April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, and SPCA Cincinnati has graciously provided the following information regarding contacting them with animal concerns.
* Please note that the information contained in this article is specific to Hamilton County Ohio. Other counties or municipalities may have different policies and procedures when handling animal concerns. Please consult with your local animal shelter or animal control agency for information on their policies and procedures.
In Hamilton County Ohio, SPCA Cincinnati is the agency that handles most animal complaints. We investigate cases involving dogs not being properly confined by their owners, stray dogs running at large without a known owner, animals in some sort of peril or distress and cases of neglect and animal cruelty. Other concerns involving animals are investigated on a case by case basis. Many investigations require the assistance of other agencies such as the local police department, health department or the Ohio Department Of Natural Resources.
SPCA Cincinnati is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for true emergencies and during regular business hours to receive calls for non emergency concerns. Our trained phone staff is available to discuss your concerns with you and decide if SPCA Cincinnati can help. Referrals and the contact numbers for other agencies are available if it is decided that your concern would be another agency's responsibility.
As with other law enforcement dispatch systems, calls for service have to be prioritized. Injured animals calls along with calls concerning animal bites (especially if the animal is still at large) receive a higher priority than a complaint, say, about a neighbor's dog that is not being fed properly, but the dog is not in distress.
We understand that often people are reluctant to call in an animal complaint because they fear retaliation from the animal's owner. We do understand these sensitivities, but we do like to obtain information such as the caller's name and phone number in case we have to call back for further information. This information is not released to the animal's owner. If the caller insists on anonynimity, we understand and will follow through with an investigation because we believe that the animal's welfare is paramount.
We encourage neighbors of pet owners and those in the community who may observe an animal on a regular basis, to be aware of the animal without snooping or intruding on the owner's privacy. Anything that seems not right, out of place or an animal that is clearly in distress should be reported. It is better to report a concern that turns out to be no problem than not to call in a concern that has merit and the animal continues to suffer or be a threat to the community.
Citizens should be patient with the process after they have called in their concern. An instant resolution to a problem is rarely achieved. It often takes multiple visits to the animal owner's residence before the issue is resolved. Often, it may take several visits just to find the owner at home and begin to discuss the concern with him/her and take a look at the animal/s at issue. Cases involving seizure of an animal and prosecution of the owner can take much longer because of court appearances and rehabilitation of the animal involved.
Finally, we at SPCA Cincinnati consider it a privilege to serve the animals and the citizens of our community. However, we could not serve without the vigilance and help of the citizens in Hamilton County. We much appreciate the help given to us by the community and we look forward to a continued, fruitful relationship to benefit and watch over our animal friends.
SPCA Cincinnati's main number is 513-541-6100. This is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week number. After hours, true emergency calls are routed to our friends at the Hamilton County Communications Center.
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.