Sunday, April 28, 2013

Change the World in 30 Seconds

A few days ago the book How to Change the World in 30 Seconds: A Web Warrior's Guide to Animal Advocacy Online came in the mail. I first heard about this book during the last blog hop. The blog that mentioned it had a 50% off coupon code. Help animals, save money -- you know I'm a sucker for that! The book is less than 100 pages so I read it pretty quickly. I have mixed feelings about what I read. On the plus side, the book gave lots of concrete examples of things to do and places to go to make a difference. I'll discuss these in a minute. Unfortunately, it also promotes some of the kooky, almost conspiracy-theory things I have to fight on a regular basis -- I should probably explain that too, hunh?

OK, first the good stuff:
  1. Freekibble -- This is a fun site. It has a daily trivia question (and I love trivia). Whether you answer right or wrong, sponsors donate food to animal shelters for every visit to the site. You can click once daily, and you can even sign up for a reminder email.
  2. The Animal Rescue Site -- Like Freekibble, this site has sponsors that donate food to shelters for every click they receive. You can click once daily here as well. The site also have a store where you can purchase clothes, jewelry, pet supplies and more. Additional bowls of food are donated with every purchase.  
  3. The book discusses online petitions (which I doubt the effectiveness of) and letter-writing campaigns (which I believe are very effective) and gives the particulars of how they work. Letters to the editor are also discussed -- but really, who reads newspapers anymore?
  4. Social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) can spread information instantly. The author discusses how social media can be used to arrange transport for animals and showcase animals available for adoption. Blogs can be used to promote issues.
  5. Online fundraising is explained briefly. Surprisingly, she didn't mention First Giving or any of the other online fundraising sites I've seen (and donated through).
  6. Web addresses are given to download various flyers and brochures.
And the other stuff:
  1. The Dogs in Danger section is overly dramatic. I get tired of hearing about evil "kill" shelters, and am disappointed when I see the No Kill movement vilify municipal, open-admissions shelters to promote their agenda. There are better, more productive ways to save animals than pitting agencies against each other. (OK, off the soap box -- for now.)
  2. Some information is inaccurate -- heart sticking being the most obvious to me. (This is used during euthanasia.) The inflammatory verbiage used turned me off as well.
  3. The possible perils are grossly exaggerated. The author states that among other things, "Free to a Good Home" pets on Craigslist are sold to laboratories, fed to pet snakes and used in satanic rituals. I've heard these stories a hundred times during my eight years in animal control, but have never seen facts backing them up. The author didn't offer any either, which is disappointing because she was so meticulous with her other stats and sources.
All in all, after the coupon I spent $7 (including shipping) on the book. I think it was worth it for me, kooky propaganda aside. If you feel differently you can borrow my copy. Or you can keep reading my blog for free. You know I'll share anything I feel is important. -- K

Saturday, April 27, 2013


The Bark Box is here! Actually it came a week ago, but I've been so busy with dog club stuff (newsletter, obedience trials, prepping for Star Puppy graduation) that I haven't been blogging. So, want to know what was in the box?

First off, there was a Nuts for Knots Rope from Mulitpets. It's big and sturdy and great for tugging. Jedi and I had fun playing with it in the yard. We have other rope toys, but this one is different. This rope is made of hundreds of thin cotton strings, causing the ends to fray in fun way. The rope reminds me of a bird toy. Jedi likes to chew on the fuzzy ends.

We also got a pack of Freeze Dried Duck Meat Treats from Etta Says! This is weird. Because it's freeze dried, it's very light and compact. The cubes are the size of  dice (that would be the standard d6 for all my nerdy friends) and weigh next to nothing. The consistency reminds me of the Astronaut Ice Cream we use to get at the Smithsonian. The dogs were hesitant to eat it at first, but piggy Jedi got over that quickly. What I like about the product is that it is 100% duck meat (no additives, fillers, coloring or preservatives) and is made in the USA from American Farms.

Also from Etta Says! was a 4" Duck Chew. This didn't last long. I saved it for Game of Thrones night, hoping to avoid the previous week's Game of Thrones experience. Jedi sat quietly in his crate for the entire episode. Thank you duck chew! This is a product I would buy again.

There was a Stuffed Shin Bone from Barkworthies. I gave it to Jedi, but would only let him chew it lying in my office while I worked on the newsletter. He tried to carry it off into another room a couple times, but once he figured out what I wanted I got almost an hour of computer time. He was content and I got the newsletter finished. I will definitely invest in more stuffed bones!

We got two Licks Joint and Heart Liquid Vitamin Drink Supplements. The dogs liked it, though I don't know if I'd buy it on a regular basis. I'm not big on supplements.

And last but not least, a pack of Groom Mitts from Aussie Naturals. This is so weird. There are ten disposable mitts in a pop-up pack that reminds me of baby wipes. I haven't used one yet, but I did open the pack to get a sniff. They smell kind of lemony. I'll try them out next week at the Fun Match before we go into the ring.

Wait!!! Did I mention the Fun Match? The Jacksonville Dog Fanciers' Association is hosting an AKC Sanctioned All-Breed Fun Match (no points) next Saturday and Jedi and I signed up. We're not ready, but I need the kick in the pants. Plus, my GSD club is selling concessions at the match. Our attendance and $7 entry fee will support both clubs -- never let it be said that Kelley isn't a team player! Look for a blog post about our first ring experience next week. -- K

P.S. Want your own Bark Box? Click here and get $5 off!

Jedi likes his new rope!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Obedience Trials

I spent yesterday at my NEW dog club, stewarding for the obedience trails. Wow. Obedience is a lot busier than conformation. I’m not quite sure what I was doing, but there were three distinct levels that I worked.

  1. The first was Novice. While on leash, the dog and handler performed a series of heel exercises with which included moving forward at normal, slow and fast paces, with various turns and halts. When directed, two stewards would enter the ring and stand as posts, approximated 8 feet apart. The dog/handler team would figure eight around the stewards. The same heeling exercises were performed off leash as well. At one point the handler would put her dog in a sit/stay, cross the ring and recall the when directed. The dog was supposed to run straight to the owner (some did not) and sit in the "front" position. After each team has performed these exercises, all participants returned to the ring and performed two exercised together. The dogs were put in to a sit say and the handlers crossed the ring. The dogs were to stay where put for one minute. Then the exercise was repeated for a three minute down/stay. A perfect score is 200 and points are deducted for incorrect moves. Some things (like getting up during the stay) would count as an NQ (not qualified). Apparently anything over a 170 counts towards the title.
  2. Things got more complicated from there! Next was the Open level. The dog would heel off leash and figure eight, similar to the Novice. During a recall the dog had to drop on command -- this tripped up several dogs. The dog also retrieved a dumbbell, jumped over a high jump, and jumped over a broad jump. (The jumps are set at certain heights/lengths depending on the size of the dog. The stewards have to adjust the jumps in between dogs.) Like in novice, the dogs had long sits and downs, but the times were extended to 3 and 5 minutes, respectively, and the owners had to leave the dogs’ sight during the exercise. One of the jobs the ring stewards do is block the entrance to the ring in case a dog decides to make a run for it -- and we had a few that did just that!
  3. The last level I worked was Utility. This was the most impressive of them all. The dog had to respond to hand signals for sit, stay, stand, down and come – no talking was allowed. The dog was required to heel, stand and stay in place as the handler moved away for the judge performed a hands-on examination. The broad jump was removed, but a bar jump was added to the ring (at the same height as the high jump still in the ring). The handler would send the dog across the ring and direct it to sit. At the judge’s direction, the handler would recall the dog over the specified jump (bar or high). Another exercise involved three gloves placed at the opposite end of the ring. The dog was directed to retrieve a specific glove. Most impressive though, was the scent discrimination. The handler provides the steward with five metal and five leather dumbbells. Each set is numbered 1 through 5 (though I saw some numbered 6 through 10). Two dumbbells with the same number (i.e. the #4 leather and #4 metal) were removed with tongs. Then the steward scattered the other 8 dumbbells in a circle. The handler picked up one dumbbell and rubbed her scent on it. At that point she and the dog turned their backs to the pile as the touched article was placed among the others. This is done without anybody else touching it (this judge used a pencil and her clipboard). The dog is sent to the articles and must find the right one (in this case #4). Then the exercise is repeated with the other dumbbell. Every dog I saw was able to get the right one!
I worked the trials for one day and came home with my head spinning! Apparently each level has different classes as well. There's Pre-something and Graduate-something.  . . . Holy cow I thought Conformation was confusing! It was really neat to watch. However, Jedi and I are going to have to work A LOT harder to even get to the Novice level. He’s smart enough, but am I? Do I have the kind of discipline needed to get there? I'll let you know! -- K

One day this will be Jedi!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

BtC4animals -- My Favorites

Blog the ChangeDid you check out the other blogs in this month’s Blog the Change for Animals? I did! Here are the blogs that really spoke to me:
How to Change the World in 30 Seconds -- This blog discussed the book How to Change the World in 30 Seconds, A Web Warrior’s Guide to Animal Advocacy Online by C.A. Wulff. The blogger gave a few examples of things a person can do to make a difference, saying the book contains even more. I am a big fan of concrete examples. I believe that most people want to help but have no idea how. (PSST: I've been one of those people.) So, you know I ordered the book! There was even a link with a 50% discount code. The book should be here any day now. I'll let you know what I think.

Targeting Maryland's Breed Specific Law -- This is from Go Pet Friendly, one of my favorite blogs. It seems that my former state has decided that all pit bulls -- regardless of their actions -- are "inherently dangerous" and not only are owners "strictly liable" but so are various third parties (i.e. landlords and homeowner associations). The fear of litigation is forcing pit bull owners to surrender dogs and/or change their living situations. This blog asks that readers contact the Governor and State House of Representatives (the phone # is given). Talk about giving a concrete example!

Dog Leashes: Be Aware of Dangers -- I wasn't fond of the layout of this blog, but the warning caught me off guard. We use leashes all the time; it's easy to become complacent. It reminded me of an incident we had at work last fall. A resident tied his dog's leash to the gear shift of his car and left the windows down while he ran into the CVS for a few minutes. Unfortunately the dog jumped out the open window during that time. The man came out to see his French bulldog hanging. He watched his pet take it's last breath; the little dog was dead by the time he got to the vet. The dog was this man's life -- we had discussed it several times. This man was quite the talker, and I ran into him often on the beach. I felt horrible because I knew the man had recently divorced and lost his job. I was afraid losing his dog would devastate him. I sent a sympathy card from the animal control office, left messages on his machine to give me call if he "needed to talk" and sent him an email just to say that I was thinking of him. He never responded -- and the police broke into his home and found his dead body several days later. Did the man kill himself or did he die of a broken heart? Either way, it's one of the saddest calls of my career.

4 Reasons to Train Your Dog (for life!) -- Wow. I loved this post. The author eloquently advocated training your dog beyond the basics of sit, down and shake. This is especially important if you have a working breed. What really touched me though was the honest portrayal of training a dog. It's not always easy for me and it's nice to hear someone say the same thing. It's also to be reminded that it's worth the effort. I read several other posts in this blog as well and felt "Maybe I can do this." I look forward to reading more. And apparently I need to look at some Jon Katz books.

How about you? What were your favorites? -- K

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jedi's Dog Park Experience

I took Jedi to the dog park. A big retention pond sits in the middle of the park. There was a tennis ball floating in the pond. He likes tennis balls but wasn't sure about all that water. He'd never been in anything bigger than the child's wading pool we use to bathe him. He thought about it, but decided he didn't want the tennis ball after all. He spent the next 20 minutes sniffing every tree in the park. BTW, there are a lot of trees in the park.

I was ready to leave when Ginger showed up. Ginger is a beautiful 3 year old Belgian Tervuren. At first Jedi barked at her with his hackles up. (When did he become such an ass?) Ginger thought he was being an ass too and stayed away. Ginger's owner and I chatted for a while then I remembered I had cookies in my pocket. I yelled "Who wants a cookie?" Both dogs came running! Ginger and Jedi both love cookies and became instant friends. They chased each other around the park so fast that I couldn't get any decent pictures.

One of Ginger's favorite things to do at the dog park is swim in the pond. "Come on in" she seemed to bark at Jedi. He acted like he wasn't sure. Suddenly he jumped in -- jumped! Ginger's owner laughed and asked "Does Jedi know how to swim?" Oh shit!

Jedi gave me a panicked look. I handed my cell phone to Ginger's owner and ran to the water. Fortunately he realized he could dog paddle and made it back to the shore. Then he shook that nasty pond water all over me. Thanks buddy!

Jedi was worn out from all the running and swimming. He ended up sleeping for the rest of the day. (Only to be wide awake and ready to play just as the new episode of Game of Thrones came on -- thank Comcast for On Demand!)

What I learned today:
  • Jedi needs to meet more unfamiliar dogs. Apparently play dates with his siblings and weekly puppy classes aren't cutting it.
  • I don't want my dog to be an ass.
  • Jedi CAN swim.
  • I should always keep cookies in the pockets and towels in the car.
  • I should also have a Kong stuffed and ready to go on Game of Thrones night.
Life is better with a dog! -- K

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Crazy Job

I'm an animal control officer, and sometimes I hate my job. Six months ago I told the story of Butthead Woman who was trying to sell eight 5-week old puppies. When I tried to explain to Ms. Head why this was illegal under Florida's Pet Lemon Law she gave me a litany of excuses ranging from she didn't know puppies needed to see the vet to HUD needed to find her a house in the country. Today the same woman came in and surrendered the mother dog and her remaining puppy. Apparently the government didn't come through with a country home and her apartment complex is fed up with her pit bulls running amok. (She ended up giving the other puppies away, therefore by-passing the vet requirement under the law. Stupid loopholes.) Neither remaining dog has seen the vet since . . . well, ever. Both dogs will be transferred to the county shelter tomorrow and will hopefully be sterilized, vaccinated, and adopted to a new owner. I would almost call this a happy ending, except Ms. Head's parting comment was that she "bought a Shit Zoo from a lady in Georgia but ain't seen it yet." I'd bet my next paycheck that I see her and/or her new dog before Christmas. Some days I wonder why I do this job. The pay sucks, the animals bite and I have been called things that would make Chris Rock blush.

On those days I try to think of the animals I've helped over the years, animals like Sammy the kitten. He had been dumped in the local nature preserve and was dying of pneumonia. I was able to nurse him back to health and find him a good home. I keep a picture of Nina the Carolina dog above my desk. She was a scared, dirty stray when I found her. She eventually came around and I was able to rehome her with a former coworker. I get periodic updates. She's living the good life at the beach.

I also try to remember the crazy calls. A couple years ago I got a call about drunk woman riding horseback (RWI?) down the highway. The police detained the owner and I impounded the horse. I'm a city girl and know nothing about horses! Horsey and I walked to the kennel, stopping -- a lot! -- to eat clover along the way. It took an hour to walk one mile. And then there was the time I had to call in reinforcements to help me catch a pair of wayward goats. Horses and goats are not your typical beach animals, but you'd be surprised what I've dealt with. Sometimes I stick around just to see what happens next.

Mostly though, I stay for the people. (You thought I was going to say "animals," didn't you?) Yes, I deal with some real jerks and my stress level would drop significantly if I were allowed to carry a Taser. (Just kidding, no need to call HR.) But then there are days when I can help someone, teach a child, make a difference. Those are my favorite days. And I have met some of the nicest, most dedicated people in the animal community. There is no way I could name them all, but I'd like to acknowledge some that really stand out in the Jacksonville area.
  • At an age when most couples start thinking about retirement, Pat and Dave Watson started up a low-cost mobile vet clinic. Then they added a stand-alone clinic. Now they're opening a second one. Animals all over Northeast Florida are better off because of their vision.
  • Saint Francis Animal Hospital has also stepped up to help the animals of the area, regardless of the owner's income. They recently opened 24-hour emergency clinic -- at the same rates as daytime appointments. "Our fees are not inflated just because it is after hours."
  • Friends of Jacksonville Animals (FOJA) is a non-profit organization that works directly with the city and county animal control agencies to "benefit the lives of shelter animals by focusing on fund raising to assist with medical care, enrich the shelter environment, promote adoptions, and reduce euthanasia."
I have also met some incredible people through blogging. I am pleased to participate in

Blog the Change  

Please visit the blogs in this hop and see what others are doing to help animals. I'll share my favorites with you next week. -- K

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Catching Up

Figuring the points for Winners Bitch
It's been a while since my last post. Sorry. Last weekend's dog shows went really well. This was a change of date and location for us. (For the past 6 or 7 years we've held our shows in Orlando during the first weekend of January.) The number of entries was lower than usual, but we expected that. However, everybody who participated said that they really liked the space and amenities of the Fairgrounds. Hopefully word will get out and our numbers will be up next year. The good thing about the change of venue was that we got a lot more members to help out. Last year only six members made the 3-hour trip to Orlando. This year nearly 20 different people helped out, including a bunch of new members. YEA!

We had 16 dogs in the morning show and 19 in the afternoon show. There were enough entries to give a major (3 points towards Champion title) in bitches for both shows. The morning show Winners Bitch belonged to a club member and was handled by her 12 year old granddaughter -- who beat out two professional handlers for the win! Granddaughter has been handling two years. I wish I had started as at a young age. Did they even have junior handling in the late 70s? Am I that old?! sigh. My Breeder entered three dogs as well -- two of Jedi's litter mates and his older half-brother. The dogs were handled by her 13 and 14 year old nieces. It was the first time any of them -- dog or human -- had been in the ring. I was impressed by the girls' poise and grace. I stood on the sidelines and was anxious just thinking about it! I'm going to have to get out my Big Girl Panties if I'm going to do this.

Several other German Shepherd Dog Club tidbits: Most of the current board members have held their position for quite a while and want to step down. It was announced that elections were coming up and nobody threw their hat into the ring. I was on the nomination committee. Three of us got together over some really good wine and brainstormed about who could lead our club to greatness. We came up with a handful of names and began calling. Imagine my surprise when everybody said yes! Wednesday was our monthly club meeting. The place was packed with twice the usual members and a half dozen guests. I have been asked to take over the club newsletter. I was drinking at the time (I see a pattern here!) and had a false sense of bravery so I said yes. UGH. I've been obsessing over the newsletter all weekend. It's not nearly as easy as blogging -- I kind of expect people to read the newsletter. It doesn't help that I'm using a crappy Microsoft template. I hope it'll get easier once I find a format that I like.

As if I didn't have my hands full with the German Shepherd Dog Club, I have been accepted as a provisional member of the K9 Obedience Club. To become a full member I need to attend two general meetings and be actively involved in two club sponsored events over the next six months. Good timing on my part -- there's a meeting on Thursday followed by Rally and Obedience Trials next weekend. I have no idea what I'm doing but I promise to share anyway. We can learn together!

The dogs at Huffman Park during a much-needed break
Doggie stuff aside, my personal life has been busy too. I had applied for the Volunteer Coordinator position at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens last year. Three weeks ago they contacted me and asked if I was still interested. Uh, YES! I thought the phone interview went well, but last week I got the "Thanks but we went with somebody else" letter. It was a nice letter, but it still hurt. I didn't realize how much I wanted that job. Truth is, I don't want to be an animal control officer forever. I'm getting too old to chase dogs, and I'm tired of dealing with the same problems. Most of the issues are stupid and preventable. I'd like to do something different. And I'd like something more proactive. Any suggestions? Any offers? And then there's taxes. I owe this year so I've been putting things off. Now we're down to the wire and I'm stressing over it. The big question: How can I earn less but still owe more?

So now you're caught up. Between blogging, writing the newsletter, and the dozens of emails that go with it, I have been at the computer for most of the weekend. My butt has molded itself to the chair and my mood has deteriorated. I'm going to log off and take the dogs to the park. There's no reason for all of us to be grumpy. Until next time, -- K

P.S. Answer to "the big question:" 1099s vs. W2s.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Cook Your Dog

It's getting warmer here in Florida. Today it was in the low 80s -- and it's barely April! My office is already receiving "dog locked in a car" calls. The sad truth is that every year dogs die because their owners leave them in parked cars while shopping or running errands. Even “just a few minutes” can be too much. Here are some facts to consider:
  • Dogs don’t sweat. The only way they can cool themselves is through panting and the pads of their feet. 
  • Dogs can suffer from heat stroke in just 15 minutes. This causes heart problems, nerve damage, brain damage, liver damage and/or death.
  • Older dogs, snub-nosed dogs (like boxers and pugs), and double coated dogs (like huskies and shepherds) are even more likely to overheat.
  • When it is 78° outside the internal temperature of a car can reach 90° in 5 minutes; It can be 110° in 20 minutes. That's an increase of one degree every minute!
  • Studies show that cracking the windows has little effect on the internal temperature of the car.
  • The sun moves. A car parked in the shade can be in full sun in a short period of time, thus causing the car to heat up even faster.      
Please leave your dog at home during the warmer months. Whatever you're doing is not worth the risk to his health. And if you see a dog locked in a car call animal control or your local police department immediately. -- K

Check out My Dog Is Cool for more info.

Dog Show 101

Hubby and I spent most of the weekend at dogs shows. I am NOT an expert in this area (I'm not even a novice really) yet I found myself explaining things to people who knew less than me. Here is some of the stuff I think newbies need to know to enjoy the show.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has different types of dog shows -- Agility, Conformation, Field Trails, Obedience, Rally, and Tracking being the big six. Today I'm talking about Conformation, where dogs run around the ring and are judged as to how well they "conform" to the breed standard. Thanks to the televising of Westminster Kennel Club's annual dog show, most people are familiar with this type of show.

Conformation shows come in different varieties: the Specialty Show and the All Breed Show. Hubby and I attended both this weekend. (Apparently there is also a Multi-Breed Show -- more than one breed but less than an all breed -- but I've never seen one.)

On Friday the German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida held two specialty shows, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. These shows were only open to German shepherds. The dogs were separated into Dogs (males) or Bitches (females) and entered into different classifications:
  • Puppy, 6-9 months
  • Puppy, 9-12 months
  • Puppy, 12-18 months
  • Novice (for dogs over 6 months old that haven't won first place more than twice)
  • Bred By Exhibitor (for dogs being shown by the person who bred, owns and handles it)
  • American Bred (for dogs bred in the United States)
  • Open (for all eligible dogs over 6 months old)
A dog can be entered in only one class per show, and handlers put a lot of thought into which class they choose. Chances are that the Open class will be the largest and most competitive group, so handlers often choose a smaller class if available.

The males went first. (Males always show first.) The judge carefully examined each dog. She had them run around the ring together and separately so she could look at the dogs' gait and movement. She also put her hands on each dog, checking teeth, testicles and everything in between. The judge compared each dog to the breed standard, which she must know by heart. (FYI: The breed standard for German shepherds is here.) The winner of each class was brought back into the ring to determine the Winners Dog. Then the judge did the same thing with the females to determine the Winners Bitch. Winners Dog and Winners Bitch both received points towards their championship title. (Points can be confusing. I'll try to explain them in another post.)

Afterwards, the Winners Dog and Winners Bitch were brought back into the ring. They were joined by dogs of both sexes who have already received their championship title. All these dogs competed for the title Best of Breed (BOB). Best of Opposite Sex (BOS) was given to the best dog of the opposite sex of the BOB. The Winners Dog and Winners Bitch also competed to determine who was the Best of Winners (BOW). By the way, it is possible for the BOW to be BOB or BOS as well.

A specialty show stops here. However, in an All-Breed show BOB competitions are going on in multiple rings for every breed. At the end of the day each BOB winner competes with the other dogs of his respective Group (Sporting, Hound, Working, Toy, Non-Sporting or Herding). The Group winners then compete for Best in Show.

The Greater Orange Park Dog Club held All-Breed shows on both Saturday and Sunday. Over 800 dogs competed simultaneously in six separate rings. It was fun and exciting to watch, though we didn't stay to see Best in Show. We were tired and none of club members made BOB for German shepherds.

For more info on Dog Showing, I recommend The Absolute Guide to Showing Your Dog by Cheryl S. Smith. I got this book several years ago and read it cover to cover. I still refer to it when I get confused -- which is pretty often! Did you learn something or did I just make it worse? Either way, I hope to see you at the next show! -- K

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Wash Your Hands!

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. As an animal control officer I have the potential to catch all kinds of icky things. I carry a double-sided card in my wallet that reads:

The holder of this card, by way of occupation, is routinely exposed to certain zoonotic diseases not routinely considered in differential diagnosis. In the event of serious illness of this individual, please consider:


* Brucellosis * Campylobacteriosis * Cat Scratch Disease * Cryptococcosis * 

* Cryptosporidiosis * Escherichia Coli * Giardiasis * Hantavirus * Herpes B *

* Histoplasmosis * Hookworm * Uncinaria Stenocephala * Leishmaniasis * Lyme

Disease * Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis * Monkey Pox * Plague * Psittacosis * Coxiella Burnetti * Rabies * Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever * Salmonellosis * Toxoplasmosis *

* Tuberculosis * Tularemia * West Nile Virus * Yersiniosis *

This list doesn't include the routine parasites and fungi all animal owners face -- things like fleas, ticks, scabies and ringworm. If you handle animals regularly you could be susceptible to this stuff as well. Are you totally grossed out now? Wondering how not to get all these disgusting things? A few simple tips:
  1. Wash your hands -- a lot -- especially after handling feces, reptiles, and/or turtles.
  2. Provide your animals with good flea and tick prevention (from the vet, not that crap you buy at Walmart). If Fluffy's not bringing fleas and ticks into the house, your chances of catching them drop considerably.
  3.  Routinely check your animals for fleas, ticks, flea dirt, open sores, hot spots and bald patches. If something doesn't look right, go to the vet! If your pet gets cooties, try not to take it personally. Even my pampered pup from an excellent breeder had demodex.
  4. Clean up animal waste regularly -- preferably when it's fresh -- and actually inspect it. (I know, eeewww.) Look for signs of worms. Round worms look like spaghetti; tape worms look like rice. Both are easy to treat. Also look for loose or bloody stools. Again, if you think something's hinky, go to the vet!
  5. When in doubt use a barrier protection, especially around unfamiliar animals. I wear latex gloves when cleaning the litter boxes of stray cats. I worked with a vet tech who wore a surgical mask in the cat room to protect herself from toxoplasmosis while she was pregnant.
  6. Pay attention to your own health. If something doesn't seem right, go to the doctor. Sometimes shit happens even when you're doing everything right. Despite my best efforts, I contracted ringworm (kittens are notorious for carrying it). Some of my friends and coworkers have had cat scratch disease, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever -- none of which were pleasant.
Hope this helps. -- K