Saturday, June 16, 2012

Did You know? Coyotes are growing in Florida

I was going to discuss doggy jealousy, but after coming across an article out of Connecticut, I decided to talk about coyotes.

And not this kind.

Fairfield, Connecticut has been dealing with, of all things, coyotes attacking and killing their dogs.

In the latest attack, a beagle was killed earlier this month, but two other beagles were almost attacked in their own backyard.

Now, when I think of coyotes, I think out west -- the midwest, Arizona, Colorado, those places. I don't think New England enclaves.

But with a little light Internet reading I learned coyotes have expanded, and are adapting everywhere -- from suburban New England, to Los Angeles, CA, and even in Florida.

Coyotes in Florida probably first appeared around 1925, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife, and are now in almost, if not all Florida counties. They can live in any habitat, and while they normally eat small animals, from time to time -- they'll pick off a domesticated animal or two. As people continue to move into wildlife animals, they coming into closer contact with wild creatures. Florida may not have seen as many attacks as other parts of the country, but we should be vigilant, not only of coyotes, but of other wild animals that might find a small dog a little too tempting (alligators and black bears, anyone?)

Coyotes are elusive creatures -- difficult to trap. They tend to hunt between dusk and dawn, when temperatures are cooler, though they can be active during the day if the weather is right. It also depends on whether they have plenty of food.

While it used to be that coyotes would hunt alone, reports from recent attacks show coyotes will from time to time hunt in small groups.

And in Florida, aside from a few native species, there is not a lot out there that can kill a coyote. So we need to be smart. Know your surroundings. Don't let your pets out unsupervised. If you live in wooded areas, make sure you have something that will scare them. Coyotes are generally timid around humans. If necessary, coyotes can also be hunted without a license.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a whole section on coyotes and for living with wildlife. If you have further questions they are a group agency to contact.

I'm obsessed with making sure Lulu is well-protected when she's outside, and she's in my sights at all times.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Is your dog prepared for a storm? Getting your pet ready hurricane season

Hurricane Season in the Atlantic officially began today, and we've already had two named storms. This is expected to be a "nearly normal" year, according to the National Hurricane Center, but it doesn't mean we won't see a major hurricane make landfall. And it only takes one.

In 2004, I was generally okay. I lived with my brother, so if I needed to be at work for more than a day (which happened in two of the four hurricanes to hit Florida that year), I knew I had someone to take care of my cats. This year is different though. Not only do I live alone -- I have a dog, and a cat. A dog who really shouldn't be by herself for more than 12 hours.

So for the last couple of weeks I've been thinking about things I should do to prepare her in the event I have to be at work for a while, or if I need to get her out of here. They are things you should think about too:


Where will Lulu stay if I need to be at work for the storm? My cat can go for days without me, if necessary. Lulu can't.

I have a few options:
1) Send her to my parents' house. This is easy to do during the summer, since they are teachers. But once school starts, this won't work all the time.
2) Get a friend to dog sit (preferably one with a yard).
3) Find a boarder that boards during storms. Since she doesn't like to be left alone with strangers, I'll probably have to put her through doggy day care first so she can get used to the place.

I am working on this plan now, and if I were you, I would too.

Get Lulu's paperwork in order. Already done, it's all in one folder. I will need a water tight container though, that way it doesn't get wet. Glad and Ziploc have big containers that seal well.

Documents needed:
1) Vaccination info (while you're at it -- is this up to date? Some boarding places and shelters won't let you in without it)
2) List of veterinarian phone numbers
3) Microchip information if you have one
4) Insurance info if you have pet insurance
5) Up-to-date picture of your dog (just in case)
6) Anything else pertinent to the health and safety of your dog -- perhaps a list of dog food your pet needs if you have to leave him/her somewhere?

You should also make copies of these so you have them.

Where is your nearest pet-friendly shelter? I likely won't ever be at a shelter, but in the case it happens, I know where mine is. To find the pet shelter by you, check with your state/county's emergency management office. In Florida, there's a website, Florida pet, which has a list by county HERE.

Get trained in pet first aid. The American Red Cross actually offers classes in this. To find one near you, go to the website.


Gather the following:
1) Your paperwork
2) Enough food to last a week
3) Travel dishes. If necessary, whatever you need to serve canned food.
4)Water. The rule for humans is one gallon per person, per day. How much does your pet drinks? Maybe not that much, so maybe half a gallon per pet, per day.
5) Treats. It may seem strange, but trust me, your pet is as nervous as you, if not more. Treats are a welcome distraction, and bring a touch of the familiar.
6)A favorite toy. Does the same as the treats.
7) Favorite blanket, pillow, towel, bed, etc.
8) Puppy pads, litter or newspaper -- because walking the dog may not always be possible.
9)Bags, paper towels, etc. for clean up.
10) Whatever medications you may need, and first aid stuff too.
11) Crate, cage, leash or whatever you use to transport the pet in the event you have to go.

Get your home and yard pet-storm ready. Sure, you board up the windows (don't duct tape the windows, it does nothing), bring in the patio furniture, trim the trees, clean the gutters, etc. Also, cover pools, turn over any containers that may get filled up with water (bird baths, buckets, planters, plastic pools). Bring outdoor pet food/drink containers in, and the dog house too if you can. You don't want dogs to drink the water when the storm is over. And this water will breed mosquitoes and other bugs in the days to come. It may also harbor bacteria that will make them sick. Rain water isn't the real concern here though, so much as flood water.


Stay in your safe havens. These are places without windows, preferably. Also avoid turning electronics on if you can.

Mind your children. Know how to calm your pet if they start to get nervous, or worse, freak out. If you have a pet who is nervous or upset from the storm, they may not have as much patience for a rambunctious child. They have to know that the pet needs to be left alone, or treated gently at the very least.


Do NOT give your pet tap water. Even if your home has water, it may need to be boiled before its drinkable. Don't use that water for drinking or bathing until you know it's safe.

Do NOT let your pet out of the house unsupervised. Even if a quick glance of your backyard shows no major issues, it's not safe to let your pet out until you know there's no place they can get hurt. What about downed power lines, exposed cables, pieces of wood, metal, shingle, glass that came off something during the storm that ended up in your yard? Are there any places where the pet might take a lap of water? Any bedding, dishes, or other pet items that came in contact with any flood water needs to be thrown out. Don't let the pet touch it.

More tips can be found at the National Hurricane Center website, and the ASPCA website.