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:

  • Leashes, collars and tie outs. - Even if you do not normally tie your pet, remember that in the aftermath of a severe storm you might have to tie your pet for his or her safety. You don’t want your pet wandering outside amid downed power lines, or flooded streets (don’t wander around out there yourself either).
  • A two week supply of food. – And don’t forget to include a manual can opener. Make sure dry food is sealed tightly.
  • Health records. Make copies of your pet’s veterinary records and place in a waterproof sleeve or pouch. Make sure you have your vet’s phone number programmed into your phone, or written where you can find it quickly.
  • Medications. - If your pet depends upon medications, make sure you keep an ample supply on hand throughout hurricane season. You should always keep a two week supply, as your vet’s office may be closed for some time after  a severe storm. Discuss obtaining extra medications with your vet before the storm threatens.
  • Pictures of yourself and your pet. – Pictures of you and your pet together will help to prove that you are the pet’s rightful owner should that ever be questioned. Make hardcopy photos to include in your pet’s survival kit, and keep photos on your phone as well.
  • Pictures of your pet. – I recommend printing 50 – 100 copies of your pet’s photo and including them in your pet’s survival kit. Include as many plastic sheet protectors, the kind available at any discount, or office supply store, and a roll of tape. Include a maker to write your phone number and other contact info on the photo page.  Should you and your pet become separated after a storm, these items will help you to quickly canvass your neighborhood with flyers. Simply insert the photo of your pet into the sheet protector and seal with tape. These flyers are cheap and waterproof and can be stapled to poles or otherwise displayed to let your neighbors and rescue workers know to be on the lookout for your pet.
  • Treats and toys. – Those of us who have been through a hurricane or two know that after the storm, when the power is down and our nerves are frayed, it is the little things that help us return to normalcy. Remember that your pet may be just as stressed as you are. A favorite treat, or a favorite toy may be just what the vet ordered, to help your pet get back into their familiar routine.

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:

http://humanebroward.com/hurricane-news/hurricane-pet-friendly-shelter/

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.)

Mary Jane
July 23, 2017

January is National Train Your Dog Month


Happy New Year everyone!!!!  In keeping with the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I thought this was an appropriate time to talk about something that we, at A1A Pet Sitters, are very passionate about. I’m talking about dog training.

The benefits of a well trained dog are priceless.  Proper training makes your life so much easier and it makes your dog a happy pup. Training is the most important investment you can make in keeping your dog happy and healthy, and enhances the bond you share with your dog.  It provides the opportunity for you and your dog to participate in a variety of activities including obedience, therapy work, and search and rescue, just to name a few.  Your well trained dog can participate in all of your family activities such as hiking, swimming and visiting with family and friends.  When company arrives at your home, how awesome it is to have a dog that doesn’t jump, bark or beg. 

Following are some more benefits of dog training:

 

  • Training classes provide a great opportunity to socialize your dog with other dogs and people.  It also exposes them to different environments.
     
  • Training classes teach dog owners basic skills for dealing with common problems, such as house training, chewing and walking on a leash
     
  • Training also teaches your dog good manners, such as how to greet house guests, and to come when called, to name just a couple.


Whether you choose group classes or private lessons, training your dog will make both you and your dog very happy. (Look for more about finding the right trainer for your dog in an upcoming blog.)

Happy training!!!

Mary Jane
January 4, 2017

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.

I know you are all busy with shopping, holiday parties and celebrating the season.   I am here to remind you in all the craziness, please don’t forget your furkids.  Pets are part of the family and add to the joy of holiday celebrations. With all that tail-wagging fun ahead, beware of potential mischief and manage your household to ensure the safety of your pet(s). With a few techniques mentioned below, you and your pet(s) are headed to holiday bliss!

  • When putting up a Christmas tree, be mindful of the ornaments and lights.  If your pet is a chewer, you may want to block off the tree to avoid a trip to the vet to remove Grandma’s antique ornament from your pet’s belly.  Also, think about shatterproof ornaments as well.
     
  • That also goes for gifts.  Keep away from pets that like to chew paper. Paper is one of Bailey’s favorite treats.
     
  • And when having guests over for dinner parties, please discourage them from giving your pets any table food or any type of alcohol.  I know you say “who would give my dog alcohol”. You would be surprised!!!
     
  •  And keep pets away from holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants.  The are deadly!!

Enjoy this wonderful time of year and Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from A1A Pet Sitters.

See you in 2017!!!

Mary Jane
December 19, 2016

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).

Today, I would like to remind all dog and cat owners that April is National Heartworm Awareness Month. Heartworms are mosquito transmitted parasites that pose a great danger to the health of dogs and cats. Although heartworms have been found to infect animals in all 50 states, those of us here in “mosquito alley” (South Florida), where mosquitos profligate, need to be especially in tune to the danger of heartworms.

There are very few early signs of heartworm in both dogs and cats. Often by the time symptoms appear, the animal is facing a serious health crisis. For this reason, prevention is very important.

All dog owners should:

  • Start all puppies under 7 months of age on heartworm medication. Since heartworms require a 6 month incubation period before your dog will test positive, it is advisable to have your puppy tested six months after starting him or her on the meds. Then retest every year thereafter.
  • All dogs that are over 7 months and not already on heartworm medication need to be started on medication and then tested six months after preventive treatment is started, then once per year after that.

All cat owners should know:

  • Although heartworms are far less prevalent in cats than in dogs, they are much more difficult to detect. In addition to blood tests, your vet may need to use X-rays and an ultrasound to detect the presence of heartworms.
  • There is no approved drug therapy for cats. The drugs used to treat dogs cannot be used on felines. For this reason, prevention is critical to your cat’s health.

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.

Think you don’t have to worry about heartworms just because your pet doesn’t leave the house. Think again. Indoor pets are nearly as susceptible to heartworms as outdoor pets.


That’s all for now. Stay safe everyone!

Mary Jane
April 5, 2016

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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.

Don’t get me wrong – there are many fine, reputable pet sitters out there.  I know many great sitters. And all pet sitters have an inherent love of animals. But not all pet sitting services are created equal. It takes more than a website and a cute business card to be a truly professional pet sitter. You wouldn’t trust your health to a doctor that you knew nothing about, or your legal case to an unknown attorney. Similarly, you don’t want to trust your fur-pals with an unknown sitter.


Your pet sitter will have often unfettered access to not only your precious pets, but to your home, so before you choose a pet sitter, interview her/him carefully. I suggest the following:

  • Always schedule an in-person interview with your prospective sitter. Schedule this well in advance of the time you want the sitter to begin.
     
  • References, references, references!! Ask your prospective sitter for them. If the pet sitter cannot provide them, or if they are in any way suspect, continue your search for a sitter.
     
  • Does the pet sitter have a local business license? Here in Broward county, I am required to have not only a county license, but a local license in Deerfield Beach, where my business is based. Your pet sitter should be able to show you these documents.
     
  • Is your pet sitter bonded and insured? Should an accident occur in your home, you will want to know that the pet sitter is financially responsible. The sitter should be able to show you these documents at the time of the interview.
     
  • If your pet sitting service has other employees apart from the owner, ask the sitter about her/his  Pet Sitter screening process.
     
  • Does the pet sitter offer a written agreement that clearly states the services that will be provided and the payment required?
     
  • Is the pet sitter physically able to do the job? I know of one well-meaning sitter who was severely injured while attempting to walk two large dogs. She was overpowered by the animals and dragged to the ground breaking her arm.

This is what I am thinking about today…the first day of National Pet Sitters week!
More later, but right now I have pets to care for…


Mary Jane
March 7, 2016

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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.

 

Happy walking!!

Till next time...

Mary Jane
February 8, 2016

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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:

  • First and foremost, be honest about it – Does your dog exhibit any type of aggressive behavior when he/she is around other dogs, or people? If so, then this is something that you will want to work through with an animal behavior specialist or trainer. Simply letting an aggressive (or conversely, an especially fearful) animal loose in a dog park is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you have socialized your dog sufficiently before going to the park. Dog parks are not training facilities for unruly animals.
  • Before you leave home – pack plenty of poop bags. Most dog parks provide bags at stations near the entrance, but should they be unavailable, you’ll want to have your own supply handy. Do not pack, toys, treats or ‘people food’. All of these are simply distractions that are likely to cause conflict. Bringing a ball or Frisbee along for your dog to chase is fine, as long as your dog is willing to share with other dogs.
  • Do not bring very young children, especially babies in strollers, to the dog park. Dogs can easily frighten children, and children can easily frighten dogs, and the result can be disastrous.
  • If you have a small dog (generally a dog 25 lbs. and under), you will want to make sure the dog park has a small pets area. Large dogs can be threatening to small dogs, and small dogs can be injured by aggressive, or simply rambunctious, bigger dogs.
  • Scope out the area. As you approach the dog park, be on the lookout for signs of trouble. Look for unsupervised animals that exhibit signs of aggression. If you don’t feel comfortable, then your pet probably won’t feel comfortable either. In such instances it may be best to simply go home and return another day.
  • Use caution entering the park gate. Most parks have a double gate to ensure that no dogs get out of the park. Make certain that the outside gate is securely closed before opening the inside gate to the park entrance. Also, be aware that dogs often rush to greet the newcomer. This can often be intimidating to some dogs and sometimes in the crowded melee a skirmish can erupt.
  • Never keep pets leashed in an off-leash area. Remove your dog’s leash as soon as you enter the park. Many injuries have occurred by off leash dogs becoming entangled in leashes. Retractable leashes are especially dangerous in such situations. Pets on leash also tend to panic because they feel that they cannot escape from off leash animals. This can sometimes actually trigger a dog fight.
  • Remove pronged, or choker collars. If you use a pronged, or a choker collar to control your dog, remove the collar before releasing your dog in the park. A simple nylon or leather collar is fine, but metal pronged collars can easily become a hazard as such collars pose a risk to other dog’s teeth, paws and legs.
  • Be alert, and keep your dog in view at all times. This is not the time to be overly engaged in conversation with other dog owners, reading a book or newspaper, or staring at your phone. Many problems in the dog park could have been avoided if only the dog owner had been paying more attention.
  • Be on the lookout for rowdy play. Don’t let other dog owners tell you that ‘they are only playing’. If you think your dog is being bullied, remove your dog, and yourself, from the situation immediately.
  • Know  how to break up a dog fight. Never reach into a pack of fighting dogs to grab your dog by the collar. This will just make matters worse and may result in injury to your pet, or to yourself. We recommend bringing along one of many commercial Citronella sprays that are available at most pet stores. Such sprays are harmless, but will usually break up a dog fight. A small hand held marine air horn can also be used to stop a fight.

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.
That’s about all for now. See you at the dog park!

Mary Jane

January 8, 2016

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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.


Last week, while travelling a major highway in Boca Raton on my way to a mid-day pet visit, I witnessed something that I see nearly every day here in South Florida. I was following a car that was travelling at nearly fifty miles per hour when I noticed a very happy looking Labrador retriever with his head protruding from the rear window of a car, ears blowing in the wind. I followed the car for a mile or so, and when I pulled alongside at the next light, I could see that the lady driving the car was buckled into her seatbelt, and she had a young child strapped securely in a car seat. Her Labrador retriever was, however, loose in the backseat with all windows down.


As anyone who  has ever had an automobile windshield replaced due to flying roadway debris can tell you, a stone or other hard object strikes a car windshield with the intensity of a bullet. Just imagine what could happen to an animal with his/her head exposed. In addition to debris that could have severely struck her pet, this lady was also exposing her Lab to a myriad of other possible hazards, including dust that could infect her pet’s eyes, as well as ear, and lung infections. In addition, even a minor collision would have likely sent her Lab hurtling into the street through the wide-open window.


Before you travel with your pet, take some time to consider these safety tips. (Most of the tips are geared toward dog owners – not that we aren’t concerned about kitty safety, it’s just that most cats, as well as small breed dogs, tend to travel in the safety of carriers.)

  • Acclimate your pet for travel – Make sure your pet is comfortable riding for long distances. Take your pet for short trips before embarking on that 500 mile road trip to grandma’s house. A relaxed pet is, after all, a much more pleasant travel companion than one stressed by long hours on the road.

  • Use restraint – A car carrier is by far the safest way for your pet to travel. Due to size constraints, however, this is not always possible. If you don’t have room for a carrier consider purchasing a dog car seat, or a dog car seat/harness. Such seats restrain your dog with a short leash while still allowing him/her to enjoy the view out the window.

  • Go prepared – Make sure that you pack extra food along if you are travelling over a great distance. Pack extra meds, a few of your pet’s favorite toys, and plenty of poop bags. You should also have a copy of your pet’s medical records as well, most importantly, certification of his/her latest rabies vaccination. You may be asked for these should you be forced to check into a motel. Should your trip be delayed due to weather, or another unplanned event, you’ll want to make sure that your pet is as comfortable as possible while you wait to get back on the road.

  • ID, ID, ID – I can’t stress this enough. Especially when you are travelling, make certain that your pet is wearing his/her collar with a current rabies vaccination tag and a contact telephone number prominently displayed. Your pet’s name should not appear on his/her tags. We also recommend that your pet be micro chipped. These static, inexpensive, identification devices, are inserted directly the animal’s skin and provide valuable contact information for authorities in case you are separated from your pet during your trip. For added security, consider purchasing a GPS ID collar. These collars are nominally priced today, and can locate a lost pet with pinpoint accuracy by using GPS satellite technology.

  • Give it a rest – When travelling long periods by car, remember that your pet may not be on the same schedule as you. Take frequent breaks. Pack along plenty of fresh water and perhaps a treat or two to keep your pet refreshed and happy. Remember…frequent potty breaks help keep everyone happy and enjoying the ride!!

  • Do not leave your pet unattended – We recommend that you never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle while in transit, especially in interstate rest areas and other highly trafficked locations. Because animal theft is indistinguishable from property theft in most police reports, the number of pets stolen each year cannot be readily determined. However, it has been estimated that upwards of 2 million pets are stolen each year in the U.S. It takes only a minute for a skilled thief to enter your vehicle, and perhaps not only steal your valuables, but your pet as well.

  • Air travel – We see more and more people in airports travelling with their pets. But there are rules – lots of rules. So many, that I can’t go into them all here. The FAA website is a good place to begin: http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_pets/. Make sure to check with your air carrier before you travel, and check far in advance of your trip.


That’s about all for now…back to pet sitting. Thank you for letting me share this valuable information with you.
Travel safely everyone!!!

Mary Jane
January 2, 2016


 

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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.


In 2016, A1A Pet Sitters will celebrate 14 years of business in South Florida, serving the residents of Broward and Palm Beach counties. It has been a wonderful 14 years, and many of you have been with us since we opened our pet-sitting doors back in 2002. To you ‘long-timers’ we want to say, thank you. Thank you so much for your loyalty and for allowing us into your homes to care for those treasured members of the family, your pets. To those of you who’ve more recently found us, we’d like to say “welcome to the A1A family”. We look forward to taking good care of all of our fur-pals in the new year.


So another year of great memories, laughter, and good times has passed, but another year of new opportunities, new friends, and some new challenges lies just around the bend. I can’t wait to get started!

I wish each and every one of you a happy and joyous new year.

Mary Jane
December 30, 2015

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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!!

Mary Jane
April 19, 2012

 

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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:

http://www.humanebroward.com/index.php

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:

http://www.prlog.org/10224648-aid-for-people-and-their-pets.html

In Palm Beach County , the non-profit ‘Pawz-2-Help', offers many low-cost services for between $7.50 and $15.00:

http://www.paws2help.com/info/display?PageID=3163

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!!!

Mary Jane

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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.

 

--Mary Jane

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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

 

 


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