Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beware of Exotic Animals In Your Neighborhood

Do you live in close proximity to tigers, lions, alligators, grizzly bears, chimpanzees, or other potentially dangerous wildlife? Well according to a report by, Susan Williams, a citizen residential Okeechobee, FL, had no idea that she had such animals living right next door, until she called Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission amid neighborhood rumors that her neighbor had a tiger, a grizzly bear, and four other species of bear, living on his property - all confirmed to be true, with all obtained legally by permit for each animal. Per the report, the FFWCC maintains that most of Florida's most dangerous animals do not reside in zoos or sanctuaries, but in people's private homes.

Think that this is only a kooky Florida problem? Guess again. The tendency for people owning exotic animals in residential areas posing significant risk to citizens was clearly evident in Connecticut, when someones pet chimp brutally attacked a 55 year old woman, according to the report.

Unfortunately, without major legislative changes to existing law in most states, not much can be done to change this situation. With over 400 Class I and Class II exotic animals permits among private individuals in Florida alone, achieving such legislature could be a big challenge.

Some lawmakers seek a compromise where the private owners of exotic animals would be required to notify the local authorities of the types of animals on their property, who would in turn notify surrounding neighbors. Opponents of this, however, feel that such notification could put people at additional risk, as it may encourage thrill seekers and kids to scale fences to get in close proximity to these dangerous animals. Still others propose that legal property size limits for Class II exotic animals be set at a 5 acre minimum.

However this turns out, this certainly gives us good reason to instill in our children that they should not, and may not trespass on private property, for if they do, who knows what they may run into??

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Its Just A Dog

I was sent this moving essay by e-mail from a staff member of my clinic. I was so touched by it, that I felt compelled to share it with my readers:

It's Just A Dog

From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog," or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog".

They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog". Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog". Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog", but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog", and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog", then you will probably understand phrases like "just a friend", "just a sunrise", or "just a promise". "Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. "Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. "Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a man". So, the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog", just smile, because they "just don't understand".

by Richard Biby, Contributing Editor
Versatile Hunting Dog Magazine, February 2006

Monday, March 2, 2009

Portuguese Water Dog: The Next First Dog??

As reported on the basis of inside accounts by all the major cable news networks, the Obama's tentative pick for a White House puppy is going to be a Portuguese Water Dog. This may seem like a good choice for the Obamas, given the allergies the girls suffer from (PWDs do not shed and are considered to be hypoallergenic), the fact that PWDs are generally very friendly and personable, and certainly are attractive looking dogs, especially as puppies. However, although I have been an unwavering supporter of President Obama, I must be honest that I disagree with his choice of dog for the first family.

To begin with, President Obama has been candid about his preference to set a good example by rescuing a dog. While there may well be some PWDs out there for rescue, being a fairly non-mainstream breed makes them very hard to come by. One would be hard pressed to find a PWD in a shelter for certain. While I am certain the President has much greater resources at his disposal to mount a search for a PWD needing rescue than would the rest of us, I still think there is a fair chance that he may find himself having to ultimately purchase one, a breed that tends to be very expensive. To be sure, the President can likely afford an expensive dog, but to buy one would seem irresponsible of our leader given the enormity of dogs in need of good homes. If rescue is the President's goal, alternative breeds that share similar traits to PWDs, including the tendency to be hypoallergenic, that many indeed are frequently in need of rescue, are Standard Poodles and Labradoodles (Labrador Retriever/Standard Poodle cross breed).

Another reason President Obama should reconsider his choice of PWD is the fact that they are rabid water dogs! While Standard Poodles and Labradoodles certainly have an affinity for the water, they do just fine with lifestyles that do not include regular access to swimming. PWDs, on the other hand, seem to NEED frequent access to swimming, sometimes making the lives of the their family quite difficult without it. Not being able to regularly fulfill their natural passion for swimming and the intense exertion of energy associated with it, some PWDs can become rather destructive, excessively hyper, and frequently vocalizing dogs. I am not certain about this, but I am not aware of the White House having any sort of pool, lake, or river that the first dog could frequent, so for now, I assume there is none. To my readers, feel free to correct me if I am wrong about this.

These are indeed quite valid reasons the first family really should reconsider their choice of Portuguese Water Dog for their first pet. While in the correct environment, PWDs make lovely, gentle, and fun family pets, I think Standard Poodle or Labradoodle in genuine need of rescue would be a much better choice.

In the off chance you happen to be one of my readers, Mr. President, I would be happy to direct you toward some excellent and reputable Standard Poodle and Labradoodle rescue groups, so feel free to e-mail or call me.