<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - ]]> Copyright 2016 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 Sat, 06 Feb 2016 10:43:57 -0500 Sat, 06 Feb 2016 10:43:57 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sea Lion Pup Found Sleeping in San Diego Restaurant Booth]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:10:51 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Seal-Pup-Marine-Room-8-Guillas.jpg

Tiny sea lion, party of one. A 20-pound sea lion pup was found sleeping in a booth at a popular seaside restaurant in San Diego, likely searching for a cozy nook and, fittingly, a bite to eat.

SeaWorld San Diego’s Rescue Team was called to The Marine Room restaurant on Spindrift Drive in La Jolla Thursday after staffers found the young sea lion curled up in a booth in the dining room, sleeping.

Somehow, the pup got into the dining hotspot and made his way into a booth with a scenic view of the beach below. Management wasn’t sure how the sea lion snuck in, but it appears he spent the night inside the restaurant.

The Marine Room's executive chef, Bernard Guillas, shared some photos of the whiskered patron on his Facebook page. In one of the images, also seen in the gallery below, the sea lion looks as if she's longingly staring at the sea below the restaurant.

As of Friday morning, Guillas' post had been shared more than 1,600 times on Facebook and had nearly 3,700 "likes."

SeaWorld rescuers were able to safely corral the 8-month-old California sea lion and take her to their Animal Rescue Center. There, caregivers determined the pup was extremely malnourished and dehydrated.

Jody Westberg, a SeaWorld Rescue Team member, said her team considers the sea lion a “micropup” due to her small size and low weight.

“She weighs 20 pounds, but should be about 40 to 50 pounds out in the wild,” Westberg explained.

She said SeaWorld San Diego has been handling many unusual sea lion rescues lately in part due to recent El Niño weather conditions.

“Southern California, and specifically San Diego County, has been having very high tides and very low tides, and also a lot of stormy weather. These pups are looking for high ground and warm areas for the night,” she said.

Westberg said the El Niño event also appears to be impacting food sources for some sea lions in California.

“Not only are they looking for high ground – they’re also searching for food,” she added.

She said an ongoing “unusual mortality event” is also heavily affecting the California sea lion population throughout the state. Because sea lions are having a hard time finding food sources, many wind up emaciated. The fish they typically eat in the wild keep the animals hydrated but without fish to eat, dehydration is common.

At SeaWorld San Diego’s Animal Rescue Center, the tiny pup was given fluids to rehydrate.
Animal experts were also keeping a close watch on the pup’s left eye, which remained shut and had some drainage coming out of it.

With proper care and nutrition, Westberg said the rescue team is “cautiously optimistic” the pup will be nursed back to health and eventually returned to the wild.

Over the past 52 years, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued more than 16,000 sea lions. So far in 2016, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued 47 marine mammals, including 40 sea lions, six harbor seals and one Guadalupe fur seal. In 2015, SeaWorld rescued a total of 990 California sea lions.

If you spot a sea lion or other animal that appears to be ill, injured or abandoned, you can call SeaWorld’s Rescue Hotline at (800) 541-SEAL.

On Jan. 21, another sea lion was rescued in La Jolla. That pup had climbed 145 steps to get inside The Cave Store, a shop that acts as the entrance to a manmade tunnel which delves down the cliffside and into the Sunny Jim Sea Cave.

Photo Credit: Bernard Guillas/Facebook
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<![CDATA[Owning a Kinkajou: Is it for You?]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:13:54 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/020416+kinkajou.jpg

Kinkajous have been all the rage ever since a South Florida woman woke up with one on her chest last week. And although the creatures are cuddly and cute, they can be quite a bit of work.

But let's back up. What exactly is a kinkajou?

"They are mammals belonging to the raccoon family," said Lauren Elizabeth, an exotic animal caretaker at Fowl Mouth Farm. "They're native to Mexico, Central America and parts of northern South America."

If you want to own one of these cute creatures, you need a "no-cost personal pet permit" from the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission. The permit is free, but you need to complete a questionnaire in order to obtain it. In addition to the permit, you will need a certified breeder.

"You would like to look for a USDA and Florida Wildlife licensed breeder," said Elizabeth. "It's a good idea to ask for the breeders' license number and to verify through the organizations that they are licensed, because it is a legal issue."

If you're still considering getting yourself a kinkajou, experts say you should know what you are getting yourself into. First, do a lot of research. Kinkajous are omnivores and are awake at night. Don Harris, a veterinarian, said, "You better be a night owl. Because this is a nocturnal animal, non-negotiable."

And although cute, these animals can be pretty slick, as they have tendencies to open things that aren't carefully closed.

"They can figure out things and they're fairly smart," Harris said.

One owner said despite the tedious process of getting the kinkajou and it being nocturnal, it's totally worth it.

"What is there not to love about this little ball of fur? She's sweet, most of the time," said Shayna Lee. "She's hilarious, she cracks me up."

Lee said it's an animal that requires a lot of research, knowledge, time, attention and most of all: money. But if you take the right steps, you can safely and responsibly care for one of these adorable animals.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:44:41 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/Cherie+NBC6+Sizing+and+Naming+Template_Ellie.jpg There are lots of animals up for adoption at the Broward Humane Society!]]> <![CDATA[Here Comes the Bride and Groom and …Puppies]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 16:30:22 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/195*120/Bride+and+dogs.jpg

The Humane Society of Broward County recently delivered their first “Snuggle Delivery” to a wedding reception.  Adorable puppies and a handful of adult dogs enjoying frolicking with  guests during the reception for Nina and Andrew Jungman’s wedding which was held in January.  The couple are huge animal lovers and when they learned about the HSBC’s “Snuggle Delivery” program on the shelter’s Facebook page…they knew they wanted to incorporate it into their special day.

According to Nina, “We are so filled with gratitude for the HSBC doing this for us. Other than being officially hitched, having the pups at our reception was what we were looking forward to the most! It filled our animal-lover hearts and it gave us a special bond with our guests who welcomed new family members on our special day! We have summer adventures planned with Violet, the Jack Russel mix, once she finishes her heart worm treatment; and Pumpkin, the baby, is growing up with my husband's little cousins and I cannot adequately express how happy that makes us!  Every time that  I see a picture of the pups that were adopted, I go back to the moment when I first saw them- the moment right after I married my best friend, all while supporting the work that you guys do- seriously, it cannot get more perfect than that!” A total of three dogs found their forever homes at the wedding reception.

Not everyone can reap the benefits of snuggling with puppies and kittens like the staff and volunteers do at the Humane Society of Broward County, so we came up with the idea to bring adoptable puppies and kittens to your office, work place and now weddings. For a minimum donation of $500 to the HSBC you can schedule a “Snuggle Delivery” on Fridays for businesses located in Broward County.  (For weddings the day is flexible).  Proceeds from this service will benefit the homeless animals at the shelter by providing vaccinations; spay/neuter surgeries and more.

So if you want to reduce your stress, socialize pets and help the Humane Society of Broward County all at the same time, schedule your “Snuggle Delivery” today.  For details visit www.humanebroward.com/snuggles or call 954.266.6824 (They ask that you list a few dates that you’re available as our availability of puppies and kittens is never guaranteed.) 


<![CDATA[Hot Car Rescuers Protected Under New Bill]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 14:00:52 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/a0164-000003.jpg

The Florida legislature has approved a bill giving legal protection to Good Samaritans who break into hot cars to rescue children or pets, according to NBC affiliate WESH.

The bill – passed Thursday, Jan. 28, with the approval of the Florida Senate — prevents car owners from suing if a passerby sees a child or animal inside and smashes the vehicle's window.

As a condition of the bill, rescuers must 911 as soon as they break into the car and stay at the scene until authorities arrive, WESH reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zoo Miami Elephant Enjoys Bath]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 04:49:55 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/181*120/Zoo+Miami+Elephant+bathing+1.jpg Ron Magill, Communications Director at Zoo Miami, captured images of "Peggy," the zoo's 40-year-old African elephant, enjoying a bath in her pool Wednesday morning!

Photo Credit: Ron Magill]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 04:48:13 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Jackson+A1757327.JPG Check out the furry friends available for adoption at Miami-Dade Animal Services.]]> <![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:57:01 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/Buddy0128.jpg Check out the furry friends available for adoption at the Broward Humane Society.]]> <![CDATA[Banana the Kinkajou]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 17:12:13 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/012616+kinkajou+in+miami+home.jpg An exotic pet that terrified an elderly Miami woman when it entered her house uninvited and curled up on her chest Tuesday night is back home with its owner.

Photo Credit: South Dade Animal Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[Kinkajou Who Terrified Elderly Miami Woman Goes Home]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 04:52:41 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/212*120/012716+kinkajou+goes+home.JPG

An exotic pet that terrified an elderly Miami woman when it entered her house uninvited and curled up on her chest Tuesday night is back home with its owner.

"I can't believe it. I thought she was lost forever," said Raymond Fernandez, owner. "I'm glad she's okay."

The 99-year-old woman woke up to find a highly unusual animal snoozing on her chest. Veterinarians later confirmed the animal was a kinkajou, usually found in the rainforests of Central and South America.

At 2 a.m., the terrified woman called her son-in-law who came over immediately and found the animal in the attic. He was able to lure the kinkajou out with food and brought it to veterinarian Dr. Don J. Harris, who works for the South Dade Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center. Dr. Harris knew the animal had to belong to someone.

"No undomesticated wild animal like this would curl up on a woman's chest to go to sleep," Dr. Harris explained.

The animal, whose name is Banana, was being cared for at South Dade Animal Hospital, where the medical center operates. Banana, who was on the run for more than a week, was reunited with its owner Wednesday morning.

However, it appears Banana had caught the attention of other people in the same area, days before she was found inside the elderly woman's home.

"I saw it in the bushes, kind of looking at me, and I saw a tail and we're like, 'What is that?' We called it over and it was kind of playful," said Arthur Guisasola, who spotted Banana last week but said it was too late in the evening to call animal services. "That should be home and taken care of at all times because it can cause a shock to everyone."

Kinkajous typically spend most of their time in trees. They have the ability to turn their feet backwards to run easily in either direction, along branches or up tree trunks. Kinkajous also often hang from their tails. According to National Geographic, they are sometimes called "honey bears" because they raid bees' nests by slurping honey from the hive.

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[99-Year-Old Woman Wakes Up With Exotic Animal on Chest]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:28:19 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/012616+kinkajou+in+miami+home.jpg

A 99-year-old woman in Miami said she woke up to find an animal on her chest, according to a veterinarian caring for the unusual creature.

"I was awaken by a phone call at 2 a.m., which is never good news, and it was from my terrified mother-in-law," said Carlos Aguaras.

Aguaras said he rushed over, and found the animal that had terrified his mother-in-law. The only other person in the home at the time was her live-in caregiver.

It was a kinkajou, an animal usually found in the rainforests of Central and South America, said Veterinarian Dr. Don J. Harris, who works for the South Dade Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center.

Aguaras said the animal was in the attic when he arrived, and they lured it out with food. They got it inside a cage and brought it to Dr. Harris, who said he knew the animal belonged to someone.

"No undomesticated wild animal like this would curl up on a woman's chest to go to sleep," Dr. Harris explained.

The animal, whose name is Banana, was being cared for at South Dade Animal Hospital, where the medical center operates, but will be reunited with its owner Wednesday morning.

There's no word on how the animal got loose, but the woman's family has a message for the owners. "Put it in the hands of the experts, but it's not intended to be a pet in a home," Aguaras said.

Kinkajous typically spend most of their time in trees. They have the ability to turn their feet backwards to run easily in either direction, along branches or up tree trunks. Kinkajous also often hang from their tails. According to National Geographic, they are sometimes called "honey bears" because they raid bees' nests by slurping honey from the hive.

Photo Credit: South Dade Animal Hospital
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<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 10:26:39 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Reema+A1593512.JPG Check out the animals up for adoption at Miami-Dade Animal Services.]]> <![CDATA[Last Chance Dogs at Broward Animal Care]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 11:12:47 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Lola-A1786468+%284%29.JPG Last Chance Dogs at Broward Animal Care]]> <![CDATA[Pony Pursuit in Coral Springs]]> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 18:50:33 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000021902232_1200x675_608622659798.jpg There is proof that Coral Springs Police go above and beyond the call of duty, especially when it comes to four-legged friends.]]> <![CDATA['Lazy' Dog Joins Half Marathon, Finishes 7th]]> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 15:12:58 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Ludivine-DSC_0500.jpg

What started as a typical tough half-marathon ended as anything but when a bloodhound joined the race and snagged a seventh-place finish.

According to Runner's World, Ludivine the hound slipped away from her backyard the morning of Jan. 16 and found her way to the starting line of the Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon in the sleepy town of Elkmont, Alabama.

"All I did was open the door, and she ran the race on her own accord," Ludivine's owner, April Hamlin, told Runner's World.

Keith Henry, 38, who won the race, said he spotted Ludivine sniffing around while he was warming up. The hound followed him through town the starting line, then ran neck and neck with Henry and another contender for two or three miles.

"She would cut in front of us; I thought we were going to trip over her," Henry recalled.

Eight miles in, Ludivine — distracted — fell into fourth place, according to Gregg Gelmis of WeRunHuntsville, a running club in Huntsville, Alabama, to which Henry belongs.

Tim Horvath, also a member of the running club, said he first met Ludivine in the parking lot before the race. She wandered off and later rejoined him, weaving in and out of the course as she encountered roadkill and other animals.

"She still loosely followed never getting more than probably 50 or 75 yards away at the most," Horvath said in an email to NBC. "Sometimes she was behind me, but  more often in front or to the side of me. But always nearby."

One quick dip in the creek and two pit stops later, Ludivine kept pace with Horvath as they neared the end of the course. Horvath, who came in sixth, said he "got just a few seconds ahead of her" as he sprinted to the finish line.

Ludivine took seventh place, with a time of 1:32:56, according to Runner's World. 

"I think she probably averaged seven minutes per mile," said Henry, impressed by the hound's ability to finish the tricky 13.1-mile trek. 

Ludivine's owner, too, was surprised by the pup's performance. She tweeted a photo of Ludivine wearing a marathon medal around her neck.

"She’s laid back and friendly, so I can’t believe she ran the whole half marathon because she’s actually really lazy," Hamlin told Runner's World.

Ludivine may very well have earned a place in Elkmont history. This year's race was the first, and the next could be named in her honor.

"Rumor has it, next year's race will be called the Hounddog Half, with a special award going to 7th place," Gelmis posted on the WeRunHuntsville website.

Henry, who ran six-minute miles and finished in 1:19:10, said he may have taken the title, but Ludivine was the MVP.

"I won that race, but it seems like Ludivine was the real winner," he joked.

Photo Credit: WeRunHuntsville/G. Gelmis and J. Armstrong
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<![CDATA[Cops Pay $40 for Escaped Goat: NYPD]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 16:00:20 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Goat-Escapee-NYPD-0122.jpg

A couple of NYPD cops paid $40 of their own money to bail out a goat that escaped a slaughterhouse earlier this week, taking the gruff former fugitive to a Long Island sanctuary.

Cops from the 103rd precinct's anti-crime unit caught the baby goat that escaped the slaughterhouse at Merrick Avenue and 180th Street in Jamaica, Queens, according to the NYPD.

But when they rustled the escaped kid, the cops decided they couldn't force it to go back. So they decided to pay the slaughterhouse $40 for the animal's freedom. 

Afterward, the animal, nicknamed "Merrick," got a ride in the back of a police SUV for a short time before being taken to a sanctuary in Suffolk County.

Sgt. Mary Humberg, one of the cops who rescued the animal, told DNAinfo that Merrick "deserved his freedom."

“He fought crime with us,” Humburg said. "Best $40 I've spent.

The goat wasn't the only hoofed escapee in Queens this week. A cow set to be slaughtered Friday busted out and led cops on a chase through the neighborhood on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: NYPD / Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Paunchy Pet? Trade In Those Treats!]]> Sun, 24 Jan 2016 10:55:44 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Hungry+Doxie.JPG

Mmmmmmmm…..look at all that yummy, fatty goodness!  We Americans love this stuff.  You know who else loves it? Your pet.
I know what you’re thinking. “How dare he? I would never give that to my pet!”
Breaking news: in a manner of speaking, it’s likely you already do.
If you’ve been following this series, you know by now that over half of America’s pets are either overweight or obese. What’s more, nearly all of their owners incorrectly identify their pet’s body condition as “normal.”  
Whenever I suggest a diet change, one of the first questions I tend to hear is, “But what about her treats?” 
Treats are very important to pet owners.  Indeed, they are important to pets too, but not for reasons you might think. In fact, when I sat down to write this article, I began with the title “Trash Those Treats!”  While it’s catchy enough, I was fairly certain that nobody would read it.  We simply do not want to hear it. Truth be told, neither do I.  That’s because when it comes to training and behavior modification, I’m a huge fan of food rewards. We use them in our clinic to redirect the attention of frightened cats, and to teach anxious dogs to associate us with more than just needles.  When used mindfully, and in tiny portions, food rewards are a godsend.  It’s the size, frequency, and pointlessness of treating that is contributing to America’s pet obesity problem.
Many pet owners fall into the habit of doling out commercial pet treats just because.  Worse yet, we give them because our pets demand them.  And those little tidbits and leftovers from the table? They’re okay right? After all, it’s the same food we eat.  But bear this in mind: a human requires roughly 2,300 calories per day.  Naturally, this number fluctuates wildly when you factor in age, gender, muscle mass, activity levels, etc., but bear with me. 
My little dachshund, Grendel, requires less than 200 calories per day.  So a single, 17-calorie commercial dog treat provides her with 11.7% of her body’s caloric needs.  And the 45-calorie treats that she really likes account for nearly one quarter of her body’s needs!  Many of my patients are about her size, and most of them get these same sized treats.  Worse yet, most of them get several of said treats. Every. Single. Day. 
Dr. Ernie Ward is the founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, and author of the book “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter - A Vet’s Plan To Save Their Lives”  In his book, Dr. Ward reveals the calorie content of some of the most popular commercial dog treats, and details what a human would have to eat to acheive the caloric equivalent.  I’m not going to drop names or single out brands, because frankly, I don’t want to get sued! If you want to know if Fluffy’s favorite treat is on what I’ve dubbed “the OMG list”, you’ll have to buy the book.  Kidding aside, it’s the best book I’ve read on the subject and I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Here are just a few of Dr. Ward’s findings:
For a 10-pound dog
A single, popular bone bone-shaped treat is the caloric equivalent of a human eating TWO chocolate iced glazed doughnuts.
One chewy, bacon-style treat equals you eating a popular fast food cheeseburger.
One “teeny” edible dental health chew is the equivalent of TWO 12-ounce colas for you.
For a 20-pound dog:

One popular dental health chew treat is the same as you drinking THREE 16-ounce, fast food, chocolate milk shakes.

Another “light” variety of dental health treat equals us eating a fast food hot fudge sundae.

For a 40-pound dog:

One peanut butter and apple flavored treat is the equivalent of a large order of fast food french fries for you.

For a 60-pound dog:

One large “wholesome” treat is like you eating FOUR fast food fried chicken breasts.


Perhaps by now you’re thinking the solution to treating sensibly is to substitute “people food” for commercial pet treats.  HIll’s Pet Nutrition collected some interesting data as well.  Let’s see what they discovered about sharing our food with our cats:

For a 10-pound cat:

A single potato chip is the caloric equivalent of half of a hamburger for you. And seriously, who eats just one potato chip?!

My generation was taught that a saucer of milk (8 ounces) was the ultimate way to show Kitty how much she was loved.  This is the equivalent of you eating FIVE king-sized milk chocolate bars! That’s a lotta love.

Ready for a few more fun facts from Dr. Ward?

For a 40-pound dog:

Just half of a beef hot dog is equal to you eating an 8-ounce T-bone steak.

For an 80-pound dog:

A scrambled, Grade A large egg is the caloric equivalent of a slice of French toast with butter for you.

Let’s face it - most of the foods we eat are far more calorically dense than we realize.  When we factor in our pet’s vastly different nutritional needs, and combine it with their natural instinct to preserve energy, it’s easy to see how those empty calories add up.  That being said, I am routinely reminded that to pet parents, treating is important. Besides, I’m not a total killjoy! So let’s talk about how to give treats mindfully.

My Dogs Get Treats

Like I said, I’m not a total killjoy.  And there are many times when treats can be your friend.  Small food rewards are great motivational tools for teaching new, fun behaviors.  Such behaviors can alleviate one of the most common causes of begging and overeating - boredom.  If the behaviors you teach also burn calories, even better.  We use treats to teach Zohan how to perform tricks, and  Grendel how to track scents.  But as I’ve mentioned before, each treat is about half the size of a pencil eraser.  Crunchy treats are placed in sealed bags and mercilessly crushed into tiny pieces. Remember, it’s not the treat, it’s the treat event.  Accompany each food reward with lots of praise.  By doing so, you can cut back on the number of rewards given, until your praise is the only reward they seek.

While treats are allowed at Casa Kupkee, they come with strings attached.  Our dogs must earn them.  This might mean running through their repertoire of learned behaviors, or it might just be holding still for a nail trim or an ear cleaning. They never get treats by demanding them, and if you are a new pet owner, I strongly advise you to nip this behavior in the bud.  It gets annoying quickly, and it is simply too tempting to toss your pet a high-calorie treat just to shut her up.  This rewards the behavior, and a rewarded behavior is a repeated behavior. Don’t give it a chance to take root.  It nearly always leads to frazzled owners and fat pets.

If “people food” is is your treat of choice, there are plenty of healthy options there as well.  With some exceptions, small pieces of fruit can be safely enjoyed by our pets. Never give grapes or raisins, or anything containing pits or seeds. That being said, the flesh from these fruits is fine. Apples, bananas, blueberries and pineapple chunks seem to be popular choices.  Again, remember to keep the portions small.  Unseasoned vegetables, either cooked or raw, can be given as well.  Never give veggies that have been flavored with butter, and avoid anything in the allium family.  This includes, but is not limited to, garlic, onions, chives, scallions, and leeks. 

Remember, some of Miami’s most popular go-to seasonings, sofrito and mojo, are loaded with onions and garlic, so do not give your pet anything flavored with these local favorites.  If only a “cookie” will do, try substituting plain rice cakes. Let me emphasize PLAIN! Nothing sweetened, salted, or flavored.  An entire rice cake consists of about 10 calories, and only a tiny morsel is needed.  They are always in season and cheaper than dirt.  A client recently quipped that this is because dirt is exactly what they taste like.

Fair enough, but guess what? Our pets don’t care! Let me say it one last time - it’s not the treat, it’s the treat event.  When I first met my wife, she had a boxer with thyroid disease, a condition that made weight management especially challenging. Max’s rice cake treat events were the highlights of his day, and only cost him about three or four calories per event.  I’ll talk about similar conditions in another article, as they often act as obstacles to weight loss. But these too are manageable. 

Just stay away from the fast food equivalent biscuits.

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 for special deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 viewers.

<![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Buddy]]> Sat, 23 Jan 2016 12:39:52 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/217*120/Untitled-1203.jpg

Our pet of the week is Buddy, a Hound mix, who is about 2-3 years of age and is looking for his forever home.

Tracy Calvino with Pooches in Pines stopped by NBC 6 on Saturday with Buddy. She said he is healthy. He loves to run and play.

Calvino said Buddy loves everyone, but isn't fond of other dogs or cats. He'll need to go to a home without other dogs. But, Buddy loves to be around people.

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

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

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 15:10:21 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/Sassy0120.jpg There are plenty of adorable animals up for adoption at the Broward Humane Society!]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 15:11:29 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Dana+A0737991.jpg Check out the animals up for adoption at Miami-Dade Animal Services.]]> <![CDATA[Group Rescues Baby Owls After Severe Weather]]> Mon, 18 Jan 2016 19:01:06 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/011816+baby+owl+rescued.jpg

A baby owl is now resting comfortably, thanks to some help from a Good Samaritan. It was left homeless after dangerous weather destroyed its home.

At just a few weeks old, the owl lost its native habitat on Sunday when storms hit South Florida. Two other owls were also found on the ground by a tree near Southwest 120th Street and 102nd Avenue.

"The tree had been split open, so there was no nest to put them back into. The parents had left, the nest was gone," said Lloyd Brown, Wildlife Rescue of Dade County.

Members of Wildlife Rescue of Dade County rescued the three birds to take care of them until they were old enough to go back into the wild.

"The first thing that we do when we receive an animal, especially if it's wet and it appears cold, is we take its temperature. That's the main thing, especially because they were babies," said Amanda Margraves, Wildlife Rescue of Dade County.

Although the team warmed them up in incubators, only one owl survived. One of the birds had to be euthanized because of a serious wing injury and the other passed away, possibly of internal injuries from the tree collapse.

"We'd like to see them all make it, but we're realistic. I've been doing this 22 years," Brown said.

The survivor is hand-fed mice and rats, but at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, it will eventually learn to prey, kill and eat on its own.

"They don't belong to us, they belong in the wild. We just take care of them," Brown explained.

The owl will stay at the center for 3-4 months and go through a three-step process. It starts off in a crate, then goes into a larger space and finally, will fly in an atrium area. Then it will be released in the wild.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[My Pet Is Always Hungry!]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 15:57:35 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/197*120/Dr+Kupkee+and+Grendel.jpg

If you’ve been following this particular series, you may remember some of the surprising facts uncovered by veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward. Dr. Ward is the founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, and his April 2015 study revealed that 90% of owners of overweight cats, and 95% of owners of overweight dogs incorrectly believed their pets did not have a weight problem. 
This so-called “fat pet gap” is likely due to the fact that more than half of America’s pets are overweight or obese.  With so many paunchy pets in our world, a new normal begins to develop.  In a previous article, I posted a picture of my dachshund Grendel, and asked my readers if they thought she was overweight or just perfect.  Only one person gently suggested she could stand to lose a little weight.  To everyone else, she was just perfect.  The correct answer? She’s a chunk. At 8.7 pounds, she is at her best when she weighs just under seven pounds. 


My friends and clients think I’m a very mean dog daddy.  And Grendel makes it a point of reinforcing that assumption.  She looks at them with those big brown eyes that seem to telepathically communicate the dire circumstances of her life.  She is starving. Cruelly. She needs a treat. And not one of those small dog sizes either.  She’ll take the bulldog-sized portion, please.  It’s hard to say no to those eyes.  They’re almost convincing.  But a glance at her waistline tells a vastly different story of her life.


“But she’s always hungry!”

I hear this objection every day, and not just with regards to Grendel.  Pets get overfed because they are forever begging for food.  Whether it’s additional kibble, a tidbit from the table, or those super awesome treats in the crinkly bag, many pets will do their best to convince us we are the only thing standing between them, and imminent death by starvation.  But are they really hungry?

One of the most memorable (and harrowing) surgeries of my career involved a miniature dachshund, and a five-pound bag of cat food.  The twelve-pound dog had eaten his way through four pounds of food before the owner came home and caught him.  Mind you, he was still eating! The stomach had expanded so dramatically, that he was struggling to breathe.  His heart rate was dangerously irregular. I had to surgically remove the food from his stomach to save his life. It was one of the riskiest procedures I have ever done.  I remember the owner asking me, “What the heck was he thinking after the first pound of food? How about the third? Was he seriously still hungry?!


No, he was not. Neither is Grendel, and more than likely, neither is your pet.  This is why it’s crucial to understand the difference between hunger and food drive.


Hunger vs. Food Drive

As I’ve mentioned previously in this series, dogs and cats descended from wild hunters who were  sometimes forced to go days, even weeks between kills.  Their every thought and action revolved around food.  This desire to seek out and obtain food, also known as food drive, was vital for their survival.  While our modern day house pets rarely miss meals, they have retained the instinct to eat as much as possible, whenever possible, as if they do not know for certain when they will eat again. 

To this day, they remain opportunistic feeders that will never pass up an opportunity to eat.  Their bodies still tell them to prepare for lean times that will never come by driving them to eat whenever they can, and obtaining food by whatever means they feel is necessary.   If whining leads to larger meals, they will whine.  It Grandma doles out treats, they will harass  Grandma.  If the kids throw them Cheerios, they will camp next to the high chair. Combine this with the natural instinct to conserve calories, rather than burn them, and you have a recipe for a portly pet.


High five for food drive!

If you have a food-driven pet, don’t despair.  In fact some behaviorists consider high food drive to be a good thing.  A pet with a high food drive may have other drives that we rarely notice because they are not as obvious (read, annoying!).  A food-driven dog may be just as content to catch a tennis ball, or go for a brisk walk.  Cats are natural hunters. A food-driven cat may enjoy “killing” a crinkly toy far more then she enjoys eating a treat.  Many pets will bug us for food simply because it forces us to interact with them. They don’t crave the treat nearly as much as they crave the treat event. 


To us, tossing Fluffy a potato chip is a mindless activity.  To them, it’s a very big deal, perhaps even the highlight of their day.  Which is a sad commentary on how they spend the day.  Like many of their human counterparts, pets will often seek out food to relieve boredom.  Teaching them some new and more interesting behaviors can eventually displace behaviors like begging and tearing open bags of cat food.  How do we do this? Well, ironically by using food.


A pet with a high food drive is saying “This is what motivates me.”  Armed with this knowledge, you can teach them in a way that helps them learn quickly. Old school trainers despise the use of food rewards, but to me the food is like currency.  If you tapped someone on the shoulder and they gave you a dollar, wouldn’t you be tempted to tap them on the shoulder again? Surely you would at least pay an unusual amount of attention to that person. I mean, they gave you a dollar. What if that scenario was repeated twenty times? You would probably never let that person out of your sight.  And that’s the point.  When using food to train a food-motivated pet, you become the center of their attention very quickly.  This, combined with their “currency” of choice, makes them almost ridiculously easy to train. 


That being said, I cannot in good conscience discuss food rewards without discussing the size of said rewards!  Remember it’s not the treat, it’s the treat event.  At Casa Kupkee, we use “training treats” that can be found at any pet store.  They are about the size of a pencil eraser - and we cut them in half. Each reward should be about the size of a Tic-Tac. If you are doing a lot of training, adjust the size of your pet’s meals, and make sure the behaviors you are teaching involve some kind of physical activity.  Once your pet has learned the behaviors, you can begin to cut back on the food rewards.  Your goal is to eliminate them completely. Your pet’s old currency of food, will be replaced with the new currency of fun behaviors, and praise from you.  A Certified Professional Dog Trainer can help you teach all sorts of behaviors that will lead to higher activity levels and better overall health.  Cat people, I’m talking to you too.  Your cat can do this. Really!


Back to Miss Grendel.  As you’ve probably gathered, her food drive is off the charts. While our other dog was a natural trick dog, Grendel...hmmmm, how can I say this nicely?....she didn’t get picked for the gifted class.  She’s adorable. And we love her to pieces.  But let’s just say trick training didn’t work out, and leave it at that. 


That being said, she is a scent hound to the core. One of her favorite activities is one we call the “find it game”.  We put her in a sit stay while we hide a heavily-scented, yet tiny treat somewhere in the house.  We then release her by saying “find it!”  Her nose hits the floor, and off she goes.  This game was easy to teach, as it takes advantage of both her food drive, and her natural instinct to track the reward using her nose.  The calories she burns seeking out the treat far outweigh whatever she ingests when she finds it.  It teaches her that treats are earned via working, not given to her simply because she demands them.  Most importantly, it’s fun.  And it’s healthier for us than sitting in front of the TV, or mindlessly scrolling through our news feeds.


Click here to watch a video of Grendel showing us exactly how it’s done.


She was a bit leaner when we shot the video, so we’re not making her work that hard.  But nowadays, we use all the space our house provides.  A word of caution, however - do not do this with more than one dog at a time.  This can create perceived competition for food, which is likely to lead to fighting.


Join us in starting the New Year with a renewed commitment to Fluffy’s health.  Learn how to use food drive to your advantage - and don’t let her convince you she’s starving!


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 for special deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 viewers.

<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Reaches 90% Save Rate]]> Sun, 17 Jan 2016 04:40:54 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Miami-dade+county+animal+services+Banner.jpg

Miami-Dade County Animal Services has reached their goal, achieving a 90 percent save rate for cats and dogs in 2015.

NBC 6's Clear the Shelters program is being credited for assisting Animal Services reach this goal and helping save the lives of shelter pets.

In 2012, Animal Services adopted a no kill policy and sheltered 28,000 to 30,000 unwanted cats and dogs.

Animal Service's save rate increased from 51 percent in 2011 to 90 percent in 2015.

The 2015 Clear the Shelters event resulted in 161 adoptions in just one day. On the same day a year earlier, 48 total pets were adopted.

"The awareness created by Clear the Shelters promotion has been invaluable to the increase of adoptions," Animal Services spokeswoman Lilian Bohorquez said.

For more information on how to adopt or get involved, visit www.miamidade.gov/animals/ or call 3-1-1.

<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: 90% Save Rate]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 15:15:57 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000021764509_1200x675_602591299552.jpg Miami-Dade Animal Services shares exciting news with Roxanne Vargas about reaching a 90% save rate at their shelter.]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Puppies to Participate in Puppy Bowl XII]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 08:57:28 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/011416+puppy+bowl+file.jpg

For the first time, puppies from Miami-Dade County Animal Services will participate in Puppy Bowl XII.

Animal Services is the only public shelter in Florida that will have puppies participating. The puppies were chosen based on their playfulness and unique personalities.

They include a Labrador/Chow mix named Star, a Cocker Spaniel named Luna, a Terrier mix named Timon and a Labrador mix named Donny. Star and Timon were the pups that made the starting lineup.

Animal Planet worked with 44 different animal shelters and rescue organizations from across the U.S. this year to fill the rosters of #TeamRuff and #TeamFluff with adoptable players.

The event will return to Animal Planet on Sunday, Feb. 7 from 3-5 p.m.

<![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 20:49:37 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/Marley0114.jpg Check out the adorable animals looking for a home in Broward County.]]> <![CDATA[Last Chance Dogs at Broward Animal Care]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 09:08:10 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/186*120/Spike+A1767089.jpg Last Chance Dogs at Broward Animal Care]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 19:02:36 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Bo+A1743989.JPG Check out the furry friends up for adoption in Miami-Dade.]]> <![CDATA[Pet of the Week: Lola]]> Sun, 10 Jan 2016 12:17:50 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/lola4.jpg

Our pet of the week is Lola. Lola is four-years-old and 58 pounds, who is looking for her forever home.

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

Lola would make a great family pet.

If you're interested in Lola 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[Keys Soldier Ride Features Chance to Interact With Dolphins]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 01:11:25 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/011016+soldiers+with+dolphins.jpg

Interacting with bottlenose dolphins in the Florida Keys provided a form of therapy for 38 wounded military personnel at a stop during the Soldier Ride cycling event that concluded Sunday in Key West.

Soldiers swam with the dolphins at Dolphin Research Center Friday afternoon, sharing dolphin kisses with the mammals as they "showed off" by mimicking movementsand giving flipper shakes and dorsal pulls.

For Palmdale, Calif., resident Rachael Rodgers, an injured active duty U.S. Army specialist who lost her left leg, this was her second consecutive Soldier Ride experience.

"Just by the interaction and getting time to spend with battle buddies and fellow veterans, it's awesome to see," Rodgers said.

Rodgers remarked about the dolphins' ability to provide almost custom therapy for participants whose injuries ranged from lost limbs to post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"I think the sensitivity is a big thing because they're [the dolphins] so perceptive of the injuries and people's swimming abilities," she said. "Especially for people with brand new injuries who aren't very comfortable in the water or are hurting."

Before the dolphin interaction experience Friday, participants pedaled across the Seven Mile Bridge, the longest span of 43 that help comprise the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Some riders, missing one or more limbs after combat injuries, used specially adapted bicycles to participate with their injured comrades.

The Wounded Warrior Project raises public awareness and support for the needs of severely injured members of the military involved in Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, provides rehabilitative opportunities and funds basic comfort items for wounded soldiers upon their return to the U.S.

The cross-country and bicycle trips raise money to help foster independence among those with catastrophic injuries, transport soldiers and their families between home and hospital and develop supportive peer-mentoring programs.

Story provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau

Photo Credit: Florida Keys News Bureau]]>
<![CDATA[My Pet Weighs How Much?]]> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 16:09:15 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Fat+pets.JPG

If a member of your family is a “round hound” or a “curvy kitty,” you are not alone. A study released in April 2015 by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention revealed that 58 percent of U.S. cats, and 53 percent of U.S. dogs were overweight in 2014.  If, however, you are genuinely surprised by your veterinarian’s suggesrion that Fluffy is, well ... not just “fluffy," you are definitely not alone. 


The results of the APOP survey are a pretty accurate reflection of what I see in my practice on a daily basis. Roughly half my patients are overweight, so the results of this latest survey did not surprise me. But the aspect of the survey that made my jaw drop was what APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward coined “the fat pet gap.” Simply put, 90 percent of owners of overweight cats, and 95 percent of owners of overweight dogs were unaware of the fact that their pets were overweight.

Let those numbers sink in for a minute. Ninety to ninety-five percent of pet owners surveyed incorrectly identified their pet’s size as “normal.” How does this happen? Let’s examine some of the most commonly heard objections to “the weight talk.

Oh please! You should see my mother’s cat! She’s HUGE!”

When more than half the pets we see are overweight, it causes a gradual change in our paradigm. Compared to the paunchy pets we see at the dog park, our own pets look downright svelte. While this may be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean our pets are as healthy as they should be. The opposite is true as well. It is not unusual for owners of lean, trim, muscular pets to ask me to reassure them that their pet is okay. This is usually because well-meaning loved ones - and sometimes even strangers! - are forever telling them their pet is too skinny! To be certain, a number of my patients are indeed underweight. But I can count their numbers just by using my fingers.

A quick and dirty way to assess your pet’s body condition is to look straight down at him while he is in a standing position. You should notice a slight curvature at the waist - inward, not outward! This is ideal. If there is no discernable curve, or if the curve looks more like a bulge, your pet needs to lose a few pounds. Another trick is to try to feel your pet’s ribs. If you can find them easily, he’s likely in pretty good shape. If you have to dig through squishy layers, or if you cannot feel them at all, it’s time to make some changes.

“But he runs around in the yard all day!”

Are you sure about that? The fact that your pet has access to a big yard or a big house is no guarantee that he uses it to burn up calories. On the contrary, their bodies tell them to do just the opposite. We may refer to them as our fur-kids or fur-babies, but the truth of the matter is that our pets are animals. An animal’s nature is to conserve energy, just in case the next antelope kill is a week or two away. Their bodies never quite got the memo that feedings occur on a regular basis. Since dogs in particular are social animals, running around a yard by themselves is not fun for them. Every dog is different, and some yards are really cool. But I’d be willing to bet a paycheck that your dog’s favorite outdoor activity is napping under a shade tree.

“These animals were bred to work.”

This was the response my wife received after informing a client that his 120lb Rottweiler did not require nine cups of food per day. He went on to give her an abbreviated history of the breed, explaining that they were designed to hunt bear, guard cattle by night, and move the herds by day. “Interesting,” she responded. “See, I’m Italian. My people built an empire and conquered the known world. We fought to the death and raced chariots just for fun! But I’m pretty sure if I ate like a Roman foot soldier, I’d look like a Pirelli tire, because I’ve personally never built an empire. And I’m pretty sure Trixie has never taken down a bear. There’s no need to feed her like a working dog unless she’s actually working.”

Much of the food that is regularly consumed by both humans and pets would be unrecognizable to our forebears. It’s very exciting to see marketing dollars being spent on cleaner, more wholesome foods. But the so-called “ancestral” approach to wellness involves more than just eating better foods. The ancient ancestors of both animals and humans were constantly burning calories as they hunted, gathered, travelled, and battled the elements. By all means, choose healthier foods, and avoid the processed garbage. But remember to look at the big picture when choosing a diet for your pet. This includes being realistic about how many calories he’s actually burning, and what kind of fuel he truly needs. Which brings me to the next most commonly expressed objection.

“But I’m feeding him one of the best foods on the market”

While there are still a lot of low-grade pet foods on the market, there is an increasing demand for high-protein, grain-free, gluten-free, high quality products as well. The pet food industry has heard us loud and clear, and is providing us with more choices than we’ve ever had before. However when it comes to nutrition,especially protein, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all formula. A diet that consists of 46 percent protein is a great choice for a Belgian Malinois working as a K9 police officer. A fifteen-year-old lap dog, however is likely to store all that excess fuel as fat. They may even find such a diet too difficult to digest. Your regular veterinarian can help you decide which of these higher quality foods is a good fit for your pet. Regardless of your pet’s energy output, it’s important to remember that a nutritionally dense diet does not have to be fed in large quantities. Even if your pet is extremely active, he probably requires smaller portions of these types of diets than you think. Speaking of portions, let’s move on to the next objection.

“I’m not overfeeding him - I’m following the instructions on the bag”

I am routinely horrified by by the feeding instructions recommended by pet food manufacturers. While some of the better companies are making it a point to buck this trend, most feeding instructions recommend feeding anywhere between 20 percent and 50 percent more food than your pet requires. To be fair, these instructions must apply to animals that differ vastly in size, age, and activity level. They are using broad strokes to form an educated guess that works for some pets, but not others. They tend to err on the side of recommending large portions - and why wouldn’t they? 

Let’s face it, there is little economic incentive for a pet food company tell consumers to please use less of their product! Overfeeding works for them. It’s up to us as veterinary professionals, and you as pet parents to determine how much food your pet really needs. Veterinary nurses and assistants do a great job of providing this service, and most of the clinics where I’ve worked did not charge for such consultations. If you are feeding according the instructions on the bag, and you suspect your pet is overweight, you can start his weight loss plan by cutting that recommended portion by at least 20 percent.

He only gets a few treats a day. And maybe a little table food ... but that’s it”

For most of us, the thought of a 45-calorie cookie sounds pretty darn good! When placed into the context of a 2,200 calorie per day diet, that’s a pretty liberal snack budget! But what happens when that same cookie (or in this case, a commercial dog treat), is fed to a small dog who only requires about 200 calories per day? What happens when that same treat is given to that same dog several times per day, every day? Most pet parents have no idea how quickly these calories add up. The same holds true for that little piece of cheese, or that single potato chip we occasionally share with our furry friends. If you think those little indulgences can’t possibly have big consequences, keep watching this space. I’ll be taking a hard look at some of your pet’s favorite goodies. Spoiler alert: you may not like what you see.

“I love my pet just the way he is. It’s called Fat Acceptance"

Listen, folks. I’m not trying to make you feel like a terrible pet owner, and I’m not out to “body shame” your pet. I’m looking out for his health. It’s called “doing my job.” The spirit of the Fat Acceptance movement isn’t to pretend that obesity is good for our health. It’s to encourage people to err on the side of empathy, quit being judgemental a-holes, and while we’re on the subject, can we please stop picking on Carrie Fisher? She’s beautiful, powerful, and awesome and I don’t care how many years it’s been, I still have a big time crush on her.

What was I talking about again? Oh, right ... your pet.

Truth be told, my little Gendel can’t exercise the way she used to. I’d like to see her lose about a pound and a half. That’s a tall order for an eight pound dog. I still love her to pieces, but it’s because I love her that I’m going to make sure the extra weight comes off. Since the first of the year, she’s been eating less and swimming laps. That extra pound and a half will shorten her life. And I’m not okay with that.

So by all means, keep on loving your pet. And please don’t be hurt if your vet suggests a weight loss plan. We’re not trying to hold your pet hostage to some unfair, sexist, unreasonable, BS beauty standard. We just want to keep him in your life for as long as possible. So take a long, hard look at your furry friend, and ask yourself if he really is “just fluffy”. Be honest, and beware of the fat gap. Ask your veterinarian for help if you need to make some changes. That’s part of our job, and we’re happy to do it.

Just leave Princess Leia alone.

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 for special deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 viewers.

<![CDATA[Broward Adoptable Pets - Jan. 8, 2016]]> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 07:31:37 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/Yuuko010816.jpg Meet the animals who are up for adoption through the Humane Society of Broward County]]> <![CDATA[Facebook Plea Helps Reunite Owner With Stolen Dog]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 16:35:38 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/010616+dog+found+in+wpb.jpg

A Florida man and his beloved pet have been reunited after he said the dog was stolen from his truck in downtown West Palm Beach more than a year ago, according to NBC affiliate WPTV.

On Sunday, Barry Gearhart made an emotional Facebook post saying his pet had been located. That day he had made one last push on social media to find Titan.

"I've cried over this dog for more than a year," Gearhart said.

Miraculously, a few women recognized the dog, which they had seen at a local pound going by the name Hank.

Gearhart rushed over and confirmed that it was indeed his pit bull named Titan.

"I cried. I cried when I realized it was him," Gearhart recalled.

Monday, Gearhart finalized the paperwork and was able to bring Titan home.

Story provided by NBC affiliate WPTV

Photo Credit: WPTV via Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets]]> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 20:51:36 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Dutch+A1734936.jpg Check out the animals up for adoption at the Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department.]]> <![CDATA[Sick Puppies Purchased on Craigslist From Miami Breeder]]> Tue, 05 Jan 2016 10:11:32 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/010416+sick+puppies.jpg

Animal advocates are keeping watch over three little puppies and their mother, after they said the mother was used for only breeding and was so improperly cared for she was emaciated.

A four-week-old American Bulldog puppy whimpered inside Imperial Point Animal Hospital in Oakland Park where it was receiving a life-saving blood transfusion.

Animal advocates rescued three tick-infested puppies after they were allegedly bought from a breeder in Miami.

"It's so sad that someone is trying to make a profit at the expense of these little puppies that are obviously horribly neglected," said Veterinarian Darby Peterson.

Amy Roman runs an animal rescue group called 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida. She picked up the puppies from the person who bought them on Craigslist Sunday, hoping to save them.

"These dogs are being used for profit. They're four-weeks-old that were sold for $120 to someone who wanted to save their lives so they wouldn't wind up in the wrong hands," Roman said.

The dogs were being constantly brushed for ticks and then will be treated for worms.

State law prohibits dogs to be sold so young. The minimum age is eight-weeks-old, and these puppies are half that.

Roman said animal control officers have been called to investigate the breeder who has not yet been identified.

"Sadly, it sounds like this isn't their first litter of puppies, not even close. I can't imagine they have a good survival rate but it's just a horrible crime," Roman said.

The crew worries there are another handful of dogs still with the breeder being mistreated.

Roman and her animal rescue group are asking for donations and help fostering and eventually adopting these puppies. For more information on the organization, click here.

For information on making a donation, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets - Dec. 31, 2015]]> Thu, 31 Dec 2015 15:29:56 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/Choy1231.jpg Check out the furry friends available for adoption at the Broward Humane Society.]]> <![CDATA[Meet Zoo Miami's Matchie's Tree Kangaroo and Joey]]> Wed, 30 Dec 2015 10:28:08 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/zoo+miami+matchie%27s+tree+kangaroo+and+joey+4.jpg

"Two" too cute!

Zoo Miami director Ron Magill captured a few adorable images of the zoo's Matchie's Tree Kangaroo and her sweet joey who was born earlier this year.

The endangered marsupial hails from New Guinea. Zoo Miami has been a long time contributor to Matchie's Tree Kangaroo conservation efforts in the wilds of New Guinea.

Zoo officials say the joey is the second to be born in the U.S. this year.

Mom and baby are on exhibit almost every day, so feel free to stop by!

For more information, visit ZooMiami.org.

Photo Credit: Zoo Miami]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Adoptable Pets - Dec. 28, 2015]]> Tue, 29 Dec 2015 16:12:26 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Oscar+A1749001.jpg These adorable animals are available for adoption from Miami-Dade Animal Services.]]> <![CDATA[Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets - Dec. 24, 2015]]> Tue, 29 Dec 2015 16:11:57 -0500 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/122415Coco.jpg Broward Humane Society Adoptable Pets - Dec. 24, 2015]]>