<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - ]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcmiami.com/feature/all-about-animalshttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.pngNBC 6 South Floridahttps://www.nbcmiami.comen-usTue, 23 Jan 2018 23:02:43 -0500Tue, 23 Jan 2018 23:02:43 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Dog Bite Prevention For Runners]]>Mon, 22 Jan 2018 11:18:29 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/011818+Dog+Safety+for+runners+photo.JPG

Ah, the holidays...a time for family, food, festivities, and more food.

Did I mention food?

It’s okay, South Florida. All of us - myself included! - consumed half our body weight in coquito and chocolate chip cookies last month. All we can do now is step off the scale, dry our tears of shame, and work out a plan to shed those holiday pounds. And for many of us, that involves taking up running.

If you’re new to running, there are some things you should do before hitting the pavement. A veterinary perspective includes an additional prerequisite: having a plan for dealing with aggressive, off-leash dogs.

Before we get into safety tips, let me state for the record that I am in no way defending the actions of individuals who allow their dogs to roam. Leash laws apply to everyone, regardless how well behaved we think our dogs may be. No one is special. Animals can be unpredictable, and if your dog does surprise you by causing any kind of damage, the law is not on your side.

That said, accidents happen. Gates are mistakenly left open by service providers. Children and houseguests can forget to close doors. Dogs are owned by humans and humans make mistakes. Some dogs are stray, and others still are abandoned by those whom they trusted in residential neighborhoods. Many runners report being confronted by free-roaming dogs, and while most will neither attack nor bite, it’s good to have a plan for dealing with those who do.

Why are runners a target?

Runners who’ve had unpleasant encounters with dogs often take it personally. “I did nothing to provoke it,” one runner told me. “I love dogs. Seriously, what did I do wrong?”

While we love our dogs like family, celebrate their birthdays and dress them in sweaters when it’s cold, it’s important to remember, they are animals. What’s more they are carnivores. Carnivores hunt. They take down prey.

And prey runs.

How will I know if a dog is dangerous?

Most of the dogs who approach you on your run have neither the intent nor the desire to harm you. If a dog runs toward you while you are running, it’s possible said dog is a poorly trained goofball who simply wants to play. These dogs are often owned by people who call out “Don’t worry, he’s friendly!” or “He’s just saying hi, it’s okay!” If you are one of these dog owners, this is actually not okay! It is neither cute nor endearing. It’s against the law, inconsiderate of your neighbors, and dangerous for everyone, including your dog. Leash your dog, call a trainer, and don’t be that neighbor.

The good news for runners is that this dog will probably not hurt you. If the dog’s body appears curvy, loose, or wiggly, he is not likely to be thinking of attacking you. The same holds true for an open-mouthed dog with a floppy tongue. If you are approached by one of these good-natured boneheads, stop running. Do not look at the dog or engage him in any way. This dog wants to play, so be boring. Chances are he will lose interest and leave you alone. You can also attempt to shake him by giving a firm command such as “No!” “Off!” or “Go home!”

It is always surprising to me just how well this works! If the owner is nearby, this can also attract their attention, and (hopefully!) inspire them to retrieve their dog. My wife runs with a slip lead in her pocket. She’s had several encounters with well-meaning owners who simply lost control of their dogs. We’ve made some new friends in the neighborhood by returning these rascals to their grateful owners. Sometimes life happens, even for the most responsible pet parents. If you think you can do this safely, these leads are available in most pest stores and seldom cost more than a dollar.

The dog who means business

While most dogs mean you no harm, there are others who mean business. They want you gone. For some, it is nothing personal. You are too close to their turf, and they have a problem with that. These dogs may stare intently, raise their hackles, show their teeth or make a lot of noise.

They may hold perfectly still as they decide whether or not to give chase. For our purposes here, the difference between a defensive dog and an aggressive dog is neither here nor there. Both situations are potentially dangerous.

Earlier, we discussed prey drive. Remember - prey runs. While it is quite possibly the most counterintuitive response imaginable, the best response to a charging dog is to stop running. Continuing to run can further trigger the dog’s prey drive and make them even more determined to take you down. It also increases your chances of falling, and if that happens, you are at even greater risk. So here is another piece of difficult advice: stay calm.

Think back to the prey/predator analogy. When we act like prey we are treated like prey. Prey runs. Prey shrieks. Prey stares, transfixed with fear. Prey screams and flails around wildly. If the worst case scenario happens and you can think of nothing else, remember this - do not act like prey.

Standing your ground or fighting back

Some columnists have written that to avoid the resemblance of prey, runners should stand their ground and be ready to fight back. Kick! Punch! Growl! Yell! Make yourself big bad and scary so the dog backs off. Better yet, spray them with mace or pepper spray. They won’t seriously injure the dog, but will let him know you’re not an easy target, and that you mean business as well.

This might work. But depending on why the dog is attacking, it might not. A dog who is protecting puppies or property sees you as a genuine threat, and may simply escalate the attack in response. Pepper spray requires close quarters to be effective - something we would ideally like to avoid. And if the canister malfunctions or the wind shifts its direction, the chemical is more likely to affect you than the dog. These sprays are painful enough to bring a grown man to his knees. And God help you if you fall to the ground in the presence a dangerous dog who is poised to attack.

In my opinion, this option is simply too risky. Unless you are very strong, and have extensive experience in handling dangerous dogs, this plan is not likely to lead to an injury-free encounter. I prefer plans which involve convincing the dog you are simply not worth the trouble.

Fighting back without fighting back

A dog who gives chase may be more interested in making you go away than picking a fight. He may see you as a threat or a challenge. Show him you are neither. Stop running and turn your body sideways. In this position, you can still see what the dog is doing, but you are not facing the dog in a way that could cause the dog to think you are rising to his challenge. Do not make direct eye contact.

Many dogs see this as either a challenge or a threat, and can cause the situation to escalate quickly. If the dog backs off, hold your body in that position and WALK away, sideways, from the dog’s position. Avoid the direction from which the dog came. He wants you to go away. So without running, screaming, or making eye contact, let the dog know this is exactly what you are going to do.

Using vocal commands

Dogs who engage in this type of behavior often have few boundaries in their everyday lives. That said, most have them have at least some rudimentary training. Try issuing one of the vocal commands listed above - “No!” “Off!” “Sit!”, or my personal favorite, “Go home!” With the dog who means business, however, it is imperative to remember this is a command, not a request. Don’t scream or use a high pitched voice or growl through your teeth - remember, prey screams, challengers growl - but use a tone that lets the dog know you mean business too.

Think of a drill sergeant. Bellow. Don’t ask. Command. Go home! That’s an order. You’d be surprised how many dogs - even aggressive ones - stop in their tracks, blink, and do exactly as they’re told! If you get this response, back off and retreat as discussed above. Again - do not run. Your Jedi mind trick may not work a second time.

Using distractions

It is sometimes possible to use a bait-and-switch technique to divert a charging dog. Some trainers recommend carrying a squeaky toy in your pocket. This dog obviously has a strong prey drive, which has already been triggered, so the theory is, runners can make it work in their favor.

This technique advises squeaking the toy and waving it around (read, make the toy behave like a prey animal) and get the dog to fixate on the toy. Once the dog has done so, throw the toy as far as you can and while the dog is chasing the toy, make your retreat.

While his can work in theory, it’s risky. If it doesn’t work, you’ve wasted precious seconds that could have been used to employ a more reliable technique. Think this through - how far can you throw? What if the dog retrieves the toy and brings it back? Now he thinks you’re his BFF, but have fun getting that toy back.

Should this happen, do not attempt to retrieve the toy from the dog, even if he has dropped it on the ground. These types of dogs are dangerous and unpredictable. Lowering your center of gravity and getting to a dangerous dog’s eye level can provoke a mauling, or even a fatal attack.

A better option is to give the dog something you may already have, and can easily reach. If you’re wearing a jacket, an extra layer, or a hat, take it off quickly and let the dog have it. He may decide he’s just as happy to thrash that as he is to thrash you. And while he is thrashing, make your retreat.

The worst case scenario

A runner who has been brought to the ground by a dog, or worse yet two or more dogs, is in a life threatening situation. The American Veterinary Medical Associationteaches children in this scenario be pretend they are a rock. This is good advice for adults as well. Roll into a ball with your face toward the ground, and cover your head with your arms.

Fighting back can enable the dog to grab an arm or leg, causing serious injury. It also exposes your face, neck and vital organs. Again, it seems counterintuitive, but your best hope for avoiding serious injury or death is to make yourself as uninteresting and non-threatening as possible. Such attacks are rare, but they do happen, and it’s imperative to have a survival plan.

The best plan

The best way for runners to survive encounters with dogs is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Plan your route ahead of time, and drive it before you run it. Do so at about the same time you plan to run, taking note of any off-leash dogs, ‘Beware Of Dog’ signs, or open gates. If you see potential trouble, consider changing your route. Ask your neighbors or other runners if there are any troublesome dogs in the vicinity. Get descriptions and locations and avoid those areas.

When running, be aware of your surroundings. If you must use headphones, keep the volume low. If an aggressive dog is in the area, you will want to have as much time as possible to react.

While I’m not a fan of mace or pepper spray, my wife’s deterrent of choice is a marine air horn. These small devices give off a jarring blast of sound most dogs have never encountered before. The volume alone is likely to jolt a dog’s sensitive hearing, and bring a fixated dog back to reality. Unlike mace or pepper spray, it is effective at a distance and carries no risk of being swept into the user’s face on a windy day. Additionally, it is not a sound a dog can easily mistake for sounds made by either predator or prey animals.

When dogs cannot easily categorize another entity in this fashion, they usually err on the side of retreating. People who have used this technique (including my wife!) report the errant dogs skidding to a halt, blinking for a beat, then turning tail and running for home. This has always been her first choice of prevention, and has thankfully spared her from having to resort to more dangerous methods of self-defense.

Like many other things in our world, the presence of aggressive dogs is something for which we must be prepared. That said, it is the product of the unique brand of human failure that is irresponsible dog ownership. If you see your dog in some of these scenarios, own the problem and call a trainer before your dog causes serious injury.

Remember, the law is never on your side in these situations. If you’re a runner and you’ve encountered a dangerous dog, have a word with the owner. They may be unaware their dog is a danger to the community. Your efforts may not be appreciated at the time, but it is always better to take action before tragedy strikes as opposed to after.

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

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Photo Credit: Lynn Kupkee]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]>Sun, 14 Jan 2018 10:41:02 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/011418+NBC6_Molly.jpg]]><![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]>Mon, 01 Jan 2018 11:05:43 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/010118+NBC6_Brandon.jpgCheck out the pets of the week from the Humane Society of Broward County.]]><![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]>Sun, 24 Dec 2017 18:06:33 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Pickle.jpg]]><![CDATA[Newborn Pup Rescued After Tied to Train Tracks in Florida]]>Sat, 16 Dec 2017 22:12:52 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Newborn+Puppy+Rescued+from+Train+Tracks.jpg

A newborn puppy has a second chance at life after a woman found a pup tied to train tracks and left to die.

Rabecca Cruz, a wedding and real estate photographer, was out snapping photos of a home in Pasco County when she heard a distress call from an animal.

"I walked over to the train tracks and found the newborn puppy," Cruz said.

When she tried to pick up the puppy, she realized that the animal’s front right leg was bound with twine to the tracks.

Cruz freed the puppy and immediately took her to the vet. 

Also a volunteer at a local wildlife animal rescue organization, Cruz says things like this are not so uncommon.

The pup is now happy in a good, loving home after being adopted by a friend of Cruz.

Cruz says the Pasco County Sheriff's Office was alerted about the incident and is now involved in the case.

Photo Credit: Rabecca Cruz]]>
<![CDATA[Boredom Busters: Interactive Holiday Pet Toys]]>Sun, 17 Dec 2017 09:19:48 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Doc+Grendel+Puzzle+Toy.JPG

According to a recent survey, over 95% of Americans routinely buy gifts for their pets during the holiday season. At Casa Kupkee, our dogs take great delight in tearing open their gifts from Santa on Christmas morning,

Many pet owners, however, admit to giving little thought to the types of gifts they buy. Pets are not usually picky about presents, and inclusion in the holiday fun is all they really want for Christmas. But the right kind of toy can be a gift that keeps on giving long after the lights and decorations have been packed away.

The Bane Of Boredom

Many of our pets’ behavioral problems are linked to insufficient cognitive enrichment. In other words, our pets are bored! Many of us spend long hours away from home on a daily basis. Our evenings tend to be consumed by television, computer use, and other sedentary activities. Such diversions are no fun for our pets, and the resulting boredom can lead to all sorts of unwanted behaviors.

Nuisance barking, destruction, hyperactivity, self-mutilation, and failure to use the litter box are just few of the problems I see in pets who literally have nothing better to do. Since some such behaviors can also be linked to medical problems, the first thing to do is have your pet examined by your veterinarian. If the behavior has no underlying medical cause, it’s time to ask Fluffy to put on her thinking cap!

Interactive Pet Toys

These toys come in all varieties and price ranges, but they all have the same goal in mind: encouraging your pet to interact with the toy, and use her brain to “outsmart” it. Dogs are often intrigued bylarge toys stuffed with small toys which the pet must figure out how to remove. A toy that moves or makes noise when touched by the dog can also keep them entertained for hours.

Cats are huge fans of these types of toys as they appeal to their natural hunting instincts. Anything that bounces, wiggles, squirms, or rolls will probably be a big hit with your feline friend. And if you can find something with a timer that will entice your kitty at random intervals, even better.  

Food Puzzles

If your pet is not particularly motivated by brain teasers, try tempting him with a food puzzle. These toys encourage both dogs and cats to move and manipulate the toy until a treat is dispensed. Food puzzles come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes and degrees of difficulty. Owners of especially high drive pets will often serve their entire meals in these sorts of puzzles.

Such toys encourage pets to think, solve problems, and burn calories without involving any extra time or effort on behalf of their care takers. For example, this year, our dachshunds will be getting a Snuffle Mat, a toy which encourages pets to search through pockets and loops to find hidden treats.

If you’re shopping on a budget, or looking for a fun holiday activity for the kids, there are all sorts of ways to make DIY food puzzles for cats using items you probably already have in the house.

If you have multiple dogs, and plan to leave them alone with food puzzles, be sure each dog is confined to a separate part of the house. Food puzzles can be very stimulating for dogs, and you don’t want to run the risk of a fight breaking out while you are gone.

Continuing Education

If you have the time, why not consider treating Fido to some scheduled classes? A Certified Professional Dog Trainer can teach you how to have all sorts of fun with your dog. Whether it’s nose work, trick training, agility, or obedience, these activities are fun for both dogs and humans.

In addition to keeping Fido happy and fit, they provide him with something to think about besides which designer handbag to destroy next. Learning new behaviors not only reduces both boredom and anxiety, but provides active dogs with an outlet for burning energy.

Many trainers and behaviorists are fond of the adage, “A tired dog is a happy dog.” While I don’t disagree, I’ll take it one step further: “A cognitively enriched pet is a happy pet.” By putting a little more thought into shopping for our pets, we can create a happy holiday for the entire family.

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

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<![CDATA[Manatees Gather to Stay Warm During Cold Temps in Florida]]>Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:58:06 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/121117+manatees+tampa+electric.jpg

Manatees in Florida are doing whatever they can to stay warm with temperatures dipping throughout the Sunshine State Monday.

At Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, dozens of manatees gathered in the discharge canal.

Manatees at Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River were also hoping that keeping close would keep them warm.

Photo Credit: WFLA
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<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]>Thu, 07 Dec 2017 11:37:47 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/120717+NBC6_Bambi.jpgCheck out this week's pets of the week from the Humane Society of Broward County]]><![CDATA[Pets Are For Life, Not For The Holidays ]]>Thu, 07 Dec 2017 10:57:40 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Pets+are+for+life+photo.JPG

With the holiday season in full swing, it can be tempting to surprise a loved one with the gift of a Christmas Kitty or a Hanukkah Hound. While the sight of a puppy under the Christmas tree may be adorable, there are many things to consider before giving the gift of a sentient being that will live roughly fifteen years. At the risk of raining on the holiday parade, here are just a few things to bear in mind.

The intended recipient may not want a pet

Many folks will gush profusely over other people’s pets, yet lack the desire or the ability to keep a pet of their own. Pet ownership requires time, energy and financial commitment. If your loved one cannot provide a suitable environment for a pet, or simply does not want to do so, it is not appropriate to give them one as a gift. Do not assume they will change their mind or make adjustments when they see that cuddly kitten in their Christmas stocking. If they tell you they do not want a pet, please respect their wishes.

Kids may not truly understand the responsibilities involved with pet ownership

Children tire of new things quickly, and younger kids may be frightened of a nipping puppy or a kitten’s sharp claws. They may not have had enough exposure to animals for you to assess whether or not they are ready to live with one. Sadly, too many parents learn their children are allergic to pet hair or dander after adding a pet to the family.

While bringing home a pet is a great opportunity to teach kids responsibility, many parents are unprepared for the worst case scenario of having to care for the pet themselves if the kids lose interest in the new addition.

Now might not be the best time

Let’s face it - the holidays are hectic. It may not be the best time to do an honest lifestyle assessment, nor to help a new pet acclimate. New pets come with new rules, especially for children. And the chaotic holiday season isn’t the time for rolling out a new set of expectations. I always recommend adding a pet to the family either before or after the holiday hustle and bustle.

Puppies and kittens are a lot of work

While puppies and kittens are adorable, they can try the patience of a saint. This is especially true of puppies. They cry throughout the night. They need to be potty trained. They must be properly socialized, and are constantly learning. They chew, they jump, they make mistakes. And just when you think the puppy nonsense is over, they morph into rebellious adolescents.

Our young Zohan was an easy puppy, but his adolescence was a nightmare. Raising him from eight weeks was rewarding and fun, and was he ever cute! But make no mistake - it was a lot of work. Ask yourself if you have the patience for a puppy, and be honest.

Pet stores are eager for your holiday dollars

Pet stores, particularly puppy stores, are keenly aware of the temptation to give pets as presents. They know exactly how to mix cuteness and holiday cheer into a concoction that neutralizes any semblance of impulse control. Unfortunately, puppies purchased from pet stores are more likely to suffer from both behavioral and medical problems.

Our little Grendel is a four-time rescue whose original owner bought her from a low cost, high volume puppy store. While we love her dearly, her medical record is a litany of congenital problems that never should have been passed to another generation.

Such stores are often breeding grounds for highly contagious, and potentially deadly diseases such as parvovirus, distemper and canine influenza. Those puppies in the window were probably purchased from a puppy mill or puppy farm.

Such operations are notorious for prematurely separating puppies from their mothers, and forcing puppies to spend those vital first weeks in conditions linked to permanent psychological damage. Whatever the time of year, please contact the American Kennel Club for tips on finding a reputable breeder before visiting a puppy store or pet store. 

It’s a lot to think about - and that’s the point! Every January our shelters are inundated with discarded holiday “gifts”. Every pet deserves a forever home, not just a home for the holidays.

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

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<![CDATA[Miami Seaquarium Wants Public to Name New Dolphin Calf]]>Thu, 07 Dec 2017 09:57:59 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/120517+miami+seaquarium+dolphin+calf.jpg

The Miami Seaquarium wants the public to help them name their newest dolphin calf.

The female dolphin calf was born at the park on Oct. 30 and is the fifth offspring of Panama, a 23-year-old bottlenose dolphin that was also born at the park. The father is 27-year-old Sundance, who was also born at Miami Seaquarium.

The park is launching a Facebook sweepstakes beginning Thursday to name the calf. Fans can choose one of four names: 1. Boo, 2. Olive, 3. Sanibel and 4. Tortuga.

Anyone who votes will be automatically entered to win a Dolphin Encounter for two. The park will randomly pick a winner from all of the entries. The sweepstakes ends on Jan. 7 and the winner will be announced on Jan. 8.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/MiamiSeaquarium.

Photo Credit: Miami Seaquarium]]>
<![CDATA[Busch Gardens Tampa Welcomes Baby Giraffe on Thanksgiving]]>Mon, 27 Nov 2017 18:17:07 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/112317+Baby+Giraffe.jpg

Add this to the list of things for which to be thankful: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on Thursday welcomed a cute newborn giraffe!

"While you were busy enjoying a Thanksgiving feast, we were busy delivering a baby giraffe! From our growing family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!" the theme park said in a statement.

NBC 6 affiliate WFLA reports the baby giraffe does not yet have a name. It stands at 6 feet tall and weighs about 150 pounds.

The park's giraffes are located in its Serengeti Plain area.

"In a cooperative effort with other AZA (American Association of Zoos and Aquariums) institutions, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay closely manages its giraffe population through a program called the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which works to improve the genetic diversity of managed animal populations," Busch Gardens said in a statement.

<![CDATA[Large Crocodile Captured on Hollywood Beach]]>Tue, 21 Nov 2017 11:12:34 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/112017+crocodile+captured+hollywood+beach.jpg

A 6-foot crocodile was spotted sun bathing on a Florida beach Monday morning, drawing dozens of onlookers as it sat in the surf.

Police responded to Hollywood Beach near N. Surf Road and Haynes Street after witnesses reported seeing the crocodile walking along the shore around 7:30 a.m.

Officials said marine patrol earlier saw the crocodile near the Dania Beach Pier.

Video footage showed the croc lying on the shore line, its head facing toward the sky as waves rolled over its body. 

At one point it moved further into the water before returning above the surf. 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers responded to the scene as Beach Safety officials kept beachgoers and onlookers away from the animal.

Officers were eventually able to capture the croc on the beach.

Photo Credit: NBC 6
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<![CDATA[Golden Retriever Pup Joins Hialeah Fire Rescue Team]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 17:14:30 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/Happy+Pup.JPG

Meet Blaze, the newest recruit to the Hialeah Fire Department.

The 4-month-old golden retriever is training to be a live victim watch dog, and will eventually become part of FEMA’s Task Force team to search for victims in accidents and disasters.

"The dog is going to be an essential tool to have because we have catastrophic events such as what happened in Puerto Rico," said Hialeah Fire Department spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez-Tamborella.

Once certified, Blaze will be deployable to both natural and manmade disasters with FEMA.

The adorable puppy will also double as a stress reliever for the station’s firefighters during critical incidents and will be present during debriefings.

"The simple touch and petting of a dog has been proven to help alleviate stress," said Gonzalez-Tamborella.

Golden retrievers are very smart, have great senses of smell and their temperament makes them ideal breeds for the position.

Officials say that adding more dogs to the fire department’s team is something that they would like to explore, but is unknown as of now.

<![CDATA[Organization Reunites Broward Families With Missing Pets]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 17:16:38 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/111717+pooches+in+pines+family.jpg

When 4 year old Peanut went missing, his Pembroke Pines family immediately tried searching for their beloved family member.

“He does have a collar on him with his phone numbers, but we didn't get any texts or calls to the number. So, we went to Pooches In Pines,” said his owner, Larry Diaco.

Within 24 hours flyers were up and the word was out, leading to this happy reunion. But it's not the same story for every furry friend.

“We have about an 80 percent reunite rate. We have re-homed or reunited about 1,500 dogs in the six years that we’ve been open,” said Tracy Calvino from Pooches In Pines.

Pooches In Pines is a nonprofit animal assistance program that works alongside the Pembroke Pines Police Department. The founders are department employees who are also animal lovers.

“Some of us work here at the police department, some of them work outside of the police department and come after their jobs and walk and feed the dogs,” Calvino said. “We have some retired people that come during the day so we have round the clock coverage because we can't do it all. But we do have a great team of volunteers and we're always looking for volunteers.”

But for pets that can't get reunited, they're put up for adoption. If you’re interested in a new family member or want to help the organization out, check out their website by clicking on this link.

<![CDATA[Florida Man Fighting to Keep Emotional Support Squirrel]]>Mon, 13 Nov 2017 15:10:01 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/111317+Ryan+Boylan+squirrel+brutis.jpg

A Florida man says he can't live without his emotional support squirrel, but his condo association says the animal has to go.

Ryan Boylan received a notice last month that he needs to give up the squirrel, Brutis, or face eviction from his Clearwater Beach condo, WFLA reported.

Boylan says he and Brutis became inseparable after he rescued her last year during Hurricane Matthew.

"Ever since then I mean, oh my God, I can’t imagine not being around her,” Boylan said.

Boylan has a doctor's note that says he's suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident. He registered Brutis on RegisterMyServiceAnimal.com as an emotional support animal.

But according to a complaint filed by the condo association against Boylan and the condo owner, exotic animals are not allowed. The complaint also alleges that Boylan didn't submit paperwork that Brutis was an emotional support animal until this past summer.

Property management discovered Brutis after she was chased up a tree by a dog last April. Condo officials say it's a liability if something happens with the squirrel.

Boylan said he contacted Florida's Commission on Human Rights, claiming discrimination. They sent a letter to the association on his behalf citing the Fair Housing Act, which protects emotional support animals.

The case is pending.

Photo Credit: WFLA]]>
<![CDATA[8-Year-Old Florida Boy Catches Mammoth Alligator]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 15:30:00 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Gator+and+Grayson+Chandley.jpg

During a family hunting trip, an 8-year-old boy accomplished what many hunters dream of — catching an absolute behemoth of an alligator.

According to WFLA, young Grayson Chandley caught an alligator, measuring in at 11 feet, 3 inches long last month in Lake Kissimmee.

“I wanted to get it and I got it,” Grayson told WFLA.

Grayson, a third-grader, was eager to tell his friends about his big catch.

“I killed a big one,” he told them. To which his classmates replied, “that’s awesome.”

Grayson’s mother Lacey said her sons have been going on hunting trips with their father since the age of 5. Lacey's said she's proud of her son's accomplishment and adds he caught the massive gator without any help from his dad.

However, Grayson wasn’t the only member of the family to bring home a gator — his brother Gage, 11, caught a gator that was 8-feet, 3-inches long.

Photo Credit: WFLA, Lacey Chandley]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 13:55:40 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/Wed-GivingTuesday_BJ.jpg]]><![CDATA[Understanding and Helping Animals With Diabetes]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 12:42:48 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Dog+and+Daisy+Diabetes.jpeg

November is National Diabetes Month. In July of 2017, the Centers for Disease Control released a report which found more than 100 million Americans were suffering from diabetes, or prediabetes.

While many people are well-versed on basic knowledge of diabetes, pet parents are often surprised to learn pets can suffer from diabetes as well. Since awareness is the best defense in fighting pet diabetes, animal care professionals have jumped on the bandwagon, and declared November Pet Diabetes Awareness Month.

Since 2011, diabetes diagnoses have increased by 32 percent in dogs and 16 percent in cats. While canine diabetes is usually diagnosed in middle aged and senior dogs, it has also been seen in dogs as young as four years of age.

It is commonly diagnosed in Poodles, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and West Highland White Terriers. These findings, however, may reflect a certain bias based on breed popularity, rather than a genetic predisposition to the disease.

That said, pedigree analysis has identified a genetic predisposition in Samoyeds and Keeshonds. Burmese cats seem to be genetically predisposed to diabetes as well. Male cats are diagnosed with diabetes more frequently than their female counterparts.

The most common risk factors for diabetes in our pets are poor nutrition, lack of exercise, long-term corticosteroid use, and obesity. With pet obesity affecting nearly 54 percent of American dogs and 59 percent of our cats, the recent spike in diabetes diagnoses should come as no surprise.

Pets with diabetes may start sleeping more than usual, and appear lethargic throughout the day. Marked increases in water intake, food intake, and urination are red flags as well. Despite a seemingly insatiable appetite, diabetic pets may experience sudden weight loss. Diabetic dogs may have cloudy eyes, while diabetic cats may exhibit hind limb weakness or dry, thinning hair.

Some pets show few, if any clinical signs, but show early markers for diabetes in routine wellness blood screens. Let untreated, diabetes can lead to life-threatening medical problems, so if you notice any of the above symptoms, she will need to see her veterinarian as soon as possible.

Sadly, there is no cure for either canine or feline diabetes. The good news, however, is that the disease can be managed, and proper management can ensure many more years with our furry friends. Depending on each pet’s individual needs, your veterinarian may recommend weight loss or a change in diet.

If diabetes is caught before the onset of clinical signs, these changes could be all that is needed. Should your pet require insulin injections, don’t despair. While the thought of daily injections and glucose monitoring can be overwhelming at first, most pet parents report their pets tolerate the injections nicely.

The needles are small, and after a few tutorials by veterinary team members, caretakers generally agree it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, newer insulin products for cats have proven effective in regulating difficult cases, and can send newly diagnosed cases into remission after short term use. 

Like many conditions that affect our pets, prevention is often the best medicine. In the case of diabetes, obesity prevention is your pet’s best chance of keeping the disease at bay. Ask your veterinarian for his or her honest opinion of your pet’s Body Condition Score.

Develop a plan to keep your pet active and lean, and plan on running wellness blood work at least once every twelve months. Those decisions alone can give our companions the long and happy lives they so richly deserve.

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

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Photo Credit: Dr. Ian Kupkee]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]>Fri, 27 Oct 2017 13:38:21 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-NPBAD_Lenny.jpg]]><![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week - Oct. 23, 2017]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 16:11:35 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/188*120/Clyde-A1905139.jpg]]><![CDATA[It’s Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week!]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 07:21:00 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Vet+Tech+Week+2017+-+2.JPG

This week, we celebrate Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week. Historically, practitioners use this week to sing the praises of the caring professionals, without whom, our jobs would not be possible. There’s just one problem.

I don’t employ technicians. I employ nurses.

Now the last time someone in my field made this proclamation, an ugly mudslinging debacle erupted in the comment section. Indignant nurses in the human medical profession demanded apologies for being compared to people who work with animals.

Not to be outdone, their veterinary counterparts responded with litanies of all the tasks in their job descriptions, the number of times they’d been pooped on that week, and horror stories of human healthcare professionals who nearly killed their cats with Tylenol. I could not do my job without the tireless dedication of my team.

That said, I’d also be unable to do my job were it not for the sharp eyes of a human healthcare nurse who treated me in a local hospital. She caught a dosing error in my chart that probably would have killed me. So while comment wars make for fantastic traction, in truth, they are unbecoming of our respective professions. Let’s agree both jobs are important and keep it civil.

Here are some reasons why veterinary nurses are awesome - and why pet parents should give them the chance to prove it.

They’re the first ones at the hospital, and the last ones to leave.

Like their colleagues in human healthcare, veterinary nurses work long hours. They’re on their feet while I’m sitting at my desk. Lunch is often a stand-and-slurp occurrence which may or may not involve stopping to fish cat hair from their soup. When Hurricane Irma hit, my wife and I were in Ireland. Our team rode out the storm in our home.

Why? Because it’s a mile and a half from the clinic and they wanted to be available for emergencies as soon as it was safe to venture out. As soon as the all-clear was sounded, they were back at work, with a generator that wasn’t sufficiently powered to run the air conditioner.

While I was in a pub on the other side of the Atlantic, they were at the service of our community’s pet parents at the time of their greatest need. They set aside their own anxiety, stress, and borderline heat exhaustion for the sake of nursing others through all of the above. Which brings me to my next observation.

They put up with a lot.

Pet ownership is an emotional thing. We love our pets, and when they’re injured or ill, that love can turn into the kind of fear that drives us to lash out at others in anger. Sadly, veterinary nurses often bear the brunt of this anger. I have seen pet parents treat veterinarians with grace and charm, only to turn on a dime and spew jaw-dropping vitriol at “that girl in the office.”

I’ve empowered my nurses to stick up for themselves, so if you’re prone to this type of behavior, and you’re looking for a vet, you’ve been warned. I value my clients, but I need my nurses. And this is why:

They put themselves in harm’s way to keep your vet safe.

I’ve seen many a veterinary nurse hold onto a cat whose teeth were buried in their forearms. Throughout my career, I’ve encountered two large dogs who decided they’d had enough of my poking and prodding. The nurses saw the attacks coming before I did, and gave the corrections that allowed me to jump out the way.

The highly trained professional who accompanies your vet in the exam room is not simply holding your pet’s leash. These nurses are watching your pet’s body language so the doctor can fully focus on the physical exam. Those subtle signs of fear aggression will be missed by the vet who’s silently assessing that malignant tumor disguised as a “funny little bump.”

If your vet has ten fingers, a thriving surgical career, and an intact face, chances are it’s thanks to a veterinary nurse.

They can answer questions your vet cannot.

If your pet needs an abscess repaired or a spleen removed, I’m your guy. For updates on the latest pet food recall, or that new, upscale doggie day care center? Behold the Dr. Kupkee Blank Stare. My nurses, on the other hand, have the scoop on all of that and more.

They can also answer questions regarding medications, side effects, recovery times, after care, pre-surgical instructions, nutrition, and behavior. Whilst your vet is perfectly capable of answering these as well, chances are you won’t have to wait for a nurse. And they’re not just good talkers…

They’re great listeners.

Several years ago, we were working up a case that frankly, was going nowhere. Every test came back negative, the dog was getting worse, and we began to question her quality of life. As the owner resigned himself to the possibility of euthanasia, he began to reflect on the years of happiness he had shared with his best friend. He told one of my nurses the story of the day he first time saw his dog in the shelter.

He adopted her on the spot, and moved to Miami shortly afterwards. Curious, the nurse asked him where they had previously lived. When he answered, she snatched the euthanasia consent form his hand and yelled, “Hold, please!” as she rushed to find me. Within an hour, we’d put the pieces together. The dog had a rare, parasitic infection found only in certain pockets of the country - one such pocket was this dog’s original home.

We were the third hospital to see this dog. Only one person took the time to listen to this young man tell his story. As much as I’d like to claim the credit, it isn’t mine to claim. Nurses know the devil is often in the details, and they watch for those details like hawks.

So if you find yourself wanting to bypass the staff and just talk to the doctor, give one of these gifted souls a chance. You’re likely to find a sharp mind, a big heart, and a sympathetic ear.

And that’s why I call them nurses.

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

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<![CDATA[Large Iguana In Stuart Goes Viral ]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:34:38 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/101717_editediguana.jpg

Officers took a scaly “suspect” into custody on Monday, following reports of sightings around downtown Stuart.

The “suspect” in question was a 5 ½-feet-long iguana that was spotted lounging in the outdoor patio area of a local restaurant. Officer Theodore “TJ” Dulancey captured the creature after officers on road patrol called him for help.

Dulancey is experienced when it comes to handling reptiles. He is licensed with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and breeds snakes and other creatures.

A picture of Dulancey holding up the green-and-yellow iguana is gaining traction on the Stuart Police Department's Facebook since it was posted on Monday. So far, the image has been shared more than 600 times.

Jeff Kittredge, public information officer, said sightings of iguanas are uncommon in Stuart. He said that recent storms may have caused the creature to get re-located from South Florida, where iguanas are far more prevalent.

Kittredge said nobody was injured or hurt by the iguana and that the invasive creature is now at a pet store that caters to reptiles.

<![CDATA[Florida Keys Woman Paddleboards with Pet Chicken]]>Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:56:38 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/101717+Woman+Paddleboards+Chicken.jpg

Standup paddleboarding is a popular sport in the Florida Keys, appealing to a diverse cross-section of people who want to "unplug." Some canine-craving paddlers even take their dogs along for the ride.

For Florida Keys resident Karly Venezia, however, evening paddleboard excursions mean chicken companionship with her one-year-old pet, "Loretta," a Rhode Island Red.

"Loretta’s very curious and follows us around the yard," said Venezia, the director of sales for a large resort who grew up in Key West, where free-roaming chickens are a common sight. "Living in the Florida Keys, we like to get out on the water, so it only seemed natural to us to take Loretta paddleboarding and boating and things that we do with our dogs."

Venezia said Loretta always seems to have a great time during paddleboarding jaunts, sitting and watching quietly at the front of the board. Loretta displays no fear of the water or paddle movements, defying the dictionary’s "cowardly" slang definition for chicken.

Watching the duo cruise along a protected kayak trail at sunset is simply "poultry in motion."

"Paddleboarding’s very calming and I like hanging out with Loretta; she’s an awesome pet to have," said Venezia. "So for us, I think coming out here and getting to enjoy the beautiful sunsets is what makes living in the Keys so special."

Photo Credit: Florida Keys News Bureau
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<![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week - Oct. 6, 2017]]>Fri, 06 Oct 2017 13:53:17 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/100617+Burger-A1904165.jpg]]><![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]>Thu, 28 Sep 2017 09:42:46 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Bee+Bee.jpg]]><![CDATA[Scam Alert: 80% of Online Puppy Ads Are Fraud]]>Thu, 28 Sep 2017 10:38:57 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AHORA-MASCOTAS1.jpg

If you’re looking to add a cute puppy to your family, beware of online scams.

An alarming 80 percent of online ads for puppies are fraudulent, according to a new study released by the Better Business Bureau. Experts say that even with a very careful online search, coming across a bogus ad is very likely.

The report states that there are thousands of victims around the United States – and the world – who have been bilked of hundreds to thousands of dollars after succumbing to the prey of online puppy scams.

The study shows that teenagers and young adults are targeted in unusually high numbers, and their dependence on technology may be to blame.

Fraudulent postings often begin with a fake web site showcasing stolen photos from a legitimate site. While some scammers may offer "free" puppies, others offer puppies at extremely discounted prices to attract buyers. 

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After grabbing the interest of an unsuspecting victim, the greedy "seller" demands payments from their prey until they finally become suspicious after wiring money through Western Union or MoneyGram services to Camerroon in West Africa.

To avoid falling victim to an online puppy scam, experts say following these 5 tips:

  • Avoid puppy mills
  • Never buy a pet without seeing it in person.
  • Never pay a stranger with a money order or through a wire transfer service
  • Never use cash. Always pay with a credit card in case you need to dispute the charges
  • Do an internet search of the picture of the pet you are interested in. If the same picture appears on several sites, you may be dealing with fraud.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Moment RF]]>
<![CDATA[Crews Rescue Dolphin Stranded Offshore of Sugarloaf Key]]>Sat, 23 Sep 2017 19:01:04 -0500https://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 13:14:17 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Greyson.jpg]]><![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 20:23:27 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/083117+NBC6_Amber.jpg]]><![CDATA[It's a Girl! Zoo Miami Welcomes 51st Baby Giraffe]]>Tue, 07 Nov 2017 14:43:51 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/51+giraffe+born+at+Zoo+Miami+%2813%29.jpgHere’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 11:13:45 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/082417+NBC6_Gidget.jpg]]><![CDATA[Miami-Dade Animal Services Pets of the Week]]>Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:06:45 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*160/Jerry+A1895763.jpg]]><![CDATA[Prepare Your Pet For the Solar Eclipse]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 08:49:54 -0500https://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.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Why Are There So Many Big Dogs In South Florida Shelters?]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:00:42 -0500https://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 11:55:50 -0500https://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 09:11:33 -0500https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/08117+Kiko-A1867330.jpg]]><![CDATA['Free Lolita' Protest Planned Outside Miami Seaquarium]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 09:57:54 -0500https://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 09:01:30 -0500https://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 15:47:00 -0500https://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 13:37:23 -0500https://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]]>