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Animal Radio® for January 19, 2013  

Why Pets Matter In A Divorce
Silvana Raso, Esq.

Dog on couch between coupleMany pet owners treat their pets as if they are their own children, whether it is a dog, cat, turtle or gerbil. For these owners, the pet is an integral part of the family. But owner beware, the pet that you love and cherish on can easily be taken away from you in an instant if you are involved in a nasty divorce.

According to a quarter of respondents in a 2006 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, pet custody cases have increased noticeably. So who gets Fido? If you think you are entitled to your pet because you think you love him/her more, you're barking up the wrong tree.

Your pet may be considered a member of the family but the courts think otherwise. In divorce cases, the harsh reality is that pets are treated as another piece of property that is being divided in the eventual settlement. Other factors such as veterinary bills, visitation rights to the pet and miscellaneous expenses can turn a nasty divorce into a toxic one.

Courts don't use the same factors when deciding where pets go, as they would in custody battles involving children. This is because the law doesn't allow judges to view pets as anything other than property. But judges are human beings and they understand the emotional attachment that people have to their pets. As a result, they don't treat them as they would a house or a car, and they do try to factor in some emotional value to the pets when making their decision on how to place the pet with, if the adults can't decide.

Dogs in courtroomOne thing the courts do look at is who had the animal before the marriage. If you came into the marriage with the dog, then odds are that you will probably leave the marriage with the dog as well. However, there are some exceptions to that rule. For example, if there are kids in the marriage, generally courts don't take away pets from kids. So whoever gets custody of the kids, usually get custody of the animals as well. So far, no "pet support" has been awarded for the care of an animal.

In cases where the couple acquired the animal together and can't decide who gets the pet, the courts will look at who the main caretaker was during the marriage.

In one case, where there were no children involved, a judge threatened to put a cat in the middle of a room and grant custody to whichever spouse the cat ran toward. The couple ended up determining custody privately.

The best solution for you, your future ex-spouse and your pet is to settle custody and visitation privately to avoid having someone else with no emotional connections decide your pet's fate for you.

Remember, the court may not see your pet as a family member but you do. So when you introduce a pet into a marriage, consider all that is at stake in the event of a divorce. And if you come into the marriage with a pet, consider a pre-nup that covers the animal. Not only will you have a happier ending, but Fido will keep his tail wagging too.

Silvana D. Raso heads the family law practice at Englewood Cliffs, NJ-based Schepisi & McLaughlin, P.A. where she counsels clients in all areas of matrimonial and family law, including pet custody.

Taking Great Pictures Of Your Pet
Robert Semrow, Pawtographer

Life Is Pawfect book coverWhether it's a traditional pose, a candid moment or a creative themed experience, Pawtographer Robert Semrow captures the special friends in your life. The Pawtographer and his photos are catching the attention of everyone, including celebrities, the media, publishers and anyone who loves animals.

If you can think it, Robert can make it happen. In his book, Life is Pawfect; you will find natural portraits to documentary style to fully developed sets and themes. These pictures are so adorable, they are sure to bring a smile to your face!

The dogs in the book aren't model dogs; they're just your every day dog. Robert has built out wonderful scenes and themes and then dressed up the dogs. Robert has a clear rule at his studio. If the dog's not enjoying it, you're not going to get a great picture and there is no sense of putting any animal though that. But, you would be surprised at how many dogs actually enjoy it!

Dog photographed in scuba sceneThe Pawtographer changes up the scenes and themes in the studio weekly. This means that one weekend they might be doing an ocean theme and the next they might be doing a sushi chef scene. Every week it's something new and something different. This keeps things fresh. Some customers will even travel weekly to get a shot of their dog in the different themes.

What if you want to take pictures of your pet yourself? Robert reveals his secret. He says don't always try and do it yourself. When you try to photograph your dog, most dogs have the same reaction. The minute you go down to their level, which is the best point of view, that is a sign for them to come to you and that you want to engage in play with them. So, the dog comes to you and you get frustrated, because you thought, "Oh, it was going to be so perfect! Why'd you move!" They moved because that is what they've been trained to do for so many years. Robert suggests grabbing a friend and have them take the actual photo, while you're there to make your animal comfortable. Your friend will then be able to photograph them in a more natural state. That's the secret!

The Pawtographer caters to dogs, cats, families, celebrities and any animal friend you love. There is no species The Pawtographer won't photograph with creativity, patience, and expertise. Your pet is very special and unique, shouldn't your portraits be a true and memorable reflection of them?

The Dogfather's Grooming Tip with Joey Villani

Joey VillaniHow To Clip Your Cat's Nails
Most people don't understand that you need to clip your cat's nails just as you do your dog's nails. If you don't, they can curl under and grow into the pads of their feet and make them lame. This can be worse for cats, as their nails are a lot sharper than a dog's.

The first thing you need to do when clipping your cat's nails is to find a brave and willing partner, because this is a two-person job! You should also both wear long sleeves.

The items you will need are a pair of cat nail clippers, which look like tiny little pliers. You should also have some styptic powder on hand, otherwise called "Quick Stop," just in case you cut the nail too short and it bleeds.

Two people clipping a cat's nailsYou need someone to hold the cat while someone clips the nails. The holder is probably the most important thing in this equation. If the person holding the cat is right handed, they will scruff the cat with their left hand. This means that they will grab the loose skin right under the ears of the cat. You don't need to hold too tightly where it can hurt the cat, but just tight enough to have control of their head.

Next, they need to take their free right hand and wrap it around the cat's body, just above where the knees on a the cat would be. This will give them control over the cat's two back feet.

Now, the clipper will grab one leg and use their thumb to push into the cat's pad. This will extract the cat's nails. Unlike a dog's nails, which are always showing, a cat can retract their nails.

Image showing quick and where to cutIf you look at cat's nails, they are always clear. This helps you to see the pink "quick" or vein inside. You want to trim as close to the quick as possible without hitting it.

It is important to smile while you are doing this. Yes, smile! If you have a fearful or angry face, your cat will pick up on this. Be friendly and talk to your cat in a clam friendly voice while trimming their nails.

It is hard to keep track of making sure you trimmed all nails, so always start from the outside in so you can keep your place.

If you do hit the quick, take a little bit of the styptic powder and hold it in the cut nail for a few seconds.

Animal Radio® News with Stacey Cohen

Person holding lots of catsAre You Over Your Limit On Cats?
Residents in Wellington, Kansas now have a limit on the number of their feline friends. As of January 1st, households in Wellington can only have a total of four cats. Previously there was no limit on the number of cats someone could own. The measure was a reaction to the increasing number of stray cats picked up by city officials. Wellington Police Chief Tracy Heath tells the Wellington Daily News that as of November 2012, the city picked up 231 stray cats. Eighty-seven percent of those cats were eventually euthanized. In order to cut down on the number of homeless cats the town has also required that newly adopted cats be spayed or neutered.

Justin Bieber holding his hamsterHamster Association Eats Words
The folks at the California Hamster Association are taking back their comments about Justin Bieber. Last month the organization accused the star of animal cruelty after he handed off his pet hamster, named PAC, to a screaming fan while leaving a concert. The Hamster Association claimed that Bieber had issued a death sentence to PAC, as hamsters are fragile and don't respond well to sudden environmental change. But PAC's new owner, 18-year-old Tori, says that her new pet is doing just fine. She tells Celebuzz that she worships PAC, and that he's being well taken care of in her home. Since Tori's remarks, the California Hamster Association is backing down. They have released a statement saying they, "Have no ill will toward Mr. Bieber" and they now understand that the hamster's new owner is doing her best to do right by the animal.

KidigoApe Puts On His Dancing Shoes Again
Officials at a German zoo are happy to say that dancing days are here again for one of their gorillas. A spokeswoman for the Krefeld Zoo says Kidogo, a 12-year-old silverback gorilla, was feeling homesick after he moved to the facility from Denmark back in April. But she says the talented ape has adjusted to his new home and is ready to show off his rope-dancing moves just in time for the zoo' s 75th anniversary celebration. According to the Daily Mail, trainers discovered Kidogo's talent when they added a rope to his enclosure. They thought it would give him something else to hang on, but they were amazed when he decided to walk across it instead.

Live possum in a clear boxRoad-Kill Festivities
A New Year's event in a small western North Carolina town will no longer be able to use a live possum as part of its festivities. Residents of Brasstown would welcome the New Year in part by lowering a live possum trapped in a clear box. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals discovered the event and sued the state's Wildlife Resources Commission, which had issued a permit for the event. A judge ruled in PETA's favor and now the organizer might use a stuffed possum or one that is road-kill instead.

Diagram showing spread of zoonosesStop The Spread of Zoonoses
There are many diseases that affect pets that can also be dangerous for people. These diseases even have a name. They are called zoonoses. Fortunately, many of these diseases are easily preventable. Let's talk about some of the most serious diseases in question. Rabies is probably one of the most dangerous of these diseases. Almost without exception, rabies is fatal once an animal or person becomes infected with it. People can be exposed to rabies through animal bites. Roundworms are intestinal parasites that can infect dogs, cats, and many other mammals (including wild animals such as raccoons). This worm can also infect people. This occurs when the larval form of the worm migrates through the body. It is particularly dangerous for children, potentially causing blindness, seizures, and other symptoms. Keeping pets free of parasites, picking up pet feces, and following good hygiene practices are the best defenses against this parasite. Hookworms, like roundworms, are intestinal parasites. They are worms that live in the intestinal tract of dogs, cats, and other animals. These worms can infest sand and dirt, causing skin lesions for people who contact the parasite. Picking up pet feces can help stop the spread. salmonella, E. coli and other intestinal bacterial infections can affect many species of animals, including dogs and cats. These infections can be passed to people as well. There is some indication that pets eating raw food may be more likely to expose their owners to these diseases. In addition, people (particularly children) handling pet foods contaminated with salmonella have been documented as being at risk. Proper hygiene and food handling techniques are the best way to prevent spread of these diseases. These are just a few of the diseases that can be spread from pets to people. The good news is that you can reduce your risk for these diseases by vaccinating your animals and also washing your hands and picking up your animal's feces!

Tiny TimCat Should Be On "Biggest Loser"
A fat cat in Texas is getting his New Year's resolution under way early. ABC News reports the ironically named Tiny Tim used to weigh more than 35 pounds, but has managed to shed 6.6 pounds, or nearly 20-percent of his body weight. Tim was rescued just before Christmas 2011, and Southside Place Animal Hospital manager Debbie Green says he had trouble walking and standing when they first took him in. But thanks to a very, very regimented diet and biweekly weigh-ins, he's on his way back to a healthy weight. Green jokes that Tim is doing better than most people when it comes to dieting, and says she even thinks he could land a spot on the reality show "Biggest Loser."

SquidSquid Inseminates Woman's Tongue
A woman in Seoul, Korea was eating semi-boiled squid in June when the cephalopod injected its sperm bag into her tongue. The unidentified woman reportedly experienced a "pricking and foreign-body sensation" while she chewed and spat the squid out. Doctors found that the squid had left "twelve small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms" in the mucous membranes of her tongue and cheek.

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