<![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-usSun, 22 Apr 2018 12:28:41 -0400Sun, 22 Apr 2018 12:28:41 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]>Sat, 21 Apr 2018 20:56:10 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-gala_Nyla.jpg]]><![CDATA[Miami-Dade Dogs Waiting For Adoption Getting Fun Day Out]]>Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:47:17 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/225*120/Banner9.jpg

Every dog has their day – and Miami-Dade Animal Services is teaming with Miami-Dade Police and NBC 6 to make sure pups looking for their forever home get a chance to have a little fun.

On Wednesday April 25th, shelter dogs will all get to spend the day at a park. Luis Cuellar from MDAS says that besides shelter, food, water and healthcare, pets need to have fun - adding that the shelter environment is stressful for dogs and that the longer a pet stay in a shelter, the more prone to illness and depression it is.

Miami-Dade Animal Services are working to give shelter pets life enrichment opportunities, including playing outdoors with other dogs, toys, music and human contact. The afternoon will be filled with outdoor play time and doggie ice cream treats – and a chance for the pets to find a forever home at Tropical Park.

For more information, go to animals.miamidade.gov or call 311. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade County Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[Group Working to Save Bunnies in Danger at South Fla. Park]]>Thu, 19 Apr 2018 06:40:17 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/215*120/041918+bunny+park+palm+beach+county.png

An animal rescue group is working to protect dozens of bunny rabbits that have taken over a Palm Beach County park in recent years – after concerned residents said some were found killed or suffering from injuries recently.

Pioneer Canal Park in Boynton Beach, known to locals as Bunny Park, has seen an increase in the number of fluffy animals in the area recently. While residents love having them around, recent incidents had them worried for their safety.

“I’m tired of seeing them get hurt," Jana Sandler told NBC affiliate WPTV. "Almost every day, I find a dead bunny.”

Those living near the park say these are not wild rabbits – instead, domesticated animals who were once pets or meant to live as such, so they do not survive well in the wild.

Residents called East Coast Rabbit Rescue, who has spent the last two weeks gathering nearly three dozen bunnies to help give them care.

“We want the neighborhood to understand that what we’re doing is helping the bunnies and saving their lives basically," said Luz Pereira from ECRR. “They’re covered in bite wounds, they’re covered in abscesses. They have fleas, ticks, they have everything.”

Pereira added that the mission to save all the bunnies could take months as the ones who have not been found continue to multiple. Residents just want the bunnies to be safe and healthy.

“Everyone is sorry to see them go, most of all me. I love them more than my life. But I love them to save them," Sandler said.

Photo Credit: WPTV]]>
<![CDATA[Python Leads SWFL Biologists to Largest Snake Sex Party]]>Wed, 18 Apr 2018 18:27:41 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Largest+Python+Breeding+Aggregation+Found+in+SWFL.jpg

A Burmese python named “Argo” fitted with a tracking device led researchers to what’s being called the largest bed of breeding snakes ever discovered.

The sentinel python slithered his way to the massive breeding aggregation containing seven snakes – six males and one massive female weighing 115 pounds.

Researchers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida released the reptile with a surgically implanted tracking device to search for female pythons during the invasive species’ busy breeding season.

In addition to finding six male pythons this season, officials say “Argo” found two female snakes each weighing more than 100 pounds. The two massive females would have laid more than 120 eggs, according to wildlife biologist Ian Bartoszek.

Breeding takes place from January through April, in which the female snakes are larger than males. Females will then guard the nest for weeks until the eggs hatch.

As of March 1, conservancy biologists and researchers have removed an estimated 10,000 pounds of pythons and more than 3,000 developing eggs from the ecosystem.

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<![CDATA[Springtime Blooms & Your Pet: A Guide to Toxic Plants]]>Wed, 11 Apr 2018 05:39:09 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Some_Springtime_Blooms_May_Be_Toxic_to_Pets.jpg

Springtime brings beautiful blooms to San Diego County but some of those blooms are among the most deadly to naturally-curious pets. 

There are certain plants that bloom in the spring that can be poisonous to animals if eaten, said Linda Septon, adoption counselor with Chula Vista Animal Care Facility. You may be growing these toxic plants in your backyard, and often these plants are given as a bouquet gift in the spring. 

Here's what pet owners need to know: 

What is Toxic to Pets? 

Daffodils, cyclamen and tulipsare among the plants that sprout in spring that can cause pets to get sick to their stomach, Septon said.

"(Tulips) are deadly, especially the bulbs. The bulbs are super deadly," Septon said.

Lilies can also be deadly to furry friends and all varieties should also be kept away from pets, Septon warns.

"Even a cat eating one petal or even some of the pollen from the stamens here, it can lead to kidney failure and death in 4 to 7 days," Septon said.

Geraniums, which are drought resistant and easy to grow, can cause anorexia, depression and vomiting, Septon said.

Certain palm trees can also be dangerous.

"This particular variety of palm called the sago, the leaves can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, convulsions, seizures," said Septon.

Dogs will sometimes see their owner plant bulbs in the yard, and try to dig them out later, which may be toxic to the animal.

How to Have Spring Blooms but Keep Pets Safe: 

If you do want springtime blooms in your backyard, there are ways to ensure your pets can't get their paws on them:

Chicken wire and mulch can help prevent dogs from getting to the buried bulbs.

Dogs often dig because they're bored, so it's important to have toys in the backyard and a shady area for pets to rest, Septon said.

Any kind of plant could cause your pet to vomit but some are relatively safe. Here are some safer options to keep around the house: 

Sunflowers, marigolds, hibiscus and all varieties of daisies are okay for your pet to chew on.

What to do if a Toxic Plant is Ingested: 

If your pet does ingest a toxic plant, Septon said to ask a professional for help as quickly as possible. 

Some pet owners try to make their dog or cat vomit to get rid of the toxin but that could actually make the animal sicker, Septon said.

Pet owners should instead contact the 24-hour animal poison control hotline 888-426-4435 immediately and know the kind of plant the animal ingested.

Pet parents should also know the closest 24-hour emergency clinic and take the pet to a veterinarian if a toxic plant is ingested.

Here is a list of toxic and non-toxic plants for animals.

<![CDATA[Mother Manatee, Calf Recovering After Possible Boat Strike]]>Tue, 10 Apr 2018 10:13:18 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/041018+manatees+rescued.PNG

Crews at SeaWorld Orlando are working to help a mother manatee and her nearly 1-year-old nursing calf get back to good health after being found in Southwest Florida dealing with buoyancy issues.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said the duo were found near North Fort Myers and brought to the facility in Central Florida by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Officials say buoyancy issues, known as pneumothorax, could have been caused by blunt force from a boat strike and can have a negative impact on a manatee’s health and eating patterns – which can be harmful for those who are nursing and possibly life threatening.

The calf was unharmed but must remain with the mother while it is nursing. SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue Team says they have returned seven of the 30 manatees rescued in 2018 back to their natural habitats.

Photo Credit: SeaWorld Orlando]]>
<![CDATA[Zoo Miami's Zebra 'Apollo' Receives 'Pedicure' ]]>Thu, 05 Apr 2018 18:03:29 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/040518+Zebra+Pedi.jpg

Apollo, a 15-year-old male plains zebra, had his hooves trimmed on Thursday as part of a preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami.

Zoo Miami said that zebras, as members of the equine family, have hoof structures that are similar to domestic horses and, like horses, their hooves may need trimming.

"At Zoo Miami, they do not have to run from predators and tend to be on fairly even terrain, unlike what they would encounter in the wild," Zoo Miami said in a statement. "Because of this, their hooves can sometimes become overgrown and need to be trimmed."

Apollo was immobilized for the procedure.

Jorge Ocampo, a farrier, or craftsperson who trims and shoes hooves, performed the treatment with the help of Zoo Miami's veterinary team, led by doctors Gaby Flacke and Jimmy Johnson, who did a general health exam on Apollo.

Ocampo told Zoo Miami officials that Apollo's hooves were in excellent condition, only having to do minor work, the statement adds.

Plain zebras are the most common species of zebras, found throughout the plains and savannas of sub-Saharan east Africa and southern Africa, Zoo Miami said.

<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County's Pets of the Week]]>Thu, 29 Mar 2018 11:56:58 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/032918+NBC6-bigdog_Alex.jpg]]><![CDATA[Rescuing Baby Wildlife: How, And If, You Should Help]]>Thu, 29 Mar 2018 11:54:55 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Doc+with+nest.JPG

Springtime is when South Florida’s wildlife is hard at work, caring for the next generation of wild critters. It’s also when veterinary clinics are flooded with calls concerning young wild animals who appear orphaned or abandoned.

While these callers are always willing to help and eager to know what to do, they are often surprised to learn even good intentions can result in more harm than good. Here are some general rules for deciding how - and more importantly, if - you should help a baby wild animal.

Observe from a distance.

Perhaps the most important aspect of wild animal rescue is deciding whether the animal needs to be rescued at all. In 2016, two well-meaning tourists “rescued” a bison calf in Yellowstone National Park. The story did not end well. Often our attempts to intervene with the natural order of the wild world lead to tragedy. It is normal for baby animals to be left alone while their mothers search for food.

A young bird flailing on the ground may simply be learning to fly. These youngsters have not been abandoned, and the parents are probably closer than you think. Attempts to be a Good Samaritan may even result in attacks by angry mothers who see human involvement as a threat. Find a quiet, hidden spot, and step in only if the the baby is in imminent danger of being hit by a car or snatched by a predator.

Determine whether or not the baby needs your help.

If the youngster is shivering, he has probably been on his own for a while. In this case, intervention is necessary. Ditto for babies who are wandering and crying for more than about twenty minutes. If mom is around, she will rush back to quiet him, as such sounds draw the attention of predators. If a parent does not appear in response to such distress calls, the baby is likely on his own.

A youngster who is bleeding, or displaying a limb which is dragging or visibly broken needs your help. Search the area for a dead parent. If you find one, the baby needs you. The same holds true for a baby animal who is presented as a “gift” by a cat or dog. If the youngster has survived this misadventure, he needs help, and he needs it now.

With regards to birds, one should only intervene if the baby is pink, or has minimal, fuzzy feathers. If you can find the nest, carefully place the baby back inside. Contrary to popular belief, birds do not recognize their offspring based on scent. The parents will not abandon him if he has been touched by humans.

A baby bird who is fully feathered is probably on the ground because he is learning to fly. Leaving him alone is counterintuitive, but essential. Flying is difficult, and fledglings get frustrated when they fail. They may squawk loudly and flail around in a most dramatic fashion. But they are doing this for mom’s attention, not yours.

And your attempts to help are likely to be rewarded with a dive-bomb attack from an angry avian parent. If the fledgling is in imminent danger from a cat or dog, chase the miscreants away, and leave the bird alone. This will also alert the mother bird, who will happily take it from there. More extensive information on baby bird rescue can be found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website

Take action.

If you’ve determined a baby needs your help, you need to get him to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as quickly as possible. This is not - repeat NOT - a DIY project you can do at home! Wildlife rehab is extraordinarily difficult. Every species has a specific diet, and babies must be fed often. Great care must be taken to ensure food is not aspirated into the lungs, where it can lead to life-threatening pneumonia.

Orphans must be taught how to hunt on their own, with minimal exposure to humans. Since the goal is to return the animals to the wild, the youngsters cannot be put in a situation where they may imprint upon their human caretakers. Some species are more susceptible to imprinting than others. Only a licensed wildlife rehabilitator can do this work successfully, and in a species-specific manner.

Because of the complications involved with this process, it is illegal for non-licensed civilians to attempt to rehabilitate wildlife. Since it is also illegal to keep wild animals as pets, it is not an option to rescue a wild baby in the hopes the imprinting process will turn it into a novel pet. 

Many rescuers are surprised to learn that veterinarians are not automatically licensed to treat and rehabilitate wildlife. While some of us may have this additional layer of training, most of us (myself included), do not. While your veterinarian can probably provide you with a list of licensed wildlife rehabbers, please be understanding if the vet you’ve always counted on cannot take your wild foundling off your hands. The same laws that apply to the general public also apply to us. Without the proper licensure, it is illegal for veterinarians to treat or rehab wild animals.

Transport the baby safely.

When dealing with an orphaned baby, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama, and neglect our own safety. Your foundling is probably terrified, and terrified animals - even adorable, helpless baby ones - often bite. If your orphan has teeth, use a blanket or towel to swaddle him. This should also protect your hands. Place him in a box or pet carrier, and do so as quickly as possible.

Remember these animals must be returned to the wild, so keep handling to an absolute bare minimum. It’s also important for them not to lose their natural aversion to the sounds of human activity. Once you have your charge secured in your car, make the interior as quiet as possible. Turn off the radio, silence your cell phone. Do everything in your power not to talk. If you are bitten or scratched, seek medical attention immediately.

The difference between life and death in many of these situations is warmth. In addition to the towels inside the carrier, cover the outside as well. Point A/C vents away from the carrier. Never put animals on a heating pad, but if you happen to have an old school hot water bottle, fill it up, wrap it in a towel, and place in the carrier. Do not give the animal any food or water unless specifically instructed to do so by a wildlife rehabilitator.

So who are these wildlife rehabilitators?

Here is a list of some of South Florida’s licensed wildlife rehabilitators. If you live in an area where wildlife is abundant, you may want to plan where you will go in advance. Call ahead to let them know you are coming, as many are not equipped with a reception area.

Most of these facilities are either non-profit organizations, or individuals donating their time and expertise. They may be bashful about asking, so I’ll say it on their behalf - financial donations are always needed, and greatly appreciated. If you use their services, please be as generous as possible.

Wildlife Rescue of Dade County 

South Florida Wildlife Center 

Pelican Harbor Seabird Center 

Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center at the Miami Science Museum 

Everglades Outpost 

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center

Click here for a list of wildlife rehabbers throughout the state of Florida

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

Click here and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 viewers!

<![CDATA[Zoo Miami Welcomes Baby Giraffe, the 52nd Born at the Park]]>Wed, 28 Mar 2018 18:04:42 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/032818+zoo+miami+baby+giraffe.jpg

Zoo Miami welcomed a baby giraffe Wednesday, the 52nd born at the park in its history.

Sabra, a seven and a half year old giraffe, gave birth to the baby, her third calf. The unnamed baby will undergo a neonatal exam where its sex will be confirmed, although the initial indications show it to be a male, zoo officials said.

The baby and Sabra will remain off exhibit until they have bonded well and can be introduced to the rest of the herd.

Sabra came to the zoo from the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa in November of 2013. The baby's father, Titan, was also born at Zoo Miami in June of 2012.

Giraffe pregnancies last about 15 months and the mother rarely lies down while giving birth, so the baby falls about 4-6 feet to the floor, zoo officials said. Newborns usually weigh more than a hundred pounds at birth and stand nearly six feet tall.

"I am always amazed at the size of the baby that comes out of a giraffe!!" Zoo Miami's Ron Magill said in a statement. "She must have storage up in her neck for her to conceal the size of such a large baby in such a relatively small abdomen!!!"

Photo Credit: Zoo Miami]]>
<![CDATA[Manatee Appreciation Day Takes Place Wednesday]]>Wed, 28 Mar 2018 06:05:15 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/manateesFlorida_1200x675.jpg

If you are a lover of manatees, Wednesday is a special day for you!

The last Wednesday each March is designated as Manatee Appreciation Day, honoring the calm animal that makes Florida its home during the winter months each year.

Currently, there are around 3,200 manatees living in the United States – a group of calm herbivores that do not have a known natural enemy and spend most of their time eating, sleeping and traveling.

Known to make their home in slow rivers, canals as well as coastal areas and locations near warm water, the species comes south during the colder months and moves north and west during the summertime.

For more information on how you can help save the species that was moved from endangered to threatened in 2017, click on this link.

Photo Credit: TNS via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Are Essential Oils Safe for Cats? ]]>Thu, 08 Mar 2018 09:57:46 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/030817+cat+essential+oi.JPG

The past decade has seen roughly one third of Americans turn to various forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. As interest in natural medicine for humans continues to grow, so too has interest in natural medicine for pets. While many of these treatments are safe and effective for pets, veterinary practitioners have begun to see an alarming number of cats who have fallen ill following treatment with essential oils.

The responses to concerns expressed by these practitioners often range from surprise to suspicion. These remedies are natural! They’re been used for centuries! Perhaps the veterinary profession feels threatened by the healing capacity of a plant-based product available at the local health food store! Such reactions are understandable, but as one of my colleagues is fond of saying, rattlesnake venom is 100% natural and organic. In other words, not everything found  in nature is beneficial and benign. Factor in a cat’s small size and unique physiology, and it’s easier to see how these treatments might do more harm than good.

Like many other substances, essential oils are processed in the liver, using a particular enzyme called glucuronyltransferase. Simply put, cats naturally lack this liver enzyme. For this reason, it is not currently recommended that cat owners apply any essential oils directly to their cats, or use essential oil diffusers in their homes. While many cat owners report having used diffusers without incident, bear in mind that the effects of toxicity can be cumulative, as opposed to sudden and dramatic. Cats may choose not to leave a room where a diffuser is being used, and their interest in sticking around can easily lead to a false assumption that they instinctively know what is best. While hydrosols added to a cat’s drinking water can provide a safer method of treatment, this should only be done under the guidance of the cat’s current veterinarian. And ideally, the prescribing practitioner should be one who specializes in Complementary and Alternative Medicine for pets.

While all essential oils can present problems for cats, products high in 1,8-cineole, camphor, pinene, limonene, methyl salicylate, ketones, and phenols are especially dangerous. These include, but are not limited to, bergamot, camphor, clementine, clove, eucalyptus, fir, most species of frankincense, grapefruit, juniper, lavender (spike), lavandin, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange (including bitter, blood and sweet varieties), oregano, peppermint, pine, rosemary, sage, spearmint, spruce, tangerine, tea tree, thyme and yarrow.

Clinical signs of essential oil toxicity in cats include respiratory distress, vomiting, tremors, unsteadiness, drooling, or low body temperature. The cat may appear to be coughing up a hairball, or attempting to vomit, but may only stay crouched in this position. Cats showing any of  these signs require immediate veterinary intervention.

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to assess and reconsider the use of essential oils in our homes. If your cat has been exposed, but is not showing signs of illness, you may want to consider a veterinary check up which includes wellness blood work. This routine test will assess the function of your kitty’s internal organs, including his liver. If caught early, damage can often be stopped, and even reversed. As is often the case, just an ounce of prevention and early intervention can be worth a pound of cure.

Dr. Kupkee is the lead practitioner at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic. http://www.sabalchaseanimalclinic.com/home.html

Click here for deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 viewers! http://www.sabalchaseanimalclinic.com/nbc6.html

<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]>Fri, 02 Mar 2018 14:37:03 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6-Walk_Charlton.jpg]]><![CDATA[Family Finds Iguana Inside Laundry Room of Florida Home]]>Wed, 14 Feb 2018 10:00:11 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/021418+iguana+inside+florida+home.jpg

A family on Florida’s Treasure Coast got a new houseguest this week –a four foot iguana that made its way into their laundry room.

Martin County Sheriff’s Office posted photos on Facebook showing the animal that made itself at home inside the Jensen Beach home, after the owners called deputies to say they saw an “exotic character” near their washing machine.

Having some fun with the situation, MSCO posted that the unnamed intruder was taken into custody without incident and taken to a “more appropriate iguana friendly facility.”

Photo Credit: Martin County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Woman in Florida Hospital Gets Surprise Visit From Her Horse]]>Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:22:59 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/021318+woman+horse+hospital+florida.jpg

A woman undergoing treatment at a Florida hospital for a long-lasting illness had a special visitor Monday: her horse.

Christine Carbonneau’s long time partner, Gary, arranged for her horse, Ireland, to visit her at Florida Hospital Connerton Long Term Acute Care Facility in Land O’Lakes.

Carbonneau, 58, has had a long illness and is trying to wean off a ventilator, hospital officials said. Gary thought she seemed a little low in spirits and thought she might benefit from a visit from Ireland.

Hospital staff made arrangements for Ireland's visit and were able to get Carbonneau off the ventilator and outside so she could be reunited with her horse.

Photo Credit: Florida Hospital Connerton Long Term Acute Care]]>
<![CDATA[Keeping Pets Safe on Valentine’s Day]]>Thu, 08 Feb 2018 11:36:43 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Pets+and+Valentine%27s+Day.JPG

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many of us have only one thing on our minds - chocolate! And while we may love its effect on that special someone, chocolate can be deadly if eaten by cats or dogs.

Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine. Consuming large quantities can lead to theobromine toxicity, symptoms of which include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. Severe cases can easily progress to seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest. Because of their small size relative to that of humans, dogs and cats cannot tolerate amounts considered safe for human consumption.

The highest concentrations of theobromine are found in baking chocolate. Just one 2oz. square of baking chocolate contains a fatal dose for a 20-pound dog. Dark chocolate is nearly as dangerous. While milk and white chocolates contain lower concentrations of theobromine, the high levels of fat in these sugary treats can cause severe gastric upset, or a more dangerous condition known as pancreatitis.

Since most cases of theobromine toxicity are the result of pets helping themselves to generous portions, keep those heart-shaped boxes well out of your pet’s reach. Our furry friends are oblivious to these dangers, and they find chocolate-y goodness as irresistible as we do!

Nuts can also be a problem for pets, so stash these as well. Macadamias and walnuts contain a substance that has yet to be identified by researchers, yet has been linked to severe neurological signs in dogs. Nuts can also contain aflotoxin mold, which can quickly accumulate to dangerous levels in small animals. The size and shape of nuts can make them difficult to digest, so keep them safely out of reach.

If your sweetie doesn’t care for sweets and you’re bringing home flowers instead, remember that popular cut flowers like carnations can cause gastric upset for our pets. Lilies are toxic to cats, so be sure to inspect all bouquets for any flowers such as Easter lilies, tiger lilies, stargazer lilies, or any flower in the lilium family. If you live with a cat, dispose of these flowers safely, as even airborne pollen or water in which lilies are displayed, can be deadly if ingested by our feline friends.

Always use caution with lighted candles, as roughly 100 house fires per year are started by pets. Candles are the leading cause of such catastrophes. And if aromatherapy is on the agenda, be advised that these products can be a problem for pets as well. Cats in particular are at risk of falling ill as they lack an essential liver enzyme that allows them to safely metabolize such oils.

Oils which are a known danger to cats include Ylang ylang, pennyroyal, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and tea tree oils, but this list is not exclusive and much research has yet to be done. Cat parents should use extreme caution if they choose to use these products, and perhaps most importantly, never apply them to their pets.

If you suspect your pet has ingested or inhaled a toxin, call your veterinarian immediately. That said, a little due diligence can help ensure Fluffy does not cause the holiday romance to fizzle.

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

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

Photo Credit: Dr. Ian Kupkee]]>
<![CDATA[8-Foot Gator Found in South Florida Family's Pool]]>Mon, 05 Feb 2018 17:35:47 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/020518+gator+in+pool+boca+raton+wptv.jpg

A South Florida family woke up to find an 8-foot alligator taking a dip in their backyard pool.

The massive gator was found at a home on Southwest 14th Drive in Boca Raton, WPTV reported.

Trappers responded and were able to safely get the gator out. It's believed to have come from a nearby canal.

Photo Credit: WPTV]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]>Fri, 02 Feb 2018 13:17:15 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Ash.jpg]]><![CDATA[Dog Bite Prevention For Runners]]>Mon, 22 Jan 2018 12:18:29 -0400https://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

Click here for deals and discounts exclusively for NBC 6 viewers.

Photo Credit: Lynn Kupkee]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]>Sun, 14 Jan 2018 11:41:02 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/011418+NBC6_Molly.jpg]]><![CDATA[Humane Society of Broward County Pets of the Week]]>Mon, 01 Jan 2018 12:05:43 -0400https://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 19:06:33 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/NBC6_Pickle.jpg]]><![CDATA[Newborn Pup Rescued After Tied to Train Tracks in Florida]]>Sat, 16 Dec 2017 23:12:52 -0400https://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 10:19:48 -0400https://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 19:58:06 -0400https://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 12:37:47 -0400https://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 11:57:40 -0400https://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 10:57:59 -0400https://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 19:17:07 -0400https://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 12:12:34 -0400https://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 18:14:30 -0400https://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 18:16:38 -0400https://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 16:10:01 -0400https://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 16:30:00 -0400https://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 14:55:40 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/Wed-GivingTuesday_BJ.jpg]]><![CDATA[Understanding and Helping Animals With Diabetes]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 13:42:48 -0400https://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 14:38:21 -0400https://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 17:11:35 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/188*120/Clyde-A1905139.jpg]]><![CDATA[It’s Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week!]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:21:00 -0400https://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 16:34:38 -0400https://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 17:56:38 -0400https://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 14:53:17 -0400https://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/100617+Burger-A1904165.jpg]]>