Laws To Responsible Pet Ownership

Many people sadly underestimate what is involved in taking proper care of a pet. Being a  responsible pet owner is so much more than just providing adequate water, food and shelter for your pet. In this blog entry we are going to share what we consider to be the 20 “laws” when it comes to being a responsible pet parent.

  1. Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. If you can’t make the commitment, don’t get the pet. Its really that simple and there are no excuses.
  2. As the saying goes, “Don’t buy a puppy if you don’t want a dog”. Puppies are for life. All puppies grow up and eventually become old, requiring special care in their golden years. The same rule applies to cats and all other pets.
  3. Choose a pet that fits your lifestyle. Don’t get a highly energetic dog, if you don’t have the time to exercise him. He’ll only end up channelling his energy toward ‘creative’ things that you will interpret as destructive and annoying behaviour! eg: digging up the garden, chewing the garden furniture, incessant barking etc …
  4. If you can’t afford regular grooming or can’t do the grooming yourself, pick a low maintenance dog or cat with a short and easy coat to maintain.
  5. Don’t make your pet a “backyard pet” – otherwise why have one? Pets, especially dogs, thrive on companionship and need to be with their human pack. Make them part of your family! It’ll be so rewarding :-)
  6. Spay or neuter your pets. There are thousands of homeless animals who die each year in shelters across the country. You don’t want to add to the problem. Despite the added health benefits of sterilising your pet, believe us when we tell you that your garden wall is no barrier for Fido when discovers his inner Olympic medal athelete in search of his Petunia!
  7. Be aware of weather conditions. NEVER leave your pet in the car as just 6 minutes is all that separates him from life and death. Also, leaving pets in the yard on a hot day without adequate shelter and water is risking their life. The same applies on a very cold day.
  8. Make sure your home is “pet” safe. Pesticides, medications, household cleaners, electrical cables and some houseplants can be deadly to your pet. Keep them all well out of reach. General rule of thumb – if your home is safe for young children, it should be safe for pets – keeping in mind that cats can jump!
  9. Put an identification tag on your pet… it is your pets only ticket back home. Both dogs and cats need identification!! Microchipping is excellent insurance, but an external tag is also essential as it could mean your neighbor returning your pet to you immediately instead of turning him into the pound. A simple collar tag with your personal mobile number is all it takes.
  10. Socialise your puppy at an early age – the sooner the better! Contact your local training school as they will normally have puppy socialisation classes that are safe for your puppy to attend as the first innoculation is always mandatory.
  11. Never let your pets run loose. Dogs should be walked leashes at all times. For the safety of your pet, any outdoor off leash access should be in a secure and preferably fenced area and not before your dog has mastered the recall perfectly.
  12. Unless you live in an incredibly quiet street (with little to no SLOW moving traffic or other threats), keep your cat indoors. An outdoor cat’s average lifespan is only 3 years, yet an indoor cat’s average lifespan is 14 years. In either case always bring them indoors at night time.
  13. Provide your pet with a proper diet with the right nutrition. Obesity can be as deadly as malnutrition. Be aware that some human foods can be deadly, such as chocolate, raisins whilst fatty foods can cause pancreatitis.
  14. Make sure your pets get the proper amount of exercise for their age, breed and personality. It’s a great way for you to spend quality time with them and get active yourself in the process!
  15. Keep your pets safe and out of harms way. Never leave a puppy or dog unattended in a garden where the public can see and gain access to them. Dog napping is on the increase and many dogs have been stolen whilst left alone in back yards.
  16. Always provide veterinary care for your pet when you pet is unwell. Keep their vaccinations up to date and make sure they have at least one annual check-up.
  17. Take extra precautions when you anticipate fireworks or loud thunderstorms. Fireworks and thunderstorms can be the scariest time for pets, so make sure your pets are secure indoors with some distraction like a television or radio.
  18. Be kind to your pet and show him with love how much he means to you … remember you are his whole world.
  19. Take special care of your pet during his senior years. Be kind, attentive and patient.
  20. Be the person your pet thinks you are!

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Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 4 – Visitors

This is a challenge not everyone faces as some pets love visitors and behave very well when visitors are around. If this is the case, then you’re in the fortunate position of only having to worry about your visitors behaviour and not your pets! Other pets however may be fearful, aggressive or be so full of holiday cheer that they become over-exuberant and just about obliterate your guests. You know your dogs best, so plan accordingly.

If your dog is a rescue with a background of abuse, it may be best to prepare a quiet room, away from the commotion with his blanket, favourite toys, water and food available. This should make him feel safe and less fearful of the onslaught of guests.

If you have exuberant dogs, on the other hand, you may want to do a refresher course on obedience before the holidays which will help keep them calm, more in control and less excitable. It’s always a good idea to take them for a walk before the guests arrive so that they expend most of their energy on the walk and not in flattening your guests. Its important however to let your visitors know of any household rules regarding your pets, like not leaving gates open, being aware of them sneaking out, not allowing them to jump on the couch and not feeding them from the table, not feeding them at all. We have a rather interesting one at our house – not leaving the toilet seat cover up. Our Bruno has a disgusting habit of drinking from the toilet … delightful! Defining the house rules with guests is particularly important if they are going to be staying at your home for a few days.

If you’re planing to spring clean the house in preparation for the guests arriving, be aware that certain cleaning products and disinfectants may be toxic for your pets. Be particularly aware of what you use to clean the floor in the kitchen and dining areas, as accidental spills will be temping for your dogs and cats to lick up.

With all of the festivities, guests and general chaos that surrounds the holiday season don’t forget to relax and spend some quality time with your pets. They will think that is the best gift of all!

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Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 3 – The Gifts

Gifts Under The Tree

Gifts left under the tree can be extremely tempting, especially if they are made up of rawhide or other edible items, such as home made biscuits from Aunt Betty or the box of chocolates from Granny Liz. Most often they also have pretty ribbon as part of the wrapping which could be hazzardous. It is best to place gifts under the tree only once you are able to supervise pets and children around the tree which is normally just before they are opened.

If you have decided to include your pet in the Christmas festivities (as we do) and have bought your pet a gift, make sure you remove ribbons or ties before you present gifts to them. If played with and swallowed, yarn, ribbon or string on gifts can cause intestinal obstruction, requiring emergency surgery.

Perfumes and after-shaves most often contain ethanol (alcohol) and perfumes also contain essential oils to give them their scent, which can be very toxic to pets if ingested.

Toys and gifts which contain batteries can be hazzardous in that the batteries are extremely toxic and can also cause intestinal obstruction if swallowed. Keep batteries separately in a safe place until they are ready to be inserted in the gift.

Pet Gifts and Treats

When choosing a holiday gift for your special friend, be sure it is safe – no small pieces that could come off and be swallowed. Choose healthy holiday treats for your pets and give them in moderation. If you’re unsure of what toys and treats are safe for your pets, visit a pet product store or better yet, purchase them online from a reputable online pet product store like and have the products shipped to you.

Pets As Gifts

Giving a pet (puppy / kitten etc) as a gift is never a good idea, as it is a very personal choice and ultimately it is the pet that suffers for it. If someone is thinking about getting a new pet, rather give them a variety of toys, food, or books on pet care. You may also wish to give a gift certificate to purchase needed supplies once they have selected and brought home their new family member.

Similarly, if thinking about getting a new pet for yourself, remember pets are a responsibility and need routine, a time to bond with you, and are for life! Keeping this in mind, unless you are prepared to tone down the holiday spirit, it may be best to introduce a new ‘furkid’ to your family after the holidays once everything has calmed down.

You can also make the holidays more enjoyable for homeless pets, by contacting your local animal shelter or SPCA to see if you can donate food, kitty litter, toys or time. In addition, if you are able to limit the holiday disruption in your home, you may even consider fostering a pet over the holiday season and in doing so save a life. Sadly the number of unwanted pets soars in the all the shelters around the country during holiday which means an increase in the euthanasia numbers as the facilities reach full capacity. Fostering a pet, frees up that space at the shelter. There are a number of rescue organisations that have no kennels and are only able to rescue animals when they have a foster home available to take them in. Two that we work closely with are African Tails and Aniwell.

With all the holiday excitement, remember to relax and spend some quality time with your family, including your pets this holiday season. Your pets will think that is the best gift of all!

“Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 4 – Visitors” follows on Monday!

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Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 2 – The Christmas Tree

A week into December and the beginning of the holiday season means Christmas trees. With all the excitement, all too often the last thing that is on anyone’s mind is the safety of their pets.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how careful we must be. Christmas trees and their decorations can be extremely hazardous for pets. We have provided some pointers on how to enjoy your Christmas tree whilst keeping your pets (and toddlers!) safe over the festive season. We don’t want any emergency vet visits over the holidays!

  • Place your Christmas tree in a broad, stable stand and attach the tree from the trunk securely to a burglar bar, hook in the wall or anything secure with something like fishing nylon that isn’t too visible. Some people even choose to place the tree inside a child’s play pen, but that’s a personal choice and not everyone has a child’s play pen around. Even though precautions may have been taken, always make sure that your pets are supervised when in a room with a tree.
  • Not many people know that pine tree needles can be toxic, contain traces of insecticides and cause mouth and stomach irritation. Even the needles and the wire of the artificial trees could pose a problem. Be sure your pet isn’t chewing on any branches or eating fallen needles.
  • Shiny and glittery tinsel is eye catching and very attractive to a curious pet. When eaten / swallowed, it can cause blockages which sometimes require emergency surgery to remove. Rather be safe and leave it off the tree altogether.
  • Angel hair and artificial snow are mildly toxic. If consumed in larger amounts, they too can cause a blockage of the intestine which is life threatening and often requires surgical intervention. We live in Africa where there is no snow in December, so our suggestion is to rather leave it off altogether.
  • Make sure that any electrical cords for the Christmas lights are tucked away behind furniture and out of reach. Chewing on electrical cords is common, especially with puppies / kittens and can cause major problems ranging from burned mouths, to electric shock and even death by electrocution. If you have larger lights on your tree, these can become very hot and also cause burns. It is best to unplug decorative lights when you are not in the room and encase exposed extension cords in PVC piping.
  • Those glass glitter balls on the tree may be beautiful, but they also look almost exactly like Fido’s favourite ball outside – well to him anyway. Dogs are often rushed into the emergency vet with serious mouth lacerations or worse – ingestion of glass, after playing with glass ornaments. Sharp ornament hooks can also become imbedded in your pet’s mouth, throat or stomach. Any ornaments that are shiny or could be swallowed or broken should be placed high up on your tree – well out of reach. Larger, less intriguing ornaments can go near the bottom.
  • Those chocolate decorations – snowmen, balls etc … gingerbread men, or any food decoration may be fun, but is asking for problems. Candy canes and gingerbread men can be as enticing to your dog as they are to children. This means that they can get amazingly creative in order to reach those delectable treats on the tree and you could run into, at best, tummy issues from candy / biscuits or worse poisoning from any chocolate, raisins etc … If your pet is a diabetic it could be fatal. Food is best left off the tree altogether.

With all of the festivities, do not forget to relax and spend some quality time with your family, which includes your pets. Your pets will think that is the best gift of all and will reward you with lots of love in return. We would like to wish everyone a peaceful and happy time over the festive season.

“Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 3 -  Gifts” follows tomorrow.

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Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 1 – Decorations & Wrappings

December marks the beginning of the holiday season which everybody welcomes after a busy year and, for those of us who are staying home, also means a time of parties, rich foods, streams of visitors, relatives from out of town, Christmas decorations, pointsettias, shopping trips, present wrapping and general festivities. With all the excitement, all too often the last thing that is on anyone’s mind is the safety of their pets.

We want the holidays to be a happy time for you and your pets, not a time for an emergency visit to your veterinarian. The food and decorations that make the festive season so much fun for us can be extremely dangerous for your pet. Whilst we don’t want to ruin the holiday spirit, we do want you to be aware of the potential dangers and plan carefully to avoid these potential hazards. This is the first of a 4 part series. Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday!

Decorations and Wrappings

  1. All that glitters is not gold. Whilst it is pretty to look at, for a quizzy dog or cat, especially puppies and kittens glittery decorations attract their attention and could potentially be dangerous for your pet. Tinsel, glitter balls (often made of glass) etc … should all be placed well out of reach.
  2. If you use ribbons, yarn and string when wrapping gifts, keep in mind that it can cause intestinal obstruction if swallowed and can sometimes require surgery or be fatal. Ribbons around your dog or cat’s neck may be cute, but are never a good idea as they too can be dangerous, especially if the ribbon gets caught on something or your pet decides to chew on the loose ends.
  3. Adhesives and glues are often toxic and can be attractive to pets, so please don’t leave them lying around.
  4. Potpourri contains oils that can be toxic to dogs if eaten. Whilst we may enjoy the smell and not think of eating it, a quizzy pet may think differently and decide to sample it.
  5. Candles can cause burns and fires. Never leave lit candles unattended or within nose reach or tail reach of your pet. Our Pit Bull Bruno has an overactive “happy” tail, so we’re always careful of not to leave glasses and candles on the edge of coffee tables that can get easily ‘swished’ off by a wagging tail. We also have 3 hyperactive kittens in the house that sometimes skid onto tables.
  6. Few things are more tempting to a playful dog (or cat) than a game of tug-of-war. The dangling ends of a table cloth may look very tempting to your pooch. Try to keep items such as tablecloths and table runners from hanging too low to the floor as the temptation may be too great for a happy dog to grab, or for an excitable kitty to claw.
  7. We all like making our homes more festive and decorative for the holidays. We enjoy the green foliage and colorful flowers of plants, however many of the plants we have in our homes during the holidays can be poisonous to pets. Poisonous plants, such as  holly (leaves and berries), if ingested will cause stomach upset and can be potentially fatal to both dogs and cats. Mistletoe causes stomach upsets and can cause heart collapse, while hibiscus may cause diarrhea. Poinsettias have an irritating sap that can cause blistering in the mouth and stomach upset. Place these plants well out of your dog or cat’s reach or alternatively use the various and often very pretty imitation holiday plants.

With all of the festivities, do not forget to relax and spend some quality time with your pet. Your dog will think that is the best gift of all. We would like to wish everyone a peaceful and happy time over the festive season.

“Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 2 -  The Christmas Tree” follows tomorrow.

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I Have A Dream …

In the prophetic words of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech:

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream …”

Like Martin Luther King I too have a dream. My dream is that one day animal shelters will no longer have to euthanize thousands of unclaimed and unwanted pets every year due to numbers and lack of capacity. I have a dream that one day animal shelters will be empty and that every animal will have a place on this earth, in someone’s heart … in someone’s home.

Animal overpopulation is EVERYONES’ problem. Most people haven’t witnessed the euthanasia of a frightened and confused dog who was once someone’s pet only to be discarded like garbage in a strange, noisy and harsh environment. It’s heart breaking. His only crime … he was unwanted and one too many. In Greensboro, North Caronlina (USA) Sheriff BJ Barnes, frustrated and upset at learning that more than 75% of the animals entering the local shelter were being killed, decided to televise the euthanasia of a dog on his weekly show.  Viewers were shocked, but they also got the message and as a result there was an increase in sterilisations and adoptions from the local shelter skyrocketed. We too published a non graphic video clip this week (Buy 1 … Kill 1) which may have upset some people, but successfully drives this point home on our Facebook Page.

Statistics both locally and abroad show that of the millions that enter shelters, only about half make it out alive. Figures coming out of the USA where statistics are more readily available, show that more than 12 million cats and dogs enter their shelters annually, an endless tide of incoming animals. Of these, nearly a quarter million animals are euthanised each and every month. That’s 405 every hour. One every nine seconds.

The Wikipedia definition of “Euthanasia” is “Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.” It literally means “good death” which is usually interpreted to mean a quick, painless and humane method of dying.  It is self-evident that death should also be in the best interests of the animal.  The decision to euthanize a chronically ill or overly aggressive (ie: unadoptable animal) is relatively uncomplicated to make. The sad reality however is that millions of healthy, friendly, adorable, loving and very adoptable animals also end up in shelters … but there just aren’t enough homes available for all of them. It is the heartbreaking task of shelters to select those who will be placed in the adoption kennels.  Animals who have been in the adoption kennel too long … and all the rest who never had the chance, are taken to the euthanasia room.

The local shelter is too often the last stop for a dog or cat.  Shelters around the country have been put into this unenviable position by the irresponsible breeding of far too many animals.  Puppy mills, pet shops, backyard breeders and “responsible” hobby breeders, people who simply won’t, don’t bother or “forget” to have their animals spayed or neutered, pet food companies who subsidize unregistered breeders with free samples and discount coupons, and the cat and dog breed “clubs” that encourage breeding – all contribute to this massive problem. These shocking statistics don’t include the countless thousands of animals who never make it to the shelter, but are abandoned to live and die on the streets or in a back yard.

It is a sad fact that when a human being chooses to create a relationship with another living being, then fails to live up to the responsibilities that go with that relationship, we allow the human to simply walk away guilt-free – it is always the animal who pays 100%  of the price for the human’s errors. The animal pays with his life.


We all have to work together. With continued hard work, dedication and public education, I believe that the problem can be minimised, if not solved. If those who are creating the problem would take full responsibility, we could reach the ultimate goal, which is to eliminate the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals much faster. This can realistically only be done through legislation and although it is being pushed by the local rescue centres, it is unlikely to happen any time soon.

The solution is very simple, but requires the participation of everyone, including you. It all boils down to the most fundamental laws of economics – supply and demand. If there is no demand, the supply will dwindle as there is no financial gain.

So, what can you do to help?


  1. Buy animals from vendors on the street – there is an overbred, malnourished, abused mother where they came from.
  2. Buy animals in pet stores, as there is a puppy / kitten mill where they came from.
  3. Buy animals from backyard breeders. If you do, you’ll only be  encouraging them to breed more to make further profits.



  1. Adopt from a registered non profit rescue organisation / local shelter. You’re saving two lives in the process – the life of the animal you have just adopted and the life of the animal who has filled the freed up place.
  2. Sterilise your pets BEFORE they reach sexual maturity.
  3. Foster a pet on behalf of a non profit rescue organisation. If more individuals stepped up to foster pets until they found their permanent homes, there would be more space made available at the shelters, resulting in fewer euthanasias.
  4. Become a hero and sponsor a sterilisation with your local rescue organisation. In Cape Town there is a rescue organisation for whom we foster kittens called Aniwell that have a ‘sterilisation club’ called Steriwell through which you can sponsor a sterilisation for just R250 and actually get to meet the animal whose life you changed on their Facebook page and receive credit for it.
  5. Educate your neighbours, your colleagues, your family, your friends. Advise them to adopt from a local shelter. Discourage them from breeding their pets and encourage them to sterilise them instead.

Together, we can make a difference. Please … help me make my dream and that of thousands of suffering / abandoned animals come true.

All of the photographs in this article were taken by Photographer Andreas Holm who made a small collaboration called Shelter Dogs with The Toby Project in New York.

The cartoons in this article are by NHR Cartoons.

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Bruno’s “Good Dog” Prayer



Dear God,

I always try to be good dog, but sometimes I forget, so I’ve now made a list of some of the things my mother tolerates but frowns upon and that I must try to remember.

  1. I will not eat the cats’ food before they eat it … nor after they throw it up.
  2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, rotting seaweed, Hadeda poop etc …
  3. The litter box is not a cookie jar.
  4. The sofa is not a “face towel”.
  5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.
  6. Sticking my nose into a visitor’s crotch is an unacceptable way of saying “Hello”.
  7. After depositing a big poop outside, I will not then immediately head inside to drag my butt across the carpet.
  8. I will not sit in the middle of the TV lounge and noisily lick my crotch in the middle of a movie.
  9. I will not sit in the dining room and emit noxious gasses when we have guests over for dinner.
  10. The cats are not ‘squeaky toys’ so when I play with them and they make a noise, it’s usually not a good thing.

If I promise to remember all of these things, when I get to heaven may I have my testicles back?



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Survival Guide for Guy Fawkes – Keeping Your Pet Safe

I hate this time of year, as not everyone is responsible and considers the welfare of pets (including their own), let alone obeys the laws when it comes to the use of fireworks and fire crackers. Ironically most people don’t know what Guy Fawkes is all about and I won’t bore you with the details (click on the Guy Fawkes link for more info), yet they still insist on callously letting off fireworks and fire crackers in the name of “fun”, terrorising our normally confident, well-adjusted pets and turning them into quivering, nervous wrecks in the process. With this in mind and with Guy Fawkes coming up on 5th November I thought I would share some useful information on how to keep your pets safe and hopefully calmer.

It’s a known fact that more dogs, cats and sometimes even horses and livestock are lost and/or injured when there are fireworks or fire crackers being used, as they panic and bolt, sometimes smashing through windows, breaking tethers and jumping over high fences / walls, running blindly in front of cars and injuring themselves in the process.

We always keep our pets safely indoors and stay home during Guy Fawkes and New Year, but even then our Pit Bull Bruno pants, barks, runs around in circles and shivers, whilst our Jack Russell Kira quivers and whines. Our clowder of 5 cats hide away and have increased hit-or-miss litter box ‘accidents’, so all in all it’s not a pleasant time for any of us.

So here are some well documented, tried and tested (by ourselves) methods to calm panicked pets:

  1. If you know or suspect that your pet is going to fret or panic about any fireworks or fire crackers, stay at home and keep your pets inside the house with you.
  2. If you don’t know how your pet is going to react or aren’t sure, keep him indoors. Don’t assume that because he’s a happy dog, that he won’t be frightened to death. Both of our dogs are registered therapy dogs, for which they tested under strange and unusual circumstances, but are still terrified when the fireworks starts.
  3. If it’s impossible to be home with them, keep them inside and in a room where they can’t jump out of a window (even a closed one), preferably where the windows are set too high – eg: kitchen
  4. Put comforting and familiar things around him – toys, bedding etc …
  5. Just in case, ensure he has clear identification (microchips / collars or both).
  6. Before the fireworks starts, take your pet for a nice long walk (on a leash), play with him in your garden or give him mental challenge such as training session with favourite commands with yummy treats. Much like a panicked brain cannot think, a tired body and tired brain is much less likely to go into full blown panic mode.
  7. Give him a hearty and nutritious meal around sunset, which will make him more sleepy and relaxed.
  8. Provide him with something to do – safe chew toy, hoof, catnip toy, catnip spray …
  9. Scared pets often calm themselves by squeezing into tight spots or under blankets and hiding their eyes. Offer them a safe hiding place and leave them be … even if it means having a little face in your armpit!
  10. If you can, dim the lights to create a more calming environment for your pet – unless of course he’s frightened of the dark.
  11. Avoid fussing and baby talk, as this reinforces his fear behaviour. It communicates to him that he has reason to be frightened. Instead be casual and matter of fact. When you hear a ‘boom’, acknowledge the noise with a casual and normal tone “My goodness that was loud, but see it doesn’t bother me. Nothing to worry about.”
  12. Camouflage the sound with ‘white noise’ – radio tuned to static can work quite well or soothing music. The idea is not to drown out the sound completely so do not play it loudly, but simply to camouflage it / detract from it.
  13. If your pets are known to react badly and cannot be calmed despite using these suggestions, speak to your veterinarian who may prescribe a mild tranquiliser for your pet (and perhaps one for you!).

For information on the laws surrounding the use of fireworks and fire crackers in a residential area, please contact your local SPCA or police station. If in Cape Town, you can contact Cape of Good Hope SPCA.

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“We’re Just Pit Bulls” ~ by Savana Frame ~

We’re just pit bulls
misunderstood at best,
and we can be good dogs
just like all the rest.

Sometimes I catch them lookin’ at me,
like there was something wrong.
How long can they hum the tune
of that same worn out song?

If you’d give me the chance,
you could scratch behind my ear.
Then maybe you wouldn’t need
to go about spreading your fear.

It takes a human to teach us,
and guide us on our way.
Take the time to show us,
the right way to play.

I’m not sure why people fear us,
I think the key is within their heart.
Maybe they are the broken ones,
and they know how to play their part.

They go on rants about hating us,
and say we are too dangrous for the kids.
It makes you really wonder,
is there a brain under their lid?

If you keep doing what you’ve always done,
well, you always get what you’ve got.
We’re just saying give us a chance,
and that’s not asking a lot.

written by : Savana Frame

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The Magic Of Fostering A Pet

Curly & Moe

Early Friday evening I bid fond farewell and loving goodbye to our 3 porky little foster kittens, who now at 9 weeks of age were eligible to ‘fly the nest’ to their new adoptive homes. I had collected this particular brood from a ‘house of horrors’ late on a Saturday night just over 6 weeks ago following an emergency phone call from a rescue organisation I foster for. At the time they were cold, stressed, exhausted, filthy, starved and possibly sick. Many people may ask why … why foster?

Fostering a needy pet is a richly rewarding experience. I won’t deny that it can be an emotional and often difficult experience that isn’t for everyone, but for those that can and do … it’s an experience that lives on in your heart time after time. In our case, we take in orphaned, underage kittens as we have a household full of pets who enjoy their quiet, over indulged lifestyle and aren’t terribly keen on having a whirlwind young dog pounce its way into their lives. Some of the orphaned kittens are so young and malnourished that they initially need bottle feeding every 2 to 3 hours. What warm hearted person wouldn’t want a continuous stream of the cutest babies to care for and nurture whilst they grow into adorable and adoptable little munchkins?


There are thousands of ‘invisible’ pets at shelters around the country. The majority of these shelters are filled to capacity as a result of backyard breeders and irresponsible / uncaring pet owners. Often surrendered or rescued pets that require any attention beyond the basics are euthanised, most often due to time constraints and capacity challenges. Rescued pets that are sick, too young, stressed out or unsocialized aren’t the best candidates for adoption. Pets rescued with behavioural issues resulting from abuse and neglect, are injured, temporary ill or simply orphaned face a bleak outcome without the availability of foster homes that can provide the attention and care required to rehabilitate, treat or wean them, thus transforming them into beautiful adoptable pets in the process.

Fostering makes an immeasurable difference for the pets you provide love, rehabilitation and a temporary home to and also for other lost souls at the shelters that may not have had that space available to take take them in. My fosters come in as sad, confused, malnourished, frightened little waifs and leave with their proud adoptive parents as happy, well adjusted, healthy, chubby kittens. Almost without exception I get feedback and photos from the adoptive families to let me know how their new family members have settled in and are doing in general.

If that isn’t a big enough reward, I don’t know what is.

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