Better Get Prepared...it’s Hurricane Season!!
I know, I know...it has been awhile since I’ve posted here. But things have been really busy at A1A Pet Sitters and my days have been filled with pet visits. Believe me, it can be quite a chore keeping the puppies (and myself) cool on these sweltering South Florida summer afternoons.
But today, I want to take a little time out to talk about something that every Florida pet owner should be thinking about. Yes, I am about to drop the “H” word. You know what I am talking about – Hurricane Season is here! In fact we are more than a month into this dreaded time of year. Today, as I check the tropical forecast, all is quiet. But those of us who have spent a number of years in this state know that things can change practically overnight. So if you haven’t given any thought to making a hurricane plan for your family, now is a good time to do it – long before a named storm is whipping up from the Caribbean! And don’t forget, if you are a pet owner (as probably everyone reading this blog is), you will need a plan for your pet as well. Here are a few tips to help you get prepared.
First and foremost, make sure your dog or cat is properly identified. Broward County pets should all be wearing their 2017 heart-shaped rabies tag. Should you and your pet ever become separated, this tag is their ticket back to you. Make certain that your pet’s collar fits properly and the tag is firmly attached. I am also a firm believer in mirco-chipping your pet. These tiny chips implanted under your pet’s skin identify your pet even if he or she becomes separated from their collar. All animal shelters and veterinarians scan for these devices whenever a lost animal is admitted. The cost is minimal (in many cases less that $20), but the peace of mind is priceless.
Now, with your pet properly identified, it’s time to pack your pet’s survival kit. I suggest a sturdy plastic box with a waterproof snap-down lid. Here is a list of items you will want to include:
Finally, you should have a plan in place in case you are forced to evacuate. Many shelters will not accept pets, so you should know well in advance where you will go should a storm threaten. The link below will take you to a hurricane friendly pet shelter in Broward County:
These are just a few tips for staying safe this season. The important thing is that we begin now to plan and to take our pet’s needs into consideration as we plan for our own well being. Stay safe evryone! (And cool.)
January is National Train Your Dog Month
Happy Holidays From A1A
Boy, oh boy, where has this year gone? It has been a fun-filled year of dog walks, cat visits and pet sitting in Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach and surrounding communities.
Enjoy this wonderful time of year and Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from A1A Pet Sitters.
It's National Heartworm Awareness Month
Hello again everyone! I can’t believe that it is April already. The year is flying by and hurricane season is going to be upon us again before we know it (I’ll save that blog for another day).
All cat owners should know:
Left untreated, heartworms can be life-threatening to your dog or cat, so please take the advice of the veterinary experts at the National Heartworm Society and have your dog or cat tested annually. Experts stress that even those animals on heartworm medication need to be tested each year to make sure the medication is still effective. Heartworm medication is administered to dogs on a monthly basis, but even one late dosage can leave your pet open to heartworms.
National Professional Pet Sitters week
Today, I’d like to talk about a week long celebration that is dear to my heart. March 6 begins National Professional Pet Sitters week. You know, in 2002 when I started A1A Pet Sitters, many people did not know that such a service existed. Since that time, I have watched the internet explode with pet sitting services that seem to come and go like the palm fronds on our South Florida trees.
This is what I am thinking about today…the first day of National Pet Sitters week!
Let's Talk About Leashes
Time to talk about leashes. I have a new pet sitting client in Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club in Boca Raton. This client, I will call her Sandy. Sandy has been walking her Black Lab, Jake for 2 years using a retractable leash. Actually, it is not so much a leash, but a strong thin cord. She has never had a problem until last week.
While on their usual morning walk, a woman was walking a 50 pound, mixed breed dog and the dog was clearly in charge. He was pulling her and jerking her. Needless to say, when that dog spotted Jake, he lunged and got away from his owner and ran towards Jake. Jake got so excited and was spinning and trying to play with the dog. He was running and doing circles around Sandy and the leash wrapped around Sandy’s leg multiple times and caused a severe gash that led to many stitches and bad bruising. Sandy is in a lot of pain and has to rest her leg for a week. Had that been a standard leash, Sandy may have had lesser injuries. I have been walking Sandy’s dog three times a day while she recovers.
xIn most cases, a retractable leash tends to allow dogs to pull and always be ahead of you. It is impossible to train a dog using these devices as you do not have much control.
The best leash to use is a standard 6 foot leash made of either leather or cloth. I prefer cloth as it is easier to handle.
Till next time...
Safety at the dog park
For many South Floridians, nothing says fun in the sun like an afternoon at one of our local dog parks. Here in Broward and Palm Beach counties, there are a number of fine dog parks where you can take your pet for a wonderful off-leash romp. However, make no mistake about it, there are a number of hazards lurking behind that chain-link dog park fence. Although for the most part, dog parks are safe places for dogs and their owners to congregate, there is an element of risk involved in each visit. You can, however, minimize the risk by exercising a few simple safeguards to help ensure that you and your pet’s visit to the dog park is a pleasant experience:
And finally (and you knew this was coming didn’t you), many pet sitting services advertise dog park trips as one of their services. Before you send your pet to the dog park with a sitter, make certain he or she knows these basic dog park rules, and make sure the sitter is comfortable being around dogs larger than the dog he or she is used to sitting. If you are going to make dog park trips part of a sitter’s daily, or weekly routine, you may want to accompany the sitter on his or her first dog park visit to make certain that you are comfortable with your sitter in this environment.
January 8, 2016
January 2nd is National Pet Travel Safety Day
As the holidays fade slowly into the distance, and we turn our attention to the new year, I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that January 2nd is National Pet Travel Safety Day. This day was founded by animal advocate and former EMT-medic, Coleen Paige, to help increase public awareness of the dangers pets face while travelling. Each year, many well-meaning pet owners subject their pets to unnecessary risk by allowing them to ride unprepared, and unsecured.
Happy New Year from A1A Pet Sitters
New beginnings, new joy, and new friends. That’s what I think of when I think of the upcoming new year. Sure, 2015 has been great, but as 2016 lurks just around the corner, I can’t help but feel more than a little bit excited about what’s next for A1A Pet Sitters.
I wish each and every one of you a happy and joyous new year.
Collars Are Not Enough - It's National Pet ID week
By ASPCA estimates, only one third of all pet owners keep adequate identification on their pets at all times. How often we hear people say that “he's just an indoor cat”, or “my Yorkie only goes out in the yard and she's never out of my sight”. If you think that you and your pet could never be separated, think again.
In the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, countless dogs and cats were separated from their owners and left to fend for themselves on the streets of New Orleans and across the devastated Gulf Coast . Due to the widespread nature of the disaster, many pets were never reunited with their owners. For this reason, this week - National Pet ID Week - takes on special significance for those of us in hurricane prone South Florida . No matter where you live, though, if you are a pet owner, you should take some time out this week to consider what would happen to your beloved dog or cat should they be separated from you.
You should be aware that any number of disasters, both natural and man made could separate you from your pet. Hurricanes are not the only potential disaster we South Floridians face - fires, home break-ins, tornados, floods, or even (God forbid) a terrorist attack, are all good reasons to take extra steps to make sure your pet is properly identified.
Collars, while important, are not always the best way to insure that your pet can be identified in the event disaster strikes. Collars can be broken, slipped out of, or even not put on the animal by forgetful or distracted owners. The best way that we have found to cheaply and reliably make sure your pet can be identified, is by microchip implant. Microchips are tiny, static, electronic devices that are implanted under your dog, or cat's skin and remain there for the life of your pet. All laboratories, veterinary clinics, animal shelters and rescue organizations check all incoming stray and abandoned animals for the presence of microchips. Animals are checked using a device much like a hand held scanner used in department stores to scan merchandise. When the chip is detected, your name and contact information are displayed on a monitor, and a happy reunion takes place soon thereafter. Microchips are not expensive, and in some cases are available from local humane societies for less than $20.
There are also a number of GPS products that can be used to track your pet. In most cases GPS tracking products use a small device that secures to the animal's collar. If your pet is lost, he or she can be tracked using a mobile app on your smart phone. Since I have not had any experience with these, I can't speak to their effectiveness. For day-to-day ‘lost animal' scenarios, such products seem like a good investment (as long as you can afford the $200 or so yearly fee). For disaster planning, however, any device that adheres to the collar would be lost should the collar be removed, or if the animal should slip out of it. Also, remember that immediately following a disaster, electric and telephone service - even cellular service - will likely be down, thus rendering a GPS tracking device virtually worthless.
As a final word regarding pet identification, you should have an up to date photo of your pet on hand at all times. This should be a photo taken with the express purpose of identifying your animal. It need not be professionally taken, but that cute Christmas picture that you took of your Siamese in a Santa hat won't do.
If your pet has any unique identifying markings, make certain that they show in the photo. If you live in a hurricane prone area like South Florida, I recommend you make 50-100 copies of your pet's photo to use in case you need to make fliers to post in your neighborhood should your pet be lost. As a cheap way to seal your fliers, purchase plastic sheet protectors from any office supply store. Place the fliers in the sheet protectors and seal all edges with tape. Store your fliers in your hurricane kit along with a staple gun and extra staples. Make sure that in addition to your own telephone numbers (land line and cell both), that you include an alternate number of a friend or relative in a distant location – one that is likely to be outside of the storm impacted area. In this way, even if telephone service has not been restored in your area, rescue workers will be able to contact someone to tell them your pet has been rescued.
Well that's about all for today. By the way, the holidays are on the way – Memorial Day and the 4 th of July. We are booking fast for these dates so call us as soon as you know your travel plans.
Happy Spring Everyone!!
March 23, 2012
Hi everyone. It has been awhile since I have blogged, but things have been pretty busy here at A1A Pet Sitters. It is spring here in South Florida , and as many of our snowbird friends/clients are preparing for the trek back ‘up north', the rest of us down here in the sub-tropics are getting ready for the hot summer days ahead.
Before the heat of summer (and another hurricane season) descends upon us here in Broward and Palm Beach Counties , I would like to ask that you take a moment to assess the general health of your pet. When was the last time your pet visited the vet for a routine exam? If your pet is overdue for a checkup, now is a great time to make an appointment.
I was thinking about this topic the other day, when I received an email from a friend listing the top 5 health concerns that now face our pets. I was somewhat surprised to find that the number 1 concern was lack of proper veterinary care. This is being directly attributed to current economic conditions. It seems that today's turbulent financial times are taking a toll not only on we humans, but our pets as well, as many people are being forced to forego proper medical care for their pets, in order to meet the needs of their own families. The study that my friend sent to me indicates that back in 2007 (before the height of the Great Recession of 2008), the average dog visited the vet only 2.6 times per year, while cats averaged only about 1.7 times per year. Today's statistics are projected to be lower yet. Fewer vet visits mean that more and more pets out there are developing potentially serious, and undiagnosed, health problems such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, flea and tick problems, worms, and ear and eye infections to name only a few.
Pet owners who are worried that they cannot afford proper health care for their pets may be relieved to find that there are many affordable, and yes – sometimes free options - available to them. In Broward County , a good place to begin a search for low-cost pet care is with the Broward Humane Society (local Humane Societies are a great place to begin looking for low-cost veterinary services no matter where you live). These folks offer a low-cost spay and neuter program, and they also work together with private vets to assist people with limited resources in obtaining affordable care for their pets. Go to their website for contact information:
As another valuable resource, see the information provided at floridapets.net. Here, site owner Patricia Collier has compiled an exhaustive list of resources for pet owners in need:
In Palm Beach County , the non-profit ‘Pawz-2-Help', offers many low-cost services for between $7.50 and $15.00:
There are many other fine organizations in our area that offer similar services. They are out there if you reach out.
Happy spring to all!!!
February 10, 2012
As I drive the streets and highways of South Florida these days, I can't help thinking of how things have changed over the course of the past ten years. Back in 2002, when A1A Pet Sitters opened for business, the meteoric housing boom that would take our little piece of paradise by storm had not yet begun. The term ‘foreclosure' was a word that few of us thought about, and the telling “Bank Owned” sign in front of a home was rare indeed. As we all know though, dramatic changes were in the offing, and South Florida would soon be at the ep icenter of an economic earthquake. Within a few short years, the unemployment rolls would swell, and the so called housing ‘bubble' would burst with a vengeance.
Right here in our very own Broward County , Florida , the toll on human beings has been great, and to take the misery index to an even higher level, a new term has been coined: foreclosure pets . Homeowners driven from their homes often have to part with their beloved pet companions as they are forced to move to rental units that do not acc ep t pets, to move in with relatives, or perhaps to travel across the country to look for employment. In some cases, an owner may simply no longer be able to afford the financial burden of caring for their pet. Many people have to make agonizing decisions -- decisions that in many cases result in having to give up their pets to shelters, releasing them to roam free, or as in some documented cases, leaving them behind in abandoned houses or garages. It should be emphasized that the later two options are NEVER acceptable.
Today's heavily domesticated pets are totally d ep endent upon we humans for their survival. Pets released to roam free are destined to starve to death, fall victim to predators, or succumb to disease. A similar fate most certainly awaits those animals left behind in abandoned structures. Organizations such as foreclosurepets.orgs are working with displaced homeowners to help give shelter, and find homes for foreclosure pets, as are local shelters. A1A Pet Sitters is committed to spreading the word about this, and similar organizations and supporting them with donations.
So what can you do to help? I suggest the following:
Contribute – Shelters nationwide r ep ort that while it is difficult to attribute the housing crisis directly to the large number of drop offs (owners often simply tell shelters that they are ‘moving', without going into details), the number of animals dropped off has surged as home foreclosures have increased. Shelters, especially ‘no kill shelters' are in dire need of funding. If you can afford to contribute, then please do so.
Speak up – If you suspect an animal has been abandoned in a home, don't wait. Call local animal control immediately. Constant barking from a house that appears abandoned is often the first sign that an animal is trapped inside. Similarly, you should r ep ort loose animals to the authorities immediately. You are not doing an animal a favor by allowing them to roam free. It is also important to note here, that it is never a good idea to approach a loose animal. Large dogs especially may become aggressive when they are hungry and frightened.
Adopt – But only if you are really ready to take on the added burden of taking care of a pet. If your time and finances allow, taking an animal into your home can be a richly rewarding experience. Also, be aware that some pet owners are simply looking for a good ‘foster parent' for a specified period of time. Sometimes a pet owner just needs a good caregiver for a month or two, or just long enough to move into a pet friendly apartment or home. If you can help in this way, we at A1A Pet Sitters encourage you to do so.
So that is all for this blog. See you all next time, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter.
January 26, 2012
Hi Everyone -- We are now well into the New Year and I am so excited when I think of what lies ahead for A1A Pet Sitters. This year, we have decided to make a few ‘online' changes. While I believe that change, simply for the sake of change, is not always a good idea, I believe that change that brings us closer to our clients, and the pets that we care for, is change for the good.
We decided that in 2012 that it was time to retire the original A1A Pet Sitters website (you know the one – pink background - white palm trees), and put up a new site. In retrospect, a lot has happened since that site went live, and we were in our ‘pet sitting infancy', back in 2002. Dusty, our golden retriever who has graced our homepage for the past ten years, passed in February 2010, after a long battle with lymphoma. For this reason, the fight against canine cancer is very close to our heart. We realize that times are hard right now for many people, but we ask those who can to consider this a cause worthy of contribution. Our pets give us a great deal of love and joy and they ask little in return.
If you were among our early clients, you may recall the ‘A1A Paw Prints' newsletter that we published monthly. Rising production costs and postage rates eventually forced us to discontinue the newsletter, but today – thanks to the ‘blogosphere' we are able to convey this same content to you via forums such as this. And don't forget that we now Tweet…(no comments please, bird owners) - join us on Twitter by clicking the icon at the top of our home page. Become a follower and we promise not to inundate you with worthless information (really).
And finally, I want to mention our new look on the web. For this, we give huge kudos to Matthew LoBello, at LoBello Arts for making this happen, and in record time too. Thanks Matt.
And thanks most of all, to our loyal clients who have been with us during this past decade - to all of you who trust A1A Pet Sitters with your furry family while you are away!
-- Mary Jane