A kid enters ORHS cat room, cozies up in a cushioned corner with the book of his/her choice, and begins to read aloud. Before long some cats cuddle up to the kid while others linger nearby, ears perked.
What's Happening In This Scenario:
The cats are learning social skills that will help them get adopted; the child is learning to care about animals; ORHS is strengthening relationships in the community.
Introducing the Rescue Readers Program
This program is designed to help our younger supporters give back to the animals in our community while developing their reading skills and their sense of compassion. It also promotes animal-savvy behavior, and helps our cats get positive, calm time with children
This program is open to children ages 6-12 who wish to practice their reading skills by reading out loud to cats at our adoption center. Cats provide a non-judgmental and enthusiastic audience as they are soothed by the rhythmic sound of the children reading stories.
Every kid will need a parent to volunteer with them. All must sign a general liability waiver and be supervised by parents at all times. Not only is the program free, but kids win prizes for every five books they complete.
Kids also have the freedom to select their own reading material. ORHS has a stash of books but kids may bring their own books if they prefer. The cats will not care about a child's reading level or taste in genre—they will simply enjoy the soothing sounds of kids reading to them.
Cat enrichment, child literacy, fostering compassion for animals in young people !!!
To participate please call ORHS at 706-454-1508
Kit is a medium size hound mix, about a year old and she came to us from Animal Control. She had been found wandering the streets and it looked like she had been on her own for awhile. She was emaciated and she appeared to have just given up. When Kit came to ORHS, she was still very thin, quiet and frightened. She seemed to like our volunteers when they sat with her and they eventually got her to walk on leash after carrying her outside, but she was still very afraid. Kit needed a foster home. Kit's foster mom sent us a description after having her for just a week.
My best description of Kit’s personality is that she’s a treasure chest full of love to share and we have the key. She is shy at first but I don’t think she’s been abused. She has no issues with men and once she feels comfortable she wants to be with people and wherever the action is. She thrives on affection and attention. I really think she’s spent most, if not all of her life alone, neglected and never comforted when she was afraid. Sad.
At our house Kit has an older foster sister who sleeps most of the time, and a 2 year old foster brother that loves to play. He quickly showed her what toys are all about. Now they play tug and toss toys in the air, they wrestle and then they sit in the sun together. We thought having another dog would help Kit adjust your her foster home but I don’t think it’s necessary. Kit loves our dogs but she is most interested in being where people are. She always knows where I am and follows me room to room. She gets so excited when she sees me getting her food ready. Her whole body wags. She seems happiest when we sit to watch tv and she gets lots of pets and snuggles. She has a silly side to her that comes out more each day.
What frightens Kit seems to be loud noises. Trucks or construction noises are scary and thunder will send her hiding. She relaxes when comforted but during a storm she runs into her crate where she feels safe. When it's over, it's over and life goes on. She's a sweet girl with lots of love to share. Kit is smart and eager to please. With patience I think she will be easy to train. She is crate and house trained and she walks pretty well on leash.
This is one special little girl and with a family to love her she will blossom into a wonderful and loyal companion.
According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworm disease is caused by foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.
The treatment of heartworm disease is a long and tedious three-month ordeal, which includes injections and close monitoring by a veterinarian to help reduce the risk of complications. During this period, dog needs to stay calm.
ORHS accepts dogs even if they are heartworm positive. All adult dogs that come into ORHS’s care are tested for heartworm disease. If they test positive, we work with the veterinarian on starting treatment. The cost of treatment for each dog can be $500 or more.
The number of dogs we rescue that are heartworm positive is at a high level. Over the last year we have treated or taken in over a dozen heart worm positive dogs and we expect that number to continue to rise. We remain dedicated to offer the medical care to these dogs. Currently we are striving to maintain our level of commitment without the financial support from fundraising events that were cancelled this year due to COVID-19.
Our goal of $10,000 will enable ORHS to offer this life-saving treatment for another year.
Heartworm disease is serious. Your support, no matter how much or how little, means everything to the dogs who will be able to receive treatment and have a second chance at a forever home and a happy life.
Thank You for donating and sharing the link to our fundraiser.
Meet Petey. He is a handsome, long legged, hunk of a dog who is sweet as can be. He desires a family who will love on him so he can fill up on that love and give it back twenty-fold. “Just watch me wiggle,” he says. Petey loves spending time with humans, the more the merrier. He loves being brushed and taken care of. He loves air conditioning but if you are outside, he would rather be outside with you. He keeps his kennel in immaculate condition. He does great on a leash. All the women volunteers love him; he’s such a Casanova.
What if you could style your ride and show your love for your pet and at the same time support ORHS, all while raising funds for the animals we rescue. Well, now you can! Get your personalized ORHS Pet Plate.
Meet Brittany and Bridgette. They are sisters who are ready to fly the nest and make their own way. Though they enjoy playing together and spending time together, they wouldn't mind having their own special someone to love. Bridgette leans on Brittany for a lot of confidence, but she is growing stronger every day. Both are very sweet and would love some personal one on one attention. Here at ORHS, they are learning how to walk on a leash, how to play with toys, and how to get the volunteers to give them treats. They almost have the volunteers trained. Won't you consider giving one or both of them a Furever home?
These handsome bonded brothers are just about as perfect as you can get! Found with two other siblings out in the woods, Hercules is the tuxedo and Mercury is the beautiful marble tabby. Both are exceptionally snuggly, affectionate and incredibly playful! And, as if they couldn’t get any better, these boys purr like the engines of two finely tuned automobiles. Their foster mom says one of their favorite pastimes is to nap completely intwined in the arms of the other…absolutely adorable to see!
We are looking for a home where these boys can stay together. Hercules and Mercury offer a lifetime of fun, excitement and just pure love to anyone lucky enough to take them into their family.
We have lots of great news for you today! Check out our Q2 '20 Newsletter and read about:
My name is Marty McFly, but you can call me Marty. I am one chill pup. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of wiggles for you when I meet you, and I am full of energy, but I am a cool dog. I love people. People are my favorite. They give me treats, and walks, and belly rubs. I love, love , love to play in the yard and have lots of dog friends. I even love the little puppies. I am easy to walk and know some basic commands. I love to learn. Life is such an adventure and I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner. Could my new Furever Family be there? I hope so! Don’t forget to fill out an application for me.
Otis is our 12-year-old Beagle who is looking for his retirement home. Otis is a world traveler and would like to finally settle down for the remainder of his years. Now that he has come to ORHS, he is having his needs taken care of and getting healthy.
Life on the road has been a little rough and he knows it’s time to have a soft spot to land. Otis is good with other dogs, especially young puppies. He has been an exceptionally good companion to his foster mom. If you would like to have Otis come to share his life stories with you, fill out an application for him. He would love to sit and reminisce his glory days with you.
Phyllis resembles the glamorous Abyssinian breed portrayed in paintings and sculptures of the ancient Egyptian cats which show an elegant feline with a muscular body.
With long legs in proportion to her lean body, big green eyes, short silky blonde hair, she looks like a Supermodel when she struts her stuff. Phyllis is approximately 8 pounds and because she is full of extraordinary energy she never has to diet. She is naturally small and slender.
Phyllis has an intelligent, extroverted, playful personality. With her almond shaped green eyes, long pointed ears and inquisitive expression, you can’t help but fall in love with her. She is clearly attentive, she listens to you, but, unlike Alexa, she will keep your secret’s.
She is also a graceful athlete. She will approach you on her terms but invites you to exercise, climb a pole, play or explore with her whenever you are available. She loves people and other cats but may not be your ideal lap cat.
Phyllis came to ORHS after being rescued through a trap/neuter/release program in 2016. Although she is stunning and physically active, you don’t have to worry about her getting in “the family way.” She was able to leave her wild ways behind her when she was spayed so that she, and you, don’t have to worry about all the unwanted attention being so attractive usually brings.
Phyllis loves Savage Garden (from her feral years). She has a private meditation she repeats and she hopes you will take her to her Purrfect Place:
Like in your eyes, I see my future in an instant
I think I found my best friend
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life
A thousand angels dance around you
I am complete now that I’ve found you.
Gus is a genuine cutie! He is good with kids and other dogs. He isn't shy at all and is very welcoming to new people. He is a snuggle bug. At times he gets so excited he trips over his own feet. But mind your socks, he loves to steal them and hide them from you.
Gus is a 1+ year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier Mix. He is a little guy weighing in at only 35 pounds. He would make the perfect family dog and a great companion animal.
This pretty little lady is Betsy. She was an outdoor kitty at a home where an elderly lady lived before going into an assisted living situation. Betsy came to us last Spring, pregnant with 4 kittens. The beautiful babies have all been safely tucked into their forever homes and now it’s her turn!
Betsy is 2-3 years old and would be a great indoor-outdoor cat. She does, however, need to be the only cat and would do well in a home without very young children. Betsy LOVES to sit on your lap and is very affectionate. If you are looking for a fun, affectionate companion, this girl is for you!
Your change can make a change for homeless pets! All proceeds will go toward providing the basic necessities for the animals at our shelter.
This is a great project for your whole family! It's also great for kids, scout projects, and church groups.
Thank you for your support! Please contact us with any questions.
What You Should Know...
We are all on high alert as we follow the spread of the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic and its unprecedented impact on our lives. What about our pets? Are they susceptible? Can they transmit the infection? What should I do with my pet if I contract the virus? Where did this virus come from? While we are still trying to understand the COVID-19 pandemic, there is information emerging that is helpful in answering these questions.
Where Did It Come From?
Coronaviruses are a family of related viruses that can cause diseases in mammals and birds. The name is derived from the Latin “Corona” meaning “crown” which refers to the microscopic appearance of the virus – a ball with protein spikes that resemble a crown. In humans, past coronavirus infections have caused respiratory tract infections that were mild such as the common cold or serious, even fatal infections such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and recently COVID-19. The name COVID-19 is an abbreviation from Corona Virus Disease and 2019, the year the disease was discovered. Both SARS and MERS have been responsible for epidemics over the past two decades and are related to COVID-19. Symptoms of coronavirus infections vary with species that are infected. Pigs and cattle have gastro-intestinal diseases and birds and cats have respiratory diseases. However, there is no transmission to people in the U.S. from our domestic or food producing animals.
There is strong scientific evidence that the recent group of serious human coronavirus infections, SARS, MERS and COVID-19, have all originated from bats. COVID-19 has a 96% genetic match with a coronavirus recently found in a bat in China. Bats likely serve as asymptomatic carriers of these viruses. They have the infections without getting sick, but still can shed and transmit the virus to other animals or people. The bats are considered the maintenance host, that is, the virus remains in them and is the principle source of the disease long term. The recent group of serious human diseases caused by coronaviruses have also been isolated from a group of other animals that were infected from bats and then became carriers themselves, thus further spreading the diseases. These animals are termed intermediate hosts, meaning that they become infected as a species and can then amplify and further spread the virus. For example, the intermediate host for MERS is likely camels. Currently, the pangolin, an animal like a small anteater, is suspected of helping to initially spread COVID-19 after being infected from bats but this theory is still unproven and is being researched further. People can be infected either directly from bats but are usually infected from intermediate host animals. Pandemics occur when the viruses are capable of being transmitted from person to person without the involvement of animals.
Early evidence suggests that COVID-19 originated from bats found in “live-animal” markets in Wuhan, China. It is a common cultural practice in China for people to visit large markets with many live animals that are all mixed closely together. People mix with birds, mammals, reptiles and fish which are sold and often slaughtered onsite so that people get fresh meat for their meals. This practice allows people to come into close contact with a variety of animal species, including bats, that may be carrying coronaviruses or other infections. We know that this same practice was likely the source of the SARS pandemic in 2002-2003. Some bats are hunted and used for food in other cultures including China. Not all these viruses are easily transmitted to people and even if they do infect people, the infections are often limited because the transmission doesn’t easily occur from person to person. COVID-19 has been an exception. It has the unique capability of being readily transmitted from person to person; it is highly contagious and thus has spread rapidly across the globe as a pandemic.
Can Dogs and Cats Get Infected With COVID-19?
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there is currently no evidence that household pets can contract or spread COVID-19. The CDC has also confirmed that they have not received any reports that pets or other animals in the U.S. have become sick with COVID-19. In addition, public health officials state that that is no evidence or research to support the idea that human to pet transmission occurs. Dogs and cats can acquire their own type of coronavirus infections from each other and these usually result in mild illnesses. Importantly, these animal infections only circulate within the pet populations and are not transmitted to, nor infect people. Thus. there is very strong evidence, from many sources, that our pets do not contract COVID-19 and are not are sources of the infection.
Are There Diagnostic Tests Available for Pets for COVID-19 and Should I have My Pet Tested?
While there is a diagnostic test that is being developed for COVID-19 for pets, it is not commercially available today. More importantly, there is no reason to test pets since they are not being infected with COVID-19. If your pet develops a respiratory disease, the recommendation is to work with your veterinarian to test for other respiratory infections. However, because COVID-19 is a new disease, more information is always being discovered about the dynamics of the infection. COVID-19 will continue to be monitored in pets but today there is no reason to tests pets and there is no recommendation to do so.
What Should I Do with My Pet If I Contract COVID-19?
The CDC recommends that if you contract COVID-19, you should keep a distance from your pets just like you would do with other people while you are quarantined. While there have been no reports of any pets being infected or sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that you limit any contacts with your pets until more information is known about the virus. The concern is not that your pet will become infected, but it could possibly carry the virus on its fur or collar for a short time and transmit to another person. While this is feasible, it is certainly not a high risk. Yet out of an abundance of caution, it would be helpful, if possible, to have someone else care for you pet while you are sick. If this is not possible, be sure to wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet. Certainly petting, snuggling, kissing, being licked or sharing food should be avoided.
If I Don’t Have COVID-19, Should I Change How I Interact with My Pet?
If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would including walking, playing and feeding. You should still practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and ensure that you pet is clean and well groomed. While you will not contract COVID-19 from your pet, there are other diseases and parasites that can be transmitted.
How Should I Prepare for My Pet’s Care in the Event that I Am Infected with COVID-19?
You should develop a contingency plan for your pet just like you should be doing for you and your family. Identify a person, either in your household or a friend, to care for your pet should you contract COVID-19. Make sure that you have an emergency kit prepared with at least 2-3 weeks of food and any needed medications. It is probably a good idea to have an emergency kit available for your pet anyway, in case there are further restrictions on social distancing.
What If My Pet Needs to Go to The Veterinarian?
If you are not ill with COVID-19 or have another communicable disease like the flu, call your veterinarian and follow her/his recommendations to work out a schedule for a visit. While many routine veterinary visits can be rescheduled, work with your veterinarian to check when he/she believes the visit is most appropriate and safe. If your pet has an emergency, call ahead to find out about needed care or recommendations to be seen. If you are sick with COVID-19 or have been recently diagnosed, you must stay at home and minimize contact with other people and avoid unnecessary risks.
The meaning of the name Bellamy is “fine friend” and this beautiful girl is ready to live up to her name! Bellamy came to ORHS in late January and surprised us all when she gave birth to one puppy, which we named Uno. Bellamy was a very caring mother and Uno will be available for adoption when he is old enough. Now it’s time for Bellamy to find a forever home.
Here’s what we know about Bellamy: we believe she is two years old and is a bulldog/ terrier mix. She loves her daily walks with ORHS volunteers and leads the way to the local bank for treats. She enjoys being outside and is content to relax in the sun. She loves toys and when given the chance will jump from her pen in the shelter to choose a new one and take it back to cuddle with. Bellamy loves being petted and is learning to trust both women and men. We believe Bellamy will be happiest as the only dog in the family. Won’t you give Bellamy the chance to show you what a fine friend she can be?
SIMBA our little Tripawd King who has a BIG personality. He loves to talk to his neighboring canine fellas. And his sweet barks and playfulness grabs the attention of all volunteers. His eyes are absolutely mesmerizing.
This is what his foster had to say....
“Despite his rough start to life Simba has the heart of a lion. He’s happy, determined, sweet, funny, playful, independent, fearless, vibrant, adorable puppy who needs someone to help him continue to grow steady and strong. He listens, connects and wants to please. He has great determination and moves well but when he stumbles, he lands like a champ. He needs protection from obstacles but very little guidance. He loves spending time outdoors discovering new smells and sounds. Easy to train, doing well in the early stages of obedience and potty training. Sleeps all night in his crate. Simba is a wonder ! A special beautiful boy that will bring a lot of joy”.
Imagine if your whole family moved away and left you behind…alone. That’s exactly what happened to Gigi. She suddenly found herself all alone and outside, which is exactly where a girl like Gigi should not be: Gigi has tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). While cats with FIV can live long, healthy lives, the disease can compromise the immune system and can make routine illnesses (like respiratory infections) harder on the body. It is not transmissible to humans and is only known to be transmitted to other cats by means of deep bite wounds.
Gigi is exceptionally affectionate and was obviously very loved at some point. She is spayed, vaccinated and microchipped. This 2-3 year young lady will be a wonderful companion to someone lucky enough to see her beauty and potential.
Feel free to contact ORHS for more information about Gigi. Ask for Kari.
LADY GAGA .... That's me. I was born with the cutest feet. The outward feet never stops me from running with my playmates in the yard at ORHS. I get along with all dogs and I am fine with cats as well. I am in great shape but believe it or not I am food driven. I am smart and easily trainable, if you have a few kibbles in your hand. I walk great on leash with other dogs ... I always hear my volunteers calling me the "model child". Yup, come take me home, ... you won't be disappointed. And did I tell you ? ... I am very pretty. TAKE ME HOME !!
by Dr. Lonnie King
We all look forward to the holiday season which abounds with family visits, celebrations, parties, wonderful food and good cheer. However, the holiday season can also carry some serious hazards for our pets. Nothing can spoil holiday cheer like an emergency with a beloved family pet. Here are a few tips to keep your pet safe and healthy this holiday.
Food: (Don’t) Let Them Eat Cake!
Keep people food away from pets. If you want to share holiday treats with your pet, make or buy treats formulated just for them. There are a few foods that are especially hazardous for pets, and include: chocolate, grapes/raisins, alcohol, poultry bones, onions, garlic, raw bread or yeast dough and candy or sweets containing artificial sweeteners. Xylitol is an especially dangerous and toxic sweetener that may be found in some types of gum, candy and baked goods. Turkey meat and turkey skin are off limits because they may cause pancreatitis. This is also true for table scraps including gravy, meat fat, stuffing or pork products. All of these should be kept away from your pet.
There are a few plants that are toxic for pets and may make an appearance during the holidays in our homes. Poinsettias, lilies, amaryllis and mistletoe can be dangerous to cats and dogs. In addition, potpouri mixes, cedar, holly and balsam may also be hazardous for pets. If you plan to use any of these decorative plants or products, be sure that they are kept out of the reach of your pet.
Avoid Choking Hazards
Be certain that your pet does not have access to choking hazards, such as candy wrappers, turkey bones, ribbons, wrapping paper, ornaments, toothpicks, very small toys and tinsel. You should consider not using tinsel to decorate a tree if you have a cat. Turkey carcasses or anything used to wrap or tie the meat such as strings, bags or packaging material present special dangers and they must also be kept away from pets. Not only can these items become choking hazards, but if swallowed, they can lodge in the stomach or intestine and require emergency surgery. Always put the trash away and store it where pets do not have access to it.
Be Cautious of Electrical Cords
Many holiday decorations are a fun way to get into the holiday spirit and many use electricity. If chewed, live electrical cords can cause burns around a pet’s mouth and can result in breathing difficulties and even seizures. To avoid this hazard, unplug lights and decorations when not in use and secure them out of the reach of pets.
Christmas trees can tip over if pets climb on them or try to play with lights or ornaments. If possible, try to secure your tree to a door frame or ceiling. For live trees that require water, additives to the water can offer additional hazards. Thus, do not add sugar, aspirin or other preservatives to the water since pets can be attracted to this water source and ingesting these products may present an additional hazard.
House Parties and Visitors: Reducing Stress and Anxiety
We look forward to holiday guests and hosting parties; however, for some pets, the noise and excitement can be upsetting. They can become nervous and anxious at these gatherings. All pets should have access to a comfortable and quiet place inside if they should want to retreat and get away from the commotion and disruption of their routine. A crate with a favorite toy in a separate room might be a good option and be available as a pet getaway. If you know that your pet is likely to get upset by parties or houseguests, talk with your veterinarian about other preemptive options for this common problem. Guests mean that more people will be coming into and going out of your home, and open doors can be a tempting invitation for a pet to escape and become lost. Therefore, you need to take care during these times to make sure your visitors are aware of your pet and make sure that your pet has proper and current identification information. Of course, microchipping your pet is a good idea regardless of the season.
Other Potential Hazards
Special holiday displays or candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in a room or area with a lit candle. Pinecones, needles and other similar decorations may cause gastrointestinal problems when pets chew on them or swallow them and thus should not be available to your pet. It is a good idea to clear food from your table, counters and serving areas when you are done using them. Again, make certain that your trash is in a place where a pet cannot reach it.
We want our pets to enjoy the holidays with us, and taking these precautions can help ensure this season is fun and joyous. However, planning ahead, just in case, is a good idea. It is helpful to know in advance how to reach a 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic. Talk with your local veterinarian ahead of time and have phone numbers posted and available. There is also an ASPCA Poison Control Hotline that you can access at 1-888-426-4435 should you need immediate consultation about a potential emergency (there may be a fee for this service). Any emergency is stressful and knowing exactly what to do in such instances is extremely helpful.
These tips are offered not to take away the joy from a wonderful time of the year, but, rather, they are reminders about how to keep our pets happy and healthy this holiday season. After all, they are family members, too, and need our care and supervision.
This shy, but sweet, little lady is an absolute joy and wants nothing more than a family to call her own. Trixie loves to be petted and will reciprocate with head butts all day long. But since she is shy, Trixie will need a quiet home without small children. We think she would be overjoyed to spend the bulk of her day sitting next to her special person on the couch, binge watching chick flix or talk shows. If you need a buddy to share your popcorn with (that won't fight you for the remote), this just might be the girl for you!
By Dr. Lonnie King – Oconee Regional Humane Society
Our pets bring great enjoyment to our lives and, to many, they have reached a new status as a special family member. We all want our pets to live long, healthy and active lives. However, each day pets suffer health issues that could have been prevented with a little foresight and planning. To remind us that we are responsible for our pet’s health, October has been designated as “National Pet Wellness Month”. In observance of this occasion, here are ten tips to promote pet wellness and proper care.
1. Vaccinations. Dogs and cats are at risk for serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases. Fortunately, many of these diseases can be prevented through the administration of vaccines. It is especially important to begin vaccinations with young puppies and kittens and keep them up to date for their entire lifetime. There are core vaccinations needed yearly and non-core vaccinations that may also be needed based on veterinary recommendations or special circumstances. Remember that a rabies vaccination is legally required by the state of Georgia.
2. Proper Nutrition. Pets need a diet with wholesome ingredients and balanced nutrition for optimal growth and development that is tailored to their age group. It is estimated that more than half of our dogs and cats in America are classified as either over-weight or obese, which can lead to serious health conditions such as diabetes, liver problems and joint disease. Proper nutrition and weight control are like a daily dose of preventive medicine. It is essential to be knowledgeable about your pet’s nutritional needs. There are many high-quality commercial pet foods that meet approved standards and have been formulated based on strong research and development data. While our pets may be family members, they are not people when it comes to food and their special needs. Be cautious of fad and internet diets that promise good health but have no scientific basis or rationale to base their claims.
3. Preventing Ticks, Fleas, Heartworms and Internal Parasites (Worms). Internal and external parasites can pose serious health risks to pets. These pests such as fleas and ticks and internal worms can readily be prevented by the many options available that are easy to use, safe and effective. Some products will work to prevent all these parasites at the same time. However, having numerous options can be complicated for pet owners trying to make the right decisions. Some products are oral, some are topical (putting the product on their coat), others are injectable, and some contain chemicals embedded into collars. The products vary in the length of time that they work or are protective, and their uses may be different depending if they will be given to a cat or dog. For example, heartworms occur in both dogs and cats but differ in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Preventing internal and external parasites can also help prevent the spread of some serious diseases to owners and family members as well as to pets. Because we live in the south, ticks, fleas, heartworms and internal parasites are year-round threats so preventive treatments must also be used year- round and continued for a pet’s lifetime.
4. Spaying and Neutering. Having your pet spayed or neutered is key to curbing pet over-population and reduces the number of unwanted animals in our communities. Abandoned animals and strays are a common problem across Georgia. These animals, unfortunately, often live shortened, difficult and abused lives. Spaying and neutering can also reduce or prevent certain infections and cancers found in intact cats and dogs.
5. Grooming. Proper grooming keeps pets comfortable and clean. Regular brushing removes dead hair and helps distribute natural oils resulting in healthier coats and reduces mats from forming. Nail trimming helps to avoid injuries and discomfort when nails are over-grown, break or split. Routinely brushing your pet every few days, is part of wellness and gives you an opportunity to detect or notice any growths or abnormalities in their skin or musculature that need early attention.
6. Exercise. Just as in people, a regular exercise routine is essential to a pet’s good health. Exercise can help a pet maintain a healthy weight, and keep their muscles, tendons and bones strong. It may also help to reduce tendencies toward behavior problems. Walking, playing and enjoying the outdoors benefit health by burning calories and increasing an animal’s metabolic rate. Exercising your pet has an added benefit, it promotes better health in the owners as well.
7. Dental Care. Regular dental care is essential to maintaining good pet health. Some pets will tolerate brushing their teeth, which can be quite helpful, but be sure to use toothpaste that has been cleared for dogs or cats. Some human toothpastes can be very toxic and harmful especially in cats. Watch for excessive tartar, abnormal gums (reddened or bloody) or loose teeth. Unchecked dental disease can lead to kidney problems, painful periodontal disease or nutritional problems if the pet cannot chew food properly. As in people, routine teeth cleaning can be a helpful and necessary adjunct to good health.
8. Quality Time. The time that you spend with your pet can be invaluable. Pets are very tuned into us and quite perceptive. Likewise, you can learn more about them – their mood, personality, preferences and, at times, how they are feeling. By knowing a pet’s normal behavior and physical condition, you will be able to detect changes to their health much earlier. Quality time helps to establish a strong human-animal bond and can improve good behavior and training. For most people, having quality time to interact with a pet is one of the most enjoyable and gratifying activities that we share with them.
9. Pet Identification and Record Keeping. We never know when an emergency may arise so preparing ahead of time makes good sense. An important part of preparing is having your pet permanently identified and saving documents that track its health and care. The use of microchips is the best method to identify a pet. Make sure that the identification number is readily available and listed on state and national registers. Keeping records of vaccinations and medical exams, copies of pet tags and adoption papers can serve as helpful reminders for future appointments and may be needed in case of an emergency. It may also be useful to keep an updated photograph of a pet to help identify them.
10. Veterinary Examinations. Pets age more quickly than we do, which means that changes in their health can occur and escalate quickly. Dogs and especially cats can conceal early symptoms of disease problems. Thus professional examinations are important to diagnose and treat health problems early before they become more serious and costly. Establishing a relationship with a veterinarian is a valuable and effective way to ensure your pet’s health and wellness over its lifetime. Establishing routine wellness visits and examinations for your pet solidifies this relationship, optimizes health and enables you to have a competent and experienced professional available to you if there is an emergency or need for special care or treatment.
As pet owners, we share a common goal of ensuring a long, happy and healthy life for our special pets. National Pet Wellness Month reminds us that Benjamin Franklin’s advice, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is just as applicable to our pet’s health as to our own health and well-being.
September 28, 2019 has been designated as World Rabies Day. Many countries including the United States are observing this day in order to raise awareness about this disease and to bring partners together worldwide to promote the prevention and control of rabies worldwide. The theme of this year’s World Rabies Day is “Vaccinate to Eliminate”. We can do our part by making certain that our dogs, cats and ferrets, are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.
Although rabies is a disease that is 100% preventable, more that 59,000 people die from this deadly disease around the world every year. Most of these cases occur in rural communities in the world’s poorest countries, especially in Asia and Africa, and children have the highest rate of infection and death. Unvaccinated dogs are responsible for transmitting almost 98% of these cases. In the U.S., there are, on average, 400 – 500 cases of rabies in our domestic pets each year but almost 5,000 cases in our wildlife. In April of this year, a rabies positive skunk was found in Greene County, Georgia; thus, it is imperative that you have your pets vaccinated as a Georgia resident.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous systems. The virus is secreted through the saliva of infected animals and is usually transmitted to people and other animals through bites. Once an animal or person shows signs of rabies, it is almost always fatal. Rabies has been known to mankind for over 4,000 years. The name rabies is derived from the Latin term “rabies” which translated means “to rage”. The rabies virus will usually enter the brain and animals will exhibit changes in behavior including becoming extremely vicious or acting as “in rage” where the Latin term originated.
What Animals Get Rabies?
All mammals are susceptible to rabies. In the U.S., most cases of rabies occur in wildlife – mainly skunks, raccoons, foxes, and bats. Each of these animals serve as reservoirs for the disease and each of these wildlife groups has developed a special variation of the virus. In the U.S., we have been able to eliminate the canine variety of the rabies virus through a very successful vaccination campaign for our dogs. However, our dogs and cats are susceptible to the other strains of the virus and still need to be vaccinated to protect them from these other strains. Humans are also susceptible to all these strains of the rabies virus. Rabies occurs in horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and goats too, but less commonly than found in our pets. Cats that live outdoors, often are not vaccinated, and are especially apt to be exposed to wildlife and rabid animals.
What Are the Signs of Rabies?
Once rabies enters the body, it travels along the nerves to the brain. Animals with rabies may show a variety of signs, including fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, and seizures, Aggressive behavior is common but rabid animals may also demonstrate uncharacteristic affection. Another form of rabies is call paralytic or dumb rabies where an animal is depressed, uncoordinated and becomes completely paralyzed prior to death. Animals manifesting either form of the disease will effectively transmit the disease. Rabid wild animals may lose their natural fear of humans and display unusual behavior such as nocturnal animals wondering and approaching people during the daytime. Rabies can only be confirmed after death, through the microscopic examination of the animal’s brain.
How Great of a Risk is Rabies to Humans?
Rabies remains a major concern worldwide because many countries do not have strong or effective vaccination programs for domestic and stray dogs. Rabies vaccinations, animal control programs and better treatments for humans after they have been bitten, have dramatically reduced the number of cases in the U.S. Today, more than half the human rabies exposures in our country have resulted from rabid bats. Thus, any contact with bats, even if a bite is not noticed, should be reported to your physician. Bats have very small teeth and their bites can be very tiny but still capable of transmitting the rabies virus. There have been just 40 human cases of rabies in the U.S. since 2003 and 12 of these cases were from exposures outside of the U.S. In the rest of the world, dogs are the most common carrier of rabies, particularly in Asia and Africa, so travelers need to be aware of this risk when they travel abroad.
How has the Threat of Rabies Changed in the U.S.?
Before 1960, most human cases of rabies in this country came from infected dog bites. Since that time, successful rabies vaccination campaigns for our pets and expanded leash laws have greatly reduced dog rabies. The U.S. is now free of the canine strain of rabies that is found in much of the rest of the world and now our exposures are occurring from wildlife especially bats. In 2016, there were 4.910 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in the U.S. Of these cases, 33.5% came from bats, 28% from raccoons, 21% from skunks, 6.4% from foxes, 5.2% from cats and 1.2% from dogs. There are also regional differences in occurrences and in 2016, more than half of all animal rabies cases came from just 5 states – Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York and Maryland. The different strains of the rabies virus are maintained in their respective wildlife populations or niches; however, the viruses spill over into domestic pets and humans from exposures and pets and people can are still susceptible to and can acquire rabies from any of these species or viral strains.
What If I Get Bitten?
Rabies in humans can be prevented by eliminating exposures from rabid animals or by providing people exposed to rabies with prompt postexposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP consists of local treatments of bite wounds in combination with the administration of human rabies immunoglobulin followed by several vaccine injections. Today’s PEP is much superior to past treatments and there is seldom any reaction to the injections; it has also been proven extremely safe and effective. Thus, there is no excuse in delaying treatment if it is recommended. Last year in the U.S., approximately 55,000 PEP treatments were administered to people with possible exposures. If you believe that you might have been exposed, don’t panic but also don’t ignore the bite. If you are bitten, wash the wound rigorously and thoroughly with lots of soap and water and then treat it with a disinfectant like iodine. Then call your physician immediately, explain the circumstances of your possible exposure and follow the physician’s advice. Also try to identify the animal that bit you – is it a local pet, a stray dog/cat or what type of wildlife was involved? If the bite was from a dog or cat, call the local animal control officers to collect it if possible.
What If My Pet is Bitten?
If your pet is bitten, consult your veterinarian immediately and report the bite to local animal control authorities. Even if your dog, cat or ferret has a current vaccination, he/she should be re-vaccinated immediately, kept under an owner’s control and observed for a period as specified by state law (usually 10 days). Pets that are bitten but have expired vaccinations, will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis; you should work out the details with your local veterinarian. Pets that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a rabid animal may need to be euthanized in accordance with regulations or placed in strict quarantine for several months. Remember that rabies vaccines will almost always prevent your pet from acquiring rabies when bitten by a rabid animal; therefore, it makes the most sense to keep them up to date on their rabies vaccinations. It is a good idea to keep your rabies vaccination certificate or proof of vaccination available to help you remember your pet’s vaccination history and as a source of information for veterinarians.
What If My Pet Bites Someone?
If your pet bites a person, urge the victim to see a physician immediately and to follow the physician’s recommendations. Then check with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is up to date on its rabies vaccination. You should report the bite to the local health department and animal control authorities. Often your pet will need to be confined under your control to monitor for any signs of rabies. If your pet exhibits any unusual behavior, contact your veterinarian and the local health department. You must make certain that the pet is under control and able to be carefully observed. After the observation period, have your pet vaccinated for rabies if the pet’s vaccination is not current.
When Should a Pet Be Vaccinated and How Often?
Rabies vaccinations should only be administered by a licensed veterinarian and the dog, cat or ferret can usually receive its first vaccination at about 3 months of age. This initial vaccination should be followed up by another rabies vaccination a year later. After this sequence, your veterinarian will work with you and set up continual vaccinations at either 1-or 3-year intervals. There are different types of rabies vaccines that require different protocols to ensure full protection of your pet. Remember that all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated for rabies even if they spend most of their time indoors. Vaccinating your pet not only protects them from rabies but also reduces the risk for you and your family. Additionally, spaying or neutering pets will reduce the number of potential strays that would be susceptible and possibly exposed to rabies. Keeping your pet on a leash when outdoors also helps to prevent inadvertent exposure to rabies in wildlife.
Does the State of Georgia Have Laws Pertaining to Rabies?
Georgia has a legal requirement that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated for rabies and the vaccines can only be administered by a licensed veterinarian. The minimal age requirement is 3 months and pets must be continuously vaccinated over their entire lifetime. The primary responsibility for the control of rabies in Georgia rests with individual county Boards of Health. They also promulgate rules and regulations for the prevention and control of rabies including quarantine periods. County Boards of Health have websites that spell out the specifics of these programs for their respective counties.
What Can I Do to Help Control Rabies?
Remember that rabies is entirely preventable through vaccinations. You should make certain that your pet receives its rabies vaccination and remains up to date for its entire life. You can prevent possible exposure to rabies by not allowing you dog or cat to roam free and supervise them when they are outside. Spaying and neutering pets may decrease roaming tendencies and will prevent them from contributing to the birth of unwanted animals in our communities. It is helpful not to leave exposed garbage or pet food outside, as it may attract wild or stray animals. Try to observe wild animals only from a distance especially if their behavior is not normal. A rabid animal may appear tame, but you should not go near it. Children should be warned to NEVER handle unfamiliar animals even if they appear friendly. If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to local animal control authorities. If possible, work to bat-proof homes or other structures from nesting thus reducing their access to people or pets.
Are Dog and Cats at the Oconee Regional Humane Society (ORHS) Vaccinated?
All the dogs and cats under the care of the ORHS are vaccinated for rabies as well as for several other infections. They have been carefully examined, screened, spayed or neutered and thus are offered for adoption in good health and already vaccinated for rabies. This is another reason to consider adopting a pet from the ORHS.
World Rabies Day has been designated to remind us that rabies is the deadliest disease in the world, but it is also completely preventable. As pet owners, we all have a crucial role to play in preventing this lethal disease. Please celebrate this special day by vaccinating your pet!
By Dr. Lonnie King
Several years ago, a skinny, beat up, socially neglected and badly injured beagle was found wondering along a Georgia highway. He was picked up and transported to a local humane society where he began to be properly cared for and start a long road to recovery. He was about 3 years old and was missing part of his tail and half of one of his ears. They named him Murray. It was likely that his injuries and appearance would prevent him from adoption. Murray was quite timid and afraid of almost everything but eager for love and attention. In addition to his care at the humane society, Murray was also fostered by some kind folks who thought that he needed a second chance. He was socialized and received veterinary care and the loving care of his foster parents. As Murray continued his recovery to health, people noticed that he was special; he had renewed energy, a great nose and was highly food motivated. With these qualities, he was a wonderful candidate to be considered for further training to take advantage of his remarkable traits and, hopefully, to introduce him into an environment in which he could flourish and lead a transformed and meaningful life.
Murray was a perfect candidate to become a detection dog. He was introduced into the National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC) located in Newnan, Georgia. This facility is operated by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The NDDTC provides highly specialized training for agricultural detector dog teams tasked with safeguarding American agriculture and natural resources from harmful pests and diseases that could enter this country from overseas. The training begins with 2 weeks of screening to evaluate the temperament, behavior, health and food drive of the dogs. Murray passed with flying colors and his life and future were about to drastically change for the better. After about 4 more months of special training, Murray became a member of the “Beagle Brigade”. Now with renewed spirit, energy and a special purpose, he is sniffing luggage and carry-on bags for illegal contraband associated with passengers as they arrived at our international airports from all over the world. The Beagle Brigade started in 1984 and use beagles and beagle-crosses to sniff out and identify fruits, vegetables, pests and animal products that could attack and destroy important agricultural crops, livestock, poultry and forests if allowed to enter our country.
Murray was assigned to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport where he works today. These dogs are readily accepted by passengers because they are cute, small and not intimidating. You may have seen Murray or other members of the Beagle Brigade wearing their green jackets, tails wagging and with a sense of urgency, sniffing luggage and bags in hopes of finding illegal contraband and then receiving the praise and treats from their handlers that they seek as rewards. For Murray, it is a of game of hide and seek that he thrives on; however, for U.S agriculture, it is a serious and deadly game of protecting our agriculture and food supply.
The dogs work with trainers for 10-14 weeks and are also teamed with their permanent handlers as part of the next level of training. Additionally, the dogs are also evaluated to make certain that they can tolerate the noise and the busy and bustling environments of a large airport. If they pass the tests and rigors of training, they work with their handlers up to 8 hours a day with plenty of breaks and are given the best diet, health care and attention for the rest of their lives. Murray and his other Brigade members are especially suited for this life. Murray would not be a happy dog as a couch potato; his strong and inherent hunting instinct, food motivation, early development and desire to play and be rewarded make him a perfect match for this lifestyle.
We know that dogs have a remarkable sense of smell and members of the Beagle Brigade are specially trained to detect numerous agricultural products and pests. Initially, they are trained to detect apples, citrus, mangos, beef and pork. Over time, the dogs learn to detect more scents, and some can detect up to 50 different types of odors from various contraband. They are trained to differentiate the scents of illegal agricultural goods from hundreds of other normal and common scents. For example, they can detect an orange, beef or pork product and alert their handlers but not give alerts on candy that is orange-flavored, lotions or other safe items. The dogs have over a 90% accuracy rate as they diligently sniff thousands of bags daily found on carousels, carried by passengers or being held by authorities. Although the USDA is responsible for training, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operates and has authorization for the inspections at the airports. The CBP also trains larger dogs to do similar inspections of cargo, mail and baggage at land border crossings and seaports.
Today, it is estimated that U.S. agriculture and related businesses are worth over a trillion dollars to our economy but are constantly under attack from invasive species and dangerous pathogens originating from overseas that could be transported into this country causing millions of dollars of damages and losses. For example, fruit flies can attack our citrus trees and animal disease pathogens can infect and kill our livestock and poultry. Emerald Ash Borer is a pest that was illegally brought into the U.S. and has devastated millions of ash trees in 30 states. More recently, a pathogen and pest from Asia, called citrus greening disease, got into the U.S. and has attacked our citrus industries in Florida and California. Because of this disease, the orange production in Florida has been reduced by 75% with an estimated loss of $2 billion to that industry.
Murray and the other Brigade dogs are now part of 179 detection teams found at all U.S. international airports. In 2016 alone, these canine teams alerted their handlers to 1.77 million potentially illegal entries and helped screen luggage from 23 million passengers. Their work resulted in the interception, quarantine and destruction of over 75,000 illegal agricultural items that were, fortunately, kept out of our country thus protecting our highly valuable and vulnerable agricultural and food supply.
Murray and his friends will work until they are about 9 years old and are then adopted by loving families. It is not uncommon for their handlers to adopt them because they have developed a special bond and mutual love. All the dogs that are being retired or the dogs that fail their evaluation at the NDDTS in Newnan, Georgia, are guaranteed to be adopted. As a matter of fact, there is even a waiting list today to adopt these dogs. Murray’s story has been repeated hundreds of times. The Beagle Brigade is made up of beagles and beagle-crosses that mostly originate from animal shelters and rescue organizations. These are dogs given a second chance and subsequently live playful, energetic lives with a very noble purpose and receive praise, rewards and exceptional care in exchange for work that they love to do and are especially well adapted. The dogs of the Beagle Brigade have become the rock stars at our airports and even have their own trading cards and coloring books for kids. Murray’s brown eyes literally sparkle today as he looks forward to each new day and adventure. We are indebted to our shelters, humane societies and rescue groups that help give our canines a second chance and, who knows, when another neglected stray like Murray, will also become a national hero.