<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - ]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcmiami.com/feature/all-about-animals http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.comen-usTue, 26 Sep 2017 12:25:53 -0400Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:25:53 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Crews Rescue Dolphin Stranded Offshore of Sugarloaf Key]]> Sat, 23 Sep 2017 20:01:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/keys+dolphin+rescue.jpg

As Monroe County crews continue working to repair the trail of damage left behind by Hurricane Irma, a Dolphin's life was saved in the Florida Keys.

At around 11 a.m., a homeowner on Sugarloaf Key was working on storm damage to his house when he looked out his window and spotted a porpoise stranded in some mangroves on a flat offshore.

He reported it to the Sheriff's Office and that's when deputies, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, and veterinarians from Dolphins Plus sprang into action.

According to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Becky Herrin, they waded out to the stranded female and carried her to deeper water where she swam away.

Dr. Mader, who owns Marathon Veterinary Hospital, said it appears the dolphin had not been stranded too long because she only had minor sunburn visible on her skin. He is hopeful she will be fine, however, if she had remained there long she may have suffered much more sun damage.

The doctor believes the dolphin washed in with one of the recent high tides in the area.

Photo Credit: Monroe County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:14:17 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Greyson.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]> Thu, 31 Aug 2017 21:23:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/083117+NBC6_Amber.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[It's a Girl! Zoo Miami Welcomes 51st Baby Giraffe]]> Wed, 30 Aug 2017 17:39:06 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/51+giraffe+born+at+Zoo+Miami+%2813%29.jpg Here’s a look at Zoo Miami’s newest family member and her birth. What should they name her?

Photo Credit: Zoo Miami]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]> Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:13:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/082417+NBC6_Gidget.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:06:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*160/Jerry+A1895763.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Prepare Your Pet For the Solar Eclipse]]> Mon, 21 Aug 2017 09:49:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-467008102.jpg

Solar eclipse checklist: Perfect viewing spot? Check. Viewing glasses? If you shopped early, check. Homemade viewing box? Got it! Safety lectures for the kids? Done, done and done! Plan for the family pet? Ummm ...

Over the past few days, several pet parents have expressed concern for the safety of their four-legged family members. Some pets spend a great deal of time outdoors, and their eyes are just as vulnerable to sun damage as ours. We’ve heard the litany of precautions we must take to safeguard our vision. So what about our pets?

In theory, pets can develop solar retinopathy by staring directly at a solar eclipse. And like their human companions, they can suffer permanent vision damage or blindness as a result. Since it’s unreasonable to expect pet owners to control what their pets may look at, most animal care professionals are suggesting taking various precautions. Some are even advising pets be fitted with eclipse viewing glasses. But is that really necessary?

Staring at the sun is not something animals instinctively feel compelled to do. They do not posses the same intrinsic curiosity about the cosmos as we do, and they learn early in life that looking at the sun is painful. It is therefore a safe bet that our pets will not have enough interest in the eclipse to look at it. My own dogs will not be wearing eclipse-friendly glasses. Statistically, they are more likely to scratch their corneas and damage their eyes by trying to claw the glasses from their heads. And if you’ve got one of those dogs who eats anything and everything (like mine!), glasses are likely to end up in his stomach. The simplest and most effective way to protect your pets from eye damage is to bring them inside until the celestial show is over.

Unlike a storm or tornado, an eclipse is not preceded by a drop in barometric pressure. While this shift is imperceptible to most humans, dogs and cats sense it long before anything noticeable happens in the sky. Since there are no recognized sensory precursors to an eclipse, a pet who spends most of his time indoors, may not even realize one is taking place.

What you may notice however, is a behavioral shift toward nighttime behaviors. This might mean settling down and sleeping right through the eclipse, or it may involve anticipating the usual evening activities. I suspect our older dog will stand by her food bowl and bark — in her world, dusk equals dinner. Our less food-driven, younger dog will probably camp near his leash. For him, it’s all about exercise, and darkness equals going for a walk. There may a few hours of slight confusion as their sense of the passing of the day gets disrupted. Anxious pets may seem uneasy or frightened. If your pet is prone to anxiety, and will be spending the day alone, he may be happier in a darkened room where the windows are covered and the lights are turned off. This will make the effect of the eclipse less dramatic. You can also try using a Thundershirt. Species-specific pheromones such as Adaptyl for dogs or Feliway for cats may help pets who appear to be stressed. If they are having an especially tough time, ask your veterinarian if prescription anti-anxiety medications are appropriate. Do not administer any medications intended for human use unless specifically instructed to do so by your veterinarian.

If your nonhuman family includes chickens or other birds, they may settle down to roost, or launch into typically evening vocalizations. Horses, goats, and other farm animals may start walking toward the barn or feeding station, as if expecting the evening routine to begin. Wild animals may be faked out as well, so don’t be surprised to hear crickets in the afternoon.

As with most other unusual events, our pets take their behavioral cues from us. So stay calm and enjoy the show. Or just take a nap. That will suit our four-legged friends just fine.

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 deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 fans.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Why Are There So Many Big Dogs In South Florida Shelters?]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:00:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/181*120/9b3fbe169b8d43459dd9aa8fb29b13c6.JPG.jpg

There’s a big problem at animal shelters across South Florida – literally.

Larger dogs, like pit bulls, pit bull mixes and German Shepherds, often struggle to find pet owners, said Lisa Mendheim of Broward County Animal Rescue. Many people are wary of adopting bigger canines due to negative stereotypes about the creatures and the restrictions many condos and apartment buildings place on them. 

Roughly 50 to 70 percent of dogs at Broward County Animal Rescue are considered large, Mendheim said. They also tend to stay at the shelter for longer periods of time.

In several cases, these dogs -- which also include rottweilers -- are brought to animal shelters for reasons outside of their control.

“Many of these pets end up at shelter doors because of circumstances,” said Mendheim. “We have people crying here because they had to surrender their pet.”

Pet owners are often forced to part ways with their large dogs because of an upcoming move to an apartment or condo that has size restrictions. A lot of developments in South Florida don’t allow for dogs that weigh more than 40 pounds.

The issue spans to other parts of South Florida, like Miami-Dade County. Jossie Aguirre, of the Humane Society of Greater Miami, echoes Mendheim’s message.

The ban on pit bulls in Miami-Dade County presents an additional challenge. Mendheim said a large portion of dogs at Broward County Animal Rescue are pit bulls, due to the ban in Miami-Dade. If someone in Miami-Dade owns or keeps a pit bull, they will face a $500 fine and the animal will be court-ordered to location outside of the county. 

There are other reasons people opt to adopt smaller dogs – such as financial issues or having small children around – but condo association requirements seem to be the main reason why people stray away, Mendheim said.

“They’re limited by the HCA or condo association,” she said. “That combined with preconceived notions about pit bulls and larger dogs...it is challenging.”

If you want a new pet and are interested and able to adopt a larger dog, visit nbc6.com/cleartheshelters for information on our adoption initiative.

Photo Credit: Miranda and Ariel]]>
<![CDATA[Pitbulls Save Kids From Venomous Snake in Southwest Florida]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 12:55:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/211*120/Paco+Saves+Kids.jpg

When a venomous snake slithered into a yard where two young children were playing in Southwest Florida, a pair of four-legged good Samaritans came to the rescue.

Melissa Butt's grandchildren, 4-year-old Zayden and 1-year-old Mallory, were playing in the yard of her Hillsborough County home when her dogs spotted a copperhead snake just inches away from the children. 

Slayer and Paco jumped in and began barking at the venomous creature. The snake attacked the dogs, biting both pooches and injecting them with highly poisonous venom. Slayer suffered deep wounds on his face and snout, while Paco was struck in the leg.

Butt rushed the dogs to an emergency clinic and they were given life-saving antivenin.

"They don't ask for anything. All they want is your love, so it's very hard to see them in need, and not be able to do a whole lot for them," said Butt.

The family received help from the animal rescue group Frankie's Friends, which launched a fundraiser to help them pay for the costly life-saving treatment.

Meanwhile, Paco has returned home and Slayer is still recovering at the clinic.

Photo Credit: WFLA]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:11:33 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/08117+Kiko-A1867330.jpg ]]> <![CDATA['Free Lolita' Protest Planned Outside Miami Seaquarium]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 10:57:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/liberen-a-lolita.jpg

Protesters will rally outside of the Miami Seaquarium on Tuesday asking for the release of Lolita, the famous orca whale who has been an attraction for nearly half a century.

The whale was captured 47 years ago along Washington state coast lines and has been on display at the Key Biscayne park ever since.

Lolita weighs about 7,000 pounds and is about 20 feet long. She performs in the killer whale and dolphin show. 

Protesters cite a USDA study stating a whale of Lolita's size should be in a bigger tank. However, officials from the Seaquarium dispute that and have long said Lolita is well taken care of and has lived in captivity for so long that she wouldn’t survive out on her own.

PETA activists will gather in front of the Seaquarium at 12 p.m. pleading for her release into the ocean.

<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 10:01:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Almond+Joy.jpg ]]> <![CDATA['Literally Dying': Vets Save Dog Covered in 100,000 Fleas]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 16:47:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/227*120/080317+Dog+Covered+in+100k+Fleas.jpg

Veterinarians at a Canadian hospital saved a dog covered with tens of thousands of fleas that were siphoning the pup's blood, leaving him weak and on the brink of death. 

Rascal, a 14-year-old terrier, was infested with about 100,000 fleas when he was taken to the Nanaimo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. He'd been rescued from a severely neglectful home, but his case was so critical the local ASPCA didn't have the means to give him the help he needed.

At first, they thought the dog was covered in dirt. But a closer look revealed fleas, flea dirt and flea eggs. The dog had lost 85 percent of his blood, and vets said the terrier was in critical distress.

"Fleas feed on blood, which is why poor Rascal was in critical distress when he came into our care. He was literally dying from fleas,” said Tina Heary, BC SPCA senior animal protection officer.

Vets immediately decided to give the pooch an emergency blood transfusion after they found another dog that was a universal blood donor. The procedure took about four hours.

For now, the terrier is recovering in a foster home and will eventually be put up for adoption.

“We strongly encourage pet guardians to consult their veterinarian about flea prevention, which costs considerably less than having to treat an infestation," said Heary. "It is also important to note that flea control products for dogs are very different from flea treatments for cats and that using the wrong product can be toxic for your pet."

<![CDATA[Teamwork! Florida Beachgoers, Firefighters Save 3 Manatees]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 14:37:23 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Manatees+Rescued+on+Clearwater+Beach.jpg

Firefighters and beachgoers banded together to rescue three manatees that washed up on a Florida beach Wednesday afternoon.

Clearwater Fire and Rescue officials say as many as seven manatees originally beached themselves, but only three remained ashore when firefighters arrived.

"The manatees may have been pushed ashore from the shallow water because of high winds and waves that had moved through the area shortly after 3 this afternoon," the department posted on Facebook along with a series of photos and videos detailing the rescue.

A large crowd of spectators gathered as nearly a dozen good Samaritans – both men and women of all ages – assisted firefighters by pushing the beached manatees, inches at a time, back into the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo Credit: Clearwater Fire and Rescue Department]]>
<![CDATA[Miami Pet Shop Law Changes Where The Animals Come From]]> Thu, 27 Jul 2017 21:50:41 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Corgi-GettyImages-512536165.jpg

A change in a city law passed Thursday will require pet shops in the City of Miami to sell animals only from local breeders and shelters, a step toward eliminating the sale of puppies that come from puppy mills.

Still, customers interested in specific animals can purchase pets from “hobby breeders,” which the county regulates.

Because the city also regulates pet stores’ business tax receipts, it can decide what the shops are allowed to sell.

“I’ve been very careful with this legislation to protect the rights of the stores to allow them to continue to function under new regulations that do not allow them to utilize puppy mill puppies,” city commissioner Ken Russell said.

Russell was adamant that the new legislation is not a ban on animal sales in the city.

“The stores will be able to source animals from the shelters to adopt or sell in those stores, and they can still find great animals at those shelters,” Russell said. “We have thousands of animals in our shelters who are ready to be adopted or sold.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Moment RF]]>
<![CDATA[Port St. Lucie Woman Drives To Broward To Adopt Forever Pet]]> Tue, 01 Aug 2017 19:01:55 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/080117brodieforweb.jpg

Seeking a new pet, Lisa Garzia could have purchased a German shepard from a friend who breeds them to be future police dogs. But instead, she recalled her experience finding her first dog from a Humane Society in New Hampshire, which led her to consider searching shelters again.

Garzia’s son saw a post with a German shepard at Broward County Animal Care. Despite living in Port St. Lucie, Garzia decided to make the trip.

Brodie had just arrived at the shelter, and several staff members insisted he had been there before. All Garzia could do was pay the $20 deposit that would go toward the dog’s adoption fee if he wasn’t picked up by his owner.

Garzia called the shelter daily for an update, figuring if Brodie were neutered, his owner wouldn’t pick him up. That proved to be the case, and Garzia made the two-hour trek south on June 30. She played with Brodie for 10 minutes before loading him in the car with a cone around his neck.

“Since then, you would have thought he was our dog forever,” Garzia said.

Brodie was immediately integrated into Garzia’s life, joining the cross country team she coaches for 6 a.m. runs on the beach. He recently ran more than three miles with the team and passed one of the team members.

In the coming weeks, Garzia plans to bring Brodie to the team’s high-intensity workouts. She wants to see "if he’ll lay there and chill while we do it."

Garzia, who is a teacher, also plans to have Brodie trained to be a therapy dog so he can work with her autistic students. She recalled a time when a golden retriever helped one student experiencing anxiety while reading overcome that fear.

Garzia doesn’t have any other pets and is in the process of getting settled into a house. But she said she is considering adopting another dog and is open to returning to the Broward County facility to do so.

"They have a ton of variety," Garzia said. "I never would have thought to look there. Two hours for a really good pet, it’s worth it."

Photo Credit: Lisa Garzia]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets Of The Week]]> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 09:42:22 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/072617NBC6_Abby+%281%29.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[How to Keep Your Pet Cool During The Dog Days of The Summer ]]> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 09:32:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/179*120/072517.jpg

If you find South Florida’s scorching temperatures unbearable, chances are your pet does, too.

Dr. Ian Kupkee, a veterinarian at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic in Kendall, sees about a half dozen pets that suffer from heatstroke each summer. He says pets that are left in hot cars, garages or even screened porches are susceptible to heatstroke. 

“Pets who are left in hot cars are the victims who usually make the most dramatic headlines, but the cases we see are usually the ones where pet owners are caught unaware,” Kupkee said, adding that home garages can easily reach temperatures in the mid-90s during the day.

“Unless the garage is air-conditioned, this is not a safe place for a pet,” he said. “The same goes for screened porches. They are simply too hot.”

When it comes to protecting your furry friend from the sweltering heat, there are a number of steps pet owners can take. Here are some tips to prevent heat exhaustion and keep your pet cool.

Take your pet for walks during the cooler hours of the day

According to Dr. Kupkee, walks and intense playtimes should happen early in the morning or after sunset.

Check the temperature of the pavement

If the concrete is too hot for your hands, it’s also too hot for your dog's paws, Dr. Kupkee says. As a precaution, place water on the pads of your dog’s feet when going for walks in the early morning or late evening.

Keep a kiddie pool in the backyard

Filling a kiddie pool with a few inches of water can help keep your pet cool while they are playing outside.

Know the risk factors

Pugs, English bulldogs, Shih-Tzus and other “smush-faced” breeds -- also known as Brachycephalic pets -- are at high risk of heatstroke, according to Dr. Kupkee. The throats and breathing passages of these animals are flatter and smaller, making it more difficult for them to inhale oxygen. Cats in this category include Persian, Burmese and Himalayan felines. If your pet falls under the Brachycephalic category, take extra precautions to make sure they stay cool.

Smaller dogs -- like Dachshunds and toy breeds -- are also a common victim of heatstroke, Dr. Kupkee says. These short legged dogs tend to be closer to the ground and will feel the heat of the pavement 10-40 degrees higher than the ambient temperature.

Take extra precautions for pets with health issues

Overweight, obese or elderly dogs are less able to handle the heat than other dogs, Dr. Kupkee says. Dogs who suffer from heart problems are also at risk.

Carry enough water for you and your pet

Hydrate your pet often during the summer months and when you’re out for walks or playtime.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms

Panting excessively is a common symptom of heat exhaustion. Other symptoms include dizziness, weakness, seizures, lethargy or diarrhea. If your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, their gums and tongue may also appear to be bright red. Take your pet to the veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic if they show any of these signs or symptoms.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 13:16:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Shamu-A1883706.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Invasive Cane Toads a Deadly Threat to Pets]]> Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:58:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/071917+cane+toad+giant+toad.jpg

With South Florida's rainy season comes an increase in Cane toads, a nonnative invasive species that can be deadly to pets.

The Cane toad, also known as the giant toad or Bufo toad, have highly toxic skin gland secretions that can sicken or even kill dogs, cats and other animals that bite or feed on them.

The typical frog not too much. The toads are the bad ones. They have the bad poison glands on their back and if the dogs bite them or lick them, they can get poison from it," said Alan Lewis, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Hospital in Davie.

Cane toads range in size from six to nine inches long, and they're found in central and South Florida, generally south of the I-4 corridor, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The toads are found in urban, suburban and agricultural areas, and are often found in yards and near canals and ponds.

FWC officials say the toads were first introduced in Florida in the 1930s and 40s to control agricultural pests. It's believed the current population became established in the state after about 100 toads were released by a pet dealer near the Miami airport in 1955.

Veterinarians say dogs that lick Cane toads can suffer seizures, heart problems and possibly death. In 2014, a dog in Palm Beach Gardens was rescued after suffering a seizure and falling into water after licking a toad.

If a dog owner suspects their pet may have toad poisoning, they should wash out their mouth and contact their veterinarian immediately.

"Rinse the mouth out carefully sideways, not down the throat. That gets the poison and anything that's remaining out of the mouth because it's absorbed right through the mouth," Lewis said. "The earlier you can get them when the signs are still mild, like a little disorientation or drooling, the better the chance of survival."

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 09:44:46 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Buster+Brown.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Thu, 13 Jul 2017 09:39:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Elsa-A1791557.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 07 Jul 2017 14:13:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Bugs1.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Abandoned Puppy Found in Airport Bathroom With Note]]> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:20:15 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Chewy+Abandoned+Puppy.jpg

A miniature Chihuahua was left inside a Las Vegas airport bathroom along with a heartbreaking letter from the puppy's owner.

In the handwritten note, Chewy's owner reveals she's a victim of domestic violence and was escaping her "abusive boyfriend," but couldn't afford the airfare for her 3-month-old dog.

"She didn’t want to leave me with all her heart but she has NO other option. My ex-boyfriend kicked my dog when we were fighting and he has a big knot on his head. He probably needs a vet," the note, which was posted on the Connor and Millie's Dog Rescue (CMRD) Facebook page, said. "I love Chewy sooo much – please love and take care of him.”

Since sharing Chewy's story on Facebook, CMDR says there has been “tremendous interest” in the pooch. The Las Vegas-based rescue center said it reviewing all of the interest forms before it selects a new home for Chewy.

"However, there is but 1 Chewy and he can go but to 1 home. Please consider the hundreds if not thousands of "Chewys" loaded with love that are desperately seeking homes in shelters which are at max capacity, rescues are full! Please consider adopting another wonderful companion in his honor!" the shelter added.

Photo Credit: Connor and Millie's Dog Rescue
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<![CDATA[Helping Pets Cope With Fear Of Fireworks During July 4th]]> Sun, 02 Jul 2017 09:32:18 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*213/Dogs+and+flag.JPG

Animal shelters across the country cite higher lost pet intakes on July 5th than on any other day of the year. For too many dogs and cats, fireworks displays cause them to bolt from their homes in a blind panic.

To better understand this common phobia, it helps to look at Fourth of July festivities from your pet’s point of view. If you’re hosting a party or barbecue, your pet is already dealing with the stress of unfamiliar people in their environment. Some of those people may be rambunctious children who have not been taught how to politely interact with pets. Perhaps some have had a few too many “adult beverages” and are behaving rather strangely.

Then just as darkness falls and your pet is settling down for the night, BAM! He gives an alert. He is told to stop barking. BAM! There is is again! And again! Then the smells hit him, awful smells of fire and smoke and burning chemicals. But the humans? They seem to think it’s some kind of entertainment! They’re explosions, people! The sky is falling, and the air is burning! Why are you acting as if this is fun, and why are you yelling at me for barking about it?!

Still wondering why your pet is afraid of fireworks?

It’s important to remember that our pets’ senses of hearing and smell are exponentially more sensitive than ours. What sounds like fireworks to us sounds like a blanket bombing campaign to them. Those barely discernible smells of smoke wreak havoc on their finely tuned sense of smell. A more sensible question might very well be “Why wouldn’t a pet be afraid of fireworks?” But rather than grapple with rhetorical questions, let’s look at some ways to make the Fourth of July a little easier for our furry friends.

Get started now

Every year, folks in our neighborhood try to outdo each other with impressive pyrotechnic displays. And every year, they start practicing early! If your neighborhood is anything like mine, you’ll have plenty of time to get your pet ready for his night of terror. If your pet has a repertoire of obedience commands and tricks, run him through these drills when the fireworks start. The sense of mastery he gets from doing what he is asked can help him build confidence. It also allows him to see you in the role of a calm, yet confident leader.

If he doesn’t know any tricks, do whatever he thinks is fun. Play with squeaky toys, chase tennis balls, swim, play fetch - use fun activities to distract him from the chaos around him. These techniques worked so well with our older dog, Grendel, that she actually enjoys fireworks! She insists on going outside with us to see them and will watch for them from the windows long after we have gone inside.

Provide a safe space

As thrilled as we were with Grendel’s results, our other dog Zohan did not respond to these techniques. Every dog is different, and frankly, Grendel is probably more the exception than the rule. Zohan is not quite as able to push past fear to focus on things that are interesting and fun. We had some success with a training CD that played sounds of fireworks.

While he became desensitized to the CD, he could easily tell the difference between the recording and the real deal. While these CDs are readily available, I would only recommend using them under the guidance of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. They can easily overwhelm a more sensitive dog and lead to the kind of anxiety that can cause aggression.

The best that can be done for a dog like Zohan is to provide him with a “safe space” where he can feel sheltered and safe from the chaos outdoors. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, this is a great option. Cover the crate with heavy blankets and towels to absorb the noise, and provide lots of bedding inside as well.

Your pet may pick his own safe spot, such as a bathtub, shower stall, closet, or under a bed. This behavior is common in both dogs and cats, and both should be encouraged and rewarded. If you are using a crate, place it against a wall or in a corner in order to more thoroughly mute the sounds.

Provide alternative sounds

If your pet is comforted by the sounds of a TV, radio or fan, include these sources of sound in his safe space. Zohan’s favorite is a recording Tibetan gongs. No, I’m not kidding. 

Try a Thundershirt

A Thundershirt (trademarked) is a tight fitting garment that uses gentle pressure to help your pet relax. It is similar to the swaddling techniques used to help children with cognitive disorders self soothe. It helps Zohan, and has helped many of my other patients as well. Thundershirts are also available for cats.

Place high-value treats and toys in the safe space

Catnip toys, food puzzles, Kong toys stuffed with frozen baby food, safe chew toys, bully sticks, you name it. Give your pet something to focus on other than the possibility of the world coming to a noisy, fiery end.

Don’t force them to “deal with it”

Some self-proclaimed professionals may recommend forcing your dog to be outdoors during a fireworks display, or even attend a public display. This will not teach coping skills nor encourage your dog to “man up”. This technique is called flooding and can cause profound psychological damage in an already fearful dog.

If a trainer tells you to leave your fireworks-phobic dog penned or tethered outdoors on the Fourth, run. Never discipline, correct, or yell at your dog when he is exhibiting signs of fear. Ask your veterinarian to recommend to a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.

Keep your pets contained 

When choosing your safe space, make sure your pet is behind as many closed doors as possible. Insist that houseguests not attempt to retrieve your pet. A terrified animal will run for its life without considering the consequences.

Remember, shelters all over the country report more pick-ups and lost pet reports on July 5th than on any other day of the year. Some report upticks of up to 240% - and that’s not counting the ones who are never reunited with their families.

Consider medications, but don’t expect miracles

Years ago, veterinarians prescribed powerful tranquilizers to help pets cope with fireworks. Recent research, however, has shown that while these drugs are great at immobilizing the body, they do nothing to address the pet’s underlying anxiety. The end results were pets who were not only terrified, but aware of the fact that their bodies were not able to move away from danger.

The more modern approach is to treat these pets with anti-anxiety medications. Since these drugs take time to take effect, the time to talk to your vet about this option is now. It is also important to note that all of these medications are labelled to be used in conjunction with behavioral training.

There are no miracle pills or pharmaceutical lullabies. So give yourself time to - you guessed it - find a Certified Professional Dog Trainer!

Most importantly, be patient. Fireworks phobia is very common, and may even be somewhat normal. Early planning and reasonable expectations are the key to providing a happy holiday for everyone!

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 deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 fans. 

Photo Credit: Dr. Ian Kupkee]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 30 Jun 2017 12:02:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Lara.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Family's Lost Dog Found 5 Months Later, 200 Miles Away]]> Thu, 29 Jun 2017 21:22:53 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/062917+Sassy+Reunited+With+Family.jpg

A Florida family who lost their beloved pet earlier this year got a sweet surprise by the Pembroke Pines Police Department.

They were reunited with their 6-year-old Pomeranian, named Sassy, five months after she vanished without a trace from the family's home in Bradenton.

Pembroke Pines police said one of their officers spotted the dog while on a service call. Sassy is micro chipped, and officers were able to track down her family using their microchip reader.

The pooch was in good health, and was looked after by the department's Animal Assistance Program before she was reunited with her family.

Sassy was returned to her beloved owners, who were 200 miles away, on June 17, police said. Her family was overjoyed to see their pet, which they thought was lost forever.

Police stress the importance of tagging and micro chipping pets to ensure lost pets are returned to their rightful owners.

Photo Credit: Pembroke Pines Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:49:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Clyde-A1881991.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Injured Sea Turtle Released After Rehab At Miami Seaquarium]]> Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:03:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/248*120/062717+seaturtlereleased.png

A 77-pound loggerhead sea turtle found injured in April at a coastal power plant was released Tuesday after undergoing rehab at Miami Seaquarium.

Rescuers found the turtle, named Winnie, exhausted at a plant about an hour north of West Palm Beach. At the time, she weighed 66 pounds and had a fresh wound on her shell.

Now, after two months of antibiotics and an all-you-can-eat diet at the facility, Winnie is 11 pounds heavier and has been a highlight for some Seaquarium campers.

"It’s kind of bittersweet, but we’re here to release," Animal Care Supervisor Jessica Schiffhauer said. "She definitely has a personality of her own, and she’s been very spunky."

Winnie received fish and squid in addition to the medical treatment and is now swimming on her own at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

Loggerhead sea turtles can live to be more than 100 years old and are "threatened" in Florida, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last week, a dead loggerhead turtle was found on Miami Beach, resulting in an investigation for the protected species. Nonetheless, Seaquarium officials celebrated Winnie’s recovery.

"Doing rescue and rehab is the most amazing experience, because we get to see these animals at their worst, care for them, and then actually see them being released in the end," Schiffhauer said.

Photo Credit: Julia Bagg]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Jackson's Chimp Bubbles to Have Art Exhibit in Miami]]> Wed, 28 Jun 2017 19:33:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/062817+Bubbles+the+Chimp+Painting.jpg

The artwork created by the former pet of the King of Pop is set to go on display at an art gallery in Miami.

Frames USA & Art Gallery will host an exhibit showcasing the creations by Michael Jackson's chimp Bubbles on July 21.

The primate was the music legend's furry companion during the 1980s.

Bubbles now lives at the Center for Great Apes. He and other apes create masterpieces as part of art therapy classes. Proceeds will benefit the ape sanctuary which protects primates from neglect, torture, abuse and experimentation.

For more information on opening night of the exhibit, click here.

Photo Credit: Frames USA & Art Gallery]]>
<![CDATA[Bird-Watching Florida Couple Encounters 9-Foot Rattlesnake]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 17:10:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/19970924_10209953936948009_2073815684_n.jpg

A Florida couple had a scary encounter when they stumbled across a massive diamondback rattlesnake after stopping alongside the road to bird watch.

Before the couple could open their car doors, a massive reptile slithered across a Bartow road and in front of their vehicle. The couple estimated the thick-bodied rattler to be about 9-feet in length.

"Width-wise, I thought it could have eaten an entire horse," Cathy Terry told WFLA. "Frankly, I mean it was just huge."

Terry immediately whipped out her camera to snap a few photos before the rattlesnake disappeared on the opposite side of the road.

Eastern diamond rattlesnakes are found throughout Florida in palmetto flatbeds, pine woods, abandoned fields, and bushy and grassy areas. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission advides people to be aware of their surroundings when outside, and so does Terry.

Venomous snakes encountered in wooded areas or crossing roads pose no threat and should be left alone, according to the FWC.

Click here for more information on how to stay safe if you encounter a snake in Florida.

Photo Credit: Cathy Terry
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<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:25:32 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/062317+NBC6_Luna.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Miami Beach Police Holding Pet Adoption Day on Friday]]> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:01:52 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/061317+miami+dade+pet+adoptions.JPG

With Friday being ‘National Take Your Dog to Work Day’, the Miami Beach Police Department wanted to make sure that furry friends in the county got a chance to one day be taken to their owner's work.

In conjunction with Miami-Dade Animal Services, the HOPE Express Adoption Unit is at the city’s police department located at 1100 Washington Avenue until 2 p.m. in the Major James Smith Community Room.

All animals come spayed, neutered and microchipped.

"You adopt them for a nominal fee, and they only ask that they go to a good home," said Ernesto Rodriguez from the Miami Beach Police Department.

Whether you adopted today on the beach or any other time, a complete list of requirements for adoption is available on the county’s website, including the identification needed, costs for adoption and other information.

<![CDATA[Mama Gator Nearly Attacks Photographer in Florida]]> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:37:55 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/209*120/Gator+Nearly+Attacks+Photog+in+Gainesville.JPG

A photographer encountered a close call with a mama alligator in north Florida after getting a bit too close to its babies.

The gator is seen in the video launching from the water toward a man who was inching closer for a good photograph. The gator bit the photographer’s tripod as he leaped backward through nearby bushes.

Ben Boukari Jr., who filmed the encounter on a trail in Paynes Prairie in Gainesville, remained on the boardwalk above the gator in a safe location along with other bystanders.

Despite nearly getting bit, the man pulled out his cellphone and continued to take photos. The hissing gator, in response, warned the persistent photographer with another snap.

As the gator crawled back into the water, the man moved in closer, this time to grab his bag. The gator charged once again before the photographer grabbed his belongings and hopped back on the trail. 

"Certainly a what not to do," said Boukari.

Photo Credit: Ben Boukari Jr.
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<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:25:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Jet-A1715678.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Fri, 16 Jun 2017 14:33:52 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Gatsby.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Gator Found at Front Door of Parkland House: BSO]]> Thu, 15 Jun 2017 17:46:44 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/216*120/gatorfrontdoor.png

Deputies responded to a Parkland house where an alligator was found inches away from the front door Thursday afternoon.

Broward Sheriff’s Office officials said deputies taped the gator’s mouth shut and had it contained. It’s unclear where the gator was taken or what attracted it to the front of the house.

Part of the gator’s tail was propped against the door, and its head appeared close to a front door mat.

A neighbor across the street noticed the gator and warned those inside not to exit the house. The neighbor also called a trapper, police said. 

The house is in a gated community, police said.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office ]]>
<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]> Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:03:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/Boss-A1764151.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[$1 Pet Adoptions Being Offered in Miami-Dade County Tuesday]]> Tue, 13 Jun 2017 11:39:21 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/061317+miami+dade+pet+adoptions.JPG

If you’re looking to add a furry friend to your family, Tuesday might be the perfect day to do so in Miami-Dade County.

To celebrate the first anniversary of the county’s Animal Services Pet Adoption and Protection Center in Doral, the group is offering $1 adoptions for all animals. The fee includes spay and neuter surgery, rabies and booster vaccines, deworming and microchip.

In compliance with Florida law, a $27 license fee must be purchased for any dogs that are adopted. Also, any animal that is too young for spay or neuter surgery at the time will be subject to a refundable deposit.

"That is a savings - if you adopt a dog over 4 months old it's usually $65 total and if you adopt a puppy it's usually $75 total. so it's quite a savings," said Lilian Borhorquez from Miami-Dade Animal Services.

The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with family interactive activities being offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the building located at 3599 NW 79th Avenue. Over 28,000 animals have been cared for in the new home since it opened.

<![CDATA[7-Foot 'Bad Boy' Python Captured Roaming Miami Beach]]> Fri, 09 Jun 2017 12:56:55 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Albino+Python+Captured+in+Miami+Beach.jpg

Police have captured a 7-foot “bad boy” slithering in the middle of the street in Miami Beach overnight.

The serpent, identified as an albino python, was safely recovered after being spotted roaming near Alton Road and 13th street, according to officials.

Police say the snake was then handed over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The FWC urges the public to help manage the growing population of pythons and other nonnative species by reporting sightings to their Exotic Species Hotline here.

Photo Credit: Miami Beach PD
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<![CDATA[Animals Affected by Flooding in South Florida]]> Thu, 08 Jun 2017 15:43:21 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/161*120/Animals+Affected+by+South+Florida+flooding+%284%29.jpg While some animals sought shelter from rain or higher ground from flooding, others took this time to explore new territory that their natural habitats might not allow.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]> Thu, 08 Jun 2017 13:54:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-summersplash_Lady+Garfield.jpg ]]>