Guest blog by Alicia Meulensteen, a mom of two who works in the Development department at the ASPCA.
Play dates: your little guy or girl, a friend…and your pet? Playtime for three is not always welcome by friend or feline. Here’s how I ensure everyone has a good time during play dates:
My son Sam is three-and-a-half and our cat, Polly, is approaching 14. Sam is getting to an age where he wants to have his friends over more often. So far, these children tend to fall into two camps when it comes to meeting our cat: They either can’t get enough of her or they are frightened of her— especially if they have never interacted with a cat before.
In both scenarios, I find an introduction with treats for the cat gets everyone comfortable. For an excited child, it slows them down and prevents them from approaching the cat with a loud voice or really animated movements, both of which make the cat—a somewhat cranky senior kitty—a little nervous. Placing a treat on the floor lets the more timid children approach the cat on their terms, but they do not actually have to pet her or get too close.
Sometimes I’ll provide the cat dancer toy so kids can play with her without using their hands. A short, supervised time with kitty is usually enough to satisfy everyone’s interest, and then child and kitty both move on to something else. If anyone gets too carried away with the cat, or I can see her cornered, she’s airlifted out of the situation to safety. The key for cats is to designate a safe place where they can get out of reach of inquisitive or persistent little hands.
I realize dogs are a little different. Some dogs may jump up and knock over a little one in the process; dog toys and kid toys are easily confused, too! My neighbors have three little kids and two dogs, and often they just move the dogs upstairs when friends are over to avoid the issue altogether. For helpful pet tips, check out our guide to teaching dogs to behave around children as well as our cat behavior section.
How do you keep your pets safe during play dates? Tell us in the comments!
Summer travel season is in full swing, and we think family trips are always more fun when you bring your furry friends along. If you’re planning to hit the road this summer with your pets in tow, be sure to check out these travel safety tips before you go:
In the car:
Thinking about taking a road trip? It’s a good idea to practice having your pet ride along for a series of short rides leading up to your big trip. Keep your pets safe and secure in the car by having them ride in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Be sure to pack plenty of water, and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. For a full list of car travel safety tips, visit our Pet Care section.
Traveling by plane:
Unless your furry friend is small enough to ride under your seat on a plane, the ASPCA suggests avoiding air travel with pets. However, if you must bring your pet along on your flight, it’s best to plan ahead. First, make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date and that your pet has been microchipped for identification purposes. Book a direct flight if possible, and purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably. Be sure to mark the crate with the words “Live Animal,” as well as your contact information and a photo of your pet. Attach a pouch of your pet’s food to the outside of her crate, and freeze water in a dish for your pet to drink as it melts throughout the flight. For more air travel safety tips, visit our Pet Care section.
No matter where you’re headed this summer, please be sure your pet is wearing an ID tag at all times. We’re wishing you many happy trails and safe travels. Don’t forget to send us a postcard of Fluffy soaking up the sun during your family’s vacation!
We’re happy to share some exciting news: Connecticut’s governor is poised to sign a bill that would transfer 34 acres of state land to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation to be utilized as an animal sanctuary.
“We had asked in lieu of flowers that people send donations to The Animal Center,” says Jenny Hubbard, Catherine’s Mom. “There was an overwhelming response— within the course of a few weeks, they had received donations in Catherine’s memory totaling over $100,000. The Animal Center had been working to build an animal sanctuary, so we put all of our energy into making a foundation that could financially support the sanctuary for years to come.”
Plans for the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary include indoor and outdoor facilities, which will provide a caring environment for dogs, cats, farm animals and native wildlife. The Animal Center will also continue to run its existing animal foster program.
“The Sanctuary will have on-site canine and feline communities,” Jenny says. “We are also going to do farm animal refuge—we will give respite to cows, sheep and chickens that might be neglected or abused, or need a home because a farm is closed due to financial reasons. In the long term, we hope to do native wildlife refuge and release for injured animals such as turtles or deer.”
Jenny notes that the Sanctuary’s main building will contain a visitor center, as well as a veterinary clinic. She says they plan to leave much of the Sanctuary’s land as-is, incorporating the outdoor animal spaces into existing woodlands and meadows.
Are you in the Connecticut area? Three teenage siblings will host the Shapiro Family Classical Music Concert on Saturday, June 14 at 5:00 P.M. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 651 Pequot Ave. in Southport, Connecticut. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Sanctuary.
Stay tuned for more details to come as the Sanctuary plans progress. We can’t wait to see countless animals receive care as a result of Catherine’s inspirational dedication to animals in need.
Guest blog by Emily Schneider, a proud mom of two feisty yorkies and a two-year-old living in the Garden State. Emily works in media and public relations for the ASPCA. Find her onTwitter orFacebook.
I’ve heard one too many stories of pet parents saying, “My dog is really friendly; he loves kids,” followed by utter shock and disbelief when their dog nips or bites a child. They wonder, “How could this happen? My dog has never bitten a child before.” In that situation, it’s natural to feel mortified, and all you can do is apologize profusely and scold your dog for behaving poorly.
That was me a few years ago, when my dog had a negative interaction with a child who was fortunately left unharmed, though maybe slightly traumatized and wary of dogs. When I had my son Jaden, I wasn’t confident since we had several close calls when our dog Mikey acted up around kids. My husband was also worried and wondered whether having a dog like Mikey was a good fit for our family. Gulp.
Did you know that 50 percent of children in the U.S. will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday, and that the majority of dog bites are from a dog the child knows? In conjunction with National Dog Bite Prevention Week May 18-24, here are some tips I’ve implemented so my son and dogs can live in harmony:
Keep dog and kid toys separate. It’s easy for your dog to confuse his toy with a child’s toy because they look similar. Separate the two to avoid problems—I keep my son’s toys in his room, and bring out a few toys for the dogs to play with in the living room.
Always supervise playtime. Even if your pets are good with kids, it’s important to keep an eye on your child and pet because accidents happen when you least expect it.
Time flies when you’re changing diapers, cleaning dirty bibs and washing a million pieces of a bottle—all on virtually no sleep. My son is a toddler now, and he’s feeling very independent—now that he can run, drive his toy car, and say, “my toy!” And while my husband and I consulted animal behavior experts to address Mikey’s issues, it’s important as parents—especially if you have both—to be extra mindful when your child is interacting with your pets or other dogs.
Talking to kids about pet store puppies and puppy mills is no easy task. The last thing parents want to expose their children to is the harsh reality of painful cages, overcrowded conditions, diseases and emotional abuse. To help children understand why they can’t have “that puppy in the window” of your neighborhood pet store, we’ve put together some kid-friendly talking points for tough questions.
Where do pet store puppies come from? Most pet stores puppies come from crowded and unhealthy places called puppy mills.
What is a puppy mill? Puppy mills are like big factories for dogs. This means that many dogs are kept there their entire lives and forced to breed (have puppies). Sadly, puppy mill dogs are not happy. They don’t get to play outside or sleep in a comfy bed. A lot of times they get sick. And there’s usually no one to give them any love.
What happens to puppy mill dogs? Puppies born in a puppy mill are taken away from their mothers very young and usually sent to a pet store, where they are sold to people who don’t know where the puppy really came from. The puppy mill owner doesn’t care about the puppy or the puppy’s mom and dad, who are left behind at the puppy mill after the puppies are sent to the pet store. He or she only cares about making money. That’s why we don’t like buying dogs from pet stores!
Why are people cruel to animals? It’s hard to say what drives a person to be cruel to an animal. In puppy mills, the owners are thinking more about the money than the dogs. Organizations like the ASPCA are working hard to make sure that every animal is happy, safe and loved by helping shut down puppy mills and educate people about why they shouldn’t buy a puppy in a pet store.
What happens to the puppies in a pet store if no one buys them? If a store doesn’t sell a puppy quickly, it will lower the price until someone buys the puppy. The more often pet stores have to do this, the more money they lose. Next time, they won’t order as many puppies.
So how CAN I get a puppy? Good news! Shelters are full of happy, sweet puppies waiting for forever homes. If your family is ready for a pet, you can head to your local shelter to adopt. Not only will you be saving a life, but also you’ll be sending a message to puppy mill owners that what they do is unacceptable! The fewer people who buy their puppies, the fewer puppies they will “make.”
What else can I do? You can start by setting a good example for your friends and community. Ask your mom and dad to take our No Pet Store Puppies pledge not to buy anything (food, supplies, etc.) from pet stores that sell puppies and spread the word about animal adoption.