What is HELP FIDO?

Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A New Method of Breed ID

Being immersed in rescue I receive dozens of emails every day. Some of the emails infuriate me. Some cause me to shake my head in disbelief. Some I find to be heartbreaking, and on the rare occasion, some turn out to be hysterical. I would like to share one of the more recent stories that left me laughing for days.

I received the original email, it was from a girl asking for help in trying to keep her pit bull mix. She had moved into an apartment which had breed restrictions. Before signing the lease, the landlord had to see a picture of the dog. A picture was provided, it was determined that the dog would be allowed, so the girl moved in to her new apartment. Some time later, a repair needed to be made and the maintenance man entered the apartment. The maintenance man reported back to the property manager that there was a pit bull living in the residence. A couple of days later the girl receives notice that the dog needs to leave or she would be evicted. At this time, the girl contacted me for help. I advised her to get a letter from a vet stating the dog's breed, as well as consider DNA testing.

A few weeks later the girl emailed me again. She thanked me for my help and informed me that the dog was going to be allowed to stay. The girl contacted the apartment manager and wanted the manager to meet her dog. She took the dog down to the office. The apartment manager looked at the dog and stated that the dog didn't look like a full pit bull but it could be a mix. The manager then asked the girl to bring the dog closer. The girl complied. The apartment manager reached down and grabbed the dogs muzzle, opening and closing the jaws a couple of times. The manager then stood back up and proclaimed "This dog can stay. It is not a pit bull. It doesn't have locking jaws."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Top 10 Ways You Know You Are in A Bully Breed Owner's House

10. Peanut butter....lots of peanut butter.
9. Auburn paraphernalia (certainly NOT Alabama).
8. Patricia McConnell's Other End of the Leash on the nightstand...with pages earmarked, passages highlighted and notes in the margins
7. Dartboard with PETA's logo on it.
6. Dartboard with Michael Vick's photo on it.
5. Reading material in the bathroom consist of Bully Breeds and BARK magazine.
4. Lots and lots and lots of toys....for dogs.
3. A costume for when ACO comes knocking.
2. Stash of illegal drugs because only thugs have pit bulls. (link bad rap)

And the number 1 way you know you are in a bully breed owner's house:

1. Evildoers membership card hanging over fireplace.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Canine Heartworm Disease

The mosquitoes are here! Unfortunately, that means that Heartworm disease is here too. And since I have had the displeasure of having to treat a patient for the disease just this past week, I thought it would be a pertinent topic to discuss.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease (dirofilaiasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs and is transmitted by mosquitoes. Contrary to what many individuals believe, just because a dog spends most of the day indoors does NOT mean he/she cannot get heartworm disease. Mosquitoes get into the house....I know this all to well as I am attacked by the critters regularly! It is also a disease that threatens dogs (and cats) throughout all seasons and in all parts of these United States and Canada, especially in warm weather regions.

Heartworms are found in the heart and blood vessels of the lungs (namely the pulmonary arteries) of infected dogs. They live up to 5 years and during this time a female worm can produce millions of offspring (microfilaria). These immature worms cannot complete their life cycle in the dog. This is where our friend the mosquito comes in. The female mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests these immature worms. The worms then develop in the mosquito and are now called infective larvae. They are injected into another unsuspecting dog when the mosquito takes a meal and develop into adult heartworms. After maturing in about 2-3 months they will start reproducing. The disease cannot be spread directly from an infected dog to a healthy dog without the mosquito.

What do Heartworms do to the dog?
Adult heartworms can cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart. They interfere with the motion/action of heart valves. Blood supply to other organs is reduced, mostly in the lungs, liver and kidneys leading to malfunction and failure.

Many infected dogs may not show signs of disease for as long as 2 years, but usually by the time these signs are seed the disease is well advanced. Signs can vary depending on number of worms, where they are and how long they have been present. The most obvious signs are a soft, dry cough, shortness of breath, weakness, restlessness, lethargy, and exercise intolerance. All signs are most obvious after exercise. Some dogs may even faint. Severely infected dogs can die suddenly during exercise or excitement.

Young heartworms circulate through the body in smaller blood vessels and can block blood flow and deprive oxygen and nutrients to organs. Mostly the liver and lungs are affected.

How is Heartworm Disease diagnosed?
In most cases diagnosis can be made via a simple blood test that can many times be run right at your local veterinary office or can be sent to a veterinary laboratory. Other diagnostic tests are essential to determine if an infected dog can tolerate heartworm treatment. Further blood tests to check for young heartworms, check liver, kidney and other organ function, radiographs (x-rays) of the heart and lungs, Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) to check for abnormal heart rhythm and Echocardiogram (ultrasound of the dog's heart) to look at heart chambers and even see worms in the heart are a very important of diagnosis and treatment in the infected dog.

How is Heartworm Disease treated?
There is some risk involved in treating dogs with heartworms, although fatalities are now more rare then they used to be. One older drug used to treat heartworms contained arsenic, so toxic effects and reactions were more common. A newer drug is now available that does not have such harmful side effects, so we can now successfully treat about 90% of heartworm cases. This drug is given by injection twice, 24 hours apart. It kills adult worms. In more serious infections these injections may be given 30 days apart. Your veterinarian can discuss in more detail the follow up instructions once an infected dog is treated as well as side effects that may occur. Other drugs may need to be given to these dogs to treat additional symptoms of heartworm disease. Some dogs have lifelong problems with heart disease and failure even after the worms are gone.

Dogs that are far advanced in the disease usually cannot be successfully treated and usually succumb to organ failure within a few weeks or months.

How can Heartworm Disease be prevented?
There are many effective and safe heartworm prevention products available through your veterinarian. Most of them are chewable tablets or are in beefy treat form. There is also a topical form that can be applied. Generics are even now available providing a cost effective way to prevent this disease from affecting your best friend! Monthly administration is very important and most veterinarians recommend giving the prevention year-round. Even if given year round it is still important that your dog be tested periodically as advised by your veterinarian because no medication is 100% effective. Dogs that are only on prevention during warm weather months must be tested every 6-12 months before re-starting the medication. Re-starting medication without testing can be harmful or even deadly to a dog that is unknowingly infected, so it is very important to call your veterinarian if you have skipped even one month of prevention. Puppies are usually started on prevention without testing first because their potential for exposure prior to giving medication is very low.

So PLEASE everyone....,make sure your best friend is protected from this deadly disease. Get your dog tested and on prevention!! Dang those pesky mosquitoes!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Domestic Violence Forum 6/25

HELP FIDO members were in attendance at a public forum provided by Columbus City Councilman Hearcel F. Craig yesterday evening. It was the first of several forums, focusing on offering help to victims of domestic violence. Also speaking were:

Kristi Timbrook: Legal System Task Force Director, Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence
Anne Murray: Assistant City Attorney, Director, Domestic Violence and Stalking Unit
Detectives Gauthney and Coleman: Columbus Police Department

Columbus Police respond to over 23'00o calls and make around 5000 arrests regarding domestic violence on an annual basis. There is overwhelming evidence that animal abuse and domestic violence go hand in hand. Pets are often used by abusers as means to gain power or control over the victim. 40% of victims delay seeking help because of this. We learned that the
Capital Area Humane Society has partnered with several other organizations to create a program called “Safe Haven” that assists victims of domestic violence, providing temporary foster homes for pets in these situations.

Read more about animal abuse and how it relates to domestic violence as well as the “Safe Haven” program

Realizing the relation between domestic abuse and animal abuse we (HELP FIDO) wanted to learn more about what resources are currently being implemented and are interested in showing our support, and seeing if we can assist in connecting any resources. HELP FIDO hopes to use these meetings to open lines of communication with representatives and organizations involved and will continue show our support and offer any assistance we can .

Sign up to get Columbus City Council E-mail notifications

Related Columbus City Council initiatives:
Animal Abuse and Family Violence Task Force
Preventing Domestic Violence

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Well, we wouldn't want to discriminate."

That was a quote from one of the council members at the Whitehall (OH) City Council meeting last night. Any statement against discrimination would obviously come from someone opposed to BSL, right?? Of course, you say, that makes sense, that's logical. Well, while logical, that would be incorrect. The above quote was from everybody's favorite council person - Jacquelyn Thompson in reference to an off-topic discussion about banning all dogs in a park during an outdoor concert. And that's a big part of the problem right now - most of the pro-BSL and bully ban proponents are woefully short on common sense and logic. Whether it's Lakewood (OH), Kansas City, Cincinnati, or one of the other communities currently debating these issues, the root of the problem is publicity hungry local politicians with way too much time on their hands and the ability to ignore all evidence and logic contrary to their uninformed positions.

Thankfully, there are many council members and others in Whitehall government that are logical people, that truly want what's best for their community and realize passing a ban or restrictions on dogs simply based on what they look like will accomplish nothing. Wait.... wouldn't that be discrimination? Ms. Thompson? "Well, wouldn't want to discriminate." Hmm.

Next week in Whitehall is the 3rd and final reading of Councilman Robert Bailey's comprehensive, breed neutral legislation that truly will benefit the community. Unless there is a big surprise, that legislation will go to a vote next Tuesday and will likely pass.

How about something on the lighter side? This video has made it's way around so probably not new and I have no idea if the story is true or not, but still cracks me up. The story: "These people were always finding water all over their pool deck and furniture, every time they came home, after being away for a few hours. They thought the neighborhood kids were watching for them to leave, and using the pool. However, they could never catch them doing it. So they set up their video cam and left. This is what they found......." Dog home alone. It is summer after all :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

HELP FIDO's Response to article in The Other Paper

I'm writing in response to the 6/19/2008 article titled "Pit Stop." I want to applaud The Other Paper for delving into such a controversial issue, but I feel compelled to add some points that are critical in understanding and preventing canine aggression.

Karen Delise and her group, The National Canine Research Council, have done amazing work studying dog bites. Delise has authored two books and the work of her not-for-profit, has confirmed what so many of us already knew. There are real factors of canine aggression and those factors are not skin deep nor breed specific.

In the past 150 years, there have been countless interactions between humans and canines. In her second book, The Pit Bull Placebo, Delise breaks down the relatively low, though very important, incidents of fatal and severe dog attacks during this period. What one comes to learn is that there are three categories that are present in an overwhelming percentage of these tragic incidents:

-reckless ownership practices (such as chaining and allowing dog(s) to run at large),
-reproductive status of dog(s) (not spayed or neutered; intact), and
-the function of dog (obtained for a status symbol, breeding, fighting, protection; not a companion animal).

It's when we as a community start to address these issues that we begin to make progress. And this progress is hard work, indeed.

We must love, respect, raise responsibly and control man's best friend in order to protect the rights of all dog owners and keep our communities safe. Please, your community needs your help. Get involved! Such groups as the Capital Area Humane Society, Citizens for Humane Action, the Franklin County Dog Shelter, HELP FIDO, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, just to name a few, are wonderful organizations to support. Through their work, the intricate connection that is the human-canine bond can be understood, respected, and preserved.

Amanda Spires
HELP FIDO, Board Member

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Keep It Up Columbus!!

We here at HELP FIDO have spent the better part of the past 4 months being present at Whitehall City Council discussions about a proposed pit bull ban by Councilwoman Jacquelyn Thompson. In fact, this civil action of ours was what brought about HELP FIDO as an organized effort to increase the quality of life for dogs in central Ohio.

These long, arduous, stressful Tuesday nights were not only spent listening to myths, lies and unsupported “facts,” but also were often felt like a personal attack. Indeed, we have been called evil-doers and owners of “tools of terror.” This all happened before PETA’s announcement that pit bull owners are thugs.


After a few months, we decided, as we were beginning to organize and talk amongst ourselves that we would continue to attend the Whitehall meetings. However, since there had been comments made about our “outside” presence being unwelcome, as well as some rude accusations lodged against us, we also decided we would refrain from further comment until the status of the proposed ban was decided. Luckily other citizens of Whitehall chose to act and spoke numerous times at the meetings and to media. They didn’t need us to point out the problems with a ban…they had found their voice. On the night it failed we decided to speak out only after the vote though afterwards we retreated again behind our “above the fray” shield.

Since then, even though Thompson’s crazy ranting speech from the night of the failed ban made it into the Saturday Dispatch editorial section, we have not felt the need to speak out. The reason we have not been voraciously responding to this? We haven’t needed to. Many others came forward to point out the incredibly unsupported stance of BSL. Online letters to editors against BSL have far outweighed any support of Thompson (here) and (here) and (here). These are but a few of the letters that appeared. And then there is the glorious statement in Saturday’s Dispatch by Amanda Gleason, a woman who states she is not only not a part of the “pit bull lobby,” she doesn’t even own a pit bull! Furthermore, a rather, um, interesting article appeared in The Other Paper and featured one of our members rescue operations, and we will be addressing some concerns with that article.

Meanwhile we wanted to take a moment to applaud the efforts of these folks who have taken the extra time to write a letter, make a phone call, or send an email. We welcome their support and encourage them to continue to use their voice!!

Well done!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Being a Victim of BSL

10. Move to Calgary .
9. Own a cat (but not an outside cat!).
6. Own a lizard.
5. Start your own not for profit organization, name it HELP FIDO, and take on the world!
3. Move to Nauru, or Palau .
2. Fake out legislators and enact a different type of BSL.

And the number one way to avoid being a victim of BSL is….

1. Get a great costume!

**Many thanks to Lisa at Pitties Place for her excellent prowess in PhotoShop!**
Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heat Stroke Question

Thanks to Adam for leaving a comment regarding "Summer Safety Tips" asking: "Dr. M, regarding first aid for heat stroke, what does applying rubbing alcohol to dogs paw pads do?" .

Well Adam, dogs dispell heat from their bodies in 2 main ways. First, they pant. This is the main way for them to cool down. They also have sweat glands in between their paw pads. This is the only place on the doggie body that has a significant number of sweat glands. Placing alcohol on the paws tends to cool them down because the rapid evaporation of the alcohol helps to dissipate body heat quickly, thus helping to decrease the body's internal temperature. I hope this helps clarify things for you. Thanks for the question!!

Summer Safety Tips

Hello all! Dr. Mandi here again announcing that Summer is upon us!! Along with the warm sunny weather and fun times outdoors comes some special risks for man's (and woman's) best friend. As the temperature rises keep some of these safety concerns and tips to keep your dog cool in mind.

Heat Hazards - If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in. Doghouses are not ideal shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child's wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in. Placing ice cubes in a water bowl is also a good way to keep dogs cool and sometimes you'll even catch them "bobbing" for them!

Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 120 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water indoors and out.

Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun's heat is less intense. Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog's paws.

Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs and Pekingese, have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. They can very quickly suffer from heat stroke which can be life threatening. Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air-conditioning.

General Health - Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date, especially since dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during the summer months.

Keep dogs off of lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic plants and flowers. If you are at all in question regarding a lawn product call your local veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Center.

Fleas and ticks, and the mosquitos which carry heartworm disease, are more prevalent in warmer months. Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to keep these parasites off your dog.

Beach Tips - Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest in and plenty of fresh water. (I cannot stress the importance of cool, fresh water enough!)

Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog's exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside. Be careful to apply in areas where your dog cannot lick the product off!

Running on the sand is strenuous exercise. A dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog's activity.

Salt and other minerals in ocean water can damage your dog's coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day. Make sure you dry your dog's ears inside and out to prevent ear infections. Also, don't allow them to drink sea water as it can make them sick.

Water Safety - If you're swimming for the first time with your dog, start in shallow water and coax him in by calling his name. Encourage him with toys or treats. Or, let him follow another experienced dog he is friendly with.

Never throw your dog into the water.

Don't let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly. It is a good idea to fit your dog with a lifepreserver.

If you have your own pool, make sure your dog knows where the stairs or ladder are located. Be sure that pool covers are firmly in place; dogs have been known to slip in under openings in the covers and drown. Never leave your dog unattended in water.

Travel By Air - Many airlines will not ship animals during summer months due to dangers caused by hot weather. Some will only allow dogs to fly in the early morning or in the evening.

Check with your airlines for specific rules, including health certificates and vaccine requirements.
Check for regulations regarding pets in the main cabin of the plane as far as pet carrier size, how many pets allowed to fly per plane and additional fees.

Travel By Car - Keep your dog cool in the car by putting icepacks in his crate. Make sure the crate is well ventilated. Put a sunshade on your car windows.Bring along fresh water and a bowl, and a tarp or tent so you can set up a shady spot when you stop. Keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your dog to cool him down.

Never, ever leave a dog unattended in a vehicle in the summer months. Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures.

Heatstroke - Heatstroke can be the serious and often fatal result of a dog's prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Below are the signs of heatstroke and the actions you should take if your dog is overcome.

Early Stages:
-Heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drooling, bright red gums and tongue.
-Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced Stages:
-White or blue gums.
-Lethargy, unwillingness to move.-Uncontrollable urination or defecation.-Labored, noisy breathing. -Shock.

If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down and get to your veterinarian as soon as possible:

-Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads.
-Apply ice packs to the groin area.
-Hose down with water.
-Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
-Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Boarding/Pet Sitting - When boarding your dog or leaving him with a pet sitter make sure you leave detailed instructions especially if your dog needs special care like taking daily medication.

Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations.

Lastly, and this is the most important tip I can give as a veterinarian, leave a signed letter with your boarding facility or sitter specifically giving them the power to make medical decisions for your dog in case an emergency arises and you cannot be reached.

Hooray for summer!! Make it a safe and happy one for man and beast!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lending a Hand

**Written by Amanda but posted by admin**

One of the privileges of volunteering for an animal welfare agency is the ability for an individual to help out on so many different levels. I've been a volunteer for the Capital Area Humane Society for about 5 years now and have worn many hats: dog-walker, enrichment care-giver, pooper scooper, doggy chauffeur, match-maker, and many more not so glamorous, but very rewarding roles. At our shelter, a unique opportunity exists for experienced (and willing) volunteers to "ride along" with our Humane Agents while they investigate reports of animals in need. So, every once in a while, I get to hop in a van and support the work of some awesome individuals.

I recently spent the afternoon traversing our seemingly huge county with a Humane Agent while we answered concerns lodged by concerned neighbors, citizens and passers-by. Now that it's not snowing in central Ohio, it's about 80 plus degrees and very humid. For a dog living outside (or even placed outside for extended periods of time), these conditions can be deadly, so there's no shortage of reports to investigate in summer. The animal care-givers we visited were as different as the animals we came to check on. Some were all smiles and tail wags, happy to talk to us about their dog(s)/cat(s), while others got their hackles up and made it clear that a marked vehicle complete with someone wearing a uniform, was not welcome. And who could blame them? How would you feel if you were paid a visit by law enforcement? I think it takes a big person to show us they've nothing to hide and, on top of that, thank the agent for looking out for animals, even if the only reason we're standing on their doorstep is because their neighbors don't like the breed of dog they chose to own.

As much as possible, donated bags of food are given to owners, sturdy buckle collars are switched out for choke chains and people get to hear about the benefits of spaying and neutering. Not everyone is going to listen and certainly many don't want to listen, but education is a huge part of fostering compassion, so no effort to explain the dangers of heatstroke or how painful mats can be is ever wasted. And, even though my small part was feverishly recording each detail at each address, at the end of the day, it just feels good to be in your community—really in your community-- and to lend a hand.

If you suspect an animal is in need (and perhaps even their owners), make the call to your local animal cruelty investigators or the local dog warden.

HELP FIDO wants every outdoor dog to have a comfortable nylon collar, a spill proof 5-gallon bucket, the product SWAT (for fly strikes) and comfortable shelter like a dog Igloo. Your local community needs your help!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Whitehall council meeting 6/17

Members of HELP FIDO were in attendance at Whitehall’s city council meeting last night. All members of council were present with the exception of Councilwoman Thompson, who's previously proposed breed ban failed two weeks earlier. This is one of two monthly meetings where the public is given a chance to speak publicly.

Two pieces of animal legislation received their second of three readings during the meeting. The first piece of legislation was regarding noisy animals. And second, the comprehensive ‘breed neutral’ piece of legislation proposed by Councilman Bailey regarding dangerous and vicious dogs, as well as humane confinement and dog fighting. Prior to receiving its second reading, an amendment was passed changing the required height of a fence containing a deemed ‘vicious’ dog from 48” to 72”.

There are many summer activities the city has planned such as farmers markets, live music and movies. You can find a listing of events in Whitehall HERE.

The next meeting in Whitehall is next Tuesday June 24th. The meeting is a committee meeting and is open to the public, although here are no opportunities for public speaking.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Diplomacy, Breed Bans, and Letters to the Editor

Ok I’m a little late to the party, and thank you Brent for a great entry on the KCDogBlog about Jacquelyn Thompson’s letter to the editor in the Columbus Dispatch On 6/14/08 regarding her failed Pit Bull Ban. After hearing “We’ve had enough outside influence” I politely obliged and stopped my contact with the Whitehall council. I have to bite on this one though…

Pit Bull lobby??? Perhaps she is talking about the concerned dog owners of Whitehall and the handful of central Ohioans who have been out to voice their opposition to the ban. This coming from the woman who, after receiving extremely limited local community support for her “legislation,” used this very same newspaper to drum up allies as she pled for help weeks ago.

Here’s my take… Laws should be designed to protect ALL members of a population, not discriminate against a few. By aiming legislation at dogs (in the instance of a ban), you are inadvertently discriminating against law-abiding members of the population merely because they have chosen a certain type of pet. To be effective, legislation should be aimed at people. It is the person who allows their dog to run loose, untrained, and out of control who should be held responsible. This is an 'ownership' issue not a 'dog' issue.

With all of that being said, there are solutions that have been proven effective, and are completely 'breed neutral.' Despite receiving several examples of these 'breed neutral' solutions, it appears that Thompson can’t be bothered, and seems merely concerned with ridding the streets of these "Pit Bull type” dogs all the while hiding this agenda behind the cloak of ‘safety.’ I fail to see how eliminating 'Pit Bulls' will ever address, improper confinement, neglect, abuse, or incidences with other breeds.

In this letter to the editor the “Pit Bull Lobby” has been accused of "threatening, and bulling communities"… interestingly enough, the author of the letter, is the one who has publicly singled out members of the community she is serving, harassing citizens by drudging up decades old criminal reports. She is also the one pointing fingers around the council chambers accusing other councilmember’s of everything from not having concern for public safety to “reading plays.”

I personally have had my own testimony twisted and thrown back in my face by her. Somehow after politely thanking the officials for allowing me to speak, giving a testimony as to how a breed ban could negatively affect a city with, costs, enforcement, the fact that they don’t address ‘vicious’ dogs of other breeds, and the fact that many citizens do lawfully and responsibly own Pit Bulls as family pets; I was asked by Thompson in an email, “Why I was advocating for vicious animals in Whitehall?” My reply was simply, “I am NOT advocating for vicious animals, I’m advocating for the responsible owners in your community.”

I mean talk about bullying… I’m not surprised many citizens weren’t coming out and speaking up. It was obvious if you spoke out against the ban, you were making yourself a target. Despite my polite correspondence I was talked down to. Unfortunately for Thompson, all that did was cement my position, and cleared my calendar’s Tuesday nights so I could make sure my face was in the crowd at each meeting.

“Abused, a twisted status symbol, killer, maimer. That, too often, is the reality of the pit-bull breeds. They are to be pitied, but we are left with no alternative but to remove them from society.”

Interesting… wouldn’t a better, more admirable (let alone effective), ‘alternative’ be to target the people who neglect, abuse, and use these dogs to engage in criminal activity instead of banning these dogs into extinction. It is after all it is human error at the root of the problem.

“It's just too bad that the majority of members do not see the danger coming and chose to come down on the side of darkness when they voted no on the ban.”

The “side of darkness”… What!? It’s called Democracy… Thompson stated her intentions, the council voted, her ban failed. I wonder if in her eye’s, the council members who voted “no” are also now considered “evildoers,” (as Thompson once described Pit Bull owners)?

“The United States led the way to the formation of the United Nations as a means to settle differences diplomatically…”

Did she really mention the United Nations!? Huh? What? Yes, the UN was formed partly to help come about ‘diplomatic’ solutions, so I wonder how Thompson would explain how her Pit Bull ban and recent actions have even resembled ‘diplomacy.’ She has had her heels dug in, and mind made up from the get go.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Destructive Chewing

Hello all! My name is Dr. Mandi Maimone. Most call me Dr. Mandi or Dr. M. I am a 2004 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio and have been in the veterinary business for about 17 years now. I currently practice small animal medicine (which means that the majority of my patients are dogs and cats) in Central Ohio. I am also a founding member of HELP FIDO. Although I now live in the Columbus area, I have lived most of my life in New York City. Much of my work in New York involved interaction with and treatment of bully breed dogs. They are very near and dear to my heart. I also spent time working at The New York Zoological Society also known as the Bronx Zoo. That was lots of fun!!

My purpose here is to provide all of you with medical and behavioral knowledge and information regarding not just bully breeds but all of our furry canine friends. This time around I would like to talk about a behavioral problem all dog owners have had to deal with (including myself!!) and that is CHEWING!

DESTRUCTIVE CHEWING is very common. Puppies investigate their enviornment by sniffing, tasting and perhaps chewing on objects as part of their normal behavior. Adult dogs might chew when they are searching for food, playing or merely as a means of satisfying a natural urge to chew and gnaw on objects. In some cases, chewing might be an attention seeking behavior even if it yields negative attention or results in chasing or scolding by their owners. Anxiety, conflict, or high-arousal situations may result in destruction and chewing of the owner's possessions and perhaps attempts to escape by chewing windows, doors or the area in which the dog is confined.

The dog may chew to escape or roam because of inadequate exercise, stimulation or environmental enrichment. In rare instances, chewing is accompanied by ingestion of inappropriate objects (pica), which may be caused by a compulsive disorder. This can be a very dangerous situation if the dog develops an intestinal obstruction. This is where I come in, since surgery is many times required to remove these obstructive objects. Surgical procedures can be very risky for your pet and can also be very costly to you.

The first step in treating chewing behavior is to IDENTIFY THE UNDERLYING MOTIVATION. Young dogs and puppies that chew inappropriate items may be engaging in play and exploration. Getting into garbage or other food areas is usually a food seeking behavior and may be part of normal dog behavior or may occur when the dog is on a calorie-restricted diet. Dogs that chew at windows, doors or their crates may suffer from separation anxiety, or may be reacting to outside stimuli. Repetitive chewing that is dificult to distract or redirect might be related to obsessive compulsive disorder. Dogs that are diagnosed with this condition may also chew obsessively on certain areas of their own bodies like the carpus (wrist) or hock, causing sores that may take a very long time to heal and require medical treatment. Intact animals (dogs that are not spayed or neutered) may attempt to escape to roam and seek a mate. Dogs with limited opportunity for social interaction, playtime, exercise, walks and poor enviornmental enrichment may chew as a way to combat boredom.

Keeping a daily diary of chewing episodes, frequency and where such episodes occur may help to determine underlying motivation and contributing factors. If the problem occurs when the owner is absent, a videotape may help determine whether separation anxiety or an environmental stimulus such as noise is the source of the problem.

Treatment options vary depending on the type of chewing behavior as well as the reason behind the behavior. Destructive chewing resulting from separation anxiety, noise phobia (such as to thunderstorms or fireworks) or territorial aggression may require consultation with your veterinarian, a board certified behaviorist, trainer or a combination of some or all of these individuals. These dogs frequently require medication (and therefore close veterinary monitoring of administration of medication and possible side effects), which aids in behavioral modification in order to effectively treat them for these problems.

Other destructive chewing behaviors respond to PREVENTIVE MEASURES. You may begin treatment by redirecting chewing to suitable and appealing alternatives, providing sufficient play and exercise, and preventing access to previously chewed items. Avoid all rewards, either purposeful or inadvertant. Keep food completely out of reach, secure trash and garbage, and avoid chasing the dog and playful tugging at "stolen" items. Preventing access to areas where the dog might chew is essential. Baby gates, closed doors, and leash control all help prevent unwanting chewing.

If destructive chewing occurs in confinement, other measures may be needed such as teaching the dog how to be comfortable while confined or treating any underlying anxiety that may be contributing to the behavior.

Provide OUTLETS FOR CHEWING. Rather than focusing on punishment, it is more appropriate to provide acceptable outlets for chewing. Give the dog a choice of chew toys to determine which ones it finds most appealing. Some dogs prefer plastic, nylon or rubber toys while others prefer edible items that are safe to be ingested. Augmenting these toys with food often increases their desirability. For example, my dogs enjoy their Kong rubber chew toy filled with peanut butter. I find that placing the toy in the freezer lengthens the time they are interested in the toy by making the peanut butter last much longer. Be sure to provide durable toys so that small pieces may not be chewed off and ingested, as well as toys that are appropriate your dogs' size and breed.

One side note, it is very important to NEVER, EVER give your dog natural bones to chew on. Natural bones like chicken, pork, steak, rib, turkey, beef or any bone like these can easily splinter causing tearing or puncture of the stomach or intestinal lining, can cause obtruction requiring surgery, or cause severe vomiting and/or diarrhea. Any or all of these conditions can be life threatening to your pet.

Reward your dog with attention and praise for chewing appropriate items. You must also check items regularly and remove any damaged ones to avoid inadvertant ingestion of broken or splintered toys.

SUPERVISION, EXERCISE AND REPRIMANDS are also an important part of the equation as long as they are performed appropriately. Supervise puppies at all times to prevent chewing on inapproapriate objects and to encourage them to use the toys provided. If supervision is not possible, prevent access to any chewable object or area where chewing may occur.

A dog needs ample opportunity to explore and play in a regular, predictable routine, including social interacions, play, training and exercise. For many dogs a daily walk can be very calming and provides exercise and stimulation. Also, formal training classes can be fun and entertaining for both pet and owner.

A dog should be reprimanded for chewing ONLY if it is caught in the act. All reprimands must be immediate, humane and controlled. Inappropriate reprimands can lead to fear and defensive reactions in some dogs, or may serve as a form of negative attention and reinforcement of undesireable behaviors in others.

Another option is to make the areas where the dog is likely to chew adversive. Taste or odor aversion is often the easiest and most practical intervention, but not all pets are deterred by these types of products, especially if no other appropriate outlets for play and exploration are offered. Because chewing is an inherently rewarding behavior, some form of chewing may be a lifelong habit for some dogs. Always make sure you consult your veterinarian before purchasing or using any of these products as some may not be safe for your pet.

Overall, the best advice I can offer is to take the time to discover the reason behind your dogs' destructive chewing and explore your options carefully. You know your pet best. So work with your veterianian, behaviorist, trainer to devise a plan that works for you, your family and your dog. This way everybody is happy in the end.

Thats all for now.

Dr. Mandi
(PS - I need to acknowlegde Dr. Debra F. Horowitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB, Veterinary Behavior Consultations, St. Louis, Missouri and her article in NAVC Clinician's Brief for some of the information contained in this blog.)

Check out KCDogBlog

If you haven't read Brent Toellner's blog today make sure to check it out. Brent takes on both Jackie Thompson and Brian Powers - two Ohio politicians who are trying their hardest to keep their communities safe from the evils of pit bulls. PBRC also did a nice job of rebuffing Brian Powers earlier this week.
Brent does a great job of pointing out how we have so many greater problems in this country....

On another note - Happy Father's Day and we here at HELP FIDO hope you took a moment to call your dad or father figure and thank them.
And we mourn the loss of Tim Russert...a newsman who was more than a newsman.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Having been faced with the possibility that one of my beloved dogs (Maggie - left) may be afflicted with Canine Hip Dysplasia (or CHD) I felt compelled to make it my first topic. CHD is commonly believed to have a genetic predisposition, though environmental factors can certainly complicate the disease, such as obesity and trauma. This disease is not present at birth but developes as the dog ages. It is, in basic terms, the abnormal development of the hip. In moderate and severe cases flattening of the femoral head developes as well as thickening of the femoral necks. This process is called Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). Lameness, pain and osteoarthritis become apparent as the disease progress, and in some cases can become debilitating to the dog and heartbreaking for the owner. Signs can appear as early as 4-12 months of age, for dogs severely affected, and can include pain, limping, “bunny hopping” when the dog runs, clicking sound when the dog walks, runs or when the hip is manipulated as well as loss of muscle mass (atrophy). Refusal to go up and down stairs can also be a sign the average dog owner may notice.

Modern science has developed two different methods for responsible breeders to screen for the disease. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and PennHip are the two common in the United States at this time. OFA grades the hip's conformation giving rates beginning with Excellent and continuing through Severe. For OFA certification X-rays evaluated must be from dogs at least 24 months of age but they will evaluate and release preliminary results for those under 24 months of age. Dogs are X-rayed once, preferably under anesthesia, for a V/D view of the Pelvis with the legs fully extended in a parallel position. PennHip on the other hand takes a more "scientific" approach by measuring the laxity of the hips and giving breeders actual numbers to work with. Three X-rays are taken for PennHip evaluation with views of the hips compressed and distracted, as well as the view used for OFA. There is no pass or fail with the PennHip Method, as its measurements allow the breeder to make their own educated decision about whether or not to breed said dog.

I can't express how important these simple screening processes can be. It is extremely difficult to watch when your 4 month old puppy hobbles around for 2 weeks from a jump that another dog would have just brushed off. To look at her now at 12 months of age and wonder if she will be crippled in just a few short years . . . unable to run, jump and play with her housemates, to enjoy simply being a dog . . .

I highly encourage any dog owner to read up on the CHD in depth as it affects many purebred breeds of dog as well as those of the mix breed variety. Many aren’t aware of how prevalent CHD has become in the American Staffordshire Terrier and its counterpart, the American Pit Bull Terrier, with 25% of the evaluated population affected with the disease. Ranking them in the top 25 affected breeds with OFA.

If you feel your dog or puppy may be affected with CHD, consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment options available in your area. Common supplements used to ease the pain and increase mobility in the joints include Glucosamine/Chondroitin, and Vitamin C. Often prescription NSAIDS (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) are required in more severe cases to help control pain and inflammation associated with the disease.

In young dogs TPO (triple pelvic osteotomy ) surgery may be recommended. In this procedure the pelvis is cut in 3 spots and is rotated to provide better coverage of the femoral head to prevent further DJD. Dogs are usually preferred to be under 12 months of age with minimal arthritic changes to be candidates for this surgery. Dogs with chronic DJD may be recommended for total hip replacement among several different surgical options currently available.

If you would find your pup or dog is affected they may enjoy the benefits of a “doggy ramp” as it puts less stress on the joints when they join you on the couch and bed. Orthopedic grade pet beds are available and can provide much needed comfort to aching joints. I try to keep my own dog at a healthy lean weight as well to try to lessen the work load she puts on her hips. She also has a daily exercise routine we try to keep up on to be sure she maintains her muscle tone in her legs and lower back, but always consult with your vet before you begin a regimen yourself to be sure it is appropriate for your pooch. You may find your dog also enjoys a nice doggie massage to relax aching muscles at the end of the day - I know mine does!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Whitehall, OH – debate continues

Members of HELP FIDO attended the Whitehall City Council meeting again last night – it’s almost a tradition at this point, at least I know where I’ll be every Tuesday evening. Last night’s meeting was a committee meeting which is open to the public, but the public is only allowed to speak at the full Council meetings. As outlined below and here, Council Member Jackie Thompson’s much publicized pit bull ban was defeated last week, 5-2. But Ms. Thompson’s antics continued this week with her attacks on Council Member Bob Bailey’s comprehensive, breed neutral legislation that is based on action or behavior (not breed). It will be up for 2nd Reading next Tuesday, June 17th (most ordinances go to a 3rd reading) so I encourage everyone to attend - especially if you're a Whitehall resident. If you’d like an entire copy of this ordinance, send me an email (briancluxton@yahoo.com). Ms. Thompson continues to argue the same uninformed, ignorant positions at each meeting about pit bulls and breed specific legislation; there simply is no reasoning with her. I got the distinct impression last evening that many elected officials in Whitehall are tired of her act. I know I tired of it a long time ago.

After the back and forth about Mr. Bailey’s legislation, discussion moved on to other matters, including the standing committees. During the Safety committee discussion, talk among the members turned to general safety in Whitehall – nothing to do with dogs or dog legislation. Pretty much out of nowhere, Ms. Thompson stated that “All of the men on council don’t care that Whitehall citizens feel threatened.” This was at least the second time she has claimed no one supports or agrees with her based on gender. Needless to say, that remark set off a firestorm of discussion and many of the other Council members were furious. Personally, I was dumbfounded – Ms. Thompson has said a lot of stupid things over the past 5 or so months, but that took it to a whole other level. As usual, reporters from both the Suburban News Publications and Eastside Messenger were in attendance. I hope they are accurate in their newspaper accounts of Ms. Thompson’s behavior last evening.

On to a much more pleasant topic – Anna and I were in Iowa City 2 weekends ago for the 4th Annual Bully Workshop. One of the highlights was seeing Wallace the Pit Bull, the 2007 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge Freestyle Flying Disc National Champion. Wallace and Roo (his handler/owner) are amazing!! Wallace is also one of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet. And to think, people like Jackie Thompson believe dogs like Wallace should be killed simply because of the way they look. Much more about Wallace’s story can be found here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Welcome to the HELP FIDO blog!

As you might have clued in by reading the prior post, this blog will be dedicated to the doings of HELP FIDO. Our vision statement at the top of the page says it all. We have lofty goals but we also have brave hearts and great minds working to reach them. Among our amazing backgrounds we have a paralegal, an accountant, a drummer, a veterinarian, a vet assistant, and a pit bull rescuer. One of our team spent her summer with BAD RAP. Another maintains websites for two other rescue operations, in addition to her own. Another doesn’t even own a bully breed, but wants to make a difference for all dogs. One of our team shows her registered dogs and can speak to the amazing talent bully breed dogs have. One has started a new hobby photographing dogs.

As I said in the speech, we came together mostly as strangers. My husband Brian and I knew Amanda because we adopted Sparky from Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) and her “Bully Breeds” special adoptables program. Amanda and Adam had spoken on the phone a few times, and Adam was a volunteer for CAHS. All of us showed up several times for Whitehall, Ohio’s city council meetings as they mulled over a ban on pit bulls. We started to work together and as a group we started to have a vision…that vision is what you see above.

This blog will document our events and thoughts. Adam and Brian will recap city council meetings and relevant legislative happenings (including action on the recently introduced statewide pit bull ban). Our vet, Dr. Mandi, and vet assistant Tonya, will take questions and answer them in a weekly blog. Feel free to send your questions! Amanda and Lisa can answer obedience and adoption questions. CAHS runs an obedience class just for bully breeds!! Thinking of adopting? Check out our links on the side – remember – “don’t buy while shelter dogs die.”

I plan to use this blog in a rather selfish way. I sit on another Board, but for a breast cancer advocacy organization. My duties there are pretty specific and very hands-off. So I plan to use this blog to flex my writing muscles, wax poetically about our cute pit bulls, about lazy reporters and crazy politicians, and about heroic efforts to help these great dogs. And maybe showcase a photo or two.

So tune in and give us feedback! We hope to announce the launch of our NEW website soon! But if you want to get on our mailing list please sign up!!

Oh and that proposed ban in Whitehall? It failed. They are now considering revised code that will judge a dog based on its actions. Additionally it adds language against dog fighting and cruelty. And we feel we helped make this happen.

HELP FIDO – there’s a new dog in Columbus!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Statement to Whitehall City Council

The following statement was read by HELP FIDO member Anna Cluxton at the Whitehall City Council meeting on June 3, 2008. It celebrated the failure of a proposed ban on pit bulls, pushed primarily by Councilwoman Jacquelyn Thompson.

I would like to congratulate you all on voting down legislation that would have accomplished nothing. You have made the brave decision to look at the true problems in Whitehall, including irresponsible dog owners, and address them in an honest manner.
Most of all, I would like to thank Councilwoman Thompson for having put this proposed code forward. Without intending to, you have done more than you will ever know to change the lives of several people here.
Because of you, I now know more about Whitehall city business, than I know about the city of Columbus. Because of you, I am now more familiar with Roberts Rules of Order then I ever thought I would want to be. Because of you, my husband and I traveled to Iowa City this past weekend and met amazing dog advocates from around the country – including the current world champion Frisbee dog – Wallace the pitbull.
Because I work in research and am a cancer survivor, most of my personal and professional life has been influenced and comforted by the validity of evidence based decision making. But now I realize that some people will not listen to well respected national research, expert advice, and evidence contrary to their personal agenda, when dramatic rhetoric is more effective at getting air time on television.
Because of you, I realize the power that citizens can have in community governance, and my faith in government as an entity that works for the people and by the people has been restored.
But most importantly, because of you, a group of strangers came together and realized a need to work together toward a greater cause.
We have formed an organization called HELP FIDO. Together, along with others, HELP FIDOwill work to help improve the quality of life for dogs and their owners in Central Ohio, and we look forward to starting here in Whitehall.
We will coordinate low and no cost spay/neuter programs, low and no cost micro-chipping, and low or no cost obedience classes.
We will work to implement dog safety educational programs in schools.
We will work to end dog-fighting and lower pet euthanasia rates in central Ohio.
And yes, we will work to ensure that breed bans are never, ever looked at as a way to solve problems. All of this we will do because of your efforts here in Whitehall. So thank you Ms. Thompson.
Because of your actions - something good and powerful has blossomed out of something that was originally marinating in discrimination and ignorance.

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...