Monday, August 31, 2009

Tricked out cat

Check out this video of Kizzy, a Bengal who has been trained to perform a number of tricks. People often think getting cats to do anything is a struggle, but the reality is that they are no more difficult to train than dogs. You just need to approach it differently. Obviously Kizzy's owner found the magic key to unlocking his potential.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tax collector looking for pet breeders

The Bakersfield Californian recently ran a story about the California Board of Equalization's new push to collect taxes from people selling animals. According to the State of California, if someone makes more than two sales transactions during a 12-month period, they are considered a seller and need a permit and to pay sales tax to the state on the transactions.

I doubt many people in Kern County knew this law existed before the story ran. Now that they are aware, nearly all breeders asked find the law unfair.

Frankly, breeders cannot have it both ways. On the one hand, any time an ordinance is proposed breeders talk about their right to do as they wish with their pets, as pets are considered property in the eyes of the law. Now that they are being asked to pay sales tax on the "property" they sell, they are also crying foul. This is the part I don't get --- if I sell a car for $1,500, it's a given that the sales tax on that car has to be paid. Why shouldn't the same apply to the sale of a $1,500 puppy?

I've heard a local animal advocacy group may use the knowledge of the law as an impetus to track local ads for puppies and kittens and present the list to the BOE for tax collection purposes. If it succeeds in bringing more backyard breeders into the light of day, so people can see how many poorly bred, overpriced pups are changing hands in Kern County, I'm all for it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dog Hair May Shed Light on Cancer

Check out this story on NPR about a cancer geneticist who is studying dog hair as a means to help find answers to questions about cancer, in both dogs and humans.

SB 250 Jumps One More Hurdle

SB 250, The Pet Responsibility Act, sponsored by Dean Florez (D – Shafter) has passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is on its way to a full Assembly vote.

The vote is expected to take place some time before Sept. 11.

To read SB250 for yourself (it’s a fairly short bill) click here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New contest - "There Oughta be a Law"

The Humane Society Legislative Fund has announced a new contest --- "There Oughta be a Law".

The purpose of the contest is to give average people the opportunity to share their ideas for a new federal law that helps or protects animals.

The winner of the contest will be flown to Washington D.C. to meet with the HSLF and to lobby federal lawmakers on behalf of their winning idea.

Can you think of pet-related issues that are deserving of a federal law? Then enter the contest today! To enter the contest click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pet parties - can you see them in your future?

I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of years debating the merits of pet parties.

I'm not talking about birthday parties for your pets (I totally get that), but parties that are similar in nature to Tupperware or Pampered Chef parties, with the primary selection of products being items catering to pets and pet lovers. These parties appear to be gaining in popularity in parts of the country, but I'm not sure if the Central Valley is ready to embrace the idea of a "pawty" just yet.

I, of course, would love parties that feature pets as a theme, and the chance to get together with other pet lovers is always a huge draw for me. My biggest question is, if the party were thrown, would people come?

I'd love to hear from you. Is a party centered on pets and pet products something that would appeal to you?

Monday, August 24, 2009

IRS deductions for pet expenses?

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R - MI) has introduced H.R. 3501, an amendment to the Internal Revenue Service code that would allow for a deduction of up to $3,500 per year for pet care expenses.

The act, cited as the "Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act", allows for the deduction of items like vet bills and general care. Exempted from deduction are any fees associated with the initial acquisition.

Do you think there's any shot we'll ever see a bill like this actually make it into law?

Could a spay/neuter license plate be in the works?

Despite my sometimes dour outlook on the state of pet overpopulation, especially in Kern County, I am ever the optimist about what may come to pass in the future. Though there are people with vastly opposing views on nearly every proposal that is introduced, in our hearts we are all people who adore animals and want to see that pets are in loving, forever homes. And the vast majority of us agree that there’s a pet overpopulation problem, though we differ on how to handle it.

Finally, we may have something on the table that everyone can get behind and support. According to the folks at Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL), California State Senator Alex Padilla (D – San Fernando Valley) plans to introduce a bill in late September to create a California Spay Neuter license plate. If we can make this happen, it could have a profound impact on the lives of cats and dogs in California.

It’s all so simple, too. A “special interest” plate is created, much like the ones we currently have for the environment, the arts council, the coastal commission, or the other eight special programs that currently have unique vehicle plates. People who wish to support the spay/neuter program can opt to purchase one of those plates for their vehicle. Special interest plates typically come at a higher fee than regular plates, with a portion of the fees going towards the program the plate supports.

In this case, the fees collected for a spay/neuter plate will go towards funding a statewide low-cost spay/neuter program. How cool is that? People who want to support the program can purchase the plates, providing much needed monies to fund a program desperately needed, particularly in the economically hard-hit Central Valley. The more spay/neuter plates that hit the street, the more people will be aware of the program, thus creating a bigger potential group of participants.

Most importantly, getting this plate option available in California will be a huge benefit to the pets living here. Developing a funding system that allows more animals to be altered at a reasonable rate can literally be a life-or-death benefit to our companion animals.

So when you see the announcement in a news digest box, remember this is one program we can all afford to get behind. If you don’t want the plate for yourself, that’s fine. But let’s make sure it’s available for those who do. Our companion animals are counting on us.

When the light comes on

There’s something all but magical that happens when a dog “gets it,” no matter what the “it” might be.

Recently we gained the use of a swimming pool. Darby has seen pools on many occasions, but has never been up close and personal with one that’s in use. Other than trying to avoid falling in, he hadn’t found any real benefit to the giant puddle in the ground.

The first couple of times we went swimming, Darby would wander around the pool, head slightly tilted. While I doubt he was pondering our fitness as pet parents, he seemed decidedly confused about why in the world people would choose to climb into such a puddle and seem happy about doing so.

After nearly daily visits to the pool, somewhere near the one-week mark Darby was pacing around the edge, following us as we wandered our way from one end to the other. The summer’s 100-plus degree days made the concrete around the pool far from comfortable, so we began splashing some water over the edge of the pool to try and get the ground to something slightly below foot-sizzling.

Darby, seeing water fly through the air, albeit all of six inches off the ground, whipped around like a shot. He has always been singularly crazy about water that comes from a hose or a sprinkler head --- so crazy that if you actually want to get some watering done in anything approaching a timely manner it’s best to leave him inside. He scurried to the edge of the pool and hunched there so intensely you’d have thought we were dangling steaks from the end of our fingers. Darby was quickly rewarded with another splash and a chorus of “yeas” and “go Darby” as he raced around trying to catch the water coming at him from different angles.

In that moment, it was obvious he “got it” --- “it”, in this case, being the fun that can be had poolside. If you’re attentive to your dog, whether they’re learning to shake hands, lie down on command, or the finer points of chasing splashing water, you can almost see the switch flip on behind their eyes when they’ve figured out what you want, and why it’s good for them to give it to you. Dogs live for those moments, and dog owners should, too. They represent the coming together of two different species, with two different communication styles, into a single, agreed-upon understanding that benefits both parties. What could be better?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cool event for pet lovers in Bakersfield

I wanted to let you all know about a great event coming up this weekend in Bakersfield.

On Saturday, Aug. 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be a fundraiser at The Firehouse Restaurant, located at 7701 White Lane. The three-stage event is to benefit Shorty’s Rescue, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing and adopting pit bulls, founded by Luigi “Shorty” Rossi. The fundraiser will be filmed for an upcoming reality series on Animal Planet, following Rossi and other volunteers as they work towards making the world a better place for pit bulls and canines in general. Alpha Canine Society will also be on hand with several dogs available for adoption.

As part of this special event, actress Linda Blair will be at The Firehouse to create awareness for her organization, The Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating abused, neglected and abandoned animals living on the streets of Los Angeles, as well as from the shelters in L.A.

The fundraiser will also include a little person car wash, where Shorty and other little person volunteers will be washing cars to raise money for Shorty’s Rescue Foundation for a $10 donation.

There will also be a car show, hosted by Shorty’s friends at and Acedia Apparel, featuring a variety of custom vehicles throughout California, including several from the Nokturnal Car Club.

So come on out, see the dogs, meet the celebrities and donate to a worthy cause. Who knows, you could find yourself on T.V. when the series airs on Animal Planet!

For more information about Shorty’s Rescue, go to

Sunday, August 16, 2009

PetPAC's Bill Hemby sued by California in "Operation False Charity"

Chairman of PetPAC Bill Hemby has named as a defendant in a suit filed by the California Department of Justice in connection with his operations involving a law enforcement charity called LEAP.

The email notice I received details the allegations made against him, as well as the possible outcomes of this suit.

Now, I have nothing personally against Mr. Hemby, although I have found several of the positions PetPAC has taken against pet legislation to be a bit on the histronic side, more interested in frightening people than addressing issues facing pets in California today. However, should the allegations prove true, I think it says an awful lot about the character and motivations that PetPAC operates under.

It should be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Pet mags worth their weight in paper

When I’m not busy skulking about on the Internet, one can frequently find me nose-deep in a magazine, that being another of my favorite addictions in life. There’s something about the printed word that draws me to it like a moth to a flame. Naturally, some of my very favorite reads are magazines dealing with pets and pet issues, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

Hands-down, my number one pick for critter mags is The Bark. I nearly leapt for joy when this magazine arrived on the scene. The Bark accomplished something many magazine publishers didn’t think could be done --- they created a dog-specific magazine without accepting any ads from breeders, and in doing so developed a loyal audience of people involved in rescue and adoption. The Bark is full of fun features, health news, travel ideas and fiction, and I dare anyone to look at their “Smiling Dogs” features and not crack a smile. It’s just not possible.

Another favorite, for entirely different reasons, is The Whole Dog Journal. What makes this product unique is that the publishers accept no advertising. While this makes the subscription costs a wee bit higher than some are used to seeing, it also means readers can be confident that the reviews they provide on food and toys are honest reviews, not tainted by financial relationships. Granted, some of the articles embrace complimentary health practices such as chiropractic, acupuncture and flower essences, and may not be for everyone, but this is a solid publication that has the best interests of dogs and their owners at heart.

For cats, the pickings are a little slimmer, especially for someone like me who tries to avoid magazines that offer breeder ads. One magazine of note is Catnip, published by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. Much like Whole Dog Journal, Catnip does not accept advertising. It’s a great general interest publication for cat owners, even if it’s a wee bit short on the warm, fuzzy stories people like to read.

If you’re looking for something that speaks to people with both dogs and cats, Animal Wellness is a solid pet care magazine, especially for those owners who want to approach pet care from a more natural and holistic standpoint. Again, some of the more “new age” items might be a bit more than most people are looking for, but they definitely provide food for thought. A mix of stories, informative articles and health news, Animal Wellness is a great magazine pick.

Well, that’s enough to get you, or any animal-loving friends who are in need of a birthday gift, started. Did I miss one of your favorites? Drop me a line and let me know.

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