View Products |  Sign In

Reward offered for information on dog, wildlife poisonings

Wildlife officials continue to ask for the public’s help in solving a series of dog deaths that may be connected to the poisoning deaths of other dogs and wildlife.

  • DNR reports another dog poisoning, may be connected to other cases

In this month alone, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said four dogs have died under similar circumstances. According wildlife officials, a 4-year-old yellow Labrador was with its owner when it suddenly died April 21 while recreating on U.S. Forest Service land in the Town of Alvin, Forest County. A 3-year-old German Shepherd died in the same area on April 1 while being walked on a leash.


There’s More To Muncie! PineAcre Kennels and Roo’s Holistic Pet Supplies

Muncie, IN—There’s More to Muncie! We have all heard that phrase by now on the radio and the special #MoreToMuncie campaign.

But what does that mean?

To Hailey Perkins and Amber Corduan, it means there is more to this community than you might see. There is a whole community of pet people that make Muncie an interesting, well-known, and diverse city!

For example, Pine Acre Kennels is one of the many hidden gems of Muncie. PineAcre has been a staple in Muncie for over 80 years now. We even found newspaper articles and advertisements from 1941 with information about PineAcre and its previous owners. Previously, Phil and Jane Gray owned PineAcres for 27 years. In 2007, Amber Corduan bought the kennel and has owned it since, joined in 2014 by Hailey Perkins. The kennel offers boarding, grooming, daycare, behavioral training, and nutritional guidance.

The property is located just out of city limits on County Road 400 North, behind Carrington Woods. They have 5 completely fenced in yards, all with security runs and 6 foot fencing, and smaller areas for the little guys! The kennel buildings were built with indoor/outdoor runs that offer the boarding pets their own private area both inside and outside with daily playtime in the yards alone or with others in daycare. The best part – the owners live on site! Peace of mind is a huge deal when trusting your pet with someone and having a house right there provides that. Multiple security features are used as well, with immediate fire response and security cameras.

Hailey and Amber have both been extremely involved in the pet community with the business and on their own. Their own dogs participate in conformation (dog show), agility, rally, barn hunt, lure coursing, dock diving, and service dog work. In addition to these activities, they also volunteer with the Muncie Animal Care and Services to provide evaluations for dogs and training for those that need it, as well as for other pet rescues. Often times they take the shelter dogs home to work closely with them on manners, socialization, behavioral issues, and health issues. They also foster kittens during peak season, one summer specifically helping with over 57 kittens at one time! Boy, that was a lot of work!

The biggest passion for both owners is pet nutrition. In September of 2018, they took the plunge and opened Roo’s Holistic Pet Supplies in Lyndenbrook Plaza in Muncie. The sole purpose of opening this store was to provide nutritional guidance for people and their pets to help them live healthier, happier lives. Their biggest seller is the dog food Blackwood and the Systemic Yeast Kit from Nzymes. This combination has cured over 450 dogs right here in Muncie of their painful, constant skin issues, frequently labeled allergies.

Outside of Muncie they have consulted with and helped cure over 1000 dogs with these issues. They work hard to search for products and companies that are reputable and make great products. Most of this knowledge comes from Phil and Jane Gray and Linda Arnt with First Choice Naturals – another hidden gem right here in Muncie. The process of finding the right food and supplements is never just from hearsay and reading the bag, it comes from private food trials that they do themselves with real clients that show real results. They have advocated against grain free foods for over 12 years even before the recent DCM issues, using the science of nutrition to point out some of the consequences that these diets would have.

They participate in many seminars, classes, educational experiences, and work directly with food companies to find and produce the best products for pets. The future goal of the store is to partner with veterinarians in the area to help provide great service. When customers trust Roo’s because of the great results, they ask for recommendations for other pet care. Hailey and Amber want to be able to partner with reputable veterinarians here in Muncie so their clients have a safe place to go and get great care for their animals. Vet care is extremely important for the wellbeing of our pets, but many people feel weary of trusting anyone when they have had such bad skin issues or other health issues and have gotten no results. By partnering together, Roo’s and veterinarians can break the cycle and work together to make pets healthier!

Breaking through the monotonous routine of health care is always a challenge and they are working hard to do just that. Currently, they work with veterinarians all over the country, consulting on especially complicated nutritional cases and working to help pets. Often times, they take in dogs from all over the United States to treat for horrible systemic yeast cases, as well as treating cases from right here in the Muncie shelter. Again, the goal is to help pet owners give their pets a happier, healthier life.

In addition to nutritional guidance, they also help pet owners understand their pets mental and physical needs, encouraging appropriate exercise and mental stimulation with toys, slow feeders, games, and other great activities. The other staple at Roo’s is selling raw dog food from reputable brands like Answers, Steve’s, Primal, Smallbatch, and other great brands. They have helped many pet owners get their pets on a species appropriate diet to increase the health of their pets!

Neither Hailey or Amber grew up in Muncie, but both of them have made this town their home and love the community. They help put on a dog show every year at the Muncie Fair Grounds. They help teach classes with Paws Up Pups, an agility training facility in Muncie, and they volunteer and foster with numerous pet groups, including Muncie Animal Care and Services, ARF, Grateful Sanctuary, and Action for Animals, as well as starting their own rescue called Roo’s Relief.

PineAcre Kennels and Roo’s Holistic Pet Supplies both work hard to show the community that there is definitely More to Muncie.

Hawk Was Off To A Great Start—And Then Came Coronavirus

School Resource Officer Len Gosselin recently retired his narcotics/search-and-rescue dog Spyder after their 9 and a half years of collaboration. “I’ve worked 27 of my 28 years on the job as a canine officer,” Gosselin said.
He was ready for something new and thought raising a puppy to first be a comfort dog in the schools would be a good place to start. Gosselin got approval from Chief Gerry Daigle, School Superintendent Peter Marano and Town Administrator Denis Fraine to start taking a dog with him to Bellingham schools. He purchased Hawk, a male black Labrador Retriever, with his own funds and for several weeks was able to introduce Hawk to the children of Bellingham. It costs at least $10,000 to purchase a fully trained service dog, “so I decided to train the dog myself,” Gosselin explained.
“It was going great,” he said. “Hawk has a great temperament, and the kids all loved him, both the young kids and the older, high-school kids. He was amazing with the kids with special needs and had a really positive effect on everyone he met. Even the toughest kids let down their guard with Hawk and ran with him up and down the halls, smiling.”
Gosselin hoped to have the children watch Hawk grow from a puppy, but the coronavirus pandemic had required all schools to be closed until further notice, and Hawk just keeps on growing. But since Len and his wife, Jennifer, have wanted to focus on dog breeding, the couple recently purchased yet another Lab, a female named Scout, and will pick her up from the breeder in the next few weeks. Gosselin plans to take both Hawk and Scout with him to the schools once they have reopened, which has now been moved to the fall, for the 2020-’21 school year).

“You never know when you get a puppy,” Gosselin noted. “From the very beginning, Hawk has been so easy going and laid back. I hope the female will be the same. Hawk’s only challenge is that he has a sensitive stomach, so we have to feed him the $95-a-bag dog food.”

With the approval of the school department, both Hawk and Scout will become part of the team that spends time in the schools offering comfort and joy to both the students and the staff. Gosselin plans to take the dogs step by step from being comfort dogs to helping them attain their K-9 Good Citizen certificate, and he plans to train them to eventually be narcotics/search-and-rescue dogs.

Everyone is looking forward to the time when we can return to some sort of normal, but for now, we have something to look forward to. Gosselin is working with Hawk and soon will be working with Scout as well, training them to become an important part of the community. We look forward to the day when we can meet these newest additions to the community in person.

Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society looking for volunteers to raise puppies

Dogs with Wings, an organization that trains and provides service and assistance dogs, is looking for volunteers to raise puppies in Grande Prairie.

Dogs with Wings provides assistance dogs around Alberta, and is based out of Edmonton. They have satellite operations in Grande Prairie and Calgary. They have been operating in Grande Prairie for about five years.

Dayna Fox Volunteer Coordinator with Dogs with Wings, says the puppies would be eight weeks old when people will receive them.

“From there, they have the puppy until 14 to 16 months, in which time the puppy goes into the adult program, and we only do the adult program here in Edmonton, it’s advanced training, and their biggest job is just to have that puppy in their home, love that puppy, care for that puppy, and everywhere they go, the puppy goes.”

Dogs with Wings has several categories of service dogs, including companion dogs, autism service dogs, service dogs, guide dogs and facility dogs. Fox says they currently have two service dogs working in Grande Prairie, and they are expecting about four litters of puppies, and want to send some to the Swan City.

She says there are certain qualifications for raising the puppies, including have no more than two dogs already, and if they do have children, they must be at least four years old.

Fox adds that they provide the food and veterinary services, and the puppies have access to a trainer in Grande Prairie.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to watch the puppies gain their wings and go work with clients,” said Fox. “Of course, it’s difficult too because this dogs been part of your life for a year plus, and then you say goodbye and watch it go on its way, I’d say (it’s) more rewarding than sad.”

More information on the criteria and how to sign up can be found at the Dogs with Wings

Non-profit service dog foundation must pause services at a time when they are needed most

The Independence Service Dogs Foundation, an Orange County non-profit organization, helps facilitate service dog training. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have paused many of their services at a time when they are needed most.

Co-founders Justine Puliafico and Nikki Esser created the foundation in 2018 to supply well-screened and properly trained therapy dogs to assist military veterans, victims of domestic abuse and disabled individuals, among others.

However, due to social distancing orders, they are unable to offer their usual therapy services at the Ronald McDonald House, the Angels Stadium or local schools. This includes a comfort canine program where young kids who are struggling to read can read to therapy dogs.

“People are out of their routines, which is hard. People aren’t able to go to their therapy, so the dogs there are a big major help as far as lowering the stress,” Esser said.

Esser hopes to lift people’s spirits by walking therapy dogs around her neighborhood and allowing them to comfort people in their homes using a long leash.

Esser has worked with veterans and people with disabilities for twenty years, giving her the experience and passion to join Puliafico in creating the Independence Service Dogs Foundation. She said it’s a great opportunity to help people regain their independence.

Esser is the head dog trainer and Puliafico handles the administrative aspects of the foundation. Esser also works at OC Service Dogs, a company that trains service and therapy dogs. Both Esser and Puliafico also teach basic obedience to other dogs.

Puliafico won her dog, Wally, at a charity event, and he came with a lifetime of training. When she and Wally attended training she met Esser who suggested she train Wally to be a therapy dog.

“At the time, I knew what service dogs were just from seeing seeing-eye dogs because they’re obvious. I didn’t really understand all the intricate parts and ways that a dog can help a person with independence,” Puliafico said.

Wally is now a certified therapy dog who assists patients and their families at Choc Hospital by lowering their stress levels before they go into surgery. Puliafico said that petting a dog just a few times can reduce stress levels.

Puliafico said that as of now, the foundation has two dogs who have graduated, and a third dog who is still in training. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time and money to train service dogs, making it incredibly difficult to provide service dogs to those who need them.

Esser said that it takes about two years of training, averaging around at least 15,000 hours.

“Typically, a service dog costs between $30,000 and $35,000. And if you’re just struggling to get out of bed, the chances of you having that extra income to allow yourself to get that type of dog is probably not good,” Puliafisco said.

In addition to training dogs, Esser and Puliafico make an effort to fundraise. Puliafico said that the need for service dogs reaches further than their ability to help every single person.

Service dogs assist in activities such as opening doors, retrieving items and turning lights on and off, said Brianne Hosford, Independence Service Dogs Foundation’s public relations specialist. Hosford said that because of the time and cost, 70% of disabled individuals who need service dogs cannot afford them.

By working with Esser for over a decade, Puliafico saw the value of her work at OC Service Dogs and wanted to give those who are unable to fund a service dog the opportunity they deserve. She also admired Esser’s effort in not only training the dogs, but also building a bond between a person and their service dog.

“I love seeing the connections between the human and the dog and just seeing how it can make such a difference in anyone’s life,” Esser said. “Just that bond — it’s really amazing.”

The shadow family violence pandemic – and the link to animal abuse

Analysis – Covid-19 presents additional risks to already-vulnerable people and to their pets, which may be the only source of trusted companionship and love in an abusive relationship.

Evidence shows domestic violence increases during and after  economic crises and pandemics. There is increasing anecdotal evidence that while government-imposed lockdowns are helping to contain Covid-19, a “shadow pandemic” is proliferating.

Animals do not feature in recent reports of escalating domestic violence worldwide, despite frequently being victims of violence themselves. Companion animals provide vital emotional support and may be the only source of trusted companionship and love in an abusive relationship.

With half the world’s population currently under some form of lockdown, Covid-19 presents additional risks to already-vulnerable humans and animals.

Physical distancing measures increase social isolation and victims may struggle to access support or get respite from violence outside of the home.

Lockdowns provide unique ways for abusers to exert control over victims, including withholding medical assistance or financial resources, and restricting access to food or essential sanitary items.  There are even reports of abusers withholding soap or showers, and forbidding handwashing.

Statistics released by the New Zealand police showed a 20 percent spike in domestic violence cases on the first Sunday after the country entered level 4 lockdown. Women’s Refuge has reported increased demand in more than 60 percent of its shelters. Services for men who fear they might commit abuse have also received increased calls during the lockdown.

In Australia, 40 percent of frontline workers in a New South Wales survey reported increased requests for help with violence, while 70 percent reported an increase in the complexity of cases.

The UK, US, China, France, Spain, Singapore, Indonesia, Cyprus, and Brazil have similarly experienced dramatic increases in domestic violence during lockdowns.

‘The Link’ – pets in the context of domestic violence

The Link between domestic violence and animal abuse is well established. An Australian study found 53 percent of women entering a shelter reported their pets had also been harmed. In Canada, a study revealed animal maltreatment was present in as many as 89 percent of domestic violence cases. Research indicates there is an increased risk of severe or fatal injury where domestic violence and animal abuse co-occur in a household. Abusers use animals as a tool of abuse. Acts of violence towards animals are commonly inflicted in the presence of human victims to control, punish, or intimidate.

Many women delay or refuse to leave an abusive relationship due to fears for the safety of animals left with the abuser and because most shelters cannot accommodate animals. A New Zealand survey of women whose pets were abused as part of domestic violence revealed that 53 percent delayed leaving a violent relationship out of fear for their pet’s safety and 73 percent would have found it easier to leave if there was a shelter offering temporary accommodation for their pets.

Given the high rates of companion animal ownership worldwide, we can be confident that many non-human victims of violence are suffering silently alongside their human companions.

Increased burden on human and animal welfare services

Before Covid-19, many human and animal welfare services were already struggling under increasing workloads and insufficient resources. The pandemic has amplified these challenges.

Frontline support services have been reduced because of social distancing measures. Increased demand for services, coupled with negative impacts of the pandemic may further compromise the safety and well-being of those in abusive relationships.

Animal protection agencies are facing similar challenges. The SPCA estimates it will suffer a $1 million shortfall due its inability to fundraise during the lockdown. As the only non-government agency in New Zealand with the statutory mandate to prosecute animal cruelty offences, this loss of revenue poses a real risk to the animals the charity works to protect.

A global and community response

Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged governments to address the “horrifying surge in domestic violence.”

UN Women has called for innovative responses. In France, women visit pop-up counselling centres in malls and women in Spain use the code word “Mask-19” at pharmacies to alert pharmacists they are at risk of harm.

Women’s Refuge is considering adding a live chat function to their shielded website, where women can report abuse without the site appearing in their browsing history.

As animal abuse is often part of domestic violence, advocates have called for similarly creative responses and increased community collaboration to ensure human and animal victims receive the protection they need. Increased pressure on resources and barriers to providing support mean that domestic violence and animal protection services must work together – more so than ever before.

Police, domestic violence helplines and shelters should ask those accessing their services about companion animals in the home and be alert to signs of animal abuse. Likewise, veterinarians and animal protection agencies may be well-positioned to uncover domestic violence. Essential workers – still moving relatively freely during lockdowns – may also be in a position to detect and report abuse to appropriate authorities.

Victims remain in violent situations due to a lack of viable alternatives for their pets, so agencies must help establish escape plans that include animals.

The current crisis highlights just how welcome initiatives such as Pet Refuge will be as New Zealand’s first shelter dedicated to temporarily housing pets affected by domestic violence.

It is too early to predict whether the trend of escalating domestic violence will continue. Amid widespread speculation about when countries will emerge from lockdowns and how the world will look when we eventually return to ‘normal’ life, uncertainty is the only certainty. Covid-19 has highlighted how interconnected we all are. Not only in our own neighbourhoods and cities, but globally. Not only to other humans, but also to animals. If we take one positive from this experience, let it be cognisance of the impact of our actions on others.

The messaging from our government has emphasised the importance of individual behaviour in helping curb Covid-19. Just as each of us play a role in protecting others from Covid-19, we all have an integral role to play in exposing and protecting others from violence.

The New Zealand government and our “whanau of five million” have so far done a remarkable job of “flattening the curve.” Let us not undermine those efforts by failing the most vulnerable human and non-human members of our whanau.

JRCF continues dog training program

Golden retrievers Molly and Perry and black Labrador retriever Jersey, new additions to the Joint Regional Correctional Facility’s Dog Handler (Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services) Program, wait in the back of a CARES van April 21 in the Visitor Control Center parking lot. Three dogs ready to transition from the JRCF program to the next phase in their training to become service dogs were exchanged for three new CARES dogs ready to begin their phase in the JRCF program during a meeting with the CARES program founder April 21. CARES is based in Concordia, Kan., and has several prisons that participate in the training program. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp.

In June 2019, the Joint Regional Correctional Facility began the Dog Handler CARES Program, which allows inmates to train young dogs in basic obedience skills before the dogs go on to more specialized training to become service dogs.

Since then, not only have the very first program dogs labradoodle Jericho and yellow Labrador retriever Vizer — graduated from the JRCF program and gone on to receive more specialized training and be assigned to an owner, but now 12 others have, too.

Facility personnel met up with Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services founder and CEO Sarah Holbert April 21 outside the Visitor Control Center to transfer yellow Labrador retriever Mallory, golden retriever Copper and black Labrador retriever Mutsu into their next phase of training.

In exchange, three new dogs — golden retrievers Molly and Perry, and black Labrador retriever Jersey — will join the other five dogs still being trained at the facility.

When the dogs arrive at the JRCF they range from 8 weeks to several months old, which wasn’t the case in the beginning when only older dogs entered the JRCF program, but Sgt. Christopher Samson, Dog Handlers CARES Program noncommissioned officer-in-charge, said adding puppies into the program has gone well, and the program has only continued to expand.

“We definitely had to figure out some logistical issues at first, but we … figured out the issues we were going to have and got it all smoothed out,” Samson said. “Now we’ve actually expanded more. Before dogs were only on our agriculture program, and since then we’ve moved on to having one dog in our library detail and one more dog is in our textiles program. Slowly we’re starting to spread them out, so they can be all throughout on different vocational programs throughout the facility.”

The facility is also taking on dogs that have completed their basic training at other facilities and are waiting to move on to their next phase of training.

Samson said more expansion is expected in the future with an increase from eight dogs to 12, which will allow more inmates to participate in the program because each dog has one handler and one alternate.

Holbert calls it a win-win situation.

“It gives the inmates a purpose and they will tell you by far it is one of the best jobs in the facility,” Holbert said. “I have several guys that have been in it for years that have told me that it has affected the way that they parent, the way that they interact with their wives or significant others because they learn correction and praise, they learn communication skills and nurturing that maybe they didn’t have before.

“For us, we have puppies or dogs that go in and they are with their person 24-7. They get the basics down and that is just critical because what dogs learn in the first 16 weeks of their life stays with them, and that’s the foundation for their life,” she said. “If you have a dog that’s in a kennel until they’re six months old, you’ve lost a very valuable window of time to work with them and imprint on them, and these dogs as working dogs, that’s how they’re life is going to be. It is going to be 24-7 with their person, so that part of it is really important, and it gives us a great start.”

The JRCF is one of seven facilities in the United States that CARES partners with for the basic training of service dogs. Services the dogs are trained for upon learning the basics include mobility service; medic alert for conditions such as diabetes and seizures; therapeutic service for conditions such as autism and post-traumatic stress disorder; and professional therapy where the dogs work alongside doctors, counselors and other professionals, Holbert said.

Vizer has been placed with an 11-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes, and Jericho will be placed with an 18-year-old boy who also has type 1 diabetes.

Appeals Court Dismisses Case Over Satanist’s Emotional Support Pig “Boarphomet”

Back in 2018, Satanist Kenneth Mayle filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago (and Cook County Animal Control and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Chicago Park Districts) saying that everyone had discriminated against him in part because his guinea hog named Chief Wiggum (a.k.a. “Boarphomet”) wasn’t designated an Emotional Support Animal, which meant it couldn’t be around in certain public places.

Since adopting Chief Wiggum as a piglet[,] plaintiff has raised him to perform tasks of a service animal, provide emotional support, and has included him in his religious practices.

… Chief Wiggum provides Plaintiff massage therapy on his hands and other body areas helping reduce the effect including anxiety and depression.

The biking and display of Chief Wiggum other [sic] things to symbolize the coming of the black horseman of the apocalypse and the eternal battle between Horus and Set; both depict having Satanic rituals.

Plaintiff [has] repeatedly been denied the right to bring Chief Wiggum to places of public accommodation… The only reason that defendants treat a pig such as Chief Wiggum differently than other SAs and ESAs like “miniature” horses or cats or ferrets is because of the stigma that pigs are dirty or evil.

Specifically, Mayle said he was ridiculed off of a public beach even though Chicago allowed dog owners a “discriminatory entitlement.” (While dogs could go in Lake Michigan on those beaches, Chief Wiggum could not. “He is… not even allowed to be on the beach or designated bathing areas.”) Similar episodes occurred in Millennium Park (where “The Bean” is located) and Grant Park.

He said there was no reason to kick the pig off the beach because the “presence of one pig in the water certainly does not change the water suitability for humans or dogs.” Mayle also tried to obtain a “dog-friendly area” tag for his animal… but, because it’s not literally a dog, he couldn’t obtain the proper permit.

He had also been kicked out of Six Flags Great America theme park because, while the park allowed for emotional support animals, Boarphomet didn’t qualify under their terms. Ditto with Lyft and Uber and various stores and restaurants.

Mayle said Boarphomet was a “service animal under the [Americans with Disabilities Act],” meeting all the requirements. He should be treated, Mayle said, like a miniature horse. The Department of Justice, however, says “only dogs can be service animals.” That was too restrictive for Mayle. And because he also had religious reasons for keeping the pig around, it would be burdensome to require him to get another animal for the purposes of the ADA.

A District Court dismissed the case, saying Mayle didn’t “state a claim under the ADA,” adding that the implied no-hogs-allowed rule for service animals was “rational.” Mayle appealed the decision.

Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has weighed in…saying the same thing.

Mayle’s challenge is fatally flawed. We will sustain regulations that, like this one, do not involve a fundamental right or a suspect class so long as they are rational.

Mayle’s complaint reveals the rationality of limiting the species of service animals in public spaces. He describes disorder (harassment from those who object to his hog) and disruption (police called to the scene) when he enters public places with his hog. The government has a legitimate interest in maintaining social order and public safety… Accordingly, the regulation is constitutional.

Can’t say this wasn’t entirely predictable. His religion was also irrelevant to the judges in coming to their decision. Mayle didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

This is actually his second legal loss in a week. He recently had another case dismissed in which he said his Satanism prescribed “sex magick rituals” that involved bigamy and violated the state’s adultery laws. He has also lost a challenge take “In God We Trust” off the money.

At least Boarphomet will help him deal with the losses.

How some local shop mascots are adjusting during pandemic

CAMDEN/ROCKPORT/ROCKLAND – Shop animals do not receive regular paychecks, although many may consider them staff and members of the business community. They are usually at their offices daily and have loyal customers who combine supporting businesses along with getting their “regular animal fixes” at the same time.

They provide unconditional love, companionship, make people happy, lower stress, and even blood pressure levels with their affections.

If shop animals could take the Myers Briggs personality test to determine how they perceive their worlds, chances are their scores would include “E” for extroversion, “S” or “I” for sensing and intuition, and a “F” for feeling.

But with the restrictions associated COVID-19, which has affected small business in a variety of ways, the routines of these special animals have also changed.

In Camden, Stacey Warner, owner of Warner Graphics, and who has a “shop cat,” James, was required to close her business to the public at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is now working from her home.

After Warner locked the front door at her shop, she put James in his travel carrier and took him home with her.

James, has been the official “shop cat” at Warner Graphics since November 2016, when he took over the reins of the original feline “customer service manager,” Dennis, after he died of cancer a few months prior.

James is a handsome orange cat who is also “polydactyl,” meaning he was born with more that the usual number of toes on his paws which makes them bigger.

James has been sequestered in a spare bedroom at his mom’s house since late March, where he has to stay during the quarantine to keep his distance from Harry, another one of Warner’s rescue cats.

Warner said Harry’s philosophy about feline interactions is that “defense is the best offense,” so they are not spending time together, especially since James is also a newcomer at the house.

How is James adjusting to being away from his office and fan base?

“James is very outgoing and loves his public,” Warner said. “He literally went wild one night. Just us and one small room is not his choice. This is not his public.”

She added that he’s also getting pretty annoyed about his quarantine situation, even though she has been working in the bedroom room to keep him company.

There is no doubt James will be thrilled when he can return to his wrap around counter at the shop, the spot where he conducts his business, or snuggle inside an empty box lying around for an afternoon siesta.

On Route 1 in Rockport, Jeff Hall, owner of Jeff’s Vacuum, has remained open, but is only conducting curbside service in the parking lot.

Hall has two official greeters at his shop, Max and Tucker, who are father and son golden retrievers.

“It’s all about dogs at Jeff’s Vacuum,” according to Hall.

In the days before COVID-19, Max and Tucker were often spread out or standing by the front door eagerly waiting for the next customer to enter the store.

He said that his boys are “just not happy” about the way he is doing business right now since they have to remain inside.

“They are not getting their regular loving and are unhappy boys,” Hall said.

“Max and Tucker are people pups. Both the dogs and my customers are missing their daily fixes of affection,” he added.

One of Hall’s regular customers summed up Max and Tucker’s situation perfectly by saying, “they don’t understand why people aren’t visiting or petting them.”

Hall did admit that the boys have “busted out” out the door a few times to visit with customers.

Many of his customers are still spoiling the boys by dropping off treats and toys. Hopefully, soon they will be able to deliver their gifts in person.

At Long Funeral Home in Camden, co-owner Julie Clement along with her business partner John Long, shared how her therapy dogs, Bentley and Bailey, both schnauzers, are helping to ease the stress during COVID-19.

Normally the dogs would be at the front door greeting families who arrived for appointments at the funeral home, but Clement said “that they have not been seeing families as we normally would the past few months.”

Farewell gatherings and funerals are currently not being held and are delayed due to the virus.

“Funeral home professionals are doing their very best to make sure that both individuals and their families are being comforted at this time of need within the restrictions and guidelines they are forced to comply with,” Clement said. “It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

For now, Bentley and Bailey have been mainly focused on providing comfort for the staff at the funeral home. Bentley is seven years old and Bailey, who is over 15, is now experiencing multiple health issues so his routine is at a slower pace.

Clement said that Bentley is like a kid. He is full of energy and love, spreads his toys all over the office and does not always want to stay inside his gate in the office.

“The dogs do a lot for the staff. They help us stay focused, make us laugh, and provide a much-needed break like taking a walk in the fresh air during the day,” Clement said.

During these challenging times, the lyrics from the Beetles song, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” may also describe these human and animal bonds.

“How do I feel by the end of the day? Are you sad because you’re on your own? No, I get by with a little help from my friends,” the Beetles sang.

Seniors isolated in Florida will receive robotic therapy dogs

Some senior citizens in Florida who have been isolated due to coronavirus-prompted social distancing measures in the state may soon receive a furry companion — albeit a robotic one.

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs on Monday announced that it began delivering nearly 400 — 375 as of this writing — therapeutic robotic pets to “socially isolated seniors and adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia (ADRD).”

The agency said the dogs can help combat social isolation and depression among older adults and those with ADRD “by improving overall mood and quality of life.”

“Family caregivers may experience a reduction in stress, and caregivers benefit when companion pets allow increased engagement with the older adult and their environment,” it added.

Global pandemic aside, loneliness is not an uncommon problem for middle-aged and older adults. A 2018 survey by the AARP Foundation found that one-third of U.S. adults age 45 and older reported feeling lonely. The foundation said at the time that number will likely increase as the number of aging adults in the country continues to rise. Additionally, more than 20 percent of people 60 or older suffer from a mental or neurological disorder, including dementia, according to a 2017 report from the World Health Organization.

“We know social isolation disproportionately affects older adults, and COVID-19 has required people with dementia and their caregivers to remain alone for extended periods of time,” said Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom, in a statement.

Robotic pets are an alternative to traditional pet therapy, but “research shows they have similar positive effects,” as per the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

“They are designed to respond to motion, touch, and sound. Robotic cats and dogs are usually given to people with ADRD, but data has shown that using pets to decrease social isolation for older adults is highly successful,” the news release reads.

The robotic dogs were created by Ageless Innovation, a company that develops “fun and engaging” products for older adults.

“We look forward to delivering these therapeutic robotic pets to those who will benefit from their companionship,” added Prudom.

Dogs Are The Unsung Heroes Of The Special Olympics

Special Olympics has been enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities since 1968. What began as a backyard summer camp has grown into a global movement with 5.4 million athletes participating in 106,000 events in 193 countries!

More than a million volunteers help ensure the games run smoothly, and not all of them are human. Many dogs accompany the athletes, families, and friends of the organization, offering services only pups can provide.

Phillips joined Special Olympics in 2015. First as a volunteer and swim coach, then as a member of the organization’s Communications and Brand Department. In her experience, many of the athletes feel more comfortable around dogs than people. They find that dogs provide a calming presence and never pass judgment.

“In the sports world dogs are really appreciated because they offer support if you are conceding a match or help you deal with a loud, crowded arena,” Phillips says. “Plus, you want to do well and dogs help you relax before the big race or game or whatever the case may be.”

Service Dogs

Some competitors have highly trained service dogs that assist them during events as well as in their daily lives. Genuine service dogs must perform specific tasks related to the owner’s disability.

Stephanie Stein’s Shih Tzu, Riley acts as her service dog. Stein is a member of the Maryland Special Olympics Baltimore County Swimming Team, and also competes in soccer, bowling, bocce ball, and snowshoeing.

“I can take him everywhere, including Special Olympics stuff,” she says. “He’s kind of like our Special Olympics mascot for the swimming team.”

Therapy Dogs

It is also quite common to find certified therapy dogs at competitions. These outgoing pups are trained to offer stress relief to anyone and everyone in need. Spending time with a therapy dog has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce anxiety, and stimulate the release of feel-good hormones.

Canine Entertainers

Occasionally dogs come along to provide entertainment and athletic inspiration. The Canine Stars Stunt Dog show delighted onlookers at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2019 Special Olympics Illinois State Summer Games.

Not only are these pups super talented, they are also a menagerie of mixed breeds rescued from shelters across the country. Their show is a reminder of how much we can all achieve with a little support and encouragement.

Family Pets

Not all of the canine heroes involved with Special Olympics have specialized training. Some are simply beloved family pets and devoted friends. However, these dogs still have an important role to play.

In a recent virtual chat session, Special Olympics Maryland athlete, Todd Polleyn spoke fondly of his 12-year-old rescue pooch, Gizmo.

“My favorite thing is when Gizmo sleeps in my bed. He takes heart meds just like me.”

Athlete Victoria has been especially anxious since the current health crisis temporarily shut down all Special Olympics events. Her dog Rose, a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix is not a therapy dog. Yet somehow she has an innate ability to sense when Victoria is in distress.

“Rose calms Victoria’s anxiety, especially with this current self isolation,” Victoria’s mother, Jaqueline McDonald Bovay tells iHeartDogs.

No matter their level of training, the dogs of Special Olympics offer love and affirmation to the athletes and their supporters. That must be why they fit in so well with an organization devoted to friendship and inclusivity.


Police Detain Woman’s Service Dog on Her Own Property


Training Dogs To Sniff Out Virus

Eight Labrador retrievers are being trained at the University of Pennsylvania, The Washington Post reported. Research shows that viruses have odors and if dogs can detect the disease, they may be used at hospitals, businesses, and airports to screen the virus, according to The Washington Post.

“We don’t know that this will be the odor of the virus, per se, or the response to the virus, or a combination,” Cynthia M. Otto, director of the Working Dog Center at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and leader of the project, told The Washington Post. “But the dogs don’t care what the odor is. … What they learn is that there’s something different about this sample than there is about that sample.”

Medical Detection Dogs, which is partnering with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Durham University, and Canine Performance Sciences at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, are also seeing if dogs can detect the virus, according to Salon.

Otto told Salon that it’s possible for dogs to detect the virus. “I suspect that they could if we could train them appropriately and safely,” she said.

The London School Of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine already determined that dogs can be trained to sniff out malaria and are trying to see if the same can be done for the novel coronavirus.

Dogs Are Heroes

Special Olympics has been enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities since 1968. What began as a backyard summer camp has grown into a global movement with 5.4 million athletes participating in 106,000 events in 193 countries!

More than a million volunteers help ensure the games run smoothly, and not all of them are human. Many dogs accompany the athletes, families, and friends of the organization, offering services only pups can provide. Phillips joined Special Olympics in 2015. First as a volunteer and swim coach, then as a member of the organization’s Communications and Brand Department. In her experience, many of the athletes feel more comfortable around dogs than people. They find that dogs provide a calming presence and never pass judgment.

Some competitors have highly trained service dogs that assist them during events as well as in their daily lives. Genuine service dogs must perform specific tasks related to the owner’s disability.

Stephanie Stein’s Shih Tzu, Riley acts as her service dog. Stein is a member of the Maryland Special Olympics Baltimore County Swimming Team, and also competes in soccer, bowling, bocce ball, and snowshoeing. It is also quite common to find certified therapy dogs at competitions. These outgoing pups are trained to offer stress relief to anyone and everyone in need. Spending time with a therapy dog has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce anxiety, and stimulate the release of feel-good hormones.

Not only are these pups super talented, they are also a menagerie of mixed breeds rescued from shelters across the country. Their show is a reminder of how much we can all achieve with a little support and encouragement.

Not all of the canine heroes involved with Special Olympics have specialized training. Some are simply beloved family pets and devoted friends. However, these dogs still have an important role to play.

In a recent virtual chat session, Special Olympics Maryland athlete, Todd Polleyn spoke fondly of his 12-year-old rescue pooch, Gizmo. No matter their level of training, the dogs of Special Olympics offer love and affirmation to the athletes and their supporters. That must be why they fit in so well with an organization devoted to friendship and inclusivity.

Emotional Support Dog

Into the Dark is Hulu’s horror anthology series where every film-length episode is centered around a different holiday. There’s “Pooka!” for Christmas (and the sequel, “Pooka Lives,” for Easter), “Pilgrim” for Thanksgiving, and “Culture Shock” for Independence Day. Of course, there are only so many real holidays on the calendar, so Into the Dark has already based episodes around April Fools’ Day, the first day of school, and coming this June, my favorite week-long holiday, Pet Appreciation Week.

Variety reports that Judy Greer, Steve Guttenberg, and Ellen Wong are set to star in Into the Dark: Good Boy, or as it shall henceforth be known, The Murder Dog Episode. The film centers on Maggie (Greer), a woman who gets an emotional support dog to help quell some of her anxiety. Only, she finds him to be even more effective than she could have imagined because, unbeknownst to her, he kills anyone who adds stress to her life… Guttenberg [plays] Don, Maggie’s “misanthropic but at times soft around the edges” boss, while Wong is Annie, a former baby-sitting charge of Maggie’s who recently moved to Los Angeles and rekindles their friendship. The role of the emotional support dog will be played by Chico the Dog, who looks like the dog from Dog With a Blog, the greatest TV show of all-time. If Chico doesn’t talk (“My name’s Chico and you’re not the man,” he says, while crunching into someone’s nuts), I am going to write a strongly worded letter to Hulu. Directed by Tyler MacIntyre and written by Aaron and Will Eisenberg, Into the Dark: Good Boy premieres on June 12.

Animal Services goes virtual

Brampton Animal Services (BAS) says it has introduced a new virtual system in order to help people who want to adopt or foster a pet amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Those interested can set up an video call appointment with a staff members where they can see and interact with animals that are up for adoption.

Up for adoption are cats, dogs and a number of other small animals including birds and guinea pigs.

“Potential adopters don’t have to leave the comfort and safety of their own homes for this important part of the process,” said Brampton Animal Services manager Kathy Duncan. “They don’t have to risk any interactions or unnecessary attendances in their search for a furry friend.”

Once a match is made, the potential adopter will drive to the shelter where a staff member will come out dressed in personal protective equipment to finish up the paperwork and pick up their animal.

Since March 16, BAS said it has adopted out 23 animals.

However, the service is asking that those interested in adopting, must also think about their lifestyle and what kind of life they can offer an animal post-coronavirus.

“Be sure to consider whether you will have enough time to spend with your pet, and the finances to support your new furry friend, when physical distancing measures are lifted,” said Duncan.

It costs $120 to adopt a cat, $200 to adopt a dog and $5 and up to adopt a bird, guinea pig or other small animal.

But if a person is interested in helping the service and fostering an animal, that is an option to.

Duncan said animals who are able to live in a foster home while waiting to be adopted do better than if they stay in a shelter.

Since April 22, nine volunteers have adopted seven dogs and two cats between them, including the VandenBergs in Brampton who fostered two puppies and ended up adopting one named Creek.

“Fostering two puppies certainly gave us ample to do, and something incredibly important to focus our energy on,” said Dianna VandenBerg. “As a family, we really enjoyed fostering puppies for the first time.”

pet care hotline

With the first American dog testing positive, NYC pet owners may be worried that their furry friends could become sick as well.

To help New Yorkers wade through their worries, New York City has launched a pet hotline.

The hotline will help answer people’s questions and concerns about taking care of their pets during the ongoing crisis and connect them to pet relief resources such as subsidized emergency veterinary care and food and supply distribution services.

For NYC residents with pets requiring a higher level of care, cases will be escalated for coordination of temporary placement or supplemental care of animals. It’s the first pet response plan of its kind in the country, the emergency management office says.

“Pets and service animals are a part of our family, and we want to alleviate any concern associated with having to take care of these family members during these trying times,” NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell said in a comment. “We are thankful to our task force members who have stepped up to help New Yorkers who need this service.”

The network of help is extensive—the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, Animal Haven, Animal Care Centers of NYC, Bideawee, American Red Cross, Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, NYC VERT, New York State Animal Protection Federation, Best Friends Animal Society and PAWS NY are all taking part.


The pair had been called Monday to an area near Highway 357 in Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S., to join the search for a three-year-old girl who was missing after wandering away from home and into the woods.

“In my mind it was so thick and so hard to navigate through that I was ready to pretty much determine that no human would go through there,” Berube said Wednesday.

Police had issued a public appeal that afternoon for any information that would help locate the little girl, bringing fresh distress to a province still reeling from the mass shooting little more than a week earlier. Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency even sent a drone team to the area.

But thanks to a keen canine and his Halifax Regional Police handler, the search would end happily.

When Berube first got the call on Monday, he and Jynx were training with other canine units. After arriving on scene, the other first responders out scouring the woods were called back, as dogs often work better with fewer people around.

“If there’s a lot of human scent in there, it gets harder for us to find the actual person we’re looking for,” Berube said.

In his training, Berube had learned that young children who are lost often go downhill. But he said the girl’s mother had told another officer that the child was a climber and was most likely heading uphill.

“So I went with mom’s gut. I have children of my own and I know my children best, and I figured mom knows her daughter best as well,” Berube said.

Once he had gathered what information he could, Berube and Jynx headed into the woods.

“You don’t really know where to start, it’s a needle in a haystack. Sometimes you’ll have certain indicators, footprints in snow if you’re lucky,” he said. “In this case, we had no starting point.”

They started up a hill, accompanied by an RCMP officer. But any time Jynx picked up a scent, it was heading back to the girl’s house, leading Berube to believe the dog was smelling previous officers in the woods.

Battling through branches and traipsing through mud, the officer decided to clear the hilltop.

That’s when Jynx started to track another scent. Berube called to the RCMP officer to hurry. Then he heard a faint “hello.”

“I thrashed harder and my dog led me to where she was — and here she was in the middle of absolutely nowhere, a whole bunch of pine brush around her and she was just standing there,” Berube said.

“The first thing she said was, ‘Doggy.’ I just hugged her.”

The girl was wet and shivering. Berube took off his jacket and wrapped it around her.

“Her curly hair was starting to stretch out because of the weight of the water in there. She had two mismatched boots and she was just standing there,” he said. “Not crying, she didn’t seem fearful, she was asking for daddy and mommy.”

An RCMP officer carried the young girl out of the woods and back to her parents.

“I can’t imagine one of my children not being home for dinner, not home at night,” Berube said. “I wasn’t going to let this one slide.”

As for Jynx, he was given a treat for doing his job well.

“Just another day at work for him,” Berube said.

Guide Dog Day

Today (April 29)marks International Guide Dog Day and Delta-based charity BC & Alberta Guide Dogs would like to thank the community for the well wishes and encouragement that have accompanied donations over the past few weeks, and also for rallying behind its recent online Virtual Trivia Night event.

International Guide Dog Day highlights how important guide dogs are to ensure the safety, mobility and inclusion for individuals who are blind or visually-impaired, and this awareness is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recipients of guide dogs face additional challenges to their mobility as their dogs haven’t been trained for “physical distancing.”

BC & Alberta Guide Dogs encourages the public to be mindful when seeing a working guide dog navigate in the community.

With in-person events cancelled, the organization has had to get creative with revenue ideas. They recently held their first ever Virtual Trivia Night, sponsored by Ledcor Group, last weekend with more than 350 players taking part across Canada and the United States.

“The feedback from our event has been so positive and everyone has really come together to support BC & Alberta Guide Dogs,” said Joni Wright, Director of Development and Communications at BC & Alberta Guide Dogs. “We are already planning our next Virtual Trivia Night for May, so please keep an eye out for an announcement on our website.”

BC & Alberta Guide Dogs also received a significant donation from the Burnaby Lougheed Lions Club in the amount of $16,000 and would like to thank the Club’s continued dedication to providing life-changing Guide Dogs, Autism Service Dogs, and PTSD Service Dogs for those in need.

“Burnaby Lougheed Lions Club have supported our programs for many years,” adds Bill Thornton, CEO of BC & Alberta Guide Dogs. “This donation could not have come at a better time and helps to make up for some of the revenue we have lost due to our cancelled events.”

If you would like to donate to BC & Alberta Guide Dogs and help individuals who are blind/visually-impaired, children with profound autism, and Veterans, RCMP and First Responders living with PTSD, then the organization encourages you to make that donation on May 5th for Giving Tuesday. Donations made that day will be matched by Nestle Purina and Grosvenor Americas up to $5,500.

newest canine


Narco, so christened by a youngster from the Saskatchewan community of Loon Lake, is among the first 13 puppies born this year at the RCMP police dog services training centre.

The RCMP on Wednesday announced the winners of its annual Name the Puppy contest. RCMP Staff Sgt. Gary Creed, senior trainer and acting officer in charge of the training centre, said the “13 names will serve our dogs with pride.”

Each of the German shepherds currently working as RCMP service dogs was born at the training centre in Innisfail, Alta., as part of its police dog breeding program, according to the RCMP.

The 13 winners of the contest each receive a laminated photo of the puppy they named, a plush dog and an RCMP water bottle.