As we count down to the holidays, don’t forget dog-shaped cookies (and ornaments) made with cookie cutters! This week only, ALL our cookie cutters on our PawZaar Cookie Cutter Collection page…
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There are certain calls to news editors that prove irresistible.
I imagine in this day and age of ratings and clicks mattering more than actual investigative reporting, nothing makes editors salivate more than the tale of a devastated family and the greedy, lazy, and/or incompetent veterinarian responsible for the death of a pet.
It neatly checks all the boxes modern day news websites are looking for: sad family. Adorable pet. Terrible situation. Having fulfilled these requirements, the media happily narrates the story with appropriate gravitas and murmurings of “tragic, Jane, back to you for the weather” and then they go on with their lives while the veterinarian in question now is left with the angry mob to deal with. Who cares? It got a ton of clicks!
Savaging a veterinarian who cannot legally or ethically defend themselves in public has become so common and so rote now that it doesn’t even surprise me any more. The latest happened in Greenville South Carolina, but the same old formula has been circulating for years. I should know; it happened to me too.
I understand- truly, I do– the devastation of a client who has lost a beloved pet. I understand that grief does funny things and it often becomes easier to turn guilt into anger, to blame someone else for all the things you could have done better. Better this than to say to yourself, “I played a role in this pet’s death too.”
But I do blame the media for swallowing these stories as presented, regurgitating them to the public as if they were an absolute truth without bothering to even try to get another side to the story. They are part of the reason veterinarians burn out and leave the field, develop addictions, or worse. Because here’s the truth:
As the Vet in Question, You Can’t Win
When someone has lost their pet under sad circumstances and goes to the media, as the professional involved, you are in a terrible situation. We are not supposed to discuss our patients in a public setting. Pointing out that a grieving owner has some responsibility for what transpired is, even when it’s true, awfully callous. There’s just no winning.
As a member of the public, it’s easy to feel outrage when you are presented with a one-sided story, but I’m begging you as someone who has been there, before you jump on the social media bandwagon and pillory yet another professional trying to do their job, to consider that there is probably another side to the story.
I Wish He Had a Chance
In this recent case in South Carolina, a Pomeranian with no ID and no microchip presented with breathing difficulties to an emergency hospital; he was considered a stray, brought in by a Good Samaritan. The pet was euthanized. This is what we know. The hospital declined to comment, as is standard practice.
All any of us have to go on is the owner’s story. My comments, as an emergency veterinarian who’s been in similar situations, follow.
“Bridges says Meeka had a history of tracheal problems that were easily managed with ibuprofen and Benadryl, and believes the vet misdiagnosed her dog’s condition.
Ibuprofen is not prescribed in veterinary medicine*. If the pet was being treated with that, his condition- whatever it was, as ‘slipped trachea’ is not a condition- was never accurately diagnosed or managed. In fact, ibuprofen toxicity is itself a common reason for ER visits.
In an emergency situation where a good Samaritan brings in a pet with breathing difficulty (a true emergency), you are between a rock and a hard place as simple stabilization, never mind diagnostics, runs into the hundreds of dollars or more right out the gate. When you don’t have authorization from the owner and the pet is at risk of dying, you have to make very tough calls.
The family says Meeka was euthanized just a few hours later.
“You can’t be in that profession and not even have a second thought that this that could be a four year old’s puppy that you’re killing,” said Bridges.
This is true. I imagine they did wonder about the pet’s family, and they still made that call. That lets you know how sick the pet was. I can’t speak for the veterinarian in this case, but I’ve been there and when it was me, this is what I have thought:
This is devastating. This poor dog. I wish I knew who he belonged to so I could talk to them. I hope there isn’t a little kid at home wondering if he is OK. I wish he had a chance. I wish he were not panicking while trying to breathe. I wish I had another choice.
The records also show that the Samaritan couldn’t pay for Meeka to have an emergency tracheotomy, and without the funds, he was euthanized.”
He must have been extremely sick. We don’t recommend tracheotomies or euthanize on presentation for a mild soft cough. According to the records shared by the owner, the pet was blue and couldn’t breathe without oxygen- conditions that, in emergency medicine, are as dire as it gets.
If there’s any way to keep the pet safe and comfortable long enough to find the family, of course we will. We want our patients to live too.
My heart is with the Bridges family, who is understandably devastated about Meeka’s death. I don’t blame them for looking for answers. Grieving people do that. I blame the reporter Brookley Cromer, may her stilettos always encounter dog poop, and the team at WISTV, for their laziness in amplifying a grieving family’s questions into implications of guilt instead of presenting the real, nuanced situation. Remember, a collar with tags would have resulted in a different ending.
I wish the Bridges family peace. I wish the staff at Animal Emergency Clinic a bottle of wine. It’s just sad all around.
*The news article has been updated to remove the name of the medication, but that is what was stated by the owner.
This post is sponsored by State Farm®.
Having good neighbors, as we all know, can be a roll of the dice.
Our first week in our new home, we waved to people passing by, but no one said much. I wondered how we were ever going to get to know anyone. Later that week, my often-shy daughter barreled out the front door and down the driveway when she spotted a girl about her age walking her Golden Retriever down the street. “I have a Golden too!” my daughter said, and it was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Over time, I got to know many of my neighbors: Rooney’s mom, Grizzly’s dad, Barkley’s twin boys- wonderful people, the whole lot, and the fact that they are also dog owners is a happy bonus as well as the reason I met them in the first place. Our friendships formed starting with our common interest in pets, but those friendships have also extended beyond just the dog park. Which begs the question: is my dog helping me become a better neighbor, or am I just imagining things?
Are Pet Owners Better Neighbors?
Earlier this year, State Farm released The State of Neighbors Survey to understand what is happening in our neighborhoods. I learned, for example, that I fall in the third of people who are embarrassed that we don’t know all our neighbor’s names (though I can for sure tell you who their dogs are.) I also learned that it’s not just my imagination: pet owners really are more active in their neighborhoods.
I’m sure we can all come up with our own personalized list of neighborly characteristics: doesn’t practice the tuba at 10 pm, doesn’t use your wifi without asking. One thing is clear from the State Farm survey: people long to be connected to their community and their neighbors. And clearly, pet owners do that very well. So yes, while finding good neighbors can be a roll of the dice, having a pet in your corner can help even out the odds.
We live in a day and age where people feel increasingly disconnected to what, or who, is around them. Pets help bring us back into the circle. So what’s the easiest way to get a group of like-minded folks from the hood to come together and have some fun? A Neighborhood Bark Party, of course! Gather your supplies, find a place to gather, and plan for some fun. To help make it even easier, here’s a checklist to help you plan your own Bark Party:
To help you get started, we’re giving away a Bark Party gift basket to get your party off on the right foot!
To enter, just comment below with your name and how your dog has helped you be a good neighbor- entries are collected using the Rafflecopter app below so be sure to enter there!
Terms: US only, one entry per person. Contest ends midnight PST, 11/16/16. Winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, an alternate will be selected. Good luck!
This post is sponsored by State Farm®.
I’m so sick of being reminded not to let my dogs eat chocolate on Halloween!
Don’t we all know this by now?
Haven’t we all been told so many times that chocolate is dangerous for dogs that we just roll our eyes and our dogs mutter, “Sure, right, understood, got it, heard you the first 12 times you said this. Relax. We’d rather eat steak anyway.”
But while we’re on “cocoa is toxic to dogs” at the top of everyone’s Halloween Worry List, let me just say 2 things about “chocolate.”
1) People eat chocolate and chocolate-containing foods all year long, so I don’t think there’s any point focusing on chocolate only at Halloween, on one day out of 365. [To my mind, it’s sort of like expressing love on Mother’s Day – shouldn’t you be showing affection and appreciation to your mother every day of the year?] Shouldn’t you always be parking your 78% dark chocolate bar in the fridge or your underwear drawer, out of canine reach?
2) A vast number of so-called chocolate sweets, cakes and cookies are actually “chocolate-flavored” and contain barely a trace of the actual cocoa, which is what isn’t good for dogs. So if you’re not sharing with your dogs it’s just plain selfish (although clearly it’s better animal care to be offering a nice dog-appropriate piece of carrot or a freeze-dried Liv-a-Little cube of salmon).
Instead here are some fresh safety tips for dogs and cats during the days and nights around Halloween festivities that you might not have previously considered:
- Pets will do best when excluded from all the comings-and-goings. The unusual sights and sounds can be dsiturbing to them.
- Put your dog in a room behind closed doors when Halloween parties are underway or you’re expecting trick-or-treaters. Dogs can be startled, frightened or reactive to people in costumes and might react defensively or offensively to their presence.
- Put your cat in a closed off room with a cat tree to escape up to and/or a safe hiding place.
- With the door opening and closing, there’s the chance of a pet being disoriented or fearful and running out while you’re distracted with the celebrations. To remove the risk of him getting lost, always – not just on Hallo0ween! – make sure your pet is properly identified with microchip, collar and ID tag.
- Keep glow sticks and glow jewelry away from your pets. Although the liquid in these products may not actually be toxic, it tastes horrible and can sicken your dog or cat.
- If you plan to put a costume on your dog, buy it beforehand and get her used to it before Halloween. Make sure it fits comfortably and doesn’t interfere with your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing, or movement.
- Don’t leave your dog unsupervised while wearing a costume, which often have pieces that can be chewed off.
- Keep lit candles and jack-o-lanterns out of reach of pets, especially cats who might find them an interesting interactive exhibit. This is both for the safety of the pets and of your family, as a tipped over candle can cause a tragedy.
Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.
Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.
Grandparents are the first best friends a child has. Their stories and wisdom are passed on to the next generation with their love and kindness. A grandpa is the best caretaker and the time spent with him contains the most loving and impressionable memories. Wish your grandpa on their birthday and tell them how much […]
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Starting up a pet-sitting business isn’t as difficult as it may seem, but there
are several things to take into consideration. Time, commitment, and professionalism are at the top of the list. Essentially, you will be a small business owner, regardless if you hire employees or go it alone. Keeping that in mind, where does one begin in regards to starting up a business? Here are five things to consider before taking the leap.
Filing the Paperwork
Business License and/or “Doing Business As” (DBA)
Filing for a business license can be a daunting task for many, but it’s not as scary as it seems. Check with your state whether you need a business license to legally operate a pet-sitting business. They will let you know what paperwork to file to get your business off the ground.
Do you want to use your own name, or a business name? (ie. Pam’s Pet-sitting vs. Walk in the Park) If you choose to name your business, you’ll need to register that name with the appropriate authorities. This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) paperwork. Registering your DBA is done either with your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where your business is located.
Insurance vs. no insurance
What if, while in your care, Fido bites another dog or a child? Or you accidentally break a client’s favorite antique? As a business owner, you’re liable. Accidents happen, so it’s a good idea to protect yourself. Pet-sitting insurance covers general liability, personal property, and employee accidents or dishonesty. There are several insurance companies that offer pet-sitting insurance. The cost will vary, but it’s worth it.
Keeping track of business finances
Personal checking account vs. business account
Using a personal account for your business finances affects your legal liability. If you’re a sole proprietor and combine business and personal expenses, it can be difficult for the IRS to determine if you’re a viable business. If you choose to operate from your personal account, make sure to keep track of your business and personal expenses. If your business is an LLC, partnership, or corporation, it’s crucial to have separate accounts. Failure to separate business and personal expenses can result in the owner being sued for business and corporate liabilities. Check with your bank to see what they offer in terms of small business accounts.
Privacy and professionalism
Business phone vs. personal phone
Business contacts who have access to your personal phone number can create privacy concerns. Having a separate business line gives you the ability to answer the phone and return calls in a professional manner. You can also set up business hours (although if you’re taking care of someone’s pet, I recommend being available to them at all times). If you decide to use your private number, be prepared. Clients will treat the number as a business number, and may be calling at all hours. Make sure your voice message states when you’ll be returning their calls.
Advertising & Branding
Logo, website/domain name, business cards, and flyers
Having a local and online presence is important. If you aren’t tech savvy, find someone who is that can help you. It’s also a good idea to check out your local pet-sitters to see how their websites are designed, and what they offer their clients.
Logos: Design a logo to represent your business. Your logo will brand your website, business cards, online advertising and flyers. Make sure your images aren’t copyrighted or you could be sued. You can use clip art or search for Creative Commons images online. From there, find a photo editing/designing program (PicMonkey, Fotor) and create something memorable. The possibilities are endless, have fun with it!
Website/Domain name: Depending on your business needs, a website/domain name can be free (Weebly, WordPress, Blogger) or paid (Wix, iPage, GoDaddy). Pay careful attention to introductory web hosting prices, as they will most likely increase after the first month. Again, if designing a website isn’t your thing, find someone who can help you.
Business cards and flyers: Leaving business cards and flyers with your local veterinarians, pet shops, animal-related events, shelters, and dog parks is a great way to spread the word about your business. Don’t forget to advertise in your local online directories.
With some thought and planning, starting up your own pet-sitting business is a wonderful venture. Getting involved with a pet-sitting organization to learn from others and network is a step in the right direction. Good luck!
For more in-depth information and helpful advice about starting a small business:
SBA US Small Business Administration
Clarissa Johal is the bestselling author of paranormal novels, Poppy, The Island, Voices, Struck, and Between. When she’s not writing and listening to the ghosts in her head, she runs her own pet-sitting business and volunteers at the SPCA. Author website: www.clarissajohal.com
Be it your parent’s best friend or their brothers, uncles are the coolest adults in the world. Greet them on their special day with some amazing quotes. Happy birthday uncle! The one person who never forgets to bring me gifts everytime he visits. I’ve enjoyed your funny and exciting stories a lot. And your […]
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A mere thank you for all the work that you do to improve the lives of the animals in your care seems inadequate. So many lives would have been lost without your unwavering commitment to prevent that from happening. All of your blogs have been so incredibly educational & beneficial, not only to the general public but to those of us in the rescue community as well. However, your blog about Olive deeply touched my heart. Sadly I've met a few Olives who will never have the opportunity to truly live. Exist, yes. But still shackled to their emotional pain, with no serious course of action to help free them from that anguish. Olive's 'recovery' is a testimony that the mental well-being of all animals should be a much higher priority in rescue. Please continue reminding all of us do-gooders that we have much more to learn about animal rights & welfare. PTSD isn't just a human diagnosis…
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