® | January 3rd 2006 Newsletter
Programming with a Purpose

                        In this issue:

WATCHDOG REPORT ­ Animal Welfare is pretty lucrative.
IS YOUR CAT UNLEADED? Behind Lead poisoning.
FACETS OF ANIMAL COMMUNICATION - You can chat with Fido too!
PRODUCT REVIEW Kiapet Easy Grab Disc
" Campaign.

Now on Animal Radio®

Merritt Clifton, Animal People, uncovers what the CEO's and Exec's of non-profit animal organizations made in the year 2005. The yearly Watchdog Report continues to amaze us at Animal Radio. Are these individuals really worth your hard earned cash?

Annemarie Lucas from the ASPCA and star of Animal Precinct, talks about her love for her job and how everyone can get involved to help stop animal abuse.

Host of National Geographic's Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan explores the realities behind changing behavior.

Animal Radio Weekly Show Animal Radio Network® Programming

If you were lucky enough to get a new dog from Santa, then right around now the reality of what your new family member requires will be settling in. You may be feeling like sending up an SOS flare.

Or you may be delighted with the new adventure and responsibilities, but full of questions and doubts about how to proceed. Here are some philosophical thoughts about your budding inter-species relationship.

The Emotional Roller Coaster of the Early Days
The first week or two can be the bumpiest time of your new relationship with your pooch as you both adjust to your shared living arrangement. Be patient, because once you get to know each other things should smooth out. If you feel as though you may have made a mistake in getting this new dog, don't worry: this is not an unusual reaction. It's practical: why wouldn't you experience qualms about your decision to take full responsibility for another being's welfare?! A dog is a big responsibility but do remember that just because you are having a feeling ­ doubt ­ it doesn't mean you have to act on that feeling. Take heart that once your affection for the dog grows, positive emotions will crowd out any negative feelings that remain.

If you feel overwhelmed by your decision to join your life with a dog's, just think how people must have felt back in the day when they got "mail order brides!" By thinking of your new dog as an "arranged companion," you'll see why it isn't unreasonable to get "cold feet at the altar." Getting a dog is a big decision, so it stands to reason that you might have last-minute doubts. But those doubts don't mean you should bail out or that there is something wrong with you. On the contrary, any fears you may have are actually a healthy sign that you realize the importance of this commitment. If you realize that concerns about the responsibilities are at the root of most qualms about getting a dog, it can make your doubts a lot easier to deal with.

Evaluating the New Dog Fairly
Critical Feelings About Your New Dog are often a sign of ambivalence about your decision to get a dog in the first place. Having second thoughts is quite normal but if you find yourself making a mental checklist of flaws about the pooch, just "rip it up." This is no time to be giving the dog a report card.

You might also want to consider the possibility that your qualms are not about this individual dog but about the whole event of having a new dog join your life.

It is unfair to make a critical evaluation of a new dog trying his best to fit in ­ give him time to find his sea legs in your home, rather than thinking there are problems you have to immediately solve. In the beginning a dog hasn't settled down enough to be his true self with you; he deserves a chance to fit into your life before being harshly judged. Many issues may just disappear once the dog feels comfortable and secure.

The Dog is Having a Rough time, Too
It may help you to realize that a dog who joins a new human family is experiencing her own emotional challenge. For you it is a big step to decide to make a new life together with the dog, but he had no say in the matter. You just "happened" to him and he has to roll with the punches. For dogs, adjusting to a new environment creates excitement mixed with anxiety ­ not so very different from what you may be feeling.

If the new dog is a puppy she has to make the giant step of going from her own litter to being a four-legged creature in a house with two-legged ones.

If the dog is older and you are re-homing her from a previous human co-habitation, she has the bittersweet memories of the place(s) she lived before you ­ and then lost. Now she has the worry of wondering how it will be with you, and all the "broken trust" issues of abuse, abandonment or whatever led to the end of that home.

Ways to Visualize the New Dog
Think of the New Puppy as a Newborn Infant: A puppy is a huge burden and lots of work and it should make your job easier if you perceive him as a lonely, frightened baby. Think what shock it must be for a small pup to leave a warm bed full of squirming siblings and his Mommy full of tasty milk ­ only to wind up with two-legged giants who put him in a crate to sleep alone.
Just keep in mind when dealing with a young pup's whining and crying in the early weeks that he's only a baby. A puppy doesn't do anything in order to irritate or manipulate you - he's just confused, frightened and lonely.

Think of the New Older Dog as a Foster Child: A dog who has had previous home(s) with humans or was in an institution before you rescued him is in a state of confusion. He cannot know who he belongs to, what's expected of him or what will happen next. This doesn't mean you should let her have free rein in your life and indulge her ­ quite the opposite, you want to set boundaries and make rules for the dog, which shows her who is in charge and what is expected of her.

There is No "Right" Way
Each person and family have to find their own way to introduce a new dog into their home and weave him into the fabric of their life. Beware people or publications that dictate what you "have" to do; avoid the mind-set that the whole "new dog" experience is something you're going to be graded on. This is not a test of you or the dog.

Being a dog's companion is supposed to be fun and pleasurable for all concerned ­ otherwise, what's the point, right!?

{This is Tracie Hotchner's debut with Animal Radio, where she will have a regular column called "Ask THE DOG BIBLE..." This will feature excerpts pertaining to that month's theme, picked by Tracie from her new 700 page encyclopedic book that has been called "a Dr. Spock for dogs." Further information may also be on her website,, where you can email questions.}

Veterinary Minute with Dr. Jim Humphries

Clicker Training For Small Pets
Rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, rats and other small pets are full of energy and mischief-but their owners may be surprised to discover they are also trainable. Clicker training can help encourage acceptable behaviour, as well as forming a bond between human and animal.

The level of activity and problem solving required for finding food, creating homes and staying safe is not required of a pet living in a cage or a human house. Training sessions allow the animal to use its natural abilities thus providing mental and physical stimulation. This will contribute to a longer and happier life.

"Clicking with small pets brightens their lives, exercises their minds and brings out their personalities," says clicker training pioneer Karen Pryor. "It is easy to learn and mentally and physically enriching for pets and their owners."

When it clicks
Clicker training is a teaching system whereby a sound is used to let the pet know it has performed the correct behaviour. The click sound is made by pressing a small handheld device. This is always followed closely with a treat, so the pet comes to associate the click with something good. Soon, the animal wants to hear the sound.

When the pet learns its own actions can cause a click of approval, it will actively repeat the behavior in hope of hearing the sound again. The owner can add a verbal cue and the pet will soon learn to perform behaviors, such as coming when called, when it hears the cue word (or command).

"It is very exciting to see an animal experience the moment when it suddenly realizes it can actively control the clicker 'game,'" says Pryor.

The 'magic' of the click comes from its clarity, consistency and precision. The sound should occur the moment the behaviour happens, so the pet knows exactly what it did to deserve a treat. It is not usually possible to deliver the treat itself with such precision, especially if the pet is in a cage or across the room.

For example, an owner is trying to teach her pet rat to come to the door. It does so, but by the time the owner arrives with a food treat, the rat has become frustrated by waiting and has started chewing on the door. When the owner then gives the treat because the command to come was obeyed, the animal associates the reward with chewing on the door, not with coming on command. So, the owner has inadvertently taught the pet to chew on the door to get a treat!

Positive reinforcement
A positive reinforcer is something given to a pet to make it feel happy and repeat certain behaviour. This can be petting, freedom of movement or a chance to play with a favourite toy-but the strongest reinforcer for most pets is food.

In clicker training, there are only two techniques to try to influence a pet's behaviour. One is positive reinforcement; the other is to simply ignore undesirable behaviour. There are no physical corrections, punishment or scolding. Reinforced behaviour will become stronger while ignored behaviour will fade away. If a pet is behaving very badly, the owner takes the clicker and treats away, leaving the animal to sit alone and ponder the consequences.

There are clicker trainers around the world working with almost every conceivable captive species. Pigs, rabbits, dolphins, birds, search and rescue (SAR) dogs, elephants, tigers, turtles and fish have all been trained this way

Anyone can perform clicker training and any type of pet can be trained. Sometimes it works best to train in teams, with one person clicking and the other providing the treat.

Sometimes it takes a long time for the animal to get used to the click sound or to associate it with the treat. Some pets catch on right away. And some will even teach others of their kind.

For example, a ferret named Gwen learned from clicker training to touch a ball with her nose on cue. The next day, she taught eight other ferrets the same trick. This type of mimicry is not uncommon. A shy or reluctant pet may decide to participate after seeing another animal being clicker-trained.

Setting Up for Success
Many small pets are prey animals and it may take them a while to feel comfortable outside the cage. Start training in the cage at first and when you take the pet out of the cage, be sure that it can't get away and that it has a box or house to hide in. Be sure to put predatory pets, like cats, away during training sessions for the small pet.

Some pets, like chinchillas and hamsters are nocturnal. They will be friskiest at night, so the best training time will be in the evening.

Observe your pet to see what kinds of things it seems to like to do and develop tricks based on these. Use treats that your pet really likes and give small pieces. If the pet gets a mixed feed and tends to pick out the sunflower seeds, you can pick them out yourself and use them for training.

Target Training
Something that all pets can do is touch something with their nose. You can teach you pet to touch a target such as your finger or a ping pong ball attached to the end of a pencil. Once the pet has learned to touch a target you can teach many other things.

To teach the pet to touch a target, such as a Popsicle stick, hold the stick in front of the pet, or put it on the ground near the pet. Put the pet and the stick in a very small enclosed area at first so that the pet is bound to touch the stick at some point at it moves around. If the pet moves to investigate, click and treat. Click and treat each time the pet moves closer to the target until it actually touches it. Then click and treat only for actual nose touches. Once the pet will try to touch the target, add the word "touch" just as its nose touches. After a few sessions, try giving the cue "touch" before the pet touches to see if it has learned that the word goes with the action. Try moving the target to see if the pet will follow to try to touch it. This may take one training session or several. The more you clicker train the faster the pet will learn new things. Each session should be no more than 5 minutes.

Tricks for Specific Types of Pets
Jumping pets such as rabbits, degus and chinchillas can be taught to jump over an obstacle or through a hoop. Place the hoop so that part of it touches the ground and locate it in such a way that the rabbit must go through the hoop to touch the target or to get to you, its litter box, or something else it wants. Click and treat as the rabbit goes through the hoop. Gradually raise the hoop a tiny bit each time and click and treat as soon as the front legs go through. As the rabbit begins to jump higher, you will click as the front legs go through the hoop, but give treat after it lands. If the rabbit goes under or around or refuses to jump, lower to the point where it will succeed and then end the session. Start a new session at a height where the rabbit was having good success the previous time.

Most pets can be taught to give a high five (one paw on your finger) or to give 10 (both paws on your hand. After the pet knows to touch a target, use the target to teach these tricks. Hold the target a little high out of your guinea pig's reach. As it strives to touch the target, one paw will come off the ground. Touch that paw with your finger in a mini high five, click and treat. You may need a partner to help you manage the target, clicker and treats. Soon the guinea pig will realize that the paw on your finger results in a click and treat and it will try to touch your finger when you put it out. You can then start saying "high five" and the guinea pig will respond with a paw on your finger.

A rabbit can learn "gimmee 10" in a similar way. Hold the target so high that the rabbit has to stand to reach it, move the target forward so that the rabbit is off balance and needs to lean both paws on your waiting hand. Click and treat for contact with your hand. Variations of this can be used to teach the rabbit to stand on cue and to stand and then hop forward on its hind legs.

Ferrets, hamsters, mice and rats love to climb and can be taught to follow a target up a ladder or ramp that comes with many pet cages.

Many pets will enjoy running an obstacle course. This can include ramps, tunnels, jumps, platforms, ladders and anything that the pet is able to go over, around, into, under or through. You can make your own obstacles with things from around the house or you can buy cage accessories at the pet store. Teach the pet to navigate each obstacle separately, using the method described earlier for teaching a rabbit to jump through a hoop. Start with low jumps, short ladders and short tunnels and gradually lengthen as the pet gets the idea and develops the skills and confidence needed for each obstacle. You can give each obstacle a name and if you practice enough the pet will learn these. Once the pet knows how to navigate several obstacles, you can start chaining them together. Put the one the pet likes best at the end of the course (the tunnel for example) and put another one in front of this one (a low jump for example). Place the pet in front of the jump and give the cue for the jump. If the pet has had lots of reinforcement in the past, it will jump, then see the tunnel and go through it. Click and treat after the tunnel. Each obstacle becomes the reinforcement for the one that came before it. You can add obstacles one at a time backwards to the beginning of the course. This way the pet is always moving toward something it really likes and toward something for which it has received lots of reinforcement in the past. If the chain falls apart in the middle, you will know exactly which part needs more work

The key to success with clicker training is understanding the pet-what it likes to eat, what behavior it naturally exhibits, what environment it prefers. Click only once, always follow a click with a treat, use high value treats, increase difficulty for the pet in tiny increments, keep training sessions short and quit while the pet is being successful and still wants more. Consulting species-specific information resources will also help, particularly with regards to how to keep the animal healthy and what kinds of treats are most suitable.

{This article is adapted from Joan Orr and Teresa Lewin's new book, Getting Started ­ Clicker Training Your Small Pet, to be published by Karen Pryor Clickertraining. For more information, visit}

Hear the Veterinary Minute on Animal Radio's Full-time animal channel.

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Cat Be Good with Annie Bruce

Cold Weather Tips ala Pets 911
Leaves changing colors, brisk autumn winds, and longer nights all signify the end of another summer. We welcome this respite from the heat, and so do our pets! One thing we don't think about is how the changing seasons affect the health and well-being of our pets. Make sure you are doing all that you can to protect your pet from the hazards that come with the changing seasons:

Perhaps the most important thing is proper housing for your pet. If you keep your pet outdoors, consider bringing him inside. He needs to be able to escape the cold and the wind. If your pet absolutely must remain outdoors, get a warm insulated pet house or shelter that is big enough for him to stand up and turn around but small enough to trap his body heat. Elevate the house so that moisture doesn't accumulate. Make sure he has warm, thick bedding, and plenty of non-frozen water. Animals that don't have access to clean, unfrozen water are more likely to drink out of puddles or gutters, which can be polluted with oil, antifreeze, household cleaners, and other chemicals. Avoid electrical heating devices that could electrocute your pet if they got wet or were chewed. Try leaving out a hot water bottle, wrapped in a towel so it won't burn your pet's skin. Attach a door to keep out the winter winds. If your pet is in a pen, block the wind and weather with bales of straw and stretch canvas over the top of the pen. If the wind chill or other weather conditions become severe, bring your pet inside. Remember: if you can't stand being outside, neither can he.

Indoor pets need their beds or crates moved to a warm, draft-free area, preferably elevated off the floor. Indoor pets should not be left outside for very long. If left alone outside, dogs and cats can be very resourceful in their search for warm shelter. They can dig into snow banks or hide under porches where they can get trapped. Watch them closely when they are loose outdoors, and provide them with quality, easily accessible shelter. If you have a short-coated or older pet, take them outside only as long as absolutely necessary; provide a sweater whenever you go outside.

Other Quick Tips:
Take your animals to the vet for a check-up before winter kicks in. Your veterinarian can check to make sure they don't have any medical problems that will make them more vulnerable to the cold.

If you have an outside pet bring him inside when it is cold. If your pet must remain outside, make sure he has an appropriate shelter that will keep him from getting cold. Check food and water often; the water may freeze and the food can turn moldy.

Wipe your pet's paws and belly off when you come inside: pets can pick up rock salt, ice, and chemical ice melts in their foot pads which cause severe irritation and could cause an inflammation of the digestive tract if licked off.

If your pet isn't used to the cold, don't make him stay outside longer than necessary. If your cat spends most of his time outside, bring him in the house. Watch your dog for signs that he is ready to go back in the house.

Animals can get frostbite too! If they have frostbite their skin may turn reddish, white, or gray and it may be scaly or sloughing. Frostbitten areas are fragile and should be wrapped snugly for protection. Severe frostbite requires emergency treatment.

Go ahead and put a sweater on our pet... if she'll put up with it. It will help a little, but you can't depend on it entirely to keep her warm. Pets lose most of their body heat from the pads of their feet, their ears, and their respiratory tract. The best way to protect your pet is to keep a close eye on them!

Never leave your pet in a vehicle in cold weather--the car can act as a refrigerator and your pet could freeze to death.

Beware of antifreeze year-long but more so during the winter, when it is used more often. Antifreeze can be lethal to pets. When putting antifreeze in your vehicle, clean up spills immediately and keep your pet away from parking areas-many pets like antifreeze because it has a sweet taste.

Use screens in front of fireplaces, woodstoves, and space heaters so your pets don't burn themselves.

Never clip your pet's coat closely in cold weather; fur acts as insulation from the cold.

Cats may crawl under the hood of a car to keep warm when it is cold. Before you turn your engine on, check beneath the car or make a lot of noise by honking the horn or banging on the hood.

Keep your dog on a leash during walks. If he runs off, the snow covers familiar scents and he'll have a hard time finding his way home.

Get more great tips like these at Animal Radio partner Pets 911.

Animal Radio with Hal Abrams & Judy Francis
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Hal: On the phone with us, Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People. One of the things that makes Animal People really stand out is that once a year they do the Watchdog Report - taking tabulations of whose given what money to who. All non-profit organizations I assume that correct?

Merritt: Well we look at the major non-profit organizations in animal protection and animal habitat protection, which includes some of the big conservation groups. What we just came out with is who gets the money, which is a financial report, sort of a financial page, on about 140 organizations this year. We also look at some of the leading opposition groups. Then in the spring, we update this with the Watchdog Report, which also adds program and policy information and comes out as a handbook. Who gets the money is a section of the Animal People Newspaper.

Hal: I notice that in it, you actually list what the CEOs, the head honchos of these organizations, make. Sometimes it blows me away to see these.

Merritt: Well, we have the top two Hal, that I can remember anyway, ever in this report. One of them is John Adams, the President of the National Resources Defense Council, got $704,796 in his total compensation package. That's broken all records. Paul Irwin, the former President of the Humane Society of the US who was replaced in July 2004 by Wayne Purcell, got $510,680. That was actually his only second highest take. His highest was several years earlier when there was a change made in his retirement account and he took the balance in cash. This included his severance. We are still talking about more than 1/2 million bucks going to one guy, who was very well paid throughout his career, he was at HSUS for just about exactly 30 years.

Hal: Well, you say he was very well paid. Does that mean that what he does he earns it or not?

Merritt: Well, a lot of these are kind of a judgment call. In Irwin's case, he was previously a minister. And unless you're a big time televangelist, you just don't make that kind of money in the ministry.

Hal: Well, the President, the President of the United States, doesn't make that kind of money on basic salary. But on book deals and everything else, he makes a billion!

Merritt: Well, I'm not going play any violins for him. But, you look at the top salaries, and what I look at is look, is this guy going to make that kind of money in another walk of life? Doe he have the credentials that qualify him to be there and is he bringing in the money for his own organization that qualify him to be there? And, in some cases, you can say, well, yeah, it looks like this guy, even though he's making a whole lot of money, is bringing in much more than that. So, maybe he's a bargain. In other cases you are looking at people who, if they were to go out on the street and look for a job, they'd be lucky to find something 1/4 of the price.

Judy: What kind of percentage of the income for these organizations is committed towards the salaries?

Merritt: Well, that's all over the place. In general, the smaller the organization, the more money goes to executive pay, because the executives are the only people on the payroll, and you're a pretty small outfit. As you grow to where you're a big multi-million dollar organization, the executive pay may not be very high, it might be a very tiny percentage of the whole. There are some organizations out there that will have 12 to 13 people making over $100,000 a year. But, they're big multi-million dollar outfits like the Wildlife Conservation Society or the Humane Society of the US.

Hal: But still, you know when I get these solicitations in the mail and they ask for $10 and I'm working hard for that $10, and that $10 is part of some $500,000 compensation package

Merritt: Well, actually that's just part of soliciting more money from you. When you donate to the big organizations, the first $20 you give, roughly speaking, will be spent on just trying to get you to give more money during the course of the year, and trying to move you up into a high donor bracket. So I don't advise donors to give small amounts like that, unless they're just sort of giving a trial run to the organization.

Hal: Well, they make you feel like they need that $10 when they solicit you.

Merritt: Well, you do much better to focus on just a few organizations that you know very well and have some personal involvement with, maybe a local organization that's not even doing national solicitation, or an overseas organization. You can get some real bargains in humane work by supporting overseas organizations, because the exchange rate works favorably. But, to just respond to mass mailings by sending out $10 or $20, basically you are just paying them to send you more mail.

Hal: Before I let you go and we find out how to get a hold of this list, is there anybody on the list that we should know about, or should think about, before we donate?

Merritt: Well, I would advise you, when you're thinking about donating to any organization, to look it up and see what the numbers look like. And, it's not just the executive pay you need to look at, we include quite a few other stats like how much money they have in the bank compared to how much they're spending on programs. That could be very illuminating. There are some groups out there that have as much as 10 times in the bank as they spend on program service per year.

Judy: This information is all public?

Merritt: Right, it's off of IRS form 990, and we go through the IRS form 990's pulling out the information and not just taking it at face value. I do a re-evaluation of the numbers to see, and in about half of the cases, it turns out they are actually spending more on fundraising and administration than they tell you. And in the case of PETA, they actually have a parallel organization, a foundation to support animal protection, that actually is spending 100% of its so-called program budget performing administration and fundraising functions for PETA, which enables PETA to declare that it is spending much less on fundraising and administration than it actually is. So there are all kinds of dodges they use, and we try to flush them out.

Judy: Does this only include salaries, and is there much more money involved when it comes to perks and things like that?

Merritt: Oh yeah. We find out as best we can. There are some kinds of perks that IRS form 990 doesn't require people to disclose, and some that is very hard to show like use of a car. If the car is not allocated to a specific individual, somebody could be using a company car fulltime, but it's not going to be on form 990 as a perk going to them, because at least on paper, it belongs to the organization. Housing is the same sort of thing, and it's kind of a mixed bag, because a lot of humane organizations and zoos and so forth will employ people who have to live on the premises fulltime to look after the animals, and usually their quarters are nothing luxurious, and at the same time, others will provide their Chief Executives with a mansion. If you look at the value of the housing and try to figure out whether it's a plus or a minus, what's available on IRS form 9990 won't tell you. So that's something we don't try to evaluate. We tried in the past, but short of being able to visit every person's house, we just can't do it.

Hal: Traditionally in the animal industry, well, people don't make a lot of money, and oftentimes as it is, I will show you 100 non-profits in every city that are struggling and using their credit cards to get by, it's not a money making industry. When you see people making a lot of money at it, something to me says there's something initially wrong. How can we get your report?

Merritt: Well, it's in the current edition of Animal People. We're $24 a year, PO Box 960, Clinton, Washington 98236, or you can subscribe by credit card. Call us at 360-579-2505. You can also subscribe via our website which is

Hear the entire Merritt Clifton interview this week on Animal Radio.



Pet Talk Radio! with Brian and Kaye Pickering
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{Editors Note: We are absolutely thrilled to have Australia's top animal show on Animal Radio Network® We've brought together the world's best pet programs under one roof. If you haven't heard our full-time animal channel - check it out now and enjoy quality programming with one click.}

G'day Animal Radio Network® fans from Pet Talk Radio!....
Here in Australia - Sydney to be precise - it's hot, REAL HOT... having just celebrated the New Year with record 120degree (F) temps. At the same time we watched news footage of the floods in California and blizzards in other parts... and thought what a crazy world!

But you know one of the craziest things about this world and our two countries is that we both have one major problem when it comes to animals... PEOPLE DUMP THEM WHEN THEY NO LONGER WANT THEM!

Now - there has been a campaign here for a number of years by a sub-group of Animal Liberation call "Say No To Animals In Pet Shops" (SNTAIPS). They say that the reason for the high surrender rates of domestic pets - mostly cats and dogs - is due to impulse buying from pet shops.

They also claim that 100% of animals in pet shops come from backyard breeders - or as you call it puppy mills - and whilst we don't disagree that some possibly do, we asked for proof of their claims.

We've not received a thing. Why?... Because this fact is simply not true and has wider implications to the WHOLE pet industry, pet shops and general pet owners in the future if they get their wish to ban all animal sales from pet shops.

Our (official) research from an Australian retail industry approved source revealed less than 2% of animals purchased come from pet shops. It also showed that less than 6% of sales are from animals in pet shops.

So where are all the animals coming from? - here's some figures for you - small by US standards but remember Australia has the highest per capita pet ownership of any country (believe it or not!)

* There are approx 30 Million Pets in Australia:

* The Dog Population is steady at around 3.9 Million Dogs
* The cat population is in decline with around 2.5 Million cats
* There are around 9 Million Pet Birds, and over 12 Million fish kept as pets in Australia
* 64% of Australian Households have a pet.

That is around 5 million households have a pet.
About 4 million have a dog and or a cat

Anyway - we realised soon enough that the problem is internet, newspaper and 'flea' market sales of animals bred in people's back yards - whether intentionally or not - and sadly far too many people see this as an easy way to make money. Ultimately a cheap pet is a disposable one!

So we've started our own campaign called 'Say "NO" to Backyard Breeders' and we have a website with all the information and a petition to our state and federal governments.

You can listen to our two part interview and see how it fits with what's happening in your country - you might be very surprised :-)

On a lighter note - our final show for 2005 -#157- gives our American listeners some background on our two very famous co-hosts Dr Harry Cooper and animal trainer Steve Austin. This is a way for you to find out a bit more about who they are and where they come from.

Well thank's for your time - Pet Talk Radio! is on a short summer break - we resume new shows early February.

Have a safe and happy 2006 and hugs for all your animals from Brian & Kaye
Co-hosts - Pet Talk Radio!

Hear Pet Talk Radio! on Animal Radio Network® - Check schedule for showtimes.

Talk With Your Animals hosted by Joy Turner
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Some people know what their animal is saying through body language. They don't need to talk with a pet communicator. Others say they don't know what their animals are saying. So they talk with a pet communicator who confirms what they thought was happening with their animal. In actuality, they have been receiving messages from their animal all along and did not realize it. For others, animals just exist and have no intelligence. For those of you who are curious about what animal communication is and want to improve your relationship with your animal, please read on.

The three ways animals primarily receive and send information are pictures, words and feelings. First, you need to find your primary form of communication which would be pictures, words or feelings. Always check what you are thinking, feeling and seeing inside yourself before you start.

To communicate effectively, use the language of a 5-year human, talk slowly, pause often, and focus on pictures in your head. Use no slang. Be literal, and use positive statements. Please remove NOT from your speech because there is no picture for the word, Not. Tell your animal what you DO want them to do in words and pictures. Instead of saying bad dog/kitty, say that was a bad behavior. When you call them a bad animal, they feel they are inherently bad. Actually, it is just the behavior that is bad, not them.

Remember when you communicate with an animal always accept your first impression, even if it's just a fragment of something. Things will become more complete and clearer as you practice.

Joy is available to speak to your pet on Animal Radio. Call 1-866-405-8405 to set up a time.

Listen to Joy Turner's Talk with Your Animals every weeknight on Animal Radio Network's full-time channel.

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Animal Minute with Britt Savage

Just when you thought there couldn't be any more cell phones, how about a cell phone for your dog? PetCell, the first dog cell phone will soon be on the market. PetCell is a small bone-shaped phone, I'm not kidding, that hangs on your dog's collar. It works like a regular cell phone, with it's own phone number. You call in an access code from your phone and you can talk to your dog, "Lassie come home now!" The phone also has a sort of GPS tracking device that can alert you when your dog strays out of your yard. Now there's talk of one for cats too, but I'm thinking most cats would like a cell phone with voicemail, so they can ignore you and come home whenever they feel like it!

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How many times have you thrown a Frisbee for your dog, he didn't catch it and it landed on a hard surface, such as a driveway? And when that happens, you watch your dog try and try to pick it up, and then you have to go get it yourself?

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Darlene Arden on Animal Radio®

Here's what you need to know about Lead Poisoning.

Ted Kreiter, Executive Editor of The Saturday Evening Post noticed something wrong with his award-winning American Silver Tabby. Catamus lost about half of his body weight over a period of "a month or two, at least." When Catamus would finish eating, he'd throw up. The last thing for which the veterinarian tested turned out to be the cause: lead poisoning.

Kreiter's other cat, Bratamus, a Burmese was unaffected. After three weeks in the veterinary hospital, Catamus returned home and went on a special diet. The culprit? Kreiter isn't sure, but suspects either the crockery bowl from which only Catamus would drink, or possibly lead paint from the old house he's been restoring. (When lead paint is stripped off the walls, it goes airborne. When people or animals inhale the paint dust, it accumulates in the body.)

For insight into lead poisoning in cats, we consulted Paul C. Gambardella, VMD, MS, Diplomate ACVS, Chief of Staff at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, MA. According to Dr. Gambardella, older city homes with old chipped paint have been primary causes of lead poisoning in the past. Said Gambardella, "Even if it's not chipping, pets may chew on woodwork or other objects painted with lead paint, and at times the owner won't even know until it's too late." Other major sources of lead are linoleum, old putty around windows; and even drapery weights and newspaper ink.

Gambardella said that a lead pellet shot under a cat's skin with a gun isn't a hazard. "The lead that's in those, to our knowledge, is not a serious threat -- it doesn't leach out. It's what gets into the digestive tract -- the lead that gets absorbed into the system -- which can cause the toxicity."

Dr. Gambardella says that lead poisoning in pets was a major problem some years ago in Boston. Cases of lead poisoning appeared in his hospital regularly. The animals came in with GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms, and/or neurological signs. Lead poisoning was immediately suspected -- until proven otherwise -- so a blood sample was always submitted for testing for lead.

In some obvious cases, veterinarians would automatically start the lead poisoning treatment after drawing the blood sample, but before getting the results. If the results proved positive, which it did in most of the cases, they would continue treatment. Otherwise, a further work-up was done. At that time, lead was even found in the water, leaching out of lead pipes.

The most common source of lead today is still the older house with lead paint and linoleum, and those inner city areas that have junk piles. What's the leading source from which a cat can get lead poisoning? Household items. "They're not getting this from the soil," Gambardella states. No one knows how much lead must be ingested before a cat gets sick. Gambardella says the amount ingested before a cat dies varies. "That's because if they ingest a small amount over a long period of time, they can take in a lot more before it will reach a lethal level than ingesting a large amount all at once."

How soon the cat will get sick or die if it's not treated depends upon when the poisoning is discovered. "We don't see them until they're ill. Once it reaches a certain level in the blood, it will affect the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. Then they get sick," said Gambardella.

The good news is that lead poisoning's not always fatal. "We can give chelating agents to get rid of the lead and take it out of the system -- if you get them in time," said Gambardella.

If a cat ingests a small enough amount of lead that his body can handle, he will not necessarily get sick and die. According to Gambardella, "The difference between a cat and a person is the person may be affected mentally over a long period of time." A child who has ingested lead for years and who is not developing properly will not do well in school. Sometimes the child doesn't feel well, but can't explain the problem.

Gambardella says, "A chronic problem is hard to measure in an animal. It is very possible that there are cats and dogs that have ingested toxic levels of lead and have lived a fairly normal life, from the owner's standpoint. The lead level may not have been high enough to cause them to have overt signs of illness. You have to have a certain level of it before it causes overt signs."

The amount of lead ingested determines how long it will take for signs to appear, "If they eat small amounts, it's going to take perhaps several months; if the cat ingests a large amount quickly it's going to happen right away," reports Dr. Gambardella.

The signs to watch for include: diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, anorexia, hysteria, and non-specific gastrointestinal signs. There is also a range of various neurological signs: convulsions, head pressing and central nervous system signs. (Head pressing is just what it sounds like: the cat goes up to a wall and presses his head against it. It's not known why cats do this.) The brain is affected by lead and so coordination and thinking is affected. There's a weight loss over the long haul, and blindness can occur.

The gastrointestinal symptoms of lead poisoning (vomiting and diarrhea) mimic other diseases, so it's an illness which is often mistaken for other illnesses, such as parasites, viruses, ingestion of foreign material or a change in diet. Twenty years ago, when many urban homes were being renovated and lead paint was very common, inner city veterinarians automatically suspected lead poisoning where gastrointestinal symptoms were involved.

Today, we don't think of lead, however, unless the veterinarian gets a good history. This would include such information as what neighborhood the cat lives in, and if the house is old. The astute clinician might suspect lead poisoning sooner rather than later and immediately take blood for testing. The unsuspecting veterinarian will just treat the GI signs. If there's no response in a day or two, then he may do a blood analysis.
While the main organs affected by lead poisoning are the central nervous system and GI tract, Gambardella notes "It's going to get into every organ in the body and cause a problem for every tissue." Eventually the kidneys will be affected, too.

The medication used is "pretty much off-label, which means it's not legally approved for use in animals," according to Dr. Gambardella. There's an alternative treatment in the works, though. The Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston is participating in the trial of a new oral medication. This new drug is much less expensive and doesn't require hospitalization of the cat. And, a bill going before Congress again this year would allow medication approved for human use to be used legally to treat animals. That would make the current treatment legal.

If your cat is exhibiting the symptoms we've described, you can suggest that your veterinarian check for lead poisoning. Said Gambardella, "Making a diagnosis is very much dependent not only on the clinical signs but also on the history, which leads one to suspect ingestion of lead. Once we suspect lead poisoning, then we can get into specific testing."

Remember that veterinarians serving recently developed areas may not suspect lead poisoning. Today's construction and the environmental regulations have nearly eliminated the problems from newly built areas. So it's possible for a veterinarian to treat a cat with G.I. signs for several days or more, and suspect lead poisoning only when that cat doesn't respond. Fortunately, if this occurs, the treatment is still effective in most cases.

As in Kreiter's case, where one cat got sick and not the other, only one cat in the household may be chewing something. Gambardella said, "Sometimes it has to do with dominance -- one animal doesn't let the other one do that," Of course, the crockery water bowl used by only one of the cats may have been the culprit. Crockery food dishes were a problem at one time because lead from the glaze was leaching out into the food and water. Lead-based glazes aren't used on pottery for people anymore.

To safeguard against lead poisoning, Dr. Gambardella recommends de-leading the house and not allowing pets to have materials that contain lead. Virtually all dishes and toys today are lead-free. "Bedding and scratching posts, cat litter, all of the things that you would buy for your pet don't have lead in them," said Gambardella. But it doesn't hurt to read labels and double-check everything.

If you live in a house built before 1960, check into the sources of lead to which you and your animals may be exposed. Lead was used in paints, wallpaper paste, and plumbing joints through the 1960s -- and in some cases, even later.

There's a lot of information available on lead poisoning and children. Awareness is keen now and your four-legged child can benefit from this information, too. Check with your local Building Inspector's office, health department, or library. Remember, it will take less of that lead to cause toxicity in your cat than in a child. Go unleaded and you'll keep your entire family healthy.

{Article © 1996 Darlene Arden. First published in Catsumer Report, February 1996.}

You can hear Darlene Arden every week on Animal Radio. Visit her website at


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