January Is Month Of ‘Unwanted’ Pets

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January is renowned for being the month where people return their unwanted Christmas gifts, and there seems to be no exceptions for pets. According to new research by Confused.com more than one in ten (11%) people who have received a pet as a Christmas present have given it away.

Despite many people opting for modern gifts like tablets and smartphones, it seems pets are also a popular choice of present. In fact, the findings from the leading price comparison site reveal that more than a quarter (27%) of Brits have given a pet as a present. And many people appear to be ignoring the age old adage that a pet isn’t just for Christmas, with the research estimating more than three million Brits2 admitting to having bought someone a pet as a festive gift.

And it would seem that many celebrities are setting the trend for giving animals as gifts. In the earlier days of their relationship, instead of giving Kim Kardashian some flowers or a bit of bling, singer Kayne West decided to give her a white Persian kitten as a surprise gift. However, as TOWIE star James ‘Arg’ Argent found out, giving a pet as a present does not always end well.  After receiving a micro pig from ‘Arg’, partner Lydia Bright described it as the ‘worst ever Christmas present’ and in the end she had to give it away4.

A present is supposed to be something that the recipient appreciates, but as these celebrities have shown this isn’t the always the case when it comes to receiving a pet as a gift. In fact, of those people who have received a pet as a present, almost one in six (16%) weren’t happy with their gift. And more than one in 10 (11%) people were shocked at receiving a furry friend as a surprise present.

Perhaps then it’s not surprising to learn that many people who have been given a pet as a present can’t cope with the reality of owning an animal. Unfortunately, one in 14 (7%)5 people who have received a pet as a present have had to give it up as they were too much hard work. A further one in 20 (6%) gave up their pets as they didn’t have enough time to look after them.

It’s no secret that owning a pet takes a lot of time and commitment, so giving a pet as a surprise gift might not be the best thing to do. In fact, nearly one in 20 (4%) people who gave a pet as a present admitted they would never do it again.

Despite some people showing remorse at giving pets as presents, people are still doing it. In fact, the most popular pets given as presents are:

1.)   Dogs – 31%
2.)   Cat – 22%
3.)   Fish – 14%
4.)   Hamster – 10%
5.)   Rabbit – 6%

However, its worrying to know that of those people who have given a pet as a present, one in 10 (10%) didn’t do any research before making such a significant purchase. In fact, more than one in 20 (6%) people who have bought a pet as a present bought it as a last minute gift because they ran out of time. Yet, with people forking out on average £193 for these presents, you’d think Brits would have put a bit time and effort into choosing the right gift.

When it comes to giving animals as gifts, people may have good intentions, but fail to realise the consequences of their actions. Nearly a quarter (23%) of people who received a pet as a present has had problems with their animal, including the pet being ill on numerous occasions (30%).

The problems also extend to the financial outlay. A pet is a gift that keeps on giving in terms of love and affection. But it’s also one that goes on costing throughout its life. Since being given a pet as a present, people have forked out an average of £1,101 to look after them in terms of food, pet accessories not including any medical care/ veterinary bills. Interestingly, nearly one in five (18%) have spent over £2,000.

As the research shows owning a pet can be expensive, however it’s worrying to know that nearly half (48%) of people who have received as pet as a present aren’t protecting themselves against further costs, as they don’t have pet insurance.

Alex Webb, head of pet insurance at Confused.com says “It’s worrying to see how many unwanted pets there are in January, and how many pets have been given away after receiving them as a Christmas gift. However, this might not come as a surprise, when almost one in six (16%) people who received a pet as a gift weren’t happy with it.

“Pets aren’t a gift that can be given and forgotten about quickly.  Having a pet requires long term commitment and careful consideration should always be taken when buying a pet, whether the pet is for yourself or a gift for someone else.  With this in mind it’s shocking to see that over 10% of people who bought a pet as a present did so as a last minute purchase or as an impulse purchase.”

“As a nation we seem to have a love for animals and our pets become valued and much loved family members, however they are a big responsibility. Therefore we recommend that people are allowed to make their own choice on whether they want to own a pet. We understand that people want to give a unique gift that no one else would, but we urge people to think of the consequences of buying someone a pet as a present, for both the recipient and the pet itself.”

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Naughty Dogs Help Owners Win A Trip To New York

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Feeling lucky: Paul Robinson & his dogs who inadvertently bagged him and his wife a holiday to the Big Apple
Most pet owners berate their animals for causing damage to their furniture, but Paul and Suzanne Robinson are thanking their beloved dogs after a restoration project to repair their scratched sofa bagged them a trip to the Big Apple.

Paul and Suzanne Robinson entered the Furniture Clinic competition to win a trip to New York. The competition asked entrants to use the company’s repair products to fix up an item of furniture before uploading before and after images to the Furniture Clinic’s website.

After removing dog scratches from their cream leather sofa and two chairs so they looked like new, Paul and Suzanne, from Leicester, are now looking forward to their Stateside holiday.

Paul 53, a children’s publishing company network manager, explained: “We have three sighthounds. Ollie is about 11 and is a Saluki Lurcher who we rehomed from East Midlands Dog Rescue. Suzanne used to volunteer there and take the dogs out for walks. Ollie loved his walk with our dogs so much, we decided to keep him.

“Woody is a 10-year-old greyhound who was born in rescue and we re-homed when he was eight weeks old and Dylan is the youngster; a five-year-old Whippet who we’ve had since he was a puppy.

“We’re thrilled that they’ve inadvertently won us a trip to New York. The dogs had worn and scratched the seat cushion areas of the sofa, usually when they made a quick exit from the sofa at meal times. They’re all couch potatoes who love nothing more than relaxing on the sofa after a long walk or run.”

Paul continued: “Suzanne was convinced it was going to be a waste of time and money trying to repair the sofa, but she’s very happy to have been proved wrong. The transformation by simply following Furniture Clinic’s video tutorials after taking advantage of their colour-matching service is excellent.”

While Paul has been to New York previously for a work trip, Suzanne hasn’t yet been there. The pair will be seeing the Statue of Liberty, taking in the views from the Empire State building, paying their respects at the 9/11 memorial and visiting Central Park, even though they admit they feel slightly guilty they won’t be able to take their three pets for a walk there!

Ben Staerck, Furniture Clinic MD said: “We always love seeing our customer stories and photos. The work they carry out on their leather sofas, classic car seats and convertible roofs always looks amazing so we decided to offer a prize to give something back for their incredible feedback.”

Paul sent a leather sample to Furniture Clinic to get the right shade of colourant before working with the firm’s specialist products including its cleaner, filler, and protection cream to get his finished results. For more information, visit: Furniture Clinic.

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Launch Of UK’s First ‘Petnology’ Centre

Fetch.co.uk, the online pet store has opened its ‘Petnology Centre’ today, dedicated to developing the future of technology for pets. The centre’s purpose is to help pet owners care for their pets and build a better understanding of their needs through inventions using cutting-edge technology. Watch their video to find out more:

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Britain’s Most Eco-Conscious Dog? 

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Paris, a nine-and-a-half-year-old boxer from Bodmin, Cornwall, has an unusual habit: she likes to collect rubbish on her walks and put it in the bin.Fran Hodges, 51, from Bodmin in Cornwall, has dubbed her pet pooch Paris as a “one-dog recycling machine” after she began collecting plastic bottles and pieces of litter while out on walks.

After collecting the discarded items Boxer Paris would take what she had collected back to her home, and put them straight in the correct recycling box.

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Adoption of Four Cats Spells End of An Era 

End of an era – four feisty feral cats become last working animals from a UK coal mine

The last working animals from a British coal mine – four feral cats – have been rehomed by Cats Protection following the closure of the Kellingley Colliery, the UK’s last deep coal pit.

Florence, Betty, Leia and Solo had been kept at the colliery in Beal, Yorkshire, where they carried out essential vermin control duties in exchange for bed and board.

When the pit closed for the final time last month, concerned miners contacted Cats Protection’s York Adoption Centre to ask for help in finding them a new home.

And now one month on from the pit closure, all four are settling into their new homes – and jobs –  after being moved in pairs to nearby farms.

Their relocation marks the end of a long history of working animals in an industry which also called on the services of pit ponies and canary birds. Cats were originally drafted in to mines to keep pony stables clear of mice and rats.

Florence and Betty – named after miners’ wives Florence Anderson and Betty Cook, who took a prominent role in the 1984 strikes – were rehomed to Karen Scholey at her family’s farm near Green Hammerton, Yorkshire.

And Leia and Solo have now settled in to their new home at Amanda Beal’s livery farm in Beverley, Yorkshire.

Cats Protection’s York Adoption Centre Manager James Hodgkison said the charity received a call in December from a former miner who was concerned about the future of the colliery cats.

He said: “Feral cats are those which never received sufficient human contact as kittens and as such are not tame. While they are not domesticated, they are highly valued by farmers, smallholders or industrial settings like collieries as they provide an excellent rodent control service.

“The four cats at the Kellingley Colliery were very much valued by workers for keeping rodents in check. They had been well cared for by the miners who had provided food, water and shelter, and they were in great condition.”

James added that after receiving the call, Cats Protection had used humane traps to capture the cats before finding them new homes in rural settings.

He said: “We can’t tell exactly how old they all are, but they had lived for a few years at the pit. We have no doubt they will continue to work their socks off in their new homes, and we’re just pleased we were able to help.”

Karen Scholey, new owner of Florence and Betty, said: “We’ve had feral cats on our farm for years as they are the best form of pest control you can get and we were on the lookout for a couple more when we heard about the colliery cats.

“It is a true privilege for us to give them a home as they represent so much about the important mining history in the area. It was a very sad day for Yorkshire when the pit closed, and I’m just happy we’ve been able to at least help these two cats.

“It was only fitting they were given names to represent their background, so we decided to name them after two of the strongest women involved in the miners strikes in the 1980s.”

Amanda Beal, who named the two cats she adopted Leia and Solo, said both are settling in well.

She said: “Solo is most definitely very feral and we don’t see much of her – she’s busy keeping the mice under control. But Leia very quickly decided that she likes some creature comforts and moved into the house. She is very nervous but enjoys human company so she must have been well looked after during her time at the pit.”

Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity, helping over 205,000 cats every year through a network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 32 centres. To find out more about the charity’s work, please visit www.cats.org.uk.

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‘Fat Families’ Are Causing Pet Health Crisis 


Leading vets have slammed overweight families for making their pets obese.
 
Eighty per cent of vets in a newly published report[i] on diet related health issues in pets think there will be more overweight pets than healthy pets within five years, which will significantly impact their wider health[ii]. This will they say lead to an increase in similar types of issues that their owners face including joint problems, respiratory issues and diabetes.

With more than six in 10 adults in the UK now overweight and four in 10 classed as clinically obese, their dogs and cats are sadly following suit, according to top veterinary professionals.
 
The report suggests obese dogs are three times as likely to have obese owners as non-obese dogs[iii]. Owner misconception of obesity in their pets, whether they themselves are overweight or not, is a major obstacle in pet weight management. In addition the risk of obesity in pets is significantly associated with owner income as owners in the lowest income bracket are more likely to have obese dogs.[iv]
 
Jenny Philp, veterinary surgeon and Managing Director of Swindon company Pets’ Kitchen explained: “Every day in our practice we see the effects of lack of exercise, overfeeding, poor nutrition as well as not adapting the diet of ageing pets accordingly.”

Current research shows 45% of dogs and 40% of cats are overweight[v] which is mainly due to a lack of exercise and overfeeding, mirroring the lifestyles of their owners.
 
“Neutering, although recommended, also affects a pet’s disposition to put on weight,” Jenny Philp adds.
 
“Increasing weight means shorter lives, stress to the joints, respiratory problems, arthritis and we are seeing a worryingly rising incidence of type 2 diabetes  in cats too, similar to humans this is avoidable and diet-related.”
 
Hypertension has been reported in 23-45 per cent of obese dogs[vi] as well as elevations in cholesterol.[vii]
 
Obesity is also affecting our pets’ respiratory function and is associated with tracheal collapse in small-breed dogs[viii] and animal asthma more generally.
 
“The main factors to maintain and improve our pet’s health are exercise and diet,” according to Philp. “It’s imperative that we halt the slide towards a nation of pets who will suffer from pain and discomfort due to owners sometimes misguided or ill-informed actions that are having unintended results.”
 
The number of meals and snacks fed, consumption of table scraps and an animal’s presence when owners prepare or eat their own meals all appear to be contributing to weight gain.
 
More than 5.5 million pets get treats as part of their diets[ix], but the treats that are given are totally inappropriate human foods like chips, cake, cheese and crisps, which only add to the unhealthiness of the diet.
 
“Treats are fine if you give them sparingly and get properly nutritionally balanced treats formulated for the cat or dog,” says Philp.
 
Aside from obesity and related pet health issues, allergies and dietary intolerances are also increasingly affecting our pets’ health, as well as our own.[x] In dogs these often affect the skin or digestive system such as; eczema, dermatitis, diarrhoea, gastroenteritis and pancreatitis.
 
Philp says that the problem of diet-related pet health is frequently encountered in her veterinary practice in Swindon, and has encouraged them to formulate their own foods and treats linked to a pet’s age and lifestyle.

“We recognise that pets are beloved companions but owners of both dogs and cats, instead of treating them like another family member, need to understand their specific nutritional requirements, according to age, activity and breed,” says Philp.

[i] Pet dietary health report compiled by Dr Pamela Mason, Research Nutritionist, December 2015.
[ii] PDSA. PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2014.
[iii] Holmes KL, Morris PJ, Abdulla Z, Hackett R, Rawlings JM. Risk factors associated with excess body weight in dogs in the UK. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr. 2007;91:166-167.
[iv] Kienzle, E., Bergler, R. & Mandernach, A. (1998) Comparison of the feeding behaviour and human animal relationship in owners of normal and obese dogs. The Journal of Nutrition 128, 2779S-2782S.
[v] PFMA. Pet Obesity Five Years On. 2014.
[vi] Gossellin J, Wren JA, Sunderland SJ. Canine obesity: an interview. J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2007; 30 Suppl 1:1-10 and Bland IM, Guthrie-Jones A, Taylor RD, Hill J. Dog obesity: veterinary paractices’ and owners’ opinions on cause and management. Prev Vet Med. 2010; 94 (3-4): 310-15.
[vii] Jeusette IC, Lhoest ET, Istasse LP, Diez MO. Influence of obesity on plasma lipid and lipoprotein concentrations in dogs. Am J Vet Res. 2005; 66 (1): 81-6
[viii] White R, Williams J. Tracheal collapse in the small dog – is there really a role for surgery? A survey of 100 cases. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 1994; 35 (4): 191-6
[ix] PDSA. PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2014.

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Devotion Award For Springer Spaniel

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A Springer Spaniel from Durham has received an animal award from PDSA for helping her owner to find happiness again, following a period of intense personal tragedy.

Three-year-old Tilly was nominated by owner Heather Purdy, for providing help and support following a very challenging time in her life. A life-changing illness left Heather’s husband needing round the clock care. She also suffered a string of family bereavements.

Tilly has been awarded a PDSA Commendation for her devotion to Heather, who said: “Over the last few years, my husband was left severely disabled from a massive brain haemorrhage, my daughter died from cystic fibrosis and I also lost my mother, grandparents and a cousin. I could see myself staring into a black hole and feared, if I fell into it, that I would not be able to come out.”

Heather decided to throw herself back into her work as a business partner at HPPL Canine Security Services, which provides detection dogs to sniff out drugs and weapons at events, and training to dogs with behavioural problems.

Poised to return to work and in need of a new detection dog to work with her, Heather visited a local rescue centre where she came across a Springer Spaniel that would transform her life.

Tilly was a very timid nine-month-old puppy who had a tough start in life. But taking on the challenge of transforming Tilly would also work wonders for Heather.

Heather added: “Tilly took an instant shine to me and I brought her home. I totally lost my heart to her and didn’t give a second thought to any of the qualities I’d initially been looking for in a working dog! I just knew Tilly needed help.

“She was scared of everything and everyone. She would wee, shake and bark when confronted with anything new. Gradually, I managed to build up her confidence, first by basic training, then taking her to markets, museums and eventually bigger events including air shows and even the hustle and bustle of travelling on the London Underground. I didn’t realise at the time, but as Tilly became more confident, I did too. For the first time in years, I was enjoying myself.

“When Tilly and I became a team, we were both at the lowest points of our lives. We have helped each other and if it wasn’t for Tilly, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I might just have been sucked into that black hole. Seeing her take on every challenge thrown at her and taking it all in her stride to become a bigger, better dog  inspired me to keep going and get on with my own life. I have been to hell and back on more than one occasion and it is Tilly who has pulled me back on track.”

PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin presented Tilly with her certificate at a ceremony at the charity’s Sunderland Pet Hospital, The Reay Hudson Centre.

Jan said: “At PDSA we understand the strength and power of the bond between a pet and their owner. The PDSA Commendation recognises the outstanding devotion that pets display and celebrates the amazing ways that pets enrich our lives. It is clear that Tilly has had a massive impact on Heather’s life and is a worthy recipient of the PDSA Commendation.”

For more information about PDSA’s Animal Awards programme visit www.pdsa.org.uk/awards.


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Supreme Honour For South Africa’s Most Successful Poacher-hunting Dog

A dog risking his life in the battle to save the African Rhinoceros from extinction has been awarded the PDSA Gold Medal* by comedian Ricky Gervais. The medal is recognised worldwide as the animals’ George Cross.

In the past four years, the acute tracking skills of five-year-old K9 Killer, a Belgian Malinois, have led to the arrests of 77 poachers; making him the most successful dog working with Kruger National Park’s Special Operations Team.

Alongside handler Amos Mzimba, Killer is flown in by helicopter to track and apprehend armed poachers when they are sighted, or a dead rhino is discovered.

Comedian, Hollywood actor and animal welfare advocate Ricky Gervais announced K9 Killer’s award, on behalf of PDSA, in a special video released on social media.

The PDSA Gold Medal is the highest honour a civilian animal can receive for bravery and devotion. Killer is only the 24th PDSA Gold Medal recipient worldwide, since the award was instituted in 2001.

Killer’s work

Both Killer and handler Amos can be deployed deep inside Kruger National Park several times a day, and Killer’s tracking and early detection of suspects is paramount to keeping Amos and the rest of the team safe from harm.

On one occasion, following a sighting of poachers in the infamous Bangu area, close to the border of Mozambique, Killer and Amos were flown in as part of a four-strong team including South African Defence Force personnel. While trying to find a spoor to track, shots were fired and, in the confusion that followed, Killer and Amos became separated from the main group.

Killer picked up a spoor to track the suspects, giving him and Amos the upper hand over the poachers. As the determined dog and handler followed the suspects to the bottom of a cliff, they spotted someone just in front of them. Amos shouted to the suspect to surrender, but heard a heavy calibre rifle shot and the bullet passing close to his head. He returned fire to save his and Killer’s lives before apprehending two other suspects.

Thanks to Killer’s tracking skills, 115 arrests have been made to date, but the fight against poaching continues.

Reaction

Killer’s handler, Amos Mzimba, said: “It is an honour to have Killer by my side. It means a lot that he has been recognised for his skills and assistance in tracking and arresting poachers. Thanks to him, we are arresting more poachers, but there is a lot more to be done if we are to save the rhino from extinction. Killer is invaluable in achieving that.”

PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said: “The PDSA Gold Medal recognises extraordinary acts of courage and dedication in life-threatening situations, and Killer is indeed a worthy recipient. His contribution to saving the rhino population has been truly remarkable. His track-record is astounding and we are honoured to recognise his fantastic work in this way.”

Killer’s award was formally presented by Ricky Gervais, who said: “Killer does fantastic work in the Kruger National Park. Rhino’s are wonderful creatures that are being killed in their hundreds by these poachers. Killer and his colleagues are fighting back. He helped capture dozens of poachers in the last year alone, thanks to his amazing courage and dedication. He’s making a huge contribution to rhino protection in South Africa.”

With the number of rhino killings increasing from 448 in 2011 to 1215 in 2014, Killer is an integral part of the fight against poaching.

Bruce Leslie of the Environmental Crimes Investigations Unit, nominated Killer for the PDSA Gold Medal. He said: “To save the rhino from extinction, someone has to stand between them and the poachers and that job falls to our rangers. Killer’s sense of smell is absolutely amazing at tracking people. He makes us more successful and increases our arrest rate. All of our dogs carry out incredible work on a daily basis, but Killer stands out for his tenacity and dedication so I’m enormously proud that he has received the PDSA Gold Medal.”

Since its inception in 2001, the PDSA Gold Medal has now been awarded to 24 heroic animals. Recipients include UK police explosives search dogs Vinnie, Jake and Billy for their lifesaving work in the aftermath of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London, in 2005.

For more details about the PDSA Gold Medal and its previous recipients go to www.pdsa.org.uk/goldmedal.

 

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Louis Smith Introduces The First People & Dog Fitness Video

Olympic medal-winning gymnast Louis Smith has swapped the pommel horse for man’s best friend today as he fronts the first ever celebrity fitness video for man and dog.Petsercise with Louis Smith sees the Team GB hero guide viewers through a fun and high tempo home workout – with the addition of two dogs exercising alongside him.

Created by pet insurers MORE TH>N and Wagglepets, the 11-minute fitness video includes a mixture of simple, unique cardio, muscular and core-strengthening exercises that will see both owner and dog break into a sweat when performed together (if dogs could sweat, that is).

Each exercise Louis Smith and his canine companions perform in the video has been developed by a vet and personal trainer and will ensure people following at home feel the burn – while also giving their dogs a healthy run around and supplementing the regular outdoor exercise they should get.

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Ruby ‘The Superdog’s’ Painting Is Being Auctioned On Behalf of Dog Charity  


Ruby the superdog has painted her own picture which is being sold to raise funds for Dog Assistance in Disability (Dog A.I.D.), a charity which helps people with disabilities train their pet dog to Assistance Dog level.

Ruby lives in Surbiton with her 19 year-old owner Megan.  After a head injury in 2011, Megan suffers from dizziness, poor balance, hearing loss and frequent fainting episodes which occur 4-6 times a day.  Megan has been training Ruby herself to carry out a number of helpful tasks and hopes to apply to Dog A.I.D. this year.

Ruby has produced an original stencil print herself by moving the paintbrush with her mouth along the canvas, which was auctioned via eBay.  Containing the words ‘My ability is stronger than my disability’ you can purchase digital downloads of the stencil and watch Ruby in action via http://rubythesuperdog.weebly.com/artwork-store.html.

Sandra Fraser Dog A.I.D. Chair explains: “Seeing Ruby actually paint a picture is very impressive.  Megan is an inspirational girl who does not let her condition affect her life.  Ruby already does sterling work helping Megan and as a Pets as Therapy volunteer, yet I hope we will be able to help her become an Assistance Dog in the future.”

Dog A.I.D. was established in the 1990’s and there are currently 47 fully qualified dogs throughout the country.  Training takes from 18 months to two years with both dog and owner receiving specialist education from a network of trainers based around the country.  The dog owner is given all the tools required to constantly reinforce training methods learnt and also continue to teach their dog new cues and tasks independently.

For further information how you can support Dog A.I.D. via fundraising or volunteering please visit www.dogaid.org.uk

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