Dog People Reach Out to Help Veterans and the Needy Keep Their Dogs

We all know a major cause of dogs in rescue are from owner surrenders. Rarely are these surrenders caused by behavioral problems. Some are caused by moving and pet restrictions but the majority of surrenders are simply  "the owner can no longer afford to care for".
Recently board member Nancy Martin, shared with me work she is doing with F.I.D.O. Friends Involved Dog Outreach, a program based in Oregon.
Their goal is to keep beloved dogs in the homes by providing much needed food and supplies.
And they don't just help dog owners but cat owners as well with programs such as AniMeals, in conjunction with Senior Meals they are delivering pet food to seniors who receive home delivered meals.
They also have an established food bank and through another program known as VetsPets donate food to veterans, active military personnel and their families.
Anyone who qualifies for financial assistance including those on SSI can receive food from their food bank so their pets can stay in the home. Having to surrender your dog because you can't afford food is traumatic to both the dog and the people who love them. Recently the Santa Barbara Kennel Club has supported this program and support is always needed to keep important work like this afloat. You can follow them on Facebook and make a donation through their Facebook Page here-

Keeping Those Vet Bills Down

The cost of keeping dogs has almost gotten out of hand. More people own dogs than ever before, yet at the same time, too many people are having to make agonizing decisions about their own financial security because of vet bills.  Almost everyday someone sends me a new GoFundMe page to help with a dogs vet bills.
There is an increasing number of senior dogs being thrown away because the owners cannot pay to fix their health needs. Ashamed to ask the vet to euthanize the dog and unable to find a home for an old ailing dog they dump them at county kill shelters.
I understand why a veterinarian feels the  need to charge an arm and leg, after all they are not subsidized by a hospital like a human doctor and have to shell out for equipment. In addition, they go to college longer than a human doctor and have student loans to repay...yes that's right veterinary doctors go to school longer..a point one of my vets loves to make. Procedures like cataract surgery are still about half of what a human would pay. That is because you are not paying for a professional nurse or anesthesiologist. I don't have issues with the general costs of major surgery like hip replacements but I do have issues with the price of what the industry calls bread and butter dentals and annual vaccinations.  When I worked in Pharma selling to veterinarians and medical doctors dog vaccine cost 3 cents to make and we sold a box of six vials for $1.99.And yes, it was only a handful of years ago.

So how can you help keep your vet bills down?

Well, the obvious answer is that good health starts in the womb..that means supporting responsible breeders who health test and OFA certify the parents as free of genetic defects. This won't stop a genetic defect from possibly passing on to a puppy but it greatly, greatly reduces the chances.
The second obvious answer is good husbandry practices. That is the care you provide in the home. Small things like washing your dogs feet after a trip to the dog park can reduce the chances of picking up worms or other contaminants. Bathing and cleaning ears regularly, brushing your dogs teeth, trimming nails, expressing anal glands and feeding the best food you possibly can. If you don't know how to do these things it is time for you to learn. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure could not be more true today. If you suspect a small issue developing that you can't resolve yourself seek medical attention before it becomes a bigger more expensive problem.

When the vet tells you your dog needs a procedure done and it is not an immediate life or death issue to be done today, get a quote. Then shop around. Some clinics will not give a quote unless you have been a client but others will. If you get a lower quote, ask your vet to match it.

Vet prices are not set in stone!

And if it is a highly expensive complicated procedure consider contacting the nearest veterinary school. They have the best equipment money can buy and are not in a rush just because there are more clients in the waiting room. Three years ago I met a woman in town for her dogs cataract surgery at a state veterinary school affiliated with a university. I did not ask her how much it would cost, but she did tell me that it made the six hour drive and nights in a hotel worth it compared to what her own canine opthamologist was charging.
I can't stress enough the importance of shopping around. I once had friend who had a promising show dog develop a skin condition, his vet treated it for months at great cost. I suggested a specialist I knew and she cured it in one visit. If you dog has a condition that is not responding, go to a specialist and stop throwing your money away.
For general veterinary care I find that holistic veterinarians are more about preventing health issues than orthodox ones. If for example, your orthodox vet finds a small heart issue, he or she will say let's check again in six months and see if we need to start meds. While the holistic vet will immediately make dietary and supplemental changes to help with the issue now...before the expensive meds start.
My personal experience over the years has been that holistic veterinary care has saved me a bundle.
I am strong believer in holistic care and feel one of the best things you can do for your dogs health is antibody titer testing before vaccinating. Unnecessary vaccinating can lead to many immune system issues. But if it is your preference to just do annual vaccinations, contact your local American Humane Society ( not to be confused with the Humane Society of the United States by any means) and ask about the special programs they offer. Many of them offer 15 dollar spay neuter clinics, and extremely inexpensive vaccination clinics. Some pet stores also offer reduced vaccination clinics.
Do you have a dog who tends to need regular worming? I will be writing on this subject soon, but for now here is a little tip..instead of frequent trips to the vet for them to check for worms, avoid the exam fee and drop a little stool sample off ( a zip lock bag will do) at the clinic on your way to work. The cost runs 10 to 18 dollars here and if the sample is positive you can purchase Panacur granules in pet stores or online far cheaper than your vet will sell it to you. A dose for a small dog runs about 12 dollars. Most vets will triple that. I have found Panacur brand to be very safe and very effective. There is no other dog wormer I would consider and no, I have no connection to them. If self worming your dog, be sure your dog is otherwise healthy and always read the package insert and follow the directions!
Lastly, start a Health Savings Account for your dog. Even if you have insurance, you are going to need it. And if by luck you never need it, you have that money still saved up for a rainy day.

It's always best to manage mindfully, take good preventative care, and not to let your dogs healthcare expenses catch you off guard.


Note to Rescues-Apt Dwellers Can Make Great Pet Parents

Have you ever noticed how many rescue groups advertise MUST have fenced yard? I have, perhaps because I don't have one.
Now this makes sense if you are adopting a large active breed of dog but a Pekingese or a Frenchie?     I think not.. It also makes me wonder just how knowlegeable many of these people making life decisions for these rescues really are.
Does the dog in these photos look deprived? Is he dirty, stained or matted?  Does he look miserable? No, miserable was being in the dog pound, not being in an apartment.

From the large number I have observed, I would say approximately 50 % of the rescues with small lap dogs won't let them go to an apartment. Sadly because they can't adopt a rescue, many of those apartment dwellers who could provide good homes, get discouraged and buy unwittingly from an unscrupulous breeder.  These rescue groups who deny them are effectively fueling the production of dogs being poorly bred by backyard breeders with health and temperament issues.

Dogs thrive well in the city, just ask any New Yorker. I once knew  a woman who had Afghan hounds in her Boston apartment, she showed them too. Sounds pretty extreme knowing their exercise requirements. Well conditioned and happy these dogs did not suffer from a lack of a back yard. They were taken to a nearby dog park several times a day to run and received plenty of exercise. You may say the average person is not that dedicated, but because apartment owners must get out with their dogs, they pay lots of  attention to them. And because they live in close quarters with other people, it is nearly impossible to neglect a dog as other tenants will report it far faster than a dog in a house with neighbors farther away.
Apartment dwellers are required by the landlords to produce proof of vaccinations, whereas a home dweller is not. So a home owner can skip yearly vet visits and an apartment dweller cannot. My point is, if you are not going to take care of a dog, an apartment is an unlikely place to get away with it.

 Home dwellers can open the back door and just let the dog out, for hours at a time, unmonitored.  Most dogs who get lost do so from their owners yards. An apartment owner must walk their dog several times a day and stay with them when they romp in the dog park. And working apartment owners are much more likely to use dog day care. A friend who runs one told me almost all her clients live in apartments.

 So why all the prejudice against apartment dwellers?

Most apartment dwellers have no children or they are already grown, so the dog becomes a surrogate child. Dogs love being the center of attention, especially dogs who have come from an unwanted and abused background.
To these rescues who are prejudice against apartment living  I say this - there are millions of dogs living happily in apartments all across America. To deny potential good homes is just wrong. Do a home visit, if you see something you don't like then fine, but to deny people a dog just because you don't like their chosen legitimate lifestyle is ludicrous. Two months ago I saw a special needs dog I knew would flourish under my care as I had experience with managing his health issue. I was told the little guy, over age 10 must have a backyard to run in, and I was denied. Now his picture on the website says in bold letters..TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR THIS ONE. But he could be living with me, spoiled to pieces and his special needs tended to. Who knows what will happen to him now. And there is nothing I can do to help him.
Granted, not all rescues condemn apartment life. Some give everyone an equal chance in home visits. But the small dog rescues who will not consider an apartment, the ones who say no without even asking the person's dog experience, astound me.

These people are selling these dogs short!

There are times when I wish that people applying for charity status to run rescues also had to demonstrate proof that they actually understand dogs and their needs. How many more dogs could be saved if these groups would allow some of their rescue dogs to live in apartments? Every time a dog is placed, another dog can be rescued.

 It is the person, not the house that makes a good home for a dog.

It is not how much money they CAN spend on care, but how much they WILL spend on care. I once rescued 22 dogs from a woman who lived in the richest part of town..her dogs were all matted, neglected and starving. But her house was spotless. ..yet the dogs were ignored in that overly important backyard...