Dogs Celebrate Thanksgiving (GALLERY)

Photo Credit: Paw Curious

(PETS/DOG PICTURES) Thanksgiving is just around the corner! While many of you might be busy prepping for your vegan Thanksgiving dinner, others are looking for a little holiday entertainment. Here are some adorable pictures of dogs who dressed up just for the occasion. — Global Animal

Pilgrim dog says, "Tofurkey!? Yummy!" Photo Credit: Paw Curious
Pilgrim dog says, “Tofurkey!? Yummy!” Photo Credit: Paw Curious


The cutest pug pilgrim! Photo Credit: Sugar Pants Girl
The cutest pug pilgrim! Photo Credit: Sugar Pants Girl


A dog aboard the Mayflower! Photo Credit: Getty Images
A dog aboard the Mayflower! Photo Credit: Getty Images


“Bark, bark”? Or “gobble, gobble”? Photo Credit: That Cute Site


Pilgrims come in all shapes and sizes! Photo Credit: Barkin Woofer


Do these costumes make us look fat? Photo Credit: Walnut Creek Veterinary Clinic


Someone is ready for dinner! Photo Credit: Baxter Boo


“I am the centerpiece.” Photo Credit: Pitbull Rescue Central


“I’m thankful for my modeling career.” Photo Credit: Baxter Boo


“Don’t eat me!” Photo Credit: Petsmart


“Cheese!” Photo Credit: Blog Catalog, Fiesty Three


These Thanksgiving dogs play Pilgrims and Indians. "We're ready for seconds!" Photo Credit: Buzzfeed
These Thanksgiving dogs play Pilgrims and Indians. “We’re ready for seconds!” Photo Credit: Buzzfeed


These pilgrim pugs say, "Save us leftovers!" Photo Credit: Baxter Boo
These pilgrim pugs say, “Save us leftovers!” Photo Credit: Baxter Boo

What NOT To Feed Your Cat or Dog

Begging dogs sure do know how to get our attention.

(PET CARE/CATS AND DOGS) We all know how irresistible it can be to deny your cat or dog human-food, but you may not know how dangerous–and even deadly–some foods can be to cats and dogs.

Foods like chocolate, nuts, and meat can cause severe medical problems or death to your dog or cat. Read on for a list of food dangers to beware of and how to keep your pet safe.  — Global Animal

It's important to avoid feeding your dog table scraps. Photo Credit: Don Mason, Corbis
It’s important to avoid feeding your dog table scraps. Photo Credit: Don Mason, Corbis


Begging dogs sure do know how to get our attention.

Chocolate, Macadamia nuts, avocados…these foods may sound delicious to you, but they’re actually quite dangerous for our animal companions. Our nutrition experts have put together a handy list of the top toxic people foods to avoid feeding your pet. As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine

These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.


Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.


Photo credit: Diary of a Nutritionist
Photo credit: Diary of a Nutritionist

The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Grapes & Raisins

Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.

Yeast Dough

Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones

Photo Credit: Of Course Vegan
Photo Credit: Of Course Vegan

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.


Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.


Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.


Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!

More ASPCA News:


Be Thankful For Turkeys Beyond Food

(TURKEYS/ANIMAL FACTS) While many people only think of turkeys around the holidays, it turns out the beautiful birds are far more useful alive than they are on a Thanksgiving dinner plate.

Read how the noble bird helps fight cancer, insects, and even heart disease for the other 364 days of the year. – Global Animal

turkey close up
Turkeys are actually very intelligent animals, despite popular belief. Photo Credit: AP

The Huffington Post, Joanna Zelman

Ask almost any person in the US what a turkey contributes to society, and he will answer, “a yummy Thanksgiving meal.” But it turns out turkeys actually have added some amazing undervalued contributions to our society, none of which involve eating them. From cancer research to alternative energy sources, it’s time to be thankful for turkeys, beyond Thanksgiving.


Benson, Minnesota runs a power plant using thousands of tons of turkey manure. They burn the turkey waste to produce electricity. The New York Times reports that Benson possesses the first animal waste-based power plant in the country. The plant is a hot topic among environmentalists, who debate the pollution levels produced by the plant.


If it weren’t for turkeys, Big Bird would be naked. That’s because Big Bird’s feathers come from turkeys, according to USA Today. The feathers are dyed two shades of yellow, and then sent to Sesame Workshop. The same feather company has reportedly produced feather boas for Uma Thurman, Sandra Bullock and… John Travolta.


As if Turkeys didn’t have it bad enough with Thanksgiving, they are also one of the most susceptible animals to cancer, according to veterinary scientist Roger Coulombe. This may be a result of humans who domesticated turkeys, creating genetic mutations in the bird. Coulombe hopes to research “human susceptibility to cancer using the turkey.”


Tired of picking ticks off your dog, or even yourself? Maybe it’s time to recruit a turkey. Reports claim that among the various insects that turkeys consume, ticks are hot on the list.


Not all poop is created equal. Turkey litter is regarded as one of the most valuable animal manures, according to The New York Times. Unlike cow and hog manures, turkey litter is mostly dry, and considered a rich organic product.


Wild turkeys may help medical researchers. The wild animal reportedly possesses a heart mutation that decreases the incidence of heart disease and congestive heart failure. Researchers at Wayne State University School of Medicine hope that by studying turkey hearts, they can better understand heart disease in humans. Unfortunately, this kind of research normally involves the animal being dead first.


If not for the turkey, who knows if the once scandalous Turkey Trot dance would have ever existed. This face-to-face dance involves both dancers occasionally flapping and pumping their arms. In the early 20th century, groups tried to ban this awkward yet somehow promiscuous dance. According to Mental Floss, one woman was even jailed for 50 days for dancing like a turkey.


Turkeys: The dumbest of them all. Benjamin Franklin called Thanksgiving’s main course an “animal of courage,” but a 1997 Oregon State University poll found turkeys to be the dumbest of all the animals. Still, plenty of people stick up for turkeys, with one OSU scientist insisting that the animal gets a bum rap. “It’s an example of how a misunderstood animal behavior becomes identified as proof that the animal is extremely lacking in intelligence,” said animal science professor Tom Savage. Think about that next Thanksgiving.

Some celebrities adopt babies, some may protect drunk elephants, and others save turkeys. Ellen DeGeneres and Ginnifer Goodwin are among many celebs who advocate saving turkeys instead of eating them this holiday season. These two work for the Adopt-A-Turkey Project, which fights to rescue turkeys and provide a “compassionate alternative for Thanksgiving.”

More Huffington Post:

Jet Set Pets: Top 10 Tips For Safe Air Travel

Photo Credit: ASPCA

(PETS/PET TRAVEL) Air travel is often stressful, and even more so when a trip includes an airline flight with the four-legged members of your family. But with a bit of preparation, flying with a pet can be safe and comfortable for everyone. Here’s how to plan for friendly skies and wagging tails, courtesy of the ASPCA. – Global Animal

Photo Credit: ASPCA
Air travel can be very stressful for our beloved pets. Review these tips below to ensure a safe and comfortable trip for you and your furry friend. Photo Credit: ASPCA


Traveling can be highly stressful, both for you and the four-legged members of your family. But with thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.

The ASPCA urges pet owners to think twice about flying their pets on commercial airlines, especially if they plan on checking them in as cargo.

Unless your animal is small enough to fit under your seat and you can bring him or her in the cabin, the ASPCA recommends pet owners to not fly their animal.

If pet owners have already committed to transporting their pets on commercial airlines, the ASPCA is offering the following top ten tips for safe air travel with your pet:

  1. Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for a checkup, and make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of departure. For travel outside of the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements may be necessary. Contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to for more in suitcase
  2. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and is wearing a collar and ID tag. Breakaway collars are best for cats. The collar should also include destination information in case your pet escapes.
  3. Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel.
  4. Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably. Shipping crates can be purchased from many pet supply stores and airlines.
  5. Write the words “Live Animal” in letters at least one inch tall on top of and at least one side of the crate. Use arrows to prominently indicate the upright position of the crate. On the top of the crate, write the name, address and telephone number of your pet’s destination point, and whether you will be accompanying him or if someone else is picking him up. Make sure that the door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency. Line the crate bottom with some type of bedding—shredded paper or towels— to absorb accidents.
  6. Affix a current photograph of your pet to the top of the crate for identification purposes. Should your pet escape from the carrier, this could be a lifesaver. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.
  7. The night before you leave, make sure you’ve frozen a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it can’t spill during loading, and will melt by the time he’s thirsty. Tape a small pouch, preferably cloth, of dried food outside the crate. Airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he gets hungry on long-distance flights or a layover.
  8. Tranquilizing your pet is generally not recommended, as it could hamper his breathing. Check with your veterinarian first.
  9. Tell every airline employee you encounter, on the ground and in the air, that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they’ll be ready if any additional considerations or attention is needed.
  10. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible. In certain situations, removing the animal from the cargo hold and deplaneing may be warranted.



How To Travel With A Pet

Top Cities For Dogs

Ready to hit the road? Anytime you travel, please consider booking flights, hotels and car rentals through the GLOBAL ANIMAL FOUNDATION TRAVEL PAGE. A portion of all bookings goes to the nonprofit  and emergency rescue for animals in crisis worldwide.

Turkeys Raped By Technology For Thanksgiving

Turkeys have been so manipulated by farmers to produce the best Thanksgiving dinner meat that they can no longer mate naturally. Photo Credit: Andrea Goh via Flickr

(THANKSGIVING/TURKEYS/ANIMAL CRUELTY) With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it is necessary we re-evaluate our traditions. Purchasing a Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving dinner condones cruel procedures that have forever destroyed the natural abilities of these once wild animals.

In order to create the meatiest birds, farmers breed large-breasted turkeys. As a result of this superficial process, it is impossible for any factory-born turkey to mate naturally. The feathered animals’ pectoral muscles are so overgrown that they can not physically connect with a turkey of the opposite sex.

Turkeys have been so manipulated by farmers to produce the best Thanksgiving dinner meat that they can no longer mate naturally. Photo Credit: Andrea Goh via flickr

Turkey farmers, however, continue to meet cruelty with cruelty. After creating this unnatural and selfish situation, they only continue to harm the species in order to meet the November demands for a meat centerpiece by using a violating process of artificial insemination.

As Butterball Turkey AI director claims, “The turkey is a creation of modern science and industry.”

In conducting an undercover observation, a reporter for United Poultry Concerns, an activist group that campaigns for poultry welfare, applied for a job in the artificial insemination faction of Butterball Turkey. The reporter’s discovery was appalling.

Male turkeys are forcefully milked with a vacuum for their semen, which is then inserted by tube into a struggling hen’s cloaca. The process of inseminating a hen is appropriately called “breaking.” The female is held chest and legs down while her tail is yanked upward to provide opportunity for a metal insertion to be jabbed into their “vent.” It sounds like human-induced, technology rape to me.

Approximately 6,000 hens are broken everyday in the AI district of Butterball Turkey. “Breaking” hens is a self-indulgent and human created solution for a human caused problem. I am sure these turkeys have nothing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving, or ever for that matter.

— Dori Edwards, exclusive to Global Animal

Protect Your Pet This Holiday Season

Photo Credit: Boeke/Flickr

(PETS/PET CARE) While holiday meals and festive decor often bring us joy, they can serve as a huge danger to your pet. During the upcoming season, veterinarians see a huge influx of patients, due to consumption of “human” food and even decorations.

Read the tips below to learn how both you and your pet can celebrate the holidays safely. — Global Animal

Although it’s tempting to feed your pet at the dinner table, it can cause them more harm than good. Photo Credit: Boeke/Flickr

Mother Nature Network, Morieka Johnson

Every bit of turkey has been consumed or put away, you’ve found a comfy spot on the couch and then someone notices that the dog is, well, hurling. It’s the recipe for a holiday disaster. Unfortunately, pet emergency rooms across the country see a healthy number of dogs and cats with tummy troubles — or worse — caused by consuming things that should be off-limits.

From November 2011 through January of this year, VPI Pet Insurance Company processed 267,915 client claims; 24,262 of those claims involved holiday-related conditions, with vomiting, diarrhea, loose stool, pancreatitis and gastric foreign bodies topping their list. VPI’s infamous “Hambone Award” even pays tribute to pets and the quirky things they consume, such as the Labrador that ate a Thanksgiving turkey carcass or a golden retriever that consumed an artificial Christmas wreath. While some pets suffer no ill effects from consuming people food or other off-limits items, VPI notes that the average cost for surgery to remove an intestinal foreign body was $2,328. Vomiting, the most common holiday-related health issue, led to an average bill of $279. I prefer to curb the table food and save that cash for stocking stuffers. My dog Lulu has learned to live without a few bits of Thanksgiving turkey.

“Pets get used to absorbing a certain amount of fat, carbohydrates and protein; [their diet] can be thrown out of balance during the holidays,” says pet nutritionist Dr. Martin Glinsky, who began manufacturing holistic pet food in the 1980s. “The most common symptom is some form of loose stool or diarrhea and — with my dog — bouts of nausea. She’s just not used to the rich food we feed ourselves.”

Since dogs and cats have a knack for finding and consuming things they should avoid, particularly when their people are preoccupied, it’s best to save the ASPCA’s poison control hotline 1-888-426-4435. Also, visit the organization’s website to review the list of common foods that pets should avoid, such as avocado, raw bones, onions or garlic. Share that information with well-intentioned family members.

Here are a few more tips to keep pets out of the emergency room this holiday season:

Keep off-limits items out of reach

Survey your home from a pet’s perspective and make sure potentially dangerous items are out of paw’s reach. Be especially diligent about treats packaged and placed under the tree or set out on low tables for guests. Even though most pet owners know the dangers of pets consuming chocolate, VPI noticed a 310 percent increase in chocolate toxicity claims submitted during December 2011, at an average cost of $380 per pet.

Practice makes perfect

Brush up on basic obedience skills so that your pet will have tools to avoid temptation, says ASPCA trainer Kristen Collins.

“Training your dog to ‘leave it’ on cue can be really useful when you have lots of people and tempting foods around,” she says. “With lots of visitors, it’s also a great opportunity to teach your dog to greet people politely.”

Create a pet-friendly zone

In a previous column, I offered tips to help dogs behave on a leash around houseguests. Collins suggests pet-friendly zones, complete with soft bedding, toys and chews.

“Pets become overwhelmed by people and sounds and smells during holidays,” Collins says. “It’s best to fix up a comfy confinement space for your pet.”

Of course, you also can be firm with guests who try to be a little too generous with the table scraps.

Just say ‘no’

“Most guests are conscious of your relationship with your dog and will say, ‘Want me to save this?’” Glinsky says. “I have no problem saying, ‘Please don’t feed the dog. She’s on her own diet, and we don’t feed her table scraps.’ Your dog needs you for her well-being and she looks to you for that. You’ve got to do what’s necessary to provide her with that safety.”

Don’t wait to seek treatment

“If you notice that something is going wrong with your dog or cat and it just doesn’t look normal, go ahead and get them checked out,” says Robert Jackson CEO of Healthy Paws insurance company. “Better safe than sorry.”

More Mother Nature Network:

Have A Certified Humane Thanksgiving

Photo Credit: Gary M. Stolz U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

(HUMANE THANKSGIVING/TURKEYS) This Thanksgiving, if you aren’t planning to replace your turkey with a tofurky, consider getting a certified humane turkey for your holiday feast.

According to Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) “Certified Humane turkeys can flap wings, move around, perch above ground at night, and eat nutritious food without antibiotics or other chemicals.” In other words, certified humane turkeys have lived a normal, and decent life.

Read on for information on where to get a certified humane turkey. — Global Animal

Certified, humane turkeys lead normal, decent lives free of cruelty Photo Credit: Gary M. Stolz U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Sustainable Food News

Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), which administers the Certified Humane labeling program, said Thursday it doubled the number of turkey producers meeting its animal welfare standards.

The Herndon, Va.-based nonprofit said Koch’s Turkey Farm in Tamaqua, Pa., and White Oak Pastures, located in Bluffton, Ga., are now selling turkeys and chickens that are Certified Humane.

A Certified Humane turkey is one that can flap its wings and move around, can perch above the ground at night, eat nutritious food that doesn’t contain antibiotics or other chemicals and express other natural behaviors.

Turkeys have been so manipulated by farmers to produce the best Thanksgiving dinner meat that they can no longer mate naturally. Photo Credit: Andrea Goh via Flickr
Turkeys are so manipulated by farmers to produce the best Thanksgiving dinner meat that they’re no longer able to mate naturally. Photo Credit: Andrea Goh via Flickr

In general, the Certified Humane designation assures consumers that meat, poultry, egg, or dairy products they purchase have been produced according to HFAC’s standards for humane farm animal treatment.

Animals must receive a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, and must be raised with shelter, resting areas and space sufficient to support natural behavior. Producer compliance with the HFAC standards is verified through annual on-site visits by HFAC’s third-party inspectors.

“We are delighted that we found turkey producers that were willing to make the changes so their turkeys meet our standards. Last year, at this time, the only turkeys being raised that met and exceeded our standards were those on our program from Ayrshire Farm and Footsteps Farm,” said Adele Douglass, HFAC executive director.

Ayrshire Farm still has heritage breed turkeys for Thanksgiving but Footsteps Farm is sold out, HFAC said.

To find out where to buy Certified Humane turkeys, click here.

More Sustainable Food News:

A Salute To War Vets & Service Pets (GALLERY)

PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans is often healed with the help of service dogs.
When Jeremiah Gaches came back to the United States, he isolated himself a lot. But after he met Rocky, Gaches found it much easier to get out of the house. Photo Credit: CNN

(SERVICE DOGS/VETERAN’S DAY) As we take this day to commemorate our honored vets, we should also take a moment to thank the service dogs who help these respected men and women. While many U.S. veterans struggle with invisible wounds such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression, some of them are able to find peace from their four-legged friends.

One organization, Operation Freedom Paws, a nonprofit in Gilroy, California, is working to help veterans in need train their own service dogs. The VA has been studying the effectiveness of canine therapy for troops suffering from PTSD, however it was recently placed on hold in order to rewrite the study’s parameters to take into account the dogs’ temperaments and the importance of matching the trainers with the patients—not just the dogs.

Read on to learn more about the organization’s efforts as well as the benefits of dog interaction and check out the gallery below to see how service dogs help our veterans on a daily basis. — Global Animal

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 11 to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD. Photo Credit: CNN

CNN, Elliott C. McLaughlin

He was antisocial and difficult to work with at first. He’d clearly been abused by his father as evidenced by the deep, round scab near his shoulder. He hadn’t been eating well.

And he was so skittish that the slightest noise or motion set him off. But Army veteran Jeff Wilson needed a new dog, and this pound puppy — a border collie-German shepherd mix — was it.

He named him Lobo, and it wasn’t long before Wilson, 44, realized they had the same issues.

“We were kind of kindred spirits,” he said. “I think it really helped deepen our connection because he wasn’t just helping me; I was helping him. I was helping him get past the same obstacles that I had. I had to recognize it in myself and get past that to help him.”

Wilson is a former tank commander and flight engineer who isn’t at liberty to speak about his time in Iraq other than to say he manned a machine gun while hanging out of the door of a helicopter. He can also say that he was often “exposed to very dangerous situations” during his 14 years in the service.

He has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety from post-traumatic stress disorder, and he’s not alone. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 11% to 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are suffering from PTSD.

Wilson said his depression turned him into a hermit. He would “curl up and not talk to anybody,” and his anxiety made it difficult to go into public.

If he did leave the house, he was hypervigilant. If someone walked up behind him or dropped something that emitted a clatter, it triggered the “fight or flight” mechanism he’d groomed in the military.

The anxiety was so bad that before he was diagnosed with PTSD, he went to the emergency room four times because he thought he was having a heart attack. He “self-medicated” so heavily with booze that it strained the relationship between him and his now-wife of two years.

“I was having to drink to numb all my senses and be quasi-normal,” he said.

But today, with Lobo by his side, Wilson is finding it easier to cope.

The two have been working with Operation Freedom Paws, a nonprofit in Gilroy, California, that helps veterans train their own service dogs. It is run by Mary Cortani, a veteran and one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012.

When veterans train “their own service dog, there are immediate benefits right off the bat,” Cortani said. “They have a mission and a purpose again. It gives them something to focus on and to complete. It gives them a sense of security and safety. … They know they’re not alone. They’ve always got their buddy at the end of the leash.”

Now Wilson tells Lobo, “Watch my back,” and his four-legged friend stands behind him and gives him a nudge if anyone approaches. When something stokes Wilson’s anxiety, Lobo senses it, jumps up and puts his paws on Wilson’s chest so he can redirect his focus.

“Knowing he’s there makes me comfortable,” Wilson said. “I’m not worried about the attacks. I still think about them, but I’m not hampered by them. I can go to the movies.”

A study on hold

The Veterans Affairs Department recently put a study on hold that would determine the effectiveness of canine therapy for troops suffering from PTSD. Until that study is complete, the VA will continue providing dogs for a variety of ailments, but not PTSD.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, co-sponsored the 2009 legislation that kicked off the study. He was inspired by the strides that dogs helped his mother make from 1995 to 1998 after she was stricken with Alzheimer’s.

“She wasn’t very fond of dogs at all, but when she developed Alzheimer’s, they became a key part of her therapy,” the senator said. “She was unable to really communicate at that time, but you could easily tell, emotionally, the calming effect the service dogs had.”

Isakson said the VA is rewriting the parameters of the study to take into account the dogs’ temperaments and the importance of matching the trainers, not just the dogs, with the patients.

Yet not everyone is convinced “the VA has the right stuff” to conduct the necessary experiments, said Corey Hudson, CEO of Canine Companions for Independence and president of the North American chapter of the umbrella organization, Assistance Dogs International.

Hudson said he hopes the study will be large enough to consider the broad gamut of symptoms associated with PTSD, as well as the anecdotal evidence suggesting canine companions can help tug the disorder’s sufferers from their shells.

“There’s something mystical and magical about dogs and people and placing them together,” said Hudson, who has “worked with and against the VA” during his 22 years of experience with assistance dogs. Canine Companions for Independence has more than 900 puppy raisers and works to pair veterans with dogs regardless of whether the VA shells out for it.

Hudson doesn’t cite scientific studies, such as the one that says canine interaction increases a human’s level of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces anxiety and blood pressure.

Instead, he speaks about how dogs love unconditionally and don’t judge. He explains how they naturally spark social interaction — “Cool dog; can I pet her?” — and how ownership precludes people from locking themselves in their homes, away from society.

“You can also use them as an excuse to get out of things or leave early,” Hudson said.

Case in point

Shadow is one pooch accustomed to being used for such occasions.

The 2-year-old Labrador-Bernese mountain dog mix is the inseparable pal of Jennifer Haeffner, a seven-year Army veteran who had been housebound for about five years before meeting Shadow in the summer.

“He’s a very active dog. It makes me do things. I don’t have the option of hiding in the house. I have to go out,” said the 41-year-old Ripon, California, resident.

During Operation Desert Storm, where she served for about nine months between 1991 and 1992, she was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by other service members, she said. It’s a fairly common occurrence that befalls about one in four women in the military, according to the VA.

It left her feeling alone in the world. She wanted to disappear. She forgot how to deal with people and eventually became a recluse, considering it a “good month” if she got out just once to shop for groceries.

She didn’t attend any of her large family’s gatherings. Too many people and too much noise, she said. It terrified her.

“For years after that, I would go out and wander the streets late at night, just hoping someone would kill me because I wasn’t brave enough to kill myself,” she said.

About five months ago, her therapist recommended that she meet Cortani.

Cortani recalls Haeffner wouldn’t look her in the eye when they met. Her leg bounced when she spoke, and she pressed her fingernails into her arm. Her boyfriend was constantly by her side.

“You could just tell the pain and the anguish that even meeting me for the first time was causing,” said Cortani, an Army veteran herself.

Operation Freedom Paws teaches participants to train their own dogs, to customize their behavior. First, the dogs learn to sit, then heel — the basic stuff.

Shadow now knows how to pick things up for Haeffner so she doesn’t put stress on her bad back and hips. He acts as a barrier, physically putting himself between her and any new people she meets.

When she wakes up feeling gloomy, he lets her stay in bed and pet him until she’s ready to face the day. If she hears a sound during the night, he stays by her side as she checks it out, and Shadow is quick to snap her out of nightmares.

“He’ll breathe on me or lay his head across mine to wake me up,” she said of her 55-pound companion. “If I’m in a bad mood, he’ll come over and insist I play with his toy or lay his lead in my lap or lick my feet — cheer me up.”

Cortani said the difference between the Haeffner of five months ago and the Haeffner of today is like “night and day.”

She builds friendships. She’s been to the aquarium. She’s gone horseback riding. She goes places without her boyfriend.

“She’s creating her own new normal,” Cortani said.

Added Haeffner: “I’m much better now. I’m happier.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, over 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD. Photo Credit: CNN
Lobo helps Jeff Wilson keep cool in public places. If Wilson's anxiety kicks in, Lobo will jump and put his paws on Wilson's chest to give him something else to focus on. Photo Credit: CNN
Iggie calms James McQuoid in public places, creating space between McQuoid and others. He also wakes McQuoid from nightmares and keeps his overall anxiety level down. Photo Credit: Adam Alphin, CNN
Shadow is the only reason Jennifer Haeffner goes out in public these days. Photo Credit: CNN
Before she met Vito, Ana Sarver would average about two hours of sleep a night. Like many veterans with PTSD, she would struggle with restlessness, nightmares and hypervigilance. Vito also gives Sarver the ability to function during the day. With the dog at her side, Sarver feels more comfortable in social settings such as restaurants. Photo Credit: CNN
David Angel Leos returned from his second tour in Iraq and found his life falling apart. But after being matched up with Shadow, he has been able to find some peace. Photo Credit: CNN
When Jeremiah Gaches came back to the United States, he isolated himself a lot. But after he met Rocky, Gaches found it much easier to get out of the house. Photo Credit: CNN
When Jeremiah Gaches came back to the United States, he isolated himself a lot. But after he met Rocky, Gaches found it much easier to get out of the house. Photo Credit: CNN
When Nick Udall returned from Vietnam, he found it very difficult to be in a crowd. He was always on alert, looking for exit strategies "if something happens." Annie is vigilant so he doesn't always have to be. Photo Credit: CNN

More CNN:

Aww! 20 Hilarious Halloween Paws-tumes (GALLERY)

It's important to keep your pets safe and happy this Halloween. Photo credit: stock

(HALLOWEEN/ANIMAL PICTURES/PETS) What would Halloween be without pets in costumes? We’ve assembled pictures of our favorite dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and even a guinea pig sporting their Halloween costumes! Check out this hilarious collection of costumed pets below, and have a happy Halloween! — Global Animal

This French bulldog is working a Geisha girl costume! Photo Credit: Instagram
This adorable Yorkshire Terrier is a fiesta for the eyes in a taco dog costume. Photo Credit:
Bumble Bee Cat! Photo Credit:
An adorable Boston Terrier in a dinosaur costume! Photo Credit: Instagram/lindsayerin1
This is one adorable Papal Pup! Photo Credit: Instagram/oliveisfat
This wiener dog is serving up some wieners of his own! Photo Credit: Instagram/nipness
This little guy definitely cast a cuteness spell on us! Photo Credit: Instagram/petsmart
Pirate cat, arrgh me matey! Photo Credit: Instagram/petsmart
Elvis "Pupsley!" Thank you, thank you very much. Photo Credit: Instagram/vemateo
Devil dogs, a mischievous duo. Photo Credit: Instagram/digbyvanwinkle
Frenchie turned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Photo Credit: Instagram/henrilefrenchie
A yawn or a giant roar? Photo Credit: Instagram/alexjacy
Did you know that taco cat spelled backwards is taco cat? Photo Credit: Instagram/curiouskitties
The Force is strong with this Brussels Griffon. Photo Credit: Instagram/atminarik
A monstrously cute French Bulldog. Photo Credit: Instagram/3bulldogges
Sophie is ready for Halloween in this adorable Eeyore costume. Photo Credit: Instagram/petsmart
The Prettiest Pitbull we've ever seen! Photo Credit: Instagram/_annabees_
Tilly dressed up as a banana. Photo Credit: Instagram/cocopaul
Cat Peacock! Photo Credit: Instagram/eris8656
This Pug is a big old cup of cuteness. Photo Credit: Instagram/elisecflores

New Tool Helps Online Shoppers Go Cruelty-Free

Protesters with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) attended a news conference where it was announced that Los Angeles would ban the sale of fur products. Photo Credit: Richard Vogel/Associated Press

(ANIMAL TESTING) A new startup and browser extension called Tribe launched this week, providing online shoppers with a tool to find out whether or not a company tests on animals.

When Tribe users select a product for purchase on Amazon, a small box appears in the corner of their browser to reveal information about the manufacturer’s animal testing methods, ensuring only cruelty-free brands end up in shopping carts.

Continue reading and view the video clip below to learn more about the browser extension. To add Tribe to your browser, simply visit

Protesters with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) attended a news conference where it was announced that Los Angeles would ban the sale of fur products. Photo Credit: Richard Vogel/Associated Press

Tribe, Sydney Felker

Los Angeles, CA – Tribe, a browser extension, launched this week to give online shoppers an easier way to learn whether a company tests on animals. When Tribe users select a product for purchase on Amazon, a small box appears in the corner of their browser to share animal testing information on the product manufacturer. The free tool integrates seamlessly into the shopping experience, making it simple for animal lovers to choose products made by cruelty-free companies. Tribe can be added to your browser at

Currently in beta, Tribe integrates information from trusted sources like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC, which administers the Leaping Bunny logo), and others, to identify companies that test on animals and those that don’t. Tribe’s mission is to empower consumers to make better shopping choices and encourage businesses to eliminate harmful practices.

“There is nothing worse than falling in love with a product and later finding out they test on animals,” said Founder, CEO, and dog-lover, Kim Pieper. “Tribe is a values-driven company that is focused on providing facts to consumers in the simplest way. We believe in empowering small acts to create real and meaningful change.”

Conscious consumerism is as strong as ever. A study of global consumers by Accenture Strategy reported that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of shoppers prefer goods from companies that reflect their values. Tribe has the ability to influence millions of purchases daily on Amazon.

In addition to animal testing, Tribe is adding other information to the extension, as well as a feature that makes alternative product recommendations. “We have plans to address corporate practices, political giving, and many other issues we all care deeply about,” added Pieper.

Halloween Howlers Show Off Their Costumes (GALLERY)

Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Dog dressed as shark for halloween. Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post

(CUTE ANIMAL PICTURES/DOGS/HALLOWEEN COSTUMES FOR PETS) Halloween is right around the corner and it’s time to get creative with not just your own costume, but your furry loved one’s as well. You shouldn’t be the only one who gets to have a little fun this Halloween! Check out these adorable pets as they put on the dog in their perfect Halloween attire. — Global Animal

Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post
Cute dogs, cute animals, cute animal pictures, cute dog pictures, animals in costume
Photo Credit: Anna G. Dickson, Huffington Post

11 Ways To Protect Your Pet From Halloween Dangers

Pet costumes are fun and adorable, but they can be dangerous for your dog or cat. Photo credit: Woman'sDay

(LIFE WITH PETS/PET SAFETY) Pet costumes are fun and adorable, but they can also be dangerous and cause stress for your pets. Here are some tips on how to keep pets safe during Halloween and what to do if your pet is accidentally poisoned. — Global Animal

Pet costumes are fun and adorable, but they can be dangerous for your dog or cat. Photo credit: Woman’sDay


Attention, companion animal caretakers! The ASPCA would like to point out these common-sense cautions that’ll help keep your pets safe and stress-free this time of year. If you do suspect your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435

Twiggy, a 2-year-old mixed terrier rescue, barters for treats.
Twiggy, a 2-year-old mixed terrier rescue, barters for treats.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy.

  • Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate—and even seizures.
  • Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. In cases of significantly low blood sugar, liver failure has been known to occur.
  • Ingesting tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset should pets ingest them. Intestinal blockage could even occur if large pieces are swallowed.

3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.

Cats aren’t always as agreeable as dogs when it comes to wearing Halloween costumes. Make sure to only dress your pet in a costume if he/she actually enjoys it. Photo Credit: Instragram/Petsmart

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you.


Animal Advocates Fight For The Future Of Endangered Species

Photo Credit: Virgin Media Television

(ENDANGERED SPECIES) Animal advocates have filed a lawsuit forcing the federal government to protect endangered species. This move repeals recently imposed rules by the Trump administration that would put endangered species like manatees, bald eagles, gray wolves, and grizzly bears at risk of extinction.

Read on to learn more about how the Animal Legal Defense Fund is fighting for the protections of some of the most vulnerable species on the planet–in both the wild and in captivity.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is suing the federal government in hopes of repealing recently imposed rules under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Photo Credit: Virgin Media Television

October 22, 2019

Animal Legal Defense Fund, Natalia Lima

SAN FRANCISCO – Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, filed a lawsuit to force the federal government to repeal recently imposed rules under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The lawsuit specifically details the importance of ESA protections for animals in captivity, in addition to how these changes harm wild animals.

The ESA is one of the most important legal tools protecting the lives of animals. The ESA has prevented the extinction of numerous iconic American animals including the northern gray wolf, the bald eagle, the Florida manatee, and the grizzly bear.

This law also provides critical protections for threatened and endangered animals languishing in captivity across the United States. The Animal Legal Defense Fund set a critical legal precedent applying the ESA to captive endangered animals in 2016 —affirmed on appeal in 2018 — regarding the treatment of four tigers and three lemurs held at a roadside zoo in Iowa.

“The Endangered Species Act allows us to use the legal system to protect some of the most vulnerable species on the planet, in the wild and in captivity,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The new rules put both wild and captive animals at further risk of mistreatment and extinction.”

In August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced the new rules that weaken the ESA. The changes include:

  • Making it easier to “delist” species, meaning they no longer receive ESA protections.
  • No immediate protections for newly-listed “threatened” species – those that are threatened with extinction. Captive threatened animals are especially susceptible to mistreatment. The ESA clearly requires the government to protect threatened species.
  • Economic factors, instead of scientific analysis, can now be considered when deciding whether a species merits protection.
  • It’s harder to protect animals from the growing climate crisis because, among other changes, the new rules make it more difficult to designate an area as “critical habitat” – the areas considered crucial to protect a threatened or endangered species. Habitat loss, fueled by human development and the climate crisis, is the primary cause of extinction.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund argues the government’s decision to weaken ESA protections is not just misguided, but illegal. The ESA requires threatened and endangered species to have legal protections, but the Services’ rules strip those required protections away. Further, the lawsuit alleges the Services failed to adequately consider arguments against the rules at the proposal phase or consider the environmental impacts of the rules — violating the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

For more information, visit

New Bill Makes Animal Cruelty A Felony

Photo Credit: AP

(ANIMAL CRUELTY) Believe it or not, most animal cruelty isn’t currently a federal crime. Thankfully the U.S. House of Representatives just unanimously passed a bill to change that.

Under the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act, animal cruelty–including crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling, and other bodily injury–will be a federal felony.

Existing federal law only explicitly bans animal fighting, and solely criminalizes the act of filming and distributing video depicting animal cruelty.

Violators could face up to seven years in prison under the new law. Do you think that’s a fair sentence? Continue reading about the PACT Act at the following link, and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks to the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, animal cruelty is now a federal felony in the U.S. Photo Credit: AP

Read the full New York Times article, here: