Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Hundred Thousand Hearts

This 2010 documentary was created to bring awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering and to educate people about the thousands of pets that are killed in shelters each year here in Houston and the millions killed in our country every year. Filmed here in Houston featuring local veterinarians, shelter workers, rescue groups, volunteers and pet lovers. This video is the documentary preview. You can watch the whole two hour documentary for free by clicking the title link or by clicking here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Feral Cat House Delivered

We were excited to be able to deliver another custom feral cat house for our Cozy Critters Feral Cat House Project. Just in time for Christmas! This brings our number of cat houses given away to ten so far! This house is made for two, is made out of cedar and is totally insulated. The roof removes for cleaning. Thanks again to Anne and Joerg for another outstanding job! Wow! Our clients were excited to receive it and couldn't believe how well made it is.  I know the cats will appreciate it too!

Click here to see the other fabulous custom cat house made by Joerg.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dog Needs Good Home

Isn't he cute?! This one year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix was rescued from death row in Austin by a client's daughter. He is here in Houston looking for a forever home. He is neutered, up to date on his shots, house trained and very sweet and smart. He does have an issue with children though and could use some training regarding that issue. If you or someone you know might be interested in adding this cutie to your family, call me @ 281-788-6611 or email me. He comes with a large new dog kennel and is ready to go to his new home today!

Update: Nov. 26, 2010 - Great news! He got adopted and now has a new home! Just in time for the holidays!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Feral Cats Receive Custom Cat House!


Side door to upstairs loft
There are definitely angels among us and two of those angels are Joerg and Anne! They were so nice and generous to respond to my previous blog post about Cozy Critters Feral Cat House Project and offered to build some cat houses! Wow! Check out this custom cat house! It's incredible! It's two-story, made out of cedar and is completely insulated! There are two compartments downstairs than can be converted to one big living area if needed. The second story loft has stairs (for the older cats) leading to the doorway. The roof removes for easy cleaning and so does the second story floor. They thought of everything!

I was so excited to be able to deliver this house to clients who have seven feral cats, six of whom are a mother and her five kittens. Our clients were also very happy, not to mention surprised, to receive this fabulous custom cat house. (They had no idea they were on my feral cat house list.) They couldn't believe it! They've never seen such a fancy cat house! I'm sure the cats will be enjoying it! They have a nice warm place to sleep during the winter now and that makes it all worth while.

I can not say thank you enough to Anne and Joerg, who are two very nice, generous, kind-hearted people whom I had never met until I picked up the cat house. You did a fabulous job. Better than I ever imagined. I love it, my clients love it and I'm sure the cats are going to love it. What lucky cats they are now! Joerg has his own painting, home repair and remodeling business. Check out his very creative and talented work at or find him on FaceBook.

Thank you, Anne and Joerg! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cozy Critters Feral Cat House Project

With winter approaching, I think about all the feral cats that do not have a cozy warm place to sleep. We have many clients who feed feral cats in their backyards. Most have been trapped, neutered or spayed and are given food and water but a lot of them do not have shelter or a cat house to get out of the winter weather.

We buy small dog houses or medium size pet carriers at garage sales and estate sales, clean them up and convert them into weather-proof cozy cat houses. We have given away four so far but need to make more. They need to be big enough for an adult cat to turn around in but not too big. Some people need multiple houses and have limited space to put them in. I wish I could supply houses like the one shown in the picture, but ours aren't quite so fancy. (Perhaps a future project?)

If you have an old pet carrier or small dog house that you don't want or need any more, email or call me (281-788-6611) and I'll come pick it up. You will be helping to provide another feral cat with a warm place to sleep in the winter. On the otherhand, if you have feral cat(s) and need a house, email me and I will put you on the list.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not Fit for a Dog! The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food

Not Fit for a Dog! is another good book full of information about commerical pet foods. Written by three veterinarians, this book provides an in-depth appraisal of the pet food industry and what people are feeding to their cats and dogs. It "highlights the dangers of modern pet foods--how it is unbalanced, creates addiction, and often contains ingredients that can literally poison your pet. It explodes the myths propounded by pet food companies that human food is "bad" for pets, and that natural diets are unsafe. It exposes the horrific truths that pet food manufacturers will sell you a "normal" diet for your cat that will cause diabetes, and then sell you another prescription diet to help control the diabetes, and how prescription diets themselves can cause illness."

In this book, you will learn how to read pet food labels and what you need to avoid for your pet's sake and how to save on vet bills by preventing your pet from developing one or more diet-related diseases. You'll learn why your vet may not have much to say about pet foods, what diet-related diseases your pet may already have, and how a change in diet can help. It explains how our health and our pets' health are interconnected and how we should all support organic farming practices and suppliers. This book is a massive indictment of the pet food industry, but also of our entire approach to growing and processing food--for us humans as well as for our pets. Get your copy now at or

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Food Pets Die For - Shocking Facts About Pet Food

The health of your pets depends so much on what you feed them. I cannot stress that enough. That is why you need to read this book. Food Pets Die For; Shocking Facts About Pet Foods by Ann N. Martin is a real eye-opener when it comes to the commercial foods we feed our pets. This book is well-organized, well-documented and full of facts you need to know as a pet owner.

Ann Martin, internationally recognized as an authority on commercial pet food, has been investigating the multi-billion-dollar commerical pet food industry since 1990. Sonoma State University's School of Journalism's "Project Censored" recognized her investigative writing on the pet food industry as one of the most important yet under-reported news stories. She has exposed the truth behind what is contained in many commercial pet foods--including euthanized cats and dogs. She also documents the ongoing animal experimentation funded by many major pet food companies in the name of nutritious pet food.

She first began to question the pet food industry twenty years ago after her two dogs, a Newfoundland and a Saint Bernard, got severly ill after eating dry dog food. She had the food tested at an independent lab and results showed a zinc level twenty times higher than the daily recommended dose of 50 parts per million (ppm). Zinc levels in excess of 1,000 ppm can be toxic to dogs.

She quickly learned that this multi-billion dollar industry in many ways is self-regulated. She "also learned that there are many deplorable ingredients that legally can be used in pet foods as sources of protein--in particular, euthanized cats and dogs, diseased cattle and horses, road kill, dead zoo animals, and meat not fit for human consumption. In addition, fiber sources in many foods are composed of the leftovers from the food chain, including beet pulp, the residue of sugar beets, peanut hulls, and even sawdust sweepings from the floor of the rendering plant!" She talks about how researchers found traces of Pentobarbital in pet foods as far back as 1998. Pentobarbital is used for euthanizing animals. "The researchers surmised that pentobarbital was finding its way into commercial pet foods through animals who had been euthanized with pentobarbital and later rendered for "meat meal" in pet food." Research done in 1995 concluded that sodium pentobarbital "survived rendering without undergoing degradation". 

Not only that, but "while researching the lastest information on the 2007 pet food recall, she came across disturbing information that indicates rendered cat and dog carcasses could be entering the human food chain". She found "evidence that leads to the strong possiblitiy that shrimp, fish and eel grown on fish farms in China and other Asian countries, could be eating "tankage" shipped form renderers in California. And speaking of the pet food recall of 2007, (which by the way, killed over 8,000 pets) you are aware of that one because it was so big and so many different foods were involved. She lists in detail several other examples of pet food recalls going back to 1995. I currently get notices of pet food recalls on a fairly regular basis.

She gives a detailed explanation of what all the ingredients are in pets foods, how they are processed and tested, what the laws and regulations are, what studies have been done and more! This lady has really done the research! She tells you how to read the labels, what to look for (or look out for!) in the ingredients. She has a list of recommended natural pet food companies and tells you about each one. She has recipes for home cooked meals for cats and dogs. She also has a chapter about bloat: a canine killer, a chapter on designer dogs and pet scams on the internet and newspapers. This book is full of information. Information you need to know as a pet owner. Order your copy now at or

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Irreconcilable Differences

Another great inspiring read from Nathan Winograd and the perfect follow up to Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation & The No Kill Revolution in America.

We've heard it time and time again. We've been lead to believe that there is a pet overpopulation problem and it's because there aren't enough homes for them. That's why we kill over 4 million pets every year in this country. But when you look at the facts, this just isn't so:

There are 8 million dogs and cats who enter U.S. shelters annually.

Over 90 percent of those -- just over 7 million -- are savable. (The remaining are hopelessly ill or injured animals and vicious dogs whose prognosis for rehabilitation is poor or grave.)

4 million will actually be saved. 3 million will be killed.

Of those killed, over 2 million to 3 million (on the high end) need a new home. The remainder includes lost strays who should be reclaimed by their families and feral cats who should be neutered and released.

Other than those who will always adopt from a shelter (those saved above), there are 17 million people who are considering a new dog or cat next year and who would also consider adoption from a shelter. 17 million! "Consequently, even if roughly 80 percent get an animal from a source other than a shelter, killing of healthy and treatable animals can be ended."

"Today, there are about 165 million dogs and cats in homes. Of those, less than 20 percent come from shelters. Three percent of 165 million equates to 4.9 million, more than all the savable animals killed in shelters." Therefore, we need to increase the market for shelter pets by only three percent in order to eliminate killing."

So there are, in fact, plenty of homes for the animals killed in our shelters every year. There is NOT a pet overpopulation problem! The problem is that our shelters, some of who are very large and powerful, are not doing all they can do to save lives. They are stuck in the old belief that the only answer is to kill. They are not doing what we expect them to do with our donations -- save lives. "If all shelter directors cultivate the desire and will to do so, and then earnestly follow through, we can end killing for all savable animals right now--today!"

"From the perspective of achievability, therefore, the prognosis for widespread No Kill success is excellent." And these results have already been achieved in communities across the country; some urban, some rural, in the North and in the South. In liberal states and conservative ones. "Demographically these communities share little in common. However, they do share shelter leadership committed to saving all the lives at risk."

So what can we do? We can demand from our politicians and shelter leaders to adopt better policies, procedures and management by using The No Kill Equation, which has been proven to stop the killing. We can donate to the organizations who advocate and use these no-kill methods instead of the ones who continue to go on with the same old belief that adopting out a few & killing the rest is acceptable. We can adopt from animal shelters.

We can't wait for the big humane organizations with the big political muscles to lead us. "Instead, we must lead them. We're the ones we've been waiting for. We have found our voice, and recognize the potential its fullest expression can create. No more compromises. No more killing."

Friday, July 30, 2010

iPhone Apps for Pet Owners

In a recent issue of Dog Fancy, they listed the following five iPhone apps that might interest dog owners. Cat owners might be interested too!

MiPets: Basic way to track upcoming vet appointments, microchip numbers, medications, and food information for an unlimited number of pets. You can email the file to a pet sitter or boarding kennel. $1.99; A terrific free resource for finding thousands of adoptable dogs, puppies, cats, kittens and other animals around the country. You can share listings via Facebook, Twitter or email.

Pet Safe: Contains a searchable database of plants harmful to dogs, cats, horses, compiled by expert toxicologists from the ASPCA. You'll find toxicity symptoms for each plant and a direct link to the Animal Poison Control Center hotline. A portion of the proceeds goes to the ASPCA. $2.99

PetSnap: To help get your dog (or cat) to look at your camera, this app contains 32 different sounds that catch your dogs' (or cats') attention. Turn up the volume, snap the picture, add a frame and email to friends. $1.99

PawTrotter: This app has more than 130,000 pet stores, dog-friendly hotels, veterinarians and dog parks. The app uses the iPhone's GPS to determine your location and find businesses near you. $2.99

If you know of any more iPhone apps for pet owners, let me know!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cozy Critters to the Rescue!

I rescued another dog today. An 11 month old male Maltese named Snowball. He was running down Stella Link right in front of me as I was driving. Thank goodness he had a tag. I called & went to his address but no one was home. I dropped him off at my house while I finished my pet sitting rounds. They called a short time later & he was returned safe & sound. His family was very happy that I rescued & returned him! They had gone somewhere & it started thundering & he got scared & jumped through the wrought iron fence in his yard. He had gone quite a distance for such a little bitty thing. I was just happy to get him out of the street & back home! I love happy endings!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rescued Dog Needs Forever Home

My name is Ellie, but my foster mom calls me Tiny. I’m a dachshund/Chihuahua mix female that weighs only 12 lbs – teeny tiny. I am about 11 months old and am full of life! I love to roll in the grass, chase squirrels and birds, and wrestle with the big female dog in my foster home. I am good at playing fetch with a ball or stuffed toys. In fact, stuffed animals that squeak are my favorite thing. I often carry one with me. I am housebroken and know how to use a doggy door, and I am well behaved in the house. I am up to date on shots, am taking a monthly heartworm preventative, and recently was spayed, so I’m good to go! I am looking for a loving home with gentle people who will take good care of me. I’d prefer a home with a nice yard since I love to be outdoors when the weather is pretty. If you are interested in adopting me, please contact my foster mom at The adoption fee of $95 will benefit a local nonprofit, Lucky Dog Rescue, that cares for homeless pets.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Pet Sitting Industry Survey

Pet Sitters International, the largest trade organization for professional pet sitters (currently has over 8,000 members world-wide), of which I am a member, is the only source for statistics, data and information on the industry of professional pet sitting. The last survey which was conducted in 2008, with a total of 1,814 members (24% response rate) responding, was tabulated and analyzed by an outside marketing research firm. Although this survey is a little old, I'm sure the results haven't changed that much in the last couple of years. When they do a new survey, I'll be sure to update you with the current findings.

The survey says.....
The typical member is Female (92%), age 41 to 60 (60%), Caucasian (94%), Married (59%) and owns her home (82%). Additionally, she has completed at least some college (88%), entered the pet-sitting industry due to her love of animals (55%), and has been in business for 5 years or less (61%). 98% of all businesses are independently owned.

Pet sitters most commonly own dogs (79%) and cats (61%). Of these, members typically own two dogs and three cats. Approximately one-third of all members belong to an animal rescue or shelter organization. A large majority of members carry both liability and bonding insurance (84%).

Nearly all PSI members service both dogs and cats, while two-thirds service fish, birds and cage pets. The average number of clients (for 2007) was 191, and the average number of pet sitting assignments was 2,169. More than 90% of all members advertise; through word of mouth (98%), business cards (96%), and PSI Pet Sitter Locator Web (94%). 68% of all members advertise through their own website. (This percentage may be bigger now.)

On average, the typical pet sitter client is a married couple between the ages of 36-50. Survey respondents reported that there are more married couples without children (40.5%), than couples with children (28.9%) who utilize their services. Single females tend to use pet sitters at a higher rate than males. Individuals ages 26-65 appear to utilize pet sitters at the same rate, while those under 25 years old made up only 4.2% of all clients. The top three reasons for the use of pet sitters are vacations, midday walks/visits and work schedules.

So where did Cozy Critters stand in 2007? (I am definitely a "typical" member and one who entered this profession because of my love for animals.) We had serviced dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits, fish and various other caged critters. We had been in business 5 years, had 175 active clients (259 clients since we began but we lose a percentage to moving or death of pets) and did 4,218 visits that year (351 visits per month average). 

Something else a lot of people don't realize about pet sitters is that we typically work 365 days a year (those of us who do it full time). Our busiest times are holidays and summertime. In the (now) 8 years I've been pet sitting, I've been trying to think of any other profession or job that requires you to work every day of the year and I cannot come up with any. If you can think of one, let me know. I also cannot think of another profession or job you could have where every time you show up, you are greeted with such love, excitement and enthusiasm!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Handle Cat Thyroid Medications with Caution!

     If your cat has hyperthyroidism and you give it methimazole (trade name Tapazole or Felimazole) be sure to wear gloves when handling and administering the pills.
     Though I've had many clients' cats take the transdermal methimazole, which is a gel that is applied inside the cat's ear, and I know (and was instructed) to wear gloves when administering this because it is absorbed through the skin, I was not aware that I should be wearing gloves when handling, breaking or administering this drug in pill form.
     Veterinarians for decades have prescribed methimazole for cats, off-label; the drug is licensed for human use. Naturally, the safe handling instructions are intended for the individual who is the patient. But since they have come out with Felimazole, which is made specifically for cats the handling instructions are different because the recipient is not the one administering it. For example, the label for Felimazole has a section headed “Human Warnings” that reads, in part: “Wash hands with soap and water after administration to avoid exposure to drug. Do not break or crush tablets. Wear protective gloves to prevent direct contact with litter, feces, urine or vomit of treated cats, and broken or moistened tablets. Wash hands after contact with the litter of treated cats.”
     According to Laura Alvey, a spokeswoman for the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine: "Since cats don’t self-medicate, they rely on their owners to administer the medication and because cats often don’t cooperate with administration of oral medication, there is potential for the pill to become wet/mushy/coating lost with re-administration, which could expose the owners to the drug unknowingly, if the coating is melted away. If they don’t wash their hands after administering the medication, repeated exposure could pose a risk to humans".
     Alvey added that inherent risks exist for people who handle their own methimazole medication, as well, “but those instructions are left to the physicians to communicate,” she said. “We were concerned with people unknowingly exposing themselves to the drugs in ways they wouldn’t normally be aware of.”
     The main reason for wearing gloves and washing hands is to avoid accidentally ingesting any drug residue on the hands, Alvey said, but she noted that methimazole presumably can be absorbed through the skin as well, since the medication often is compounded into a transdermal product.

Source: Veterinary Information Network, Inc., 2/1/10

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Redemption by Nathan J. Winograd

I just finished reading the book Redemption by Nathan J. Winograd. Wow. What a great book!  Definately "...a must read for anyone who cares about animals or about creating a more compassionate society."

He gives us an in-depth story of animal sheltering in this country. From its very beginning to the current situation. A movement that was born of compassion and then lost its way. It's the story of the No Kill movement, which says we can and must stop the killing. He explains why pet overpopulation is a myth and why public irresponsibility is not why animals are being killed in shelters. He explains the reason why the killing continues; how "those in power--the directors who run the shelters, the health department bureaucrats who often oversee them, the local governments which fund them, and the large, national non-profit animal welfare agencies which provide them political cover, are failing. Failing to learn from the past. They are failing to implement the programs and services with a demonstrated track record of saving lives and/or to demand that shelters do." He also explains what it takes for us to become a No Kill nation and has given us examples to prove it.

Nathan Winograd, a former criminal prosecutor and corporate attorney and also a lifelong animal rescuer, left the law to follow his passion and dedicate himself to the task of helping animals. He has helped write animal protection legislation at the state and national level, has spoken nationally and internationally on animal sheltering issues, has created successful No Kill programs in both urban and rural communities and has consulted with a wide range of animal protection groups, including some of the largest and best known in the nation. In 2001, he became the Executive Director of the Tompkins County SPCA. Under his leadership, Tompkins County became the first community in the nation to save all healthy dogs and cats, sick and injured treatable dogs and cats, and feral cats. By the time he left, Ithaca was the safest community in the nation to be a homeless dog or cat. In 2004, he started the No Kill Advocacy Center, dedicated to creation of a No Kill nation.

I want to thank No Kill Houston for bringing my attention to this book. It's been a real eye-opener and I highly recommend this to anyone who cares about animals! Bett Sundermeyer, President of No Kill Houston, has given copies of this book to the mayor and city council members with the hope of changing our shelters here in Houston. Nathan Winograd was brought here to do an assessment of Houston's BARC in September of 2009. Read Nathan's report.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Whole Dog Journal

I have been subscribing to The Whole Dog Journal since 2005. It's a monthly guide to natural dog care and training. It's full of great tips and information on everything from pet food, behavior problems, medical issues, training and more. Best of all, there's no advertisers! It's just packed full of information. Every year they put out their list of approved dry and can dog foods. In previous issues, they've explained in great detail what it takes to get on their approved list and why. I have learned a lot from this journal over the years. Especially when it comes to dog food. It got me started on really reading the ingredients on the pet foods (and treats) I buy. They are offering a free Top Dog Food Report on their website. Though there isn't a "Whole Cat Journal", unfortunately, I apply the same basic information when choosing cat foods. I highly recommend this journal for all dog owners.