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4 Unique Houston Animal Rescues

There are thousands of pets across the country that are looking for homes. The Houston area is no exception! In addition to the typical rescue organizations that do great work, there are several unique, smaller animal rescues in town. You may find your next family member among them!

Here are just four of Houston’s most unique animal rescues. Learn what makes them so special.

How to Find a Reputable Shelter

1. Friends for Life

Friends for Life, known for running the Don Sanders Adoption Center, is the only no-kill, LEED certified animal rescue in Houston—and Texas!

The rescue provides:

  • Adoption
  • Spay/neuter services
  • Pet assistance
  • A medical clinic (coming soon)

Since 2008, Friends for Life has seen a 580% increase in adoption and is so proud of the 75% adoption rate for animals that were deemed “unadoptable” by other shelters. Dogs staying at the rescue until they find forever homes enjoy sniff holes and plenty of space. Cats are cage-less, with room to climb—even up to the skylights!

Beyond getting animals adopted, the shelter is committed to keeping families together, no matter the obstacles. For local families and communities that can’t afford to spay or neuter their pets, Friends for Life offers free fix services, in partnership with the Houston animal rescue, BARC. One unfixed female cat could potentially have more than 100 kittens in her entire lifetime. That could lead to 420,000 kittens in 7 years! To avoid cats being the most-killed animal in shelters, they need to be spayed or neutered. Friends for Life has done over 1,700 cat surgeries in just 3 years.

Friends for Life also understands that pet owners could potentially run into financial issues that make keeping their pets difficult. Their answer is offering assistance to ensure a lifetime with pets. This includes a food bank, assistance with animal containment and fences, grants for vets, and even free behavioral services. In the future, the Houston animal rescue will open a medical clinic to offer affordable pet care for those in financial straits.

2. Texas Wolfdog Project

The Texas Wolfdog Project is a newer Houston animal rescue, started in 2013. Wolfdogs are usually half-dog, half-wolf, but can be any combination of the two. Unfortunately, they are often subjected to misrepresentation, negligence, misunderstanding, and death.

wolf with collar looks ahead in snowy forest

While they’re certainly intriguing, wolfdogs don’t make good pets for owners who are uneducated about the breed. Many people who buy a wolf or wolfdog love the idea of owning one but are ill-equipped to handle the animal. When bored, wolfdogs can become destructive, especially with their increased prey drive, and can tear apart yards, homes, and more. Also, wolves howl, and a wolfdog is no different; it will howl at all hours of the night. The Texas Wolfdog Project hopes to educate the public about the care that this breed requires.

Often, when a breed is labeled “wolf,” it is automatically put down. The Texas Wolfdog Project steps in to help these dogs, giving them a second chance at life with more educated and responsible owners. The Project’s adoption process is lengthy and in-depth, so each dog gets its best chance.

3. K-9 Angels Rescue

A smaller animal rescue in Houston is the K-9 Angels Rescue. Focusing purely on dogs, it relies on a network of volunteers and foster families rather than its temporary adoption center. K-9 Angels Rescue does not accept animals from the public, but pulls adoptable dogs from kill shelters where they face death.

Each dog that is pulled from one of the area’s kill shelters remains with the rescue until it is adopted, often living in foster homes or with volunteers. K-9 Angels focus on finding the right family and the best match for each dog before adopting it out.

The mission of K-9 Angels Rescue is to ensure that as many of Houston’s dogs as possible do not face death just because they were abandoned, orphaned, rejected, surrendered, or neglected. The rescue is constantly looking for volunteers and eligible foster families.

4. CAP

One Houston animal rescue that Cinco Ranch Vet is proud to work with is CAP (Citizens for Animal Protection). Although CAP’s main mission is rescuing homeless animals (including dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles, and more) and finding families for them, it also stands strongly:

  • Against animal cruelty
  • For the education of the public
  • For the respect of animal life

Since the 1970s, CAP has found forever families for Houston’s homeless, abused, and unwanted animals. Currently, it has one of the highest adoption rates in the country, and its program is award-winning. It also offers senior citizens the ability to adopt any pet over seven years old for free.

You can browse CAP’s website to see which animals are available. It updates in real-time, so if you don’t see an animal that steals your heart today, you’re likely to tomorrow! And CAP goes a step further by offering you the option to fill out a PetMatch request card. This is especially useful if you’re searching for a particular breed. CAP can help find the pet that fits your needs and lifestyle, as well as the animal’s.

CAP is also extremely dedicated to raising awareness about the treatment of pets throughout the Houston area and the nation. Its mission is to create an aware and responsive community that shows compassion for animals. Thanks to CAP’s efforts, thousands of pets in our city have found families and loving care.

When looking for your new family member in the animal rescues around Houston, the best place to start is online. Through education and research, you can learn about the compassion, respect, and work that goes into saving homeless animals. If you’re on the search for a fur-baby, check out the four rescues mentioned here. There are hundreds of animals around our city just waiting for loving homes!

Lost Pet? 6 Steps to Finding Him

In an ideal world, your pet would never get lost. Unfortunately, sometimes pets wriggle out of collars, escape from the yard, fly out of their cages, or rush after squirrels.

Losing track of your pet is a serious matter. Of the 8 million animals that end up in shelters every year, only 15% to 20% of dogs and 8% of cats are successfully reunited with their owners.

We hope it never happens to you, but if it does, you may feel lost yourself! But there is hope—and lots of avenues for finding lost animals. It’s all about knowing what to do and taking action as soon as you realize your pet is missing. If you know the steps to take and take them immediately, your chances of being reunited with your pet rise significantly.

Here are some steps to take to find your lost pet should you realize they’re missing:

1. Know where to look.

Depending on the type of pet you have, there are a few areas that you’ll immediately want to check for your lost pet. Lost animals tend to follow very specific behavior, and if you can anticipate this behavior, you might be able to find your pet without launching a full-on search.

If your cat is missing, first look in the places where it would feel concealed or hidden.

For example:

  • Underneath your porch
  • In heavy bushes
  • Under a car

If at first you don’t find it, look again! And look carefully. A cat that is afraid, sick, or injured will typically hide in silence for a while. Even if you call its name, your furry friend might not meow to let you know where it is right away. Take a flashlight with you, and thoroughly search any areas they would be likely to hide.

find lost pet

It’s a bit trickier to know where to look for a dog. Because dogs are typically more socialized and “people-friendly” than cats, chances are your lost dog has encountered some other humans since it went missing. Dogs that are friendly by nature often go to the first person that calls out to them. Even dogs that are more apprehensive or nervous around humans will often eventually seek out help.

Check with your neighbors to see if anyone has caught a glimpse of your pup. Chances are, your dog didn’t make it very far before a Good Samaritan jumped in to help.

2. Go door-to-door.

If your pet is lost, it’s likely that someone in your neighborhood saw it as it was in the process of getting lost, even if they weren’t aware of it at the time. Knock on each of your neighbor’s doors, let them know when and where your pet went missing, and ask if they’ve seen your pet since. Be sure to give them a description of your animal, and if they have seen your missing pet, get every detail of the sighting from them.

You never know—someone nearby may be caring for your pet while they look for you!

3. Check with your microchip provider.

Hopefully, you’ve had your pet microchipped. If you haven’t, do so immediately! If your pet is found or turned into a shelter, a vet’s office, or Katy Animal Control, the first thing the employees do is check your pet’s microchip.

Once you know your pet is missing, don’t wait around for someone to find it, check its microchip, and get in touch with you! Be proactive. Reach out to your microchip provider to let them know your pet is missing. Most companies will send out notifications to all the shelters, vets, and rescues in your area, so they can be on the lookout for your pet.

4. Call your local veterinarians.

When your pet goes missing, get in touch with your local vets’ offices, even ones that aren’t where you take your pet. Keep them up-to-date on the situation. Not only do lost pets often get turned into vets’ offices, but your vet might also have additional resources or guidance on finding your pet, consoling your family, and getting through the ordeal. They’re also likely plugged in with other vets in the Katy and greater Houston area and can sound the alert within their network.

5. Hang fliers.

Putting up fliers may seem old-fashioned, but it can often do the trick! It raises awareness in nearby neighborhoods, lets your neighbors know your pet is missing, and gives them avenues for getting in touch with you.

On your flyer, use lettering that contrasts with the background, so your message stands out.

Include these things:

  • A photo of your pet
  • The date and location it went missing
  • Your contact information

Place your flyers in highly trafficked locations (like telephone poles and storefronts) in a 5- to 10-block radius of where your pet went missing.

6. Make technology work for you.

Posting in local Facebook groups is the digital version of putting up flyers. Sharing your lost pet information on Facebook not only gets it in front of your network, it allows other people to share the news, passing it along to their networks. This greatly increases the number of people in the Katy area who are aware your pet is missing and can be on the lookout!

To find relevant groups:

Step 1: Go to Facebook.

Step 2: Type in keywords like:

  • “Lost pets”
  • “Missing pets”
  • “Missing animals”

Step 3: Include areas in your searches to make them relevant; for example, “Katy, TX” or “Houston, TX.”

Realizing that your pet has gotten away or hasn’t come home is stressful and can seem scary. But there are so many actions you can take to find them. Remain calm, follow these steps, get the word out! And be sure to check out these four things you can do to help ensure your pet never gets lost in the first place.

Puppy Socialization, and Kittens Too! How to Do It and Why It Matters

There aren’t many moments greater than welcoming a new baby animal into the family. You think of all of the fun times you’re sure to have together as your puppy, kitten, rabbit, or other animal grows up.

But to your baby animal, you’re essentially a stranger, and the world is a big (and sometimes scary) place. In order for your new friend to fit into your family and society and to grow into a happy, healthy adult, you need to socialize it.

Read on to discover why kitten and puppy socialization matters and how to socialize your new furry friend. While we focus on cats and dogs here because they’re most likely to be around a variety of new people, animals, and environments, other animals—like rabbits, horses, etc.— can benefit from socialization too!

Why is socializing important?

Socializing your baby animal will have a huge impact on the quality of life for both you and your pet. Kitten and puppy socialization gives your pet the tools it needs to adapt and adjust to new people, other animals, and new and different situations and environments. When you socialize your pet, it develops into a happier, healthier, and calmer animal and will have better experiences when interacting with other humans and animals.

What happens if you don’t socialize your pet?

If you don’t socialize your pet, it won’t know how to handle new people, animals, places, or things. This can lead to growing up to be fearful and anxious, not to mention at risk of developing severe behavioral problems, like aggression.

When should an animal be socialized?

The most critical time for socialization is at the beginning of an animal’s life, when you can lay a foundation for its future personality and behavior. For kittens, the most critical period is between 2 and 14 weeks. For puppies, it’s between 8 and 12 weeks.

Before you begin socializing your animal, it’s imperative that it is properly vaccinated. Just like human babies, baby animals have weaker immune systems and are more prone to picking up common infections and diseases from other animals.

How to Socialize a Kitten

Remove yourself from the equation.

The first step to successfully socializing a kitten is to give it a little space! When you bring your kitten home, give it a day or so to adjust to its new surroundings before you bombard it with attention—even positive attention. This will allow your kitten to get comfortable and adapt to its new environment.

Once your kitten is settled in, you can start building a bond with it. Speak softly, and move slowly when you approach your new kitten, so you don’t unnecessarily startle it.

Use food as a gateway.

One of the keys to socialization is food. When you feed your kitten, stay in the room, so it begins to connect you with delicious treats. Each day that you feed it, move its bowl closer to you. If it becomes afraid, back off for a day. Eventually, you want to be able to place the bowl in your lap, with your kitten comfortable enough to crawl onto you to get food.

Once it’s comfortable eating out of your lap, you can start petting your kitten while it eats. Graduate to picking it up and holding it close to you. Whenever you pet or hold it, give a treat as a reward.

Make introductions.

After you’ve gotten to the point that your kitten allows you to hold it, do so as much as possible. You can also introduce it to friends, family, and other pets. The more interaction your new kitten has with humans and animals during this period, the more comfortable it will be with those types of interactions as it gets older.

How to Socialize a Puppy

puppy socialization

Get close!

Puppy socialization is a bit different than socializing a kitten. Most puppies are naturally more affectionate than kittens, so petting and cuddling them will be a lot easier. It’s important to pet, stroke, and cuddle your new puppy as often as possible. Pet it in a variety of ways:

  • Rub its nose.
  • Scratch behind its ears.
  • Stroke its belly.
  • Scratch its back.

Varying the way that you pet your puppy will make it comfortable with different types of touching, which is important, since not all people pet animals in the same way.

Make noise.

You want your puppy to get comfortable with the variety of sounds that it will be exposed to on a daily basis. Leave the television on, have your puppy in the kitchen with you while you empty the dishwasher and cook dinner, or pet it on the porch while a noisy firetruck drives by. Don’t overwhelm your puppy with too many noises too quickly, but do acclimate it to the day-to-day sounds of your home.

Approach the food bowl.

Just like with kittens, food is an important part of socializing your puppy. Dogs can get very territorial over their food, so it’s important for your puppy to get comfortable with people approaching its food dish. One great way to do this is to approach your puppy while it’s eating, and pop a treat in its bowl. Then it will associate people approaching its food bowl with getting an extra-special goodie!

Make introductions.

Introduce your puppy to new people and new animals as often as possible. As with socializing kittens, the more people and animals your puppy interacts with, the more comfortable it will be with those interactions as it grows.

Leave your puppy alone.

The last major component of socializing your puppy might sound counterintuitive, but it’s really important that you leave your dog alone for a short period of time every day. Dogs that are never left alone can develop separation anxiety, which can cause them to get anxious or depressed when you leave the house, and they may act destructively in your absence.

The key to successfully socializing your baby animal is to be patient. Socialization doesn’t happen overnight. It takes dedication and daily practice to make your kitten or puppy comfortable around you, your family, other animals, and the world in general! But remember that socialization is an absolute must for the long-term happiness of your pet.

Microchipping and 3 Other Actions You Can Take, So Your Pet Never Gets Lost

As a pet owner, there’s no worse feeling than walking outside to check on your pet and realizing it’s missing. By taking the necessary precautions, you’ll never have to experience that horrible realization.

Here’s how to ensure your pet never gets lost!

1. Outfit your pet with a collar and tag.

Whether Fido is lazing around in your backyard or playing with his friends at the Katy Dog Park, you always need to make sure he is wearing his collar and tag. Not only will this help to make sure your dog is returned to you if he does get out of sight, it’s also the law.

On the dog tag, you’ll want to include:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • Proof that your dog has been vaccinated for rabies

A lot of people include their dog’s name on their collar, but this might not be the best idea. Dog theft is a growing problem, especially of rarer breeds. If a potential dog thief knows your pup’s name, it can be easier for them to get your dog to follow them.

A collar or harness with a unique color or design is also a great idea. This will make your pet significantly easier to identify if it does get lost. It’s much easier to single out a dog in a pink-and-purple striped collar with rhinestones than a plain black one!

While it seems more obvious to outfit a dog with a collar and tags, they’re important for cats too, especially if Fluffly wanders around outside on her own.

microchipping

2. Embrace technology by microchipping.

Microchipping your pet is a MUST if you want to keep it safe and ensure that it never gets lost. Think of a microchip as your pet’s 9-1-1 call if it ever finds itself in a strange place, away from you.

A microchip is about the same size as a grain of rice, and it’s a quick and painless procedure to have it inserted under the animal’s skin. It’s placed in your pet’s back between its shoulder blades. The material of the microchip is harmless to your pet, and tissue will actually start growing around the chip about a day after insertion.

Once it’s inserted under your pet’s skin, your vet will scan the microchip and link it to your personal information. This process can take a few days to register with the identification system, so be extra careful to keep close tabs on your pet while your microchip registration is being processed. Once you’re in the system, all you have to do is keep your vet up-to-date with any new contact information.

The first thing that just about every shelter, vet’s office, and animal control office does when they find a lost animal is scan it for a microchip. It’s like your pet’s “get out of jail free” card; as soon as they run the microchip, they’ll call you right away, so you can bring your furry friend home.

3. Introduce your neighbors to your pet.

The vast majority of pets who get lost don’t actually go very far. The place that your pet is most likely to get turned around is right in your own neighborhood. Getting your neighbors acquainted with your pets will ensure that if they wander out of your yard and into a neighbor’s, they’ll be back on the right side of the fence in no time.

Make sure that all of your neighbors know your pet’s name, what it looks like, and any other information that might help to identify it. You might even go the extra mile and introduce your pet to all of your neighbors. If it gets lost and then found by a neighbor, your pet will already be familiar and comfortable with them.

4. Fence-in your yard.

If you don’t want your pet to get lost, one fairly obvious fix is to make it a bit more difficult for your furry friend to wander off. A great way to do this is to fence your yard.

Depending on the size of your yard, the size of your pet, and your budget, you have a few different options.

Wooden Fencing

Wooden fences are an attractive option if you have a larger pet that can easily jump over other types of fences. They can be built up to six or seven feet high, depending on your property. That’s tall enough to keep even the largest animals from clearing the top.

Be mindful that there’s a certain amount of upkeep associated with wooden fences. Just like any wood paneling or furniture, you’ll need to keep up with maintenance to prevent peeling or rotting.

Chain-Link Fencing

Chain-link fences are an easier-to-maintain alternative to wooden fences. They typically consist of a number of posts spread around the perimeter of your lawn, connected by chain links made with durable wire.

A chain link fence is significantly easier to maintain than a wooden fence. It’s also incredibly durable, so you won’t have to worry about your pet (or the elements) damaging your investment.

Electric Fencing

Electric fences are a great option if a physical fence won’t work on your property. An electric wire is installed underground. The place where the wire is installed creates the boundary of the “fence.” The electric wire transmits signals to a collar on your pet. If your pet gets too close to the border, the collar starts to beep. If the pet continues towards the border, the fence sends a mild electric shock to your pet, deterring it from getting any closer.

Keep in mind, this is a MILD electric shock. It’s not enough to do any harm to your pet. After getting “buzzed” a few times, your pet will learn the natural limits of the electric fence and won’t approach the borders anymore.

What if your pet does get lost?

If even after taking the necessary precautions, your pet gets lost, don’t panic. Stay calm, and alert Katy Animal Control (or the animal control nearest you) immediately. Let them know that your pet is missing. Then give them:

  • A full description
  • The last place someone saw your pet
  • Any medical issues your pet has
  • Any other helpful information to assist them in locating your four-legged friend

If your pet is tagged and microchipped, you should have it back in no time!

Our Top 6 Movie Pets -- Do They Make Your List?

There’s a pretty incredible bond between people and their pets. Never has that been captured so poignantly than in modern cinema. There’s something heartwarming about curling up in your chair with a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie about a man or a woman and their beloved pet.

What about the animals that go above and beyond on the silver screen, those that make us think, “I wish my pet could be like that?”

Here’s a countdown of our top six movie pets:

1. Shadow, Sally, and Chance — Homeward Bound

In Homeward Bound, three pets, Shadow (the wise golden retriever), Sally (the sassy Himalayan cat), and Chance (the mischief-making American bulldog), are left on a ranch while their family travels to San Francisco. Because of a series of miscommunications, they think that they’ve been accidentally left behind and take off to find their owners.

This trio is so dedicated to their owners, that they face waterfalls, mountain lions, and all types of danger across the Sierra Nevada mountains just to be reunited with their family. Shadow, Sally, and Chance are one of the best illustrations in cinematic history of the indescribable bond between a family and its pets.

movie pets

2. Scooby Doo — Scooby-Doo

Scooby Doo is more than just a favorite movie pet; he’s an icon! Since 1969, Scooby has been happily eating Scooby Snacks and helping Mystery Inc.—Fred; Daphne; Velma; and his loveable hippie owner, Shaggy—solve mysteries.

Scooby and the gang get themselves into some pretty scary situations, complete with ghosts, zombies, and just about every other supernatural ghoul you can imagine. But no matter how afraid Scooby might be, he never leaves Shaggy’s side.

Scooby is an amazing movie pet because no matter what happens and what crazy situations the gang finds itself in, his loyalty to Shaggy and Mystery Inc. never wavers.

3. Lassie — Lassie

You can’t compile a best movie pet list without mentioning Lassie. Lassie is, quite literally, a lifesaver. From her debut in 1943 all the way through her most recent incarnation in 2005, Lassie has been saving children’s lives. Whether she’s pulling little Suzy out of the river before she drowns or leading a search party to little Billy who fell down a well, Lassie’s signature story is swooping in to save the day when all seems lost.

Lassie just goes to show that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes—even on four legs!

4. Zero — The Nightmare Before Christmas

Bear with us here…we do realize that Zero isn’t a REAL dog. As Jack Skellington’s loyal companion, he’s definitely a pet of the supernatural nature. But that doesn’t make him any less amazing!

Zero sticks by Jack through his misguided attempt at stealing Santa Claus and leading the charge for everyone in Halloweentown to take over Christmas. When the world turns on Jack after his “Christmas” goes awry, Zero is right there to help him pick up the pieces and make things right.

Ghost or no ghost, Zero is the perfect example of the unconditional love a pet has for its owner and its willingness to stand by them through the good and the not-so-good.

5. Skip — My Dog Skip

My Dog Skip is one of those movies that makes you feel like you traveled back to another time. Taking place in the 1940s, the film tells the story of Willie Morris, a shy, nine-year-old boy, and his first dog, Skip.

Because of his shyness, Willie is a social outcast, with few friends. When Skip comes along, he not only becomes Willie’s best friend, he also helps him come out of his shell and step out of his comfort zone. As his constant companion throughout childhood, Skip pushes Willie to become a better person.

Skip shows us that true friendship doesn’t exist only between people. The friendship between a boy and his dog is just as real and just as special.

6. Hercules (also known as The Beast) — The Sandlot

Hercules, or “The Beast,” as he was known on the baseball diamond, is a movie pet of mythical proportions. The Beast is one of the main antagonists of The Sandlot. He’s the dog that guards the yard right behind the baseball field, and he’s known for gobbling up baseballs and, legend has it, children as well. If a ball goes over the fence, it’s as good as gone with The Beast guarding it!

But, it turns out, The Beast isn’t a beast at all; he is just a sweet old English mastiff. The biggest danger you face around him is getting too much slobber on your face after he covers you in kisses.

Hercules just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover—or a dog by its size.

How do you turn your pet into a movie pet?

If these awesome movie pets have inspired you, and you’re wondering how to turn your pet into a star in its own right, there are a few things you can do!

Invest in training.

Getting your dog properly trained is an absolute must. If your pet is acting out, being disobedient, or not quite living up to “movie pet” standards, the problem could be that it doesn’t know how it’s supposed to act. Finding a great trainer and following through on their training instructions can help bring out the best parts of your pet’s personality, elevating it to “movie pet” status in no time.

Get your pet regular checkups.

Your pet isn’t going to be able to save the day, show you fierce loyalty, or do any of the other amazing movie-pet things you just read about if it’s not feeling well. Make sure to bring it to the vet for regular checkups, so it’s in top movie shape at all times.

Love your companion unconditionally.

Whether your pet is more of a Lassie (racing in to save the day) or a Marley from Marley and Me (racing in to destroy the couch), the number-one thing you can do for you pet is to love it unconditionally. Every pet is different, but each one has unique traits that will change you, change your life, and change your own little movie forever.

It's Time to Learn These Potential Signs of Animal Neglect and Cruelty

Every day animal are abused. Dogs, cats, and more are mistreated by their owners or living in horrible conditions where they may end up dying, either because they’re malnourished or because of wounds. Dogfighting rings exist around the world; innocent dogs are trained to harm each other for profit and entertainment.

Why someone would hurt pets, we may never know. The only thing pet lovers can do is intervene when we suspect that someone is abusing an animal. But what are the signs of animal neglect and cruelty?

What is animal abuse?

The words “animal abuse” get thrown around a lot, and it’s important to know what you are seeing and talking about when it comes to such a serious topic.

There are two forms of animal abuse: neglect and intentional cruelty.

Neglect

Neglecting an animal simply means that the owner isn’t giving their pet the things it needs. The owner doesn’t feed or water their pet enough, and the shelter they provide for their pet may not be adequate—without enough shade, warmth, or space.

Neglect is more than likely unintentional. The owner may not know how to take care of an animal, yet adopted one anyway. Sometimes all it takes to solve the problem is some education about proper care and compassion.

Intentional Cruelty

Intentional cruelty occurs when an owner deliberately harms their pet. Hurting or maiming a pet counts as intentional cruelty. So does forcing an animal to fight other animals and intentionally starving a pet. These people need to be brought to justice, or, at the very least, get help.

Signs of Animal Neglect or Cruelty

Chained Dogs

Restraining a dog to an object is also known as tethering. Many people tether their dogs without realizing that it might be doing their pet harm.

Dogs are social and mobile animals. Every dog craves attention, and the owners of chained dogs may forget that the dog is there—out of sight, out of mind. Dogs need to roam around. When a dog is restrained, it may become mentally scarred, perhaps aggressive.

Most owners who chain their dogs don’t do so out of malice. Some chained dogs may have longer leashes, allowing them more space to roam, but the risks still remain. Tethering tends to be more common in rural locations, and an owner may do it because it’s tradition or convenient. The owner may not want to keep their dog indoors all day and cannot build a fence, or tethering might be done because the owner doesn’t want the dog to run away.

 

If you see a dog being tethered consistently, keep an eye on its physical state to determine whether it’s being neglected.

Malnutrition

Malnutrition occurs when an animal doesn’t get enough food or water. A malnourished dog will likely have an oily, dull coat and appear to be skinnier than it should be. A malnourished dog may also have diarrhea or vomiting, hair loss, and flaky skin.

For cats, the symptoms are mostly the same but also include poor coordination, neuroticism, caved-in claws, and swollen gums.

Note: An obese pet may be suffering from neglect, too. Dog obesity can lead to a slew of health problems, including diabetes, failing joints, and an early death.

Physical Signs

An abused animal may have unusual scars and other wounds on its body.

Behavioral Signs

The animal may appear nervous around its owner, cowering, whimpering, or displaying other strange behaviors.

Signs from the Owner

Observe the owner’s behavior. Do they strike their animal whenever it does something wrong? We’re not talking about a bop on the nose, but rather hitting the animal with full force. If you suspect the owner to be involved in dogfighting, look for training equipment, like treadmills and fighting pits.

If the owner has a history of domestic abuse, they have a higher chance of abusing animals. About 70% of battered women reported their abuser hurting their pets as well.

What Should You Do?

First, look at the laws, which may vary depending on your state. In Texas it is a felony to abuse animals.

For an animal that has been neglected out of ignorance, try talking to the owner and explaining how their animal is being neglected. Be factual, don’t be condescending, and have evidence ready. That may be all it takes for the owner to correct their mistakes and give their pet a great life.

Of course, some people don’t like being told they’re wrong. If you feel like the animal is in immediate danger, or if you feel uncomfortable approaching the owner, contact your local law enforcement immediately. The report you file should be confidential.

If you don’t believe the animal is in immediate danger, fill out a Texas SPCA animal cruelty report here.

Adopt!

If an animal has been abused, and you have room for a pet in your life, give it a second chance! While some abused animals may be afraid of humans, with a little love, you’re likely to turn them into loving pets.

For those who live in the Katy area, click here for a list of animal shelters. You can search for an animal’s history and give an abused animal the love and compassion that its owner could (or would) not

How Does Spaying or Neutering Your Pet Save Lives?

“Have your pets spayed or neutered!”

You’ve listened as vets say this; you’ve seen animal welfare groups advertise it; and if you’ve ever watched The Price is Right, you’ve heard Bob Barker (and Drew Carey) say this at the end of every episode.

Spaying and neutering are procedures that prevent animals from reproducing. You may know that, but do you know how the procedures work or the reasons why your pet needs to be spayed or neutered in the first place?

What is spaying/neutering?

The procedures of spaying and neutering are based on the sex of your pet. A male pet is neutered, while a female is spayed.

What’s the difference? During neutering, a surgeon removes the testicles of a male dog or cat, so it can’t sire any puppies or kittens. Spaying involves removing female reproductive organs, typically the ovaries.

The procedures are permanent birth control, and they can save lives.

An Overpopulation of Pets

Shelters across the country are overfilled with stray dogs and cats that need homes, but there aren’t enough people to care for them. Here are some shocking statistics: 7.6 million pets are put in shelters every year, and 2.7 million pets end up being euthanized. And this isn’t counting stray dogs and cats that are hungry and cold outside, without any owners to care for them!

What’s one of the biggest factors sending animals to shelters or causing them to become strays? Unplanned pregnancy.

Unlike most humans, the majority of cats and dogs have more than one baby at a time. Both dogs and cats typically have four to six babies per litter. So many puppies or kittens at once can be hard for owners to care for properly. If an owner can’t find any new caretakers for the babies, they’re often sent to a shelter or, unfortunately, put out on the streets to fend for themselves.

spaying or neuteringMaybe you think overpopulation of animals isn’t your problem. Consider this: A feral animal could behave aggressively toward your pet and possibly hurt it.

What about un-sprayed/un-neutered pets that never go outside? All it takes is for your cat or dog to leave the house once for it to find a companion and become pregnant.

Spaying or neutering prevents unplanned litters, thus reducing the number of stray dogs and cats that could end up suffering all their lives before they’re put down or die of natural or unnatural causes.

What about birth control?

Humans take contraceptives to lower the chances of pregnancy before they’re ready. If you want your pet to avoid planned litters, is there pet contraception?

The good news: There is birth control for dogs and cats. Just like a human, your pet can take a pill or have a shot to temporary stop the heat cycle of female dogs.

The bad news? Pet birth control is still in its infancy and can carry some dangerous side-effects. Both dogs and cats can get diabetes or liver disease and weight gain from pet contraception. Until safer contraceptive medications are developed, spaying and neutering are still the best options.

What are the health benefits of spaying/neutering?

Spaying and neutering offer their share of health benefits. Dogs and cats that have the procedures may end up living a few years longer! With pet life expectancy so short, gaining a few more years with Fido or Fluffy is a good thing. One of the reasons for the life extension is that spaying and neutering can prevent certain cancers, like ovarian and testicular cancers.

Spaying and neutering also prevents heat cycles. Has a dog ever humped your leg? That dog wasn’t neutered. Removing the heat cycle prevents more than just awkward situations. A dog in heat may be less aware of its surroundings and could end up in the middle of traffic without realizing it!

Your dog or cat is also likely to be better behaved. A neutered dog that has been sterilized will have less of a chance of experiencing aggressive behaviors.

Spaying and neutering truly can help save lives.

Spaying/Neutering Myths Debunked

Myth #1: It’s too expensive.

The procedure does cost money. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, you need to consider the cost when looking at your budget. Still, spaying/neutering can be affordable, and, in some cases, the cost is already included in the pet’s adoption fee.

Here’s a page from the ASPCA that will allow you to find an affordable clinic near you that can spay or neuter your pet.

Plus, caring for a litter costs way more and for much longer!

Myth #2: It’s painful for your pet.

Like any operation, there may be some pain, but vets are well-equipped with pain medications to make the operation as easy as possible.

Myth #3: There are adverse side-effects.

Any operation has a slight risk of complications, but these procedures have few side effects. Perhaps the biggest issue may be that the pet will have some weight gain at first. However, adjusting your pet’s diet and exercise regimen should fix that.

What should you do?

If your pet isn’t spayed or neutered, doing the procedure may help save its life and reduce the stray pet population. As always, talk to your vet about any concerns you have. Vets like those at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital will be able to tell you when your pet is ready to be spayed or neutered and answer all of the questions you have.

Have You Noticed Stray and Feral Animals? Here’s How to Help Them!

Don’t touch it! It’s a stray!

You were probably told this as a child when you were tempted to pet a cat or dog you saw wandering in an alleyway or strolling by itself in the park. If you have kids of your own, you may have taught them the same thing.

While there are legitimate concerns about stray and feral animals, it’s better for the animal’s safety, your safety, and your neighborhood to help them rather than ignore them.

Stray or Feral?

Before we continue, it’s worth explaining the difference between a stray and a feral animal. Some people use both words interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing.

A stray animal has had human contact. It may have been someone’s pet that got lost, or it may have been given up by its previous owner. Stray animals are more likely to approach humans and may have collars, tags, and/or microchips.

A feral animal has had no contact with humans, or, if it has, it was so long ago that the animal’s familiarity with humans has diminished. Have you ever glimpsed an alley cat that runs away from you whenever you try to approach it? It might be feral. We usually think of feral animals as cats, but dogs can be feral too.

The Hidden World of Stray and Feral Animals

feral animalsYou may think that there can’t be that many stray and feral animals roaming the streets. With so many ways to capture and track dogs and cats, the authorities certainly have the population under control, right?

Sadly, this is not the case. While it’s impossible to know the exact stray pet population, it’s estimated that there are 70 million stray cats in the U.S. alone, but, again, this is an estimate.

The Conditions of Stray and Feral Animals

Many people think that stray and feral critters aren’t a big deal. After all, dogs and cats are animals, and they should be able to survive in the wilderness because that’s what their ancestors did.

Should the same logic apply to humans? Our ancestors lived in the wilderness as well, but that doesn’t mean most of us will survive outside of an area with easy access to food, water, and shelter.

Even though they have many natural survival instincts, dogs and cats have evolved to be largely dependent on humans.

Stray and feral animals are often unhealthy. In addition to avoiding dangers like cars, they typically end up eating from trashcans, often containing food that is rotten and potentially unsuitable for them.

Stray and feral animals are also rarely spayed or neutered, so they may have litters that they can’t care for. This continues the cycle of stray and feral animals simply surviving on the streets, unhealthy and in danger.

You can see why it’s best for everyone to help them:

  • They tend to be malnourished.
  • If left unattended, they can reproduce, resulting in more stray and helpless animals.
  • If a stray is left alone for too long, it can become feral, fearing humans and potentially growing aggressive.

If you see a stray or feral animal, what should you do?

Approaching a Stray or Feral Animal

It’s important to know how to approach a stray or feral animal. If you’re driving and see an animal on the side of the road, find a safe place to park. If you’re on a freeway, put on your hazard lights, and park on the shoulder, if permitted.

In all scenarios, take care as you approach the animal; make no sudden movements. You wouldn’t want the dog or cat to run towards traffic.

Keep an eye out for a collar and tags. If the animal is wearing them, it may have simply gotten separated from its owner and be more likely to come towards you with gentle encouragement. A feral animal is more likely to act aggressively or simply run away.

Dogs

For dogs, understand the signs of a fearful stray or feral animal. If the dog is trembling, urinating, growling, or showing teeth, it’s probably afraid. If a dog shows signs of aggression, such as barking or lunging at you, it’s best that you keep at a safe distance and call the authorities.

If the dog is a bit fearful but seems gentle, kneel down. A dog is more likely to approach you if you get on its level. Extend your closed fist to the dog for it to sniff, rather than an open hand; a closed fist is smaller, looks less threatening, and has fewer digits that can be harmed.

Don’t look the dog in the eye; it may see that as a sign of aggression. Instead, speak softly, give gentle signals for the dog to come over, and lure it with food or treats if you have some.

Cats

For cats, the rules are mostly the same. A scared cat will back away, stick its tail up, lower its ears, or hiss if it’s scared. Use the same rules you would when approaching a stray dog, but also blink slowly and turn your head. This is a greeting for a cat. If the cat’s tail is curled, you can probably pet it, but be cautious.

If everything you do to approach a stray or feral animal fails, and the animal runs away or behaves too aggressively for you to feel safe, call animal control. If you’re in the Katy area, call Katy Animal Control at 281-391-4740. Describe the animal and its behavior, or in which direction it ran.

After Catching the Stray or Feral Animal

If you’ve got a hold of the stray and are in a safe place, look for any tags that could give you information about the animal’s owner. If you don’t find anything, you could post signs in your neighborhood or post in a local forum online, saying that you’ve found the animal.

The best thing to do, however, is contact the local shelters. They should be able to take the stray in and check for a microchip that they can use to find the owner, if the animal has one.

If no signs of an owner are found, the animal will stay in a shelter.

What can you do then?

Adopt!

Warm shelters with food, water, and human affection are better than the street for stray animals, but the best place for them is in a loving home. Adopting an animal gives it a second chance in life!

You should note that feral animals may be very difficult to tame. The chances of turning a feral cat into a housecat do increase, however, if you caught it as a kitten.

If you adopt an animal, take your pet to Cinco Ranch Vet to check on its health and ensure that it gets all of the necessary vaccinations.

The next time you see a stray or feral animal, think twice before staying away. You have the power to help. With these tips and the proper amount of caution and patience, you can help an animal in need.

Walking Your Cat? How to Get Started!

When people think of walking their pets, it’s long strolls with dogs that comes to mind. Rarely do you see a cat owner putting Fluffy on a leash and taking her for a walk! The possibility is something few pet owners have considered.

But when you do give it some more thought, walking your cat makes sense. Like dogs, cats need exercise to stay fit and healthy and to boost their chances of living as long as possible. A good walk can also help to calm a pet down. If your kitty loves to jump on things she’s not supposed to and scratch at everything in sight, a walk could allow your cat to channel its energy in a safe and productive way.

Which cats can you walk?

walking your catTaking a walk isn’t for every feline, however. As any kitty lover will tell you, cats come with all sorts of personalities. Some love people, love attention, and curious enough that they could prove that old adage true: “Curiosity killed the cat.” They’ll bounce around, nuzzle any human they see, and run around the house. These types of cats are perfect for walking. They’ll love the change of scenery, the new sights and smells.

Then there are the antisocial or skittish kitties. These felines hiss at strangers, keep to themselves, and experience anxiety whenever their environments change. They should generally not be walked, and, unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll get an antisocial cat to change, although you might try walking it around the house just to see how it reacts to the equipment.

Should you choose a harness or collar?

Is your cat a good candidate for walking? Great! Now you need to get Mittens the right equipment. A normal collar won’t work, as your kitty will slip out of it easily. Instead, buy a collar suited for walking a cat. They’re available both online and in pet stores.

A harness is also a great option. Harnesses tend to be safer than collars (although some don’t allow you to put ID tags on them). If your cat jumps and runs, for instance, a collar could choke it, so should consider buying a harness to walk your cat.

The next necessary pieces of equipment are a proper leash and ID tags for your collar or harness. These help keep your cat as close to you as you like and prevent it from staying lost should it go too far!

Another important part of the equation is your cat’s health. Be sure Fluffy is up-to-date on her vaccinations before venturing into the great outdoors.

Slow is the way to go.

Once you strap walking equipment on your cat, make sure you give it time to get accustomed to it before you take it out for a walk. Even if your cat is outgoing, don’t go on an hour-long jaunt right off the bat.

Start out by walking around the house. Then go for a short stroll around the yard. This step is especially important for cats that don’t spend time outside, and it might be a long (but very necessary) part in the process.

Work your way up to the park. An outgoing cat still can get stressed by a sudden change in environment, so make sure that Fluffy is used to walking before you go on any adventures.

While you walk your cat, keep an eye out for any signs of stress. If your cat begins meowing, flattens its ears, sticks up its tail, or trembles, it’s probably nervous. Try petting your cat to comfort it. If your cat won’t even allow you to pet it, return home and allow your cat to readjust. You can always try again, but remember to take it at a pace that your furry friend is comfortable with

For most cats, a walk is worth a try! Just remember to have all the right equipment, take it slow, and look for any signs of stress. Check with your vet if you have any specific questions about the health and safety of walking your feline. Your newest and best walking companion could just be your cat!

Happy walking!

How to Keep Outdoor Cats Safe and Warm in the Winter

Right now the U.S. is feeling Old Man Winter’s breath. Even the East Coast, which had spring-like temperatures during the Christmas season, is breaking out the jackets and gloves. While people take care of themselves, many forget about an important winter preparation: bringing their cats indoors.

“If you’re cold, they’re cold. Bring them inside.” If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen a few images suggesting cat owners bring their cats (and other pets) inside, even if their felines are normally outdoors.

Can’t cats handle the cold?

Cat, SnowSome people may think that cats are designed to handle the cold. After all, most have fluffy coats, and their ancestors braved the elements for thousands of years before domestication.

There’s some truth to those ideas. Cats do have a tolerance for the cold, but they have their limits. Once the temperature is below freezing (under 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C,) cats can get frostbite and hypothermia, in addition to feeling uncomfortable due to the cold.

As a cat lover, what can you do to keep Fluffy warm? Here are a few options.

Bring your cat inside.

The simplest solution is to keep your cat indoors when temperatures are below freezing. If you normally don’t have cats in your home, consider making an exception when it’s freezing.

Of course, prepare your home before you let kitty in. Make sure you have:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Cat toys
  • A litter box
  • A cozy heater or fireplace

Your feline will be snug and cozy inside your home.

But what if you can’t have a cat indoors?

Build an outdoor shelter.

Not everyone can have cats inside. If there’s an enforced no-pet policy in your rental home, or if someone is allergic to cats, it may be difficult inviting a cat into your home.

With that said, you can buy or build an outdoor shelter for your kitty to keep it warm. Even if you’re not a cat owner, if your neighborhood has strays and feral cats, an outdoor shelter can keep them snug and safe. This may prevent cats from resorting to dangerous locations for shelter, such as in your car.

There are outdoors shelters you can purchase online or at pet stores. For instance, this shelter comes heated, so your kitty can stay almost as snug as it would if it was indoors.

You can build your own shelter as well. Some choose to build shelters from scratch, while others make them from household objects, such as storage bins.

When choosing or building your shelter, smaller (but still comfortable) is better. A small shelter packs heat better than a bigger one.

Fill your shelter with a few pillows or some straw. Avoid blankets, towels, or newspaper, as they can absorb kitty’s body heat.

Finally, your cat will need plenty of food and water to stay warm. When building your shelter, put some food and water nearby. Don’t put it inside the shelter, as spilled water could freeze. Refill the water and food you put nearby as needed.

Bottom line: Outdoor cats need to be kept warm!

Make sure you check the forecast, and prepare adequately. If you have a cat that loves to be outside, keep it inside when it’s too cold outdoors. Just as you love a warm home this winter, so do cats! Show them you care by letting them inside or creating a snug shelter from the cold.

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