Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's the most dangerous week of the year for pets

Zues, a two-year old American
Staffordshire terrier lost during
the Doce Fire had a microchip that
that allowed him to be returned
to his frantic owner. Please get
your pets’  microchipped before
the 4th of July  holiday; it is a
 gift of life to your pet!
The next 10 days is the most fun and raucous time in Prescott. The festivities culminate around the 4th of July with outdoor celebrations, picnics, barbecues, and of course, fireworks. Before you pack up to the lake or the outdoor arena, stadium or even your own front yard to enjoy the pyrotechnic delights of the holiday, be aware of your pets' needs and fears.
The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) experiences a significant increase in the number of lost (and injured) pets brought to our Lost & Found Pet Center after every July 4 holiday.

"The days following the 4th of July are the busiest days of the year at YHS with people turning in lost pets or looking for lost animals," said Margo Stucker, manager of the YHS Lost & Found Pet Center, located at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road off Prescott Lakes Parkway in Prescott.

Even pets who are normally calm and obedient can show unpredictable behavior when frightened. Dogs and cats can become frightened or confused by the excitement and loud noises of the holiday. YHS has rescued terrified pets who have chewed through their tethers, jumped through plate glass windows or over fences, and escaped "secure" enclosures.

Dogs attempting to flee the frightening, and even painful noises of the fireworks may lose their sense of direction and run long distances risking injury or death as they dart in and out of traffic. This is one of the most dangerous times of year for your pets.

Up close, fireworks can burn or injure your pets, but even if they are far away, they still pose a unique danger to your companion animals.

To minimize the danger to your pets take these few simple steps before you set out to celebrate this Fourth of July:

• Keep pets indoors in an enclosed area that they are familiar with to minimize fear. If possible, turn on a radio to mask the noise of the fireworks or other celebratory noises.

• If your pet is excitable, consult with your veterinarian ahead of time to arrange administration of a proper calming drug.

• If you have to be away for an extended time, board your pets with family or friends you trust and can assure you that the pet will be kept confined and cared for.

• Always be sure your pet has a current microchip. A microchip is the best identification for a pet because it is always with him and it makes it easier for YHS to find you should the unthinkable happens and your pet manages to escape.

• Even if you think your pet is ok with fireworks and noise, do not let him out when fireworks are being lit and set off. The pet may run at them and sustain serious burns, or bolt and run.

If your pet happens to escape during the holiday festivities, be diligent in visiting the YHS Lost & Found Pet Center every day, and posting "Lost Dog" or "Lost Cat" signs and canvassing surrounding neighborhoods. Place a yard sign in front of your house with a picture of your pet and your phone number. People who find lost pets will often walk or drive around the area attempting to find the owner. Remember, fright can drive an animal to new and unfamiliar grounds, many miles from your home. So exhaust all avenues. This 4th of July holiday can be the best ever if you take these precautions to keep your pets safe and happy while you enjoy the festivities without having to worry about the family pet.

Life-saving microchips can be purchased without an appointment at the YHS Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic located at 2989 Centerpointe East on any Friday (call 771-0547 for more information) or at the YHS Lost & Found any Monday or Wednesday through Friday (call 515-2379 for more information). Please protect your pets this 4th of July.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Majority favors mandatory pit-bull spay/neuter ordinance

Boulder is a true pit-bull ambassador,
exemplifying the best qualities of the
breed. He is 3 years old and is intelligent
and friendly with a strong desire to please.
He is available for adoption today at YHS.
Last week I asked for feedback on an important and controversial issue - should a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for pit-bulls be considered as a strategy for ensuring our community remains among the safest in the nation for companion animals.
YHS defines pit-bull as the American pit-bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and any crosses of these three breeds.

The question was prompted by both my love for pit-bulls and these facts: pit-bulls account for 51 percent of all dogs rescued and 47 percent of all dogs euthanized at YHS. Nation-wide, pit-bulls represent 60 percent of all dogs euthanized; 22 percent of all dogs abused or neglected; 46 percent of all dogs that injure humans; 51 percent of all dogs that attack other animals; and virtually all dogs impounded in dog-fighting cases.

These facts are all the more startling when you consider pit-bulls and all pit-bull mixes combined represent only about 4 percent of the total dog population. [Data Source: ANIMAL PEOPLE]

Here are the results YHS received to the ordinance question. There were 82 responses to the query; and 82 percent (67) favored a mandatory pit-bull spay/neuter ordinance in our community.

Twenty-one percent (17) felt mandatory spay/neuter for all dogs and cats should be required. Four people favored banning pit-bulls altogether, while two people feared mandatory spay/neuter would lead to pit-bull extinction. While this is not a likely outcome, it could easily be addressed with a sunset clause.

One person seriously felt mandatory spay/neuter is an attempt by YHS to corner a lucrative pit-bull market. Two people felt mandatory spay/neuter ordinances infringed on their American freedoms, even though courts across the U.S. have consistently upheld a community's right to regulate the breeding of animals considered problematic.

Four people felt mandatory spay/neuter is discriminatory, but they were equally divided - two stating an ordinance should include all dogs and cats, while the other two opposed any spay/neuter ordinance at all. All four perhaps overlooked the prejudice currently practiced against pit-bulls and the fact that a targeted spay/neuter ordinance could help alleviate that suffering.

Three people felt education is a better approach than legislation. However, humane organizations have been promoting the virtues of pit-bulls for nearly 30 years with no metric pertaining to pit-bulls improving in all that time.

Four people felt spay/neuter ordinances are ineffective. They failed to notice the success in San Francisco where in just 8 years there was a 49 percent decline in the number of pit-bulls impounded, a 23 percent decline in the number of pit-bulls euthanized and an 81 percent decline in the number of pit-bulls involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks.

Several thoughtful responses suggested an ordinance should include adequate enforcement provisions and stiff penalties, funding to help subsidize low-cost spay/neuter and humane education and breeding permits for responsible breeders.

Two responders did not understand that all YHS animals are spayed or neutered prior to adoption, meaning YHS does not contribute to or profit from this problem. In fact, YHS invests more than $400 into every animal adopted and never fully recoups those costs. YHS also performs a behavioral assessment on every pit-bull prior to placing them up for adoption.

In addition, per state law, owners of unaltered pets are issued a spay/neuter voucher when claiming a pet from the YHS Lost & Found Center. Sadly, only 50 percent of those vouchers are redeemed, further evidence, perhaps, that a mandatory ordinance is indeed needed.

YHS will submit this data to local officials asking that a committee be formed to help draft an ordinance that reflects our community's exemplary humane standards for animal welfare. Thank you all who participated in this survey.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.