55 Dogs Walk Their Owners To The Finish Line

FOCUS ON PETS

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The "Walk A Hound, Lose A Pound" event, sponsored by Payson Parks and Recreation, was great fun. I must admit that Higgins and I were the very last to cross the finish line, but that is because the walk took us through parts of Payson I had never seen, and it was beautiful.

Fifty-five dogs and their walking companions were entered in this event. It was fun to see all the dogs and their walkers in matching shirts. And all of us who crossed the very official finish line, which had an automatic timer, received a prize. There were some nice prizes, including lots of dog treats and dog toys. It was not a race, fortunately, although there were many that covered the 5K, just over three miles, in record time. My team was not in any hurry.

There were large dogs, like the Irish wolfhound, and small dogs, like a Pomeranian, and everything in between.

A little dog, Harley, rode along in a backpack due to a bad back, but was still enjoying the day. Owner Ginger Means said that halfway through the walk, she might change places with her dog.

Skip, a rescue dog owned by Danielle Yocum, was an inspiration to all, as he easily made the walk on three legs. You could see that he was in excellent condition.

It is great to see dogs and their people out enjoying the day and being together. Many said it would be great to have this walk as a regular event.

Pet food recall

The pet food recall continues. Last week, I reported that the problem was rat poison found in gluten from China. Now, they are saying it could be melamine, a substance used in fertilizer and in the production of plastic.

The real fact is that they do not yet know what is causing all these dogs and cats to be sick and dying. Unfortunately, so many foreign substances find their way into food products for both pets and people. The amounts are often too insignificant to find or to cause any problems. But this situation is very serious.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the cause of the food contamination has not been confirmed. The FDA and laboratories are continuing to evaluate samples and reports of illness and death. Because the cause is not confirmed, the treatment cannot be specifically directed to one cause. Generalized treatment for kidney disease and vomiting is recommended until more specific treatment can be determined.

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Skip did the 5K on three legs proving that he is in great condition. He was found with a mauled leg and after surgery, found the Yocum family to love and challengeim.e is a lucky dog. Danielle says they hike every weekend.

How long it will take to find the cause of this tainted pet food is unknown.

Food, blood, urine and tissue samples are being thoroughly tested for many possible causes. Many of these tests take time to complete. According to the AVMA, it is possible that the cause will not be found.

We need to be ever vigilant as to what we feed our pets, as well as our families. We have been so very trusting of the food production system. We go to the grocery store or pet store and feel confident that what we buy is safe for us to eat. We cannot be that confident.

This puts the responsibility on us, the pet owners, to keep abreast of the recalled products and to make very careful decisions about the products we buy and feed. Due to the pet food recall, there has been a run on organic pet food products. Read the label carefully and do not expect to find an inexpensive organic food. Organic means that it was produced without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Demand for all natural and organic pet foods is growing 15 to 25 percent per year as the interest in better food for people continually increases. To keep up with this pet food recall, visit www.avma.org.

Tag Day

Tag Day is Saturday, April 7. This event is sponsored by American Humane Association with the reminder, "Without a voice and without a tag, a pet may never find his way home." They remind us, that every day is tag day. According to information put out by the American Humane Association, "This event unites thousands of animal care and control agencies in the shared goal to help pet owners equip their pets with an identification tag or combination of ID systems."

The AHA continues with three pointers, "Make sure your pet wears a collar with a current ID tag. Remember that even indoor pets need tags, and, in addition to tags, consider permanent identification such as a tattoo or microchip."

For more information, visit www.americanhumane.org/tagday.

-- Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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