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.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shopping for PET INSURANCE

As a veterinarian I get questions about pet insurance on a daily basis from my clients. Questions about what company is best, what policy/plan is best, should a cancer rider be added, cost, etc.? In a nutshell, pet insurance can be a wonderful, helpful option for our pets, but there is a lot of research and homework that should go into choosing a provider. My personal opinion on pet insurance is that it is not absolutely necessary to have for your pet, but it certainly helps a great deal when illness or surgery occurs when least expected. For the most part, it works very similarly to our own health insurance.

Generally, most pet insurance companies will cover a small portion of the basic yearly costs incurred with pet care/preventive services, such as vaccinations, fecal analyses, heartworm tests and heartworm and flea/tick prevention if that type of coverage is purchased. Although their reimbursement of these costs is usually minimal, they do help offset some of the routine veterinary fees. The real benefits of pet health insurance come with unexpected illnesses, emergency surgery, dental services and the like. But it all depends on the company and plan you choose. Like human health insurance, most pet insurance companies will not cover pre-existing medical problems. So, if you choose to insure your pet, it's a good idea to do so when your critter is young. Puppies and kittens are usually the least expensive to insure.

Cost of a policy is normally based on the level of coverage you want your pet to have. Generally there are caps on pay-outs for a single diagnosed illness and/or chronic illness. The way reimbursement usually works is as follows: You bring your pet to the veterinarian, along with a claim form provided by the insurance company. You pay the veterinarian for services. After the visit, your veterinarian fills out the form, which is then submitted along with a copy of the invoice from the visit. Submissions can usually be made by fax or mail by the policy holder or the veterinary office. Occasionally insurance companies will ask for further information about the diagnosis or procedure or even request full patient records for review. Once the carrier reviews the claim, the pet/policy owner receives reimbursement for a portion of the cost of the veterinary services.

Depending on how extensive a plan you would like for your pet, you may choose to add additional coverage. For example, a cancer rider (an add on to the policy that covers for services related to a cancer diagnosis in your pet). This may be indicated if you have a breed of dog or cat that is more prone to certain types of cancers. Depending on the insurance carrier they may have many options to choose from, many levels of coverage to offer, and several coverage add-ons.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when shopping for insurance coverage for your pet:

  • Does my veterinarian recommend this provider?
  • Does the provider employ certified and trained professionals, and are the provider and person selling the policy licensed in your state?
  • How does the provider handle renewals (for instance, if your pet develops a chronic condition over the course of a year, will it be considered a pre-existing condition when the policy comes up for renewal?
  • How do the complaint and appeals processes work?
  • Is there a money-back trial period for new subscribers?
  • Are there any exclusions for pets of a particular species, breed or age?
  • Will I be able to see my own veterinarian or do I have to go within the provider's network?


  • What exactly does the policy cover? What do I expect/want it to cover?
  • Will I be able to afford the monthly premium, deductible and required co-pay?
  • Is there coverage (and how much) for chronic, hereditary or pre-existing conditions?
  • Are there policies for preventive care, and are the worth paying the additional premium?
  • Are there any types of accidents, illnesses, or other health problems that are NOT covered?
  • How are claims submitted and how long does it take to be reimbursed?
  • How is reimbursement determined? Does the policy pay up to a certain amount based on "usual and customary fees" and are these amounts in line with what my veterinarian actually charges?
  • How often does renewal occur and are any additional fees assessed annually? Is my premium "locked in" or am I subject to annual increases in premiums?
  • Is there a discount if I purchase more that one policy (eg., multiple pets)?

There are MANY companies out there providing insurance policies for pets. ALWAYS, ALWAYS do your homework. Ask your veterinarian what providers they recommend, (most vets will have pamphlets or handouts in the office for one or more companies). Talk to more than one provider before deciding on purchasing a policy. Work out your finances ahead of time to determine what you can comfortably afford. Make a list of questions you would like to ask a company representative.

That's all for now....GOOD LUCK!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Animal Control in Ohio... it can be different.

There have been many negatives in news this week regarding animal control in Ohio. This week, the persons holding the top two positions in Franklin County’s Animal Care and Control Dept. were fired, everybody’s favorite dogcatcher from up north killed a dog on its front porch with a tranquilizer for “running at large.” Things seem pretty upside-down here right now.

There is excellent news on AC&C out of Calgary.
Attacks by aggressive dogs are at the lowest level they've been in 25 years despite a steady population growth and the absence of breed-specific legislation brought in to tackle canine issues in other jurisdictions.
Ahem… anyone listening here in Ohio?
Bruce said Calgary is a leader in reducing dog attacks in Canada, noting that he often receives invitations from animal services around the world to talk about the work done here to reduce dog bites.
Franklin County, Mr. Bruce spoke when you hosted the Ohio County Dog Warden’s Convention in December… here's hoping some attendees were paying attention.
A new pet owner bylaw was brought in three years ago that included stiffer fines and a recognition that aggressive behaviour in dogs is normally traced back to irresponsible owners. Bruce said both the heavier penalties -- ranging from $350 to $1,500, to euthanizing the dog--and the philosophy of blaming bad owners rather than pets has helped reduce incidents. 
"We want to look at everything that led up to an aggressive dog attack," said Bruce. "We're hoping to find four to six common things that people do that causes dogs to bite. Our goal is not to have anyone bitten by a dog."
In case anyone isn’t understanding… they are having success, and reducing bites by focusing on aggressive dogs, and prevention… NOT how dogs look. And it is WORKING! It’s such a simple philosophy it’s brilliant.

Please take the time to read the article in its entirety. If you don’t already know, Calgary and its model for AC&C is quickly becoming THE model of how to successfully run an AC&C operation. Just to throw in… Calgary’s operation is 100% self-funded through licensing fees, that means $0.00 from tax revenues. Thank you Bill Bruce for your realistic approaches, your success, and for all the work you’re doing to help the rest of North America come into the 21st century.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


(written by Amanda Spires, who is currently without internet access)
It's the middle of February and I'm spending a few days in sunny, warm Phoenix, AZ.
It's 75 degrees and sunny every day here. Home is Columbus, OH. It was most likely well below freezing there today and snow appeared to be unavoidable.
Yuck, right? Well, I can't wait to get back to the cold--apparently it's keeping people more honest than the tan yokels.
I'm on day number 3 of a 4 day trip and am happier than you can imagine that tomorrow I get to board a plane, lose 2 hours and drop about 50 degrees.
Why would someone be so bass-ackwards you ask? It's a dog thing. I, of course, miss my three four-legged spazzes. But that's not quite it.

You see, I have been informed tonight by blood relatives that my dogs are dangerous . . . aggressive . . .not to be trusted. In a word: bad. Oh, and by the way, they have never met any of the three dogs.
Some reputation, huh? They happen to be such unfortunate creatures that they picked the wrong parents. Dummies. Furthermore, my oldest dog was so stupid that he managed to get himself chained outdoors for an unknown period of time and then shelved in a shelter for 15 months (10 of which were spent as an "invisible" dog with no out of kennel privileges or visits from volunteers). *sigh* It's 1 AM here, but sleep is impossible. I guess I like to live dangerously. The silver lining here is that there was also a blood relative on "my" side.
She's met my dogs, stayed at my house and tried to help plead my case. This was to no avail. People think a small child is vulnerable to a naughty dog?
Try a frail (though feisty) woman whose skin falls off if you look at it the wrong way. She sat on a bed changing the bandages that cover the majority of her body (a daily routine for her) while 65 pounds of unidentifiable ghetto pit bull/American Bulldog/who knows/? mutt lay calmly and patiently to get his neck scratched by the kind and patient visitor.
Thank Dog for Godmothers.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why the HSUS is horrible!

I've hesitated writing something so negative in the past about HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) because I was hopeful that they were taking some steps forward when it came to helping ALL animals, in particular all dog breeds. But a recent dog fighting case in Wilkesboro, North Carolina has changed my mind. Just today, the judge in the case ordered all 127 dogs be euthanized. From the article:

Judge Ed Wilson entered the order after hearing arguments from Wilkes County officials, from the prosecutor and from The Humane Society of the U.S. that the dogs are dangerous and would pose a risk if adopted into homes.

My emphasis added in red. This comes after another article about the same case in which
John Goodwin, the manager of animal-fighting issues for the HSUS said "...the dogs have been bred for fighting and it would very difficult and expensive to re-train the dogs, even the puppies, so that they could be adopted." Donna Reynolds over a BAD RAP has an excellent blog post in which she describes the absolute lunacy of Goodwin's statements and I encourage you all to read it yourself here.

So why is this so outrageous? After all, these are "fighting dogs" right? They are bred to kill? Well, the HSUS (and PETA) said the EXACT same thing about the Michael Vick dogs - they can't be rehabilitated, they're all killers, you can't adopt them out, blah blah blah. And what happened? Groups like Best Friends and BAD RAP begged and pleaded with the judge in the Vick case to let them have an opportunity to take the dogs. After working with the Vick dogs, many of them have been able to do exactly what HSUS and PETA said could not be done. In fact, many of the Vick dogs have surpassed any and all expectations and are living wonderful lives. They are living in homes with children, working as therapy dogs and hanging with other pit bulls, even frisbee champions. Similar events occurred in recent dog fighting cases in Oklahoma and Missouri. Brent Toellner at KC Dog Blog has one of the Oklahoma dogs now. Have the people at HSUS learned nothing from these cases???? This is reprehensible. At least with the dog fighters out there, we all KNOW their agenda - they don't care of the safety or humane treatment of their dogs. But let's look at the HSUS's "State of Principles and Beliefs" - this is from their own website, copied today:

The mission of The HSUS is to create a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We seek to forge a lasting and comprehensive change in human consciousness of and behavior toward all animals in order to prevent animal cruelty, exploitation, and neglect, and to protect wild habitats and the entire community of life.

"For all animals." For ALL animals. "to prevent animal cruelty" What about the dogs in the Wilkesboro case?? Are they not animals that deserve prevention from cruelty? Euthanizing them in this case, without any individual determination of behavior of each dog and when there are groups out there willing to help, is murder, pure and simple. These dogs are not suffering and many of them could go on to have lives every bit as grand as those of the Vick dogs. This is NOT euthanasia, it's murder.

I normally try to stay on an even keel with these issues and especially writing blog posts but I'm very angry with HSUS's action in this case. Please tell your friends about this, spread the word, the HSUS is not what most people think it is. Please give your donations to a more deserving group, not to the HSUS.

$20 off Vet Care

A veterinary health company plans to give away $20 coupons to encourage pet owners to take their animals to a veterinarian for a check up.

Bayer Animal Health will disperse the coupons from a Web site beginning Monday morning, 10TV's John Fortney reported.

Animal lovers were talking about the importance of regular veterinary care at the Franklin County Animal Shelter's Mingle With the Mutts program on Sunday."I think it's very important to get on top of flea control and heartworm prevention," said veterinary technician Jessica Murray.

Bayer plans to distribute $250,000 worth of coupons from a special Web site, www.gettothevet.com. The coupon giveaway begins at 9am They are giving out 80 vouchers per hour.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spay Day in Columbus, Ohio

We are promoting NATIONAL SPAY DAY this month, and encouraging everyone with an unaltered pet to "do the right thing," and get that animal fixed.

As you know, Measle's Animal Haven alters all our bullies before we adopt them into forever home, but we are also hoping to convince people who own unaltered pit bulls to get them fixed too. Pit Bull overpopulation is at an all time high in Franklin County.

We have partnered with Rascal Unit, which also has a special program on National Spay Day 2/24 just for people with pit bull terriers. On the 24th Dr. Gonzales at Rascal Unit will do spay or neuter surgery on pit bulls for just $20 (plus a rabies shot!).

This program is supported by Measle's Animal Haven, Colony Cats and by the Franklin County Dog Shelter. We hope that several responsible pit bull owners will take advantage of it and sign up.


Monday, February 2, 2009

More absurdity from Franklin County Ohio

Rescue groups get deal on dogs. 2/2/09 http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/02/02/dogshelter01.ART_ART_02-02-09_B1_KLCOVAV.html?sid=101

This has to be the most absurd headline and story I have seen. Does this reporter honestly think rescues are pulling dogs from this shelter and then making a profit? Does she not realize that dogs pulled from a shelter often need medical treatment, vaccinations, deworming, sterilization and microchipping? Not to mention training and socialization which can cause these dogs to remain with the rescue for months and sometimes years. Typically the adoption fee doesn't come anywhere close to covering the expenses to rescue these dogs. Rescues typically rely on fundraisers, grants and donations to cover the operating expenses - not adoption fees.

The Franklin County Commissioners should commend the dog shelter for working with reputable rescue groups. This results in lower operating costs for the shelter, lower vet care costs, fewer dogs languishing in a shelter environment, less trauma for the staff who have to kill dogs when there is no more space, and lower disposal rates to haul away the carcasses of dogs who without rescues would be dead.

Rescue groups aren't lining up at the shelter clamoring to take dogs. Dogs needing rescued are a dime a dozen and rescues have to turn dogs away every single day because there just isn't enough space or resources to help them all. Just take a peek at any Craigslist forum and you will find pet owners begging people to take their dogs

Michael Vick to release to halfway house

As this Boston Herald article states, Michael Vick could be released from prison in Kansas and sent to a halfway house in Virginia "any day".
From the article:
"A return to Virginia to serve the last six months of his term would allow Vick to begin rebuilding his damaged career from his hometown rather than from behind bars in the Midwest. Time in a halfway house might also increase the likelihood that Vick could return to the NFL in time for next season.
That depends, of course, on league commissioner Roger Goodell lifting the quarterback’s suspension, and another team taking a chance on hiring him. His old team, the Atlanta Falcons, has already said they don’t want him back. Goodell said he won’t consider lifting Vick’s suspension until the sentence is complete in July."

Obviously, this is going to be a huge story in the coming months and especially heading into this fall's NFL season. It's going to be interesting to see what Roger Goodell decides to do. The NFL has quite the track record of allowing players to resume their careers after run-ins with the law and even time in prison. I don't recall anyone resuming their career after a dog fighting charge but many players have come back from various violence charges, lots of drug charges, etc. So it's going to be difficult for Goodell to say Vick cannot return, assuming he meets his legal obligations. In NO WAY am I advocating his return, just saying it's going to be hard for the NFL to prevent Vick's return, based on precedent with other players. Then comes the issue of whether an NFL team is willing to bear the incredibly bad PR that would result from signing Vick. Of course, PETA and other animal rights groups will be there to picket. Not too mention, we're not exactly talking about a sure-fire NFL player here when he's been out of football for 2 years and was a mixed bag of success even when in the league. If my favorite team, the Cleveland Browns, signed Vick, I would no longer be a Browns fan. The only way I would change my mind on that is if Vick were to completely admit his mistakes again, apologize to the dogs (which he's never done) and most importantly, become a true advocate for the humane treatment and care of all dogs and a huge opponent of dog fighting. Perhaps he would do all of that, but I doubt it.

So, what do you think, should Michael Vick be allowed to return to the NFL and, if so, under what conditions?

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