<![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, 24 Apr 2017 23:06:13 -0400Mon, 24 Apr 2017 23:06:13 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![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.

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<![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!

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<![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!

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<![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! 

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<![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.

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<![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.

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<![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
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![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 ]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Mon, 13 Mar 2017 05:58:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-Walk_Mitzi.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: What You Need to Know About Rabies]]> Sat, 11 Mar 2017 00:21:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000028446345_1200x675_895112259793.jpg

Chief Veterinarian Maria Serrano and Helen Avendano of Miami-Dade Animal Services tell Roxanne Vargas what you need to know about the rabies alert in effect in South Florida.

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<![CDATA[Cops Catch Scaly Suspect Roaming Pembroke Pines Neighborhood]]> Fri, 10 Mar 2017 17:50:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/215*120/031017+pines+gator+caught.jpg

Police corralled a scaly suspect that was roaming a neighborhood in Pembroke Pines Friday.

The mid-sized gator was stopped in its tracks on the sidewalk by officers. The reptile was tied up and taken away in a pickup truck.

A resident tweeted at Pembroke Pines Police, thanking them for removing the wandering animal from her neighborhood.

Police warn residents to not approach gators when they see them, but to call 911 for help.



Photo Credit: Pembroke Pines Police Dept.]]>
<![CDATA[Monastery Introduces Pup as Newest Inductee]]> Thu, 09 Mar 2017 13:32:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/198*120/Friar+dog+adopted+by+monastery.PNG

Monks at a monastery in Cochabamba, Bolivia introduced the world to its newest member – Friar Bigotón, a furry pup. 

Friar Bigotón – meaning “mustache” in Spanish – lived as a stray dog before the brothers at the Franciscan monastery adopted him from a local animal rescue organization, Proyecto Narices Frías.

The animal rescue group hopes Friar Bigotón’s story will inspire more monasteries to adopt to open their doors to rescued dogs.

“If all the churches in our country would take just a puppy,” the group posted on Facebook, “we are sure that parishioners will follow her example.”

Friar Bigotón was introduced to the world in a Facebook post that has since been shared over 38,000 times. 



Photo Credit: Proyecto Narices Frías]]>
<![CDATA[Kitten Cuddlers Wanted At Miami-Dade Animal Services]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 16:29:43 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/cat-generic-103131833.jpg

Love kittens? Love to cuddle? You may be the purrfect candidate for the Miami-Dade Animal Services Kitten Cuddler Program.

The Pet Adoption and Protection Center is recruiting foster parents to care for orphaned newborn kittens until they are ready for adoption.

Animal Services said it will train cuddlers bottle feeding and general care of kittens. Training sessions will be held on Saturdays at 1 p.m.

Cuddlers will receive care kits that include heating pads, feeding bottles and kitten milk replacer.

"Abandoned newborn kittens are an unfortunate rite of spring and we need the help of the community," said Alex Muñoz, Director of Miami-Dade Animal Services. "Engaging and empowering the community to play an active role is a key component of our lifesaving efforts."

Animal Services will schedule veterinary visits for the kittens to receive booster vaccines and general wellness care.

To become a Kitten Cuddler Foster parent, send an email to asdfoster@miamidade.gov and write "Kitten Cuddler" in the subject line.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Hosting Rabies Vaccination Event]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 20:51:16 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/dogs_generic_shelter_puppies.jpg

Miami-Dade County Animal Services is hosting a pet vaccination event in response to the recent rabies alert in the Kendall area.

The event will be held at Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rabies vaccines and rabies booster vaccines for both dogs and cats will be provided at a cost of $15. Other vaccine packages and microchips will also be available for purchase.

No appointment is necessary but all pets receiving a vaccine must be a minimum of eight weeks old and have on a leash and collar or be in a carrier. Pet owners must present valid identification that reflects a Miami-Dade County address.

Florida Department of Health officials issued a rabies alert after two raccoons tested positive for rabies in the Kendall area recently.

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<![CDATA[Safety And Sanity In The Rabies Alert Zone]]> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 14:16:15 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/193*120/raccoon+attacks+doctor.jpg

While most of us were enjoying our Saturday night, news broke that Kendall’s newly established Rabies Alert Zone had been expanded. The zone now includes SW 72nd Street (Sunset Drive) to the North, SW 128th Street to the South, SW 87th Avenue to the East, and the Florida Turnpike to the West. It encompasses several parks and schools, and on a more personal note, my neighborhood and my veterinary hospital.

Since the first case of rabies was confirmed last week, many questions and concerns have been voiced within the community. The following is a list of do’s and don’t’s for maintaining safety - and sanity - within the rabies alert zone.

Do:

Keep rabies vaccinations current for all pets, and any animals under your care.

Miami-Dade County law requires all dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies. This includes outdoor cats, as well as stray and/or feral cats who may be cared for by multiple people within the community. Coordinate with all parties involved with the care of free-roaming cats, and make sure their rabies vaccines are up to date. Keep pet cats indoors at all times. If you cannot afford to vaccinate your pets, low cost vaccines are available at Miami-Dade Animal Services.

Familiarize yourself with the clinical signs of rabies.

Rabies can manifest in two different forms. The first is the so-called “furious” form. These are the animals that attack, vocalize dramatically, salivate profusely, appear to be choking, behave erratically, and foam at the mouth. Think Cujo.

The other manifestation is what’s known as the “dumb” form. Rather than exhibiting aggressive behaviors, these animals often appear drunk, dazed, catatonic, or even overly friendly. This form is especially dangerous as the animal may fearlessly approach a human without displaying stereotypical rabid behaviors. Sadly, it is often children who are fooled by this particular presentation, and consequently bitten by these animals.

Remove uneaten pet food from outdoor areas.

If you feed your pets outdoors, start feeding them indoors. If you feed outdoor or free-roaming cats, pick up any food that has not been eaten after 20 minutes. While this may sound cruel, cats figure out very quickly that the proverbial kitchen is not always open. They are quick to adjust to scheduled meal times, and less likely to leave the leftovers that draw wild animals into our yards.

Ditto for people food.

Thoroughly pick up food debris after parties and picnics. Make sure all garbage receptacles are tightly secured.

Obey leash laws.

Our local laws require us to have our dogs leashed and under our control when not on our property. Regardless, many Miamians allow their dogs roam at will, or accompany them in public without a leash. Now is the time to break this habit. It is not only illegal, it is potentially dangerous for your pet.

Rethink doggie doors.

Under normal circumstances, wild animals do not let themselves in via the doggie door. But a rabid animal has literally lost its mind. If your pet can gain entry, so can a raccoon or a skunk. Certain high-end doggie doors are activated only by collars worn by the homeowner’s pets. This can stop unwanted visitors, yet still presents a problem. Which brings me to my next point.

Closely monitor your pet’s outdoor activities.

Pets should not be left outdoors unattended, especially for long periods of time. Keep them within your range of vision at all times. Our two dogs are being leash-walked in our yard for bathroom visits. Pets should remain under your direct supervision to minimize any risk of contact with wild animals.

Avoid contact with stray or wild animals.

Perhaps more importantly, teach children to do the same. Instruct youngsters never to approach or handle unfamiliar animals, either wild or domestic. Even if the animal appears friendly or approachable, the dumb form of rabies can be misleading. Make sure children know that even if some animals seem nice, if we don’t know them, we don’t touch them.

Seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten or scratched by a wild or domestic animal.

The key word here is “immediate.” Worldwide, rabies kills roughly 59,000 people every year. Fewer than 10 people have ever survived rabies following the onset of clinical signs. Yes, you read that correctly. Do not wait until you begin to feel ill before seeing a doctor. Make sure children know they will not get in trouble if they tell an adult they were bitten or scratched by an animal. Sadly, nearly half of the people who succumb to rabies are children under the age of 15. If you know the owner of the animal who delivered the bite, ask for written proof of the animal’s vaccination status.

Seek veterinary attention for any pet who has been bitten or scratched by another animal.

Again, do not wait until the onset of clinical signs to seek help for your pet. By then, it is too late to save them. Watch, wait and see is not an option. And again, request written proof of rabies vaccination from the owner of the pet or pets involved.

Alert the authorities.

If you suspect an animal may have rabies, call Miami-Dade Animal Services. If you or your pet are bitten or scratched by a domestic or wild animal, notify MDAS at 311 and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County at (305) 324-2400. Report deceased animals to MDAS - do not touch them or attempt to move them yourself.

DON’T:

Do not declare war on the local wildlife!

Wild animals are not invading our neighborhoods. On the contrary, we have invaded theirs, and they pay a heavy price for our intrusion on a daily basis. Our local wildlife does a great job of keeping rats, mosquitoes, and other pests under control. They were here first, and they belong here.

Our state and local governments are working hard to assess and control the situation. At this time, the only thing citizens are being asked to do is stay alert, secure their pets, and report suspected cases of rabies and rabies exposure to the appropriate authorities.

Do not intentionally feed wild animals.

While it may be cool to see a fox in your backyard, luring wild animals with food changes their natural behaviors. As they begin to associate humans with food, their natural fear of us can diminish, or disappear completely. Animals which are normally nocturnal may venture into a park during the day in the hopes of being fed.

They may choose roaming neighborhoods over roaming wild spaces. These same, emboldened animals may become aggressive if food is denied. Others still will stare quietly and patiently while sitting at close range. These behaviors can easily be mistaken for signs of rabies, and reported as such. When this happens, the animals in question are usually trapped and destroyed. To put it another way, a fed critter is a dead critter. Or as one of our neighbors put it, let wildlife be wild.

Do not assume every wild animal you see has rabies.

The rabies alert will stay in place for at least the next 60 days. During this time, the days will grow longer, and mating season will begin for our wild neighbors. It is not unusual to see increased activity and changing behaviors during this time of the year. Vocalizations may be different. Solitary animals may begin roaming with a mate. They may be active during unusual times. These behavioral changes are seasonal and do not necessarily point to a diagnosis of rabies. Again, familiarize yourself with the clinical signs of rabies and think through any knee-jerk reactions of panic.

Do not assist wild or domestic animals who appear to be in distress.

This is a tough one. Springtime means orphaned baby wildlife and abandoned newborn kittens. How can anyone with a heart turn their back on an injured fox kit, a cat who’s been hit by a car, or a baby raccoon crying for its mother? Sometimes all they need is a helping hand from a Good Samaritan to set them back to right. People do it all the time - I’ve done it myself. Not this year. Until the rabies alert is lifted, we must leave this task to the appropriate authorities. Do not touch or pick up any compromised animals, either wild or domestic. Report all such situations to Miami Dade Animal Services, and do not put yourself at risk.

Do not take in stray cats or dogs.

I know - another heartbreaker. But now is not the time. There are hundreds of cats and dogs in our local shelters and rescue groups eagerly awaiting adoption. Stray animals found wandering in the streets should be reported to Animal Services. They will pick up and vaccinate any stray animals, and keep them quarantined until they are declared rabies free, and ready for adoption.

I will be updating this article as more information is provided by our local authorities. In the meantime, feel free to post any questions in the comment section.

Click here for more information on rabies as provided by the Centers for Disease Control. 

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



Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Riley]]> Sun, 05 Mar 2017 12:29:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/212*120/pet+of+the+week+riley.JPG

Our pet of the week is Riley, a 6-month-old mix, who is looking for his forever home.

Lisa Mendheim with Broward Animal Care stopped by NBC 6 on Sunday with Riley. She said Riley is gentle and friendly.

Riley would make a great family pet and loves belly rubs! He's great with kids and walks well on a leash.

If you're interested in Riley 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[Dr. Kupkee Discusses Rabies Zone Expansion South Florida]]> Sun, 05 Mar 2017 12:13:53 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000028339072_1200x675_890537027527.jpg

Dr. Ian Kupkee is in the NBC 6 studio discussing the rabies zone expansion in Kendall.

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<![CDATA[Alligator Found Napping Under Car]]> Thu, 02 Mar 2017 18:21:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/030117+gator+under+car+martin+county.jpg

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office Agricultural Detectives captured a 4-foot alligator that was found wandering through an Indiantown neighborhood Wednesday.

Detectives said they received a report that the alligator was resting underneath someone’s car near the 14000 block of SW Little Indian Ave. Neighbors took pictures showing it walking through their front yard.

David Schupp says his scared wife was the only one home and called him.

“She calls me in a panic and says, 'There’s a gator in the yard. There’s a gator in the yard,'” Schupp said.

It’s not an uncommon sight in Florida, but for the Schupps it was a new experience. They just moved to Indiantown from West Palm Beach.

“I figured it’s happened a lot of times because the neighborhood kids didn’t really seem too scared about it,” said Schupp.

Detectives were able to coax the alligator toward them, capture it, then set it loose at a nearby canal.

Schupp says he has learned he may need to pick up a new routine in his new home.

“I’m kind of checking underneath the car now and then," said Schupp.

This story is courtesy of our news partner WPTV.



Photo Credit: Martin County Sheriff's Office Facebook Page
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Thu, 02 Mar 2017 12:03:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-Walk_Snowy.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade County Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 01 Mar 2017 19:16:53 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Bam-Bam-A1853328.jpg Check out the Pets of the Week from Miami-Dade County Animal Services]]> <![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Linda]]> Sat, 25 Feb 2017 11:57:11 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/218*120/pet+of+week+linda.JPG

Our pet of the week is Linda, a 2-year-old Terrier mix, who is looking for her forever home.

Allison Nash with Humane Society of Greater Miami stopped by NBC 6 on Saturday with Linda. She says Linda has a great personality. She is playful, loving, and easygoing.

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

If you're interested in Linda 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[Don’t Fat Shame My Pet!]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:55:09 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/022417+dont+fat+shame+my+pet.jpg

Several years ago, I overheard my wife checking in a new client at the front desk. She took a detailed patient history that included vaccine history, heartworm prevention status, recurring medical problems, and diet. It soon became obvious that to this gentleman, a muscle-bound hulk of an individual, “diet” was a four-letter word.

“My dog’s diet is fine,” he growled as he loomed over the desk, “And as long as you’re writing down the story of her life, let me make something clear. My dog is fat. I know she’s fat. She’s fat because she’s loved, and I don’t wanna hear any crap from you people about it. Half the children in this country are fat. Their parents love them, and I doubt their pediatricians lecture them about how they feed their kids. So write this in your chart - don’t fat shame my pet! And make sure you tell that doctor of yours, ‘cuz I don’t wanna hear it from him either!”

Our clinic is small. Rants such as this are often heard by the entire staff - and this one was no exception. A collective gasp went up from my staff, and all eyes turned to me. To intervene, or not to intervene? I checked the security cameras to see if my wife needed help. What I saw instead was an impish grin, that after ten years of marriage, I recognized as the look that meant “this is going to be fun!”

I leaned back in my chair, wishing I had some popcorn - air popped and unsalted, of course.

“First of all,” Lynn began, “I’m pretty sure pediatricians talk to parents of overweight kids about the dangers of childhood obesity. Second of all, fat shaming is a form of bias and discrimination against people. It’s an unfair social attitude towards people who may be overweight for all sorts of complex reasons. But Pepper isn’t a person. And I’m willing to bet her life is not that complicated. She doesn’t know some foods are bad for her, and she can’t speak for herself. That’s where we come in. What you call fat shaming, we call doing our jobs. So while I promise we won’t be jerks, and we won’t belabor the point, we will do our jobs. And you need to let that happen. Capisce?”

Amazingly, we kept the client. He stuck with us through an orthopedic surgery, and a particularly harrowing case of pancreatitis (pork rinds - yum!). When Pepper’s size brought on crippling arthritis, we had to have yet another uncomfortable talk. This one involved fully disclosing the long term side effects of the drugs needed to relieve her pain. He understood. He wanted her to be happy.

Pepper belonged to a breed of dog well-known for energy and longevity. She experienced neither. The time to help her cross the Rainbow Bridge came way too soon. When she took her last breath, her owner broke down, shaking with sobs that wracked his entire body. My whole team was either in tears, or fighting them. When Pepper’s dad walked out the door, he left behind an eerie silence. For some reason, I felt obligated to break it.

“He loved that little dog,” I said.

Then one of my nurses hit me with a question to which I have yet to find an answer:

“Yeah, but...what kind of love does nothing?”

Whenever I meet with colleagues, I hear all-too-familiar grumblings. Ugh...the fat talk. Clients hate the fat talk. Truth be told we hate the fat talk! But given that 90-95% of clients with overweight pets perceive their pet’s body type as normal, it’s a talk we need to have. That extra weight can lead to diabetes, liver problems, hypertension, cardiac issues, joint pain, orthopedic injuries, increased anesthetic risk, arthritis - bottom line, it shortens their lives. It decreases their overall quality of life, and those last few precious years with them are often marked by suffering. I’ve heard all sorts of objections: a fat pet is a happy pet...I can’t say no to that face...food shows him how much I love him... but he’s just so cute this way.

No. Just no.

A client once told me I should stop implying she was somehow killing her pet, that her choices were none of my business. If you’re on her side, I’m here to tell you and believe me, I don’t want to, that you are killing your pet. And someday, you too will ask a veterinarian to help you make a difficult and heartbreaking decision.

None of our business? Um, yeah, actually it is.

I’ve written a lot on this topic in the past year. By now you should be able to tell if your pet is overweight. We’ve talked about the difference between hunger and food drive, and the marketing machine that promotes overfeeding, and spends billions of dollars promoting calorie-laden treats.

Ask the veterinarian who best knows your pet what kind of food he should be eating, and in what amounts. Give small, healthy treats sparingly, and as a reward for actually doing something. Substitute food with praise and activity. Play games that require your pet to move and burn calories.

If you’ve checked all those boxes and your pet is still overweight, it’s time for a veterinary visit. Just like their human counterparts, dogs and cats sometimes develop medical problems that can wreak havoc on their metabolisms. Hypothyroidism, diabetes, and Cushing’s disease are just a few of the reasons your pet may be slowing down and plumping up. When caught early, these conditions can be managed with minimal hassle and expense.

So if you find yourself on the receiving end of a veterinary “fat talk”, please don’t get angry. It’s awkward for us too, and most of us would love to just let it slide. We know you love your pet. That’s why we want to make sure he stays with you for as long as possible. We’re here to help, so if you need help, by all means ask for it! We don’t care how your fur-kid looks. We care about his health. And if ever we do resort to fat shaming, guess what?

Fluffy. Will. Not. Care. Chances are, he’ll be checking us out, wondering how he can hit us up for a treat.

And who knows? If everyone behaves, we might just give him a little, teeny tiny one!

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:14:09 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-Walk_Bunzilla.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week - February 20]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:55:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/022217+China-A1851647.jpg ]]>