests, or funding teachable moments for veterinary staff. If you aren’t sure why a test might be necessary, simply ask your vet:

“How might the results of this test change your treatment plan?”

This lets your vet know you respect the process, whilst still expecting a sensible treatment plan as the ultimate goal. It is not an unreasonable question, and he or she should be able to easily articulate an answer. If you’re met with a prickly attitude, an avoidance response, (read, BS answer), or worse yet, a blank stare, it’s entirely possible your vet does not have a treatment plan in mind.

It may be time to find a vet who orders diagnostics with an endgame in sight, and can better explain their value. Because even the soundest of treatment plans, will only work when pet parents and practitioners work together. This requires solid communication, which is always a two-way street.

Next time, we’ll discuss some other questions you can ask to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your diagnostic buck!

Dr. Kupkee is the lead practitioner at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic.

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

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<![CDATA[Animals Dealing With Similar Seasonal Allergies as Humans]]> Fri, 19 May 2017 12:58:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/212*120/051917+pet+allergies.JPG

Seasonal allergies can certainly make people feel miserable this time of year - but did you know your pet could also be suffering from allergies?

Veterinarians say the signs your pet has seasonal allergies are through skin conditions, skin infections, and recurring ear infections.

Animals have been found, much like humans, to be dealing with problems from issues like different types of grasses, tree pollen and even dust mites. It's a subject that South Florida vet Dr. Ian Kupkee covered on NBC 6 this past March.

"So once you find out what your dog or cat is allergic to, they'll actually compound those things in a form of oral solutions where your body kind of gradually acclimates to those allergens,” said Dr. Jae Chang

Allergy testing through blood work is urged as the only way to know what's causing the problems.

<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 17 May 2017 13:57:22 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-summersplash_Peter+Parker.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 17 May 2017 13:38:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/202*120/Savannah-A1872012.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Stuck Horse Rescued From Thick Mud in Florida]]> Tue, 16 May 2017 22:33:11 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/051617+horse+rescued+from+mud.jpg

A horse trapped in thick mud was pulled to solid ground with the help of a determined crew and heavy equipment.

The 25-year-old thoroughbred named Kiersa somehow got stuck in the mud Monday in Plant City.

Rescue crews failed to break the suction from the horse, so they decided to call in a veterinarian and heavy machinery. Kiersa was put to sleep while crews used a harness to hoist the horse from the mud.

Kiersa suffered no broken bones or other injuries and was able to stand up on her own 30 minutes later. Her owners are having her monitored for health complications.

<![CDATA[Dog Miraculously Survives Deadly Bacteria]]> Thu, 11 May 2017 23:51:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/051117+tetanus+dog+survives.jpg

NBC 6's Jamie Guirola shares the survival story of a dog that miraculously recovered from a life-threatening bacteria.

<![CDATA[Barefoot Python Hunter Wrestles Huge Snake With Bare Hands]]> Thu, 11 May 2017 22:38:16 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/051117+python+dusty+crum.jpg

A python hunter reeled in a colossal catch in the Florid Everglades.

Dusty “The Wildman” Crum slithered his way toward a 16-foot, 10-inch python and managed to successfully wrestle it.

Footage shows the wild capture as Crum snuck up on the snake barefoot and tackled it with his bare hands. Crum said the catch was the biggest snake he’s ever caught.

In the video, Crum presumes the snake was pregnant and perhaps injured by another animal. He works with the South Florida Water Management District’s python elimination program.

Photo Credit: Courtesy: Joey Waves
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<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 10 May 2017 13:51:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-summersplash_Sparkle.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 05 May 2017 13:55:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Gidget.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Tue, 02 May 2017 13:35:33 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Titan-A1868691.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]> Sat, 29 Apr 2017 11:57:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Apache.jpg Check out the Pets of the Week from the Humane Society of Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Blind Dog Rescued From Lake in Miami Gardens]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 19:02:25 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/042717+miami+gardens+dog+rescued.jpg

A blind dog in distress was rescued from a lake Thursday in Miami Gardens.

The pooch, which officials think is a Cocker Spaniel, ended up in the water on Northwest 179th Terrace and 54th Avenue around 3 p.m. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue used a small boat to reach the canine on the banks of the lake.

[[420662263, C]]

The blind pooch was given oxygen by the crew and kept warm to avoid hypothermia. It appears the dog is in good health.

First responders will hand over the canine to proper authorities as Animal Services tries to locate the owner.

Photo Credit: MDFR]]>
<![CDATA[Euthanasia Drug Found in Dog Food Prompts Recall]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 16:48:02 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/042617+party+animal+dog+food+recall.jpg

Party Animal has issued a nationwide recall of its Cocolicious dog food after lab tests of some products showed traces of the euthanasia drug pentobarbital.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a retailer in Texas alerted Party Animal of the contamination after a customer presented two cans of dog food that tested positive for pentobarbital, a drug used for euthanasia mostly of dogs, cats, and horses.

The affected products include 13-ounce-cans of Cocolicious Beef & Turkey dog food (Lot #0136E15204 04) with a best by date of July 2019, and 13-ounce cans of Cocolicious Chicken & Beef dog food (Lot #0134E15 237 13) with a best by date August 2019. The company said the food had been manufactured and distributed in 2015.

Party Animal contacted two retailers that may have sold the customer the food and asked them to remove all remaining cans from these lots from shelves. Pet owners who have cans with the recalled lot numbers to throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

The company said there was one report of a pet who experienced discomfort, but there have been no deaths reported.

"The safety of pets is and always will be our first priority. We sincerely regret the reports of the discomfort experienced by the pet who consumed this food," the company said in a statement.

Photo Credit: FDA]]>
<![CDATA[Zoo Miami Lion Gets Root Canal, Pedicure]]> Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:33:32 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/042717+lion+%283%29.jpg A 9-year-old Zoo Miami lion gets a root canal and pedicure]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 26 Apr 2017 12:47:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Timon-A1857649.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Cow Stuck in Belly-Deep Muddy Ditch Rescued Near Lakeland]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:48:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/042417+cow+rescued+polk+county.jpg

The Polk County Sheriff's Office was busy Monday mooooving a cow that was stuck in a muddy ditch.

Photos posted to the sheriff's office's Facebook showed the cow trapped in belly-deep waters.

To pull the animal to safety, the agricultural crimes unit used equipment from the Florida Department of Agriculture and a front-end loader provided by the cow's owner.

The cow was back on her feet and in no time she happily returned to grazing in her pasture.

Photo Credit: Polk County Sheriff's Office Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Monkey Spotted Near Restaurant in Central Florida]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 22:04:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/042417+apopka+monkey+on+the+loose.jpg

A monkey that was spotted hanging out near a restaurant in Apopka has become the talk of the town.

Witnesses told NBC 6's affiliate in Orlando, WESH, they saw the animal frolicking near the Max and Me Jamaican Restaurant.

The primate has been seen in the area for several days.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been alerted, but officials said there was no active search for the monkey at this time. There have been no reports of injury or damage, officials said.

WESH reports that monkey sightings have not been uncommon in the area over the years.

There are feral groups in the area, and some believe they’re related to the monkeys brought to Silver Springs for film and TV productions.

Photo Credit: WESH]]>
<![CDATA[Manatee Rescued at Key Colony Beach Released Back Into Wild]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:36:17 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/198*120/rescued+manatee+Key+3PO.PNG

After 8 months of recovery, a rescued manatee is now ready to be released into the wild.

A manatee that suffered a severe injury after being struck by a boat at Key Beach Colony was rescued by the Dolphin Research Center from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission last August. The manatee lost about 95 percent of his paddle, leaving only a portion remaining.

The 900-pound injured marine mammal was taken to Miami Seaquarium to recuperate, where he was given Star Wars-inspired name: Key 3PO.

"So we have a Star Wars theme going on at the Seaquarium and since he came from the Keys, we wanted to be different and named him Key 3PO," says Jessica Schiffauer, Miami Seaquarium Animal Care Supervisor.

Miami Seaquarium has a rehab facility where they provide medical care and resources to rescued manatees.

"Any animal that we get here, if it’s months if it’s years, our goal is to release them back out so they can help the population,"

Key 3PO will be returned to Key Colony Beach, where it will be released back into the ocean.

The public is advised to contact the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC to report a distressed or injured manatee. 

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Meowmaste: Yoga with Cats at Miami-Dade Animal Services]]> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:07:05 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/20161223+yoga+generic.jpg

Ever wish you can bring your cat to yoga class? Now, you can!

Miami-Dade Animal Services is holding a zen-filled session just for cat lovers.

Yogis will join yoga instructor Tara Smith and shelter cats Saturday from 2 p.m to 4 p.m.

Miami-Dade Animal Services hopes the event will encourage more pet adoptions. Adoption fees for all cats and kittens will be waived on Saturday only.

Registration is required for the Yoga with Cats workshop and a $20 donation is requested.

<![CDATA[10-Foot, 400-Pound Crocodile Undergoes Surgery at Zoo Miami]]> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:59:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/A39.jpg

A 396-pound endangered crocodile underwent surgery at Zoo Miami Friday after suffering a critical injury.

The 13-year-old male Orinoco crocodile from South America underwent a procedure to treat an infected wound likely caused by a bite from another crocodile, according to Zoo Communications Director Ron Magill.

The nearly 10-foot-long crocodile sustained an injury to its wrist that needed medical attention, but in order to so, the massive reptile had to be immobilized and transported to the zoo hospital where it was attended to by veterinarians and zoo staff.

The affected area was successfully treated surgically by removing the infection and medicating the wound. The crocodile will remain in the zoo hospital for the next several days before being returned to its exhibit at the Amazon and Beyond area of the zoo.

Orinoco crocodiles are a critically endangered species that is found in isolated pockets of the fresh water tributaries of the Orinoco River in Colombia and Venezuela.

Photo Credit: Zoo Miami]]>
<![CDATA[Rescuing Baby Wildlife: How, And If, You Should Help]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 08:52:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/042117+dr.+kupkee+with+butterfly.jpg

Springtime is when South Florida’s wildlife is hard at work, caring for the next generation of wildlife. It’s also when veterinary clinics are flooded with calls concerning young wild animals who appear orphaned or abandoned. While these callers are always willing to help and eager to know what to do, they are often surprised to learn that even good intentions can result in more harm than good. Here are some general rules for deciding how - and more importantly, if - you should help a baby wild animal.

Observe from a distance

Perhaps the most important aspect of wild animal rescue is deciding whether the animal needs to be rescued at all. Remember the well-meaning tourists who “rescued” a bison calf in Yellowstone National Park? Often our attempts to intervene with the natural order of the wild world to more harm than good. It is normal for baby animals to be left alone while their mothers search for food.

A young bird flailing on the ground in apparent distress may simply be learning how to fly. These youngsters have not been abandoned, and the parents are probably closer than you think. Attempts to be a Good Samaritan may even result in attacks by angry mothers who neither know the story, nor care about your good intentions. Find a quiet, hidden spot, and only intervene if the the baby is in imminent danger of being hit by a car, or snatched by a predator.

Determine whether or not the baby needs your help

If the youngster is shivering, it has probably been on its own for a while. In this case, intervention is necessary. Ditto for babies who are wandering and crying for more than about twenty minutes. If mom is around, she will rush back to quiet him, as such sounds draw the attention of predators. If a parent does not appear in response to such distress calls, the baby is likely on his own.

A youngster who is bleeding, or displaying a limb which is dragging, or appears broken needs your help. Search the area for a dead parent. If you find one, the baby needs you. The same holds true for a baby animal who is presented as a “gift” by a cat or dog. If the youngster has survived this misadventure, he needs help, and he needs it now.

With regards to birds, one should only intervene if the baby is pink, or has minimal, fuzzy feathers. If you can find the nest, carefully place the baby back inside. Contrary to popular belief, birds do not recognize their offspring based on scent. The parents will not abandon it if it has been touched by humans.

A baby bird who is fully feathered is probably on the ground because it is learning to fly. Leaving it alone is counterintuitive, but essential. Flying is difficult, and fledglings get frustrated when they fail. They may squawk loudly and flail around in a most dramatic fashion. But they are doing this for mom’s attention, not yours. And your attempts to help are likely to be rewarded with a dive-bomb attack from an angry avian mom. If the fledgling is in imminent danger from a cat or dog, chase the miscreants away, and leave the bird alone. This will also alert the mother bird, who will happily take it from there. More extensive information on baby bird rescue can be found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website

Take action

If you’ve determined a baby needs your help, you need to get him to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as quickly as possible. This is not - repeat NOT - a DIY project you can do at home. Wildlife rehab is extraordinarily difficult. Every species has a specific diet, and babies must be fed often. Great care must be taken to ensure food is not aspirated into the lungs, where it can lead to life-threatening pneumonia. Orphans must be taught how to hunt on their own, with minimal exposure to humans.

Since the goal is to return the animals to the wild, the youngsters cannot be put in a position where they imprint upon their human caretakers. Some species are more susceptible to imprinting than others. Only a licensed wildlife rehabilitator can do this successfully, and in a species-specific manner. Because of the complications involved with this process, it is illegal for non-licensed civilians to attempt to rehabilitate wildlife. Since it is also illegal to keep wild animals as pets, it is not an option to rescue a wild baby in the hopes the imprinting process will turn it into a novel pet.

Many rescuers are surprised to learn that veterinarians are not automatically licensed to treat and rehabilitate wildlife. While some of us may have this additional layer of training, most of us (myself included), do not.

While your veterinarian can probably provide you with a list of licensed wildlife rehabbers, please be understanding if the vet you’ve always counted on cannot take your wild foundling off your hands. The same laws that apply to the general public also apply to us. Without the proper licensure, it is illegal for veterinarians to treat or rehab wild animals.

Transport the baby safely

When dealing with an orphaned baby, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama, and neglect our own safety. Your foundling is probably terrified, and terrified animals - even adorable, helpless baby ones - often bite. If your orphan has teeth, use a blanket or towel to swaddle him. This should also protect your hands. Place him in a box or pet carrier, and do so as quickly as possible.

Remember these animals must be returned to the wild, so keep handling to an absolute bare minimum. It’s also important for them not to lose their natural aversion to the sounds of human activity. Once you have your charge secured in your car, make the interior as quiet as possible. Turn off the radio, silence your cell phone. Do everything in your power not to talk.

The difference between life and death in many of these situations is warmth. In addition to the towels inside the carrier, cover the outside as well. Point A/C vents away from the carrier. Never put animals on a heating pad, but if you happen to have an old school hot water bottle, fill it up, wrap it in a towel, and place in the carrier. Do not give the animal any food or water unless specifically instructed to do so by a wildlife rehabilitator.

So who are these wildlife rehabilitators?

Here is a list of some of South Florida’s licensed wildlife rehabilitators. If you live in an area where wildlife is abundant, you may want to plan where you will go in advance. Call ahead to let them know you are coming, as many are not equipped with a reception area. Most of these facilities are either non-profit organizations, or individuals donating their time and expertise.

They may be bashful about asking, so I’ll say it on their behalf - financial donations always needed, and greatly appreciated. If you use their services, please try to be as generous as possible.

Wildlife Rescue of Dade County 

South Florida Wildlife Center 

Pelican Harbor Seabird Center 

Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center at the Miami Science Museum

Everglades Outpost 

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center 

Click here for a list of wildlife rehabbers throughout the state of Florida


Dr. Kupkee is the lead practitioner at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic

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

<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:20:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/042117+NBC6_Snickers.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Mon, 17 Apr 2017 20:33:11 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/041717Vanessa.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:20:55 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Hazel.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade County Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:13:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Kelly-A1860808.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Kids Catch 13-Foot Python in Pembroke Pines Neighborhood]]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:08:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/041117+python+pembroke+pines.jpg

A group of Florida teens wrangled a 13-foot python they found roaming in a Pembroke Pines neighborhood. 

The three boys caught the massive snake in Holly Lake, a residential community on the edge of the Everglades, Pembroke Pines police said in a Facebook post.

The python had burn marks on its skin and may have been trying to escape a brush fire that ignited in the Everglades Wednesday. The "Holiday Fire" charred 6,800 acres through parts of Broward and Northwest Miami-Dade before it was brought under control Sunday.

Police warned residents that brush fires in the Everglades may lead to a rise in wildlife entering nearby residential areas as they try to escape the smoke and flames.

The phython was taken to Everglades Holiday Park to be assessed by professionals.

Officials warned against approaching pythons or other wild animals and said residents should call 911.

Photo Credit: Pembroke Pines Police
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<![CDATA[Why Bunnies in Your Easter Basket Should Only be Chocolate]]> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 13:06:14 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Easter+2017+All+About+Animals.JPG

It’s official, South Florida - Spring has arrived! As our thoughts begin turning to warmer weather, our little ones eagerly await the arrival of the Easter Bunny. Some will undoubtedly plead for a “real live Easter bunny”. Parents, be warned - bunnies are cute! But before you give in, let’s look at some of the prevailing myths surrounding these adorable holiday icons.

Myth #1: Rabbits are low maintenance pets.

Caring for a pet rabbit is almost as much work as caring for a puppy. Like dogs, rabbits are social animals that do not thrive when forced to live in isolation. They need to live as a member of the family. And in South Florida especially, that means living indoors. Your home is the safest place for your rabbit to exercise - something they must do for about 30 or so hours per week. The time he spends outside his cage must be closely supervised, as rabbits love - and need - to chew. Electrical cords, chargers, power cables, and carpets are just a few of the things that must be secured in a bunny-proofed home. And unless you are prepared to do a lot of cleaning, you will need to train your bunny to use a litterbox.

Rabbits require regular veterinary and dental care. They should also be spayed or neutered; they are springtime fertility symbols for a reason! They require 1-2 cups of fresh vegetables per day. They need to eat fresh timothy hay for optimal intestinal and dental health, and their bedding must be changed daily. Since many of their most common health problems are caused by improper diet and housing, it literally does not pay to cut corners.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that roughly 80% of bunnies bought as Easter gifts are ultimately abandoned or re-homed. It’s a lot more sensible to buy plush Easter bunnies - or better yet, chocolate ones!

Myth #2: Rabbits are perfectly happy living outside in a hutch.

While most of us, myself included, grew up with this information, we now know that it is incorrect. The wire bottoms of old-school rabbit hutches can cause ulcers and sores on a rabbit’s sensitive feet. Enclosures for bunnies should be at least six times the size of the rabbit. A rabbit that lives alone in a hutch is a likely to suffer from depression. Deprived of opportunities to develop coping skills, solitary rabbits have little, if any, ability to handle even minor stress. These rabbits can literally die of a heart attack if approached by a predator - either real or perceived. Between stress and exposure to the elements, an outdoor rabbit has a life expectancy of about 12 months. House rabbits, on the other hand, live between eight and ten years, and many live substantially longer.

Myth #3: Rabbits are great with kids!

The rabbits sold by pet stores during the Easter season are babies. One day, your baby bunny will grow up. When this happens, she will realize she is a prey animal, and will no longer appreciate being grabbed, squeezed, hugged, and cuddled by your children. She is likely to react the way all prey animals behave when they feel threatened - by scratching, biting, hiding, and running away. At this point, sexual maturity is right around the corner. Remember what I said about spaying and neutering? Sexually mature female rabbits may defend their territory by biting your children when they reach into her cage. Mature males will begin spraying their home - and yours! - with foul smelling urine to mark the boundaries of their perceived turf. This is the point at which many new rabbit owners start looking for the exit.

Myth #4: Unwanted rabbits can fend for themselves in the wild.

Unlike their wild counterparts, domestic rabbits do not have the stamina or survival skills to live in the wild. Yet this misperception leads to thousands of rabbits being dumped in parks and green spaces every year. Most of them die of starvation or exposure, and many are killed by cars,

wildlife, off-leash dogs, and free-roaming cats. Thousands more are surrendered to shelters and rescue organizations.

The same rules apply to baby chicks. Yes, they are adorable little peeping fluff balls! But they grow up to be chickens. While “urban chickens” have become very popular, they too will lose interest in being snuggle-buddies for the kids. Like rabbits, they have specific housing, dietary and exercise needs. Remember also, that many communities have local ordinances that prohibit keeping chickens. They can easily fall prey to hawks, foxes, even our pet cats and dogs. And if you’re thinking it’s worth the hassle for the sake of fresh eggs, note that hens do not produce eggs indefinitely. While the stats vary widely depending on breed, health, and husbandry, most go into “henopause” between three and seven years of age. This has led to an increasing problem of abandoned chickens being dumped at local animal shelters and rescues.

So does this mean rabbit and chickens are horrible pets? Absolutely not! Like any other pet, these special little souls are long-term commitments. Do your research, have a family meeting, and know what you are getting into. If you have decided a rabbit is a good fit for your family, try to adopt before you shop. By Memorial Day weekend there will be LOTS of wonderful rabbits in need of loving homes! Visit your local Humane Society, or contact the House Rabbit Society at www.rabbit.org.

My wife and I adore rabbits. When she told me that one of her favorite books was “Watership Down” by Richard Adams, I knew I had found my soulmate! But at this point in time, we simply do not have a lifestyle that gels with responsible rabbit ownership. If you are considering a real live Easter bunny, I implore you to do some soul-searching as well. If you’re like me, you might decide that a chocolate bunny suits you just fine. Preferably dark chocolate - and maybe some marshmallow chicks!

Dr. Ian Kupkee is the owner and lead practitioner at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic.

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

Click here for special deals and discounts exclusively for NBC6.com fans!

<![CDATA[Large Rhino Iguana Found in Miami-Dade Wal-Mart]]> Thu, 06 Apr 2017 20:28:52 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/040617+rhino+iguana+miami+dade+web.jpg

Fire rescue workers were called in to trap a rhino iguana that was found in a Wal-Mart in northwest Miami-Dade Thursday.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Venom Unit was called to the store on Northwest 79th Street, where they found the iguana near some shopping carts.

The iguana was safely captured and turned over to proper authorities for care, officials said.

Rhino iguanas have a large, impressive appearance make them a very desirable species to own, officials said. Their disposition can vary considerably, with some extremely tame and others that can be extremely aggressive and inflict bites that can become infected.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Broward Humane Society's Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 05 Apr 2017 21:04:55 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-BigDog_Aika.jpg The pets of the week from the Humane Society of Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Logan]]> Sun, 02 Apr 2017 14:49:16 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/222*120/logan9.JPG

Our pet of the week is Logan, a 2-year-old mix, who is looking for his forever home.

Lisa Mendheim with Broward Animal Care stopped by NBC 6 on Sunday with this blue-eyed beauty. She said Logan is very loving, loyal, and friendly.

Logan would make a great family pet, especially one with kids!

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

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

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Does My Pet Have Allergies?]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 11:34:06 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/033117+pet+and+allergies.jpg

While most people don’t associate South Florida with seasons, there is one in particular that is currently plaguing both pets and people - allergy season! The longer days cause our plants and trees to burst into bloom. While it’s great for the environment and its wild inhabitants, the resulting pollen can wreak havoc on pets - even the ones who don’t spend much time outdoors.

Mango flowers are especially problematic at this time of the year. When placed under a microscope, a small sample of mango pollen looks like a cluster of barbed wire. It is estimated that one in five South Floridians are allergic to mango pollen, and for many more, it acts as an irritant. The bark and leaves of mango trees, as well as the skin covering the fruit, contains urushiol, the same naturally occurring irritant found in poison ivy and poison oak. In short, while the fruit is delicious, the tree from which it comes can cause both people and pets to suffer from allergies during this time of the year.

At the risk of sounding like we are picking on mangoes, they are far from the only culprit. Mid-December through Spring boasts the highest pollen counts from trees such as oak, juniper, bald cypress and Australian pine. Pollen is in our environment all year round, and when the summer rains begin, mold becomes a problem as well. Most South Floridians have St. Augustine grass, and while this does not produce much pollen, the thick turf harbors mold spores that become airborne when the grass is mowed.

Many pet owners are surprised to learn that animals can suffer from allergies. The environmental allergens that make us sneeze can make our dogs and cats itch. While we don’t see clinical signs like sneezing and runny noses in dogs and cats, scratching can become almost constant. We often see pets that have damaged the top layer of skin due to excessive scratching. This can easily become a source of infection, or an invitation to opportunistic parasites such as sarcoptic mange and ringworm. Pets can also damage their eyes in the course of scratching or rubbing their faces. Other secondary problems can include ear infections (as pets scratch itchy ears with pollen-covered feet), lack of appetite, and changes in behavior. Many pets will exhibit self-mutilating behaviors like pulling out their own fur, or obsessively licking one particular part of the body. These behaviors are often dismissed as “neurotic”, “OCD” or simply “crazy”, when in fact, your pet may be attempting to self-medicate.

Pets suffering from allergies may be less tolerant to changes in the environment or to highly stimulating activities if they do not feel well. Most humans with allergies will sheepishly admit that they are more likely to bite someone’s head off when their allergy symptoms are in full swing. The same is true of our pets. Allergy symptoms can make them irritable and short-tempered.

As is the case with human medicine, there are several options for treating allergies. Oral antihistamines are available for pets, but these are not always effective. Never dose pets with antihistamines intended for humans without first consulting your veterinarian - not Dr. Google! Some of these products contain decongestants and/or artificial sweeteners, both of which can be fatal to our pets. Low-dose steroid therapy is effective for occasional flare-ups, but long-term steroid use has been linked to kidney failure and diabetes. Topical sprays can be applied to the affected area, but these too may only provide short term relief.

For pets with persistent allergies, I almost always recommend allergy testing. Unlike the arduous scratching and pricking we may have endured as kids, this is now done by taking a blood sample. An outside lab tests the sample for allergens in both food and the environment. Tests are region-specific, so pets living in Arizona will not be tested for the same environmental allergens as pets living in Miami. We base the next step of the plan on the results of that test.

For instance, Grendel, our older dog did not have many environmental allergies. She was, however, allergic to just about everything we were feeding her! By removing those allergens from her diet, we were able to strengthen her immune system enough to deal with the allergens in her environment. We also found she was allergic to cotton and wool. We changed her beds and blankets to acrylic fleece, and no further treatment was necessary.

Our younger dog, Zohan, however, is basically allergic to the planet! The next step for him was to have the same lab prepare a serum containing trace amounts of the allergens in his profile. This used to be given in the form of injections, but giving injections proved challenging for many owners. Some of the injections were painful, and allergic reactions were sometimes observed. The delivery method has since come a long way. The serum is now given by mouth. It’s dispensed in a little pump bottle that simply hooks over the lower mandible. As seen in the photograph, two little presses, and we’re done. Most owners report that their pets do not mind the taste, and some claim their pets seem to enjoy it. We have found this to be a very effective way of managing seasonal allergies in both dogs and cats. For pet owners who may be unable to do this, we often recommend more frequent bathing, or simply wiping their feet with a moistened cloth whenever they come in from the outdoors.

 Some of the behaviors associated with allergies may persist as a force of habit. This can be alleviated by working with a Certified Professional Dog Trainer who will help you teach your dog how to replace unwanted behaviors with new behaviors. Since your pet should be feeling better, he is likely to have fun learning interesting and rewarding activities. And behind every happy pet, there is almost always a happy human as well. 

Dr. Kupkee is the lead practitioner at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic.

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

Click here to check out deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 viewers! 

<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:51:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-BigDog_Sawyer.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade County Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:03:22 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Hercules-A1858228.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Fla. Groups Save Dozens of Dogs From Possible Euthanization]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:14:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/233*120/032817+florida+groups+rescue+dogs.JPG

Two Panama City rescue organizations took 47 dachshunds from Arkansas to give them a new home in the Sunshine State.

Volunteers drove the dogs hundreds of miles over the weekend for another chance at life.

Officials with Alaqua Animal Refuge and "Save Underdogs" took dogs whose owners became sick or disabled - saving the dogs from possible death.

"They were going to be taken to a local shelter that wasn't a no-kill shelter so they, within a day, the reason it was so urgent for us to get them within this 24 to 48 hour time period was because they were going to be euthanized,” said Mary Chris from Alaqua.

For more information on how you can adopt one of these dogs, click on this link.

Photo Credit: WJHG-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Jungle Island's Bilingual Pig Gordita]]> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 19:39:26 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/189*120/032317+jungle+island+bilingual+pig.jpg

Many people who live in South Florida speak more than one language. The same goes for an adorable pig at Jungle Island.

The Vietnamese Pot Belly pig is named Ace, but prefers the name Gordita. Her trainer Marisela Gutierrez says Gordita understand English and Spanish.

“Everything I tell her she does,” says Gutierrez. The trainer and pig have a unique bond.

“I have a littlegirl that was born in Hialeah. She doesn’t think she’s a pig,” says Gutierrez.

The trainer picked up Gordita at just three weeks old. Now, they're inseparable, with Gutierrez training the pig like a dog.

“Pigs are very smart. They're smarter than dogs. She is quite an incredible young lady,” says the trainer.

Gutierrez calls Gordita a Cuban-American pig. While other trainers speak to this pig in English, Gutierrez prefers Spanish. It's been this way since day one.

“She knows 250 words in English and 250 words in Spanish.”

The pig is only four-years-old, and will not reach her full size until she's six, which means her belly and vocabulary will keep on growing!

When she's not taking walks around Jungle Island, Gordita aka Ace is entertaining. She does shows on a regular basis and she sure knows how to work a crowd.

“Her sexy walk; you can't beat her sexy walk and her booty gets tons of likes,” says Gutierrez. She’s a potbelly pig with plenty of personality and fluency to match.

<![CDATA[National Puppy Day: #ItsTimeToWalkFluffy Pups]]> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:40:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/It%27s+Time+To+Walk+Fluffy+%2820%29.jpg Take a look and see how many times you can say awww. ]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:54:05 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-BigDog_Stripe.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade County Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:47:02 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/032217+Buster-A1857458.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Video Shows Gator Being Pulled From Sewer Near Tampa]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:48:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/032117+gator+in+sewer.jpg

Some guys just can't catch a break. Like an alligator roughly roused from a nap and yanked out of a sewer near Tampa.

John Rule says he shot the video late Monday while he was walking his dog, WFLA reports. He then posted the wild roundup to Facebook.

Rule said in the post he estimated the gator was 9 feet long.

He said the trapper told him the gator would not be euthanized.

<![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Little Lion]]> Sun, 19 Mar 2017 11:44:18 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/215*120/little+lion.JPG

Our pet of the week is Little Lion, a 2-year-old mix, who is looking for his forever home.

Lisa Mendheim with Broward Animal Care stopped by NBC 6 on Sunday with Little Lion. She said Little Lion has a great temperament.

Little Lion would make a great pet for someone who's looking to get off the couch. He would be great to go on a run or jog with.

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

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

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man Films 'Never-Ending' Gator Parade in South Florida]]> Thu, 16 Mar 2017 21:18:18 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/17211880_1366410816738053_6562114182429541711_o.jpg

A Florida wildlife photographer captured a seemingly infinite procession of alligators in South Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve.

Photographer Bobby Wummer filmed the half-hour parade of gators just after sunrise on Monday.

"These Florida gators seemed to be endless, it was the never-ending train of gators of all sizes," Wummer shared in a Facebook post with photos and video of the parade.

The reptiles of various sizes were filmed crawling out of a pond to enter a deeper body of water on the opposite side of a dirt road.

The gators ranged between 2 feet and 12 feet in length, according to Wummer.

The wildlife photographer most recently made viral headlines after snapping a photo of a massive gator snacking on a smaller gator at the Circle B Bar Reserve in Polk County back in April 2016.

Photo Credit: Bobby Wummer
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<![CDATA[Miami-Dade County Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Mon, 13 Mar 2017 13:19:16 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Snow-White-A1856461.jpg ]]>