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Congratulations to Dianne and Brian Helson, owners of Barou-
Best in show in all breeds in 2 rings
Runner up in 1 ring and 5th in another ring
Peoples Choice and
Best temperament - you are a star!!

Barou compressed


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Found: Cat lost overboard at sea

Posted 18 March 2013 in NZ Current Affairs

The owners of a seafaring cat who was presumed drowned after falling overboard were amazed to be reunited with their pet nearly five weeks later.

Molly has spent much of her life on Ray Silver and Wendy Steedman's charter boat but lost her sea legs during an expedition last month.

Mr Silver had anchored his Motorcat about 80m out from a jetty near the navy's Kauri Point arms depot and taken a dinghy to visit a friend. But when he returned later that night, Molly was missing. Calling out frantically, some people on a nearby boat told him they had heard a splash about 20 minutes before his return.   After spending much of the night searching, he called his partner to deliver the bad news.

"I immediately thought that she had drowned. I thought she's gone underwater, the breath has been knocked out of her, she doesn't know to hold her breath, she's drowned," Ms Steedman said. "Our boat is quite high at the top, and to make a splash to be heard from another boat, she must have fallen from quite a high distance."

But on Wednesday the SPCA rang to say they had her microchipped cat.  "Of course I just burst out crying. I went straight to the person I work with and said, 'I'm going, I've found Molly, I've got to go'."

A man living about 30m from the beach near where Molly went missing had adopted her and later dropped her into the SPCA as he was moving to Australia.

"We lost her on February 4, and she wandered in to his place on February 12. He already had three cats and two dogs, so it was a blessing to us that he would accept another cat.  "And she bowled on in there like she was 6ft and bullet-proof. She just went through the cat door in the garage and started eating the food."

She said it showed how important it was to have pets microchipped.  The ginger, white and brown tortoiseshell cat was still adjusting after being brought back to their Ponsonby home on Wednesday.  "She didn't know her name, she didn't know me or the house. But she's getting back to normal now. She was a little bit aloof [on Wednesday] ... she's been used to being Shirley for about four or five weeks."

Mr Silver, who had refused to believe his "second mate" was dead, said she would soon be back on the boat - although they planned to hang towels from the side and teach her to climb back onboard in case of another mishap.  "I had a friend say to me, 'Are you going to take her back out on the boat?' I said, 'I don't think you'd keep her off it'.  "When she first came to the house, she was only here for two weeks as a kitten. She spent the next four weeks on the boat, so the boat became home."



Hamilton cat found on Waiheke Island

A Burmese cat has turned up on Waiheke Island almost 150km away from its home in Hamilton after going missing more than two months ago.   Burmese cat Squids was reunited with her owners on Saturday after surviving more than nine lives to reach the island.   he cat was found in Esslin Rd, Surfdale and brought to the Waiheke SPCA after Guy Fawkes night.

SPCA manager Lesley McDougall said the cat was in great condition and staff were determined to find her owner.   It wasn't easy without a microchip but that didn't put them off. They contacted all the Esslin Rd residents and while some admitted to feeding her, none claimed ownership.   Newspaper advertisements, the SPCA website and Facebook notices got no response.   "Normally we only keep cats for seven days before finding a new home for them but we couldn't give up and carried on looking," McDougall said. 

Meanwhile, in Hamilton, Virginia Endres and her family were missing their 12-year-old cat who disappeared on Father's Day.   "She has a history of going to sleep in neighbours' cars but had never before been missing for so long," Endres said.   The family put an advertisement for its lost cat on Trade Me which Waiheke Island resident Madeleine Rawlence saw. She had been trawling the internet looking for clues after seeing the cat on the SPCA website.   "Because of the lack of response to the Waiheke adverts I knew it couldn't be a Waiheke cat and when I saw the ad on Trade Me it fitted the age and gender.   I still couldn't believe it, though, because it's so far-fetched. I can see how she might have got to Half Moon Bay but not over the water," Rawlence said.

Endres and her daughter Alexandria were reunited with Squids at the SPCA on Saturday afternoon after a flurry of emails.   They made the trip because they were pretty sure it was Squids.   Squids was micro-chipped before the 125 kilometre return trip to Hamilton - "just in case she fancies another trip away," McDougall said.   The Endres family made a donation to the SPCA in Rawlence's name as a thank you.


Vanilla the Cat Reunited With Owners After 9 Long, Lost Years


They say cats have nine lives, and for one Siamese cat yesterday in San Francisco, after nine long, lost years, he was finally reunited with the people he shared his first life with.

Vanilla the cat went missing from his owner, Dara Gerson, nine years ago in Sausalito, California and was presumed to be lost forever. Despite Gerson's and her daughters' efforts to find him, posting signs around the neighborhood and searching for days, the cat was nowhere to be found.   "We lived in Sausalito and my older daughter was holding the cat, and somebody had a dog that scared the cat and the cat ran out of her arms," Gerson told "We put up posters and asked everyone in the neighborhood and never found him. But we never gave up hope. I'm a pretty intuitive person and assumed he was still alive."

Vanilla was indeed alive, and had somehow over the years made his way across the Golden Gate Bridge to a home in Noe Valley, about six hours away from Gerson and her family.    The cat had been living with a gentleman who was recently diagnosed with dementia. In early December, the man's caretaker contacted the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control about what to do with Vanilla. The man was being admitted to the hospital and wouldn't be returning to the house, so he wouldn't be able to keep looking after the cat.

"We don't know how he got Vanilla at all, but we took him into custody because his then owner wasn't able to take care of him," said Kristen Hall, a worker with Animal Care and Control.  "Whenever an animal comes in, we scan them for microchips. Vanilla had a microchip and it did not match up to the person he had been living with, which was the man that had been hospitalized. But it matched up to Dara, who had the same cellphone as all those years ago."

Since losing Vanilla, Gerson had moved to Topanga, Calif., but luckily had never changed her cellphone number that she registered to Vanilla's microchip. She was elated to hear Vanilla had been found all these years later.  "I just got a call. It was the best Christmas present our family got," Gerson explained. "We got a call from an officer at the animal control and asked if I was the owner of a cat named Vanilla. And I was like, 'Well, yeah, a really long time ago.' We were literally jumping around and screaming and going bananas. We were absolutely devastated when he went missing."

No one knows exactly where Vanilla has been all these years, and are unfortunately unable to ask his most recent owner for any clues.  "We can't find out what the backstory is because the gentleman just isn't available for that memory," Animal Care and Control deputy director Kat Brown said.

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Microchips failing to scan

There have been a number of microchip failures lately.  If your pet was microchipped between 2009 and 2012, pop into the clinic and get it scanned.  If not working, the microchip will be replaced and registered with the N.Z. Animal Registry at no charge


Huge dog to get hero medal after quake work

It will be a big day for a big dog.An 80 kilogram Irish wolfhound will be the first animal to be presented with a Local Hero Medal, as part of the 2012 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards.
Guinness, known as earthquake dog, will stand alongside Mayor Bob Parker, Student Volunteer Army founder Sam Johnson and other unsung Christchurch heroes to have an engraved bronze cast medal placed over his hairy head at The George Hotel on Thursday night. Owner Sean Scully, 37, who is also a medallist, said Guinness was very proud of himself and hoped the award would "increase his luck with the bitches at the dog park". "It's going to be a big night for both of us bachelors, but the biggest issue will be getting us both presentable."
Six-year-old Guinness will be groomed for the first time before the ceremony and Scully had planned to buy a dog brush this week. He had also contemplated a canine bow tie, but didn't think it was Guinness' style.

Yesterday Scully, who is a law student at Canterbury University, rang The George Hotel to warn them "one of Thursday's attendees will be a giant dog".  He promised Guinness would be on his "best behaviour – seen but not heard" during the night.

Scully and Guinness are being recognised for their work in Christchurch's shattered eastern suburbs after the February earthquake.  They worked 12-hour days for three weeks, led a Bobcat fleet and gave out hundreds of donated shovels, wheelbarrows and water bottles.  The giant dog's presence brought smiles to the faces of quake-hit residents. He even gave children rides on his back around silt-laden streets.

Guinness still "goes everywhere" with Scully.  He is often spotted padding around the university and is a well-known patron at the Carlton Country Club in Merivale.  The gentle giant's latest "party trick" is standing at the bar drinking a pint of Speight's with Scully.

Emma Mcdonald, spokeswoman for New Zealander of the Year Awards, said Guinness was the first animal to receive a Local Hero Award.  He would most likely also be the last, she added.


The cat came back - the very next spin cycle!!

Tate Willson and Possum the cat. Photo / Supplied
Tate Willson and Possum the cat. Photo / Supplied

Not many people can tell you about that awful moment when they opened the washing machine lid and realised they had washed the cat.  Adele Law from Gisborne can.  "I lifted the lid and it was the most awful sight I have ever seen."

The family's 6-month-old kitten had been through a full 55-minute wash cycle that included a rinse and two spin cycles.  She screamed to her son Tate, 7, "I just washed the cat!"  Miraculously, the kitten survived... although Tate does think she has used all her nine lives.

It was early on a school morning. Ms Law threw in half a load of washing, added the laundry soap, then had a shower.  A while later, she came back and added more clothes to the wash, closed the lid and pushed "start".  While she was showering, Possum the kitten had crawled in and curled up in the top-loader.  The family went out and came back after the load had finished. That was when Ms Law heard a "terrible" high-pitched whine.

"It was the most horrendous sound you have ever heard. I looked at the washing machine and said, 'You've got to be joking'."  Inside was Possum, who Tate said looked like "a flattened starfish" against the side of the machine, with wet fur and looking like a "half-dead skinny rat".  In shock, and faced with the "grossest" sight she had ever seen, Ms Law had temporarily closed the lid on what she thought must have been a trauma the cat could not survive.  Then she grabbed two towels and lifted a floppy Possum out of the machine and rushed the shaking kitten to the vet.

The vet's receptionist was serving another customer and Ms Law had to interrupt and say, "Look I'm sorry but I have a cat that has just been through the full wash cycle".  No one could believe the fluffy grey kitten had survived. If it had not been for the care and attention from Eastland Veterinary Services, she might not have made it, said Ms Law.

Possum was kept on a drip overnight and on an electric blanket to get her warm again.  They think what saved Possum was the cold wash and that the washing machine was a model with no agitator in the middle.  Veterinarian Will Halliday said it was certainly the first time they had seen anything like that.  "She was quite dizzy, as you can imagine, after going through a spin cycle and incredibly lucky it was not a hot wash. She was a very soggy moggy."

Possum was hypothermic and so cold that her temperature did not even register on the thermometer.  Back home in front of the family's fire yesterday, Possum did not have a care in the world.  The only noticeable change is that she has been "heaps friendlier" since the incident but will not go near the washing machine.

- The Gisborne Herald


Not enough room to swing this cat

3-year-old Santaigo Falla hanging out with one of the largest cats in New Zealand. Photo / Sarah Ivey

3-year-old Santaigo Falla hanging out with one of the largest cats in New Zealand. Photo / Sarah Ivey

It's not often a pet cat has a similar stature to a young boy sitting, but 3-year-old Santiago Falla almost met his match at the Pet and Animal Expo in Auckland at the weekend.

Barou, a 5-year-old male Maine coon cat, was barely half a head shorter than Santiago when the two sat side by side.

The encounter was just one of dozens of similar meetings at the North Shore Events Centre when pet lovers and the furry, fluffy and scaly members of the animal world came together under one roof.

The annual Pet Expo event - now into its third year - drew together families, businesses and animals as diverse as chinchillas, farm animals and terrapins. Event co-organiser Brian Peters said about 17,000 people had attended the event throughout the weekend and the expo had almost outgrown its venue.

Male Maine coon cats, which come from the US state of Maine, can grow up to 10kg.




Ni hao Kitty! Cat survives trip across the Pacific


A 3-month-old kitten appears alert after traveling from Shanghai to Los Angeles in a freight container on a boat.  The orange-and-white short-haired kitten travelled 10,460 kilometres without food or water and arrived on Wednesday, officials say. Los Angeles County animal control officers are cautiously watching his health.

The kitten was retrieved from the container at a Compton-area business where it was delivered.  Animal control director Marcia Mayeda says the kitten ate and slept well at the Carson Animal Care Center. He woke up on Thursday alert and responsive.   Mayeda says workers named him Ni Hao (NEE'-How), which means hello.

The kitten is quarantined, which is standard procedure after entering the U.S. from another country. When he recovers, gets his shots and is fixed, the shelter will look for foster and permanent homes.


Human Yawns Unleash Dog Yawns


Dogs catch yawns from their sound alone, new research indicates. They also catch their owner's yawns easier than those from others, supporting the theory that contagious yawns are empathy-based and emotional in nature, the researchers say.

"Unexpectedly, results showed an interesting interplay between contagion and social effects," Karine Silva, of the Universidade do Porto in Portugal, and colleagues write in their study detailed in the July 2012 issue of the journal Animal Cognition. "Not only were dogs found to catch human yawns, but they were also found to yawn more at familiar than unfamiliar yawns."

Previous research has linked contagious yawning to empathy (the ability to understand and interpret another's emotions) in humans. They've shown that people who perform better on empathy-related tasks also contagiously yawned more.

A social contagion

A link has also been seen in baboons — they catch yawns best from baboons they are closest with. Scientists have found similar phenomena in yawning chimpanzees. Research published in the journal Biology Letters in 2008 indicated that most dogs catch yawns from their owners as well, though other studies questioned this finding.

"Social modulation of contagious yawning, as observed in primate species (gelada baboons and chimpanzees), has been interpreted as supporting the suggestion that catching another's yawn may be an empathic response," the researchers write.   "The idea that dogs, as a domestic species living in close contact with humans, may be capable of some level of empathy toward people is not new."

Yawning dogs

In the new study, the researchers played several sounds to 29 pet dogs to see their reactions: their owner's natural yawns, a natural yawn from another human, and, as a control, these yawns played backward — which doesn't trigger contagious yawning in animals.

They played the sounds back to the dogs five times consecutively, followed by five seconds of silence. They cycled randomly through the four types of sounds in two sessions, separated by seven days. The testing was done in the pets' homes, and researchers recorded the number of times the dogs yawned. Only 40 percent of the dogs tested ended up yawning during the experiment. Eight of the dogs yawned while the human yawning sounds were being played, and one yawned during control sounds. These dog yawns came significantly more often when they were listening to their owner's yawn.

"Although not allowing for conclusive inferences about the mechanisms underlying contagious yawning in dogs, this study provides first data that renders plausible empathy-based, emotionally connected, contagious yawning in these animals," the researchers write.   "If it emerges that it is, then giving the growing range of roles being played by dogs in human society (as service and therapy dogs, for example), it could turn out a useful complementary tool for selecting the most appropriate dogs (in terms of empathic processing) for specific tasks."


Duo snatch back stolen pet -

Titan has been reunited with his owner.

Titan has been reunited with his owner. Photo / Supplied

A German shepherd pup stolen from a backyard is back with his owner after two women liberated him from the dog-napper in a daring rescue.   Titan, a 15-week-old dog, was taken from Bryant Walker's East Tamaki family home after an attempted break-in failed.

But the offender's face was caught on the Walker's CCTV cameras and was published in the Herald yesterday.

Yesterday, two women on their lunch break spotted two men trying to sell Titan for $200 outside a dairy in Dannemora. They had recognised one man from the Herald, Mr Walker said. The women asked the men if they could have a look at the dog.   "Then they threw Titan into the back of their car and sped away," Mr Walker said. The police then called the 18-year-old to tell them his dog had been found, which was met with relief.

"I'm so stoked he's back ... I met the ladies and thanked them for what they did, which was very courageous."


Pet hamster comes back from the dead


When Briton David Eyley found his beloved hamster limp and seemingly lifeless in his box, he decided to do the decent thing.   After waiting a few hours to make sure his four-year-old pet was dead, he buried him in a box down a two-foot hole in the garden.   But the next day he was startled to receive a call from a neighbour, saying she had seen the hamster scurrying around outside.

To his amazement, Mr Eyley, of Wantage, Oxfordshire, discovered that his brown and white pet had 'come back to life' - and managed to dig his way out of the makeshift grave.   The hamster, which was formerly known as Rhino, has since been renamed Jesus by Mr Eyley, his wife Wendy, daughter Bayley, aged 23, and 20-year-old twins Jake and Emma.

Mr Eyley, a 49-year-old painter and decorator, said he rushed back to his garden after the call to find a hole at the spot where he had buried his pet - and an empty box.   'I couldn't believe it. He was cold and lifeless when I buried him. When I found him in his box in the morning... I presumed he had died,' he explained.   'I left him all day to go to work and he was in the same position when I returned. I poked him a few times but he didn't move - he was dead. I put him in a plastic box and buried him in the garden and that was that, or so I thought.'

He said Rhino didn't seem to have been affected by the ordeal.   'Whether the sudden cold snap last week had made him go into some sort of hibernation mode, I don't know but it's a fact he came round again and burrowed out of the hole I dug with a spade in the garden.'

Neighbour Sandy Humphreys, who spotted the hamster running around her garden, said: 'I thought I was seeing things at first. I managed to catch it whilst it was huddled behind pots by our front door. I knew the Eyleys had a pet hamster and told them I had captured him. They told me theirs had just died but when they saw him they realised it was Rhino.   "I was amazed when they told me they had buried him and he had come back to life. We had a good laugh about it but he's back safe and sound now."

In other hamster news, another hamster was found stuck to the outside of a metal cage by its cheek - after eating a magnet from a Spider Man toy.   Shocked owner Kate Meech, 33, discovered four-month-old Smurf hanging from the bars by her mouth.   She yanked her free before spotting the outline of the circular magnet in her cheek pouch.


Kennel Cough -

Kennel cough is common and its not confined to kennels.  Most dogs catch it whilst they are out and about, but you can do something about it - click here.  Check with your vet to ensure your dog's kennel cough vaccine is up to date



Parvovirus -

Vets are worried as a deadly virus affects an unusually high number of dogs in Auckland and tough economic times mean some owners are getting their dogs put down rather than pay the estimated $1000 vet bill to treat them.

In just one week, two dogs have been hospitalised for emergency treatment at the Pet & Vet clinic in Milford and two others have been treated at home. Others in West Auckland have been put down as their owners couldn't afford the expensive treatment for the disease.   The disease, limited to dogs only, is passed on through contact with faeces and causes severe vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and fever.   Without swift treatment, those affected can die from dehydration with puppies and older dogs most at risk.

Pet & Vet's Dr Nicole Brown says parvo has been around since the 1970s, but has never been this prevalent on the North Shore.   West Auckland vets have also reported a surge in cases and two dogs have been put down as their owners could not afford the expensive treatment.   ''It is common in rural areas, places like Whakatane and even South Auckland where not as many dogs are vaccinated down there I was getting 20 dogs a week,'' Brown says.   ''Here on the Shore it is really unusual, most vets say they would see just one case a year."

Brown says the sudden spike in parvo has North Shore vets concerned it is becoming a more serious problem.   "Due to the economy being a bit tough people are saving money on the wrong end.   "We are finding the reminder notices we send out saying 'your dog is due for a vaccination' are being ignored.''   Brown says a parvo vaccination costs $30.80 and when combined with an annual health check is around $80.   ''When a dog is admitted here and is on intravenous fluids for three to four days from parvo they will get a $1000 bill,'' she says.   Treatment is much simpler in rural areas or out west where dogs often stay locked up away from other dogs, Brown says.   ''Here around Milford and Takapuna beach people are always out taking their dogs walking or to the park, so it's really risky and tricky to control,'' she says.

Parvo can be present in dog faeces for weeks and is known to live in soil for up to a year.   Sick dogs should be kept away from other dogs and taken to a vet immediately.   ''The diarrhoea and vomiting strips the gastrointestinal lining which makes treating it with antibiotics near impossible as they can't keep it down,'' Brown says. ''So we treat them with intravenous fluids and hospitalise them,'' she says.   Bleach can be used to disinfect areas such as the dog's kennel to prevent further spread.

- © Fairfax NZ News


Oscar the Bionic Cat, Two Years Later


You may remember Oscar the cat who was named the world's first bionic cat.

Following a horrific accident with a combine harvester, Oscar's feet were sliced off, but thanks to pioneering surgery his limbs were replaced by a specialist in the UK.

Now two years after his injury, he's back home with his owners.

It's hard to believe that two years have gone by since Oscar the amazing "bionic" kitty made headlines after a miracle surgery saved his life in the aftermath of a tragic farming machinery accident that took both of his hind feet.
Back in 2009, Oscar underwent a pioneering procedure to drill holes in his ankles, so that metal implants could be inserted into the bone. Tiny, prosthetic paws were then screwed into the implants, in hopes that they'd eventually allow him the ability walk again.

Metal implants have been inserted at the bone, Oscar's skin has grown round them and his prosthetic paws have been attached. And if the rubber soles wear down, he even has some replacements that his owners can simply screw in. But it came at a price- approximately £30,000.

The cost was financed mainly by the surgeon because of its pioneering nature- with Oscar now having led the way for other groundbreaking work.  Since Oscar we know of at least one man who's had an implant in a leg that he's had amputed and he says it's changed his life having this implant.

Three fishing cats born at Ohio zoo

Three fishing cats have been born at an Ohio zoo as part of a program aimed at protecting endangered species. Photo / Thinkstock

Three fishing cats have been born at an Ohio zoo as part of a program aimed at protecting endangered species.

Three fishing cats have been born at an Ohio zoo as part of a program aimed at protecting endangered species.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium says two male kittens and one female were born July 29. They are with their mother in a secluded area until they are several weeks old.

Fishing cats are found in southern Asia.  They are skilled swimmers with webbing between their toes and eat primarily fish. Adults range in weight from 7 kilograms to 16 kilograms.  The kittens, weighing less than 0.2 kilograms at birth, are the first for a pair of fishing cats that came to zoo last year as part of a species survival plan.  The zoo says water pollution, clearing of forests and over-exploitation of fish stocks threaten the species.



Sparky gets a second chance to walk

Article Tab: sparky-nonprofit-fit-whee

A young dog with weak hind legs is getting some much needed help after months of walking on two legs.

Sparky, a pit bull mix, was surrendered by his owners to a local shelter. Southern California Bulldog Rescue stepped in and agreed to care for the 1-year-old dog, which they believe was a "swimmer" puppy born with abnormally weak muscles in his hind legs.

Sparky was surrendered by his owners to a shelter where staff realized his back legs did not function. Southern California Bulldog Rescue is working with rehabilitation experts to stimulate the limbs. The nonprofit would like to fit Sparky with a wheelchair to help him get around.

"Sparky crawls around on his stomach which causes irritation on his belly and calluses and sores on his legs," said volunteer Gayle Smith with SCBR.unteers took the dog to California Animal Rehabilitation where experts determined surgery was not a good option. Instead the specialists recommended physical therapy, electric stimulation to the nerves and a wheeled cart to help him get around.

"His cart has been ordered and until it comes in, our volunteers go daily in teams of two to perform the physical therapy on him to get him prepped for the cart," Smith said.

Through it all, Sparky has maintained the sunniest of personalities, she said.

"He is an affectionate boy who just loves to rest his head against a loving lap and appreciates nothing more than a day of chasing toys around in the grass."


Are you aware of all the foods that are not suitable or may be dangerous to your pet? 

Download a list here


Dogs survive 7m jump from carpark



They say cats have nine lives but it was two dogs who cheated death when they leaped off a seven-metre high building.  Bob the border collie pup and Tyson the German shepherd rottweiler cross were waiting for their owners to finish shopping in Highbury when they plunged on to the pavement below.

They had just been for a run with owners Doug Walters and David Wright and were playing in the carpark as they waited outside Countdown on June 11. Walters waited with the dogs.

''Normally they just have a sniff around but for some reason they just ran off and bungy jumped," Tyson's owner Wright says.   ''It's mind-boggling how high they jumped from.''

They were enticed by the illusion of a grass bank below, which was in fact a ledge with overhanging shrubs.  They landed on the Highbury driveway exit and were lucky not to have been run over.

Walters, Bob's owner, is disappointed no-one got out of their cars to check if the dogs were okay.

He rushed to pick up Bob and Tyson was able to follow behind.   ''Bob was hyperventilating and making the worst sounds you'd ever heard in your life.   ''There was a three-car crash on the motorway near the bridge that had just happened and held us up half an hour.''

Tyson required two metal plates and 14 screws for a fragmented elbow fracture, and Bob's fractured leg was fixed with pins which will come out in a few weeks, specialist veterinary surgeon Michael King says.

Bob also had to have air cleared from his chest as he had punctured his lung, making it difficult to breathe.

''I think they're lucky to be alive,'' Dr King says.   ''Dogs don't usually take falls like these two dogs. I suspect they were playing together, getting excited and egging each other on.''


Dog nurses 2 ligers after tiger mum abandons them

A Chinese zoo official says two rare cubs born to a male lion and a female tiger are being nursed by a dog after they were abandoned by their mother.

Cong Wen of Xixiakou Wildlife Zoo in eastern China says four cubs called ligers were born to the lion and tiger earlier this month.

She said Tuesday the tiger mother fed the ligers for four days but then abandoned them for unknown reasons. Two died of weakness.

Cong said staff at the zoo in Shandong province found a dog who had just given birth to feed the surviving cubs.

She said the two cubs had trouble at first drinking milk from the dog but are now used to it.

Ligers are rare and are sometimes bred in zoos by mistake.


Christchurch earthquake: Pets find shelter as owners leave town

By Claire Trevett

The Canterbury SPCA has taken in more than 150 pets from people displaced by the earthquake and has promised to care for them until they can be taken back.   Manager Geoff Sutton said the SPCA had given a commitment to those owners that it would care for the pets until they were ready for them.

Some of the pets were likely to be sent to other SPCA branches - such as Timaru - because the Christchurch SPCA could not hold them all.

"We have no idea if it's going to be for days, weeks or longer."

He said it was possible some would simply abandon their pets with the SPCA, so all owners had been told to stay in touch weekly.

"This is a member of your family and we will take absolute care of it in the meantime.  But the expectation is that as a member of your family it is going to be part of your resettlement and we'll help until you manage to do that."

Scott Craigen delivered five of his six cats to the SPCA yesterday while the Herald was there.   His family was moving in with parents because their own house in Linwood was "sinking".   The cats could not go with them.    He said one cat - Trouble - was still missing "but I'm going to try and find him".   Clearly emotional, he said he did not want the cats to be put down and he was struggling with all the changes the earthquake had wrought on his life.

However, others were also bringing in "found" pets.   Lovena Fraser found "Benji" running on nearby Springs Rd.  She was keeping him at her own home with her father's dog Thomas and her three cats until the owner came for him.  A microchip could not be found, so she left her details with the SPCA.

Mr Sutton said if there were cases where the owner lost contact for a month to six weeks and the SPCA could not contact them, pets could be adopted out. However, it was sometimes difficult for people to find new homes that allowed pets, especially with rental properties where many landlords would not accept pets.

"It would be fantastic if landlords could be just a little bit softer for people who genuinely need to find new homes under these circumstances."

Mr Sutton said the SPCA was inundated with runaway dogs in the two days after the earthquake but most had since found their owners.   After that, cats began to come in "and that is going to snowball".   He said cats tended to hide away when scared and owners should not panic immediately because they could be hiding nearby.

A specialist team from Massey University and Wellington SPCA rescue crews were in Christchurch and would help with checking homes where animals could have been abandoned, including in evacuated areas.


Puppy bitten by white-tailed spider


The SPCA is asking pet owners to be on the lookout for insects after a massive ulcer inexplicably formed on a five-week-old puppy's belly, which turned out to be a white-tailed spider bite.

The Jack Russell's owners initially thought someone must have stood on the dog when its stomach started swelling, causing it so much pain it could not walk.

They took it to the SPCA's hospital in Auckland because they could not afford to pay for vet fees.

A vet could find no internal damage nor visual marks but the puppy continued to deteriorate and it was not until an area of the stomach became reddened and it started to form an ulcer that the cause became apparent. Within hours a pus-engorged ulcer had grown to cover most of the terrier's stomach.

SPCA Auckland senior vet Peter McQueen said the wound was consistent with a white-tailed spider bite on a human and it responded to the treatment accordingly.

SPCA marketing manager Martin McKenzie said the puppy, which staff named Willie, was on the way to recovery and enjoying playing with his new foster parents' other dog.

"Swelling has reduced and the ulcer starting to react to the antibiotic treatment.

Willie needed a catheter for a while and a lot of fluid had to be drained from the ulcer, and unfortunately he will still require some reconstructive surgery to repair skin damage from the wound.

"But I'm pleased to say we should see a happy little puppy back to normal health shortly."

While spider bites are not a common problem in New Zealand, the SPCA encouraged pet owners to be aware of possibilities and to shake out their dogs' blankets and clean their baskets regularly.


Bell collars could save native birds


If domestic cats wore bell collars in urban areas the numbers of native birds caught and killed could be reduced by as much as half, a new University of Otago study shows.

Dr Yolanda van Heezik and Dr Christoph Matthaei from the Department of Zoology - with Zoology Honours student Jo Gordon - studied cats known by their owners to be prolific hunters.

They asked owners of 37 Dunedin cats to record the number of prey caught and brought back home during a six-week period while wearing a belled collar, and during another six week period without a belled collar.

"We found that cats caught fewer birds while wearing the belled collar," Dr van Heezik said.  "This study shows it is worthwhile for domestic cats to wear bells and would go some way towards reducing the huge numbers of native birds cats catch. It won't eliminate the problem completely, but it's a start."

Previous studies have shown that domestic cats kill tens of thousands of native birds each year in New Zealand.

"People might consider cats as a nuisance because they dig in their gardens, or they may be concerned about cats roaming for welfare issues, but people hardly ever think about the impacts cats are having on our native birds.

"Most cats don't catch a lot of prey and they may bring back perhaps only one bellbird a year. But if you consider the large number of domestic cats in towns and cities, then the cumulative impact is likely to be huge," Dr van Heezik said.

In New Zealand urban environments, there are on average 220 domestic cats per square kilometre, and each cat has an average travelling range of about 2.2ha.   In total during the six-week study, the cats not wearing the collar caught 378 animals, including 82 birds. When the cats wore bells, they caught only 41 birds by comparison.

This study has been published in the Australian journal Wildlife Research.   New Zealand Bird Rescue Charitable Trust wildlife rehabilitator Lyn MacDonald said the research's findings were "interesting".    "People find [bell collars] don't work a lot of the time," she said. "The little bells don't tinkle. An open-type cow bell does work a lot better."    "It is less likely for a cat to catch a bird with a bell."

Ms MacDonald said Bird Rescue do have a lot of birds come in who have been caught by cats, but often the birds are already injured or sick.   There were other ways to ensure domestic cats do not catch birds, she said, such as collars which emit a sonic warning to birds which are more effective than conventional bell collars.

"You can teach cats not to catch birds, but it is not easy. Some cats you cannot teach," she said.   "The best thing people can do is keep their cats in at night. That's when they catch the most birds.


Boo Boo meets big friendly Giant George

Little Boo Boo could have easily become a midday snack for Giant George - but instead she became his best friend.

Boo Boo, the world's smallest living dog, and George, the tallest, met this week for the first time in New York City.

Giant George, who weighs 245 pounds and measures 7 ft 3 from snout to tail, needed a whole row of first class seats for his journey from Arizona, AOL news reported.

"George eats 110 pounds of food a month," his human companion, David Nasser said.  "And he'd eat a whole lot more if we let him."

Minature Boo Boo, meanwhile, eats her dinner from a teaspoon.  The tiny pup is a 4-inch-high long-haired Chihuahua who holds the Guinness World Record as the world's smallest living dog.

Boo Boo and Giant George were in New York's Central park to launch the 2011 edition of the Guinness World Records book.   Their owners were a little nervous at the meeting, but after a few sniffs, some wags and an indiscreet lick, it was clear they were going to be fast friends.

"Boo isn't generally afraid of other dogs, even this big one," Boo Boo's owner Lana Elswick said.  "It's cats, really, that put her on edge."





The seeing eye cat



Cashew, a 14-year-old yellow Lab, is blind and deaf. Her best friend is Libby, 7 years old, her seeing eye cat.

Libby steers Cashew away from obstacles and leads her to her food. Every night she sleeps next to her. The only time they're apart is when the owners take Cashew out for a walk.

Without this cat, Cashew would be lost and very, very lonely indeed. It's amazing but true: This is one animal who knows what needs to be done and does it day in and day out for her friend.





Organic chicken risotto and bolognese are popular dishes at Chew Chew restaurant, and patrons can't get enough of the frothed goats milk cappuccino sprinkled with dried liver treats.

Chew Chew, in Wollstonecraft on Sydney's lower north shore, specialises in organic pet food for cats and dogs.

It's run by pet nutritionist Naoko Okamoto, who also offers a home delivery service for pampered pets.

Okamoto says food is the most important element of a pet's health.

She tells the story of Cuba, whose owner was informed he had bone cancer and would only live until the end of the year unless his leg was amputated.

Cuba started eating her organic fare and is still alive today - and in possession of all four legs, Okamoto says.

"Food makes cells and cells make up the body" she says.

"It cannot cure cancer but it definitely helps a lot."

Okamoto opened Chew Chew, which she says is Sydney's first pet restaurant, in June.

She launched it three and a half years after starting a small business selling small organic treats at markets to "introduce Japanese healthy foods for pets".

"I started with organic dog biscuits and supplements and selling them at the markets ... and spent three years finding out the customer's needs," she says.

Chew Chew now has a broad menu where pet owners can order dishes including chicken mince with coleslaw salad and beef steak with mushrooms, as well as the ever-popular doggie-cinos.

The pet's "humans" can spend their time enjoying coffee next door and chatting to other pet owners while the animals tuck into their meals.



'Debarking' Ban Gives Pets A Voice In Law

ontroversial surgery to remove the vocal chords of dogs and cats - preventing them barking and meowing - has been banned for the first time in the US.

Under the new law now in force in Massachusetts, anyone caught devocalising an animal for non-medical reasons faces up to five years in jail.

The silencing surgery - known as 'debarking' when performed on dogs - is usually done by commercial breeders for their own convenience, according to the Animal Law Coalition.

Supporters of the ban say it is a cruel and unnecessary practice and believe it is more important for people to understand the reasons behind their pets making noise.

Brian Adams, spokesman for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), said: "To take the voice of an animal would be the equivalent of taking a person's ability to communicate."

Opponents have claimed more pets will be surrendered to shelters or abandoned as a result of the ban, but Mr Adams said the MSPCA is not expecting an influx of animals.

He has said no dogs or cats were handed over to the organisation on the grounds of being too noisy in 2009.

Dubbed Logan's Law after a dog that had the controversial surgery but was later abandoned anyway, the measure has been signed by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.

California is considering a law that would make it illegal for landlords to require devocalisation of dogs and declawing of cats as a condition of tenancy.


Trying year for Auckland Zoo vets


From keas suffering bone marrow collapse to lizards needing experimental dental surgery, Auckland zoo vets have had a busy year.

The latest annual report from the zoo, released yesterday,  has shown its vets treated 588 cases of animal distress - broken bones to parasites and stress-related disorders, this year.

While Kashin the elephant's euthanasia on August 24 was the most headline grabbing - and created a record-setting memorial day with 18,600 visitors  - the zoo saw a total of 151 births, 55 new arrivals from elsewhere, and 118 deaths.

And it coped with an annual total of 653,524 total visitors.

Amongst the notable new arrivals was the birth of healthy giraffe calf Jelani (meaning Mighty in Swahili) in early March.

The kiwi breeding program also continued to inspire hope for our struggling national bird, with March 1 marking the 200th brown kiwi chick hatched through the BNZ Operation Nest Egg program.

The year gone by also sparked optimism for another of our nation's beleaguered birds, an endangered New Zealand dotterel will soon to be on display for the first time in six years once it heals from a wing injury.

The situation was bleaker for the zoo's golden cat population. With father Kuching being put down due to cancer and his recently born kittens dying due to unknown causes, mother Singha is likely to be shipped off to Europe as New Zealand gives up on the species' breeding programme.

Paukena, an unfortunate male kea, had a terrible reaction to a de-worming drug that caused a complete collapse of his bone marrow cells, destroying his immune system.

After being on a drip for several days Paukena seemed to recover from the disorder but a series of relapses eventually saw the poor kea die in June.

In between the notable births and demises, everyday life at the zoo continued in its often weirdly exotic way.

The orangutan population at the zoo this year managed to extend their infamous charms by developing a communal case of diarrhoea that left zoo clinicians baffled as to the source. The messy outbreak needed to be treated with a hospital-only drug imported from Sydney.

Not to be outdone, Nyack the porcupine developed his own set of perplexing symptoms including a sudden head tilt, lack of appetite, and abnormal rapid eye movement for a 12-hour period.

A CT scan of the befuddled rodent showed he had developed an inner ear abscess, the draining of which returned the porcupine "virtually" back to normal.

A tiny short-tailed bat put veterinary specialists to the test when she presented with a series of inflammatory eye problems. The ailment was fairly unremarkable but the eye itself, measuring just 1mm in diameter, proved something of a hurdle.

The local bearded dragons copped the reptiles' share of clinical misadventure.

Patterson had a problematic hip joint successfully removed through treatment usually for cats rather than lizards, leaving his leg solely supported by surrounding muscles. He walked away with nothing more severe than a slight limp.

Buddy, another bearded dragon, finally found relief from a lingering 30-month jaw infection in an experimental dental procedure typically reserved for humans. With his jaw drilled into and the infection drained Buddy had the bone filled with calcium hydroxide.

 Both dragons have made good progress in recent months.


Vets warn of fat pets risk-

The Dominion Post


SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: Bert the fox terrier tipped the scales at 32kg before being put on a weight-loss programme.

Owners of pets risk killing them with kindness as a human obesity and diabetes epidemic is being mirrored among animals, vets say.  The number of cats and dogs diagnosed with diabetes had risen by 20 per cent in the past decade, with up to 10 new cases at his clinic this year.In serious cases, diabetic dogs and cats would require regular insulin injections, just like humans.

Although more animals were being diagnosed, and environmental and hereditary factors played a role, many of the cases were the result of obesity. "Middle age to older dogs and cats that are obese are at higher risk. Right now we're treating nine dogs and seven cats for diabetes.

"People let their dogs and cats carry more weight than they should. Dogs are around when a family is eating and they can't resist giving them food.   A lot of owners think they are just cuddly. It's not just diabetes, the weight affects their joints, movement and quality of life.   Just like people, the best way for animals to lose weight is more exercise and less food. Owners should work out a diet plan with their vets.   Though treatment for diabetes would normally save the animals, all dogs and many cats would have to have insulin for the rest of their lives.

Diabetic animals were not necessarily over-weight and the increase in reported diabetes could be the result of more pets being taken for check-ups. "If an animal is morbidly obese, diabetes is a risk but often we see pets that aren't obese. Obesity is a factor but it's not a huge factor."


Hamilton Zoo's newest arrivals are "a doddery old couple" who've been together for years, and have moved to the Waikato for their retirement.

The zoo this week welcomed siamang gibbons Iuri, a 30-year-old female, and 25-year-old male Itam, a retired breeding couple who had been residents at Auckland Zoo since the 1980s.

The siamangs, who mate for life, arrived at Hamilton Zoo on Wednesday, and have been settling in to an enclosure near the rowdy lemurs.

Iuri and Itam engaged in a noisy "song duet" when the Times visited yesterday. Auckland Zoo primate keeper Michelle Mudford said the "regular ritual" was a sign the pair were growing more comfortable in their new home.

Miss Mudford said although Iuri and Itam have been used to Auckland's warmer climate, they would soon become acclimatised to Hamilton's chilly winter mornings. "They're pretty good at cuddling together to keep warm. It always becomes normal for these guys, whatever situation they're in."

Miss Mudford, who worked with the siamangs for several years, said they were "a doddery old couple, like you see walking down the road", who stuck close together and often showed their affection with a bit of canoodling. "They've been together about 23 years now, and are hard to separate. They are pretty active, and still play, but just not as often as younger ones would."

Iuri, who had a slightly nervous personality, was "a high-maintenance animal" who startled easily, but Itam was more laid-back and had a mellow disposition.

Miss Mudford was pleased with the ease of their introduction to Hamilton Zoo. "It's all gone a lot better than expected, and they've settled in really well. They're pretty people-friendly, and they've got a nice little corner of the zoo all to themselves."


Four-legged volunteers are desperately needed to comfort residents and patients in North Shore hospitals and resthomes.

Outreach Therapy Pets is looking for well-trained pets and their owners for the programme run by St John and SPCA Auckland.

Therapy pets manager Jo Hurford says research shows interaction with animals has health benefits.

"They can have a therapeutic, calming effect which reduces the stress and fears associated with illness or age."

Animals are also non-judgemental and provide unconditional love and friendship, she says.

Call St John toll-free on 0800-780-780, go to or email en

From the pages of Cat Watch -

Bad Breath: A Sign of Illness?

Is there a problem?

Bad breath resembling that in humans might mean periodontal disease. Other signs are red, swollen gums.

A sweet, fruity scent might mean diabetes. Other signs are excessive thirst and urination and losing weight.

A urine- or ammonia- like smell could indicate kidney disease. Other signs include excessive thirst and urination and loss of appetite.

Foul odor associated with vomiting could be a liver disorder. Other signs include loss of appetite, swollen abdomen, yellowing of the eyes or gums.

Stray cat turns out to be vet's own missing cat

The owners of a Napier veterinary clinic were shocked when a stray cat handed in turned out to be their own -- four years after he had gone missing.

Ten-year-old brown tabby Bailey, the first cat to be microchipped at Napier's Carlyle Veterinary Clinic, was reunited with his owners, practice boss Phillippa Lintott and her vet husband Michael last week.

Bailey, who had run away after moving house, was collected by the SPCA last Saturday and handed in to the vet clinic.

The Lintotts say they wouldn't have realised it was their own long-lost cat without his chip number.  "It sounds horrible, but we wouldn't have recognised him otherwise,' Mrs Lintott told Hawkes Bay Today newspaper.  "But that's because it's been so long and he's a shadow of his former self."

It was the longest period they had heard of a pet being lost during their time in the veterinary industry.

Mrs Lintott said they would confine him to the house for a few weeks to familiarise him.

"He's a much older cat now, so we're hoping this time he will want to stay around."


Life-saving dogs get their rewards

Staffordshire bull terriers Amba and Bugsy have been jointly named Life Saving Dog of the Year for rescuing an injured, freezing woman near Upper Hutt.

Birchville resident Linda Fowler and her hairy heroes were flown to Christchurch to pick up the award on Friday at the New Zealand Kennel Club's national dog show.

The dogs saved the life of a woman who had spent a night lying semi-conscious on rocks after she slipped and fell below the Bridge Rd reservoir, north of Upper Hutt, in March.

"I went past the dam on my usual morning run and kept going but the dogs wouldn't follow me," Miss Fowler said. "They just sat next to the lady and started barking." The injured woman was drenched in spray from the dam, yellow with hypothermia, bleeding from a head wound and babbling incoherently.

Miss Fowler estimates that she has told her dogs' tale 200 times in the past six months."You tell the story so often and every time you tell it people go, 'Wow.'"I always get surprised by their reaction."It just doesn't sink in that it is such an honour to save someone's life - and knowing that your dogs did all the work is amazing."

Miss Fowler's prize was a sash, while the dogs got a year's supply of biscuits.

"I was absolutely rapt. It has saved me loads of money. I won't have to send them out to work now," she joked.

Borou, a maine coon blue tabby weighing 9kg, was the biggest cat on display at the Hamilton Cat Show. He was shown by his owner Diane Helson, who is a client of Forrest Hill Vet Clinic.  Barou.jpg

 Key tags -

Forrest Hill Vet Clinic and Bayer are happy to provide you with a personalised keytag.   Next time you visit our clinic ask for your personalised keytag.   Slip it onto your keyring and present it at each visit.   It is linked to your customer file and will aid in quickly and efficiently finding the correct client record, no need to search through the names on our database.   In the future we will be adding benefits and bonus points on certain products


Pets have got it covered

By Alice Hudson
Princess Daisy stands patiently as surgery nurses tend her. Photo / Janna Dixon

Princess Daisy stands patiently as surgery nurses tend her. Photo / Janna Dixon

If your pooch breaks a paw or swallows a tennis ball, the vet bill could leave you choking - and what if your cat gets cancer?

Big advances in medical science mean owners can go the extra mile for their beloved pets, but treatment carries a high price.

Try swallowing $2500 for a doggie MRI scan, $4000 for reconstructive knee surgery or up to $6000 for a course of chemotherapy.

They're some of the treatments available at Auckland's Veterinary Specialist Group where a small but growing number of clients are taking out pet insurance to cover their bills.

Treatment prices are comparable overseas, so it's not surprising pet insurance is one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide.

In Britain it's sold in supermarkets and more than a quarter of cats and dogs have their own policies.

The estimated number is much lower in New Zealand - about 1 per cent - where a handful of companies offer pet cover.

But that could change with a new player promising to "revolutionise" the market. Medipet is set to launch within a month and claims to be New Zealand's first fully-fledged, pet-only registered insurance company.

Group marketing director Matt Young and managing director Peter Restall were last week tight-lipped on the exact costs and the contents of their policies.

But they confirmed annual premiums would be in line with plans offered by existing insurers, which cost between $78 and $429 for cats and $156 to $513 for dogs according to a survey by Consumer Magazine last year. Despite being advised by others in the insurance industry that Kiwis had a "farming mentality" to animals, Young believed the New Zealand public was ready for pet insurance.

"People now give a damn about their pets," Young said. "They have become members of the family."

He said many owners didn't realise the cost of animal medicine. "Blood tests are free for us, but for pets they are $300." While not covering the full cost of every eventuality, Medipet would help cover everything from acupuncture to MRIs.

"If kitty gets run over, it could cost you $2000," said Young. "If your dog swallows something, it's going to be at least $1000, maybe more.

"With cancer, you can spend $5000 in the blink of an eye."

Auckland SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge said the organisation not only endorsed the idea of pet insurance, but offered its own policy.

For $324 a year for dogs, or $251 for cats, the SPCA Pet Protection Plan offers $4000 of cover, including help with the cost of microchipping, desexing, vaccinations, registration, vets bills and emergency housing. There was also a programme which ensured an animal would be taken care of if its owner died.

 Learn how to clip your pet's nails Read more





Important reasons to spey or neuter your pet.......Read more


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