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 This Week From The Redbarn Studios

Animal Radio for November 27, 2021  

Chickens As Pets
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick's Guide To Backyard Chickens

Kathy Shea Mormino with ChickenThe "Chicken Chick" is back with her backyard chicken stories and tips on raising your own chickens. Trained as a lawyer, Kathy Shea-Mormino has taken on cities all across the U.S. to allow chickens in city settings.

Previously in Kathy's farm town, raising backyard chickens was not a permitted activity. There was even a lawsuit by the town against her and her husband, which they prevailed on. Kathy then went on to subsequently get the law changed in her town so that if you have a quarter acre of land you can keep chickens.

While Kathy prevailed in her hometown, she explains that there are municipalities all over the country where backyard chickens are not legal to be kept. She says it sounds crazy because it is crazy. Zoning regulations were not fashioned to protect people from rogue chickens. They were fashioned to protect housing values from commercial endeavors like glue factories.

So if chickens are legal, what about roosters? Are they still banned in backyards? Kathy tells us it varies by jurisdiction. In her mind there is no there's no difference between noise that comes from a dog or an airplane or a rooster. She says noise is noise. Her position is if jurisdictions want to regulate noise they should so based on decibels, or time of day, or what have you, because there's no difference between the types of noise. Noise is noise.

Of course, we all know that roosters crow because they have internal clock that helps them anticipate sunrise. Roosters crow but don't dogs bark? Absolutely! Some dogs bark first thing in the morning and bark constantly throughout the day. In Kathy's experience, dogs are much more noisy and persistently noisy throughout the day than roosters. A rooster will crow a couple of times and then generally stop. They're different; each rooster is an individual; each dog is an individual, but on average she thinks dogs are much more annoying to neighbors than the average rooster. In fact, she's yet to meet anyone who didn't have the sentiment that they would prefer to live next door to a rooster than a barking dog.

So how fast is the backyard chicken as pets movement going? Kathy doesn't like the concept of claiming that it's a movement. To her it is a very traditional and customary endeavor to raise chickens in your backyard for eggs. That's how people in the beginning of the twentieth century got eggs. There were no grocery stores. There were no commercial poultry farms. If you wanted eggs or you wanted chickens for meat, then you raised the birds. The pendulum swung far away in the opposite direction after the two world wars and people started moving into the cities and it wasn't posh to do that. Then commercial meat operations set up shop. Next we could buy meat and eggs in grocery stores.

Backyard ChickensThe backyard chicken of today is more than just an egg layer. They have become pets and family members, which is a surprise to most of us. Kathy first obtained her chickens because she wanted fresh eggs and her neighbor was doing it. It just looked like an attainable objective. What she didn't expect was that as soon as she brought the baby chicks home that they would become pets. She thinks it's a surprise to most of us. She doesn't think most backyard chicken keepers expect that their chickens are going to become pets, but they do.

Chickens have their own personalities, says Kathy. It's rather unexpected because you don't think of chickens as personable or entertaining or amusing, but they really are. They're not very different from a dog or a cat, except in that they produce food for you. What does your cat or dog produce? Chickens are pets with actual benefit.

Kathy has around 50 chickens, give or take. In her mind she was going to start with six. In reality, she ended up starting with 14 and then it just grew from there. She then started hatching eggs and ordering different breeds for the different colors and the different plumage colors as well as the different personalities and characteristics.

What are some of the best chicken breeds for someone looking to raise backyard chickens? Kathy states it depends what your needs are. So what's best for her may not be best for you. If you live in Canada, the birds that are going to be best for your climate are not the birds that are going to do well necessarily in Florida. So chickens have different needs and different challenges. You just have to base your choices on how they're going to do in your climate and how they're going to meet your purposes. Not all hens lay eggs at the same rate either. It's a misconception that hens will lay an egg every day. Most don't. So if egg production is your primary purpose and you want a great egg layer and you live in Florida, leghorns probably are a good choice for you.

The main mistake people make with backyard chickens is not understanding the difference between chicken wire and welded wire. We all know what chicken wire is. It's a flimsy, sort of bendable wire. Chicken wire will not keep your chickens safe from predators in their coop at night or even during the day. A raccoon or a hawk can reach right through the little holes in a chicken wire and pull a chicken to it's death without pulling it all the way through. Raccoons can also open it like it's a paper envelope. Chicken wire is intended to contain chickens to an area but not to keep predators out of a space.

Chicken Chicks Guide To Raising Backyard Chickens book coverPredator proofing a chicken coop and getting a good quality chicken coop that's well-constructed and that has plenty of windows is essential to the success of your first flock and for your birds' lifetimes. Kathy thinks most people don't understand the essential requirements of a good coop and predator proofing. She also doesn't think that most of the people who are making chicken coops understand what the important features are, but she's trying to change that.

Kathy has a rescue cat and a Yorkie who is a lot more like a cat than a dog. Her dog thinks the chickens are squeaker toys. Kathy knows that about him and knows that he will chase them, so he is not allowed to be around them.

If you have a dog or cat and you're not sure how they will be around your chickens, if you're concerned, listen to that inner voice in your head that says they are probably not going to be okay with the chickens. If you know that they will stand at the screen door and go nuts when they see a squirrel, it's a safe bet they won't be safe around your birds.

Kathy's book, The Chicken Chick's Guide To Backyard Chickens, is from her years as blogging, and includes some great pictures. Kathy tells us it was, "A Labor of Hate!" and a lot of work. She took all the pictures of her chickens herself and tried to capture their personalities and their issues. She said the book was a long time coming and it was not something that she ever wanted to do. However, a publisher contacted her and encouraged her to write it. Her Facebook fans also encouraged her for years to put her blog in book form so they could have it on their bookshelf when the computer wasn't booted up or the phone wasn't on. That's what inspired it.

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Pet Flipping - Seven Tips to Safeguard Your Pet - Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhitePet lovers beware of the disturbing criminal trend called "pet flipping." This is when a person steals a pet or takes ownership of a lost pet, and then sells the animal. Pets are typically sold on the Internet to make a quick profit. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports a rise in pet thefts.

Pet flippers most commonly target purebred dogs because they can fetch a high price, but even mixed breed dogs are at risk. Dogs are swiped from porches, fenced in back yards, dog parks, and cars. Some pet scams involve a person advertising as a pet sitter or trainer, who then disappears with your pet. Other scams involve someone who steals a pet and then responds to the lost pet ad, making money on rewards.

Top 7 Tips to Prevent Pet Flipping:

1. Don't Leave Your Pet Unattended
Avoid leaving your pet unattended, even in your own backyard. Don't leave your pet outside of stores or coffee shops. Tying your dog's leash up while you run that quick errand can give a thief the few minutes he needs to snatch your pet while you step away. Keep a watchful eye on your dog when visiting dog parks.

2. Get Your Pet Microchipped
A microchip is one of the best tools to reunite lost pets and serves as legal proof of ownership. Be sure to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.

3. Use GPS Collars
A GPS collar allows you to track your dog's movement minute by minute. These units can help you find your pet quickly if lost, but are of little use if a pet flipper removes the collar. I use the Tagg Pet Tracker for my dog and like that I can locate him to a precise location with my smart phone.

4. Get Your Pet Spayed or Neutered
Dogs that aren't spayed or neutered are especially prized targets to thieves since they are perceived as a money-making opportunity. Spaying and neutering also decreases the desire to stray and is good for your pet's health.

Empty Dog Leash5. Research Pet Services Carefully
Before signing on for pet sitting or dog trainer services, research the business person's reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Ask your veterinarian for a referral to a reputable pet professional. Request references before using a new pet service.

6. Buyer Beware
Be cautious when buying a pet online and only use reputable breeders. Check out a breeders standing with the AKC and breed clubs. Be wary of individuals that lack documentation of breeding or veterinary health care records.

7. Sign Up For Doggie Facial Recognition Apps
High-tech facial recognition technology is now available to identify and track down lost pets with services like Finding Rover. Use your iPhone to download the app at Upload your pet's photo in their database, and promptly notify Finding Rover if your pet is ever lost.

Pet flipping is so heinous because it exploits the cherished relationship between family and a beloved pet. Share this information with fellow pet lovers to spread awareness and halt this criminal trend.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.

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5 Things You Must Know About Pet Diabetes
Robert Semrow, Listomania

Robert Semrow, Sugar and ZoeyNovember is Pet Diabetes Month and sadly it is something that every dog and cat parent needs to know about. Anywhere between 1 in every 300 dogs and 1 in every 230 cats are developing diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease caused by a lack of insulin that affects the level of glucose, or sugar, in your dog or cat's blood. The glucose comes from the food that your pet eats. The food is broken down into very small components by the digestive system so that the body can use it for energy. Glucose is one of these components and an important source of energy. Insulin is required for the cells to absorb glucose. Insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Healthy pets produce insulin easily, but pets with diabetes don't. In canine and feline diabetes, unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream. If that occurs, it can lead to damage of multiple organs in the body.

Diabetes is a condition that you can often see and identify by noticeable changes in your dog or cat's behavior and other physical signs. Some of those signs including drinking more water than usual, increased hunger and eating while losing weight. They may urinate more frequently and have a reduction in activity and in some cases they may appear to have cloudy eyes. These signs can mean something different, which is why it's so important to work with your veterinarian to determine what is actually going on.

Some of the risk factors for pets include their age (older dogs and cats are more affected), genetics, obesity and inactivity that should be considered and watched.

Next it's critical that you work with a vet who not only understands your pet, but also diabetes in pets. Your vet will diagnose diabetes by performing an in depth health examination and testing your pet's urine and blood as well.

Dog Receiving Insulin ShotAdditionally, human diabetes and dog and cat diabetes are similar. So much so that a dog or cat being treated for diabetes will be utilizing some of the same medication, equipment and monitoring systems that humans with diabetes use.

So I know many will ask if a diabetes diagnoses means a shorter lifespan for your pet. The good news is that with proper management, monitoring and care a dog or cat with diabetes can live a long life.

Managing a dog or cat with diabetes will often involve blood monitoring, insulin injections and a controlled diet. Your veterinarian will be the key to understanding your pet's needs; but you will be the critical component of your pet's health maintenance and longevity.

More and more pet parents are facing this and everyday new medications, treatments, technologies and information are being developed to help.

Share your pet diabetes stories on our Animal Radio Facebook Page.

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Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Lori and Flo BearDelta Sued Fake Puppy Scam Website Impersonating Them
An elaborate, but bogus pet-shipping website that made people believe they were dealing with Delta Air Lines had been linked to a puppy selling scam, offering smaller dogs like Chihuahuas and poodles for sale. Delta, which conducted its own investigation into the phony pet shipping website uncovered what it says was a larger criminal scheme. The airline filed a lawsuit against the website in Federal Court because it was designed to look like the real Delta site and used the airline's logos and pictures of its planes. According to Delta, the fake website operators collected thousands of dollars without ever shipping or delivering any pets. And, even after people paid the purchase price for a "non-existent puppy," the people behind the website demanded more payments for what they said was for mandatory insurance, vaccines, permits and other required fees. Delta says that in truth, the defendants had no dogs for sale, provided no shipping services and instead retained all payments of their theft-by-deception made by the victims.

Man Showering with Pet RaccoonPet Owners Do Weird Things With Their Pets
A survey showed that a large percentage of pet owners go out of their way to do things with their pets that other less animal friendly people may consider weird. This survey revealed that a third of us let our pets into the bathroom with us. The poll of 2,000 dog and cat owners also found a third shared a bath or shower with their pet. Three in ten signed their animal’s name in birthday cards. More than six in ten admitted they are closer to their pet than they are to some of their family members. And nine in ten owners said they don't care what other people think of their relationships with their pets.

Woman Almost Dies Because of Broken-Heart Syndrome After Death of Dog
We know that Debbie Reynolds died of a broken heart just a few days after her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher, passed away. But what if you lose one of your precious pets, could it break your heart and kill you? The answer is yes. A woman in Texas came very close to dying herself following the death of her Yorkshire Terrier. A local emergency room thought she was having a heart attack since she showed the classic signs. She was airlifted to a bigger hospital with heart specialists. Tests were performed showing she actually had what is called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a condition with symptoms that mimic a heart attack. It can happen when a flood of stress hormones basically stun the heart, which then goes into spasms and it can happen in healthy people. It usually occurs following an emotional event such as the loss of a spouse or child, which is why it is referred to as broken-heart syndrome. Heart specialists felt it was such a classic case of broken heart syndrome, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article on the case.

Interactive Pet ArtInteractive Art Exhibit for Cats and Dogs
A few years ago, Wellness pet food splurged big time to celebrate its 10th anniversary in Singapore by setting up an amazing interactive art exhibit custom made just for dogs and cats. It was designed to create a positive “art appreciation experience” for pets. Veterinarians and animal behaviorists served as advisors on the project. One room was designed to give dogs the illusion they were floating on a magic carpet through a sky full of toys while delicious meaty snacks were projected onto the walls. In the background, a song 'A Whole New World' was played at a special frequency that could only be heard by dogs. There were several installations each for dogs and for cats. Check out their website website where you can see a picture of a giant cat tree, which was really a huge cat divided into six small rooms. The cat’s tongue served as a ladder for cats to get into it and each room was covered with yarn for a cat’s clawing delight.

EarListen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1147)

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