Battle Over Adoption Rights to Retired Military Working Dogs

canine vets
They’re the unsung heroes of war—military working dogs (MWDs) who serve alongside our troops, sniffing out explosives and standing watch to protect their handler and their units.
MWDs will often serve multiple tours of duty, usually with different handlers. But what happens when the dogs are retired from the military? Popular opinion is the dogs should stay with their handlers, but that doesn’t always happen.
Robby’s Law
Sadly, MWDs were largely put down when they were through with their military service prior to the November 2000 enactment of Robby’s Law. Robby’s Law mandated all suitable MWDs be made available for adoption by “law-enforcement agencies, former handlers of these dogs, and other persons capable of caring for these dogs.” The order has since been amended with priority now going first to former handlers, followed by other persons capable of humanely caring for the animal, and law enforcement agencies.
Adoption priority hasn’t always been carried out in that order. The New York Post investigated several soldiers’ stories of being dodged or redirected when trying to adopt their MWDs upon the dog’s retirement.
Adoption Controversy
MWDs trained by K2 Solutions were adopted out at events when their government contract ended in February 2014. The dogs were adopted primarily by law enforcement personnel and civilians—but not by their handlers. This stems not from a lack of handlers wanting to adopt their MWDs but seemingly from a defiance of policy dictated by Robby’s Law.

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Can the ThunderShirt Cure Your Dog’s 4th of July Anxiety?

Does your dog howl or hide when 4th of July fireworks go off? Does he cower when thunderstorms hit? Does he dread the car and even have accidents on car rides? Can he not stand when you leave his side and destroy things while you’re gone?

yellow dog wearing a thundershirtIf you answered yes to any of these questions, the ThunderShirt might be for you.

If you’ve never heard of the ThunderShirt, it is often compared to swaddling a baby—it applies gentle, comforting pressure in key spots, thereby calming your dog’s nerves. It is a low-cost, drug-free option for pet owners with an anxious dog or cat.

The company says it works for more than 80% of pets—based on customer reviews—for issues ranging from separation anxiety to people shyness to problem barking. The company even offers a money-back guarantee if it does not work for you.

But did it work for us? We took a trial run to see if the ThunderShirt might work for you this 4th of July.

Our trial run

dogs in car

Yellow Dog was nervous in the car prior to ThunderShirt, unlike his brother Sundown.

We adopted Yellow Dog at five months old and he was a skittish dog from the start. He pooped in the car within a minute of driving away from his foster home. He’s never been relaxed on car rides; he never lies down and sleeps like Sundown but instead sits and stares at us the entire drive, even on long road trips. He is also sensitive to loud noises—like fireworks or strong thunderstorms.

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How Doggy Breath Could Save Your Pet’s Life

smiling dog

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help. See your veterinarian for advice suited specifically to your dog.

If you’re like most pet parents, you probably think your dog’s stinky breath is normal, so you ignore it. But doggy breath is an indication of infection that can be deadly if left untreated.

Dental disease is one of the most widespread issues plaguing dogs today—in fact, roughly 90% of dogs will have some degree of dental disease by the time they are just three years old, and often it arises even earlier. PetMD says neglecting dental care is the #2 cause of earlier death in our dogs.

We talked to one of the world’s leading pet dentists, Dr. Brook Niemiec, who is shedding light on why dental disease is so prevalent and what you need to be asking your vet about your pet’s oral health.

Doggy Breath is Not Normal

Stinky dog breath is not normal and indicates an infection in your dog's mouth.

Stinky dog breath is not normal and indicates an infection in your dog’s mouth.

Although most people just accept bad doggy breath as reality, it’s a glaring sign something is really wrong.

“We have been trained to think some degree of gum disease as being normal—it’s not normal,” Dr. Niemiec explains. “It’s a sign of infection, and if your dog has bad breath, it’s a sign of severe infection.”

Dr. Niemiec believes the common misconceptions about pet dental hygiene and health are due to lack of education.

“Less than one-third of veterinary schools actually have a vet dentist on staff,” Dr. Niemiec says. “The new grads are learning from people who graduated 20 or 30 years ago, and they didn’t get any dentistry training either. Almost all the dental knowledge is picked up off the street.

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Road Trip! Tips for a Happy Dog Traveler

Spring break is around the corner and summer not far behind, so many pet parents will soon be hitting the road, possibly with their dogs in tow. But is your pooch miserable during the trip? There are things you can to do help!

Travel By Car

First, make sure you are getting your dog enough exercise before you head out on the open road.

road trip

Road trip! Make sure your dog is prepared for a long car ride.

“Just like kids, you need to tire them out so they can rest or sleep during the ride,” behavioral therapist and trainer Beverly Ulbrich says. “It will cause less stress and anxiety for them if you drain some of their energy first.”

We usually head to the dog park for an hour before getting in the car. You have to factor this into your travel time for a happier ride-a-long.

“I recommend walking your dog the minimum you typically walk him every day,” Ulbrich says. “So if he’s used to at least a 45-minute walk every day, then you need to have a 45-minute walk before putting him the car for a few hours.”

Extra exercise isn’t necessary on trips less than an hour but make sure your dog goes potty before you leave.

Also make sure to bring plenty of water and a dog-friendly dish. Our favorite to-go water dish is Gulpy, a portable water dispenser that comes in different shapes and sizes.

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Lights, Camera, DOGTV!

Yellow Dog, Sundown and Mocha were recently part of a segment for DOGTV, the first TV channel dedicated completely to dogs! Check it out:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.58.47 AM

As you can see, DOGTV helps entertain and stimulate your dog when you’re away. It’s on channel 354 on DirecTV. If you don’t have DirecTV, you can watch online!

Home for the Holidays; People with Pets Tend to Stay Put

If you’re a pet parent, chances are you’re staying home for the holidays. Most pet owners consider their furry friends part of the family and have a hard time leaving them behind during the holiday season when travel options are sparse.

holiday info graphic 1

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Training Tips to Use with the ThunderShirt

yellow dog wearing a thundershirtWe’ve already detailed how the ThunderShirt works but if you’re planning on using the shirt for the first time this 4th of July, make sure you know how you should act when fireworks go off.

Did you know you shouldn’t yell at your dog for barking? ThunderShirt offers some training tips on their website to use with the shirt.

We also consulted The Pooch Coach, trainer Beverly Ulbrich, for tips on dealing with 4th of July noises. Here’s what she suggests:

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What You Don’t Know About Flea Medicine

You have Frontline stocked and religiously give it to your dog every month. He’s protected from fleas and ticks, right? Well, maybe.

frontlineTopical flea medicines like Frontline or K9 Advantix lose their effectiveness throughout the month, especially if your pup has had a bath or goes for a swim during that time. So by week three or four, the effectiveness could only be at 50 percent or less, which is a problem for dogs who are flea allergic.

Bay Area Veterinary Dermatologist Dr. Nicole Eckholm says your dog will generally be okay if you give a topical flea preventative once a month but if you dog is flea allergic, it might be a good idea to give it every three weeks.

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More Suspicious Meatballs Found in San Francisco

suspicious meatballs san franciscoYet another round of suspicious meatballs has been found in a San Francisco park frequented by dogs. A woman spotted a plate of meatballs with pills sticking out of them Monday morning at the Sunset Reservoir near the corner of Ortega and 24th Avenue.

Police are testing the meatballs to see if the pills are poisonous. A $25,000 reward is being offered by the Animal Defense Fund for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for these meatballs.

This is the fourth such sighting of suspicious meatballs in San Francisco in the past two years. A dachshund named Oskar died in July 2013 after eating a suspicious meatball in the Twin Peaks neighborhood.

Some residents think off-leash dogs might be targeted because not all owners clean up after them.

To keep your dog safe, keep him on a leash unless he is 100 percent reliable with recall and the command “off!” or “drop it!”

We have frequented the Sunset Reservoir and there are many areas an off-leash dog can get into trouble with poisonous meatballs potentially hiding in the brush on the hills flanking the fences of the reservoir. We stay on the path and only let the dogs run on the grass where we can see them.

Overweight Pets; Fighting the Obesity Epidemic

Chances are if your pet is overweight, you don’t even know it. At least that’s what a survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) says. Roughly 45 percent of pet owners with an overweight or obese pet thought their animal was at a healthy weight.

The majority of dogs and cats in U.S. households are now overweight, with 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats above their ideal weight. Dr. Brandy Vickers of Avenues Pet Hospital in San Francisco says it’s something she sees all too often.

“I would say two-thirds to four-fifths of the pets I see for regular check-ups are overweight to obese,” Dr. Vickers says.

dachshund pit bull mix

Sundown is at an ideal weight, according to the Nestle Purina weight chart. If you compare this picture to the chart below, you’ll see he matches up with the side view of the number 5 dog.

Overweight and obese animals are subject to the same diseases as humans and there has been a sharp increase in pet disease, including diabetes, hypertensions and cancer. But all these debilitating conditions are preventable by keeping your pet at a healthy weight.

You might be overwhelmed if you have an overweight pet, so we’re laying out the professional tips for getting your furry friend back in shape.

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