<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - ]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcmiami.com/feature/all-about-animals http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:05:48 -0400 Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:05:48 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 20:03:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Chica+A1720476.JPG There are numerous furry friends up for adoption at Miami-Dade Animal Services.]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:41:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Jazz+537002.jpg Check out the adorable animals up for adoption in Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Hospice Therapy Dog Comforts Dying Woman in Viral Video]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:44:52 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/11947441_573392259466012_4851857357828377335_n.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy National Dog Day, South Florida!

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

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

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

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

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

They aren't only here to help humans!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start the school year routines early.

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

Avoid anxiety triggers.

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

Separate the Velcro.

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

Give her something to do while you are gone.

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

Don’t tell the kids…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See photo galleries of adopted pets across South Florida:

<![CDATA[#ClearTheShelters: Upper Keys Humane Society]]> Sat, 15 Aug 2015 14:38:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/ctskeys3.JPG Pets Adopted At Upper Keys Humane Society on #ClearTheShelters Day]]> <![CDATA[#ClearTheShelters: Broward County Animal Care & Adoption]]> Sat, 15 Aug 2015 17:58:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*213/cts_bcac_dottie.JPG Pets Adopted At Broward Co. Animal Care & Adoption on #ClearTheShelters Day]]> <![CDATA[#ClearTheShelters: Miami-Dade Animal Services]]> Sat, 15 Aug 2015 17:49:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/cts_mdas_13.JPG Pets Adopted At MIami-Dade Animal Services on #ClearTheShelters Day]]> <![CDATA[#ClearTheShelters: Humane Society of Greater Miami]]> Sat, 15 Aug 2015 17:48:48 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*160/cts_hsgm_107.JPG Pets Adopted At Humane Society of Greater Miami on #ClearTheShelters Day]]> <![CDATA[#ClearTheShelters: Humane Society of Broward County]]> Sat, 15 Aug 2015 18:07:19 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*213/cts_hsbc_beauty.jpg Pets Adopted At Humane Society of Broward County on #ClearTheShelters Day]]> <![CDATA[Broward Animal Care introduces us to 'Angel']]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 15:02:32 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000019548366_1200x675_504905283517.jpg Lisa Mendheim from Broward County Animal Care and Services introduces us to Linda and the heartbreaking-turned-happy tale of "Angel."]]> <![CDATA[Bringing Your Shelter Pet Home]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 11:36:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/kupkee+clear+the+shelters+081415.jpg

August 15th is right around the corner! If you’ve been thinking about adding a pet to your family, there’s no better time than Saturday as we attempt to Clear The Shelters. If you haven’t already done so, please take a few minutes to honestly assess your lifestyle, and ask yourself if you are ready for the commitment of pet ownership. Assuming you’ve done some hard thinking, and decided what kind of pet you want, let’s focus on helping your shelter pet make a smooth transition into your home.

Before heading to the shelter, pick up a leash or carrier so you will have a way to safely transport your new pet. While many shelters supply them, it never hurts to be prepared.

Once your new pet is home, start establishing a routine. If you have school-aged children, the routine should be one that will easily gel with the new school year. The back-to-school transition can be jarring for pets, and your new friend has dealt with considerable change already. Schedule morning feedings and walkings at times that will not interfere with the school year routine. Since pets will naturally be excited when the kids get home from school, this is a great time to encourage play sessions. It also has the added benefit of allowing the kids to blow off steam before settling down to do homework. Both dogs and cats should be fed two meals per day in order to keep their metabolisms working efficiently, so work this into your new routine as well. Should you decide to adopt a puppy or kitten, you may have to add a midday feeding. Be sure to ask the shelter staff how often your new pet is fed, and stick to that routine for the time being. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you when it is time to change Fluffy’s chow times.

Many adoptive families wish to change their new pet’s diet. Since any change, even one that’s made to a better food, can cause gastrointestinal upset, it’s important to do this gradually. Find out what the shelter has been feeding and feed something similar, at least for now. After a couple of days, feed a 50/50 mix of the existing diet and the food you wish to start feeding. Each day, take out a little more of the old food, and add a little more of the new food. After about a week, your pet should be completely transitioned to the new food. Resist the urge to spoil the new addition with treats and table foods. Many table foods are harmful to pets, and processed pet treats are loaded with calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Dogs and puppies should be let outside for bathroom breaks using the same door every time. This will help them know where to go when they are trying to tell you nature is calling. Puppies that are still getting the hang of housebreaking will need to be let out often. Be patient, and reward successful outings with lots of praise and affection.

Cats and kittens will need litter boxes placed in quiet, low-traffic areas. Your home should contain one litter box for each cat or kitten, plus one extra box to spare. Be diligent about scooping boxes and changing litter - if it’s unpleasant for you, it’s unpleasant for your cat! I never recommend covered litter boxes as they trap odors inside. Cats are highly sensitive to odors, and if their box is off-putting, they may stop using it.

Giving your shelter pet a space of his own can go a long way towards helping him settle in quickly. A training crate for a dog or puppy acts as a cozy den for a dog that may be feeling overwhelmed. Teach young children that this is Fluffy’s special house - they cannot be permitted to crawl in it or play in it, and must respect Fluffy’s decision to go there when she is tired of playing. When dogs know they can retreat from an exuberant child, they are far less likely to feel threatened and bite due to fear. When raising a puppy, crates are a godsend. They can aid in the housebreaking process, as puppies tend to not soil their sleeping space. They also ensure your puppy - and your belongings! - are safe when you are away from home. Cats and kittens feel safest when perched up high, so a carpeted cat tree or kitty condo is bound to be appreciated. A scratching pad is also a must as cats need a way to care for their claws. A designated area helps them do so in a way that protects your furniture.

Your new pet will also want to play, so provide him with toys before he makes toys of your belongings! Dogs and puppies love to chew, so don’t forget about chew toys. Stay away from rawhides, bones, and pig ears as these can cause dangerous intestinal blockages. Kong toys, NylaBones and bully sticks are safe, healthier alternatives to the old school favorites. Again, teach children not to attempt to take these items away from the new puppy or dog.

While it will be tempting to have lots of family and friends around to visit the new addition, remember your new pet is dealing with consecutive, potentially stressful changes. Invite only one couple or family at a time, and monitor your pet’s body language for signs of anxiety. If you feel as though Fluffy has had enough, encourage him to go to his safe space and reward him with a toy or small treat when he does. If any behaviors cause you concern, this is the time to call a trainer. Both Applause Your Paws in Miami and K9 Advisors in Broward are offering discounts to families who adopt on August 15th.

Finally, be sure to schedule a post-adoption veterinary visit for your pet. This is a great time to address any questions you may have about caring for your new best friend. Many clinics - including ours! - offer free initial physical exams to pets who are adopted from shelters, so don’t be shy about asking shelter staff for a list of recommendations. Remember, shelter pets are a bargain, so if you need to pick up some shampoo or ear cleaner, you’re still way ahead of the game. The rewards of adopting a shelter pet far outweigh the expenses. So what are you waiting for? We’ll see you at the shelter this Saturday!

Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee? Click here to send him an email.

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

Photo Credit: Sabal Chase Animal Clinic]]>
<![CDATA[Last Chance Dogs at Broward Animal Care]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 13:33:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/MADDIE+A1756270.jpg

Eight dogs at Broward County Animal Care are considered "last call" and are in need of urgent adoption or rescue. NBC 6 has partnered with Broward Animal Care along with several other area shelters as part of our "Clear the Shelters" initative on August 15th. The adoption fee for all of these pets has been waived!

Maddie is a happy, outgoing girl! This 2-year-old, 50-pound American Staffordshire Terrier loves people and other dogs, and is quiet and well-behaved. Maddie loves going for walks, enjoys playtime, and is even housebroken! She is ready to move right into your home and your heart, and would make the perfect family pet.

Tune is a sweet dog who just lives for attention! He is a 4-year-old, 41-pound American Staffordshire Terrier who really enjoys to be around people, and shows his affection with lots of kisses. Tune loves playing with other dogs as well. This happy boy is well-behaved and would love to be your new best friend!

Lola is a sweet, gentle American Bulldog. She is 4 years old and weighs 50 pounds, and was our pet of the week last weekend! She has great doggy manners and is well-behaved. Lola is a low-key dog who would love to be your couch potato buddy!

Paris is a beautiful, young American Staffordshire Terrier who can't wait to find a family of her own! She is just 1 year old and weighs 43 pounds. Paris has excellent doggy manners, and loves playing with adults and children alike. She enjoys going on walks, loves other dogs, and will make the perfect companion dog.

Sheldon is an energetic boy who gets along with absolutely everybody! He's a 1 year old American Staffordshire Terrier who weighs 49 pounds. Sheldon is a happy dog whose favorite time of day is playtime! He gets along wonderfully with dogs and kids as well. Sheldon is affectionate and can't wait to find a family of his own.

Howie is a total lover boy who just needs the chance to show how sweet he really can be! He's a 5-year-old, 52-pound American Staffordshire Terrier who is a real looker. This handsome, athletic gentleman loves to be around people and other dogs. Howie will make a loyal, faithful pet to whoever is lucky enough to adopt him!

Kory is a friendly, good-natured pup who can't wait to find a forever family! He is a 1-year-old, 61-pound American Staffordshire Terrier who is very smart and eager to learn. Kory loves people and other dogs, and will benefit from a patient family who will teach this loving boy basic commands.

Munchkin is a friendly boy who, at 11 months old, is still a puppy. This 47-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier is an athletic pup who would make a perfect jogging or walking partner. Munchkin is very friendly with both people and other dogs.

Broward Animal Care and Adoption is located at 1870 SW 39th Street in Fort Lauderdale. The shelter is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on adopting animals from Broward Animal Care, visit their website or call (954) 359-1313.

<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Adoptable Pets]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 13:31:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Spicy+536151.jpg Check out the adorable furry friends up for adoption in Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Miami Police K-9's Equipped With Bulletproof Vests]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 21:08:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/081315+k9+vests.jpg

Four Miami K-9's are ready to take a bite out of crime, thanks to their new bulletproof vests.

Buster, Nas, Rex and Zeus received their vests from the National Police Support Team as a donation.

With the donation, the police dogs are able to help officers in dangerous situations while being protected.

Now, all of the working K-9 dogs with the Miami Police Department are wearing bulletproof vests.

Photo Credit: Miami Police]]>
<![CDATA[Puppy Breaks Loose at North Perry Airport]]> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 13:20:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/puppy+at+north+perry+airport+pembroke+pines.jpg

Airport workers were busy trying to round up a puppy who became stuck in the runway area at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines.

Aerial footage showed the small, golden-brown pup running along the airport fence before digging a hole under the fence and running onto the outside area of the airport.

The runaway pup was last seen crossing Pembroke Road, and seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere!

Here's hoping he made it back home safely.

<![CDATA[NSU Researchers: More Must be Done to Curb Lionfish ]]> Tue, 11 Aug 2015 13:50:05 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/lionfish.jpg

Researchers with Nova Southeastern University are warning that more needs to be done to stop the spread of the invasive Lionfish in South Florida's waters.

While efforts are in place to curb their populations, including lionfish derbies and even an incentive to catch Lionfish during the recent Lobster Mini-Season, researchers say the existing efforts are "barely making a dent" in reducing overall Lionfish numbers and containing their spread.

“For every lionfish we remove during local derbies or spearfishing, there are probably hundreds of others we miss,” said Matthew Johnston, Ph.D., of NSU.

Experts say the current efforts are too small and don't take into consideration the direction of currents which can potentially carry Lionfish larvae to far reaching locations.

Efforts also aren't taking into consideration the role hurrcane winds and currents play in the spread of the species.

The invasive Lionfish is said to be taking over the waters off of Florida and the Caribbean. Known as voracious eaters with no known predators, Lionfish populations have demonstrated that they can take over and devastate entire coral reef ecosystems.

NSU researchers find that control efforts need to remove at least 20 percent of the Lionfish population per month in areas with an abundance of the species, as well as culling in regions upstream to "choke off" the number of Lionfish larvae carried by currents.

The efforts would need to target all Lionfish, including those living in deep and remote waters.

Researchers say local culling efforts are helping, but in order to significantly impact the population, culling efforts need to be more strategic.

Last year, state wildlife officials rolled out the Report Florida Lionfish app which allowed users to report sightings of the fish, submit photos and share information.

Officials say the numbers of Lionfish in the Atlantic have spiked dramatically since they were first spotted in Florida waters in the 1980s.

For more information, visit NSU's Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography.

Photo Credit: FWC/Dave Eaken/FWRI, FWC]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 16:30:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Chance+A1715889.jpg Check out the adorable pets up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[Help NBC 6 Clear The Shelters]]> Tue, 11 Aug 2015 08:56:48 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000019475661_1200x675_501653059937.jpg NBC 6 wants you to help clear the shelters by adopting a pet from a local animal shelter. Fees will be discounted or waived. Roxanne Vargas breaks it down.]]> <![CDATA[Picking the Perfect Shelter Pet (Part Two)]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:34:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/kupkee+shelter+cat+080715.jpg

If you’re planning a trip to one of our shelters on August 15th, you still have time to figure out what kind of pet you want. More importantly, you still have time to figure out what kind of pet will fit into your lifestyle. If you haven’t given the matter a whole lot of thought, please do so now by reading this article. Many of the pets who languish in our shelters are there because their owners did not realize they were unable or unwilling to provide a suitable home for their pet.

Last week, I wrote at length about choosing the perfect dog. As promised, cat people, this time it’s all about you! Here are some pointers for finding your forever feline on August 15th.

Decide what kind of temperament appeals to you

While each cat has its own unique personality, it’s a good idea to think about an activity level that fits your lifestyle. Do you want a lap kitty or a class clown? A kitten or an adult? While a lap cat may sound wonderful, enjoying such a cat means actually sitting down! If your home is full of bustle and activity, your lap kitty may feel left out. A more active cat, or a kitten may be a better choice. Keep in mind that even the most mellow, independent cats will still want some of your time and attention.

Assessing a shelter cat’s temperament

When you go to the shelter, make sure it is a family affair. Not only should everyone in the household get a vote, it’s important to see how your each feline contender responds to everyone in the family. This is especially true of children. You don’t want to bring home a cat or kitten who is terrified of kids. Your children are likely to tire of a pet who bolts under the bed at the first sight of them, and this can lead to conflict down the road. That being said, make sure children, especially little ones, understand that cats should never be chased, grabbed, hugged, or yelled at. They must be allowed to walk away if they want to, and need to be handled gently.

When you get to the shelter, walk through the entire facility, and check out all of the cats before you start narrowing down choices. Don’t overlook any cats who may be taking a nap, and don’t rule them out either. Cats sleep for about 17 hours per day, so don’t assume a cat who’s asleep is lazy, unfriendly or aloof. He’s just being a cat. When you get the point where you’re starting to make choices, ask the shelter staff to wake him up so you can get to know him as well.

Any cat who comes up to the kennel door to greet you, sniff you, or rub up against the bars is a strong contender. If he seems curious about your children, even better. A cat that hides in the corner, wide-eyed and staring, may not be comfortable in a high-intensity household.

Getting to know a shelter cat

If possible, see if the shelter has a separate room where you can get to know the kitties one on one. When you’re making your choices, don’t forget about the sleepyheads! Ask the shelter staff to wake them up so you can meet them. Have a couple of cat toys handy - a plastic ball with a bell in it, or a stuffed toy that crinkles will do the job nicely. See how each cat reacts when you engage him with the toy. A cat that focuses more on you than on the toy, or who would rather rub his chin against you than play with the toy, is probably going to be a lap cat. If he pounces on the toy with gusto, he is more likely to be active and inquisitive by nature.

Next, see how the cat responds to being handled. If he enjoys being picked up and held, you’ve probably got a winner. If he is merely tolerating it, take note, but don’t give up. A cat who tries frantically to get away, is not a lost cause, but may not be a good choice for a very active household, or a home he must share with dogs and/or small children. That being said, it’s important to look at the situation from a cat’s point of view.

Like their canine counterparts, cats can find shelters overwhelming and scary. Most shelter cats are lacking the exercise, mental activity, and human interaction they crave. Therefore, it’s important to cut cats some slack as well. Shelter cats are constantly bombarded with new sights, sounds, and smells - and cats are not particularly wild about change to begin with. The wide-eyed waif that’s melting your heart might have just been surrendered. Perhaps he was just moved from another part of the shelter. Get as much information as you can from the shelter staff, and take everything into consideration before making your choice.

One last thought…

As long as you’re adopting a shelter cat, why not adopt two? I’ve always felt cats do better in pairs. This is especially true of kittens. Kittens have a tremendous amount of energy, and another kitten will keep him occupied long after you’ve decided you’ve had enough. Additionally, two kittens at play provide hours of entertainment and stress relief. If you choose an adult cat who is sharing a kennel with a friend, consider taking the friend home as well. It will go a long way towards helping your new kitty adjust.

When you adopt from a shelter, you’re saving a life. And the only thing better than saving a life, is saving two lives. Your reward is spending the next 15 or so years with not one, but two, grateful hearts - not to mention the gratitude of the animal care community. Our goal on August 15th is to Clear the Shelters. One by one, we’ll get it done. Why not double our chances?

Do you have a question for Dr. Kupkee? Click here to send him an email. 

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

Photo Credit: Sabal Chase Animal Clinic]]>
<![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Lola]]> Sun, 09 Aug 2015 15:50:46 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/lola+potw+080915.PNG

Our pet of the week is Lola, a 4-year-old American Bulldog at Broward Animal Care who is looking for a "furever" home.

Lola is a sweet, gentle dog. She has great doggy manners and is well-behaved. Lola is a low-key dog who would love to be your couch potato buddy.

Lola's adoption fee includes spaying, vaccinations and microchipping. For more information on how to adopt her or any other animal, call (954) 359-1313 or visit Broward County Animal Care's website.

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

<![CDATA[Keys Turtle Hospital Releases 50 Baby Sea Turtles]]> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 10:36:36 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/baby+turtle.jpg

The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys released 50 healthy hatchlings into the Gulfstream Thursday.

Thus far, the Turtle Hospital has received over 160 hatchlings to care for since the beginning of nesting season in April.

Turtle Hospital staff released the hatchings into a sargassum weedline offshore. The sargassum helps to camouflage the hatchlings and is rich with a wide variety of small slow-moving animal prey for the baby sea turtles to eat.

Usually, baby turtles emerge from their nest and swim offshore fueled by the energy in their internal yolk sac. Hatchlings naturally follow the light from the stars and moon to the water, and because hatchlings rely on light to make it to the oceans, they can become disoriented by artificial light and crawl away from the ocean.

Sea Turtle nesting season will conclude in October.

Photo Credit: The Turtle Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[Dogs Sniffing Out Giant African Land Snails in South Florida]]> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 21:29:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/080615+african+snail.jpg

South Florida is full of exotic animal invaders who have found a home in our hot, humid climate. Iguanas, pythons, tegu lizards and now giant African land snails can all be found here.

The snails showed up in Miami in 2011, and have now spread as far north as Davie.

Despite their slow speed, these snails spread quickly because they can lay as many as 300 eggs per month, they have no natural predators here, and they eat just about everything that grows in this environment.

"That includes everything we grow as food," said Mark Fagan of the Florida Department of Agriculture. His agency has taken the lead in fighting the slimy pest.

Now they have two new weapons: Bear and Sienna, two dogs trained to sniff out giant African land snails. NBC 6 watched the dogs find snails which had been hidden in a wooded area.

The eradication teams are also using a poison which kills only snails, spreading it only in areas in which the snails have been found.

"We have made a tremendous amount of progress in that originally we were finding 1,000 or 2,000 snails per day. Now there are days we go and don't find any snails," Fagan said.

Besides eating 500 different kinds of Florida plants, the snails also carry a parasitic nematode which is dangerous to humans. Exposure to it can cause an incurable type of meningitis.

"That causes other neurological issues like going blind and going deaf," Fagan explained. "All from that parasite."

The snails have been found in 29 areas of South Florida. They are easily distinguishable from native snails because they are much, much bigger. Their brown mottled shells can be over four inches long, and the animal inside can protrude another four or five inches.

If you spot one, call 888-397-1517. The Agriculture Department will send an agent out to see what it is. If you have to touch it, wear gloves to minimize the risk of exposure to that nasty nematode parasite.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Kittens Found in Box at Port of Miami]]> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 21:10:52 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/080615+kittens+box.jpg

Workers at the Port of Miami are used to finding boxes of goods, but not a box of kittens.

The workers were inspecting a docked ship when they heard meowing coming from a box inside a container. Inside, they found five adorable kittens.

The workers called Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, which owns the container. An employee at the company knew what to do.

"The organization is called Operation Paw. They work mainly with cats, they foster to adopt, work with trap and neutering. It's a wonderful organization," Lindsey Precht explained

It's not clear how long the kittens were in the box, or how they ended up there.

All will eventually go up for adoption.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Troubled Youth Get Second Chance With Equine Therapy]]> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 18:50:03 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/080615+equine+therapy.jpg

Troubled kids in Broward County are getting a second chance to make things right, and part of it involves taking care of horses.

The unique program is designed to help kids clean up their act while learning some valuable life lessons along the way.

For many of the teens, it's their first time around a horse, but this isn't just about kids getting a chance to braid or groom hair.

Horses that belong to Don Maines make up the BSO's Mobile Equine Therapy Program.

"I'm just here as an old cowboy, so the kids open up to me and there's nothing to be scared of," Maines said.

Teens involved in the program have gotten into some trouble, but they've been given a chance to complete a civil citation program through the BSO and clean their record.

"It's a 45 to 60-day program where there is no record," Maines said.

Part of that program is therapy.

"Through a simple grooming exercise, we can see what's going on, what they're not talking about.  It could be physical abuse or sexual abuse but it starts coming right out when they start working with the horses," Maines explained.

Through working with the horses the kids learn trust. Once that trust is established, Don can start to teach, and even find out why these kids acted out in the first place.

"They don't like who they are when they don't fit in. Whatever it might be. But with working with the horses, they get to find out who they are," Maines said.

For more information on the program, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Outpouring of Support for Humane Society After Vandalism]]> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 08:31:26 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/080615+humane+society.jpg

Members of the community are helping the Humane Society of Greater Miami get its wheels back, one day after someone vandalized its vans.

Mechanics were hard at work on Thursday donating labor and supplies to the nonprofit helping animals in need.

"Once we heard about this terrible act of vandalism, we said come on over, we'll take care of you," said Prosper Mamane with AAA Auto Services.

Mamane said he felt like this was the right thing to do. His company helped get the humane society back up and running, after crooks crippled the organization's means of transportation.

"Interstate Batteries came in and they donated all the batteries and we donated the labor and we were able to get the job done," Mamane explained.

Numerous acts of kindness poured in after those victimized said this act of destruction cut them off at the knees.

Cameras were rolling early Wednesday morning when the crooks broke into eight of the humane society's nine vans in the shelter's parking lot along West Dixie Highway in North Miami Beach.

They ripped out eight batteries, vandalized their vehicles and left them with only one operating van.

But then, the community came forward in an overwhelming way, with many businesses working together.

"Dolphin Towing. They donated their services to get all the trucks to AAA Services," Laurie Hoffman with the humane society said.

With only one truck in working condition, the organization was limited in many services, including taking animals to hospitals for emergency care.

Then, from sadness to happiness. What a difference a day makes.

"We thank NBC. We thank the viewers and we thank everybody who donated their time, services and money," Hoffman expressed.

If you have any information about the vandalism, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets - August 6, 2015]]> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 09:05:49 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/JT+535663.jpg Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets - August 6, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Tortoise Reunited With Owner in Miramar]]> Wed, 05 Aug 2015 20:25:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000019416772_1200x675_499239491558.jpg 18-year-old Zulu, a 70-pound tortoise, was reunited with its owner on Wednesday after escaping its enclosure in Miramar.]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society Vehicle Vandalism Caught on Camera]]> Wed, 05 Aug 2015 23:43:03 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/080515+humane+society+of+greater+miami+vandalized+vehicle.jpg

Police are investigating after eight vehicles belonging to the Humane Society of Greater Miami were vandalized early Wednesday in North Miami Beach.

Officials with the organization said the vehicles were parked in the shelter's parking lot and an adjacent parking lot when they were vandalized around 1 a.m.

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

The vehicles are used to transport animals to hospitals for emergency care, take animals to Pet Supermarket for adoption, and to bring food and pet supplies to the shelter.

The organization has nine vehicles, so the vandalism is preventing them from performing their normal operations, officials said.

"We are utterly devastated about what has happened," executive director Laurie Hoffman said. "We cannot understand why somebody would destroy property that is not theirs, especially when the property is used to help the lives of animals in need daily."

Police were reviewing surveillance footage to try to solve the crime.

In the meantime, the organization is seeking donations and is asking anyone who can contribute to visit www.humanesocietymiami.org or call 305-749-1816.

The Humane Society of Greater Miami will be participating in Clear The Shelters on Aug. 15.  For more information, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Fort Lauderdale Firefighter Rescues Kitten from Vent]]> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 20:42:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/080415+kitten+rescue.jpg

It was a happy ending for a baby kitten in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday.

The kitten became stuck in a bathroom vent shaft.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue responded to the building and Firefighter Eric Fillyaw went up into the attic and was able to rescue the kitten.

Fillyaw then brought the kitten to the Broward County Animal Care & Adoption Center.

Now, the animal is in need of a foster home until it's old enough to be adopted. If you're interested in fostering the kitten, contact the Broward County Adoption Center at (954) 359-1313.

Photo Credit: Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 09:04:14 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/168*120/Frank+A1709558.JPG Check out the adorable pets up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[Picking the Perfect Shelter Pet (Part One)]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:36:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/kupkee+clear+the+shelters+073115.jpg

If you’re heading to a shelter on August 15th to adopt a pet on #ClearTheShelters Day, you still have time to do your homework and get your ducks in a row. If you’re still coming around to the idea, here are some things to consider before bringing home a furry friend. Please take the time to make sure your lifestyle is conducive to responsible pet ownership.

Walking into a shelter for the first time can be overwhelming. Decisions that were made during the family meeting can easily fall by the wayside. Write down all of the decisions that were made at home, and bring the list with you to the shelter. If your children are old enough to read, give them copies of the list as well. They may need to be gently reminded that Grandma is allergic to cats, or that a high drive Norwegian Elkhound won’t be happy in a two-bedroom townhouse. While having the kids in tow might make the visit a bit more complicated, you need to be certain that your new pet is comfortable with your kids. We’ll talk more about that later, but for now, plan on bringing the kids along - even the little ones.

Choosing The Right Dog

Cat people, bear with me; there’s a very special article in the pipeline that’s just for you! But since dogs are more likely to be returned to a shelter as a result of a pet/household mismatch, we’re going to start with Fido.

When you get to the shelter, do a walk through of the kennels, checking out every dog that meets your criteria. Familiarize yourself with the basics of canine body language, and try to figure out what a possible contender is “saying”. A dog that is hiding in the corner, looking away, showing the whites of her eyes, standing with one foot raised, or tucking her tail between her legs, may be feeling anxious or fearful.

In any other setting, this would be a red flag - especially where children are concerned. But it’s important to remember that shelters can be scary, overwhelming places for dogs. That frightened looking dog may have just been surrendered by the only owner she has ever known. Perhaps she was found in the streets the day before. We have to cut shelter dogs a certain degree of slack. Ask the shelter’s staff and volunteers for any information they may have about a particular dog. See if you can meet with her in a separate space, away from the noise and chaos. You may find that she comes out of her shell in a less hectic environment.

A dog who is friendly should be willing to come up to the kennel to greet you and sniff you. She should be equally happy to see your kids. If she’s more interested in the kids than she is in you, even better! Look for a dog whose body is wiggly, loose, and has lots of curves when she moves. We often tell kids that a friendly dog’s body should move like a cooked noodle or a piece of spaghetti. A dog that “play bows” by lowering her front paws and upper body, while sticking her back end in the air, really wants to play. Lolling tongues and goofy smiles are good signs as well. If a potential pet seems a bit too excitable, again, cut her a little slack. Shelters are often too understaffed to give their residents the exercise and human interaction they so desperately crave. Start walking away, and see if she calms down; if she does, that’s a great sign. If she doesn’t, don’t give up on her.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, ask the shelter staff if you can take her for a walk and get to know her one on one. This is the best opportunity for spotting potential problems, and for assessing a potential pet’s drive, or energy level.

Potential Problems

If you’re assessing a dog that seems shy or fearful, see if she relaxes when she is outside the kennel environment. The tail should be straight out or slightly lowered, not between the legs. If she looks around quickly and nervously, licks her lips when there is no food present, yawns (she should not be sleepy in this setting), or looks away from you, she may be fearful by nature. See if she cringes when you pet her. If she allows you to pet her, then immediately shakes her whole body, she is literally trying to shake off the stressful experience of being touched. This dog is not a lost cause, but make no mistake - she will need some work. It will take time, patience, persistence, and professional assistance to help her gain some confidence. Ask yourself if you’re willing to make this commitment, and be honest. If you have young children, this dog is not a good choice for you. Many normal childhood behaviors such as chasing, screaming, hugging, and kissing can be downright terrifying to a fearful or anxious dog. And frightened dogs are very likely to bite. Keep looking.

If you choose a dog with a stiff body posture whose tail is straight in the air, you have probably chosen poorly. Ditto for the dog who stares intently, especially at your children. Don’t even take this dog out of the kennel. Unless you have extensive experience in rehabilitating dogs, and do not have children or other pets in your life, don’t even think about it. She wasn’t born aggressive. Humans made her what she is. It’s not her fault she’s aggressive, but she’s aggressive just the same. Unless you are highly trained and uniquely qualified, she is not the dog you want.

Now about Miss Hyper Hound. This one requires more of a judgement call. As I’ve stated before, we need to cut shelter dogs a bit of slack. A dog that is overly bouncy and excited, may just be suffering from a lack of exercise and interaction. She may display behaviors such as leash pulling, jumping on people, and play biting. I am not a professional trainer, and I may get backlash from people who are, but these behaviors really don’t bother me. Don’t get me wrong - they’re obnoxious and they need to be fixed. But they’re fixable, and they’re easy to fix. Remember, a shelter dog is a bargain! Take some of the money you would have spent at the vet’s office and hire a trainer to help you. If on the other hand, Miss Hyper Hound is too big for you to safely control, bulldozes your children, or if you simply cannot get her attention at all, she may not be a good fit. If you think she’s the one, be ready to spend a considerable amount of time getting her caught up on basic manners, and giving her a lot of exercise.

Regardless of what type of dog you adopt, it’s always a good idea to invest in some training as a way of setting behavioral expectations. Two of our favorite trainers, Applause your Paws in Miami, and K9 Advisors in Broward, are offering discounts to families who adopt on August 15th.

Assessing Drive

When I talk about drive in this context, I’m referring to the dog’s general levels of both physical and mental energy. I’m also referencing the dog’s endurance levels. A medium drive dog likes to run, swim, fetch, play, and blow off steam. A high drive dog needs to run, swim, fetch, play, and blow off steam! This dog will want to keep going long after you’ve called it quits. Additionally, mindless calorie burning may not be enough for this dog. Many high drive dogs are also very intelligent, and they seem to have a need to do meaningful work, such as agility, scent work or trick training. Our younger dog Zohan is a high drive dog, but he’s small, so he tires quickly. While we enjoy the challenge of a high drive dog, if he weighed 60 pounds, he would be way too much dog for us. Any large dog that lived in our home would have to be a low drive couch potato in order to mesh with our lifestyle.

A quick and easy way to assess a dog’s drive is to see how she reacts to a brightly colored squeaky toy. Don’t do this in the presence of other dogs as it’s bound to start a commotion. If she’s more interested in you than she is in the toy, you’ve likely found a low drive, lovable marshmallow. Unless you’re looking for a cycling partner, or the next agility champion, she’s a keeper. And if you don’t adopt her, I just might! This type of dog is perfect for first time dog owners, or busy families who don’t have a lot of time to devote to training or rigorous exercise. These dogs ask for nothing more than the privilege of sitting at your feet.

A medium drive dog will be interested in the toy, and may shift into play mode while the toy is visible. She will likely become more animated and bouncy, and that’s fine. Once the toy has her attention, put it away. Place it in your purse, or tuck it under your shirt, but don’t make a big deal over it and look away from the dog. If after a few minutes she has settled down, refocused on you (or your kids), and seems to have forgotten about the toy, she too is a keeper. This is likely a medium drive dog. These dogs will play hard, but they power down quickly, making them a perfect choice for active individuals and families with children. They need exercise and playtime, but they don’t need to feel like they’re building rockets. And if it’s too rainy to go for a walk, a family evening with NetFlix will suit them just fine.

If you’re assessing a high drive dog, she will not just want to find the toy. She will need to find the toy! Five minutes after the toy disappears, she will not be looking at you. It’s all about the toy. It was right there. She saw it. She knows it’s there somewhere. It is now her mission in life to find the toy. You may see that her level of activity increases with each failed attempt to find the toy. This dog will need a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep her happy and mentally balanced. As the owner of a high drive dog, I’ll be the first to tell you that they are a lot of fun. But they need to work whether we feel like working with them or not. Running around in the yard with the kids is not enough for these dogs - in fact, their intensity can actually be frightening for young kids. If you’re physically active and your schedule is flexible, you may have found the perfect dog. But if your plate is already full, a high drive dog, especially a large one, is probably not a good fit.

If all of this sounds daunting, consider hiring a Certified Professional Dog Trainer to accompany you to the shelter. These experts do a great job of spotting traits that a novice might overlook. They can be an invaluable tool in helping you to make the best choice.

One Last Consideration

You’ve got a lot to think about, but when you’re looking for a four-legged soulmate, there’s one more question you need to ask.

Do you love her?

The dog you go home with will be your dog for the rest of her natural life. That’s a 12 to 15 year commitment. Your reward is a place at the center of a grateful heart whose only desire is to please you. So choose wisely, but listen to your heart as well. Chances are, you’ll know when you’ve found the one!

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Photo Credit: Sabal Chase Animal Clinic]]>
<![CDATA[Featured Pet: Bear]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:59:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/bear+featured+pet+080215.PNG

Our featured pet is Bear, a 3-year-old shepherd/chow mix from Pooches in Pines.

Bear is a laid-back guy with a sweet disposition. He absolutely adores people, and really  loves a good belly rub. Bear is playful, but needs a bit of training.

Pooches in Pines is helping Bear find his forever home. His adoption includes vaccinations, neutering and microchipping. For more information on how to adopt Bear or any other animal, visit the Pooches in Pines website or on their Facebook page.

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

<![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Hailey]]> Sat, 01 Aug 2015 13:20:21 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/potw+hailey+080115.PNG

Our pet of the week is Hailey, a 3-month-old American Bulldog puppy from the Humane Society of Greater Miami.

Hailey is a very sweet puppy. Her siblings have already been adopted, so she hopes she is next to find a forever home. Hailey still has a lot of growing to do, and could weigh as much as 80 pounds when she is full-grown.

All adoptions include spay or neuter surgery, vaccinations and microchipping. For more information on how to adopt Hailey or any other animal, call 305-696-0800 or visit the Humane Society's website

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