<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego News - Clear the Shelters]]>Copyright 2019http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/localen-usSun, 25 Aug 2019 06:16:08 -0700Sun, 25 Aug 2019 06:16:08 -0700NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Top Stories]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 07:19:11 -0700]]><![CDATA[Clear the Shelters is this Saturday August 17]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 08:13:26 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/8-12+-+Clear+the+Shelters.png

NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 are joining forces with San Diego County animal shelters and rescue centers on Saturday, August 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Before You Adopt]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 07:19:11 -0700]]><![CDATA[Amazing Animal Stories]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 07:19:11 -0700]]><![CDATA[Videos]]>Thu, 07 Jun 2018 15:48:24 -0700]]><![CDATA[After You Adopt]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 07:19:11 -0700]]><![CDATA[Full Archive]]>Fri, 10 Aug 2018 09:15:32 -0700]]><![CDATA[Second Chances]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 07:19:11 -0700]]><![CDATA[Dudley Finds a Home in Lakeside]]>Thu, 15 Aug 2019 20:20:51 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cts0815.jpg

Cynthia Marker has a new life companion. She adopted Dudley at last year's Clear the Shelters event. It was love at first sight. Well kind of. ]]>
<![CDATA['Super Friendly' No-Leash Dog Parks in San Diego]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 11:08:05 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/renly+coronado+beach+0814.jpg

One of the largest pet adoption events in the country is right around the corner, but what happens after the animals find their forever homes? Well, for starters, those pets will need a place to run around.

Clear the Shelters is a nationwide pet adoption initiative with hundreds of participating shelters -- all of which will waive or discount fees for one day in the hopes of finding the perfect homes for animals in need.

NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 are teaming up with San Diego shelters on Aug. 17 to find forever homes for as many pets as possible. In 2018, the event saw more than 100,000 adoptions, but millions more pets remain homeless, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

If a furry friend is lucky enough to join your family this weekend, here are five off-leash dog parks in San Diego to take them to celebrate.

Grape Street Dog Park
1998 28th Street, Balboa Park
Monday – Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

This 5-acre dog paradise is the largest of its kind in Balboa Park and, according to several pet owners, the grassiest – something quite rare in San Diego.

One staple of the park is its rainbow tires that dogs can run and jump through. The area is also surrounded by bright green benches with paintings of adventurous pooches and a free library box decorated with paw prints.

The mother of two German Shepherd mutts, 11-year-old Nika and 6-year-old Theo, said Grape Street Dog Park stays well-maintained – including newly-planted trees and grass patches, as well as clean benches and restrooms.

Large trees provide shade in the hotter dog days of summer, and the park even has a doggy drinking fountain to refill bowls and keep your pup hydrated.

Some pet owners told NBC 7 this park can get crowded on weekends and in the mornings, which makes the few dozen immediate parking spaces scarce. Though, street parking along the outskirts of Balboa Park is usually available, they said.

Fiesta Island Off Leash Dog Park
150 E Mission Bay Drive, Mission Bay
Monday – Sunday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

On the western side of Fiesta Island is a grassy and dirt-filled plain cornered off for San Diego’s furriest friends. The peninsula is home to another park that typically hosts runs, walks, and trainings for aquatic sports, which may impact access to its waters. SeaWorld San Diego is immediately south of this slice of dog heaven.

The park is a mix of trails and beaches to give pups a wide variety of activities. The coastline is expansive with many twists and turns, creating endless entry points for dogs to enjoy the waters of Mission Bay.

On one popular online directory, one reviewer wrote that Fiesta Island Off Leash Dog Park made her “fur babies” smile “from doggy ear to doggy ear”.

In June, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved dog-friendly updates to this area.

“I’m so happy to have Fiesta Island. This is such a sanctuary to come out here. I have two little dogs, and I can run them every day here. This is literally the best dog park in the United States," said Janelle Sisting, the mother of two furry daughters, Sweetie and Daisy.

Dirt parking is available along the outskirts of the dog park. There's also a portable restroom in the designated parking lot.

Nate’s Point Dog Park
2500 Balboa Drive, Balboa Park
Open 24/7

This two-acre dog getaway sits near the entrance to Balboa Park. The oval-shaped park is covered in dirt but has a scattering of tall trees to provide shade.

On a popular directory website, several commenters described Nate’s Point Dog Park as "wide open" and "huge."

Stone benches are stationed throughout the park, and visitors have a great view into the heart of Balboa Park.

Some street parking is available along Balboa Drive. To find parking lots in Balboa Park, check out this guide.

The park was named after former City of San Diego employee Nate Wells, according to Balboa Park.

Capehart Dog Park
4747 Soledad Mountain Road, Pacific Beach
Open 24/7

This dog park is separated into two fenced-off areas for small and large dogs. The small dogs’ area is mostly grassy with patches of dirt, while the large dogs’ area is mainly dirt, according to several reviewers on a popular directory site.

Chairs, benches, and tables with umbrellas are scattered around the edges of the park for owners to sit back and relax.

According to the Pacific Beach Town Council, the small dogs' area was recently re-sodded, and the park was weeded, gopher-eradicated, and given new signs and a temporary shade cover.

The park is in a residential neighborhood but is backed by a small hill covered in brush.

Roughly two dozen parking spaces are designated to the park, and a portable bathroom sits in this lot.

Coronado Dog Beach
100 Ocean Boulevard, Coronado
Monday – Sunday: 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

A silver, heat-resistant path leads visitors to a sandy beach dedicated to four-legged friends and their owners. With a quarter-mile of coast, dogs are free to run, splash, and relax off-leash. A drainage ditch about a dozen feet wide separates Coronado Dog Beach from Coronado Beach.

On sunny San Diego days, this scenic spot is typically buzzing with pooches.

Last week, being pushed in a small, purple stroller was Renly – a fuzzy, tan mutt with a massive smile. His owner, Sonia Morelos, was taking him home for a nap after an afternoon of fun in the sun.

“There’s something, sort of, wide open about this place that I really like,” she explained.

Morelos and Renly come to the Coronado Dog Beach three times a week as part of their morning routine.

“The dogs are super friendly here. I’ve never had an encounter with a dog growling at him,” she told NBC 7. “All the dogs that come here, there’s so much variety. There’s little dogs, there’s big dogs, and everybody just loves it. I think that we’re really lucky to have a place to bring all our dogs. And there are dog parks as well, real nice ones, but just being by the ocean, it’s just wonderful.”

University of San Diego student Alejandro Sanchez and his French Bulldog Valentino told NBC 7 it was their first time at the dog beach -- to much success.

“He loves the beach. He loves the blue, clean waters here in San Diego,” Sanchez said. “Coronado is one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego, and I have to take advantage of a dog beach right next door.”

Valentino was panting happily, cradled in his owner’s hands.

Chamila Nothum was also new to the area, traveling from Phoenix, Arizona, but it seemed like her dogs, Brody, a 10-year-old German Shepherd Rottweiler mix, and Rami, a 10-year-old Dobermann, already made themselves at home.

“We actually picked this area because of the off-leash dog beach. We were looking around for places to take the pups with us on vacation and found this place, and it’s off-leash all the time, and it’s fantastic,” Nothum said, sitting under an umbrella with dogs on either side of her. “And everybody’s so friendly, and it’s such a beautiful area. I mean, you can’t beat it.”

Brody is used to traveling. Nothum, a former news reporter, first met him while on assignment in southeast Missouri where a tornado tore through a town.

“The house I went to was knocked off of its foundation. And there were three puppies running around. I had just lost my rescue dog a month before, and I vowed I would never get another dog,” she said.

Three of Brody’s siblings were killed in the natural disaster, and his owner was struggling to find the surviving puppies a safe home.

“He followed me around the entire time,” Nothum said about the then-5-week-old puppy. His owners eventually gave him to Nothum because they couldn’t continue to care for him.

From Missouri to Arizona to California, Brody has seen a lot of parks, but Nothum said the one in San Diego was special.

“We’ll be back again. We were talking about making this an annual, or even a semi-annual, trip, you know, especially here at Coronado Island,” she said.

The first-timers and superfans all agreed Coronado Dog Beach was one of the friendliest in San Diego, with dogs and owners being conscientious and observant.

“The dogs are super friendly here. I’ve never had an encounter with a dog growling at (Renly),” Morelos said.

Though, Valentino was said to be a bit “feisty.”

“He loves tennis balls, but he’ll steal other dogs’ balls as well. He’s very feisty, but he’s a very loving dog,” said Sanchez.

The City of Coronado’s website described the beach’s waves as “generally rather tame and the setting is very photogenic.”

Parking is available along Ocean Boulevard up to the border of Naval Base Coronado. Spaces can sometimes be hard to come by, so visitors also park in the surrounding residential area to the north.

“If people haven’t tried, you know, adopting a dog, they should go out and do it, because it will change your life,” Nothum said.

To find participating shelters near you, click here. And we'd love to see your pets this weekend! Tag @nbcsandiego in your photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook -- or email us at isee@nbcsandiego.com. And don’t forget the #ClearTheShelters hashtag!

Photo Credit: NBC 7
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Breaking Down the Pet Adoption Process]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 05:51:45 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2019-08-15+at+3.44.42+PM.png

Thinking about pet adoption but feeling unsure or overwhelmed? The ASPCA's Kelly DiCicco breaks down the process of adopting and acclimating your new pet to your home. ]]>
<![CDATA['Sweetheart' Shaka the Pitbull a Perfect Match, Family Says]]>Thu, 15 Aug 2019 06:43:06 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PKG+CTS+SHAKA_the+pitbull.jpg

Meet "Shaka" the pitbull mix who is now best friends with her human toddler brother. NBC 7s Nicole Gomez brings us this Clear the Shelters success story. ]]>
<![CDATA[The Dodo]]>Wed, 14 Aug 2019 10:30:25 -0700]]><![CDATA[Lightning Causes $30K of Damage to New York Animal Shelter]]>Sat, 20 Jul 2019 14:07:44 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/little-shelter-combo.png

Lightning struck the grounds of a Long Island, New York animal shelter, shattering a memorial fountain and shooting the shards across the facility, causing $30,000 of damage, the shelter said Saturday. 

Little Shelter said its industrial air conditioning unit was destroyed, along with a phone system control panel and the central alarm station were destroyed. 

No animals were hurt. 

A thunderstorm on Wednesday night was part of the aftermath of Tropical Storm Barry. A lightning bolt struck a tree at the Huntington shelter at about 10 p.m., then traveled to the fountain, the shelter said. 

The fountain shattered and pieces of it were strewn across the grounds, with one even flying over the cat building, the shelter said. 

Photo Credit: Little Shelter ]]>
<![CDATA[Wee Pups to (Nearly) Take Wing at the Wiener Nationals]]>Thu, 18 Jul 2019 13:14:03 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/wienernationalslosalamitos1.jpg

What sort of sound or catchphrase or verbal indicator might a Dachshund employ when she is ready to run very, very fast?

"Meep, meep" is already taken, of course. "I'm outta here" conveys the spirit of a Dachshund on the move, but that is something a human might say, not a pup who speaks in bark-ese.

Hmm. This is ruff, er, rough.

We'll just assume that the sweet but fleet Fidos that compete in Wienerschnitzel's famous Wiener Nationals have one thing on their minds: Reaching the end of 50 yards in an impressively quick amount of time.

And plenty of Dachshunds will do just that, on Saturday, July 20 at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, California.

This summertime tradition is very much about doting on Doxies, and meeting other humans who love these hounds, but there's something even stronger at its strong heart: Raising money for the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, which assists in "...finding home for stray animals in the Orange County area."

Lots of people show with their pooches, hoping they can run, but there are rules to know.

Like? A toy or treat may be employed to "entice" your pumpkin to run, but there is no jogging alongside (two people are permitted with each canine participant, one at the starting gate and one waiting at the finish).

Everything to know? Woof woof: It's right here. There's a release waiver, too.

The cost to enter and cheer on these lil' Lassies and Laddies? It's three bucks, and young people 17 and under will be admitted for free.

Los Alamitos calls the Wiener Nationals the venue's "most popular event" of the year, and over 8,500 people attend, per the course.

So arriving early, whether you have a racing pup in tow or not? Smart move.

Dachshunds are famously smart, after all, and if they could talk, they'd certainly advise anyone to head for the Cypress destination well ahead of the first race of the evening, which begins at 6:30 p.m. (gates open at 4:30 p.m.).

Nope, Dachshunds can't fly, but watching all four of their wee feetsies leave the ground at once, as they attempt to reach the finish line first, can make you feel as though you're heart is in flight.

Yes, we said "wee feetsies." Nope, we're not taking it back.

Photo Credit: Wiener Nationals]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Pets Find New Homes During Clear The Shelters]]>Thu, 21 Feb 2019 09:22:24 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_36_21.Still003.jpg

Across the country thousands of animals are finding forever homes. Watch some of these lucky pets as they meet their new families for the very first time.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: From Shelter Dog to Social Media Stardom]]>Fri, 17 Aug 2018 19:27:11 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Clear_the_Shelters__From_Shelter_Dog_to_Social_Media_Stardom.jpg

This sweet pupper got a second chance and he's living his best life. NBC 7's Gaby Rodriguez has more.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Hundreds of SD Animals Find Homes]]>Mon, 20 Aug 2018 06:00:50 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Milpitas_Clear_the_Shelters.jpg

Hundreds of loving animals across San Diego found forever homes on Saturday during the annual Clear The Shelters day. 

NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 partnered with animal shelters and rescue centers across San Diego to waive all adoption fees on Saturday. The goal is to clear the shelters by finding forever homes for as many pets as possible.

On Saturday, 608 animals found new homes. Twelve local shelters participated this year in Clear the Shelters. Nationwide, 76,206 animals found homes. 

"We just adopted Blue!" one family told NBC 7, holding their new dog. "Thank you to all the shelters. He's amazing!" 

Over 53,000 pets were adopted during last year’s event, but millions more remain homeless. Every year, 7.6 million animals end up in shelters nationwide — and only 2.7 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA.

NBC 7 Meteorologist Dagmar Midcap offered some tips that might help you find what you're looking for during Clear the Shelters and any adoption in the future.

First, don’t let appearance be the sole reason you take home a furry friend. The cutest animal you see this weekend may not be the best fit for your lifestyle. When you visit a shelter, have an idea of what you want in a pet before falling in love with a set of puppy, or cat or turtle eyes.

Adoption counselors will be on site to help guide you through the process so that you, and your new pet, go home happy.

And don’t be surprised if the perfect pet for you isn’t young and spry. Mature dogs, for example, are great because they’ve outgrown that rambunctious and energetic stage that some can’t keep up with. Adult cats are great, too, because they are usually already litter box trained.

If dogs and cats aren’t your thing, there are plenty of slithering, hopping, carrot-chomping, and all-around awesome animals at county shelters in need of a new home.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Program Helps Military Vets With Service Dogs Find Jobs]]>Mon, 20 Aug 2018 12:04:25 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Training_Program_Helps_Vets_With_Service_Dogs_Find_Jobs.jpg

Marine veteran John Tipton found it difficult to find a job with his service dog, Daisy, who was issued to help with post-traumatic stress.

"I think it's due to a lack of education on a lot of people's part, employer’s part, what the dog does for me and what the dog does for the total work environment," Tipton said.

With the help of Next Step, a training program for servicemembers and veterans with service dogs and a pilot career program at Pechanga Resort and Casino, Tipton and Daisy have started working as a six-legged security unit.

The pair interacts with guests, patrols the perimeter of the resort and ensures everything is as it should be, Pechanga Resort Vice President Robert Krauss said.

"I really hope that other employers take a look at this and see the program and see all the positive benefits that it does have for them," Krauss said. 

Pechanga hopes to get 10 canine-veteran units on their staff within the next year. Visit here to apply. 

The four-year-old Labrador retriever-mix and the 22- year Marine have been together for most of the young dog’s life and the Marine says she has changed his demeanor completely.

"She's opened me up to be myself again -- to be John again, not the 'grumpy grandpa' like my kids used to call me."

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: NBC 7 Viewers and Their Adopted Friends]]>Fri, 03 Aug 2018 11:49:11 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Sophie+and+JackSIZED.jpgNBC and Telemundo stations around the country will team up with hundreds of shelters on Aug. 18 for the fourth annual Clear the Shelters animal adoption drive.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hartley]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: NBC 7 Staff and Their Adopted Friends]]>Thu, 02 Aug 2018 10:27:49 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ARTIE+CTS-SIZED.jpgNBC and Telemundo stations around the country will team up with hundreds of shelters on Aug. 18 for the fourth annual Clear the Shelters animal adoption drive.

Photo Credit: Artie Ojeda]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Madrid Police Dog 'Performs' CPR on Partner]]>Tue, 26 Jun 2018 07:28:49 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/20180626_cpr_dog_SOCIAL.gif

Poncho is ready to save a life! Madrid's municipal police department shared a video of K-9 Poncho "performing" CPR on his human partner as a way to promote adoption. ]]>
<![CDATA[Over 700 Animals Adopted During SD Clear the Shelters Event]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 19:47:26 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Over_700_Animals_Adopted_During_Clear_the_Shelters.jpg

NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap reports on the success of the 2017 Clear the Shelters event.]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Helps Clear the Shelters]]>Sat, 19 Aug 2017 14:21:12 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTS-2017-KNSD-2.jpgOn Aug. 19, NBC 7 took part in Clear the Shelters, NBC's nationwide pet adoption drive to find forever homes for loving pets. These are photos of San Diegans adopting their new best friends.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA['He Needed Help': San Diegans Clear the Shelters]]>Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:37:29 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTS-2017-KNSD-15.jpg

Animal shelters across the U.S. – including more than a dozen in San Diego County – teamed up with NBC Saturday to find loving forever homes for pets in need.

The third annual Clear the Shelters nationwide pet adoption drive kicked off at 10 a.m. Bright and early, starting around 6:30 a.m., San Diegans lined up at participating shelters, including the San Diego Humane Society on Gaines Street and the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services Southern Region in Bonita, in search of a furry friend to take home.

This included couple John and Ardis Rowland, accompanied by their daughter, in search of a black dog.

“I love dogs. I lost my dog. And I’m not to be without a dog,” John told NBC 7.

For the Rowlands, owning a pet is important because it provides them with companionship. The couple's kids are grown and out of the house, so they have time and love to give.

"[A pet is] somebody else to love,” said John.

“And to love you,” Ardis added.

Combined, the animal facilities participating in San Diego County said they had more than 1,200 adoptable pets available for Clear the Shelters. The goal was to match each one of those animals with a home.

By 7:30 p.m., a total of 739 animals had been adopted in San Diego, including a chicken, dogs, cats and rabbits. 

A Shih-Tzu named Luna found her forever home in retired San Diego teacher, Margarita, who just turned 70 years old. The teacher told NBC 7 that she and her daughter and granddaughter had been visiting San Diego shelters, looking for a dog to adopt. Two days ago, they locked eyes with the Shih-Tzu.

"She came to us. She was at the back, back, back of the cage. We called her Luna, and immediately she came up. There was something in her eyes. She came right over to us, and she licked my granddaughter first," Margarita explained.

She knew right then Luna was her match.

"I am going to enrich my life with this most beautiful doggy named Luna. I’ve already got a name for her; I’ve been dreaming about her for two days," she said.

On Saturday, Margarita adopted Luna. She said she had already embroidered some special items for her new pet, as little welcome home gifts.

"I have a lot of time just to give, a lot of love and emotion," Margarita told NBC 7. "And just have this dog give to me like I hope I gave to my students, for 34 years."

More sweet adoption stories unfolded, with NBC 7's resident animal enthusiast, Dagmar Midcap, speaking with locals adding new members to their families at the Gaines Street shelter.

This included a boy named Nathan who adopted an 8-year-old dog he named Rex. When asked why he wanted to take Rex home, the boy's answer was sweet and simple: "He needed help, so I chose him."

Two girls left the San Diego Humane Society Saturday each with a rabbit: Midnight and Cocoa.

The girls are best friends and planned to pass that down to their bunnies.

"We're planning a buddy play date," one girl said.

Sarah Sweeney, 12, also adopted a rabbit. The girl told NBC 7 her favorite part about her new pet was "hit cuteness."

"He's very sweet and shy, and he's very soft," she said, cradling her new pet.

Sweeney said her bunny will make a great companion for her; the pair will soon be watching TV together, the girl said.

In addition to the Gaines Street and Bonita shelters, other local facilities participating in Clear the Shelters include Shelly's Shelter in Bonita, the National Cat Protection Society in Spring Valley, City of El Cajon Animal Services in El Cajon, and the San Diego Humane Society's Escondido Campus. For a map of all of the shelters taking part in Saturday's event, click here.

Last year, 771 pets were adopted in San Diego during the Clear the Shelters drive, including dogs, cats, bunnies and even a hamster named Helen.

San Diegans shares their sweet adoption stories with us as they added the new members to their families. We hope to hear similar tales this time around, too.

In August 2015, the inaugural Clear the Shelters found homes for 777 pets in San Diego County, including one lucky rabbit adopted by NBC 7's Midcap.

Nationwide, since Clear the Shelters launched in 2015, the NBC initiative has secured forever homes for 73,411 pets.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters 2017: NBC 7 Viewer Pet Photos]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 10:01:02 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/203*120/CTSSD+viewer+34.jpgNBC 7 viewers shared their pet photos in honor of the upcoming Clear the Shelters campaign to find loving homes for animals. ]]><![CDATA[People Pet Vet Talks Clear the Shelters]]>Wed, 09 Aug 2017 14:07:34 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Talk+Stoop+Clear+the+Shelters.jpg.jpeg

People magazine Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle and celebrity pet vet Evan Antin stop by “Talk Stoop” to chat with Cat Greenleaf about the effort to “Clear the Shelters” on Aug. 19.

Dr. Antin’s biggest piece of advice for those planning on adopting a cat or dog: “Going to a local rescue or shelter and visiting with the dogs, and realizing whether or not this is a good move for you,” he says.]]>
<![CDATA[How to Bathe Your Dog]]>Thu, 07 Jun 2018 16:24:45 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2017-08-05-at-8.25.58-PM.jpg

Is your pup stinky? Watch Ripley the Chocolate Lab get a bath at Bideawee, a no-kill animal rescue in New York City, and see how you can safely bathe your own canine.]]>
<![CDATA[Puppy Left at Airport Bathroom With Heartbreaking Note]]>Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:20:15 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chewy+Abandoned+Puppy.jpg

A miniature Chihuahua was left inside a Las Vegas airport bathroom along with a heartbreaking letter from the puppy's owner.

In the handwritten note, Chewy's owner reveals she's a victim of domestic violence and was escaping her "abusive boyfriend," but couldn't afford the airfare for her 3-month-old dog.

"She didn’t want to leave me with all her heart but she has NO other option. My ex-boyfriend kicked my dog when we were fighting and he has a big knot on his head. He probably needs a vet," the note, which was posted on the Connor and Millie's Dog Rescue (CMRD) Facebook page, said. "I love Chewy sooo much – please love and take care of him.”

Since sharing Chewy's story on Facebook, CMDR says there has been “tremendous interest” in the pooch. The Las Vegas-based rescue center said it reviewing all of the interest forms before it selects a new home for Chewy.

"However, there is but 1 Chewy and he can go but to 1 home. Please consider the hundreds if not thousands of "Chewys" loaded with love that are desperately seeking homes in shelters which are at max capacity, rescues are full! Please consider adopting another wonderful companion in his honor!" the shelter added.

Photo Credit: Connor and Millie's Dog Rescue
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Special Needs Corgis Ready for Their Closeups]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 12:17:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/DSC_9647_Panda.jpgEach corgi in the series has either a behavioral, neurological or other medical need.

Photo Credit: Casey Christopher]]>
<![CDATA[Miniature Horses to Provide Therapy for Wounded Veterans]]>Fri, 07 Jul 2017 10:33:36 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Horse_Therapy_Helps_Wounded_Veterans.jpg

A riding center in Ramona is bringing together miniature horses saved from slaughter and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) in a program that helps heal all involved.

The Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Center adopted two miniature horses on Thursday, and will use them in its program Operation Saddle Up, which provides therapy to wounded service members and veterans suffering from PTSD, according the center.

The miniature horses were rescued from slaughter in a Texas auction house by P.A.W. 4 The Foundation, an animal rescue organization founded by Charlotte Olhausen. 

According to Cornerstone, the horse therapy provided through Operation Saddle Up has brought an 85 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts, 75 percent decrease in PTSD and 90 percent decrease in anxiety for those veterans enrolled in their program.

In addition to helping service members, Cornerstone said the horses will be used to help children with special needs and serve as program ambassadors throughout the community once they are trained.

<![CDATA[Retriever Fever: America's Most Popular Dogs, in Photos]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 19:55:37 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/1GettyImages-519107508_master.jpgThe Labrador retriever is America's best best friend, according to the American Kennel Club. This gallery features "aw"-inducing photos of the top 10 most popular dog breeds in America, as judged by the AKC.

Photo Credit: Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ALS Treatment for Dogs Could Benefit Human Patients]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 09:46:47 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ALS+Dog+1.JPG

Despite the increased awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, few people know that a similar disease affects our canine companions. 

Degenerative myelopathy is a disease similar to ALS that causes progressive paralysis in older dogs. Both neurodegenerative diseases are fatal and there is no cure. 

As in humans with ALS, dogs with degenerative myelopathy eventually die when the respiratory system stops working, but often pets are euthanized before. 

But researchers at the University of Massachusetts partnered with the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, Massachusetts, to test a new drug therapy in dogs that they hope could one day benefit human patients with ALS. 

Dogs participating in the trial, which began in December 2016, undergo tests and are checked every three months to assess their neurological and motor functions. According to Tufts, four dogs are currently in the pilot study. So far, the therapy appears safe in pets, but researchers say it's too early to determine whether it will stop the disease or reverse it.

"Does it work? That’s the question I wake up and go to bed with every day," said Robert H. Brown Jr., a UMass Medical School neurologist and one of the world’s foremost experts on ALS.

The failure rate with clinical trials for any drug is very high.

"Approximately only 10 percent of drugs that make their way into people is actually approved by the FDA for use in humans," said Dr. Cheryl London with Cummings School.

One reason is that tests are done on mice, which are given the disease or genetically engineered. London says because of these factors, the disease in mice don't accurately represent what researchers see in humans. But diseases in dog, cats and even horses do. Researchers also say because these animals are much closer in makeup to humans than mice, the likelihood of success is greater.

Greta, a 9-year-old boxer, is one of the dogs participating in the clinical trial of the drug therapy and her owner hopes it could stop her disease from getting worse. 

"Her contributing to the research was really important," Greta's owner said. "That it links to human ALS and research in that area, it just seemed like Greta could help dogs and humans, both."


If your dog has generative myelopathy and you would like your dog to take part in this study, click here to see if it meets the criteria.

Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[PAWmicon: Comic Canines in Cosplay]]>Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:04:11 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/pawmicon_19.jpgCoo over woofers dressed as superheroes, and villains, too, from movies and comic books, at a sweet San Diego fundraiser.

Photo Credit: The Helen Woodward Animal Center]]>
<![CDATA[Kristen Bell, Charlize Theron Gush Over Their Rescue Dogs]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 19:08:45 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KristenBell-CharlizeTheron.jpg

As the Annenberg Foundation prepares to celebrate the opening of the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista, California, some of Hollywood's most famous dog owners are sharing their positive pet stories with fans.

In a new video posted on YouTube, Kristen Bell reintroduces viewers to her dog Lola, who she rescued at a shelter 13 years ago.

"I wanted a dog for my birthday, which was like my first dog as an adult and she was just staring at me from inside her kennel and I felt this instant connection and the woman at the pound said, 'You may not want that dog. She's been returned by two other families,'" the actress recalled. "And I said, 'Nope. That's my dog. That's the dog I want.'"

The rest, as they like to say in Hollywood, is history.

Stars Who Adopted Pets

Charlize Theron also stars in the video with her two beloved pooches Johnny and Berkley. The Hollywood actress couldn't help but emphasize how much pets can become part of the family.

"My children absolutely adore them and they adore my children and I cannot imagine my family without them," Theron shared. "What's better than opening your door and two friendly faces are just happy to see you no matter what? That's what Berkley and Johnny do."

She added, "They're strays, they look weird but they're so beautiful. You don't need a purebred dog."

The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is described as a community service and pet adoption center that includes veterinary care and animal education.

In fact, the center also focuses on "the celebration and study of the relationship between people and their pets -- and the important and beneficial impact of the human-animal bond."

"Looking out for another living thing is a way of learning how to look out for yourself, learning to have empathy and love and I think that's brilliant for kids," Stephen Moyer shared. "It's a great reminder for us."

Photo Credit: File/AP Photo
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<![CDATA[Nearly 1,000 Animals Rescued]]>Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:17:08 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_rescuedanimals0621_1920x1080.jpg

Nearly 1,000 animals are being cared for after being found in an old moving truck in Fresno, California, Friday. Kendyll Lyons, a kennel worker at Fresno Humane Animal Services, has been working long hours to make sure the hundreds of birds, bunnies, quail and others. A total of 955 animals were rescued, but several have since died.

Photo Credit: KSEE-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Ultramarathon Dog Scores Book and Movie Deals]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 19:20:07 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_17165751510592.jpg

Gobi, the stray dog who captured hearts when she adopted her human Dion Leonard during a 155-mile race across China's Gobi desert, will be featured in books and a movie depicting how the two met and bonded.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[34 Dogs Saved From 'Deplorable' Conditions in Calif. Home]]>Sat, 17 Jun 2017 15:28:33 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6-17-17_Dog_Seizure.jpg

Nearly three dozen dogs were rescued Thursday from woeful conditions in a Scotts Valley home, according to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

The rescue happened after someone reported that several dogs were suffering from "deplorable and inhumane" treatment at a residence. The animal shelter officers were familiar with the property since there have been similar complaints made in the past, the shelter wrote on Facebook. 

"The conditions were such that [the dogs] needed to be seized," Linda Puzziferro from the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter said. "They were breeding the dogs, and there were many dogs. The conditions were not good."

With the help of warrants and assistance from the Scotts Valley Police Department, the animal shelter retrieved 34 dogs. Most of the canines were Boston terriers, as well as some Tibetan spaniels and one Chihuahua mix.

The pets were not being treated appropriately and will need to be examined by the veterinarians, according to the shelter.

The dogs' owner struggles with hoarding problems and recently suffered a stroke, a man who lives on the property where the dogs were seized told NBC Bay Area. The man added that he understands there were too many dogs in one location, but claimed the pups were healthy.

The shelter is stretched thin, officials said, and asked for donations.

People looking for more information can find it online.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Poway Couple Accused of Hoarding 180 Yorkies Pleads Guilty]]>Tue, 11 Jul 2017 23:48:23 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Poway-Dogs-RESCUED.jpg

A Poway couple, accused of hoarding more than a hundred Yorkie dogs inside their homes and a restaurant pleaded guilty Monday, confirmed prosecutors.

Christine Calvert, 62, and Mark Vattimo, 73, will be placed on three years of probation at their sentencing on July 11, said prosecutors.

Calvert and Vattimo previously pleaded not guilty in March.

Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy said it's most important that the defendants get help, in order to make sure this never happens again.

The defendants must undergo counseling and are not allowed to own any pets, as part of their plea agreement. They also will transfer the ownership of a 31-foot motorhome to the Humane Society as restitution in the case, said prosecutors.

After 18 months of probation, Vattimo and Calvert may apply to have their felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors, according to Superior Court Judge Kathleen Lewis.

Back in January, the Humane Society received a report from a concerned veterinarian that suggested the Poway couple was keeping 180 dogs in deplorable conditions. The dogs were kept in dark, unsanitary rooms filled with feces, urine, and mice at the defendants' home.

When Humane Society officials went to the scene, they were prevented from entering the home, said Reedy. After a few days, they were able to come in and 94 dogs were removed from the defendants' home within the next eight hours.

Later, 29 dogs were also seized from a restaurant the couple owned and nearly 50 dogs were taken from a motor home when Calvert was arrested last February in Primm, Nevada, according to prosecutors.

It was unclear why the couple kept so many dogs in terrible conditions, Reedy said. All the animals had health problems, ranging from ear infections to severe matting.

The couple was charged with 10 felony counts, including animal abuse and neglect, and one count of resisting an officer.

The dogs were placed in the care of the San Diego Humane Society. 

More than 1,500 adoption applications were submitted for the Yorkies, prompting the organization to close the adoption process earlier than planned.

Ed. Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of a defendant. The article has been corrected. We regret the error.

Photo Credit: San Diego Humane Society]]>
<![CDATA[Stolen Dog Reunited With SoCal Family 7 Year Later]]>Wed, 07 Jun 2017 07:06:59 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dog-reunion-060617.jpg

Pet microchipping led to a heartwarming reunion Tuesday for a Southern California family and their dog, who finally returned home seven years after she was stolen.

Kona, an 8-year-old pit bull, was dropped off by animal control at Ventura County Animal Services (VCAS) Saturday in Camarillo, where workers scanned her for a microchip implant that led to her owner, Shannon Pratt.

The last time Pratt and her family saw Kona was seven years ago when the then-1-year-old pit bull was stolen from their backyard in Ventura County, according to VCAS. The family has since moved to Bakersfield and Kona's collar was left behind.

Upon receiving the good news from VCAS, Pratt and her daughters drove to Ventura County to pick up Kona.

Tuesday's emotional reunion, which was streamed live on VCAS' Facebook, shows Pratt and her three daughters happy to be reunited with Kona.

"It's just the best feeling when the microchip scanner beeps," said VCAS director Tara Diller. "It means the pet has a microchip, and the chances of reuniting pets with their owners increases exponentially."

Even though a microchip implant dramatically increases the likelihood of locating a pet's owner, the vast majority of lost pets do not have these implants, according to VCAS spokesman Randy Friedman.

This is also true of the lost pets at the Camarillo Animal Shelter. Few animals there have microchips, making it difficult to locate owners and move animals out of the shelter. The Camarillo shelter currently offers shelter to 240 animals, almost 100 animals more than its intended 150-animal capacity. The shelter has been far over capacity since it became a "no-kill" facility in 2014, Friedman said.

Microchip implants are the size of a grain of rice and last a lifetime, making them a "game changer" for lost pets, Friedman added.

Animal services officials especially urge owners to microchip their pets as July 4 nears. Friedman said that having a microchip implant will increase the chance that a pet will be returned if it gets lost after running from fireworks.

VCAS offers microchip implants for $10 at low-cost vaccination clinics that are held at different sites each month. Implants are offered for free for pets that were lost and have been returned to their owners.

Photo Credit: Ventura County Animal Services
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<![CDATA[50 Animals Rescued Following Animal Cruelty Complaint]]>Tue, 06 Jun 2017 11:15:04 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/196*120/NHSPCA+rescue+060117+1+EDIT.jpg

About 50 animals living in overcrowded, filthy conditions were rescued in New Hampshire and relocated to the New Hampshire Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA) in Stratham following an animal cruelty complaint, authorities said.

An NHSPCA spokesman says the animals include two horses, a mother dog and her four puppies, 27 rabbits and 15 guinea pigs.

All will be evaluated by a veterinarian.

The organization believes the dogs are suffering from worms and the horses appear underweight and without proper hoof care. Some of the rabbits and guinea pigs were suffering from urine burns on their paws.

"It is always devastating to see animals that were entrusted to the care of humans and those humans failed to provide it," said Lisa Dennison, the NHSPCA's executive director. "These animals have suffered at the hands of human seeking to make a profit from their offspring."

The NHSPCA says the owners of the animals are cooperating with authorities but are expected to face animal neglect charges. Their information has not been released.

Once the animals have recovered, the NHSPCA said they will be placed in homes.

The agency is seeking donations to help pay for their food, vaccinations and care. To make a donation, go to www.nhspca.org, call 603-772-2921, Ext. 102 or send it by mail to New Hampshire SPCA, PO Box 196, Stratham, NH 03885.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: New Hampshire SPCA]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Isis, the Bomb-Sniffing Dog Protecting You]]>Thu, 25 May 2017 09:30:13 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/052417+isis+the+bomb+sniffing+dog.jpg

ISIS was raised in prison, but she wasn't doing hard time. The bombing-sniffing pooch was trained by female inmates at Florida prison to become a service dog as part of a program called Puppies Behind Bars. NBC 6’s Julia Bagg reports.

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Service Dog in HS Yearbook]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 20:31:55 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/soldier+campbell+yearbook1.jpg

To see Kathryn Campbell smile, you'd have to look into her past. The once active, talkative little girl started having seizures at the age of ten.

"She has since lost her ability to speak with us, and she doesn't smile very much anymore," said her mother, Kim Campbell. "We have lost that outgoing little girl, and that has been absolutely the most difficult part."

Bringing comfort to the whole family is Kathryn's best friend, Soldier.

"He's a goofball, and he's a big old scaredy cat. He eats socks, which is his absolute worst habit," Kim Campbell said.

Soldier is Kathryn's service dog. Together, they attend Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth. He's by her side constantly — even in the school yearbook.

But his presence is for more than just comfort.

"He can smell the differences in her body before the seizures actually happen," her mother said.

His alerts range from licking to pawing and barking, and they give Kathryn's caregivers an average 45-minute warning before a seizure occurs.

"Every seizure is life-threatening," said Kathryn's nurse, Samantha Stringer.

Stringer said she uses the extra warning time to prepare oxygen and rescue meds.

When she jumps into action, Soldier waits. He's always on alert, and he's always by Kathryn's side—through everything.

As high school freshmen they went to homecoming together—and then prom.

Soldier is an active member of Kathryn's classroom, so when it came to student picture day, Soldier took part.

"There's lots of kids rolling through, it's like, 'Hey! Here's a dog, okay good,'" said photographer Jared Pyfer, who captured Soldier's student ID picture.

Soldier is not only featured in an article with Kathryn in the yearbook, he also has his own picture, alongside the other students.

Because of his name's first letter, S, Kathryn's sister separates them in the row of pictures. But Soldier is close by—just like always.

"I think it commemorates their bond that they have. They get to go through all of this together," student Amanda Barber said.

Soldier is a proud student with a life-saving sense of smell and enough love to give anyone who needs some comfort.

"Every life matters and everyone that walks into this school matters," Stringer said. "Even a dog's life can make an impact of life and death, and I think that's amazing."

"He's a blessing, all the way around," said Kim Campbell said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Need a Dog Walker? There's an App for That]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 19:44:25 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/2017-05-15_0630.png

If you have a dog you have to leave everyday to go to work, you may feel a little guilty? What if your dog needs to go outside? Well, there's an app for that. News4's consumer reporter Susan Hogan shows us how a new app can make your day guilt free.]]>
<![CDATA[Pistons Coach Adopts Animal Shelter's Last Dog]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 19:37:33 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/US-MI-Last-Dog-Adopt-CR_1200x675_940425283974.jpg

Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and his family have adopted a Labrador retriever mix that was an animal shelter's last remaining dog following a pet adoption day.

Van Gundy, his wife Kim and their teenage daughter picked up Eastwood, a special needs dog, Tuesday at the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society in the northern Michigan city of Harbor Springs.

Eastwood gained national attention last week for being the shelter's last remaining dog following a statewide "Empty the Shelters" free pet adoption day that found homes for nearly 1,600 pets at 66 Michigan shelters.

The friendly pooch was born with an eye defect and a leg deformity that may someday require surgery.]]>
<![CDATA[Duck Shows Up at Man's Home, Refuses to Leave]]>Mon, 08 May 2017 13:12:48 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_duckman0508_1500x845.jpg

A duck showed up at a Florida man's home a few weeks ago -- and he says it still won't leave the property. Lakeland resident Richard Martin says he tries to take the animal to a nearby lake but she always waddles back to his house.]]>
<![CDATA[Cat Survives 15 BB Gun Shots]]>Wed, 10 Oct 2018 23:32:08 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chance-the-cat-la.jpg

An eight-month-old kitten is recovering after being shot 15 times with a BB gun earlier this week.

The stray feline came in to Nohl Ranch Animal Hospital with multiple puncture wounds, all of them aimed at his head, according to hospital officials. Five BB gun pellets went through the cat's skull; surgeons were able to remove all but one, which was too deeply embedded. 

Hospital workers have named the cat "Chance" because he miraculously survived the attack. Veterinarians said that cats are normally quick to run away once they've been attacked, raising questions about how 15 shots were fired at the kitten. 

"We would think he would have ran, so it's a possibility that he could've been held down or tied down," Dr. Janie Guirguis said. "But we're not sure."

Chance was found hovering under a truck just a few blocks from the Nohl Ranch Animal Hospital in Orange County, California.

Doctors said the shock of the attack left Chance blind, but they're hoping he'll regain his eyesight as he heals.

Chance will continue to recover before Nohl Ranch begins searching for a suitable home.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Lab Report: Gene Researchers Map Out Dog Family Tree]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 18:27:50 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/211*120/gretriever.jpg

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have come up with the most complete and definitive canine family tree to date, NBC News reported.

They've spent more than 20 years sampling the genes of 161 breeds of dog, sequencing them and comparing them to show how breeds were mixed and matched to make new breeds. The genealogy also gives a rough timeline and geographic map of what came from where.

"It's very subtle variation in small numbers of genes that account for that very large difference in morphology that we see across breeds," said Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the NIH.

The goal is to track disease-causing genetic mutations, which often translate to human disease genes, Ostrander said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Match for Mutts? Website Helps People Adopt the Best Dog]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Golden-Retriever-GettyImages-522796697.jpg

There's a new way to find the perfect family dog. 

The founders of the website How I Met My Dog say people usually select a pet based on appearance and breed. But that's barking up the wrong tree. 

How I Met My Dog matches humans and potential pets based on what really matters - personality, lifestyle and behavior. Some are calling it a canine version of eHarmony or Match for mutts. 

People looking for a new dog can fill out a personality profile based on their lifestyle. 

The site then matches them with dogs at shelters or that need new homes that would complement that lifestyle. 

The service has rolled out in the Boston area, and the founders are hoping to go nationally later this year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Hero Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nearly 800 Pets Adopted at NBC 7's Clear The Shelters Event]]>Thu, 28 Jul 2016 19:41:26 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/animal+shelter+update.jpgNBC 7's Dagmar Midcap wants you to give yourselves a pat on the back. The super-successful event saw nearly 800 animals leave shelters to a forever home.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Adopts Kitten After Being Recently Adopted Herself]]>Wed, 27 Jul 2016 19:51:14 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/aricelli+meehan+07271.jpg

At NBC’s Clear the Shelters event last Saturday, one kitten found a loving home with a little girl who had herself been recently adopted a few years ago.

Nine-year-old Aricelli Meehan adopted the kitten at an animal shelter in Bonita, where she is attending summer camp nearby.

“I just looked into her eyes and she looked into mine. And then I saw her personality and how good she was, and I knew she was the one,” Aricelli told NBC 7 San Diego while rocking a silver tiara and snowflake face paint. The camp was having a special dress up day on Wednesday, which explains why Aricelli was dressed up as Queen Elsa from Frozen.

Aricelli named her new kitten Emerald, who was only ten weeks old when adopted from NBC's Clear the Shelters event last weekend. When you look into Emerald’s bright green eyes, it’s easy to see why Aricelli picked that name.

“She could have been put to sleep. Makes me sad…Happy that I rescued her,” said Aricelli as she snuggled her fuzzy little friend. “Her personality is sweet, kind, funny, playful and of course, adorable.”

Aricelli knows what it’s like to be looking for a loving family. In her early childhood, she was placed in child protective services. She was ultimately placed into the foster care system at the age of six.

That's where she met her future adoptive mother, Missy Meehan.

“She had a whole list of other children and she chose me…Makes me happy,” said Aricelli.

When Meehan was asked how she picked Aricelli, it was clearly for many of the same reasons that Aricelli chose her kitten Emerald.

“They said I think you just need to meet her which took maybe three minutes, right, for us to fall in love with each other and know that we were best matches,” said Meehan.

The little girl and her kitten have a lot in common, and a lot of hope for the future.

“I love this kitten…She’s my beautiful kitten,” said Aricelli.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Pet Adoption Success: Aricelli and Emerald The Kitten]]>Wed, 27 Jul 2016 18:57:44 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/aricelli+meehan+07271.jpgNine-year-old Aricelli Meehan loves her new adopted kitten Emerald. In fact, the two have more in common than you might think. NBC 7's Rory Devine has more.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Only 1 Dog Left at El Cajon Animal Shelter]]>Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:55:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Opie+0726.JPG

On Saturday, hundreds of dogs in San Diego County found new homes as part of NBC’s Clear the Shelters initiative.

The El Cajon Animal Shelter nearly cleared its shelter, except for one 8-year-old dachshund-chihuahua mix.

Opie, a playful and spry pup, is the only animal left there.

Why? “We had a Clear the Shelters event last Saturday, and for some inexplicable reason, I didn't get adopted,” reads the adorable dog’s online bio. “I'm really a great dog, so please come get to know me at the El Cajon Animal Shelter so we can start our new life together. Love, Opie."

Opie's bio says he's best in a home with no children and no other dogs.

Since Opie is classified as a “super senior,” his adoption fee is only $30.

So what do we say, San Diego? Shall we find Opie a home?

The El Cajon Animal Shelter is at 1275 N. Marshall Ave. Or you can call 619-441-1580.

Photo Credit: El Cajon Animal Shelter
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<![CDATA[Family Set to Adopt One Dog, Leaves With Two]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 15:01:40 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTSJediSithDogs_1200x675_731049539547.jpgNBC 7's Dagmar Midcap speaks with a San Diego family who went to the San Diego Humane Society during Clear The Shelters on July 23, 2016 with the intentions of adopting one dog, but happily left with two new pets.]]><![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Pets Adopted Around the Country]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 15:53:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/ACCT+Othello+Dog+CTS.JPGThousands of pets have been adopted from hundreds of shelters across the country as part of Clear the Shelters, NBC and Telemundo's nationwide pet adoption initiative. Here are some of the animals that found their forever homes.

Photo Credit: Joseph Kaczmarek]]>
<![CDATA['We're Just Going to Love Them': SD Clears The Shelters]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 22:59:51 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Corgi-GettyImages-512536165.jpg

Animal shelters across the U.S. – including 13 shelters in San Diego – teamed up with NBC Saturday to find loving forever homes for pets in need.

The second annual Clear the Shelters nationwide pet adoption event brought San Diegans to shelters across the county in search of a furry friend to take home, including to the San Diego Humane Society on Gaines Street where NBC 7’s Dagmar Midcap spoke with locals looking to adopt pets throughout the day.

Local shelters in Chula Vista, El Cajon, Bonita, Coronado, Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside and Encinitas were also among those participating in Clear the Shelters, which runs through 5 p.m. Saturday. There were 1,473 local pets up for adoption across local participating shelters as the event kicked off.

At the San Diego Humane Society on Gaines Street, dozens of locals lined up well before 10 a.m. to adopt dogs, cats and bunnies. One-by-one, dogs, cats and kittens were matched with owners promising forever homes.

This included one local family that came with intentions to adopt one dog, but happily left Clear The Shelters with two new pups -- siblings that the family did not want to break up.

"Family is very important to us," said the mother. "And we wanted to keep them together."

The family gave their new pets "Star Wars" themed names fit for a pair of furry siblings on the very weekend of San Diego Comic-Con International: Jedi and Sith.

"We're just going to love them. We're just going to love them with all our hearts," said the father. "That's all we're going to do. And we're going to cuddle with them all day."

Another memorable adoption Saturday was that of a 10-week-old kitten named Emerald.

Her new owner, a little girl named Aricelli, said she named her new kitten Emerald because of the beautiful color of the animal's green eyes.

"I just really wanted this kitten," Aricelli told NBC 7, beaming with joy as she snuggled with her new best friend.

Aricelli took Emerald home in a little carrier, complete with its own plush, comfortable bed fit for a queen.

Meanwhile, San Diego resident Darrell Jennings walked away from the adoption drive with an 8-month-old pet bunny, whom he named Sebastian.

Jennings was excited to bring his new pet home to his wife and 13-year-old.

"I'm not going to leave empty-handed," said Jennings. "This is great."

Another lucky dog, Cooper, was among the first to be adopted Saturday at the San Diego Humane Society. His new family found an adoption listing for Cooper online a few days ago and came out to Clear The Shelters to pick up their new pet.

The adoption of another tiny dog soon followed at the Gaines Street shelter, a little girl cradling her new puppy, "Cha Cha," in her arms as she took her pet home.

Even a hamster -- named "Helen" -- was adopted at the San Diego Humane Society.

By the end of the day Saturday, 771 pets had been adopted across San Diego County. In El Cajon, almost all of the pets up for adoption were placed with families, with the exception of one pup named Opie.

More than 400 shelters in 20 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico waived or discounted fees as part of the one-day adoption drive Saturday. Once again, the goal was to find as many homes for animals as possible.

Last year, 777 pets were successfully adopted in San Diego. This included a lucky rabbit adopted by NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap.

Across the country, more than 19,000 pets were adopted during last year’s Clear the Shelters event. By 6 p.m. Saturday, this year's tally was up to 44,000 pets who had been placed with caring families this month during the Clear The Shelters event.

Locals who adopted a pet at today’s Clear the Shelters event can share photos of their new buddies with NBC 7 over social media by using the hashtags #ClearTheShelters and #NBC7.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Moment RF
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<![CDATA[Madonna Dancer’s Dog Fatally Shot by Police in Brooklyn]]>Wed, 13 Jul 2016 06:39:57 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/stonnie+boy+dog+shot+killed.jpg

A dog belonging to a professional dancer touring with Madonna was shot and killed by police officers while they were issuing an arrest warrant in Brooklyn Tuesday, police and friends say. 

The officers went to a home on Montauk Avenue in East New York in the early evening to serve a warrant to a 29-year-old man wanted in an open complaint, police said.

There, the suspect had a pit bull loose, and the dog bit one of the officers in the arm. His partner opened fire on the dog, killing it, police said.

"They came into the gate. He had the dog loose and the dog came out," said witness Micky Burgos. 

The cop who was bitten was treated for minor injuries. 

The dog belonged to a friend of the suspect, who was watching it while the owner -- a professional dancer named Stanley "Sheik" Mondesir -- wraps up his tour with Madonna in Los Angeles, friends said.

A witness said the officers had no choice but to shoot the animal, but friends said the dog was well-trained and cops should have tried to avoid it.

"The dog is a good dog," said Peaches Simmons, a friend of Mondesir. "I feel like if they really needed to get in the house -- that's why the need animal control." 

Simmons called Mondesir to let him know his dog was killed, and said he was distraught.

"He started crying 'cause he had Stonnie since he's a baby," said Simmons.

The dog, named Stonnie Boy -- an apparent slang term for "get wild" and something Madonna yells onstage -- was about 3 or 4 years old. 

People in the neighborhood said the dog was well-behaved and never seemed aggressive. But Burgos said the officers did what they had to do.

"I told the police officer, 'I'm sorry, it wasn't your fault,' 'cause the dog came at him," said Burgos. 

Police would not describe the nature of the warrant that was being issued against the suspect. 

Mondesir is a so-called "bone-breaker" dancer who has been touring with Madonna over the past year, friends said. He was also part of a popular dance crew, RingMasters, that appeared on MTV. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY/Provided
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<![CDATA[9 Cats That Won't Make You Sneeze]]>Thu, 08 Aug 2019 06:53:39 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-99192954_high-cropped.jpgIf you love cats but suffer from allergies, don't be discouraged. Here are a few breeds that won't send you running for Benadryl.

Photo Credit: Brenda Carson/Getty Images/Hemera]]>
<![CDATA[Pa. Firefighters Rescue Fox]]>Mon, 11 Jul 2016 09:12:38 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Soccer+Net+Fox.PNG

A group of local heroes rescued a fox tangled in a soccer net in New Hope, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

New Hope Eagle Volunteer Firefighters, along with Solebury Township Police and Medic 146 came to the rescue of the fox after its head was stuck in the soccer net.

A video posted on Facebook shows the group cutting the net that appears to be tangled around the animal's head. They then released the fox back into the woods. Take a look at the rescue in the video embedded above.

Photo Credit: New Hope Eagle Volunteer Fire Company
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<![CDATA[Md. Woman Kept 66 Dogs in Her Home]]>Sat, 09 Jul 2016 06:38:30 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Katherine+Ting+Tiong+Look+N.jpg

A Maryland woman will spend 180 days in jail for keeping 66 dogs in deplorable conditions in her home.

A district court judge sentenced 47-year-old Katherine Ting Tiong, of Rockville, to more than 16 years in prison with all but 180 days suspended. She also will be placed under three years probation and has been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. 

The judge said the dogs would have been better off euthanized than continue living in her home.

Ting Tiong was charged earlier this year after police rescued the dogs on New Year’s Day.

The dogs were found in varying levels of distress, according to the Animal Services Division of the Montgomery County Police Department. Many of the animals had dirty fur soaked in urine, infections or suffered from other untreated diseases.

Three of the dogs had to be euthanized, and another also died.

Ting Tiong told authorities she was operating a rescue service called Forever Homes Animal Rescue.

Before sentencing Friday, Ting Tiong told News4's Kristin Wright she had lined up a rescue in New Jersey to pick up 30 of the dogs.

The police investigation officially began after one of the dogs bit a woman at a Potomac pet adoption event in December.

Most of the surviving dogs have been adopted, but some of them are still working through issues with their new families, according to Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center. Three of the dogs are still up for adoption.

To adopt, call 240-773-5900.

Photo Credit: Montgomery County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Helping Pets During Fireworks Shows]]>Mon, 11 Jul 2016 09:27:34 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dogs+vs+Fireworks.jpg

The Fourth of July fireworks may be fun for those of us on two legs, but for a lot of four-legged friends out there, it's not the same story. 

The loud noise from fireworks shows during the holiday can often cause serious anxiety for pets and can even send some running out of fear.

Cate McManus with Dallas Animal Services said it’s common to see a rush the day after the yearly Fourth of July display as their already packed shelter takes on even more pets that got away from home.

“When animals just freak out from fireworks, they get out of fences or break down doors," she said. "I mean some dogs really go to extremes to get away — they’re so scared."

There are a lot of options available to deal with the anxiety such as wearable options, while others include herbal or over-the-counter pills offered at pet stores.

Last May, when Southlake veterinarian Dr. Tom Holbrook was seeing similar anxiety from dogs during thunderstorms, he showed NBC 5 a new medication being prescribed to dogs during such situations called Sileo.

"You put it in the cheek and gums,” said Holbrook. “Just put the syringe right in the gum right there and just squirt so many dots, and the dots are on the syringe itself."

The fast acting gel calms the pet and wears off after just a few hours. Holbrook’s office warns that it does require a checkup and prescription from your local vet to get the gel.

McManus said her best advice for avoiding problems during the fireworks is to keep your animals indoors and comfortable in a spot where they feel safe.

“Keeping them confined, well confined, certainly with a collar and tags on just in case,” she said.

If you do come across a stray after the fireworks, local animal services leaders ask that you contact them right away so that they can work to get that pet back home.

Photo Credit: Brian Scott, NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[Dogs Hitch a Ride With Maryland Firefighters]]>Sun, 03 Jul 2016 10:42:38 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dogs110.jpg

A group of Maryland firefighters gave a helping hand to a few four-legged furry friends Saturday morning — saving one from a hot car.

Prince George's County firefighters were called to the Home Depot in the 6000 block of Oxon Hill Road after a man reported having chest pains.

The man was in his vehicle in the store's parking lot with three dogs. He told the firefighters he had been drinking and was intoxicated, fire officials said.

Firefighters offered to take him to the hospital, but he declined. The concerned firefighters then called police who told the man he was in no condition to drive home. They suggested he walk to his house nearby.

The firefighters then noticed a dog left in another parked vehicle in the lot. All of the vehicle's windows were closed.

The crew found a door unlocked and rescued the dog. They tended to the pup until its owners returned to the vehicle, fire officials said.

Firefighters then gave the three other dogs an adventurous ride back home on-board the fire engine.

Photo Credit: Prince George's County Fire and EMS]]>
<![CDATA[Meet the AKC's Newest Breed]]>Wed, 22 Jun 2016 04:43:15 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/westminster+dog.jpg

A high-energy Hungarian herding dog is the latest new breed headed to the Westminster Kennel Club and many other U.S. dog shows.

The American Kennel Club is announcing Wednesday that it is recognizing the pumi, the 190th breed to join the roster of the nation's oldest purebred dog registry. That means the pumi can vie for best of breed at Westminster for the first time next February.

With coats of corkscrew curls and ears that flop at the tips, the pumi (pronounced POOM'-ee) has a whimsical expression that belies its strong work ethic, fanciers say. The 20-to-30-pound breed goes back centuries in Hungary, where it herded cattle, sheep, and swine. It's related to the puli, a breed already recognized by the AKC and known for its coat of long cords.

Like many herding dogs, pumis — the proper plural is actually "pumik" — are alert and active.

"They're not for somebody who's going to sit and watch TV all day long," said Chris Levy, president of the Hungarian Pumi Club of America. But if provided with enough exercise and stimulation, "the pumi can chill out."

Considered quick learners, pumis have done well at agility and other canine sports. Some in the U.S. also herd rabbits, chickens, goats and even cats in a cattery, said Levy, who breeds the dogs in Salem, Oregon. She and others have been working to build up the breed in the U.S. for two decades, but it's still quite rare.

AKC recognition requires having at least 300 dogs of the breed nationwide, among other criteria. Two other new breeds, the American hairless terrier and an ancient North African hound called the sloughi, were recognized this past January and will also be eligible for Westminster for the first time next year.

Some animal-rights advocates say dog breeding is too appearance-focused and irresponsible when many mixed-breed animals need adoption. The AKC says conscientious breeding helps people and pets make happy matches by making the animals' characteristics somewhat more predictable.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Thomas Pitera/The American Kennel Club via AP]]>
<![CDATA[11 of the Best Dog Breeds for Senior Citizens]]>Thu, 20 Jun 2019 13:21:31 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/welsh-terrier.jpgA friendly dog can make the perfect sidekick for a senior citizen. According to PetBreeds, these 11 breeds are hardy and cheerful, making them excellent companion dogs. They are also highly intelligent and can be trained to assist less able-bodied owners.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[News Anchor Apologizes to Dog He Saw in Hot Car]]>Tue, 14 Jun 2016 14:34:59 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kyle-Clark-cropped.jpg

Kyle Clark, a news anchor in Denver, made an impassioned apology to a furry member of the local community during a recent broadcast.

While grabbing lunch, Clark heard a dog loudly crying in a locked Honda CR-V on a 90-degree day. In a video of his broadcast posted to his Facebook page, Clark said he nearly resorted to throwing a rock through the car window to help the clearly distressed dog. He said the animal's cries could be heard from across the parking lot.

"Do you know how hot it is in 90 degree sun when you're wearing a suit, or fur, in a car? I'm guessing you don't or you don't care," said Clark, who works for NBC affiliate KUSA.

Deciding against breaking a window, Clark instead called the Denver 311 help center. While he was on hold, the dog's owner finally returned from the nearby frozen yogurt shop. However, Clark said the person "blew him off" and "basically laughed" when he warned the person against leaving the dog in a hot car.

"There's an apology in order, not for you, no, for your dog," Clark said. "I am sorry that your dog does not have better humans."

The American Veterinary Medical Association warns that hundred of pets die every year from heat exhaustion after being left in cars on warm days. Dogs are particularly susceptible to the heat because their primary method of cooling is panting, which is not as efficient as sweating. The organization writes on its website that parked vehicle temperatures can rise by almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and continue to rise over time-- even if the windows are cracked.

Photo Credit: KUSA]]>
<![CDATA[Hardly a Dog's Life for First Pets Bo & Sunny]]>Sun, 29 May 2016 14:46:15 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_851780932641.jpg

It's hardly a dog's life of just eating and sleeping for President Barack Obama's pets, Bo and Sunny.

The pair of Portuguese water dogs — Bo with his distinctive white chest and front paws, and the all-black Sunny — are canine ambassadors for the White House, very popular and so in demand that they have schedules, like the president.

"Everybody wants to see them and take pictures," Michelle Obama said. "I get a memo at the beginning of the month with a request for their schedules, and I have to approve their appearances."

The dogs have entertained crowds at the annual Easter Egg Roll and Bo has been at Mrs. Obama's side when she welcomes tourists on the anniversary of the president's inauguration. The dogs also have cheered wounded service members, as well as the hospitalized children the first lady visits each year just before Christmas. In a sign of just how recognized Bo and Sunny are, authorities in January arrested a North Dakota man who they say came to Washington to kidnap one of the pets.

Bo, now 7, joined the Obama family in April 2009. He was a gift from the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a key supporter of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign who became close to the family. Bo helped Obama keep a promise to daughters Malia and Sasha that they could get a dog after the election.

Sunny, nearly 4, came along in August 2013.

Bo already had a job as a "helper" to Dale Haney, the head groundskeeper at the White House, which happens to be a national park.

"He leaves every morning and he goes down with Dale ... and he's with all the National Park Service guys. And you'll see him, and he's like walking around with them, and looking at the plants," Mrs. Obama said. "I think he thinks he has a job because he takes it very seriously. So if I go out and see him, he kind of ignores me when he's with his worker crew people."

The dogs have a pretty nice life. "They can sit on my lap, they sit on my chair, they cuddle with me," Mrs. Obama said. "I like to lay on the floor with them and blow in their face. I like to make them run and chase each other. But they're so cute, I just love to just cuddle them and massage them."

Presidential pets are always popular and many presidents kept dogs as companions. President Harry S. Truman famously advised: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

President George H.W. Bush's English Springer Spaniel, Millie, "wrote" the best-seller "Millie's Book."

President Bill Clinton's chocolate Labrador Retriever, Buddy, helped Clinton weather the scandal over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

President George W. Bush's Scottish Terrier, Barney, had an official web page and starred in "Barneycam" videos that were filmed from a camera hung around his neck. Like Mrs. Obama, first lady Laura Bush was involved with the video scripts and the taping schedule.

President Lyndon B. Johnson angered animal lovers by lifting his pet beagle, Him, by the ears in front of news photographers.

Obama promised last year to "clean things up a little bit" before leaving the White House in January because the dogs "have been tearing things up occasionally."

Mrs. Obama said her four-legged family members had been nice overall, but she exposed Sunny's naughtier side.

"You know what she does sometimes? She leaves the kitchen and she'll sneak and she'll go poop on the other end of the White House," the first lady said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Dog Meds to Curb Dogs' Noise-Related Anxiety]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 19:17:28 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_16137623735677-zoetis-dog-anxiety-medicine.jpg

Fido and Spot may not have to cower under the bed this summer when fireworks and thunderstorms hit.

The first prescription veterinary medicine for treating anxiety over loud noises — a widespread problem that can send dogs running away in terror and harm both themselves and property — will soon hit the market.

Veterinary medicine maker Zoetis Inc. of Florham Park, New Jersey, said Monday that recently approved Sileo will be available through veterinarians within a week.

Dr. Chris Pachel, a veterinary behaviorist at the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon, welcomes a medicine tested specifically on dogs that works rapidly but wears off within hours — like by the time a thunderstorm is over.

Dogs are now treated with medicines designed for their human owners or behavioral training, which can be ineffective or come with side effects.

"There's always a need for new options," said Pachel, who has reviewed some testing data on Sileo but isn't affiliated with Zoetis.

Fear of loud noises is a common problem for the 70 million dogs in the U.S. and their owners. Dogs are sometimes so frightened they jump through windows, destroy doors while trying to escape a room or run into traffic and get hit by cars. July 5 is the most common day for frustrated pet owners to drop a dog off at a shelter, according to a Zoetis study.

"I have seen the absolutely worst things that can happen with noise anxiety," Dr. J. Michael McFarland, head of U.S. pet marketing at Zoetis, who formerly worked at multiple animal hospitals.

Current treatments range from human anti-anxiety pills such as Xanax and tranquilizers that sedate dogs for many hours, but don't necessarily calm them, to behavioral treatments. Those include confining the dog to a small room or portable kennel, or trying to desensitize dogs by repeatedly exposing them to increasingly loud noise.

Pachel said those treatments or combinations of them work for many dogs, but the tranquilizers can take days to wear off and anti-anxiety pills — many only tested on people — can cause appetite problems, upset stomach and, rarely, abnormal heartbeats if the dose isn't right.

Sileo works by blocking norepinephrine, a brain chemical similar to adrenaline that pumps up anxiety. It comes in prefilled plastic syringes with a dial for setting a precise dose according to the dog's weight.

The needleless syringe is placed between the dog's gum and lip. A little push ejects a small amount of gel that's absorbed by the tissue lining the dog's cheek, which limits how much circulates in the dog's body at a time while enabling the medicine to start working within 30 to 60 minutes. It works for two to three hours, said McFarland, who said he has used Sileo with good results on his Finnish Lapphund.

Each syringe costs $30 and holds enough medicine for about two doses for an 80- to 100-pound dog or four doses for a 40-pound dog.

Dr. Barbara Sherman, a professor at North Carolina State University who runs its animal behavioral medicine clinic, reviewed detailed data on Sileo while serving on an advisory board at Zoetis and found its effectiveness "impressive." She said side effects were benign and thinks that for some dogs, it will be easier to administer than pills.

Zoetis has exclusive rights to distribute Sileo in the U.S. under an agreement with its developer, Orion Corp. of Finland.

In testing conducted for the company on 182 pet beagles on New Year's Eve, 75 percent of their owners rated its effect good or excellent, compared with 33 percent whose dogs got a placebo. Side effects were rare and minor.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Zoetis via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Housebroken Bison for Sale by Texas Owner]]>Fri, 13 May 2016 13:36:59 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Bullet+the+Bison.jpg

An 8-year-old bison named Bullet has outgrown its Texas home and the owner wants to find a new place for the 1,000-pound pet to roam. 

The family posted a Craigslist ad listing Bullet as "for sale" for almost $6,000, as long as the new owner will allow the bison to continue interacting with people. Bullet's owner says the buffalo needs more space and grassland.

According to the ad, originally posted in March, Bullet is housebroken and "perfectly gentle." The post indicated that "if this ad is still showing, the buffalo is still for sale." On Friday afternoon, a link to the post displayed a message stating the post had been flagged for removal. 

"Bullet loves to chase and spar with a riding lawn mower, wheel barrow or even my truck when I'm out in the field. She will follow me when I'm in the truck. She is like a precious gigantic dog herself," the listing said.

It warns that Bullet is still a buffalo, after all, and should never be left alone in the house or with children.

The buffalo is also famous, the ad read, noting Bullet is featured in the children's book "Heaven is for Animals" by Nancy Tillman.

Bullet lives with the family in Argyle, 30 miles northwest of Dallas. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Paralyzed Dog Left at Florida Shelter With Note]]>Wed, 04 May 2016 10:48:48 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_paralyzeddog0504_1920x1080.jpgA Florida animal shelter is caring for a paralyzed dog named Genie after her previous owners left her at the shelter with a handwritten note, explaining that the owner could not afford to care for the small pup. "I tried to manage her pain with medication from her vet but they only ease her pain and she needs surgery. I cannot afford so I ask that the Animal Health Center heal her and find her a loving forever home. Thank you," said the note. ]]><![CDATA[Rescued Lions Explore New Home in Sanctuary]]>Tue, 03 May 2016 10:38:47 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_518985915980-lion-airlift-south-africa-sanctuaries.jpg

Lions rescued from circuses in Colombia and Peru and airlifted to South Africa scratched their manes on trees and explored their new territory in the African bush after being released into a sanctuary north of Johannesburg Sunday.

One of the 33 lions, a male known as Zeus, let out a mighty roar before stepping out of his cage into an enclosure where he will spend the coming months being monitored by a vet.

The lions arrived at the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary shortly after dawn on Sunday to end a two-day journey from South America.

The lions were freed after the use of wild animals in circuses was outlawed in Peru and Colombia.

It will be impossible for the lions to survive in the wild as they were bred in captivity and their circus owners mutilated many by breaking their teeth and removing their claws. Because they cannot hunt they will be fed game meat and will have water in their enclosures.

"They are remarkably calm after such a long journey," Tim Phillips, the co-founder of Animal Defenders International which led the rescue of the lions told The Associated Press. "It was a dream come true watching them step of those cages into their new homes in the African bush."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dogs Get Own Bathroom at NY Airport]]>Sat, 30 Apr 2016 10:29:36 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_16119780722026.jpg

Little Simba couldn't wait to check it out.

The toy poodle was one of the first dogs to try a special bathroom designated just for animals at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, among a growing number of "pet relief facilities" being installed at major air hubs across the nation.

"There's a fire hydrant in there!" Simba's owner, Heidi Liddell, announced as she opened the pawprint-marked door between the men's and women's rooms.

It didn't take long for the dog to sidle up to the little red hydrant atop a patch of artificial turf and do her business. A dispenser of plastic doggie bags and a hose was provided for the owners to clean the area up for the next pet.

The 70-square-foot room, at JFK's sprawling Terminal 4, allows dogs and other animals to relieve themselves without needing to exit the building to find a place to go outside — a step that requires an annoying second trip through the security line.

"We had seen an increase of passengers traveling with pets and we decided to do it sooner rather than later," said Susana Cunha, vice president of the management company that operates the terminal.

Guide and service dogs, emotional support animals and other pets traveling with passengers are all welcome to use the facilities.

A federal regulation will require that all airports that service over 10,000 passengers per year install a pet relief area in every terminal by this August. Airports that already have them include Dulles International outside Washington D.C., Chicago's O'Hare and Seattle-Tacoma International.

"With long flights and short transit time frames, passengers would not have enough time with plane changes to come back through security," said Karen Greis, a consumer services manager for the Guide Dog Foundation, a nonprofit that trains service dogs and participated in the design of the new facility. "Having relief areas inside the terminal is a stress reliever for the handlers."

That was certainly the case for Taylor Robbins, who had already missed one flight from JFK to Atlanta and was unsure if she had enough time to go back outside to find a place to walk her terrier John John.

"It's really clean, it gets the job done and he seemed to understand he could use it," she said after exiting the doggie restroom. "Without this he would have had to hold it in."

Other pet owners were encouraged by the convenience.

Mark Shadowens, from Lake Tahoe, California, peered into the new facility with a smile. He said he and his wife Helen would love to travel with their Jack Russell terrier, Bella, but fears not being able to find a place to let her go to the bathroom.

"We travel with our pet a lot, just not on airlines," Shadowens said. "We like to go see the world and I think we would bring her if there were places like this."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bridge-Running Dog Adopted]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 23:19:28 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/BayBridgeDog.jpg

Ponch, the stray Chihuahua who captured hearts around the nation after he sprinted across the Bay Bridge early this month, has finally found a home. 

After being rescued by California Highway Patrol April 3, Ponch went to stay with a foster family connected to San Francisco County's animal services department. His caretakers waited several weeks to see if someone would come forward and claim ownership – Ponch had a collar with a skull dangling from it when he was captured – but no one stepped up.

Instead, offers from animal lovers all over the world came flooding in, asking if it would be possible to give the 10-pound Chihuahua a new home. Animal Care and Control conducted several interviews, according to the department, before settling on a suitable family for Ponch. He was scheduled to go home Thursday, after his rescuers have a chance to bid him farewell.

“Taking into consideration that Ponch is a nervous fellow who loves to run, his new home and family are perfectly suited to give him the happily-ever-after life,” Animal Care and Control said in a statement. The family adopting him wishes to remain anonymous.

Ponch’s story went viral following an early morning police chase that resulted in a short shutdown of the Bay Bridge. The pup, who was visibly frightened, was darting across lanes of traffic.

The California Highway Patrol officers involved in his rescue nicknamed the pup “Ponch,” after Erik Estrada’s character in the 1970s TV hit “CHIPS.”

“We’re happy that Ponch’s story has ended with a loving new home”, says Animal Care & Control Executive Director Virginia Donohue. “We’re grateful for all of the good will Ponch has generated for shelter dogs.”

Photo Credit: CHP San Francisco
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<![CDATA[Biker Dog in UK Gets His Own Yellow Kevlar Coat]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 06:45:54 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kevlardog.jpgBiker Steve Hawley wanted to share his favorite hobby with his dog and bought a yellow kevlar coat for the Labrador, Renee. Kevlar is an ultra-tough synthetic material designed for the toughest tasks; it's regularly used in motorcycle clothing when leather is not convenient.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kitten Stars of 'Keanu' in Hollywood Spotlight]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 04:09:47 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/KNU-FP-001.jpg

Anyone who's spent time with a cat might agree with filmmaker Peter Atencio when he says cats are the "15-year-olds of the animal kingdom."

Dogs are eager to please their owners. Cats couldn't care less.

But the kittens that play the title tabby in the new action-comedy "Keanu" impressed their human co-stars so much, they've earned permanent places in Hollywood.

"They blew away my expectations," said Atencio, director of "Keanu" and a self-described "crazy cat man" who has three cats, two dogs and a rabbit at home. "They took direction really well."

"Keanu," in theaters Friday, tells the story of Clarence and Rell ("Key & Peele" stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), two mild-mannered guys who pretend to be killer criminals after a gang of thugs steals Rell's kitten, Keanu. The gangsters want to keep the kitten — now wearing gold chains and a tiny do-rag — but Clarence and Rell will do anything, including embracing their inner tough-guys, to get him back.

Seven brown tabbies, all rescued from animal shelters, played Keanu. Trainer Larry Payne said animal roles generally require multiple actors (or, in this case, cat-ctors), as each has its own personality traits that contribute to the onscreen character.

Some kittens are better at hitting marks, for example, while others are particularly skilled at sitting still and being adorable.

"There's the run guy, there's the snuggle guy, there's the meow guy," Key said.

"It's like assembling a team of bank-robbers," Atencio added.

Payne initially trained three kittens to play Keanu, but they aged out halfway through production.

"(They) had gotten big and not really kitten-like anymore," he explained.

He adopted four more kittens to finish the film. All were about eight weeks old when they began their monthlong training.

Besides learning the skills they'd need for their scenes — sit, stay, go from one mark to another — the Keanus had to get used to the noise and commotion of a movie set. Loud sounds typically make cats run and hide.

"It's a little bit easier with the kittens, believe it or not, than with adult cats, because I don't think they know any better," said Payne, who trains all kinds of animals for film and TV roles. "The kittens almost think, 'This is what all kittens do: We work on movies!'"

Payne plied the kitties with treats during training. Repetition and positive reinforcement are key, he said. He uses off-camera buzzers or clickers — which signify food is coming — to summon the cats to their marks.

He also used treats to get them to tolerate the dozen or so costumes Keanu wears. Rell dresses his pet in a little fedora, goggles, a leather jacket, a hoodie and sunglasses, among other things.

When the kittens weren't on screen, they hung out in miniature star trailers: deluxe animal carriers decked out with beds, toys and water. When filming on location in New Orleans, all seven Keanus stayed with Payne in his hotel suite.

Peele, who co-wrote "Keanu," said a cat-napped kitten wasn't part of the film's original premise. He and co-writer Alex Rubens knew the main characters and their squares-in-gangland dilemma, but "it didn't feel like we had something that really justified why we would put ourselves in danger," Peele said. "That's where the kitten came in."

Though he has a dog who sometimes wears outfits ("We got a Burberry outfit and we do have a little beach hoodie. It goes deep."), Peele said they made Keanu a kitten because "we realized there's not a lot of kitten movies."

Payne, too, said he "never had the pleasure of doing an entire kitten movie" in his 30-year career.

Atencio would do one again, saying, "I would love to do a kitten-based horror or thriller."

Maybe he'll call on the kittens formerly known as Keanu? All the film's feline stars are staying in Hollywood. Though one went home with "Keanu" co-star Tiffany Haddish to become a housecat, Payne said the others will continue to act.

He and his colleague, April Mackin, each took two kittens home, and the remaining two live at the California ranch where Payne keeps his menagerie of acting animals.

"The fact that I was able to acclimate them to a movie-set environment when they were real young, they become valuable for us for the future to do that work," he said. "They're provided a great home. We have on-staff vets. And they're very spoiled, much like a normal star would be."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
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<![CDATA[Dog Helps Save Kids From Fire]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 09:08:13 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/maxx2.jpg

A German shepherd helped firefighters find his owners' two young children as flames ripped through the family's central Florida home, authorities said.

The dog, named Maxx, helped crews navigate through thick smoke to find the 4-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl Monday night in their burning home in the Orlando suburb of Longwood, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Moments earlier, neighbors who saw the fire spreading called 911, broke windows and helped rescue the children's mother, Margo Feaser, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff's office who currently serves as an auto theft investigator.

Firefighters then were able to rescue Feaser's husband and the two children, with Maxx's help.

Family members were hospitalized and their conditions ranged from serious to critical. Maxx was treated for smoke inhalation and is said to be doing well.

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the family's medical, veterinary, and other housing expenses as they work to recover from the effects of the fire. As of Wednesday morning, more than $11,000 had been raised to help the Feaser family.

In addition to her role with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Feaser served three years in the U.S. Army and is a member of the Army National Guard. Her husband is also a military veteran.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Seminole County Fire Department
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<![CDATA[Dogs Hate Being Hugged: Pet Behaviorist]]>Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:50:29 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-522796761-%281%29.jpg

Most people treat their dogs like family, giving them big, all-encompassing hugs.  

But a new article in Psychology Today says dogs are actually stressed out by this sort of affection. Canine behaviorist Stanley Coren writes that when dogs get hugged, they interpret it differently than humans. 

Signs of stress include a dog turning his head away from whatever is bothering him and closing his eyes. Lowered or slicked-back ears are also a sign or stress, according to Coren. 

But, this doesn't mean you can't love your pup. Coren suggests expressing your affection toward your pet "with a pat, a kind word, and maybe a treat."

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Hero Images]]>
<![CDATA[Orphaned Puppy Adopted Into Litter of Kittens]]>Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:35:46 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cat-adopts-puppy.jpg

Families can come in all shapes, sizes and species.

Such is the case with Bobby, a tiny Chihuahua who found himself alone at 5 days old when his mother was struck by a car.

A passerby found him on the side of the road and brought Bobby to Michigan Humane Society, where volunteers struggled to give him the care he needed.

He was too young for solid food and required constant attention.

"The calories and nutrition to keep him healthy and growing need to come from his mom. Bottle feeding can be inconsistent, laborious, and risky, even for those that have the resources and time to do so," the humane society wrote on its website.

But there was one problem. There were no nursing dogs at the shelter.

"They had a mom cat that was recently still nursing and they thought — ingenious idea — to maybe see if this puppy could go along with these guys and see if mommy cat could treat him like one of her own," said humane society employee Faith O'Georgia. "And it actually worked."

Now 5 weeks old, Bobby has several feline siblings, including one small kitten who follows him around.

"You think about Mother Nature and how cats and dogs aren’t supposed to like each other but as we all know at the Michigan Humane Society that’s not always the case and this is certainly an extreme example of that," said Ryan McTigue with the humane society.

Bobby will move to a foster home with other dogs when he's old enough to eat solid food.

Photo Credit: Michigan Humane Society
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<![CDATA[Presidential Pets Through the Years]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 07:59:16 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/ap_940319058.jpgA range of dogs and cats have kept presidential families company through their stay in Washington, including Fala, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Scottish terrier; Socks, the Clintons' cat; and Bo and Sunny, the Obamas' Portuguese water dogs. Take a look back at the pets that have called the White House home.

<![CDATA[Animal Shelter Opens a Pet Gym in Kentucky ]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 08:54:48 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/petgym.jpgAn animal shelter in Kentucky started a pet gym as a way to fund the rescue shelter, but they found they were helping pet owners fill a need -- better exercising obese pets.

Photo Credit: WAVE]]>
<![CDATA[23 Dogs Rescued From Hot Car at Border]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 06:10:42 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dogs.PNG

Nearly two dozen puppies were found unresponsive inside an SUV at the U.S.-Mexico Border Saturday, San Diego County Animal Services said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers found 23 dogs -- 20 of them puppies -- unresponsive inside a hot and humid vehicle at the San Ysidro Border Crossing, authorities said.

Officers feared the animals were dead when they first discovered them because they weren’t moving.

Once their crates were moved into the fresh air, many of the dogs seemed to wake up, but two weren’t responding, so animal control officers took them to an emergency veterinary facility.

The driver of the SUV, identified as Daniel Canedo, told animal control officers the dogs had last been given water five and a half hours before he was stopped at the border.

“The driver said he picked up the dogs in Tijuana and was taking them to Los Angeles, but we don’t know what the final outcome of these animals would have been,” said County Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson in a statement. “Under federal regulations, it’s illegal to import animals under six months old for resale.”

The puppies are currently being cared for at the County’s Bonita shelter.

The two dogs taken to the emergency veterinary hospital were treated and reunited with the other puppies in Bonita Sunday.

The puppies range in age from six months to two years old. They are various breeds and mixes, including shepherds, Labradors, Chihuahua, hounds and terrier blends.

The department’s rescue partners are taking some of the puppies. The rest of the puppies, including three adult dogs, will be available for adoption starting Tuesday.

Canedo was charged with 23 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. If found guilty, he could face six months in county jail, a $1,000 fine or both for each count.

Photo Credit: County Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: 8 Celebs Who Love Their Shelter Pets ]]>Fri, 31 Jul 2015 04:13:22 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-452991000.jpg

While celebrities amass millions of fans all over the world, sometimes it's a dog that makes them feel happy like nobody else can.

Like millions of other pet owners in the United States, some stars opt to adopt their furry friends from animal shelters or rescue groups.  

Bradley Cooper saved his from pup from being put down, for example. Some celebrity rescue pets gain a fan base of their own —  Amanda Seyfried's partner in crime has thousands of followers on Twitter.

Here are some examples of stars who saved a pup from a shelter. 

Amanda Seyfried 

Amanda Seyfried has talked about her rescue dog Finn on numerous talk shows and posted photos of the Australian Shepherd on social media as well. Whether its putting items on his head or dressing him up in various costumes, the actress and her sidekick have a lot of fun together, she said on "The Tonight Show." The "Ted 2" star's pooch also has his own Twitter account with more than 13,000 followers.

Jon Hamm

Actor Jon Hamm adopted his dog Cora from a Los Angeles area animal shelter where he also volunteers, according to Animal Fair. The "Mad Men" star told the publication that when he went to the Much Love Animal Rescue with his longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt, the couple "saw her and fell in love."

Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel shared the story of adopting pups Zelda and Dot from the Los Angeles-based Bill Foundation on "The Ellen Degeneres Show" in 2013. The nonprofit told the "New Girl" star that if she adopted one of the female pups, she would have to adopt her sister as well. She also shared a cute picture of the pair on Instagram, as seen below.

George Clooney

George Clooney said in an interview with Esquire that he came across his black cocker spaniel mix named Einstein while watching a video online in 2010. It said the dog had been living in a "filthy, crowded" shelter that would have put him down without intervention. The dog ended up living at a foster home through the Los Angeles area breed rescue Camp Cocker.

The actor told Esquire that when he called the group and asked for the dog, they told him the dog must also want to live him. Before meeting Einstein for the first time, Clooney wiped meatballs on his shoes to make sure the dog took a liking to him. "Forever, now, he just thinks of me as the guy with the meatball feet," Clooney told Esquire. "He loves me. I can do no wrong. He follows me everywhere."


Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper came just in time for his German shorthaired pointer Samson, he told People. The "Hangover" star found the dog on a website for a kill shelter only three weeks before the dog would have been euthanized. He also has a chow-retriever mix named Charlotte he found during an adoption drive in Santa Monica, he told the publication. Unfortunately the dog died in 2011, according to The New York Times.


Oprah met her dog Sadie, a blond cocker spaniel, while shooting a spread for her publication O magazine at PAWS Chicago, according to her website. "The dog chose me," Oprah said. "There were like six or seven dogs, and she was on my shoulder, nuzzling." But Sadie isn't the only furry friend the media mogul has had; she said in an Oprah.com video that she has owned about 21 pets in her adult life.

Jane Lynch

"Hollywood Game Night" host Jane Lynch has an Australian koolie mix rescue dog named Francis, she told the website Cesars Way. "When I met my dog at an adoption fair, I said 'Olivia' and she gave me this look that said, ‘Yeah, whatever lady, just get me out of here!’" Lynch said. The actress has also participated in PETA pet public service announcements.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal is an enthusiast of both animals and the Harper Lee novel "How to Kill a Mockingbird." The actor has a rescued German Shepherd named Atticus Finch and a puggle named Boo Radley, according to The L.A. Times. They are named after the main characters of the book. Gyllenhaal told Movies Online that after his film "Brokeback Mountain," he felt ready to own a dog.

Photo Credit: GC Images
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<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Amazing Shelter Animal Stories]]>Thu, 15 Jun 2017 13:54:30 -0700 were adopted as a package deal in North Texas. ]]> were adopted as a package deal in North Texas. ]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dog+and+pig+adoption.pngAs organizations across the country prepare to "Clear the Shelters" on Aug. 15, take a look at these heartwarming adoption stories. ]]><![CDATA[Your Pet Adoption Checklist ]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 08:47:39 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PetAdoption.jpg

The following content is created in consultation with Overstock.com. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC San Diego's editorial staff. To learn more about Overstock.com, visit Overstock.com.

Adopting a pet is a wonderful decision to make. You’ll be saving an animal’s life and enriching your own in the process.

But rescuing a homeless animal is also a life-changing decision, meaning before you bring home your new four-legged friend, there are a few key things to consider.

That’s why Overstock.com is here to help. By using their technology to connect people with cats, dogs, and other pets from thousands of shelters nationwide, Overstock is helping the lives of homeless and abandoned animals in an effort to make the world a better place. Find you perfect pet by searching local listings right here!

To get you prepped on becoming a pet owner, Overstock has put together their animal adoption checklist. Read on for eight helpful tips, from the type of process you can expect to how to best prepare your home for your new family member’s arrival.

Decide What Pet Fits Your Lifestyle
Pets require time, space and patience (not to mention lots of love!). So before rushing to adopt an animal, you’ll want to consider what types of pets fit your lifestyle. Do a quick inventory of your life and consider the following: Do you live in a house with a backyard or in a small apartment? Do you work long hours and travel frequently? Are you looking for an energetic animal or one that’s content to curl up in your lap? Understanding your own lifestyle will help inform your pet adopting decision and make you a better owner.

Consider the Cost
Dog and cat owners can anticipate spending over $1,000 annually caring for their pets, so it’s critical to consider your budget before adopting a homeless animal. From toys and treats to walkers and vaccinations, ensuring your four-legged friend is happy and healthy will undoubtedly add up. Before you select an animal for adoption, write up a budget to see what you can afford as an animal’s age, size and breed, and sometimes even your own location, will affect overhead.

Meet the Pets and a Counselor
Adopting a pet should never be a rushed process. Most shelters allow you to spend time with their animals, so get to know a variety of them before reaching your decision. How you bond with an animal will be key to your success as their owner. If available, also meet with a pet counselor, who can help you find an animal best suited to your needs.

Prepare Your Home for a New Family Member
Once you’ve selected what dog, cat, or other animal you’ll be adopting, you’ll want to prepare your home for their arrival. Successful pet adoption starts with proper care, so make sure you stock up on things like food, toys and bedding, plus animal-specific features like litter boxes and leashes. Giving your pet the right supplies will help them acclimate to their new surroundings.

Get Ready for Paperwork
While you’ll want to adopt the right pet, shelters will likewise want to ensure that their animals will be provided with a good home. Expect to fill out significant paperwork, and come prepared with all the documentation the shelter requires, from a picture ID to rental agreements that allow pets.

Don’t Forget the Vet!
The majority of animals will come with the proper vaccinations and already be neutered to prevent overpopulation (a problem that plagues shelters nationwide), but make sure to ask these questions first. Some animals will require additional medical needs, from daily medications to frequent visits to the vet, while any pet that has yet to be neutered should get fixed asap.

Maintain a Structure
You’ll want to maintain a routine with your new pet. Find out what brand of food they ate and when they ate it, then stick to a similar feeding schedule for the first few weeks. Cats will appreciate the same litter, too, while dogs respond well to a consistency in commands (for example, decide whether “down” meets "sit" or "get off the couch"). Once they’ve adapted to their new home, you can start making a transition to things like different pet foods.

Practice Patience
Pets are lovely, loyal creatures, but they may need time to adapt to their new surroundings. Give them time to integrate with family members and any other household animals and you’ll enjoy a rewarding friendship.

To adopt a pet in your area, visit overstock.com/overstock-pets.   

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Frostbitten Duck Gets New Feet, Thanks to 3-D Printer]]>Mon, 18 Apr 2016 12:53:13 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Duck-Feet-Lon-NR-146100462528100001.jpg

A duck that lost its feet to frostbite is waddling again thanks to a Wisconsin middle school teacher and a 3-D printer. 

Vicki Rabe-Harrison rescued Phillip the duck and, after watching a video of a 3-D printer online, turned to South Park Middle School teacher Jason Jischke in Oshkosh for help. 

Rabe-Harrison told Green Bay television station WBAY she assessed Phillip's quality of life and was planning to put him down when Jischke called to say he and his class were working on the project. It took them six weeks of trial and error to get the prosthetic feet just right. 

Phillip was a bit wobbly when he first tested his new feet, but he has now joined other birds and animals at a sanctuary in Cedarburg, 20 miles north of Milwaukee.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

<![CDATA[Playful Polar Bear Cub Debuts at Ohio Zoo]]>Mon, 18 Apr 2016 08:07:02 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2016-04-18+at+9.09.52+AM.png

A 5-month-old female polar bear cub has made quite a playful debut at an Ohio zoo.

The cub born in early November frolicked around her enclosure Friday at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and even got an orange traffic cone stuck on her head for a moment.

About 1,000 people lined up to get the first glimpses of the polar bear, named Nora. The cub provided a lot of entertainment and laughter as she swam and bounded around her enclosure.

The cub's twin died shortly after birth, and she has been hand-reared since her mother began neglecting her.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

<![CDATA[PD Seeks to Charge Over Ditched Pup]]>Fri, 15 Apr 2016 18:45:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/041516_puppyrescue.jpg

The owner of an abandoned 8-week-old pit bull could face charges after admitting he left the puppy on the side of the road earlier this week, according to police in Littleton, Massachusetts.

Police said a hearing for a criminal complaint has been submitted against the owner.

The puppy was found in good health by a motorist and his daughter. The two found the dog wandering around Nashoba Road on Tuesday, where they then flagged down Sgt. David Leslie, who was patrolling the area at the time. The dog was brought to Littleton's Animal Control Officer Phyllis Tower.

Arrangements are being made to put the dog up for adoption.

"The puppy was found in good health and has been placed in safe care until we can find it a forever home," Chief Matthew J. King said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Littleton Police Department ]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Turns Her House Into Cat Sanctuary, Moves Into Trailer]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:56:28 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CatLady-GIF.gif

It started with a few kittens. But nearly a quarter century later, a California woman has transformed her 4,000-square-foot home into what's believed to be the largest no-cage cat sanctuary and adoption center in the U.S.

An estimated 24,000 cats have been saved by the sanctuary, which houses up to 1,000 felines at any given time. Lynea Lattanzio set up Cat House on the Kings after finding out that many nearby shelters euthanize cats who aren't adopted.

As more feral and abandoned cats took up residence in her home, she moved out into a trailer on her 12-acre property.

Lattanzio spent her entire retirement fund on her pet project, which also relies on donations.

"If I didn't have to deal with humans and all their drama in life, I would be perfectly content just taking care of cats," she said.

She now has staff and a team of volunteers to keep the house clean and the cats fed. The sanctuary also employs veterinarians who keep the cats healthy and spayed or neutered. The cats lap up about 1,000 cans of cat food a week.

People looking for a furry companion are allowed kitty cuddle time on adoption days.

A cat-proof fence keeps predators out and cat doors allow them free reign of the home.

"They've got this house. They've got 12 acres. They can climb a tree. They can go sit in the sun outside," Lattanzio said. "It just gives these animals a reason to live as opposed to just living in a cage just because no one wants them."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Zoo Exhibit Puts Visitors Nose to Beak With Penguins]]>Fri, 15 Apr 2016 07:51:34 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PenguinDetroitGIF.gif

A new penguin habitat that the Detroit Zoo calls the world's largest such facility offers its 80-plus residents new rocks for climbing, waves, snow and better ice conditions, while allowing visitors to come nose to beak with the stately birds.

A preview Wednesday showed off the $30 million Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which features an underwater gallery and two acrylic tunnels where visitors can watch four species of penguins swim above, around and below them.

Zoo officials say it's designed to simulate the penguins' native habitat, including optimal air and water temperatures. Zoo CEO Ron Kagan, who made multiple research trips to Antarctica, says the penguins can "do the polar plunge" in the 25-foot-deep aquatic area.

"This is so new, they're still learning this new environment," Kagan said in an interview. "They've never been able to dive this kind of depth. They've never had this kind of opportunity for ice and snow."

Sixty-nine penguins — gentoos, macaronis and rockhoppers — have marched over to their new home, which opens to the public on Monday. Fourteen king penguins will arrive in a bit.

The 33,000-square-foot Polk Center is situated on two acres. In addition to the 326,000-gallon swimming pool, the new inhabitants also have the option of spending time chilling in their spacious above-ground abode that includes expansive windows that allow visitors to see in — and the penguins to see out.

The environment is intended to encourage the same kind of behavior as in the wild, from leaping in and out of the water to nesting and rearing young.

"We've had penguins at the Detroit Zoo for many years, so we know how to feed penguins and keep them healthy," said Scott Carter, the zoo's chief life sciences officer. "What we wanted to make sure we could do here was make sure that we could create an environment in which penguins could really be happy, in which penguins could thrive."

The center's design, inspired by the harsh climate of Antarctica, features an exterior that resembles a towering iceberg with a crevasse and waterfall.

It's "the biggest project that the Detroit Zoo has ever undertaken" Kagan said. A $10 million donation from the Polk Family Fund is the largest gift in the zoo's 88-year history.

The center is free with Detroit Zoo admission, but requires timed-entry passes that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Great Dane Gets Stuck in Tree]]>Thu, 14 Apr 2016 10:40:51 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DaneinTree.jpgKora, a 120-pound Great Dane who was stuck 20 feet up a tree in Louisville, Nebraska, was rescued Saturday night by the local fire department.

Photo Credit: WOWT]]>
<![CDATA['Inky' the Octopus Escapes New Zealand Aquarium]]>Thu, 14 Apr 2016 15:48:14 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Inky-AP_287185602729.jpg

Inky the octopus waited until it was dark and the staff had gone home from the National Aquarium of New Zealand before making his move. 

He squeezed and pushed his way through a tiny gap in the mesh at the top of his tank and slithered 2 meters (6.6 feet) to the floor. Then he made a beeline across the room to a drain hole. 

With a body the size of a rugby ball, Inky managed to stretch out and squeeze into the hole. From there, he shimmied down the 50-meter (164-foot) pipe until he was back in the Pacific Ocean.

All he left behind three months ago was a slimy trail, allowing staff at the Napier aquarium to re-create his amazing escape. 

He's not been seen since. 

Inky's story begins on Pania Reef, several hundred yards (meters) out to sea from the aquarium. He was pulled up by a fisherman in a lobster pot and wasn't in good shape. He'd been attacked, probably by a snapper or some other fish, and a couple of his tentacles were half their normal length. 

After a year recuperating at the National Aquarium, said manager Rob Yarrall, Inky was once again in good health. And he'd been delighting the staff with his intelligence. 

"He used to come up and you could hand-feed him," Yarrall said. "He'd grab hold of you with the suckers on his tentacles, or squirt water at you. And he worked out how to screw the top off a jar." 

Yarrall said that since they have no bones, octopuses can squeeze through almost any hole that's larger than their beaks, so the drain hole, 15 centimeters (6 inches) wide, was no great challenge.

After Inky escaped, the aquarium staff figured out what happened, admired his cleverness, wished him the best and went back to work. No one thought to publicize the story until Robyn McLean, communications manager for the Napier City Council, heard about what happened this week. She told a local reporter, and before long she and her small staff had fielded more than 100 calls from international media. 

"It shows how we should never take animals for granted," McLean said. "The humble octopus is a very, very intelligent creature. He thought this one out and he nailed it. So, go Inky."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: The National Aquarium of New Zealand via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Runaway Calf Befriends Blind Cow Who Lost Pig Pal]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 16:24:19 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/12472334_962445667175962_1075988760580106634_n.jpg

A calf that spent several days on the loose in Massachusetts is the new companion of a blind cow left heartbroken when it lost its playmate of eight years, a spotted pig, according to their caregiver.

The calf was brought on Tuesday to Don't Forget Us Pet Us Sanctuary, in Dartmouth, the home of the blind cow, named Baby.

Baby "had never been by herself for so long. She was all alone," said Debbie Devlin, owner of Don't Forget Us Pet Us Sanctuary.

The escaped cows were destined for the slaughterhouse when they escaped last week, according to Devlin. The other two cows were hit in driving accidents, one dying immediately while the other was severely harmed and subsequently euthanized. But the calf eluded danger.

"She really became a famous escaping calf," Devlin said. "She was on her freedom run."

It was Jennifer Ferreira who originally spotted the missing calf on the side of the road, dusted in snow. Ferreira posted a photo of the missing calf on Facebook, which sparked interest in the small community, the shelter said in a Facebook post. Local news stations and the Dartmouth Police Department tracked the calf, which was eventually returned to the livestock yard, but not for long.

Jean Briggs, a supporter of the sanctuary's, saw stories about its escape and called up Devlin on Thursday to find out if she was interested in the calf. Devlin was, so Briggs used her tax refund to buy the calf from Robinson's for $450, Devlin said. She turned the calf over to the sanctuary on Tuesday.

Devlin said the timing is perfect. The cow at her shelter, named Baby, lost her companion pig, Lulu, on Sunday.

"She would walk frantically in circles, mooing away," Devlin said.

That soon changed. Within seconds of arriving at her pen, adjacent to Baby's, the corralled calf burst through the 8 foot-tall gate to be beside Baby, Devlin said, leaving the gate off its hinges.

"She ran to the blind cow and hasn't left its side," Devlin said.

Devlin has owned Baby for 10 years and the sanctuary is home to many animals that people either don't want or can't afford to keep, according to Devlin. Don't Forget Us Pet Us also has a duck with no feet, a one-eared chinchilla and more. The pig, Lulu, became Baby's companion after horses and ponies proved too aggressive for the bovine.

"It was so helpful having the pig to be able to show her when we had to move things around or make changes," Devlin said.

This duty will now likely fall on the calf that has taken to Baby, Devlin said.

The sanctuary still hasn't named the calf — Devlin said she is considering running a naming contest on the Don't Forget Us Pet Us Sanctuary Facebook page. The sanctuary also plants to raise funds for "super strong fencing" for the calf.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Courtesy Don't Forget Us Pet Us
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<![CDATA[Coyote Found Shot Gives Birth to 5]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 17:03:48 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/coyote-split.jpg

First, rescuers realized the emaciated coyote they pulled from the bottom of an empty reservoir in Southern California was blind from being shot between the eyes. Then, the rescuers found the near-death animal was pregnant.

After a monthlong regimen of care, including intravenous fluids and vitamins, the coyote gave birth at an animal hospital to a litter of five healthy puppies.

Julia Di Sieno of the Animal Rescue Team in Solvang found the coyote in the reservoir after a call came into her hotline Feb. 11. The coyote was bleeding and having trouble breathing.

Di Sieno climbed down 30 feet into the stone-and-mortar reservoir and loaded the wounded animal onto a gurney. She named it Angel.

Examinations revealed Angel had been shot between the eyes, and the bullet blinded her. The coyote then likely wandered the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara for days or weeks until she tumbled into the reservoir, Di Sieno said.

"What this animal endured is beyond comprehension," Di Sieno told the Los Angeles Times for a story Wednesday. "When she had puppies, I didn't know whether to cry in sadness or for joy."

She plans to care for the puppies until they are mature enough to be released in the surrounding mountains. Di Sieno hopes to keep Angel as a surrogate mother for young coyotes that her nonprofit rescues. But first she has to persuade the state Department of Fish and Wildlife not to euthanize it. In California, possession of a coyote is illegal unless permitted by the state.

Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan told the Times the agency is looking for a reasonable solution.

"The department appreciates Julia and the rescue team's efforts to save this coyote and other wildlife," he said. "We've worked closely with her over the years and appreciate her passion for rescuing imperiled wildlife."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Courtesy Animal Rescue Team]]>
<![CDATA[Cat Stuck Under Car Fender Takes Cross-Border Ride]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 13:19:36 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cat+under+fender.JPG

A cat that became trapped in the front fender of a car unwittingly took a trip from Mexico to Oceanside in Southern California.

The Oceanside Fire Department posted video on its Facebook page showing firefighters rescuing the cat on March 21.

The person who alerted firefighters said he drove from Mexico to his home in Oceanside — about 54 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border — apparently not knowing about the cat.

Loud meowing alerted him to the whiskered stowaway tucked beneath the vehicle.

A firefighter wearing gloves is seen in the video pulling the cat free from beneath the front fender of the car. The cat then loudly meows and tries to dart away.

Fire officials said the animal was taken to the humane society.

It wasn’t clear how the cat got beneath the bumper.

Photo Credit: Oceanside Fire Department/Facebook
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<![CDATA[Kitten Stuck in Wall]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 10:34:03 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/041216+bso+saves+kitten+deerfield+beach.jpg

Firefighters have rescued a kitten that was trapped inside the wall of a South Florida home, bringing an end to a family's confusion about where a certain meowing sound was coming from.

Broward County Sheriff's Office Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said several firefighters on Monday safely removed the small gray kitten after cutting a hole through the wall in the Deerfield Beach family's living room. The kitten didn't appear to be injured.

It's unclear how the feline became trapped. Jachles said a neighborhood cat must have had a litter in the home's attic, with the kitten then somehow falling down into the wall.

The Miami Herald reports that the family adopted the kitten and named it Hugo, after one of the firefighters who rescued it, Hugo de Almeida.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office
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<![CDATA[Missing Dog Found Dead in Owner's Stolen Car]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 09:49:55 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dog+Left+to+Die+in+Stolen+Car.pngAn Oregon man's dog was found dead inside his stolen car on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Kona, a Great Dane and black lab mix, was inside Bill Robbins' car when it was stolen last week in Portland.

Photo Credit: KGW]]>
<![CDATA[Canine Food Truck: Chicken Feet, Pumpkin Pretzels and 'Pupcakes']]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 07:56:04 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_16104212190147-barkery-barkery-th.jpg

Stand on any block around lunchtime near Amazon.com's downtown Seattle headquarters and there are two common sights: people walking their dogs and people buying lunch at food trucks.

The scene offers a window into Seattle's infatuations with dogs (and cats), which outnumber children here, and the maturing roaming food truck market.

Now, one truck is combining both by catering to humankind's best friend.

"It kind of seems natural that now that we've conquered the people food truck market that we bring that to our faithful furry friends," Janelle Harding said.

Harding is a customer of The Seattle Barkery, a food truck that serves dogs and their owners in Seattle-area dog parks, office building parking lots, farmer's markets and private events. It rolled into operation 10 months ago.

"There is definitely a market for more things like that, where human and canine activities are combined. You don't want to always leave them at home or leave them in the car," said Dawn Ford, who owns and operates the truck with her husband, Ben.

By Ford's count, their truck is one of just a handful in the country that caters to canines. The concept is new and rare enough that dogless people occasional misunderstand and purchase a treat.

"They end up ordering something, and they seem weirded out by it," Ford said.

Popular offerings include air-fried chicken feet and duck neck, cupcakes with bacon, rebranded "pupcakes," mini cheesy doughnuts, pumpkin pretzels and peanut butter-banana cookies.

"Peanut butter is like a must," Harding said after buying treats for her pug, Stella.

Ford worked at one of Seattle's dog-friendly bars, then became a dog walker and began cooking her own treats for customers following a rash of product recalls.

"All of our treats are soft," she said. "All of our treats aren't filled with ingredients you can't pronounce."

Giving dogs homemade treats rather than processed ones is deeply important to Ford.

"What we feed our animals reflects their health," Ford said. "Animals' lives are short. If we can feed them good quality products, why wouldn't you?"

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Social Media App Releases Top Pet Names]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 06:04:13 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Corgi-GettyImages-512536165.jpg

Looking to adopt a new furry companion?

In honor of National Pet Day on Monday, social media app Nextdoor released a report on top pet names across the country and by animal.

For the Southwestern states, including California, that name is Lucy. Coincidentally, Lucy is the top names for cats.

Bella, the most popular pet name in the Pacific Northwest, also earned the top name for dogs.

In a similar list released last month, Nextdoor also named Bella the top dog name in San Diego County, followed by Lucy, Buddy, Max, Molly, Daisy, Bailey, Lola, Rocky and Chloe.

National Pet Day started in 2006 to celebrate the joy of animals and to draw light to those in need of permanent homes.

Data for the list was compiled from Nextdoor member profiles that included pet information. 

Here’s a look at the full Nextdoor map of most popular names:

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Moment RF
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<![CDATA[6-Year-Old Girl Rescues Trapped Ducklings]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 01:28:29 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/222*120/04.10.16_Mia-Rescued-Ducklings.JPG

Eight ducklings separated from their mom and dad after falling down a narrow Southern California drainage pipe found their hero in a brave 6-year-old Laguna Niguel girl who came to their rescue.

Mia Rabii and her mother, Skye, were in Laguna Hills Saturday afternoon when they were flagged down by another family, who had come upon the mother duck with a lone duckling. The father was nearby.

The family had located the other ducklings down a narrow pipe, but no one had arms small enough to reach down and pull them out.

Mia said, "I can do it," according to her mom, and reached down the pipe all the way to her shoulders and pulled out the eight ducklings one by one, reuniting them with their anxious mother.

Mia, who is going to be Student of the Week at school, wants to be a veterinarian.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Skye Rabii
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<![CDATA[Dog Found With Muzzle Taped Shut]]>Sat, 09 Apr 2016 14:07:01 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/040916dog.jpg

Authorities are offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of the person who taped a dog's muzzle shut then abandoned it on a New York highway.

The male German shepherd was found Saturday on Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst, said the Suffolk County SPCA, which is offering a $2,000 reward.

"To leave this dog unable to eat or drink, abandoned and frightened on a busy road is heartbreaking," organization chief Roy Gross said in a statement.

Gross said the dog, estimated to be 2 or 3 years old, is in good health and very social.

"I can say whoever did this is a truly heartless individual," Gross told NBC News.

The Babylon Animal Shelter picked up the dog and is now caring for it.

<![CDATA[Baby Bear Rescued From Brush Fire]]>Fri, 08 Apr 2016 08:25:16 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/040816+baby+bear+saved+from+fire.jpg

Firefighters in central Florida helped save a crying bear cub while fighting a brush fire on Thursday.

The roughly 250-acre fire took place in the rural Royal Trails section of Lake County. Multiple homes had to be evacuated.

A resident heard the bear crying and firefighters went back into the brush to rescue him, according to Lake County public information officer Elisha Pappacoda.

According to NBC affiliate WESH in Orlando, Lake County Fire Rescue contained the fire and was in the "mop-up" phase when they found the cub.

"We do have a lot of Florida black bears in the area. But, this [baby bear] is not something you see every day. The tips of his fur on his face were singed. Firefighters held onto him until Fish and Wildlife came," Pappacoda said. 

Nicknamed "SJ" — for Smokey Jr. — by the fire department, the cub's paws and face were burned and his mama bear was long gone.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called to evaluate the cub. "SJ" was in a veterinarian's care Friday morning. Pappacoda said the cub is doing fine and recovering from the minor burns. 

Photo Credit: Lake County Fire Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Sea Lion Found at Restaurant Returns to Ocean]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 04:07:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Marina+sea+lion+return.jpg

Amid cheers by those who rescued her, Marina, the wayward sea lion that ended up in a La Jolla restaurant booth two months ago, was returned to the ocean off California on Tuesday.

SeaWorld animal care workers boated out several miles off the coast of San Diego to return Marina and several other rehabilitated sea lions.

One by one, the animals waddled to the back of the boat and dove in, swimming away as the rescue workers looked on.

The chef of The Marine Room Restaurant, where Marina was found curled up in a booth in February, joined SeaWorld workers to free the pup.

Chef Bernard Guillas had snapped photos of the pup when he found she had sneaked in to his restaurant and posted the photos on social media. They have since gained thousands of likes and comments.

Guillas said he’s seen dramatic progress in Marina’s health since she was rescued. She’s gained 25 pounds and shows signs she can forage for food in the wild.

“When she arrived, she was frail,” Guillas said. “She’s back in the ocean, in the big blue, and she’s going to enjoy life now.”

Jody Westberg, the park’s Stranded Animal coordinator, said Tuesday it was an emotional experience returning Marina to her natural habitat, and she’s confident the sea lion will survive and thrive.

“She’s a feisty, sassy animal,” Westberg said.

Photo Credit: SeaWorld]]>
<![CDATA[Officer Saves Family Dog]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 02:45:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/216*120/bailey_rescued.jpg

A police officer in Southern California was credited with saving the life of a cherished family dog that was bitten in the face by a rattlesnake.

Dispatchers received a call around 4:20 p.m. Monday from a frantic girl who said her family's 11-year-old chocolate Labrador, Bailey, had been bitten by the rattlesnake while playing in the backyard, according to the La Verne Police Department.

Officers Chris Dransfeldt and Greg Rodriguez responded to the home in North La Verne, an area near the foothills where rattlesnake sightings are common, police said.

According to police, Bailey had suffered a bite near one of his eyes and his face was swelling in reaction to the venom. The 17-year-old girl told Dransfeldt that Bailey was like a child to her parents, who would be devastated if the dog died.

The girl had no means of transportation and her mother could not leave work, police said. It might have been too late by the time she got there anyway, so Dransfeldt sprang into action.

The officer, a dog lover himself, took Bailey to the nearest veterinary hospital in La Verne. Workers told Dransfeldt the only animal hospital that carried anti-venom was located in the nearby town of Upland, so Dransfeldt put Bailey in the back seat of his cruiser.

Bailey whimpered in pain from the bite as Dransfeldt rushed him to the VCA Animal Hospital in Upland, according to the La Verne Police Department. Veterinarians administered an anti-venom medication, as well as fluids, to help save Bailey's life.

The dog stayed overnight at the hospital and was released Tuesday morning to his family. He was recuperating and is expected to recover, police said.

Photo Credit: La Verne Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Wayward Sea Lion Blocks Traffic]]>Tue, 05 Apr 2016 06:53:09 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sea+lion3.jpg

A wayward sea lion wandered into the road Monday morning in Sonoma County, California, stalling traffic as drivers gawked and crews from the Marine Mammal Center worked to move the animal from harm's way.

The sea lion's expedition blocked the eastbound route of Highway 37 at the junction of California State Route 121, by the railroad tracks. Traffic was at a standstill at 10 a.m., according the California Highway Patrol.

The area — near Skaggs Island and the San Pablo Bay, in the middle of Novato and Vallejo — is the same spot where a 900-pound elephant seal was stranded in December 2015. The seal had to be tranquilized and corralled after it tried to cross Highway 37.

According to the police log, an off-duty officer chased the sea lion before experts from the Marine Mammal Center arrived. The agency tweeted a picture of the sea lion before it emerged from the water.

Center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli said his agency's rescue crews actually know this sea lion, and had previously nicknamed it "School Daze," a young male who had been at the center several times and treated for malnutrition. Doctors also had determined that this sea lion suffers from neurological damage, possibly because of past domoic acid exposure, the same toxin that caused the most recent Dungeness crab fishing season in California to be delayed.

School Daze is one of more than 80 young California sea lions currently at the Sausalito, Calif. center —more than four times the average normally this time of year, making this the fourth year in a row that California sea lions have been in crisis.

“After four years of sea lions in crisis, the initial shock of seeing so many starving sea lions is over and now we’re really starting to worry about long-term impacts on the population as a whole,” Dr. Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at the center said in a statement.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that from January to May 2015, California sea lion strandings were more than 10 times the average.

Nearly 600 sea lions pups and yearlings were stranded in California in March, according to NOAA, though that was nearly half the number reported stranded in March 2015. NOAA scientists say it’s likely that a change in the availability of the animals’ prey, like sardines, is affecting nursing mothers.

Photo Credit: California Highway Patrol]]>
<![CDATA[67 Pups Saved From Freezing Van]]>Tue, 05 Apr 2016 11:06:29 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DSC_00036.jpg

New Jersey police officers saved 67 puppies from a near-freezing van early Monday morning, authorities said.

Paramus police officers spotted the Freightliner Sprinter van parked in the back of the Just Pups store on state Route 17 in Paramus about 3 a.m., according to police. Cops later determined the van belonged to the owner of the Just Pups store. 

When officers approached the van, they heard dogs whining and smelled an odor of urine and feces coming from the vehicle.

They opened an unlocked door, saw the dogs covered in feces and called animal control, authorities said. It was later determined the temperature inside the van was about 38 degrees.

Fifteen dogs needed medical attention and were taken to Oradell Animal Hospital, police said.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force is investigating.

The owner of the Paramus Just Pups store, Vincent LoSacco, was charged with 267 counts of animal cruelty in late February for alleged poor conditions at the East Brunswick outpost of the store. The location later had its business license revoked by the town.

Reached after those charges were filed, LoSacco said they were baseless and that an officer who issued him the summons has a personal vendetta against him. He later posted a video to Facebook saying he had been unfairly targeted.

The Paramus location had also been the target of investigations and complaints before Monday, authorities said.

LoSacco, who owns multiple Just Pups locations throughout the Garden State, couldn't be reached for comment Monday. An employee who claimed to be LoSacco's son declined to comment on the case to NBC 4 New York. 

It's not clear if charges will be filed in the case.

Photo Credit: Paramus Police]]>
<![CDATA[America's 10 Favorite Dog Breeds ]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 05:54:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/10-ShihTzu.jpgAmerica’s top 10 favorite dog breeds include the pug, the Lab and the little Shih Tzu. PetBreeds, which runs a pet search engine, analyzed the country's most popular dog breeds based on average user rating and total number of reviews for each breed, filtering out doggies who had fewer than 40 reviews. Here are the results.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/EyeEm]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Surfs It Up for Charity]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:18:02 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/french-surf-bulldog.jpg

With summer on the horizon, Southern California waves are beckoning a slew of Angelenos, including a French bulldog who has made surfing her charitable hobby.

Cherie, the 5-year old Frenchie, literally started from the bottom after being left at a dog shelter by a family who could not take care of her.

Cherie was placed into the French Bulldog Rescue Network at a very young age. That's where she was rescued by a Newport Beach couple with great love for Frenchies.

Under the care of Amy and Dan Nykolayko, Cherie made frequent trips to Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach where they saw how much Cherie enjoyed the water and wearing a life jacket. After her owners learned of dog surfing lessons in Del Mar, Cherie began her surfing career.

In 2013, Cherie began competing, not only for her own, but for dogs across the nation. With the help of the Nykolaykos, Cherie has raised nearly $7,000 since 2013 for rescue organizations by participating in many canine surfing competitions.

"Surfing is crazy, awesome fun but it is very important to me to help raise money for animals in need at all of the events that I compete in," reads Cherie's mission statement on her website. "Many dogs aren't as lucky as I am so I do my very best to give back every year."

Cherie won first place in the medium dog category at the 2015 Surf Dog-A-Thon and has placed in many competitions for her fundraising efforts as well. She has appeared at the All-Star Dog Rescue Celebration as well as on Nightline and Good Morning America.

The Nykolaykos, who do everything from coordinating Cherie's outfits to surfing alongside her, are both fundraising coordinators at the French bulldog Rescue Network where Cherie was placed before finding her forever home with them. 

Photo Credit: Dan Nykolayko]]>
<![CDATA[Chihuahua Rescued on Calif. Bridge]]>Mon, 04 Apr 2016 06:48:06 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/runaway+puppy.jpg

California Highway Patrol officers gave chase to an unlikely suspect early Sunday — a Chihuahua.

A driver reported the dog on westbound Bay Bridge just after 7 a.m., according to Officer Vu Williams, a spokesman for CHP San Francisco. 

CHP units noticed the small dog on the bridge's north side catwalk heading toward San Francisco, prompting an officer to stop traffic.

A motorcycle officer tried to go over to the Chihuahua and pick it up, but it bolted onto the Bay Bridge, Williams said. A video on the CHP San Francisco Twitter page shows a motorcycle officer pursuing the dog as it scampered across multiple lanes.

The black Chihuahua kept running away from officers who were trying to safely capture it so a motorcycle officer and others in a patrol car boxed in the wayward dog, Williams said. One officer distracted the animal with a jacket while another scooped it up. 

The rescue lasted roughly five minutes, according to Williams. 

CHP officers also shared a photograph of the Chihuahua being carried by one of their colleagues. A skull is dangling from the dog's black collar, but Williams said it doesn't contain any identifying information.

The dog has been picked up by the San Francisco County's Department of Animal Care and Control, whose employees nicknamed it "Ponch," after Erik Estrada's character in the 1970s TV hit, "CHiPs." Officials are going to use a scanner to ascertain if it has a microchip in it, Williams said.

Officials are seeking the public's assistance in reuniting the Chihuahua with its owner. If it isn't claimed in seven days, it will be put up for adoption.

This dog isn't the first animal to prompt a brief closure of the Bay Brige. Williams said turtles, seals and a litany of other animals have caused traffic jams in the past. 

Anyone with information is asked to call 415-554-6364.

Photo Credit: CHP San Francisco
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<![CDATA[Dog Rescued After Week in Storm Drain]]>Fri, 01 Apr 2016 12:47:03 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dog-GettyImages-100394559.jpg

Firefighters outside Charleston, West Virginia, have rescued a dog believed to have been stuck in a storm drain for nearly a week.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Pinch residents on Thursday found a dog stuck in an underground storm pipe. The neighbors had been hearing the dog's barks for days but had been unable to locate the canine.

With the help of a West Virginia American Water crew, members of the Pinch Fire Department dug up concrete and cut the pipe in order to free Mater, a 14-year-old beagle mix who had been missing since March 25.

The dog was taken to a veterinarian and is safely back with his owners, who say they're planning to install a fence.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File
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<![CDATA[Pig Saved From Dinner Table]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:16:18 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/12923144_10154021408273798_8038226485201047208_n.jpg

An unwanted pet pig got a new lease on life after ending up at the butcher.

"Luckily, the butcher could tell that Missy belonged in a home and not on the dinner table so she was brought to the New Hampshire SPCA for safe shelter and a second chance," the SPCA wrote in a Facebook post March 30.

Missy, a 3-year-old pot-bellied pig who is now up for adoption, is used to living in a house and loves to sleep under the covers with her human counterparts, according to the animal shelter. She is litter box trained and knows how to sit. 

The rescue operation said Missy has been going for walks and spending time outside with staff members — and she's learning how to walk on a leash. 

"She is one smart gal and would love a family to keep her mentally engaged!" the SPCA wrote on its website.

In a Facebook update posted April 1, the SPCA said thousands of people have shared Missy's picture and passed along information about her original home.

"And because so many people have responded, we will surely be able to find homes more quickly for other pot-bellied pigs when they are surrendered here, which happens more frequently than people might think!" the agency wrote.

To learn more about adopting Missy, call 603-772-2921 ext. 124 or visit the New Hampshire SPCA website.

Photo Credit: New Hampshire SPCA
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<![CDATA[Puppies Help Save Starving Mom]]>Fri, 01 Apr 2016 07:34:43 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Princesspic.jpg

Puppy siblings Calvin and Jordan likely saved their mother’s life two weeks ago.

The puppies ran loose in Gaithersburg, Maryland, on March 14, and bystanders called the Montgomery County Animal Services, authorities said.

When an officer arrived, he found more than just the the puppies’ home — their mother, Princess, was in critical condition.

Princess, a Catahoula mix, had no food or shelter and only a small container of dirty water to drink. Animal services said she weighed just 29 pounds, when she should weigh about 50-65 pounds.

The officer took all three dogs to Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center, where Princess is still recovering.

Since she arrived at the center two weeks ago, Princess has gained over 12 pounds and begun to trust and open up to people, despite the abuse she endured.

"She can be seen in the veterinary office wagging her tail hopefully as staff pass by, and leaning up against people who come to visit her," the adoption center wrote in a press release.

Owner Allyn Tyrone Meeks was charged with one misdemeanor count for failure to provide veterinary care, shelter and food. Meeks faces up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine, if convicted. It's not clear if Meeks has hired an attorney.

Princess and her two puppies are now up for adoption. For more information about adopting the dogs, call the adoption center at 240-773-5900.

Photo Credit: Montgomery Country Animal Services and Adoption Center]]>
<![CDATA[Dog With Cancer Lives Bucket List]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:16:28 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bucket4.jpg

A Michigan dog diagnosed with terminal cancer after his owner died is now living out a bucket list of "everything a dog should do before they cross the rainbow bridge."

Loren Cazan, a volunteer at Rejoyceful Animal Rescue in Mount Clemens, adopted the 14-year-old Lab mix named Buddy after his owner suddenly passed away.

"The family had contacted the rescue and asked if we could take him cause they didn’t want him to end up at a shelter," said Michelle Heyza, founder Rejoyceful Animal Rescue. "He was very depressed when he came in."

Rescuers took the dog to a vet, where tests revealed Buddy had mast cell cancer.

"He has a tumor on his side, and a bunch of small tumors all over his body," Heyza said. "He’s not in the position at 14 years old to have the tumors removed. He wouldn’t survive surgery." 

Heyza called the vet visit a "blow" because there was nothing the workers could do. She called Buddy the "most lovable dog you could ever meet."

"There’s not a person or thing he didn’t like that he didn’t meet, which made his diagnosis all the more hard to hear," she said, adding, "So we created a bucket list of everything a dog should do before they cross the rainbow bridge. It was to celebrate his life and have fun with him before he goes."

A series of photos show items on the pup’s bucket list, including: get adopted, chase a flock of geese, become a businessman, get a job, eat a "pup cup" with his best friends and "being a total chick magnet surrounded by a bunch of chicks!"

"We hope that people will adopt other senior dogs and help them live out a bucket list," Heyza said.

Photo Credit: Rejoyceful Animal Rescue
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<![CDATA[73 Dogs Saved From Tx. Puppy Mill]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:16:37 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Stephens-Co-Puppy-Mill-07.jpg

Seventy-three neglected dogs were rescued from an alleged puppy mill in Stephens County after being found in filthy, cramped conditions, according to the Humane Society of North Texas.

HSNT said the owners were breeding Australian shepherds, border collies, German shepherds and Labrador retrievers. The animals were housed in three areas that did not provide suitable living conditions.

"The conditions these dogs were living in were absolutely horrific," said Kim Meek, lead humane investigator for HSNT. "It was clear that the owners had become overwhelmed. There were so many dogs living inside the house that the owners had actually moved into a travel trailer in the yard. More dogs were living in the attached garage and two large buildings. Even worse, there were several dogs crammed into wire pop up crates. In many of the enclosures, more than 6 inches of feces covered the floors."

The Stephens Count Animal Shelter was awarded custody on Monday of all 73 dogs — including three nursing mothers. The shelter was unable to care for the large number of animals and signed custody of 60 dogs over to HSNT.

HSNT gave the dogs medical examinations and treated them for parasitic infections. Two of the puppies tested positive for parvovirus; one died and the other is being treated by a veterinarian.

"Puppies born in puppy mills frequently contract life-threatening diseases such as parvovirus and distemper as a result of the squalor they live in," said HSNT veterinarian Dr. Cynthia Jones. "Sadly, many do not live to see their first birthday."

A male miniature Australian shepherd, named Ranger by the HSNT staff, needs ear ablation. HSNT said it doesn't know what caused Ranger's deformity, but without the surgery, he will have chronic ear infections and ear pain. According to the HSNT, the surgery would remove his ear canal and sew it shut, allowing him to live a healthy, comfortable life.

HSNT is seeking donations from animal lovers in the community to provide Ranger with surgery and to help fund the care of the 60 dogs in its care until they are able to find loving homes.

Donations can be made at www.hsnt.org, by calling 817-332-4768, or by mail at 1840 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76103.

The rescued dogs will remain at the HSNT holding facility until they are cleared to undergo spay and neuter surgeries and then enter the adoption program.

Photo Credit: Humane Society of North Texas]]>
<![CDATA[Special Explores Program for 2nd Chance Dogs]]>Wed, 30 Mar 2016 10:02:51 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_19533597227.jpg

Animal Planet will soon celebrate the success of a unique program aimed at second chance dogs, often shy and traumatized victims of puppy mills, hoarders and abandonment.

In an hour-long special, the network delves into the Behavior Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey. It's a pilot program of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that began in 2013 and will soon be expanded, in time for the ASPCA's 150th anniversary.

Called "Second Chance Dogs," to air April 16 (9 a.m. Eastern), the Animal Planet show starts at the center's beginning, when the ASPCA decided to try rehabilitation for hard luck cases.

Of 259 dogs sent to the center since it opened, 185 have graduated. Of those, 170 were adopted and the majority is doing quite well, said Kristen Collins, a certified applied animal behaviorist who oversees the project and will be the director of a new facility planned as part of the expansion.

Not all the dogs were success stories. Thirteen were deemed inappropriate for the program, including those with health issues, and 28 failed to graduate after months in the program. Some of those were sent back to the shelters where they came from and some had to be euthanized.

But the ASPCA stands firmly behind the center. It will continue to move dogs through St. Hubert's until a new $9 million, 35,000-square-foot facility is finished in mid-2017 in Weaverville, North Carolina.

"While we can't yet answer all of the questions associated with rehabilitating at-risk animals, we continue to witness amazing transformations, dogs that conquer their anxiety and fear despite years of devastating behavioral damage. These transformations change the trajectory of their lives," said Matthew Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA.

Nearly every animal shelter in the country has a shy dog or two, Collins said. The new rehab center will have a dormitory that can accommodate visiting staff bringing in dogs from shelters or seeking training on how to handle their own loads. Shelters will not be charged for sending dogs or staff to the center, she said.

The human training will be offered because the ASPCA feels it's just as important to teach shelter workers around the country how to gain the trust of severely traumatized dogs as it is to rehabilitate the animals, Bershadker said.

"Collecting this insight and sharing it will enable all of us to move more vulnerable dogs from peril to safety," he said.

Collins said the center was the first dedicated solely to abused or neglected dogs. Her dogs, Wink, Juno and Toefu, are part of its workforce as "helper" dogs. They made it into the documentary, done by the production company Dog Files under ASPCA supervision.

Kathryn Klumpp of Watchung, New Jersey, is the proud owner of one of the center's graduates. She adopted Mary Ann after the dog was transferred from rehab to the Butler Town Pound. The mutt, believed to be around 2, adjusted quickly to life with her new family, Klumpp said. Her husband, sons (ages 11 and 13), two other dogs and a cat all made it work.

"When she came home, the family could only scratch her under her chin where she could watch them. Now, they can scratch her back." Klumpp said. "That's how much she has come to trust all of us."

While things went quite smoothly, the family made one serious change: "So now her name is Hope."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Partially Blind Steer Saved]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:16:48 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Oatmeal-Blind-Steer.jpg

A partially blind steer that was among the winners of the Fort Worth Stock Show has avoided slaughter after critics decried plans to butcher the animal.

Oatmeal was recently moved to an undisclosed ranch after stock show officials stepped in to help save him, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Saturday.

Kendyll Williams, 13, of Huntsville, raised and showed the steer at this year's Fort Worth Stock Show and a buyer paid $8,000. Then an online effort began to save the animal diagnosed with cataracts.

On Feb. 11, Matt Brockman, the show's publicity manager, hauled Oatmeal to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in College Station for examination.

"He loaded like a champ and hauled like a champ," Brockman said Friday. "It was clear that he had functional eyesight, and in my opinion, this steer could have entered the food system. ... I've worked with totally blind steers, and this steer wasn't that."

Oatmeal was moved to his new home after being examined at Texas A&M.

"It was established by our board certified ophthalmologist that the steer is not completely blind and does have partial vision, although cataracts are present in both eyes," Dr. Eleanor Green, dean of the veterinary college, said in an email to the Star-Telegram on Friday.

Brockman said young exhibitors at the Fort Worth Stock Show are learning about the industry and providing a safe food supply, knowing fully their animals will end up in the slaughterhouse.

"A young livestock show exhibitor knows the animal they raise to show will someday enter the food system. ... The youth participants are fully aware that at some point their 'project' will be processed and enter the food system," Brockman said in a previous email to the newspaper. "They're helping feed the world."

Renee King-Sonnen, founder of the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary in Angleton, which sought to save Oatmeal, said volunteers collected about $12,000 for the animal's care.

"I'm happy if he's really safe, I just don't understand all the secrecy," King-Sonnen said. "I just hope he never, ever, ever sees a slaughterhouse."

The money raised for the steer will now go toward scholarships for young people who indicate they have a change of heart about showing and selling livestock for slaughter, she said. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences]]>
<![CDATA[Dog's Emotional Reunion With Owner]]>Fri, 25 Mar 2016 13:27:13 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/032516+chloe+mary+jane+collier+county+department+of+animal+services.jpg

A Facebook video showing a Florida dog owner's emotional reunion with his stolen dog after seven months apart is going viral.

The video, posted by the Collier County Department of Animal Services, shows the dog happily barking and jumping into her owner's arms for a big hug.

The dog, named Chloe by the shelter's workers but whose real name is Mary Jane, was found roaming the streets. The shelter posted videos which led to her owner.

The Facebook video (below) has been viewed more than 1.5 million times and had nearly 35,000 likes by Friday.


Photo Credit: Collier County Department of Animal Services
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<![CDATA[Runaway Piglet Gets a Home]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:17:30 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/IMG_18272.JPG

This little piggy, who ran wildly among cars and brought traffic to a halt in San Francisco's Mission District earlier this month, has traded in city life for the country.

According to the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control, the wayward piglet, who has since been named Janice, was adopted by Al Wolf, the director of Sonoma County Reptile Rescue. The piglet and her new guardian left for Sonoma Monday morning.

Janice drew a crowd of good Samaritans on March 8, leading them on a chase up and down Dolores Street, animal care officials said. Finally, Brother Damian with the Society of Saint Francis was able to scoop her up and get her to safety.

 "Janice has spent her time wisely, bringing good cheer and smiles to shelter visitors," the Department of Animal Care and Control said in a statement.

Although no owner laid claim to Janice, the piglet's story captured the attention of many who asked to adopt her, officials said.

"We've enjoyed having Janice — she’s taught us a lot about pigs, and we’ve loved her good nature and spirit," Animal Care & Control Executive Director Virginia Donohue said.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control]]>
<![CDATA[Scalded Cat Finds New Home]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:17:39 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Driver+The+Cat.png

Nearly two months after a disturbing video surfaced showing a man scalding a cat with boiling water, that same cat has found a happy new home. 

A video posted on Facebook in early February showed a man coaxing a cat toward him before pouring a pot of boiling water on the animal. The footage sparked nationwide outrage as it spread across social media, prompting a police investigation.

Eighteen-year-old Leon Teague, of South Martin Luther King Drive, was charged with one felony count of animal torture and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty. It's not clear if Teague has hired an attorney.

The cat was found, thanks to a rescue effort organized by two Chicago women, and taken to Felines & Canines animal shelter in Edgewater.

Now, the cat, named Driver, has been adopted after more than a month rehabilitating from his injuries, according to the shelter's Facebook page. 

Calling the incident "one of the most horrific assaults we’ve ever seen," executive director Abby Smith details the treatment Driver endured.

According to Smith, Driver suffered third-degree burns and subsequent infections, requiring two weeks of hospitalization in the ICU, laser therapy, wound cleaning three times a day and more. 

After a diligent screening process, the shelter was "over-the-moon" to announce Driver's adoption this week, Smith said. With three sisters to play with, Driver's new home has "the most gentle, loving family where Driver will know nothing but kindness, love, and napping in the sunbeams for the rest of his life," according to Smith. 

The shelter also established "Driver's Fund" to help rescue and care for animals suffering from extreme injury or illness.

Photo Credit: NBC 5
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<![CDATA['Cat Cafe' to Open in Chicago]]>Thu, 17 Mar 2016 14:39:40 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cat+cafe2.jpg

Why drink coffee alone when you can enjoy it in the company of a cat?

Chicago’s first "cat cafe" is coming to West Rogers Park as part of Tree House Humane Society’s new shelter set to open this year. The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance allowing the opening of animal shelter cafes.

"Cat Cafes are wildly popular throughout Asia, Europe and the United States," Alderman Debra Silverstein, who introduced the ordinance, said in a statement. "The 50th Ward will soon be home to the City of Chicago’s first Cat Cafe and, thanks to this new ordinance, will set a trend that will spread throughout the city and the rest of the Midwest."

Tree House Humane Society’s Cat Cafe plans to open at 7225 N. Western Ave. as part of its new adoption center and veterinary clinic. The location features full-length glass windows in the serving areas and an adjacent sitting room where visitors can have direct interaction with adoptable, rescued cats while enjoying coffee, tea and other beverages.

"We are extremely grateful to Alderman Silverstein and the City Council for making this dream a reality," said David de Funiak, executive director of Tree House Humane Society, in a statement. "The Tree House Cat Cafe will provide a unique opportunity for individuals to interact with our rescued, adoptable cats, ultimately helping more animals find their forever home and enabling us to rescue even more."

The new facility started construction last June as an adoption center and will now include a cafe. Tree House’s goal is to open sometime mid-year. Funds from the cafe will benefit the shelter, with proceeds directly supporting the rescue and rehabilitation of the cats.

The Animal Shelter Café Permit is available for licensed humane societies only, and the ordinance aims to facilitate as a tool to boost adoptions. The cafes can only sell non-alcoholic beverages and must maintain sanitation requirements.

Photo Credit: Tree House Humane Society]]>
<![CDATA[Navy Finds Pup Thought to Be Lost at Sea]]>Fri, 18 Mar 2016 07:08:37 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Luna-Navy-Reunion-SD-0316.jpg

A missing puppy that fell off a fishing boat nearly five weeks ago in the waters off Southern California was found by the U.S. Navy Tuesday and reunited with her family in San Diego.

U.S. Navy officials say Luna – a 1-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd – was presumed to be lost at sea after falling overboard near Naval Auxiliary Landing Field San Clemente Island (SCI) in Southern California on Feb. 10.

That day, Luna's owner, Nick Haworth, called officials at SCI from his fishing boat to report that he and his crew were bringing in traps from a fishing vessel when Luna vanished. Hayworth said one minute the pup was there and the next she was gone.

Haworth and his crew were about two miles off the coast of San Clemente, and he told Naval officials he thought Luna may try to swim to shore.

Navy staff at SCI searched the island for the dog to no avail. Hayworth stayed at sea for two days looking for Luna. And still, no luck.

After about a week of searching for the pup, she was presumed dead, Navy officials said.

Nearly five weeks passed.

Then a miracle happened.

On Tuesday morning, as Navy staff headed to work at SCI, they spotted Luna sitting next to the road. The pup, as her owner hoped, had somehow managed to make it ashore.

When the pooch saw staffers, she ran right up to them.

"They were shocked," Naval Base Coronado PAO Sandy DeMunnik told NBC 7.

DeMunnik said Luna was examined by a Navy wildlife biologist who found her to be undernourished but otherwise unharmed. The pup was in "good spirits."

The Navy flew Luna to Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado (NASNI) Wednesday afternoon, where was turned over to a family friend of her owner. Haworth, a commercial fisherman, was out of town for work, but was soon due to return home to San Diego to be reunited with his beloved companion.

Haworth's family friend, Conner Lamb, went to pick up Luna on Wednesday afternoon in Haworth's place and the reunion was joyous.

Lamb has worked on a fishing boat with Luna often and was ecstatic and amazed she's alive. He scooped her up and embraced the pup as soon as he saw her. Luna's tail wagged.

"[It's] just really mind blowing to tell you the truth," he said. "When I got the call this happened, [I] never even though this would be possible."

Photo Credit: United States Navy]]>
<![CDATA[Kittens Left for Dead in Suitcase]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:17:46 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NYPD+kittens+1.jpg

Police rescued a half-dozen kittens after someone threw them in a suitcase and left them for dead, the NYPD said.

The felines had been tossed over a fence at a lot on Wythe Avenue near the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn on Thursday evening, according to the Daily News.

The 90th precinct tweeted photos of the little critters on Tuesday following their rescue.

Sadly, a seventh kitten did not survive.

The rescued kittens are now with the ASPCA awaiting adoption.

Anyone with information about who tossed the cats is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: @NYPD90Pct/Twitter
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<![CDATA[New Hope for Neglected Pups]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:17:55 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/202*120/transformed-dogs-031516.jpg

Two Southern California pups who were found with severely matted fur after living in what Riverside County Animal Services called "uncomfortable" and "neglectful" conditions were given a makeover, officials said Tuesday.

The dogs arrived at the Riverside shelter Monday with bloodshot eyes and heavily matted fur in what authorities called one of the worst cases they'd seen.

"These two dogs illustrated the worst matted condition I've seen in my almost 10 years working for the county," Rachel Schafer-Young, who groomed the dogs, said. "It almost seemed that they were suffocating in their own fur."

A good Samaritan found the grimy canines after witnessing someone dump trash in a remote area of the Coachella Valley. Then the man saw the trash move.

"These dogs were a complete mess," the shelter said in a statement.

The dogs, both male and about 5 years old, were shaved down and all of the heavy fur removed.

Schafer-Young said the dogs are believed to be purebred Shih Tzu, though she said she can't tell for sure.

The dogs may soon have a new "leash" on life: A special adoption will be planned, shelter workers said.

Photo Credit: Riverside County Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[Kids Read to Dogs]]>Mon, 14 Mar 2016 20:48:21 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/220*120/barks-and-books031416.PNG

What could be cuter than kids and dogs?

Children in Southern California read out loud to "tail-wagging tutors" Monday at La Pintoresca Branch Library as a part of the Pasadena Humane Society's "Barks and Books," a reading enrichment program that encourages kids to build confidence in their reading skills and the safe and humane treatment of animals.

The guest of honor was Smokey, an 8-year-old pit bull, who donned a shamrock headband in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day.

"We found that children who were afraid of dogs are more comfortable after being with a dog here in the library," Rosa Cesaretti of the La Pintoresca Branch Library in Pasadena said.

Since 2003, volunteers from the Humane Society have regularly brought specially-trained dogs to more than 17 different libraries in the Southland.

"We also find that as the children are reading out loud, they're able to listen to themselves read, and they're realizing that they could read well and it builds their confidence," Cesaretti said.

The "Barks and Books" program is free and open to the public. Find out where else you can read to curious canines here.

Photo Credit: KVEA]]>
<![CDATA[Rutger, Rutgers Gardens Cat, Dies]]>Fri, 04 Mar 2016 10:31:54 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rutger-on-plants.jpg

The cat that was a fixture greeting visitors at New Jersey's Rutgers Gardens has died. Rutger was 21 years old.

Horticulturist Monica McLaughlin told the Home News Tribune she was with Rutger when he died on Monday. McLaughlin said she and another volunteer knew it was time and they held him and sat on the grass with the sun shining on him.

"To think he made it that long. He had a great life," McLaughlin told NBC.

The gray tabby spent his life controlling the mice population at the gardens in New Brunswick. However, Rutger went missing in 2014 when a woman took him to make him her pet.

McLaughlin said it did not work out and the woman set him free about two miles away. He was spotted outside a home where a person was grilling salmon.  

McLaughlin said Rutger wasn't the only cat to take up residence at the Gardens and mentioned another feline named Luke.

"I just hope he'd venture out of the greenhouse area more," she said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Ken Karamichael
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<![CDATA[Pet Tech Helps Keep Animals Safe and Connected While You're Away]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 07:44:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PetTech-Thumbnail.jpg

Technology isn't just for humans anymore. It's also for their furry friends.

In Silicon Valley and beyond, a growing number of startups are selling devices to keep pets safe, healthy, entertained and connected when their owners are away.

"Pet tech" entrepreneurs and investors see a big opportunity as pet ownership grows and owners show a willingness to spend serious money on their four-legged companions.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households, or 80 million homes, have pets, and Americans spent more than $60 billion on them last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.

"The number of pets in the world is growing extremely fast and that opens up the market," said Peter Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx, a technology market research firm. "I'm sure five years from now there will be all sorts of things we can't imagine."

Already, there are devices that let your pets call you (PetChatz), play games and win treats when they're home alone (CleverPet) and even speak with a human voice (Petspeak).

But as more pet-tech gadgets come to market, experts caution owners against relying on them too much.

"The technology can be useful as an adjunct, a way of enriching your relationship with your pet, but certainly not a substitute for time spent with your dog," said Pamela Wyman, who runs the DogEvolve training school in Oakland.

The Petzi Treatcam lets Anne Ryan check on her dogs Oscar and Reggie at her Berkeley home when she's working in San Francisco or traveling out of state.

The Internet-connected device lets her see her dogs, talk to them, take photos and even dispense treats — using an app on her phone.

"I turn it on, get to see them, get to talk to them and it changes my mood, and puts me back in a positive frame," said Ryan said. "I didn't know that I needed it, but now I don't think that I could live without it."

The TreatCam was created by San Jose-based Petzila, which was founded by two veteran technology executives who wanted to get their pets online. The startup also created a social media app that lets owners share pet photos.

"All of the most current crazes and fads in technology were touching everything but the pet," said CEO David Clark.

Whistle, a San Francisco startup, sells a GPS-enabled Pet Tracker that alerts owners when their pets have left their "safe zone" and helps find them if they get lost. The device also lets owners track how much exercise and sleep their animals are getting.

Ben Jacobs, Whistle's CEO and co-founder, said the pet-tech market is expanding fast as pets move up the household hierarchy.

"From the yard to the home to the bed — the dog is no longer out as part of the farm, but they're actually sleeping in bed with you as part of the family," Jacobs said.

For owners who want their dogs and cats to be more active during the day, the Petcube Camera lets them see and speak to their pets, and play with them with a laser pointer.

Petcube's Ukranian founders started the company in Kiev, but moved its headquarters to San Francisco to reach a global market.

"If we can connect all the pets to the Internet and basically digitize this space, it will be nothing short of disruption," said Yaroslav Azhnyuk, Petcube CEO and co-founder. "It will be very big." 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

<![CDATA[Golden Retriever Puppy Gets Braces]]>Tue, 08 Mar 2016 18:17:37 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Wesley-Puppy-Braces.jpg

Like many "teenagers," Wesley is sporting a mouthful of braces.

But his case is unusual, because Wesley is a dog.

The 6-month-old golden retriever showed off his "metal mouth" in photos posted Feb. 26 on the Facebook page of Michigan's Harborfront Hospital for Animals.

The pup is in good hands: his owner, Molly Moore, works at the animal hospital, and Moore's father is the dentist who took care of him.

According to Moore, doggie braces are rare but not unheard of. She said Harborfront has fitted dogs with braces in the past.

"Orthodontia in pets is normally not for aesthetic purposes, but because of health concerns," the hospital explained on its Facebook page.

According to Harborfront, Wesley "needed tooth alignment because he could not close his mouth completely."

Dr. Jim Moore said his doggie braces are made of the same materials used on people.

"We use all human products, so this is something we’d put on a child," he explained.

The cost varies depending on the kind of brace, but the ones used on Wesley typically run between $1,700 and $1,800, Jim Moore said. Wesley, however, got a discount.

Molly Moore said Wesley doesn't seem fazed by the hardware and is "still his puppyish self," despite needing soft foods and being unable to play with his toys.

"It obviously doesn't bother him one little bit," Harborfront wrote on Facebook. "He's a happy little guy."

Wesley should get his braces off in a few weeks.

February marked National Pet Dental Health month, and the animal hospital shared Wesley's photos to spread the word.

Harborfront posted an update Monday saying the staff was "overwhelmed by the outpouring of care and interest from around the nation" for Wesley.

"Dental care is just as important for the pets we love as it is for us and we are glad that his cute 'brace face' brought such interest," the hospital wrote.

Photo Credit: Harborfront Hospital for Animals]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Real Dog Meets Giant Robot Dog]]>Mon, 18 Apr 2016 23:04:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2016-03-01-at-1.30.47-PM.jpg

It's dog versus machine.

A video, created by Boston Dynamics, the Google-owned robotics company, shows an interaction between a small, real dog and the Spot robot, which looks like a tall, headless dog. 

"Come on, take him big dog," a voice says in the video shot in a parking lot. 

But the real dog is not intimidated. It barks relentlessly and doesn't let the lifelike robot get away too far, chasing after it. The Spot robot is the latest quadruped robot from Boston Dynamics.

The video was posted to YouTube on Feb. 27 by Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist who is involved in several high-tech companies.

Photo Credit: Jurvetson/YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Cat Cafe's Successful Year]]>Sun, 27 Dec 2015 15:49:23 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CATCAFECG_1200x675_592117827687.jpg

San Diego's first and only Cat Cafe is wrapping up its first year in business by celebrating more than 100 cat adoptions.

"We're really stoked about that, it's about double what we expected," said cafe founder Tony Wang.

The cafe works with the San Diego Human Society to help clear its shelters. The Humane Society is at full capacity each year, with 30,000 animals.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for our friendly cats to get some extra socialization while they wait to get home," said the Humane Society's Stacy Archabault.

The Cat Cafe is also kicking off new programs, like cat yoga, to attract even more cat lovers. Wang says a Comic Con event was a huge success. On a recent weeknight, the cafe hosted its first Cats on Mats yoga class.

Wang brought the idea to San Diego from Taiwan and Japan, where cat cafes are extremely popular. He said San Diego's cafe gets a good mix of tourists and locals. Some people stop by on their work breaks.

One woman named Kat Lee (yes, that's her real first name) takes the trolley all the way from Chula Vista several times a week to visit the cat playpen.

"I just fall in love with every cat that comes here and just like playing with them." Lee said.

"I admire what he's doing here," cafe volunteer and self proclaimed feline fanatic Marcy Leftridge said about the cafe's founder.

Among the dozens of adoptions are some that Wang considers especially surprising. Tourists from Nebraska, Pennsylvania and the Bay Area have fallen in love with cats and taken them home.

Another success story? A cat named Primrose came to the cafe after being abused. The cat was aggressive and did not like people's hands. The cafe worked with Primrose over the course of several months, and then successfully adopted the cat out to a family.

"A scared aggressive cat turned into a loving kitty," said Wang.

Wang said one regular customer doesn't even like cats, but stops by every day for coffee. The cafe sources its coffee from Cafe Virtuoso in Barrio Logan and West Coast Coffee Roasters in Chula Vista.

If you buy a drink, that's your admission ticket to the cat playpen. If you don't want to purchase anything, the admission fee for the playpen is $5.

<![CDATA[Morales to Host Special on Clear the Shelters Drive ]]>Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:38:23 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NUP_146526_1474.JPG

Hannah the tutu-wearing pit bull, George the pot-bellied pig and a kitten named Chase were among the nearly 20,000 animals who got new homes last weekend as part of the Clear the Shelters adoption drive. 

Stories like theirs will be front and center this Saturday, when "Today" co-host Natalie Morales hosts a 30-minute post-adoption drive special that will recap the national day of action. It can be seen Aug. 22 on all 11 NBC Owned Stations, plus more than 100 NBC affiliate stations. Telemundo stations will also air a post-adoption drive show on the same day.

Twenty-eight local NBC and Telemundo television stations, including regional news network necn, partnered with more than 400 animal shelters across the country to find new homes for thousands of homeless pets. Many participating shelters waived fees or cut costs as part of the Clear the Shelters campaign, which culminated Aug. 15.

By the end of the day on Saturday, 20 shelters reported that they had “cleared” all adoptable animals during the event, which was also sponsored by Overstock.com.

“I am so proud that all of our stations came together with hundreds of animal shelters across the country, with the help of the ASPCA and our friends at Overstock.com, to find thousands of animals in need of their forever homes. We are all so grateful to everyone who opened their homes to these deserving pets on this national day of action,” Valari Staab, president of the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations division of NBCUniversal, said in a statement.

“Clear the Shelters is an example of how together, we can rally to help save deserving animal lives and in the end make a positive impact across communities nationwide.”

Morales adopted her own shelter dog, Zara, through the North Shore Animal League, which reported 137 adoptions as part of this year's Clear the Shelters campaign.

Morales describes her mutt, who she first met four years ago after Zara appeared on the NBC morning show, as part of her family, like "our third child."

"It was love at first sight," Morales said.

She said that after overcoming some initial shyness, the new addition quickly took to Morales' sons, Josh and Luke, and became part of the family. Not much was known of Zara's history pre-adoption, other than she was saved from a kill shelter in Georgia where she was about to be put down. 

Morales believes shelters are often overlooked by people seeking a four-legged companion.

"I was blown away by the beautiful dogs, some of them pedigree dogs [at shelters]," she said. "They deserve second chances. It really is just training them with love and kindness."

"There are so many incredible animals that need homes, and Zara was one of them. I can't imagine life without her now."

Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters Keeps Dog in Loving Home]]>Thu, 20 Aug 2015 17:50:45 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pit+bull6.JPGNBC 7's Clear the Shelters was a huge success, helping nearly 800 animals find homes in San Diego. But as NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap explains, it also kept one dog from being placed in the shelter. ]]><![CDATA[Kitty Cams Give Would-Be Adopters Virtual Experience]]>Thu, 20 Aug 2015 08:29:30 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cat+Cafe+cam.jpg

Attention, cat lovers: You can now scope out a cuddly kitty to possibly adopt without stepping foot in a shelter.

The Cat Café in downtown San Diego now offers a virtual way to check out cats before coming to the business. The café has joined forces with PetCube, an app that allows you to video “chat” (or meow), with a cat on your smartphone.

PetCube was developed for animal owners to check on their pets at home while they’re at work. The app allows you to interact with the pet with two-way cameras and even a simluated laser to entertain the cat.

At the Cat Café, staffers have cameras mounted inside showing all the cats, sort of like a “kitty cam,” and would-be adopters can download the app, search public cameras for “CatCafeSD” and check out the cats.

You can see the cats, but not talk to them. The café disabled the sound and the laser function because it was too much of a distraction inside the café, said Cat Café owner Tony Wang.

The Cat Café has had the app feature for about three months. You can download PetCube on both iPhone and Android devices.

Photo Credit: Tony Wang]]>
<![CDATA[Golden Retriever Making 'Absolutely Remarkable' Recovery After Found Burned Across Back]]>Wed, 19 Aug 2015 02:02:00 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/211*120/8-18--15-golden+retriever-fergus.jpg

A young golden retriever whose resilience is described as "absolutely remarkable" was recovering Tuesday at a Southern California animal hospital after a rescue group found him surrendered at an animal shelter with a third-degree burn.

The dog, a 1- or 2-year-old pup now named Fergus, was found by a good Samaritan outside of a Walmart in Lancaster with a burn along his back, from his neck all the way to his tail. The person who found him took him to a shelter, where the rescue group found him during a routine stop.

“It breaks your heart,” said Barbara Gale of the Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue group, which rescues surrendered golden retrievers from San Diego to Santa Barbara. “What did dogs ever do to anyone except bring love and joy? That’s what they’re on earth for.”

The same day NBC stations across the country were helping to Clear the Shelters on Saturday, Gale said the shelter handed over Fergus to be treated.

“It just was sick,” Gale said. “I was sick and my only thought was, 'How quickly can we get him?'”

“He was scared. He was very very scared when we first got him and confused,” she said, adding that he suffered a seizure when they first got him.

It is believed it was possible the person responsible for harming Fergus could have harmed other dogs. Gale said she heard there was another dog brought in the same week as Fergus with similar wounds.

The Animal Medical Center in West LA is caring for Fergus now, at limited cost to the rescue group. Dr. Alan Schulman said Fergus came in with severe tissue damage. On Thuesday night, Fergus began receiving laser therapy for the wound along his back.

“He hurt,” Dr. Schulman said. “There is no way you do not feel substantial pain and discomfort if you have this type of third-degree burn.”

For Fergus, named after an Irish word meaning "powerful," his tail-wagging hasn’t stopped since he awoke from his sedation.

“The fact that this guy still trusts people, wags his tail and will let us treat him considering the horrendous way that some person hurt him, is absolutely remarkable,” Dr. Schulman said.

Schulman said he did not believe the dog was set on fire, but rather something more sinister.

“It’s not the first one we’ve seen where some deranged individual goes ahead and pours battery acid or some other chemical up and down their back,” he said.

Dr. Schulman noted that Fergus is a loving dog that is easy to get close to when he is given attention. He said whoever harmed Fergus probably tried to pour the acid on his head but Fergus moved.

There has been no word on who may have done this to Fergus, but Gale says she has a feeling she knows the “type,” saying, “Only a coward, a bully, can do this.”

Dr. Schulman went a step further, crediting his South Bronx upbringing for his feelings, saying, “I’d be the first one to line up and hold him down and pour whatever chemical he poured on this dog right over him.”

The Golden Retriever Rescue group set up a GoFundMe site to help with the costs of Fergus’ care, with any amount over the goal amount going to helping the group’s cause of helping other surrendered dogs. To make a donation, click here.

For information on adopting Fergus, you can speak directly with the rescue here.

Photo Credit: Ernesto Torres]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters Succeeds ]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 19:17:22 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/clear+the+shelters+rabbit.JPGAt NBC7's Clear the Shelter event shelters waved adoption fees and found homes for 776 animals. NBC7's Dagmar Midcap reports.

Photo Credit: NBC7]]>
<![CDATA["Newest Family Member:" Heartwarming Adoptions in SD]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 19:44:25 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Instagram+dog+0815.jpg

Hundreds of folks in San Diego County brought home a furry addition to their families on Saturday as part of NBC's Clear the Shelters event.

Many took to social media to share their excitement about their new critters. Here are some of their stories.

If you're on a mobile device, you can view this Storify



Photo Credit: Ricky Farinas/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA["Clear the Shelters" Day Gives Animals New Homes]]>Sun, 16 Aug 2015 16:09:30 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/11PS_PKG_CLEAR_THE_SHELTERS_1200x675_505923139569.jpgHundreds of animals found new forever homes during NBC's "Clear the Shelters" day. NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap reports.]]><![CDATA[Hundreds Come Out to Help "Clear the Shelters"]]>Sun, 16 Aug 2015 15:56:55 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6PS_PKG_CLEAR_THE_SHELTERS_1200x675_505920579637.jpgNBC's "Clear the Shelters" day wrapped up Saturday, drawing hundreds out to adopt their next furry friend. NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap was all over the county, helping pets find their new homes. ]]><![CDATA[San Diegans Help ‘Clear the Shelters’]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 20:51:15 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTS+thumbnail+0815.jpg

Hundreds of pets in San Diego County now have forever homes after NBC 7’s successful “Clear the Shelters” event on Saturday.

The Clear the Shelters effort was a national initiative spearheaded by the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations. NBC Stations across the country teamed up with their local shelters to place animals in permanent homes.

In San Diego, NBC 7 partnered with more than a dozen local shelters throughout the county to match up animals with new, loving owners. Participating shelters agreed to waive adoption fees* (spay/neuter fees) one day only for the important event on Saturday.

During the course of the day, NBC 7 received a number of photos of locals with their pets submitted via social media using the hashtags #ClearTheShelters and #NBC7. You can check out the gallery here.

The event ended at 5 p.m. and 776 pets were successfully adopted from local shelters across San Diego County, according to a final tally. 

Nationwide, the number of pets who found permanent homes during Clear the Shelters reached more than 16,000.

Thanks, San Diego, for helping Clear the Shelters. Let’s do it again next year.

<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Pets Find Forever Homes]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 13:11:59 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTS+thumbnail+0815.jpgHundreds of animals across San Diego County found forever homes on Saturday as part of the Clear the Shelters event. At spots such as San Diego Humane Society or the Rancho Coastal Humane Society, many pets found new connections.

Photo Credit: Rancho Coastal Humane Society]]>
<![CDATA[Pit Bull Reunited With Owner After Shelter Spots Missing Dog Post Online]]>Sat, 15 Aug 2015 14:39:02 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pit+bill+chief.jpg

One lucky pit bull found his forever home for the second time Saturday during the nationwide Clear the Shelters adoption drive. 

Joe Cool, aka Chief, jumped over a fence and ran away from his home on Monday afternoon. By Tuesday, Chief found his way to the Humane Society of the Calumet area, where he stayed for the rest of the week.

Shelter employee Stacy Budeselich came to Chief's rescue on Saturday when she was scrolling through Facebook looking for "missing dog" posts in the area. She saw a post from Chief's owner and immediately recognized the pit bull's face.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, that dog looks familiar. I think we got him in,'" Budeselich said.

Budeselich called the phone number attached to the "missing dog" post, and within half an hour the owner showed up to the shelter with a laptop full of photos to prove he was Chief's owner. Budeselich said Chief looked excited to see his owner, but he was a little nervous because he knew he should never have run away.

The Humane Society of the Calumet area has seen happy endings like Chief's before. Budeselich said just last month another dog was reunited with his owner after spending three months in the shelter. Budeselich said she routinely checks Facebook and "missing dog" websites to make sure her shelter doesn't have a dog that already has a forever home.

While Chief and his owner reunited, hundreds of first-time and veteran pet owners adopted dogs and cats across the Chicago area for NBC and Telemundo's "Clear the Shelters" event. As of 3:15 p.m. 715 animals had been adopted in the Chicago area, and more than 9,000 had been adopted nationwide.

Photo Credit: Humane Society of the Calumet area]]>
<![CDATA[From Pigs to Lizards, Many Kinds of Pets Seek New Homes ]]>Sun, 16 Aug 2015 06:39:19 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/George_the_Pig81515.png

All across the country, it's raining cats and dogs and… lizards?

While the vast majority of the adoptees during the Clear the Shelters pet adoption drive were cats and dogs, there was plenty of variety in the species available to potential owners at shelters across the country.

At the Humane Society of Calvert County in Maryland, a pot-bellied pig named Channing Tatum was headed for a new home.

“He’s very laid back,” Debbie Samler, an adoption counselor at the site, said. “He likes people.”

He also likes other animals, but not other pigs, she said. According to Samler, the Humane Society rescued him from another shelter.

“Generally, people will get these pot-bellied pigs and they live in apartments and then think they’re going to stay tiny,” she said. “And they don’t.”

In Irving, Texas, another pot-bellied pig, George, was adopted from Irving Animal Services. He will spend the rest of his days on his owners' goat farm.

MSPCA-Angell, in Massachusetts, also had guinea pigs, a domestic rat, a grey macaw and a chinchilla ready for new homes Saturday. 

In Los Angeles, the West LA Animal Care Center had already given three rabbits homes shortly after opening its doors. Bunnies were available for adoption in Texas, as well as in the San Francisco Bay area and Voorhees, New Jersey.

Texans heading to a shelter in search of a new pet Saturday could also find at least one hamster and a hedgehog. Shelters in the D.C. area, meanwhile, reported giving forever homes to another hamster, as well as two turtles and a ferret.

And yes, in New York, there were even lizards in need of loving owners. All creatures, great and small, were up for adoption on Saturday. More than 17,000 animals were placed in adoptive homes as part of the drive, which was sponsored by NBC Owned Television Stations and Telemundo Station Group. 

NBC Owned Television Stations' Cynthia Andrews and Noreen O'Donnell contributed to this report.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Homes for Nearly 20,000 Pets]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 07:02:58 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/clear-the-shelters-pets-SPLITSCREEN.jpg

Hannah the pit bull left a Maryland shelter Saturday with her new family and a pink tutu, becoming one of thousands of animals adopted during the Clear the Shelters drive.

The tutu came courtesy of a volunteer at the Humane Society of Calvert County in Sunderland, Maryland, who wanted to dress up the happy pup.

The family – Amanda Krutilla, her 20-month-old son, Jax and her fiancé, Jason Bowles – was united with the dog thanks to the nationwide adoption push. Hannah is Krutilla's second pit bull.

"They're just the biggest babies," said Krutilla, of California, Maryland. "Her tutu defines her."

Nearly 20,000 animals were adopted as part of the nationwide adoption drive sponsored by 11 NBC owned television stations, the New England regional news network necn, and 17 Telemundo owned stations. More than 400 shelters participated, many offering the animals at a reduced price. By the end of the day, 20 shelters reported that they had “cleared” all adoptable animals during the event, which was also sponsored by Overstock.com.

“I am so proud that all of our stations came together with hundreds of animal shelters across the country, with the help of the ASPCA and our friends at Overstock.com, to find thousands of animals in need of their forever homes. We are all so grateful to everyone who opened their homes to these deserving pets on this national day of action,” Valari Staab, president of the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations division of NBCUniversal, said in a statement.

“Clear the Shelters is an example of how together, we can rally to help save deserving animal lives and in the end make a positive impact across communities nationwide.”

The day had just begun Saturday when a 2-month-old kitten named June was headed out the door of the Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, a cat sanctuary in Oyster Bay, New York.

Kristen Pytell had seen June on Monday with her children, 11-year-old old Harry, Oliver, 9, and Lila, 7, and they knew she would be their first cat.

“My kids and I fell in love with her,” said Pytell, and so they arrived first thing to bring her home.

At the Salem New Hampshire Animal Rescue League, a pit bull named Baby – a 3-year-old surrendered a few weeks ago – was the first headed out the door this morning.

"We are really excited that the first adoption of the day on this great Clear the Shelters initiative was a pit bull," said the shelter’s spokesman, B.J. Bettencourt. "Pit bulls can be a challenge to adopt, so we are thrilled that Baby found a home this morning."

His new owner, Charlie Foote, a retired firefighter turned dog trainer, was not initially heading for the Salem Animal Rescue League. He happened to drive by, stop and spot Baby, who will have a new name by tonight, he said.

"I instantly saw him and said, 'I want that dog,'" he said.

Foote, of Derry, New Hampshire, has four other dogs at home and four children ages 6 to 12. Baby is already fitting in well, if still a little shy, he said Saturday afternoon.

"They have a bad reputation, a bad name," he said. “I have a house full of little kids and these dogs are phenomenal."

Lines quickly formed outside such places as the New Hampshire SPCA in Stratham, New Hampshire, Miami-Dade Florida Animal Services and Prince George’s Animal Services Facility in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Red carpets were laid out so the new owners could be photographed with their furry friends.

The Farago family – Laura, Andrew and 7 1/2-year-old Aaron – left the New Hampshire SPCA with a new puppy, a black lab mix that does not yet have a new name. They had to put their older dog down in the spring.

“We couldn’t last any longer without a dog,” Laura Farago said. “And we wanted our son to grow up with a dog.”

The three of them chose the puppy together, and Aaron was thrilled, she said.

“Oh yes,” she said. “He’s a little tired from the process, but yes.”

In Miami, 13-year-old Zipporah Currie said her new dog, Dolly, smelled like cookies.

The second adoption at the Ladew sanctuary in Oyster Bay was another kitten, Chase. Sarah Freeman and Matthew Boyle wanted a second cat to keep their 5-year-old adoptee Boo company.

“He’s wonderful,” Freeman said of Boo, who was also from the Ladew sanctuary. “He likes to watch the birdies out the window and he likes to hang out with us."

At the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Minty went home with a new family after two years in a shelter. She had been brought to Florida three days ago from out of state.

By the end of the day, at least 20 shelters across the country reported they had been cleared of adoptable animals. 

About 7.6 million animals enter shelters across the country each year, 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Each year an equal number are adopted or euthanized, about 2.7 million in each case. About 649,000 strays are returned to their owners, the majority of them dogs.

Clear the Shelters began in North Texas as a partnership among NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth/KXAS, Telemundo 39 Dallas-Fort Worth/KXTX and dozens of North Texas animal shelters. More than 2,200 homeless animals were adopted in 2014, the most in a single day in North Texas.

Staab hopes that the adoption drive will become an annual event. A recurring drive can help make people aware of how important it is to spay and neuter their pets, she said. And the advance notice will give shelters time to raise money to offset that cost of spaying and neutering and vaccinations, she said.

Photo Credit: NBC
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Teachers Save Kitten Trapped in Car Engine]]>Sat, 15 Aug 2015 09:20:48 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/216*120/08-14-15-Kitten.jpg

A tiny black-and-white kitten that became stuck in a car engine was rescued, and now has a new home, thanks to a group of cat lovers who sprang into action in Cerritos, California, Wednesday afternoon.

Melisande Maytorena, a teacher in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, had gone out to lunch with co-workers to celebrate the end of their summer training when they noticed the kitten in the restaurant parking lot.

"He was crying so loud, it was scary, like he was hurt or something," Maytorena said. "He was hiding under one of my colleague's cars."

Maytorena and her co-workers went inside the restaurant to get water for the cat, but when they couldn't coax it out from under the car, decided to leave the water and try again when they were done with lunch.

But when they returned to the parking lot, the kitten was nowhere to be found.

"We couldn't find the cat but a lot of the water had been drunk," Maytorena said. "I told my co-worker, 'Don't start the car, I bet the baby went under the hood.'"

Sure enough, when they popped the hood of the Ford Flex, there was the little kitten. Though Maytorena said they were relieved to have found the cat before they started the car, they began to panic once they realized that no one could fit underneath the hood to reach it.

"We're all cat people so we were freaking out," she said.

That's when a young man who happened to be in the parking lot offered to help, and after more than an hour into the rescue effort, he was able to pull the tiny kitten from the engine.

"We couldn’t believe it," Maytorena said. "The cat was biting and scratching him but he didn’t let go."

Maytorena said the man, whose name they never learned, told them through tears that his own cat had recently died. Though Maytorena, who has two cats herself, was prepared to take the kitten home, once she saw the man holding the little cat she said she knew it was meant to be.

"We all started crying," Maytorena said. "As soon as he hugged the cat, it stopped crying and started purring just like that. It was like he found his human."

<![CDATA[Shelter Selfies: Show Off Your New Pet]]>Sun, 16 Aug 2015 06:34:40 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/197*120/Deputy+Dog.JPG

Across the country, animal lovers are helping pets in shelters find a new forever home.  Did you get a new best friend on #ClearTheShelters day? If so, show off your newest family member. Post a picture to Twitter or Instagram with the #ClearTheShelters hashtag, and we might highlight it right here. 

Now check out all of these other cute pets - animals that were either adopted as part of Clear the Shelters, or are joining the effort to get others adopted:

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[122 Cats Rescued from 'Filthy' Pennsylvania Home]]>Fri, 14 Aug 2015 16:58:29 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/122+Cats+SPCA.png

Animal control officials say they have rescued 122 cats and kittens from a squalid Pennsylvania home and transported them to a North Philadelphia facility for medical evaluations.

Sgt. Nicole Wilson says officers with the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and authorities in Henryville were tipped off to the home where cats were found living in "filthy, flea-infested conditions'' with untreated injuries.

Officials say the homeowners had planned on opening a sanctuary but were unable to keep up with the cats' rapid rate of reproduction.

PSPCA CEO Jerry Buckley says it's admirable that the homeowners wanted to help homeless animals but they were clearly overwhelmed.

The owners voluntarily surrendered the animals.

The cats, most of which are kittens, will be made available for adoption after their health checks. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: Philadelphia SPCA]]>
<![CDATA[Animal Shelter Dedicated to Rabbits]]>Thu, 13 Aug 2015 19:39:09 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dagmar4p0813_1200x675_504467011620.jpgWhen you think "animal shelter," you may think dogs and cats. But one local shelter is dedicated to just one potential pet: rabbits. NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap has their story.]]><![CDATA[Finding Forever Homes: Clear the Shelters Adoption Drive Set for Saturday]]>Thu, 13 Aug 2015 15:06:02 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pinot-noir-final.jpg

If you’re looking for a dog to adopt in Chicago, Isis likes car rides, people of all ages and balls. The 3-year-old brindle pit bull terrier, named after the Egyptian goddess, is at the Famous Fido Rescue & Adoption Alliance and needs a home.

At San Francisco’s Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, Dahlia and Rockie ended up homeless when their owner died. Both Maltese, and about 8 and 10 years old, they cuddle and wrestle with blankets.

And in Brewster, Massachusetts, at the shelter of the Animal Rescue League of Boston, Pinot Noir is a 2-year-old formerly stray cat who plays with most any toy he’s given.

Those animals and thousands of other dogs and cats will be available on Saturday as part of Clear the Shelters, an adoption initiative sponsored by 11 NBC owned television stations, the New England regional news network necn, and 17 Telemundo owned stations. More than 400 shelters are making animals available throughout the day, many at a reduced cost. 

“It’s a way we actually can save animals’ lives,” said Valari Staab, the president of NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations. “This time of year, shelters are very crowded.”

With the cost of adoption up to $450 in some cities, families cannot always afford a new pet, she said.

“So hopefully we can put the two things together — get an animal a good home and get a family who can’t afford the initial outlay on a pet to take in a pet,” she said.

About 7.6 million animals enter shelters across the country each year, 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Each year an equal number are adopted or euthanized, about 2.7 million for each case. About 649,000 strays are returned to their owners, the majority of them dogs.

The ASPCA focuses on keeping animals in the homes that they already have, getting animals spayed or neutered and finding homes for animals in shelters.

“These adoption events are hugely important for that,” said Emily Weiss, the ASPCA’s vice president of research and development.

It is participating through its New York City shelter and it has awarded grants totaling $114,000 to 15 other groups to help them waive or discount their adoption fees.

While millions of animals end up in shelters, the numbers are actually falling, Weiss said.

“In some parts of the country, it’s better than others, so in places in the Northeast they tend to be among the best regarding the level of intake so fewer animals are coming in,” she said.

The ASPCA and other shelters now work together to move animals from areas where there are more strays that will more likely be euthanized to areas where they will have a better chance of adoption, she said. The differences are likely due to weather — warmer temperatures can mean more litters —and the acceptance of spaying and neutering, she said.

Clear the Shelters began in North Texas as a partnership among NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth / KXAS, Telemundo 39 Dallas-Fort Worth / KXTX and dozens of North Texas animal shelters. More than 2,200 homeless animals were adopted in 2014, the most in a single day in North Texas.

For this year’s nationwide effort, information about participating animal shelters and their hours can be found by visiting Cleartheshelters.com or this page. 

Some cities will livestream the new pet owners walking out with the furry additions to their families. In the run-up to Saturday, countless celebrities, news personalities and animal lovers have shared pictures of their own pets using the #cleartheshelters hashtag. Staab, Bravo's Andy Cohen,  "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lestor Holt, talk show hosts Steve Harvey and Meredith Vieira, former "Hills" star and "1st Look" host Audrina Patridge, and Hoda Kotb and Natalie Morales of "Today" have all tweeted their support. Morales will host a 30-minute special on Aug. 22 to recap the results. 

Staab said she hopes that the adoption drive would become an annual event and to further that goal next year’s date has already been set: July 16. A recurring drive can help make people aware of how important it is to spay and neuter their pets, she said.

And the advance notice will give shelters time to raise money to offset that cost of spaying and neutering and vaccinations, she said.

“So we can get the pets at low cost for families,” she said.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Unbelievable Gifts for Your New Pet]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Senses-Wellness-center-header-EN.jpg

Found your perfect pet match?

The next step is spoiling your newest family member with new toys and treats.

While budgeting the cost of caring for a pet is serious business, some pet lovers spare no expense when it comes to making purchases for their furry friend. Pet owners across the U.S. spend billions on their beloved pets—and not just kibble and catnip. 

From high-tech gadgets to gourmet treats, here are some gifts you can get for your pet: 

Cat Massager ($21.99)

After a long day of catnaps and clawing scratching posts, a cat needs to unwind. The Senses 2.0 Wellness center includes brushes, textures and massage ridges to help your cat groom and relax. The massager even has a gum stimulator that works like a cat toothbrush. 

FitBark ($54.95)

Help your pet get that perfect beach body. FitBark allows you to covert your dog's everyday activity into points and you track your pup's fitness progress. If the FitBit shows your dog has been lying around the house all day, you can head out to the park or take other steps to get your dog into healthier patterns.The FitBark comes with a monitor, a collar band, and a charging cord. 

Cat Puzzle ($12.95)

Let your cat stimulate its brain with a good old-fashioned puzzle. The Cat Amazing puzzle encourages your pet to stay busy by trying to remove shapes from holes in a box. The interactive cat toy is ideal for kittens with developing minds and a lot of energy.  

Puppy Tweets ($29.99)

Just about anyone can have a Twitter these days — even your dog. Puppy Tweets is an electronic dog collar attachment that is triggered to send tweets whenever your pup moves or barks. If you ever wonder what your dog is doing while you are away, Puppy Tweet is one way to find out. The dog’s activity can send one of 500 tweets, for example, when they bark, you may get a tweet that says, “Bark…and the whole neighborhood barks with you!” 

Cat DJ Scratching Deck ($35.00, plus $22.00 shipping)

Let your cat get a piece of electronic music craze. DJs have been scratching vinyls for decades, and cats have been scratching everything... since the beginning of time. The Cat DJ Scratching Deck dulls down cat claws and looks like your cat is about to drop the bass.

Snuggie for Dogs ($14.99)

A lazy Sunday calls for curling up with your dog in matching snuggies. The snuggie — a blanket with sleeves — can even be worn outside, if you are worried about your pet's legs getting chilly in the cold. The garment, made of "ultra-warm, machine washable fleece," comes in blue or pink. 

$1,000 Jerky Treats ($1,000.00)

Even pets can have exquisite taste. This $1,000 jerky is made with all-natural Kobe beef infused with truffle oil. Organic Pet Boutique donates a percentage of the proceeds to Best Friends Animal Society, the nation's largest no-kill shelter. Don't count on your high-end pooch going back to store-brand treats after this gift.

Beer for Dogs ($19.99)

Dogs are man’s best friend, so why not share a cold one with your pet? Crack open a Bowser Beer to flavor your dog's water or kibble. Bowser Beer allows owners to customize the beer bottles with a picture of their dogs, because who wouldn't enjoy a nice K-9 Lite? Don't worry: Your dog can still be the designated walker — Bowser Beer contains no alcohol. 

Tinkle Tush ($5.99)

Tinkle Tush is responsible for making a fashionable accessory for your cat's behind. "Tinkle Tush is a jewel you hang from your cat's tail. Add some bling to your cat's bum and watch them strut their stuff," the company's website reads. The self-described "gag gift" is available online. Cats need a little sparkle in their lives, even if they can't see it.

Food Tree ($25.99)

It's not uncommon for cats to eat too quickly. The Senses Food Tree is a feeding solution that makes your cat work for its food. It is designed with a narrow opening intended for cats to playfully paw through various sides for stray pellets collected at the bottom. 

<![CDATA[Homeless, Dying Veteran Reunited With Service Dog]]>Thu, 13 Aug 2015 09:20:46 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/162*120/081215_harry-and-olivia.JPG

For 53-year-old Harry Brown, a homeless veteran with terminal pancreatic cancer, life has dealt some difficult blows. But a trip to Long Beach to say goodbye to family and friends proved especially devastating when his beloved service dog, Olivia, wandered away while he napped in a park 10 days ago.

As soon as he realized she was gone, Brown began searching for Olivia high and low, and even walked from Long Beach to Orange County to search animal shelters after being told the city didn’t have one of its own.

Brown posted a lost dog ad on Craigslist, but after days of searching for Olivia with no luck, said he began to give up hope.

"We spent as long as we could trying to find her," Brown said. "I’d just gotten rid of all her stuff because I didn’t think I’d see her again."

Having been given a year to live, Brown had traveled from Phoenix to Long Beach to see family and friends there one last time, something he plans to do across the country in coming months.

Once it seemed his beloved brown-and-white pitbull was nowhere to be found, Brown had no choice but to take the bus back to Arizona as originally planned.

"I just kept praying she would be with someone who would take care of her," Brown said.

Fortunately, Olivia was eventually found wandering the streets of Long Beach, and was taken to the local animal shelter where she was looked after while staff searched for her owner.

Meanwhile, Brown’s Craigslist ad caught the attention of an animal rescue group called Captain Care, and soon volunteers and donors from across Southern California rallied to reunite the veteran with his service dog.

"I got an email back, it says 'Your girl is in L.A. County, go get her,'" Brown said.

The nonprofit used donations to pay for Brown's bus ticket back to Long Beach, and to bail Olivia out of the shelter, too.

Brown arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday and was tearfully reunited with Olivia, who he described as more than just man's best friend.

"She’s my life," he said.

Now that Brown and Olivia have been reunited, Captain Care volunteers plan to use the extra donations to help spay and feed Olivia, and make Brown's cross-country journey to say goodbye to family and friends just a little easier.

Donations for Brown and Olivia can be made to Captain Care Intervention at mycaptaincare.org.  

Photo Credit: Hetty Chang]]>
<![CDATA[Microchip Reunites Dog and Owner After 2 Years ]]>Wed, 12 Aug 2015 13:37:37 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Microchip+chihuahua+0812.JPG

Paola Perez lost her Chihuahua two years ago, but thanks to a microchip, she was reunited with her little pup this week.

Perez took Papi to the County animal care center in Bonita years ago for vaccinations. While there the veterinarian suggested she consider a microchip for Papi. Perez had the chip put in just in case for a cost of $10.

A few years later in 2013, the 7-pound Papi squeezed through a hole in her back fence. Perez posted fliers, knocked on doors, and checked with the local animal shelter – but Papi was nowhere to be found.

Two years later, on Tuesday, Perez got a call from County Animal Services saying they had found Papi.

“Oh, my God, that’s him! I started crying, I couldn’t believe it,” Perez said after reuniting with Papi. “He knew me. He was jumping on me.”

Papi had been brought into the facility 90 minutes earlier, and after scanning the chip, workers made a match.

“I’m very thankful to the lady who recommended the microchip,” Perez said in a statement. “I think every dog needs to get it. It’s just amazing how it can work after two years, just amazing how they can track me down.”

County Animal Services offers microchipping from 1 to 3 p.m. every Thursday at all three of its facilities in Bonita, San Diego and Carlsbad. There is the one-time fee of $10, which includes the registration.

“I’m so happy that they (County Animal Services) helped me gain my little companion back,” Perez said in a statement. “I just never thought it was going to happen: being reunited after two years.”

Photo Credit: San Diego County Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[Local Dog Beaches, Parks and Perks]]>Wed, 12 Aug 2015 10:56:34 -0700 Virginia C. posted this photo of her pooch, Disco, playing at the dog park. ]]> Virginia C. posted this photo of her pooch, Disco, playing at the dog park. ]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Grape-Street-Dog-Park-Yelp.jpg

Your pup deserves to roam, and dog-friendly locations in San Diego are easy to come by with this list from Yelp. From pup-approved beaches to dog parks, plus details on park perks and amenities, a day out and about with your furry friend doesn’t have to be ruff in America’s Finest City.

Nate’s Point Dog Park (Balboa)

Reviewers report that big and small dogs mix in a common area at this location and amenities like pup drinking fountains and picnic tables make it a great place to relax with your barking bestie. It’s fenced, so let your pet roam off-leash, but be aware that this is dirt-packed space and a bath might be in order post-playtime. A perk for dog owners: parking here is not a huge nightmare, which is always nice.

Grape Street Dog Park (Golden Hill)
If your four-legged roomie needs grass on which to run, this is the place for your daily stroll. Fair warning: no fences here, so make sure your pet will listen to you when called. This park is 5 acres with shaded trees and is billed by visitors as a popular spot for neighborhood pups to socialize. Off-leash hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends.

Rancho Penasquitos Off-Leash Area (Rancho Penasquitos)
In this neighborhood park, fences separate doggies under and over 30 pounds so your hound can play with friends his own size. You’ll find water bowls and even in peak times, there is still plenty of parking available. Local residents also tout that dog owners who frequent this space are a respectful bunch who closely watch their dogs and clean up after them.

Mayflower Dog Park (Escondido)
This off-leash Dog Park has three fenced sections: one for big dogs, one for smaller pooches and a mixed space for well-behaved dogs of any size to play together. Trees, grass, water fountains and handy waste bags make it a favorite of the humans, and the dogs run free with no complaints. Free parking, but no digging allowed.

Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park (Encinitas)
Recent Yelp reviewers report the grass here has held up well this season, despite the drought, and that it’s a tucked away spot where locals meet with their furbabies regularly. Doggy bag stations and water fountains are offered, as well as large, fenced in sections for dogs of various sizes. This park is in excellent condition and Fido can run at full speed on the durable grass but note: it’s closed each Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for maintenance.

Dog Beach (Del Mar)
The most popular seaside place for your pet to see and been seen. This beach-based park currently welcomes leashed dogs on the south side but pet owners are counting down the rest of August because come Labor Day, it’s an off-leash doggy paradise. So, for now, hold off on that game of fetch and take advantage of this sandy space with a nice, collared beach walk. You’ll be able to break out the new toys to toss into the waves soon enough.

Photo Credit: Yelp.com
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<![CDATA[Each Pet Adoption Saves 2 Animals’ Lives]]>Wed, 05 Aug 2015 13:05:39 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Heidi+shelter+story+1200.jpg

In the adoption screening room at the Connecticut Humane Society’s Newington location, a tiny orange furball turned on the charm for Carrie Jackson and her two daughters.

“We have a house full of animals already but we love to add more to our house,” said Jackson, of Wallingford, as she watched her daughters play with the energetic long-haired kitten. “Because they are loving pets that need homes.”

But the little orange puffball isn’t the only little guy at this shelter looking for a forever home.

The Connecticut Humane Society takes in more than 5,000 pets a year between its three locations — including kittens and cats, puppies and dogs, gerbils, hamsters, even a pig here and there.

With each one animal adopted, two lives are saved.

“They’re saving the life of the pet they bring home into their family, and they’re saving the life of another pet that’s waiting to get into the shelter,” said Alicia Wright, public relations director for the organization.

Summer is a crowded time at the shelter, with spring litters just reaching an adoptable age, and a seemingly endless line of animals surrendered, abandoned or transferred from local animal shelters. The hope is for every animal to find a loving, permanent home.

By the time a pet is ready to be adopted from Connecticut Humane Society, it’s already had all necessary veterinary work, including vaccinations, and has been spayed and neutered. Things like dental work, behavioral evaluation and training if needed, microchipping, starter food, collars and leashes and other perks are all covered in the adoption fee. On the open market, those costs could easily exceed $700 on average, Wright said, making an adoption fee a bargain in comparison.

“Those are things that you would have to pay for at the veterinarian on your own if you adopted a pet from the streets or if you decided to go to a breeder or something like that,” Wright explained.

Families ready to make the commitment need to fill out necessary paperwork and meet with an adoption counselor to ensure the best pet choice for their family and household. People who already own dogs might be asked to bring in their existing pet to meet the prospective adoptee under supervision to make sure it’s a good match.

Some adoptions can happen on the same day, like it did during Carrie Jackson’s trip to the shelter.

“This is the one, yes,” she said as she watched the orange kitten scamper around. “I mean, they’re all ‘the one,’ but this is the one going home with us today.”

With the decision made, only one question remained. What to name him?

Daughters Hannah and Hope furrowed their brows, deep in thought.

“Umm … Donut or Munchkin or something like that!” they said.

<![CDATA[From Shackled Dog to Adopted Friend: Trooper's Recovery Story]]>Wed, 05 Aug 2015 03:25:26 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Trooper+Dog+Shackle+Adopted+Rescue.jpg

An animal cruelty survivor has found a loving home two months after veterinarians removed a shackle from the then emaciated dog's neck.

On #TransformationTuesday, the Delaware County SPCA showed off a photo of Trooper with his new owner David Byrd, someone who has fostered large-breed dogs before. Byrd took in Trooper so that the dog could socialize and continue to recover. With the bond between Byrd's other dogs and Trooper evident, Byrd decided to permanently adopt Trooper, said SPCA spokeswoman Justina Calgiano.

Trooper — now a 10-month-old Great Dane with his tongue out and his body looking full — is a far cry from the sad-faced dog that could barely walk when he came to the Delco SPCA in early June.

The SPCA found Trooper in Darby, Pennsylvania, on June 4. He was badly emaciated to the point where animal officers had trouble determining his breed at first. 

The Delco SPCA asked anyone who could help “put meat on those bones” to donate. And, after two months, Trooper's health was to the point where he could be adopted.

Trooper found a home as humane officers continued to search for the dog's abuser. A $1,500 reward remains for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information is asked to call 610-566-1370, ext. 214.

Photo Credit: Dot O’Connor
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<![CDATA[Helping Your New Shelter Dog Adjust]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CTS-2015-AcclimatingYourDog-Fixed_1200x675_505037891838.jpg

The first thing you might want to do after you bring a new dog home from the shelter is also something you probably shouldn't do: invite all your friends over to meet the cute pup.

Instead, you should first make sure that your dog is comfortable with its new surroundings. Then, invite one friend over at a time to make sure you don't overwhelm the dog.

That's just one tip that can help your dog adjust to their new home. Watch the video above to learn more. 

<![CDATA[Tips for Helping Your New Shelter Dog Adjust]]>Mon, 30 Jul 2018 06:54:16 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1-Intro-7Tips.jpg

When you bring your new shelter dog home, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First up: learn how to read your pup's body language to know his or her mood.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Pet Adoption 101: Expert Tips on Animal Adoptions]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/adoptionhappy.jpg

Welcoming a furry addition to a home can be a fun and exciting event. But ensuring a smooth transition for the pet - and the family - takes some preparation and work. Here are some tips from animal shelters about what to do before, during and after the adoption. 


Make sure everyone in the family wants a pet: Pet ownership can affect many aspects of family life, from deciding who gets to take the puppy out in the middle of the night to making sure everyone understands an animal is a long-term time, emotional and financial investment. And because the pet will be part of the family for the long haul, it's important that everyone is on board about the kind, size and personality of the companion of choice. Shelter experts advise discussing the delegation of responsibilities and going through the process of picking out the pet as a group to avoid problems down the road. “Understand all the responsibilities involved, and pick a time where you can all go pick a pet," said Madeline Bernstein, president of SPCA Los Angeles. "Many people have completely different ideas of what they want.”

Do your research: Experts suggest researching breeds and characteristics to identify animals that best fit your lifestyle before you arrive at the shelter, where you could find yourself falling for a cute cat or dog that wouldn't be a great match. “Some people think Jack Russell Terriers are so cute, but they require a lot of work because they have a lot of energy," Stephanie Knight, communications specialist at SPCA of Texas, said. "So if you don’t go for walks or outside much, you may want to consider getting something like a pug.” It's also smart to research and budget for the costs you'll face when you bring the pet home, such as vaccinations for young animals, license fees and pet supplies. 

Check the requirements: To avoid delays once you meet that perfect pet, shelters recommend looking into what paperwork is required for adoption. This can range from leases or other proof of residency to vet references.  “If you haven’t owned a pet, you can’t have a vet reference, but if we see they have in the past we’ll ask," Mantat Wong, director of operations at Animal Haven in New York said.  While home or apartment renters may be more aware of requirements needed for pets, it is important for homeowners to see if they have any pet restrictions as well. “If you’re a renter you have to be aware of requirements but even as a homeowner, insurance doesn’t always cover larger dogs," said Marc Peralta, executive director of Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles. 

Puppy-proof your home: Similar to preparing for a new baby, it is important to make sure a home is safe for a new arrival of a dog or cat. Animals can get into just as much trouble as young children, so working ahead to keep valuables out of reach of the furry friends can save time and money in the end. “Look around and try to figure out what a puppy or kitten can get into, like if you leave your shoes around," said Michelle Groeper, executive director at Tails Humane Society in DeKalb, Illinois. "Take the time to clean up. It’s easier to do a little work ahead of time instead of buy new shoes, because you know your puppy will chew your favorite pair.” It's also recommended that prospective owners purchase as many essential supplies as you can before adopting, such as getting a leash, toys, a bed, or a crate. Getting set up ahead of time can help smooth the transition from the shelter to the home.

Check out the shelter before stepping foot inside: Most shelters have websites that many experts recommend surfing. Beyond looking up requirements needed for adoption, people can see all the animals the shelter currently has to get a better idea of what they're in for. “Look for any animal they have online that may catch your eye,” Groeper said. “It can be overwhelming if you walk in and see all these furry animals.”


Bring your dog if you already have one at home: Many shelters require families to bring any dogs they already have at home for a meet-and-greet with the potential new pet, a policy meant to ensure chemistry between the two animals won't be an issue. “Most places require you to bring your dog," Bernstein said. "They get an idea whether they’re coping with each other. Occasionally the situation shows it’s a bad idea (to bring another dog home) most of the time it works out and helps with an introduction.” 

Check the chemistry with humans, too: While some may have their heart set on a certain breed or look of dog or cat, it's important to keep an open mind when looking for a forever friend. “There’s going to be a lot of dogs, so just go where the chemistry takes you,” Bernstein said. “People have a preconceived idea of what they want and they almost never leave with that.”

Ask questions about the animal: Don't be afraid to ask questions about anything regarding the animal, such as their health history or the situation that put them in a shelter. The more information the shelter can give, the better prepared a family will be when questions arise long after they have left the shelter. “You want to ideally know as much as the shelter knows,” Bernstein said. “You want to know the medical conditions, if they’ve been spayed or neutered, any behavior issues. Anything they can tell you about the animal is useful.”

Bring that paperwork you prepared: Meeting lease requirements for adopting an animal can delay a pet's release for a day or more if the paperwork isn't ready in advance. Many times, the lease is used as confirmation of what is and is not allowed on the property. Without that proof, a family would not be able to bring home their chosen pet the day they picked it out. “Anyone who rents, it saves us a lot of trouble because then we’ll have to call the landlord or building and sometimes they don’t answer,” Wong said. “It’s usually the roadblock that prevents a same day adoption.”


Go to a training class: Puppies and kittens aren't always easy to train, especially when their cuteness gets in the way of efforts to establish boundaries and rules. Taking an obedience class is a simple way to teach an animal the proper way to behave, while also creating an important bond between the animal and its family. “The more you can share a language with your dog, the less behavioral issues there are later on,” Bernstein said. “Making sure the pet is healthy, happy, and taking a training class as a whole family makes it a more enriching experience, and everyone will be happier in the end.”

Don't sweat it if you new pet is shy: Dogs, and especially cats, tend to want to hide when they first get in a new environment.Shelters recommend leaving shy animals alone to get used to their new home on their own terms, which means not following the pet around as they explore. Also, even if they were housebroken in the shelter, animals can revert back to old behavior when scared. “If you see a dog or cat acting funny, it’s most likely because of their new environment,” Knight said. “Especially with cats, it’s in their nature. ... It’s important to remember they do grow out of it.”

Keep asking questions: Many shelters encourage families to call when they need anything -- these are the places that know a lot more about the animal than their new family. It's also good to keep up-to-date with your vet. They can answer health-related questions, as well as give the recommended yearly vaccinations. “We have a behavior department that will answer any questions the adopters have,” Knight said. “Also follow up with your vet, make sure you have your vaccinations every year.”

Track your animal: Animals can stray away from home and get lost, and to make sure it's easier to find your beloved pet, experts recommend registering your animal, or putting a microchip in them. This way if someone finds them and returns them to a shelter, an employee can scan for the pet's unique ID number and contact the pet recovery service, which will connect them with the owner. 

Accept if it’s not a good fit: While some families want an animal and think a breed or specific pet is perfect for them, this isn't always the case. If the animal and family would be happier separated, it's important to talk to the shelter and look into returning the pet. “If it’s not a good fit, we want the animal back,” Peralta said. “Obviously we don’t want to see the animals come back, but in the ‘people world’ sometimes it doesn’t always work out with your high school sweetheart. The same thing can happen in the animal world.”

Send pictures: An easy way to say thanks to a shelter for all their hard work: send photos of the animal in its happy new home. Many workers don't get to say goodbye to animals before they get adopted, so keeping up-to-date with them is affirmation that they went with the right family. “A lot of adopters really understand how much we put in to the animals we care and get attached and want us to be reassured they went to a good home,” Wong said. “This is very thankless job, and it’s such a nice morale boost to hear success stories.”

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Service Dog Calls 911, Saves Blind Woman's Life During Fire]]>Tue, 11 Aug 2015 11:12:50 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Yolanda-the-Dog.jpg

A service dog is being hailed a hero after she jumped into action and saved her blind owner’s life by alerting authorities to a house fire in Philadelphia Thursday morning.

The fire started inside Maria Colon's home on the 4300 block of Oakmont Street in the city’s Holmesburg section. The woman was asleep at the time, but awoke at the smell of smoke.

"I said, 'Oh my God, It's smoke. And I can't breathe,'" Colon, a Puerto Rico-native who lost her eyesight in 1992, told NBC10's George Spencer Friday.

She shouted the word "danger" to her service dog, a golden Labrador named Yolanda, prompting the dog to dial 911 on a specialized phone. Yolanda had been trained to step in and call for help when Colon used the emergency word.

"I hear the phone — tke, tke, tke. And she's growling. And I said, 'Oh my lord, she called the police,'" Colon recalled.

Firefighters responded to the scene and controlled the blaze. Colon was taken to Nazareth Hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. Yolanda went to Penn Ryan Veterinary Hospital for a scratched eye and smoke inhalation. The two were reunited Friday night.

"I'm her Mommy, and she loves me too much," she said.

It wasn’t the first time Yolanda saved her owner’s life. Jen Leary, the founder of the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, told NBC10 Yolanda also called 911 last year when her owner fell down inside her home and lost consciousness.

Yolanda and her owner were both displaced by the blaze and are being assisted by Red Paw Emergency Relief Team and the American Red Cross.

Photo Credit: Red Paw Relief ]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelter Day]]>Thu, 06 Aug 2015 20:11:31 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dagmar6pm806_1200x675_500065859849.jpgDagmar Midcap introduces viewers to her two rescues as part of NBC7's Clear the Shelter Day on August 15. ]]><![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Dagmar's Adopted Bird]]>Thu, 06 Aug 2015 17:48:17 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dagmar4P0806_1200x675_500012099593.jpgWith Clear the Shelters right around the corner, NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap shares how she came to rescue her bird, Mumbles -- and all the fun along the way.]]><![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: NBC 7 Viewer Pet Photos]]>Fri, 14 Aug 2015 09:07:28 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*136/CTSSD+viewer+pic+27.jpgNBC 7 viewers shared their pet photos in honor of the upcoming Clear the Shelters campaign to find loving homes for animals. ]]><![CDATA[Local Places to Dine With Your Pup]]>Thu, 06 Aug 2015 20:41:08 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_63717700.jpg

For all of you with furry friends, this one's for you! Snag your four-legged pals and check out these dog-friendly dining options in San Diego, rounded up by our pals at Yelp. These places treat Fido like royalty, so some tail-wagging is to be expected.

The Patio On Lamont Street(Pacific Beach)
Known for its brunch and friendliness to four-legged buddies, this restaurant in PB is a few blocks from the beach with an outdoor patio often featuring live music. Your dog is welcome here and will be in good company – it’s a very well-known spot for pairs of patrons and pups. The beer offerings are legit, with a Cicerone on staff curating a list of brews that’ll make you howl for more.

Mike Hess Brewing Company (North Park)
If you and your fur-child are inseparable, bring them along to cheers with craft beers at this pet-friendly establishment. You can post up on the patio and enjoy a brew with your canine cohort, and there is usually a food truck on site for a bite too. Highly-rated beers make it a total win all around and a smart choice for hounds and humans alike.

Bushfire Kitchen (Carlsbad)
Bring the whole family, including the dog, for a casual delicious meal on the patio here. Ample seating (and a water bowl offered, usually) will provide a comfortable meal for your whole crew. The menu boasts some amazing options like tri-tip, burgers and plenty of healthy items, plus a highly-rated kids menu. When your whole brood plus pooch want to go out to eat, this Carlsbad gem will bow wow ‘em.

Three Dog Bakery (Del Mar)
This pastry shop has totally gone to the dogs. It’s the best place to grab a birthday cake or treat to celebrate your fur baby. This place has all-natural options that are safe for your pet, plus bones, treats and even its own baked dog food brand. Humans won’t find much to peck on here, but it’s a special dining option if you’re looking to treat your best friend.

Claire’s On Cedros (Solana Beach)
This the Sunday morning place to be, with a large, dog-friendly patio in the back plus a front porch where you and your pooch can perch for a cup of coffee and a home-made doggy biscuit (found at the bakery counter inside). You’ll love the selections from the award-winning menu, and to top it all off, the staff always brings treats and a bowl of water for your Fido to enjoy tableside.

Dogbouse Bar and Grill (Hillcrest – 5th Avenue)
Need a “pawfect” patio? This could be your dog’s favorite spot for date night. Doghouse has a special menu dedicated to dog-friendly dishes made especially for your pup. Has your pet ever been served his own burger? It’s possible here. In addition, this little bar and grill offers great brews and people food, including some mouthwatering hot dogs. The back of the business boasts an off-leash area and dog run. Tails will wag with happiness and your palate will be pleased, too.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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<![CDATA[Morales' Tips on Shelter Dog Adoption]]>Fri, 21 Aug 2015 12:49:11 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NUP_146526_1474.JPG

Natalie Morales describes her adopted shelter dog Zara as part of her family, like "our third child."

The "Today" co-host first met her mutt four years ago, after Zara appeared on the NBC morning show.

"It was love at first sight," Morales said. 

On August 15, other deserving shelter pets will get their chance to find a forever home with a family like Morales' when the first nationwide Clear the Shelters adoption drive kicks off.

Twenty-eight local NBC and Telemundo television stations, including regional news network necn, are partnering with more than 300 animal shelters across the country with a goal of finding new homes for thousands of homeless pets. On this day, many participating animal shelters will offer no-cost or reduced fee adoptions or waive pet spaying and neutering fees.

Morales will host a 30-minute post-adoption drive special that will recap the previous week's national day of action. It can be seen Aug. 22 on all 11 NBC Owned Stations, plus more than 100 NBC affiliate stations. Telemundo stations will also air a post-adoption drive show on the same day.

Morales adopted Zara through the North Shore Animal League, which is one of more than 300 groups participating in the Aug. 15 adoption drive. She said that after overcoming some initial shyness, the new addition quickly took to Morales' sons, Josh and Luke, and became part of the family. Not much was known of Zara's history pre-adoption, other than she was saved from a kill shelter in Georgia where she was about to be put down. 

While it was love at first sight, Morales admits incorporating a rescue dog into her family of four came with challenges. Though Zara was fluffy and friendly, she needed basic training both indoors and out. But the effort was well worth it according to Morales, who says Zara now accompanies her on exercise runs and has settled in to a family unit that also includes a rescue cat. 

"Look for a dog that you think will fit your family," Morales advises of what to consider when adopting a shelter pet.

It's important to match the animal's energy level to that of your family, she says.

"If you want a dog that's going to go running with you — like my dog — find a dog that has a high energy or high activity life to them," she said. 

Morales believes shelters are often overlooked by people seeking a four-legged companion.

"I was blown away by the beautiful dogs, some of them pedigree dogs [at shelters]," she said. "They deserve second chances. It really is just training them with love and kindness."

"There are so many incredible animals that need homes, and Zara was one of them. I can't imagine life without her now."

Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles/NBC]]>
<![CDATA['Easy Transition': Older Pets Become Instant Companions]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Captain_Reynolds.jpg

Alba and Steven King never thought of adopting a cat — they'd always wanted a dog — so it certainly never crossed their mind to adopt an older feline companion.

But when they went to a New York City shelter in November 2014 to check on a sick stray they had brought in a few days earlier, they ended up taking home a 10-year-old cat who meowed his way into their hearts.

“When we walked in the room where there was a wall of cages, he came over to the door of his cage and was meowing at us,” Alba King, 27, said of the cat. “He was the only one trying to get our attention." 

The couple felt an immediate connection with Andrew, whom they renamed Captain Reynolds after a character in a TV series “Firefly,” and knew their apartment in Queens allowed pets. But when King found out the cat was 10, she immediately called her mom and brother to get their opinion on adopting an older cat.

“The first thing they said to me was ‘why are you getting an old pet?’ That’s what everyone said to me,” she said.

King worried, too, that Captain Reynolds might get sick soon and die within a year. But the staff at Animal Care Centers of NYC in Brooklyn put her at ease and explained that a cat’s life expectancy is 15 to 20 years.

“I looked at him and then I realized that kittens are a lot of work, they are very playful and they change when they grow up, whereas with Captain Reynolds, what I was seeing is what I was getting,” said King.

Animal shelters across the U.S. are filled with healthy older dogs and cats in need of a home. Animal care professionals urge those thinking about picking up a pet from a local shelter to not look past older cats and dogs because they need families, too. 

“Unfortunately, the older animals and seniors are often overlooked because people are excited to adopt puppies and kittens,” said Jessica Vaccaro, adoption manager at Animal Care Centers of NYC, which takes in more than 30,000 animals each year. “We hope to encourage people to come and see these wonderful, mature animals-- animals that are often already trained, often used to living in a household.”

Adopting an older pet is as practical as it is gratifying, experts say. There are fewer surprises with older pets because you’ll know their full-grown size, personality and grooming needs. They are often already trained and calmer than youngsters.

Older dogs are not necessarily “problem dogs” — they can end up at the shelter for a number of reasons, including their owner going through a job loss or move. 

Elizabeth Hendrix, 67, of Manhattan, had been considering adopting a dog when her granddaughter sent her a photo of 13-year-old Max, a 91-pound Swiss mountain mix who ended up at the Animal Care Centers of NYC in Harlem because his owner was unable to care for him. When Hendrix went to meet Max, she brought him home the same day after he refused to go back in his cage at the shelter.

“He had a very sad look in his eyes, like 'why am I here?'” said Hendrix, who already had a 3-year-old terrier mix named Molly.“I couldn’t see him being euthanized; he needed to live out his final days as comfortable and as loved as possible.”

Hendrix said the benefit of adopting an older pet is that “they already have all their little problems out of the way: they’re already trained, house broken, they don’t chew things up."

"The main thing is they just need to be loved,” she added.

She said less than one week after the adoption, Max became her instant companion, following her everywhere she went.

Not all senior pets are so lucky when it comes to finding a home. Cherie Wachter, vice president of marketing at the Humane Society of Broward County in Florida, said puppies and kittens there get adopted very quickly, but older pets linger in the shelter for weeks.

In June 2015, she had two 7-year-old-dogs, a little dog named Nacho and a shepherd mix named Roxy, available for adoption. She said they lived in the same household and were very attached, so they’d have to be adopted together. No one expressed any interest at that time, even though they were potty trained.

Wachter said people looking for pets often don’t realize how much work and patience little puppies require. 

"I wish more people opened up their hearts and homes to mature pets,” she said.

Emily Huetson, animal welfare director at On Angel’s Wings in Crystal Lake, Illinois, also finds that older pets are a better fit for many families. She said qualities more typical of older animals, such as a calm demeanor and less destructive nature, often come up when the shelter asks potential puppy owners what qualities they are looking for in a pet.

"What they want is the qualities we have in our 8-year-old dogs," Huetson said.

She said the shelter encourages families with young children and seniors to adopt older pets since they are already trained. In addition to providing information about the dog's personality and history, she encourages families and children to meet and interact with the seniors pets. 

"They just kind of sit there with sad eyes," said Huetson. "They don’t know why they're in the cage."

Many potential pet owners are worried that adopting an older pet can mean high vet bills, but experts say that is not always the case. Sometimes a shelter will have medical records that can help owners make an informed decision about possible health issues. Either way, experts recommend a full vet visit -- including a geriatric workup -- soon after the adoption is complete. 

King learned that Captain Reynolds was allergic to some foods, so was put on a special diet that cost a little more every month. He also had to have 16 of his teeth taken out because he spent so many years as a street cat without dental care and was left with only one fang. King discussed the potential costs of teeth extraction with a vet and, since it wasn't a life-threatening condition, she was able to save up for a few months to cover the $373 bill. She said a kitten “could’ve grown up to have the same problems just maybe a little later.”

At Operation Kindness in Carrollton, Texas, a permanent foster care program eliminates concerns over vet bills. Anyone who adopts an older pet from the shelter can return there to get medical care for their pet for free, according to CEO Jim Hanophy.

“That takes worry off the table for some people,” he said. “People underestimate the length of time an animal can live. If an animal is healthy when they are 12 they will probably be healthy till the end."

For King, Captain Reynolds’ age is just a number and she said from now on she’ll adopt older pets.

“It was such an easy transition,” King said. "He’s just really relaxed, he’ll take a nap on a couch, he’ll take a nap on a windowsill. I didn’t have to turn my life upside down to have a companion.”

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<![CDATA[WATCH: Small Dog Has Big Sneeze]]>Tue, 11 Aug 2015 11:14:29 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sneezingpomeranian.jpg

One small dog had an unexpectedly large sneeze, and the adorable moment is going viral. 

Roux, a Pomeranian, can be seen struggling to let out a sneeze before the adorable moment when he let it all out, with a head shake included. 

The dog's owner caught the whole thing on camera, and it has over 5.5 million views on YouTube

Photo Credit: YouTube
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<![CDATA[Support Roles for Dogs Go Beyond Helping the Blind]]>Mon, 03 Aug 2015 09:15:57 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/therapyAnimal-lead-GettyImages-453338427.jpg

When Ken Altenburger lost his sight due to complications from diabetes, he began to rely on a cane to assist him with getting around. Eventually, he decided it was time to get a guide dog.

That dog gave him more confidence than he had as an exclusive cane user. Another perk, he found, was that he enjoyed the companionship. 

“You don’t feel so alone,” said Altenburger, who now works for the nonprofit that matched him with all three of the dogs he has used over nearly two decades. 

That nonprofit, the California-based Guide Dogs for the Blind, has been training dogs to help people affected by vision loss for 70 years. Altenburger, who was matched with his latest dog, Jabari, earlier this year, is one of more than 2,000 sight-impaired people currently using dogs trained by the school. 

But it's not just the blind that trained dogs are helping these days. Service dogs now assist those who are deaf, those who are prone to seizures and even children with autism, along with many other jobs. Beyond those roles, dogs are being used to comfort grieving families at funeral homes, calm traumatized witnesses in courts and lower stress levels of law students going through final exams. One nonprofit, Puppies Behind Bars, recruits prisoners to train dogs to help wounded war veterans. 

“Dogs have a unique ability to sense when people are in need,” said Lutheran Church Charities President Tim Hetzner, whose group began using comfort dogs as part of its disaster response work after Hurricane Katrina. “Dogs show unconditional love. .... When people pet a dog, it lowers their blood pressure, they feel more relaxed and they feel more comfortable discussing what’s going on, particularly in crisis situations.”

While dogs have assisted their owners, both with and without disabilities, for centuries, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the concept of a service dog was commonly accepted.

Guide dogs assisted many German soldiers who lost their sight in World War I and The Seeing Eye, the oldest operating guide dog school in the world, was founded in New Jersey 1929. But the expanded concept of a “service dog” was not formally established until the latter half of the century, due to the work of former special education teacher Bonnie Bergin.

Bergin’s intent when developing the service dog concept was to help people with mobility issues, such as quadriplegics. The animals have several characteristics that make them a good fit for helping people, she said. 

“Dogs seek dyadic relationships, meaning they seek partnership with one other being,” said Bergin, who, in addition to starting her own canine studies institute, helped officials work service dog protections into federal law. “It fits their psychological drive. They love working. It gives them a purpose.”

The skills and benefits service dogs can bring to a situation go beyond loving their companions and work, experts say. John Moon, director of client programs and community engagement at Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, said that dogs offer unique benefits to people with hearing loss.

“If you remove that [hearing] device, say to take a shower, then you’re more vulnerable than at any other time of day,” said Moon, whose organization trains black and yellow Labrador retrievers, including some potential candidates from local shelters. “The dog can hear a knock on the door, can hear the tea kettle go off.”

The know-how to alert the owner to things that matter -- and ignore sounds or other stimuli that don't -- must be taught. Service dogs undergo a disciplined training regimen to prepare them for the responsibilities ahead. Wrangler, a service-dog-in-training who is sharing his journey with NBC's "Today" show, is going through a 16-month program with the New York-based Guiding Eyes for the Blind that includes quarterly "Walk and Talk" evaluations and field trips to introduce him to public transportation and crowded city squares. 

"As part of Wrangler's socialization and journey to become a guide dog, it is important for him to experience new places, sights, sounds and experiences on a regular basis," handler Saxon Eastman told TODAY.com.

Even with a structured program and set goals, the guiding philosophy behind training is often simple. Bergin, who founded the Bergin Institute of Canine Studies in California, an accredited institution that offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in canine studies, got her start training dogs in the 1970s using the same teaching methods she used when educating children. 

“Dogs are very similar to humans,” she said. “Positive methods are the best way.” 

While emotional-support dogs, commonly known as comfort or therapy dogs, are not considered service dogs and are not protected under the ADA, proponents say they can also make a big difference in the lives of those they aid. 

The Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 Comfort Dog ministry, for example, uses about 90 golden retrievers in nearly two dozen states, to assist people in need. 

Each golden retriever in the LCC program has its own Facebook page, Twitter profile, email address and business cards. Hetzner said people often communicate through the dogs’ social media as if they are human counselors, and LCC staff can assist clients directly that way. Children, in particular, are more willing to talk to a dog than a person when they are distressed, such as when a classmate has taken his or her own life.

The helping effect dogs can have on children was also confirmed by Vicki Murphy, chief advancement officer and director of transitional youth services at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families, which serves abused, neglected and emotionally and behaviorally challenged youth.

Children who would normally not talk to clinicians would start opening up due to the dogs’ presence, she said. Children with reading difficulties would start reading to the dogs. When one dog had open-heart surgery, the children learned responsibility by holding a fundraiser to cover the cost, and the possibility of him not making it led to conversations about life and death.

“These kiddos have already experienced so much loss,” Murphy noted.

Casa Pacifica uses Newfoundland dogs, because they are “so large and loving."

"The kids get a real sense of being able to hug something. And they’ll hug you back," Murphy said. “Every child should experience joy at least one time a day.”

Photo Credit: File/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Dog Hit by Car in Tijuana Receives Care in SD]]>Fri, 31 Jul 2015 16:14:02 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kiwi+dog+0731-PIC_0.jpg

A dog that witnesses said was run over by a police vehicle in Tijuana was rescued and taken to San Diego on Friday for treatment.

The 2-year-old Bichon pup named Kiwi is undergoing medical treatment and should make a full recovery, thanks to the local rescue group Bichon Furkids.

Witnesses said Kiwi was left to die on the side of a road in Tijuana for three days. A woman who works as an independent dog rescuer stopped to tend to Kiwi and rushed him to a veterinarian in Mexico.

But since Kiwi needs ongoing treatment, therapy and blood transfusions because he’s anemic, Bichon Furkids intervened.

Headed by San Diego resident Marti Colwell, the group crossed the border to bring Kiwi to San Diego.

“We worked together – rescue groups do this all the time – but we crossed the border in order to provide the kind of love and care and medical care that he needs so that he can make a full recovery,” she said.

Colwell expects Kiwi to be good as new in three to four months.

“He’s about 2 years old, so he has a long life ahead of him,” she said.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[More Than Dogs, Cats Up for Adoption]]>Thu, 30 Jul 2015 20:42:59 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bearded+dragon1.JPGAs NBC tries to Clear the Shelters on Aug. 15, future pet owners should know there will be a unique variety of pets up for adoption. NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap has the information.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters on August 15]]>Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:25:10 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cleartheshelterspromo7.jpgNBC 7's Dagmar Midcap invites you to help Clear the Shelters by adopting a forever friend on Saturday, August 15, 2015.]]><![CDATA[Our NBC 7 Crew and Their Pets]]>Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:33:43 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dagmar+CTS.jpgOur NBC 7 team shows off their four-legged furry friends in honor of the upcoming Clear the Shelters event. ]]><![CDATA[Tourist Adopts Cat on Trip to San Diego]]>Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:22:41 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cat+tourist+0729.jpg

Heather Anderson’s trip to San Diego to visit the Cat Café brought her an unexpected souvenir: a new pet cat.

The 18-year-old was visiting with her family from Nebraska this past week. She wanted to check out the Cat Café, which she had heard about online, and persuaded her family to come to San Diego with her to visit the unusual spot.

The Cat Café in downtown San Diego is the first of its type in Southern California, where folks can grab a coffee while being entertained by the cats. The café partnered with the San Diego Humane Society to provide the kitties, which are all up for adoption.

That’s where Anderson met Roo, the mellow, laid back cat.

“I was playing with all the cats, but Roo was the one I wanted to adopt,” she said.

Anderson didn’t plan on adoption a cat – she already has a 12-year-old kitty she’s bringing with her when she attends college this fall.

But she instantly knew she wanted to give Roo a forever home.

“I liked how laid back he was,” she said. “He’s very mellow.”

She plans to pick up Roo on Wednesday on the way to the airport to head back home to Nebraska.

“I joked about it with my family, but never thought it would happen,” she said of adopting the cat on her trip. “That’s quite the unique souvenir.”

<![CDATA[The Health Benefits of Having a Pet]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dog-exercise-generic-park-outside.jpg

For centuries, humans have taken animal companions into their homes. But the utility of the animals goes beyond simple companionship. The evidence is increasingly clear that having a pet can lead to a longer, healthier life. Here are some of the ways a pet can help your health:

Pets encourage healthy habits.

Getting a furry, scaly or feathered friend can prompt lifestyle changes for the owner. While many associate getting a pet with waking up earlier to let the cat outside or extra trips to the store for dog food, studies show that pets can cause a tangible, positive impact on owners’ choices.

Own a dog? It should come as no surprise that walking your pooch has proven health benefits, and a People Pets Exercising Together study supports this. The study, conducted by the Wellness Institute at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, concluded that people who exercised with their pets were more likely to stick their workout routines than people who exercised alone. Pets, the study said, should be considered companions that are part of one’s social support network when losing weight, just as people are.

Walking the dog also has additional health benefits besides weight loss. Regular physical activity strengthens your bones and can help fend off osteoporosis. Being outside exposes you to the sun, which is a good source of vitamin D (just don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun). If you’re a cat person, consider stretching alongside your cat, which is good for alleviating arthritis pain, according to veterinarian Amy Flowers.

One study published by the journal Tobacco Control even found that more than a quarter of pet-owning smokers tried to quit smoking once they learned about the negative health effects of secondhand smoke on their animals. Secondhand smoke exposure is associated with certain cancers in cats and dogs; allergies in dogs; and eye, skin and respiratory diseases in birds.

Pets are friends who help us feel better.

Anyone with a good friend knows that just being there for someone can make all the difference when we’re going through a difficult time. This is just as true with our animal friends as with our human ones.

If you’re in a really bad mood, consider calmly petting your cat or dog. As Prevention magazine reported, the simple act of petting or other simple interaction with your pet causes your brain to release the calming hormone oxytocin, as the stress hormone cortisol goes down. One study found that dogs’ behavior toward humans was similarly influenced by the oxytocin system, so when you and your dog spend some quality time together, you’re actually engaging in a mutually beneficial, and healthy, social interaction.

Another study focusing on cat owners found that cat ownership lowered people’s risk of cardiovascular diseases. The research, conducted by the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center at the University of Minnesota, showed that people who owned or had owned a cat at one point were at lower risk for a fatal heart attack or stroke. The study suggested cat ownership as a “novel strategy” for reducing these health risks.

If you’re trying to think of a gift to give grandma or grandpa, consider a dog: A study in the Medical Journal of Australia found that senior citizens who regularly walked or interacted with dogs boosted the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm and rest the body. The researchers found that even just patting and talking to a dog has this effect.

Animals have more uses to assist humans than ever before.

Although not pets in the traditional sense, service animals have been a boon to people with disabilities and other special needs for decades. Guide dogs for the blind are not uncommon, but dogs can also help those who are deaf, those with diabetes, those prone to seizures and even children with autism.

What’s more, comfort animals provide that special companionship all of our pets do for us every day, but for people who need it the most. They console mourners at funeral homes and children traumatized by the death of a classmate by suicide. 

Oscar is a therapy cat famously known for his unique ability to predict when hospital patients are about to die. Oscar has a perfect streak in correctly selecting terminally ill patients with mere hours to live, then curling up next to them to comfort them in their final moments on Earth, NBC News reported. One theory is that Oscar can detect the release of ketones, biochemicals given off by dying cells.

It’s not just cats and dogs getting in on the act, though. Therapy animals run the gamut from birds to horses. There is even at least one therapy tortoise at a Florida nursing home that the residents call a friend. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Abandoned': Military Dogs Need Homes]]>Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:39:56 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/military+dog.jpg

While many veterans have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan to open arms, one group of four-legged service members is still in search of a warm welcome.

Roughly a year and a half after returning from war, one K-9 unit made up of 12 dogs is looking for new homes, according NBC affiliate WWBT.

“They've been abandoned,” Mount Hope Kennels owner Greg Meredith told WWBT. “This is not the life that they deserve, nor is it how this country should take care of its soldiers.”

Immediately after returning to the United States, the bomb-sniffing dogs were placed at Mount Hope Kennels to receive rehab for dealing with issues such as PTSD. However, the short visit stretched on as red tape persisted.

“It's the least that we can do to take care of them, because they've taken very good care of us, to protect our freedoms,” Meredith said, adding that the shelter has spent around $150,000 taking care of the dogs.

But now, the war heroes have renewed hope: Mission K9 Rescue and U.S. War Dogs will arrive to the shelter Monday and try to reconnect the dogs with their original owners. If the handlers cannot be found, the animals will be searching for families to adopt them and give them forever homes.

To apply to adopt any of the dogs, you must send in a notarized application from the Mission K9 website.  

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[How to Help a Shelter, Even If You Can't Adopt]]>https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/VolunteerVasili_sm.jpg

Maybe you’ve already got two golden retrievers, or you’re allergic to cats or you’re not sure you’re ready for a new pet.

Your neighborhood animal shelter — and its assortment of dogs and cats — can still use your help.

Here are ways to help animals in need, even if you can’t adopt:

1. Volunteer. A shelter needs people to walk and bathe dogs, help with the feedings, serve as adoption counselors and do lots of other jobs necessary to keep the rescues going. At South Florida's Humane Society of Broward County, for example, volunteers caring for the dogs and cats awaiting adoption do everything from scooping poop to assisting with the spaying and neutering, especially if they have a medical background, said Mary Steffen, the senior vice president of operations.

“They come here for their animal fix,” she said.

2. Foster. If you’ve got room for some temporary furry visitors, shelters want to hear from you. The Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco has about 80 dogs at a time, but room for only 30 at the shelter.

“We literary cannot save lives if we do not have foster homes,” said Sherri Franklin, the founder and executive director of the rescue organization, which takes dogs 7 years and older.

Franklin says the animals stay from six weeks to three months. Failed fosters — those who decide to keep their four-legged guests — are welcome too.

“That’s the only kind of failure we like,” she said.

3. Donate. Non-profit animal rescues rely on donations to operate. Check websites to find out how you can give to a particular shelter — whether directly, through neighborhood thrift stores, or with a percentage of your purchase while shopping online through programs such as AmazonSmile. Shelter officials say you should make sure your donation is going where you want it to — whether to a national organization or to a local one — and not assume the money will trickle down.

For shelters participating in this year's Clear the Shelters initiative, you can donate directly to those individual organizations through Fund the Shelters. A list of shelters, sorted by state, is available here

Look for “wish lists” on websites, which cover everything from towels and wash cloths to food and nail clippers to larger, more expensive items. The Animal Rescue League of Boston, with shelters in Boston, Brewster and Dedham, publishes its lists through Amazon.com. Or if you have the needed items at home, you can drop those off at the shelters, said the marketing manager, Lisa Graham.

4. Socialize. Host benefits or help out at adoption days and other events. Shelter supporters organize happy hours, golf outings, dog walks and other gatherings to raise funds. Other volunteers design newsletters and websites, collect items for auctions and promote adoptions on social media.

“Social media is a big part of our rescue,” Franklin said. 

She recently posted a photo of a Pomeranian as part of a plea for help in transporting six dogs from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

“I posted it on Facebook and I got 75 responses within two hours of people wanting to help,” she said.

Help in attending — and throwing — fundraisers and benefits is also key. Famous Fido Rescue in Chicago, for example, held a fundraiser on Aug. 23, 2015 for a new headquarters, a 10,000-square-foot building. In addition to space for the animals, a counselor to help struggling owners keep their pets and a station to micro-chip animals, the new building was also set to include a rescue store, a pet-supply store that directed its profits back to the animals.

Photo Credit: Patty Stanton]]>
<![CDATA[Bone Appétit: Dining With Dogs Grows]]>Mon, 03 Aug 2015 08:49:36 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_170699306764_DogAtTable.jpg

With patio season in full swing, Nisha Bansal loves to enjoy a meal outdoors with her companion Coco.

While her wagging tail and faded blue leash aren't offered a place at most establishments, the 2-year-old chihuahua-yorkie mix may soon be welcome at some of Bansa's favorite spots for a bite. 

“Since I got her, I try to bring her wherever I can really,” Bansal said, as her 5-pound pup dismissed the water that was brought to her in a small paper cup at Le Pain Quotidien. “If I’m going to sit here by myself, I may as well bring her with me. I know other cities are dog friendly and I think as long as the owner is mindful of their dog it’s a good idea.”

Bansal's wish has slowly become a reality in some cities and states across the nation, including California, which passed legislation that allows dogs to eat on outdoor restaurant patios in 2011. New York may become the next major state to adopt a "Dining with Dogs" law; a bill on the matter is currently on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk awaiting a decision.

Even where the practice isn't explicitly allowed under state or local laws, catering to canine-owning customers can be good for business. Allowing animals to accompany their humans to meals helps restaurants gobble up a slice of the major cash Americans spend on and with their pets. That figure is expected to exceed $60.5 billion this year, according to the American Pet Product Association.

As the money spent on animals grows, so do the number of pet-friendly businesses.

Pet-friendly hotels and restaurants have blown up in recent years, according Becca Barnett, social media manager at BringFido.com, which hosts a database of dog-friendly hotels, events, attractions, and restaurants across the U.S. and Canada.

Barnett said the site has seen its listings grow from 10,000 to more than 100,000 as "people integrate animals in their every day life.”

"It’s really picking up in all the categories," she said.

Restaurant owners are taking note. Nikki Leo, owner of Blunch in Boston, allows patrons to eat outside with their dog and provides a water bowl and occasional treat for the eager animals.

“A dog is an extension of the family," she said. "If you’re walking it and want something to eat, they can get a sandwich and have their dog with them.”

And many patrons appreciate the inclusion. Ben Hemani frequents Blunch often, and said being with Bode, his four-month-old Golden Retriever, relieves some of the guilt after spending the work days apart.

“I don’t work from home very often, so it’s hard to be at work all day, come home and then leave for a few hours again…the most common reaction I get from people is they want to pet the dog and play with him," he said in a phone interview. 

And at some places, it's not just dogs getting in on the dining scene. 

Marcel’s in Washington D.C. is one of a smaller number of restaurants to allow both dogs and cats on its patio, though animals don't frequent to the upscale restaurant too often. 

“Why not? It’s only for three or four months of the year, that’s not bad. Especially in a casual setting I don’t think it’s a problem," Adnane Kebaier, the assistant manager at the French and Belgian restaurant, said. 

Despite the popularity among pet owners, the practice has drawn criticism from some health officials. While it doesn't rule on allowing dogs in outdoor eating spaces, the U.S. Department of Health states in its code that live animals are not allowed inside restaurants unless they are service dogs. 

“We agree with the Food and Drug Administration and county health departments across the state that animals can create a risk to the health and safety of diners, restaurant workers, and other dogs,” Christopher Miller, the press secretary for the New York State Department of Health, said in a statement. “Dogs in restaurants create unsanitary conditions, and their presence outdoors at sidewalk cafes…invites opportunity for negative interactions and bites.”

And some patrons believe the practice goes a step too far, and people should leave their pets at home.

“I wouldn’t really like to be near a patio full of dogs if I’m going to go al fresco,” said New Yorker James Jones, who has managed restaurants in the past. ”There’s just certain places I don’t want to be. If I wanted to be exposed to dogs I would go to a dog park — or own a dog.”

Diners like Jones may soon find themselves seated next to a furry companion more often, as more states and cities follow the lead of California and early adopters Alexandria, Virginia, and Austin, Texas, which changed local laws in 2006.  Animal lovers in New York have been working to overturn the state's law banning restaurants from allowing dogs to dine outdoors. 

“This is about dogs, and dogs being man’s best friend, and having the right to sit at the dinner tables with their families,” said Judie Mancuso, founder of Social Compassion in Legislation, an animal rights organization that has worked on the effort to legalize the practice in New York and other places. “People love to do it, it’s already being done. Restaurants are breaking the law to give people the opportunity to do it. (The law) just screams ‘I’m old and outdated’ because everyone is breaking the law anyway.”

The fate of the "Dining with Dogs" bill backed by Social Compassion in Legislation is in the hands of Cuomo after winning approval in the New York state Legislature. While Mancuso didn't predict an outcome, the group remains hopeful that a win in New York could set a precedent for the rest of the nation.

“We have success, we put it out there as a model, and we move on,” she said. “That’s the beauty of having success and getting publicity. People go ‘Whoa, you put that down, we want that here.’” 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Dog Missing for 2 Years Reunites With Family]]>Thu, 23 Jul 2015 10:45:53 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cheiska+missing+dog.jpg

A California man feared his German shepherd was dead when she disappeared two years ago.

He had received a call shortly after the dog's disappearance that a German Shepherd matching Cheiska’s description had been hit and killed by a car.

It was a false call and not the right dog.

Fracisco Velazquez, of Chula Vista, received the call he had been waiting for when Rancho Coastal Humane Society contacted him, telling him a stray with a microchip matching to Cheiska had turned up at the animal shelter.

A miracle dog?

“We feel awesome,” he said Wednesday. “This is the best feeling.”

On Wednesday, Velazquez along with his two kids reunited with Cheiska, who was just a puppy when she got away from the family and disappeared.

At the Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas, the dog bounded over to her family as they shouted her name and hugged and petted her.

She appeared in good health and with a calm temperament.

Velazquez was happy to find Cheiska, now 3, answered to her name and still remembers some of the commands he taught her, like how to “shake.”

She doesn’t remember “down” or “sit,” though.

Perhaps that can be the next obedience lesson along with just enjoying having their family dog back home?

“It’s been a long time,” Velazquez said. “It feels so good. I’ve missed her for so long.”

<![CDATA[Viral Pic of Hugging Dogs Spares Two From Euthanasia ]]>Wed, 22 Jul 2015 12:01:10 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/072215+hugging+dogs+saved+georgia.jpg

A cuddly photo of two shelter dogs facing possible euthanization blew up on social media, buying the pair more time to find a forever home. 

The original photo, which generated thousands of likes and shares on Facebook, shows Kala (brown) hugging boxer-mix Keira inside a kennel in the Atlanta-based Angels Among Us Pet Rescue shelter.

The adorable pic included a heartbreaking plea written from the perspectives of the dogs, who the post said were scheduled to soon be put to sleep. 

"If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me," One passage, attributed to Kala, reads. "She gave me hope when I had none. Now it's over. Unless…"

Just two hours after the post, the dogs were taken into the same home, according to the rescue group. An updated photo featuring Kala and Keira giving kisses to their new caretaker drew more than 30 thousand likes. 

But the shelter later clarified that while the pups are "safe and in angels' care," they are currently being fostered and are still in need of a permanent home. The group is accepting foster care offers, donations and applications to adopt the animals on its website.

Photo Credit: Angels Among Us Pet Rescue of Georgia
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<![CDATA[How Much You Can Expect to Spend on Your New Pet]]>Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:13:09 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dog89.jpg

Adopting a pet can be a rich experience for both the owner and the animal, but it comes with costs. 

While many shelters offer low or no-cost spaying and neutering, vaccinations, and microchipping, there are upfront and ongoing health and wellness expenses to budget for after basic adoption fees.

Caring for a dog will set you back between $1,400 and more than $2,000 annually, depending on the size, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates. For a cat, you can anticipate spending around $1,174 a year. All those purchases add up; according to the American Pet Products Association, U.S. pet owners spent a total of $60.59 billion on their pets in 2016.

Even with the costs, many animal owners will tell you the overhead required to keep your pet happy and healthy will be worth its weight in kibble. Here's a look at some of the purchases you can expect to make once you bring a pet into your home. 


First things first: what you’ll need to buy in order to create a happy home for your new pet. To start, you’ll need a collar and ID tag (in advance, in case your new friend attempts a getaway en route home). You’ll also need a bed, kibble, toys and treats. Research local prices for registration fees and any costs associated with vaccinations and microchipping so you know how much you'll have to spend on those needs post adoption. For cats, don’t forget the litter box and kitty litter. 

Other costs to factor in before heading to the shelter might be for services like boarding, which can cost between $15 and $50 per night, dog walking, $15 to $20 per half-hour, and pet sitting services, which can cost between $10 and $65 per day. Be sure to consider that the cost of day and weekend trips — or even an evening stuck late at work — will likely go up once you take your pet's needs into account.   

Be sure to inquire about pet insurance rates with a representative at your local shelter before bringing your new friend home. Those plans can help defray some costs required to keep your pet healthy.


Food factored in as the highest pet cost in the APPA estimates, at $23.04 billion in total spending a year, followed by veterinarian care. And it's not just basic kibble hitting the dog bowls daily. The humanization of pets is driving demand for the best possible products, APPA representative Ashlee Verba said. Increasingly, pet owners are shopping organic.

"All natural is huge right now. The pet industry mirrors the human market so much. As more people are realizing, you know, grain and gluten free, all of these things are also being mirrored in the pet market," she said, adding that American-made pet food and "ingestibles" are at the forefront of trends in the pet market.

Sandra J. Townsend, a Chicago-based blogger who writes about life with her rescued Dachshund-mix Dolly in her blog, Dolly the Doxie, is part of that trend. Townsend, who writes about her pet costs occasionally on her site, likes to splurge on high-quality chow. Premium pet food costs her around $90 per bag, but can last several months.

"It has to be all natural, grain free, and made in the USA from U.S.-sourced ingredients," Townsend, who spends about $40 a month on her dog, wrote in an email.

In addition to basic kibble, many pet owners end up purchasing additional treats, which can be a helpful tool when training your pet. 


Much like with doctor bills, veterinarian services can add up quickly. And not just in emergency care situations. Pets need regular checkups and vaccination updates. Supplies and over-the-counter medicine ranked as the third-highest cost for pet owners in the APPA survey.

Joey Teixeira, of New York City’s chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, stressed the importance of heartworm and tick prevention medication as well as core vaccinations. It’s important to note that most vaccines require more than one shot, he said.

"We'll have people who come in and they'll have a cat for 10 years and say it's vaccinated. But it never saw the vet since it was a kitten. We have to explain and educate that animals need vaccinations yearly," said Teixeira.

Vaccination costs vary greatly by location and provider, but vetinfo.com, a veterinary medical information website for dogs and cats, estimates core vaccine costs for adult dogs to be $75 to $100 annually and around $50 to $100 per year for cats.

Townsend said her biggest expenses are veterinary fees, which she estimates hit $100 to $200 a year on checkups and shots alone. With her dog’s recent diagnosis with inflammatory bowel disease, she anticipates thousands of dollars in vet bills. Luckily, she had a $25-a-month pet insurance plan to help defray the costs. 

Without pet insurance, she cautions, "you need to be aware that there could be emergency expenses and be prepared to pay them."


Teixeira also stressed the importance of regular professional grooming every four to six weeks for many dog breeds (and even some cats), in addition to weekly maintenance of their coats. A good brush, which can cost similar to human hair tools, can go a long way. 

"At the adoption center we see dogs who come in with very matted fur which is very painful for the dogs and can cause circulation problems, issues with their limbs, skin irritations and infections," he said.

For long-haired breeds, owners can anticipate spending around $264 per year on pet grooming, according to ASPCA estimates. 


Now that a trip to the groomer has your new pooch looking sharp, how about an outfit to tie it all together? If a stroll past your local doggie daycare or couture collar boutique hasn’t clued you in yet: Americans spend a lot on our animals.

The APPA, which conducts market research and tracks industry spending, also noted that pampering services thay go beyond basic grooming are an emerging trend factoring heavily in pet spending. Among the deluxe services trending in the pet market are luxury daycare and even spa treatments. There’s also apparel — not just doggie T-shirts, but designer dresses and swanky collars. 

"You can get Swarovski crystal or you know, handmade leather. It gets pretty high-class," Verba said.

Townsend hasn't gone that far, though she does treat her pup to the occasional Chicago Blackhawks or Cubs T-shirt or bandana. 

Assuming you’d rather spend more on your own wardrobe than your pet's, your newly adopted dog or cat will be just fine with the essentials.

But once the bond between you and your pet has taken root, you might just find you’d spare no expense, save maybe for the Swarovski crystal collar. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Adorable Pets From Around the U.S. ]]>Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:33:23 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/MurphyBoxerWVIT.jpgPet owners coast to coast have one thing in common: they love sharing pictures of their furry friends. Here's a look at some cute pets photos shared by NBC Owned TV Station viewers across the country. Help us "Clear the Shelters" on Aug. 15 by adopting a pet of your own to love (and photograph)! ]]><![CDATA[JFK to Open Luxury Animal Terminal]]>Mon, 20 Jul 2015 10:47:50 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_543198343681.jpg

Jet-setting stallions and high-flying hounds at New York's Kennedy Airport can look forward to a new luxury terminal that will handle the more than 70,000 animals flying in and out every year.

The ARK at JFK, its name inspired by Noah's biblical vessel, will more than measure up to terminals for humans: Horses and cows will occupy sleek, climate-controlled stalls with showers, and doggies will lounge in hotel suites featuring flat-screen TVs. A special space for penguins will allow them mating privacy.

The ARK is billed as the world's first air terminal for animals.

Set to open next year, the $48 million, 178,000-square-foot shelter and quarantine facility will take in every kind of animal imaginable — even an occasional sloth or aardvark. From here, they'll head to barns, cages, racetracks, shows and competition venues in the United States and abroad.

Many arriving animals are quarantined for a period of time (for horses, it's normally about three days) to make sure they're not carrying contagious diseases. And The ARK is designed to make their stay as pleasant as possible, with hay-lined stalls for up to 70 horses and 180 head of cattle, plus an aviary and holding pens for goats, pigs and sheep.

For dog owners, The ARK will offer a 20,000-square-foot luxury "resort" run by the company Paradise 4 Paws, complete with bone-shaped splashing pools, massage therapy and "pawdicures with colored nail pawlish." Dogs can watch flat-screen TVs and their owners can check in on them via webcam.

Cats will have their own trees to climb. And all animals will have access to a 24-hour clinic run by Cornell University's veterinary college.

Even animals that don't need to be quarantined — a huge dog that can't fit in the cabin and has to travel as cargo, for example — will be held at the facility until departure or pickup by its owner.

"A lot of our design making is in collaboration with veterinarians and consultants to help minimize the amount of stress placed on the animal," said Cliff Bollmann, a leading airport architect working on The ARK for the San Francisco-based architecture firm Gensler.

Kennedy receives the bulk of animals entering the United States, but there are similar facilities near airports in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and San Juan. Until Kennedy's ARK opens, animals in transit will continue to be handled at the airport's aging 10,000-foot Vetport, built in the 1950s.

Lachlan Oldaker, an Oklahoma-based equine specialist and key member of the architectural team, called The ARK "an enormous leap forward."

"The design allows planes to taxi directly to the building, so horses can be transported in a seamless fashion that reduces stress," she said.

The ARK is being built on the site of an unused cargo terminal that has been demolished. ARK Development, an affiliate of the Madison Avenue real estate company Racebrook Capital, has signed a 32-year lease for the airport property with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agency that runs Kennedy.

When completed, the facility is subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Animals will be charged fees — still being determined depending on services — that will help fund the terminal. High-end dog "suites" could top $100 per night.

Transporting animals by air is not aimed at low-income owners. A flight to London for a dog can cost about $1,000, plus a crate, airport fees and vet certifications. And moving a horse can add up to at least $10,000.

The ARK's designers have had to meet challenges not found in other architectural projects — for instance, figuring out how to dispose of animal waste. They came up with the idea of a "poo chute," an angled floor from which manure slides into a container.

Among the supporters of this unusual animal kingdom is Dr. Richard Goldstein, the chief medical officer at New York's Animal Medical Center, which treats sick animals of all species from around the world.

"Our veterinarians have often been in a position of having to arrange transport for many of our traveling patients at all hours of the day and night, and will look forward to working with The ARK to make this experience better for everyone involved," Goldstein said.

But even when it comes to healthy animals, the equine wing is a welcome improvement to international show jumper and organizer Derek Braun.

Horses must currently be driven to a quarantine facility in Newburgh, about 80 miles north of Kennedy. The ARK has an in-house quarantine.

"I personally, as well as competitors for my shows, ship so many horses from Europe each year that having the peace of mind that one step of the travel process will be eliminated is a big relief because it eliminates part of the risk of injury," he said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Survived Bear Attack, Vet Says]]>Wed, 22 Jul 2015 16:50:26 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/072215+Dog+attacked+by+bear+4.jpg

A dog is believed to have been attacked by a bear Tuesday in Great Falls, Virginia.

The 6-year-old rescue dog named Blue was found with wounds and claw marks on her left side that the owners' veterinarian said were consistent with an attack by a bear in “defensive mode.”

Dog owner Richard Kelly said his sons found Blue bleeding when they got home Tuesday night. The family initially thought a raccoon had attacked their dog, but their veterinarian told them otherwise.

"This dog was very, very lucky to have escaped with its life," Kelly said. "We could have come home to find a dead dog with its fur torn up."

Without any witnesses, Fairfax County Animal Services Division spokeswoman Katherine Edwards said it's difficult to tell what caused Blue's injuries.

Bears have been spotted recently in the area, including near the Great Falls Volunteer Fire Department on Georgetown Pike.

Resident Sharon Rainey, who runs the website myNeighborsNetwork, said she wants to see action from Fairfax County.

"The fear has set in. The residents just want to be able to cohabitate or have the bears taken care of somehow," she said. "I don't know what that resolution would be. But they want their families safe."

As Blue recovers, Kelly said he's concerned for his family's safety.

“I cannot have my children playing out here, shooting hoops, running around my own front yard after dark until this problem is solved,” he said.

If you see a bear, you should make yourself look large and back away slowly, according to the National Park Service.

<![CDATA[Dog With Wheelchair Found Wandering in Miami-Dade]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 08:03:15 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/071515+wandering+dog+with+wheelchair+miami-dade.jpg

Miami-Dade Animal Services is looking for the owner of a dog with a homemade wheelchair that was found wandering.

The dog ended up at Animal Services as a stray but had been recently groomed and cleaned, and was outfitted with the wheelchair.

Officials said it appeared the dog was cared for but had possibly wandered off by accident.

Anyone who recognizes the dog is asked to call Miami-Dade Animal Services at 305-884-1101 or email pets@miamidade.gov.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[23 Pounds Slimmer, Kale Chips the Obese Beagle Goes Up for Adoption]]>Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:05:10 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kale+chips.jpg

Kale Chips, the once-obese beagle taken in by a Chicago animal rescue organization, is ready to be adopted after losing 23 pounds. 

"He's still quite overweight, but the difference in his body shape and energy level is amazing," Heather Owen, the executive director of One Tail at a Time, told NBC Chicago in a statement. 

The pup weighed in at a whopping 85 pounds when he was transferred from Chicago Animal Care & Control to One Tail in early January. Since then, he was put in with a foster family who monitored his diet and gave him regular exercise. Despite being deemed eligible for adoption in May, Kale Chips remains in search of a forever home two months later.

Owen said Kale Chips could "barely walk 10 feet" at the start of his program but can now walk up to a half mile per day. The dog has lost 23 pounds since the start of his regimen and has about another 25 pounds to lose before he's within his ideal weight range. 

The ideal forever home for Kale Chips would be one in the Chicago area where he can continue on his weight-loss program.

He gets along well with other dogs and cats, but would prefer no energetic children, One Tail said. Kale Chips has an "enthusiastic" bark and would do best in a single-family home with people who are home often to spend time with him.

Those interested in potentially adopting Kale Chips should contact One Tail at a Time.

The organization has posted photos and a video to Facebook documenting Kale Chips' transformation.

Editor's Note: Due to an editing error, some versions of this story misstated the dog's name in the headline. It is Kale Chips, not Kale Chip. 

Photo Credit: Sarah Lauch/ One Tail at a Time]]>
<![CDATA[Puppy Missing Ears Recovering]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:31:22 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Shadow+Garland+animal+shelter.jpg

Employees at the Garland Animal Shelter say it’s one of the most difficult cases they’ve seen.

Earlier this week a Garland resident spotted a 4-month-old Labrador-mix abandoned on the street missing its ears.

“It’s obvious someone had butchered this dog’s ears. That’s what I call it, and that’s the first thing that came to mind,” said Garland veterinarian Dr. Robert Osborne. “It was horrifying.”

Osborne said he believes whoever owned the puppy was attempting to clip the dog’s ears and possibly turn it into a fight dog.

“Whoever did it didn’t leave any ear. They cut it off flush with the head. It’s just awful,” he said.

Now, the puppy since named Shadow, is recovering remarkably well.

After arriving at the shelter, he’s received medicine, care and has the playful stamina of any regular puppy.

“Our number one priority is to make sure he’s healthy, well-taken care of and that we find a permanent home for him. And as you can see, he loves to play,” said Garland Animal Shelter spokesperson Uriel Villalpando.

A rescue group, Cody’s Friends Rescue, will foster Shadow until he’s fully healed, neutered and has received all of his vaccinations.

After that, the dog will be available for adoption.

Workers at Garland Animal Services said they have no idea as to the person who hurt Shadow, however they are hoping someone comes forward with information.

Those interested in adopting Shadow can visit: codysfriendsrescue.com.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[It's Like Dog Racism! NYC Pup Owners Decry Co-Op DNA Testing Policy]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:26:37 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dog+breed+dna+test.jpg

Dog-owning residents at one Manhattan co-op are barking mad about a policy instituted at their building that requires tenants to prove the breeds of their pooches.

The board for the 42-floor luxury building at 170 West End Ave. is requiring owners to have veterinarians sign off on their pets’ pedigree or get a DNA test to find out a pup’s breed makeup. The policy is designed to force out dog breeds the board finds troublesome.

"Some, I guess more of the elders, feel stronger for this rule because they don't want dogs jumping on them in elevators," said resident Sam Schwartzben. "It's like a rule so not everyone's getting dogs, but if you pursue it you can definitely get one. It's just to set a standard so not everyone has a dog." 

DNAInfo reports 27 dog breeds are banned under the policy. They run the gamut as far as size, barring toy breeds like Shih Tzu and larger ones, such as pit bulls and German shepherds.

If an owner doesn’t know the makeup of his or her dog, he or she has to get a test proving that the pup’s DNA doesn’t contain more than 50 percent of a banned breed.

A resident who asked to be identified only as Susie said she is a dog walker and couldn't understand why building management would want some of the dogs on the list excluded from the premises. 

"I really think the administration in this building would rather not have dogs and they have all these strict rules because they're trying to decrease the dog population," Susie told NBC 4 New York. "If you live in 170 and you don't give them a DNA test, I don't know what they'd do to you -- I guess get a lawyer."

Another resident told DNAInfo the policy was akin to discrimination.

“It’s like dog racism essentially,” one dog-owning resident told DNAInfo. “It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive.”

The co-op board for the building near Lincoln Center told NBC 4 New York in a statement the decision to add DNA testing to the existing pet policy "was made with the well-being of all who reside in the building in mind, including registered pets." 

"The testing policy may have been misconstrued by some shareholders as a mandate, which is not the case," the statement from the board said. "We understand the significance of pets in people’s lives, and will gladly work with residents to answer questions and address concerns they may have to assure them about the purpose and application of the policy."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Dog and Pig BFFs Find Forever Home Together]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 05:53:50 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/j-and-t.jpg

An unlikely pair of animals have found a forever home together in North Texas.

Jack, a beagle mix and his best friend, Tuna, a 6-month-old pot bellied pig, were inseparable for the moment they arrived at the Humane Society of Texas.

"They are definitely very good friends," said Whitney Hanson, director of development and communications for HSNT.

The unusual duo were recently brought to the Keller Welcome Home Adoption Center and were almost immediately adopted by a loving family.

Photo Credit: Humane Society of North Texas]]>
<![CDATA[One-Eyed Kitten "Sir Stuffington" Becomes an Online Sensation]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:13:15 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/one+eyed+kitten.jpgA rescue cat named Sir Stuffington became an internet sensation when his foster mom put pictures of him wearing an eye patch online. He and his two siblings were taken to the Multmonah County Animal Shelter in Portland. Covered with fleas, and suffering from an upper respiratory infection, "it was clear he had survived some sort of traumatic injury that caused a disfigured jaw and the loss of one eye," the shelter wrote in a blog post. Visitors can volunteer, foster or donate to the shelter here. ]]><![CDATA[Lost Dog, Owner Living Over 1,000 Miles Apart Reunited After 2 Years]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:12:21 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dog+owner+reunite.jpg

A lost dog and its owner -- who have been living over 1,000 miles apart -- are reuniting after two years thanks to the animal's microchip.

Animal rescuers received a call Monday about a dog living in an abandoned house on Long Island.

When rescuers arrived at the Medford home, they found the dog, a female, living among urine and feces, apparently abused and mistreated.

The dog was brought to Save-A-Pet animal rescue center and her story was posted on Facebook.

A day later, a woman called and said the dog, named Jessie, was hers and that she had been searching for the pooch for two years.

"I thought all hope was lost to find my Jessie," Lauren Bates, the dog's owner, said.

Bates is now living in Texas, where she moved after her mother suffered a stroke. Before she left for Texas, she says she entrusted Jessie to someone who ended up giving the dog away.

Guardians of Rescue, the animal rescue organization that initially took Jessie in, used the dog's microchip to identify her as Bates' long lost pup.

"I am so grateful to Guardians of Rescue and Save-A-Pet for the never ending rescue work they do which led to her safe return," Bates said. "We can't wait to get her home to Texas."

Jessie is set to fly from New York to Houston on Tuesday.

Dori Scofield, Guardians of Rescue's vice president, says she hopes the story will get the attention of pet owners.

“Watching a family reunite with their beloved pet is unbelievably rewarding," Scofield said. "Hopefully it encourages others to participate in microchipping their pet."

Both cats and dogs can be microchipped. Implanting the microchips is a painless and quick process, and the devices last a lifetime.

<![CDATA[Adoption Post for Rare Pit Bull-Dachshund Mix Goes Viral ]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:09:15 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dog-montage.jpg

Rami, an unusual and formerly abandoned dog that has the head of a pit bull and the body of dachshund, could soon have a forever home.

The Moultrie Colquitt County Humane Society, an animal shelter in Georgia, is currently accepting applications from people looking to adopt Rami. The dog’s adoption request went viral, after the shelter posted photos and videos of Rami on their Facebook page Tuesday. One post generated more than 3,700 likes, 2,300 comments and 30,400 shares as of Friday.

"He is real!!" the shelter wrote. "Pit Bull and Dachshund mix. If you are looking for a popular/unusual pet, then this is it."

Don Flowers, the shelter's owner, told NBC Owned Television Stations Friday that he has received more than 100 applications from people across the country since the post went viral. 

“This is the first time we have a dog that has gotten such attention,” said Flowers. He calls it “very unusual.”

Flowers said Rami was found abandoned, walking around Colquitt County nine days ago. Rami's story is similar to many of the more than 85 dogs that currently live at the shelter.

“Some were abandoned, while the others were dropped off by their owners because they can't afford to take care of them,” Flowers said. “We’re full now.”

Admitting that it might be difficult to find Rami the right family, the shelter said they expect it to take at least a week to finalize an adoption. And while there are a lot of interest in the rare-mixed dog, Flowers emphasized that there are many others that needed to be adopted.

"We have a lot of dogs here at the shelter,” he said. “They might not be a mixed pit bull breed like him, but they also need a home like he does. We’d appreciate any help."

Adopting Rami would will cost about $174, the shelter said.  

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Lindsey Vonn's Rescue Dog Story]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:08:11 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/200*120/BIS-Lindsey-Vonn.jpgOlympian Lindsey Vonn shares her story about the love her life… her dog Leo.]]><![CDATA['Stuffed Animals': Three Puppies Survive After Sealed in Box]]>Mon, 18 Sep 2017 13:25:47 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_puppiesrescued0420001_1500x845.jpg

Three puppies were rescued from a cardboard box labeled "stuffed animals" left at a Goodwill donation center in Tennessee. The pups, now at an animal shelter, were covered in urine and were suffering from heat exhaustion, as it was nearly 100 degrees inside the sealed container.]]>
<![CDATA[Pets Do Make Good Gifts: Study]]>Wed, 25 Jul 2018 13:45:15 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dogs_generic_shelter_puppies.jpg

Giving a puppy or kitten to the pet lover on your list is a gift idea animal activists have long warned people to avoid. But a national animal welfare group says the fears of pets being rejected or returned are unfounded.

Some shelters around the country are ramping up for Christmas Day deliveries of new family pets, a move applauded by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, whose new study supports seasonal adoptions. But some shelter leaders maintain that adoptions are better left for after the holiday rush.

An ASPCA telephone survey says about 96 percent of responding owners who got their pet as a gift (whether it was a surprise or not) said the way they got the animal increased or had no impact on their love or attachment. About 86 percent of those pets were still in the home or remained with the family until the animals passed away _ the same rate as pets obtained in other ways. The study was conducted in July and published in the journal “Animals” in October.

Until those results, even the ASPCA advised against giving pets as gifts.

Dr. Emily Weiss, the nonprofit's vice president of shelter research and development, says the holidays are an ideal time to adopt a pet “because many of us have time off, and we are around and focused on home and family.”

But not all shelters are convinced. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, which is not affiliated with the national organization, still discourages pets as presents.

“The image of a puppy bounding out of a box is something people relish, but the decision to adopt should be done with purpose,” said Ana Bustilloz of the Los Angeles shelter. “We suggest a gift certificate. That way, the adoption is a gift, but the pet is chosen by the person or the entire family.”

The shelter manager of the Beacon Rescue Animal Shelter in Ocean View, N.J., says there's too much stimulation on Christmas morning for families' new furry friends.

“The first 48 hours with a new pet are crucial,” David Haines said. “You don't want overstimulation. So much is going on. ... I tell people no wild parties, just the family.”

But Joan Adams of Niagara Falls, N.Y., says the holiday season is a great time for adoptions. She got her dog Bella last Dec. 22. She suggested adoptions can help alleviate the Christmastime boost in depression.

“Dogs or cats or whatever the animal require your attention, so you don't concentrate on yourself so much. You concentrate on the animal. It gets people through the holidays and all the days after,” Adams said.

Shelters across the country will deliver pet presents on Christmas Day, but they require someone living in the same house to give the gift.

The SPCA serving Erie County in Buffalo, N.Y., will have 20 volunteers deliver pets to 20 homes as part of their “I'll Be Home for Christmas” special.

That's a change for the shelter. For years, it closed for 10 days before Christmas to avoid people giving pets as presents. With no dogs going out and the usual numbers coming in, the shelter became overcrowded and many animals got sick, spokeswoman Gina Browning said. The shelter tried reducing the closure to seven days, but there was little improvement.

This year, shelter employees will place as many animals as possible as part of its Christmas special. There is a $100 fee for the special delivery, in addition to adoption expenses, Browning said.

At the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center in Pittsburgh, this will be the third year of holiday deliveries. People can sign up until Dec. 23, and the shelter will hold and care for the animal and deliver it on Christmas Day for a $25 fee, executive director Dan Rossi said.

Volunteers from the Humane Society of Pinellas Inc., in Clearwater, Fla., will be delivering pets this Christmas for the first time. Twila Cole, the shelter's director of development, will be among the volunteers.

“My husband and I don't have kids, so this will be a wonderful new tradition for us,” Cole said. “Some people work in soup kitchens, but for an animal activist, what better way to help than delivering a pet to its forever home?”

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

<![CDATA[Rocks in Starving Dog's Stomach]]>Mon, 20 Jul 2015 18:21:05 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dog-Rocks-Stomach.jpg

A Long Island woman was arrested after vets found rocks in her emaciated pit bull's stomach, authorities say. 

Madison Cammarata of East Patchogue faces misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after the 7-year-old dog, named Duncan, was brought to the Guardians of Rescue shelterin May, according to the Suffolk County SPCA. 

Veterinarians discovered that Duncan had the stones in his belly and euthanized him because of his poor prognosis. 

Cammarata, 22, was arrested Sunday. She's due back in court in September. 

It's unclear whether Cammarata has a lawyer who can comment on the allegation. There was no immediate response to a message left Monday at a possible phone number for her.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

<![CDATA[Pet Adoption: Finding Your Pet Match]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 06:23:25 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pet-adoption-tips.jpgJessica Vaccaro from Animal Care and Control of New York City talks about the organization's new pet adoption program.]]><![CDATA[Dog With Deformed Legs Abandoned]]>Thu, 16 Jul 2015 05:48:36 -0700https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/11430267_782106921897428_6129235092300946356_n.jpg

Quasimodo the dog has not had an easy life.

Born with deformed legs, he had to crawl on his elbows to get around. His owner decided he was too much trouble to keep, and he was dumped out of a pickup truck onto the side of a New Jersey road in August. 

But Lianne Hughes saw something special in him. She met the pup while working at an animal shelter and fell in love while fostering him.  Hughes named him Quasimodo after "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" character -- deformed but with a big heart.

"He's big, he's silly, he doesn't know he's any different," she said. "He's just got a heart of gold."

"I saw him and I just knew I had to help him," she said. 

Hughes started fundraisers to help pay for Quasi's medical bills, and the response was incredible: $5,000 was donated for the special surgery needed to fix his legs. 

"Even people that don't meet him want to help him immediately, just seeing his pictures, his story," said Hughes. 

Suddenly, the bowlegged dog no one wanted was hopping on a private plane for his surgery, thanks to the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team. After the procedure in May, volunteers from the rescue team carried Quasi out, and he was reunited with Lianne and his new family. 

Like every dog, Quasi wants to jump and run outside, but he needs more time to recover. He's wearing casts and booties for the next five weeks, and then he'll able to put all his energy to good use. 

But for now, Quasi won't ever have to worry about being abandoned again. 

"You can't not love him," said Hughes.