Baggers can be choosers

All you dirty dogs out there, be on alert. Three Marylanders have developed a new way to clean pets.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Christina Ann Tarasuk, of Germantown, and Mary and Paul Tarasuk, of Derwood, have received a patent for a “disposable pet cleaning bag.”

We’ll let the abstract of the patent speak for itself: “A single use and disposable pet cleaning bag that is coated on the inside with a dry shampoo or a water-activated shampoo or pre-moistened with a wet shampoo on the inside or throughout the bag. The caretaker places the bag around the pet and massages the shampoo into the coat of the animal, allowing for a much easier method of cleaning pets while providing a safer, more relaxing experience for the animal. When the cleaning is complete, the caretaker removes the bag which contains the dirt and hair that is shed by the animal and discards the bag, eliminating the required cleanup of the bathing area.”

Though the reference is to “animal,” we don’t imagine anyone would try this on any pet other than a dog, but we wonder whether your dog would indeed find it a “more relaxing experience.”

And it does give new meaning to “the cat’s in the bag.”

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Dogs to get their day in new Mt. Vernon park

City officials and mid-town community activists are preparing to open a new dog park at Centre and Howard Streets.

Howard’s Park, a tiny sliver of green near the light rail station on Centre Street, will soon open as an off-leash island for four-footed friends of all sizes. The park will be fenced off this spring and separated into three sections, one for large dogs, one for smaller dogs and a place in between for dog owners to “gather and socialize,” according to a community newsletter from the Mt. Vernon-Belvedere Association.

Planners for the park are hoping to raise an additional $5,000 for the effort to complete construction, the newsletter said. Already, the city, the MVBA and the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy have contributed to the new park.

How much is your pet worth?

Our family cat, a Maine Coon who’s a svelte 18 pounds and 15 years old, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism this week. He’d grown a benign tumor and lost three pounds in just three months by the time we brought him to the vet. We’re hoping his condition can be controlled through medication, but our veterinarian suggested radioactive iodine treatment if it doesn’t – a big procedure that comes with a big price tag ($1,400).

We’re not alone in having an awkward debate about the price of our pet’s life. Neal Templin at the Wall Street Journal wrote about his beagle’s astronomical medical bills earlier this month, and devoted a second column to the subject after getting an overwhelming number of responses to the first.

So how much is a pet’s life worth?

We know from TDR Reporter Anne Riley’s story from Aug. 10 that when the economy’s shaky, pet owners are less likely to give their vet the green light for an expensive procedure.

Anne wrote:

According to Dr. Kim Hammond, owner of Falls Road Animal Hospital …. given the economic conditions, pet owners are thinking harder about whether to give veterinarians the go-ahead for expensive surgeries.

“When your animal is really, really sick, you’re going to make a judgment call about whether to treat, when in the past, you didn’t make a judgment call — you just treated it,” he said. “When we had more expendable dollars, we might take the chance.”

Jess Townsend, who supervises admissions at the Maryland SPCA, said the organization has seen an uptick in euthanasia requests from pet owners who cannot afford the necessary vet care their pets require. “With the larger medical problems, people do bring them in to put them to sleep,” Townsend said.

But while those owners are struggling, others are treating their pets with human-grade care, such as acupuncture.

Where would you draw the line? $500? $1,000? …more?

Does it matter if your animal is a rescue (as one man told WSJ, “I paid $110 for our family cocker spaniel from a rescue organization six years ago, and I will pay no more than $110 to keep her alive”) or a purebred?

Would the state of the economy impact your decision at all?

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor 

In a struggling economy, obese cat’s future secured

For those of you losing sleep over the future of the world’s second fattest feline, rest assured that “Prince Chunk” has found a home. The 44-pound cat, found wandering the streets of Voorhees, N.J., after his owner lost her house to a foreclosure, has been adopted by a south Jersey family.

The AP reports that some 400 would-be-caregivers made offers to adopt the healthy but “grossly obese” ball of love. My only hope is that the 399 unsuccessful petitioners now turn to their local shelters and adopt other abandoned pets — ones with no celebrity status but with just as much need for a home.

In today’s paper, I took a look at how Maryland pets are being impacted by the down-spiraling economy. While the Maryland SPCA has seen an increase in surrenders due to foreclosures, homelessness is just one of many looming troubles for the state’s furriest residents. Take a peek at the article (or view the video):

According to Kim Hammond, owner of Falls Road Animal Hospital, pet owners today think harder about whether to give veterinarians the go-ahead for expensive surgeries.
“When your animal is really, really sick, you’re going to make a judgment call about whether to treat, when in the past, you didn’t make a judgment call — you just treated it,” he said. “When we had more expendable dollars, we might take the chance.”

Likewise, more and more pets are going into the shelters — but not coming out:

Jess Townsend, who supervises admissions at the Maryland SPCA, said that the organization has seen an uptick in euthanasia requests from pet owners who cannot afford the necessary vet care their pets require.
“With the larger medical problems, people do bring them in to put them to sleep,” Townsend said.

ANNE RILEY, Business Writer

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Are you bringing your dog to work Friday?

If your workplace feels all warm and fuzzy on Friday, it may be because it is full of, well, creatures that are warm and fuzzy.

Friday is national Bring Your Dog to Work Day, an annual event sponsored by Pet Sitters International in an attempt to promote pet adoptions by proving that dogs really do make great companions.

As a die-hard “weird dog person,” it’s hard for me to see why some companies (like mine) might choose not to celebrate the holiday.  But when I step back and make myself think it over, something vague about allergies, noise and childhood fears comes into focus. Good intentions aside, perhaps this day is best implemented at smaller companies or better yet, home offices.

In Baltimore, corporate rewards company Formix Solutions and (this one’s less of a shocker) Baltimore Dog Magazine have signed on to participate, as well a number of other companies that did not allow PSI to distribute their names.

Is your company participating? (And if so, might I suggest simultaneously celebrating Bring a Daily Record Intern to Work Day so I can partake in the fur, er, fun?)

ANNE RILEY, Business Writer

Pet industry thriving despite economic downturn

ellie2.JPGAs I continue to scrimp and save after my recent graduation from college, those expensive teeth whitening strips were my first luxury to go, but my dog’s canines are as bright as ever, thanks to puppy dental products.

I’m not the only one looking out for my pooch while I go without. A new survey shows that while Americans might be willing to sacrifice a few personal luxuries to get by during times of financial hardship, we aren’t yet willing to forgo the felicity of our furry friends.

Amid a turbulent economy, pet owners across the nation (all 69 million households worth of us) continue to spoil our 73 million dogs, 90 million cats, 139 million freshwater fish, 9 million saltwater fish, 16 million birds, 18 million small animals and 11 million reptiles, says a 2005-06 survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

While other industries are suffering in this, well, dog-eat-dog economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the animal care industry will grow faster than any other field over the next eight years.

So if you’re looking to take on a second job to pay for Fluffy’s spa treatments, might I suggest a slot in the pet care industry? It’s one field that hasn’t yet gone to the dogs.

ANNE RILEY, Business Writer

Marylanders: Fear the Python

“Pythons could slither north as climate warms.”

It sounds like the basis for a horror movie, but it’s not. It’s a headline from Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications.

According to Larry O’Hanlon at Discovery News, the 20-foot, 250-pound reptiles could survive in multiple states by the year 2100 (at that point our climate may resemble their native India or Pakistan).

“The big snakes could comfortably creep through Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and southern New Jersey,” he writes.

Well, they can have southern Jersey, as far as I’m concerned.

Of course, they’ve already immigrated to the U.S. A few years ago, researchers discovered a self-sustaining population of Burmese pythons in the Florida everglades – probably the result of a pet released into the wild (Snakehead, anyone?). Since then pythons have been spotted in other regional parks and preserves.

If their mere presence isn’t frightening enough, this fact could do it: they eat alligators. ALLIGATORS. (There’s a photo in that link that is worth clicking on. Trust me).

The story concludes, “USGS researchers are also looking into the potential for similar invasions by nine species of giant constrictors, including boa constrictors and yellow anacondas, which are common in the pet snake trade.”

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor

Unexpected victims of the sub-prime mortgage mess

istock_000002498725xsmall.jpgAs owners lose their homes to foreclosure, their pets, too, are losing shelter, the Chicago Tribune reports. The newspaper found several animal shelters that have seen an increase in pets given up for adoption after the owners are forced to find new, un-pet-friendly living situations. In some cases, the animals are left to starve when the owners walk away from a foreclosed property.

The Humane Society even issued a public statement this month about the situation. “This isn’t the first time we’ve seen people abandoning their pets,” Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the Washington-based humane group, told the Trib. “But with this increase in foreclosures, we’re going to see more of it.”

Some former pets may be lucky enough to end up in the care of people like Robin Moro, a Cincinnati artist who created ForeclosureCats.org after adopting two abandoned cats last spring.

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor

Baltimore’s top dogs

crowned_lab.jpgThe Golden Retriever leap-frogged over the German Shepherd to wrestle the No. 2 spot away from the Boxer on this year’s list of the most popular dogs in Baltimore.

The American Kennel Club reports that for the 17th consecutive year, Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in the country (aww… just look at that adorable face).

“Baltimore is considered a working-class port town whose roots run deep,” says AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “So it’s no surprise that the Rottweiler—a member of the Working Group—would continue to move up Baltimore’s top 10 list.”

Here’s the top 10 registered breeds in Baltimore, compared to the rest of the country:

1. Labrador Retriever (Nationally: Labrador Retriever)

2. Golden Retriever (Nationally: Yorkshire Terrier)

3. Boxer (Nationally: German Shepherd)

4. Yorkshire Terrier (Nationally: Golden Retriever)

5. German Shepherd (Nationally: Beagle)

6. Pug (Nationally: Boxer)

7. Poodle (Nationally: Daschund)

8. Daschund (Nationally: Poodle)

9. Rottweiler (Nationally: Shih Tzu)

10. Bulldog (Nationally: Bulldog)

A Baltimore-area Border Collie, “Christopher,” will compete for Best in Show (and $50 grand) at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship on Saturday, Feb. 2. The show will air on Discovery’s Animal Planet from 8-11p.m.

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

Is there a “Buddy” waiting for you?

Here’s a warm and fuzzy story for the holiday season.

A news release from Petfinder.com, of Silver Spring, which describes itself as “the largest online database of adoptable pets,” and whose parent is media giant Discovery Communications LLC, lists the Top 10 Pet Names for cats and dogs that are waiting for adoption, collected from Petfinder.com’s more than 11,000 animal shelters and rescue group members.

No. 1 for dogs is “Buddy,” with 712 pooches so-named. And for cats in pet shelters, the most popular name is “Smokey,” with 291 felines bearing the moniker.

Here’s the complete list:

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