Blog Posts by Sarah D. Bunting

  • 8 summer dangers for cats

    When we think of summertime dangers for pets, we're probably thinking mostly about dogs. Dogs spend more time outside; dogs tend to have a more intense relationship with what's on the picnic table; dogs are more likely to like the water.

    But some cats hang out outdoors, or near pools and ponds – and too much sun can have harmful effects on our feline friends, too. Now that summer is officially underway, it's a good time to review the hot-weather dangers that might face our cats – with a little help from this rundown from PetPlace's Dr. Dawn Ruben.

    1. Fights with other animals. If your cat spends more time outdoors in the warmer weather, chances are she's not on a leash – and other cats roaming the nabe aren't either. Consider a small harness, or only letting Fluffy out under supervision.

    2. Insects. We would never have put "maggot infestation" (!) on our list of cat-related worries, but warm weather means more insects…means flies can lay eggs on your cat's skin or in cuts and scrapes.

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  • Pets may prevent allergies, not cause them

    You may have heard that infants who grow up in households with pets can develop resistance to allergies – and a new study may have nailed down why.

    Research suggests that exposure to all sorts of dirt and dander is beneficial in terms of exposing a child's immune system to, and strengthening it against, various allergens; as researcher Ganesa Wegienka put it, "Dirt is good." And children who live with – read: "roll around and play with" – dogs and cats are less likely to become allergic to those animals later in life, as long as the exposure occurred during the first year of life. The study appeared in the journal "Clinical & Experimental Allergy," and followed over 500 kids until age 18; teens who had lived with a cat during their first year had a 48 percent lower risk of developing a cat allergy. Meanwhile, teen boys who had lived with a dog were 50 percent less likely to develop dog allergies – but the rate was not the same for infant/teen girls who had lived with dogs, for reasons

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  • Paw and Order: Stolen kittens and invasive fish

    Reading the police blotter is one of our favorite things to do. Whether it's the stupidity of the criminals involved, or the hilariously deadpan quotes the local cops give to the reporters, the police blotter cracks us up. (At least, the stories where nobody gets hurt.)

    We've noticed lately that lots of these stories involve animals (in fact, our all-time favorite police-blotter item involved a Bourne, MA resident calling 9-1-1 to report "suspicious ducks"), so we thought we'd gather a few of the highlights for a periodic feature we like to call "Paw & Order."

    Allen Park, MI: "Pet shop owner says child stole kitten, was encouraged by adults"

    Owner Rick Simms must run a very appealing outfit at the Allen Park Critter Shop, because his business has been the victim of repeated – and creative – thefts over the years, including thieves drilling a hole in the roof to snag some puppies, and stashing stolen fish in a Big Gulp cup.

    But, Simms says, this is a new one: surveillance video caught a

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  • Meet the World's Ugliest Dog contenders!

    Ratdog, a 2011 W.U.D. contestant, is held aloft at last year's contestIt's that time of year again, folks – time to crown the World's Ugliest Dog!

    The competition is held this Friday, June 22, at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, CA – and the dogfight to take the W.U.D. crown promises to get fierce. Challengers won't have to unseat the reigning champion, Yoda (the Chihuahua mix passed away in March of this year), but the field is still impressively unattractive. Contestants include a Mexican Hairless mix named Creature with an imposing underbite and a more-than-passing resemblance to Muppet-band drummer Animal; Peeps, rescued from a puppy mill and set to star in a movie in 2013; Handsome Hector, back for another round (and documenting the process on his blog); and the mohawked Squiggy, whose bio claims he's part Smurf.

    VIDEO: Israeli zoo thrilled to greet baby white rhino

    Best of all, you can visit the Sonoma-Marin Fair's website and vote for one of these "inner beauties" yourselves! The poll is just for funsies and only gives the winner bragging rights –

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  • Frances Bean Cobain offers reward for missing cat

    Frances Bean Cobain is hoping the search for her lost feline turns up zero – or rather "Zero," Cobain's little black cat, who went missing June 3. The cat may have bolted thanks to the recent addition of a puppy to the household, but Cobain, 19, has been doing all the right things in order to find the little runaway, including searching her West Hollywood, CA neighborhood with the help of her fiancé Isaiah Silva; posting flyers with the kitten's picture on them; and using social media to enlist the help of local Twitter followers.

    She's even offering a five-thousand-dollar reward to anyone who finds the little fuzzball, whom Cobain says she's raised from the age of just four weeks.

    omg!: First-time celeb dads

    The daughter of troubled rocker Courtney Love and late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain apparently tweeted last week, "So pls if u see a black cat w/ a little patch of white in her chest wandering around the Hollywood/weho area call the # on her tag.5k reward." Cobain also said she

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  • Perplexing Pet Products: Five Pet Place's scratching post

    UPDATE, 6/14/12: Five Pet Place founder Michael Ostrofsky (and his Pebble Beach golf hat) have tried to answer a number of our questions right here -- including the Gorbachev product; their returns policy; and the 5PP rewards program. (We still think purchasing a $375 scratching post in order to get a $50 reimbursement on an adoption fee is a little bit more complicated than it needs to be...but it's the thought that counts.) We're sorry Ostrofsky wasn't able to get our comments field to work, and we appreciate his elaboration on many aspects of the Five Pet Place experience.

    Five Pet Place promises a high-end answer to an age-old question that has beleaguered cat owners since the time of cave drawings: How can one own a cat or cats, but not let that single fact define one's entire dwelling? We've all longed to class up the ugly plastic litterboxes, dowdy scratching posts, and frumpy carpeted cat towers that come with cat ownership; we've all wished that our cat's accouterments could

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  • An aggressive dog could be in pain

    A dog who's never been aggressive before could be suffering without you knowingWe all know it's important to take care when approaching an injured animal – but the results of a new study suggest that aggressive dog behavior that might seem to "come out of nowhere" could actually stem from physical pain humans aren't aware of.

    Dogs can be, or become, aggressive for any number of other reasons: how a puppy is handled and socialized, diet and/or exercise, punishment used as a training technique, even the dog's mother's condition while she was pregnant. But a study undertaken between 2010 and 2011 at the Autonomous University of Barcelona's Animal and Food Science department investigated the symptoms of 12 dogs of varying sizes, and analyzed their aggression problems. A piece on the study in Science Daily listed the breeds included – a Giant Schnauzer, an Irish Setter, a Pit Bull, a Dalmatian, a Chow, a Shih-Tzu, and two German Shepherds, among others – and quoted Tomás Camps, who's the lead author of the study, about the diagnoses. "All (eleven males and one female)

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  • Find lost pets fast

    Almost nothing feels worse than losing a pet – watching the dog sprinting off after a squirrel at Greyhound speeds; wailing "NOOOOOOO" as the cat hurtles between the UPS guy's legs; coming home to find an open gate creaking ominously and a back yard sadly empty of companion animals.

    Your first instinct is to freak out, and we totally relate – but there are things you can do to track down Tiger once you calm down:

    Organize a search party. Just a small posse will do – no need to upset an already wigged-out pet with a big crowd – and it won't have to travel far. Many animals won't stray far from home, at least when they first escape, so investigate a three-block radius around your home. And don't forget to look up and/or listen for treetop meowing.

    And it might seem logical to call for your pet, but don't yell Fluffy's name unless you actually see her; a pet who's following the sound of your voice could get to the spot where he heard you – and find you gone. If you're calling out to your

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  • Shine Tries It: The Neater Feeder

    Welcome to "Shine Tries It," a new feature where we try things so you don't have to. Every Friday our editors will road-test unusual products and unbelievable promises to find out what lives up to the hype and what doesn't. Warning: don't try any of this at home until we do.

    This week, editors Charlene Birkeland and Sarah D. Bunting tested a single product – the Neater Feeder ("Spoil the pet. Spare the floor.") – on two fronts, canine and feline. Charlene's first up with her assessment of the NF for dogs.

    Charlene Birkeland, Editor: I have a diva-ish 70-pound Labrador Retriever who goes by the name Luna Lovegood. She drinks her water like a sloppy drunk. It sloshes all over the floor and trails behind her as she walks away from her bowl. The black water stains on our hardwood floors are like an open scrapbook of her messy habits. She's a piglet.

    Of late, we've just kept a towel under her water bowl so it can soak up her spills. The towel stays damp all day. And it looks trashy.

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  • Dog rescues abandoned newborn

    The deserted infant. Photo via Ghana News Agency.The deserted infant. Photo via Ghana News Agency.A farm dog in Ghana has attained hero status after spending a night protecting an abandoned newborn human. Authorities say the dog, along with its two-week-old charge, was found under a bridge in Winkongo (which is near Bolgatanga, the Upper East Regional Capital of Ghana), near the farm where he lives – with the tiny baby snuggled against him.

    A search party had been convened to look for the dog, not the baby, when the pooch's worried owner got concerned that her pet hadn't returned home in the evening. Searchers spent most of the night tracking the hound through nearby fields and woods, and came upon the unlikely pair quite some time later; finally locating him under the bridge near the farm he calls home, they were surprised to find the dog curled around a human infant.

    VIDEO: Waldorf-Astoria welcomes bee guestzzzzz

    Madam Rosemary Azure, Director of Health for the Talensi-Nabdam District, shared the remarkable story with the Ghana News Agency at a ceremony for a different occasion

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