Cool tools to keep track of furry friends

By April Boleware

Lucy and Moxie play at the dog park off Hollywood Avenue. Photo by Daniel Scruggs

Throughout Cooper-Young, we have something special in common: a great love for animals.

As I walk through the neighborhood, I find that most times, I know a pet’s name before I ever know the owner. Our “kids” greet each other on the street and we make introductions but often forget to introduce ourselves. As the years have gone by, I now know most of my neighbors and their pets by name. This works out especially well if one of their furry family members happens to take a stroll outside its own backyard.

May is National Pet Awareness month and every year, we take some time to introduce new ideas and information to our residents to help keep their pets happy and safe.

There are so many options out there to help keep track and even locate your loved ones in the event they go missing. I have had so many conversations with our residents some after it was already too late who said that they had always meant to have their pets microchipped or added to the CYCA pet registry.

While the Dog Day at the Dog Park events have generated some enthusiasm and renewed inspiration toward taking these steps, there are still many residents out there who need to have their pets microchipped. Almost all local veterinarians are able to provide microchipping services. Hollywood Feed also works with different doctors several times a year to offer this service at a discount. There are a few different options and you will want to ask specific questions on your next visit to the vet.

The CYCA pet registry was designed so that residents could submit a photo, along with important contact and pet info that would be vital if their pet were ever lost. This way residents could become familiar with all of our local animals and recognize them if they were found. If you would like to submit your pet’s photo and information, you can send it to info@cooperyoung.org.

Another great option for dogs is GPS tracking collars. These are collars that contain a GPS chip enabling you to keep a constant eye on where your pet is at all times. For around $100-$200 and a monthly monitoring fee, you are able to see in real time the exact location of your pet.

Recently Consumer Reports ranked the top three on the market. They are TAGG (www.pettracker.com), RoamEO GPS collars (www.petedge.com) and Garmin (www.sites.garmin.com ). Several other residents have already purchased one of these nifty gadgets and it is a wonderful peace of mind to know you can see what’s going on at all times. (See June Hurt’s article for a review of one of these products.)

Something else that has sparked a lot of questions is pet insurance. Who offers it, what do they cover, what don’t they cover, how much is it and is it really worth it? Two of the best websites I have found that offer independent evaluations are: www.petinsurancereview.com and www.petinsurancereviews.org.

Personally, I don’t think I would ever own a pet without having insurance. Luckily, I have never had to fork out thousands of dollars in vet bills and I am hopeful that with pet insurance, I never will. There are hundreds of different plans, many different companies and discounts for multiple pet households. You would be surprised how many human insurance companies actually underwrite pet insurance plans. Some car insurance plans even offer extended coverage to your pet while they are riding.

This brings me to another very important point. After taking Evie (my 3-year-old Akita) to the vet, I was given a wellness survey to complete. It was basically a breakdown of how well I took care of her, what extra things I would need to give her in order to compensate for any type of lifestyle issues and suggestions of ways to improve things to extend her life.

One of the questions asked if she wore a seat belt while she was riding in the car and whether I allow her head to hang out of the window. Now, I know.

Back in the old days, dogs rode in the back of pickup trucks and really seemed to be living the life. Most of the time, we let them hang out in the back seat and stick their head out of the window. Now imagine you are traveling down the street at roughly 35 mph and someone slams into the back of your car. I am sure you can imagine your own discomfort, but try to imagine what just happened to your pet. It is most likely that their head got caught in the window it was hanging out of or they went right through the windshield.

The first time I ever realized what kind of an impact an accident would have on Evie was when I stopped suddenly and she bumped her nose on the back of my headrest. My imagination ran away with me right then and my next purchase was for a dog seat belt. The other part of this is having your dog hang its whole head out of the window. Yes, I know they love it, but what happens if something flies into their eyes, or again you have an accident and they are cut with glass?

My apologies for being so graphic, but it really is an important step in pet safety. I have seen so many instances in our neighborhood of dogs hanging out the back of Jeeps, car windows and even standing up in the front seats of convertibles. No one wants to take away the fun our pets have while riding in the car, but safety must come first.

Another very serious part of safety falls to yard security. Each month, the office receives several emails and phone calls regarding lost pets. In many instances, they have escaped from their own yards. Now that summer is on its way, it is a good time to walk the backyard, check out the fence and any potential escape routes your pup could use to wander the neighborhood.

It is important to note that being a responsible pet owner not only means protecting your pets, but protecting your neighbors as well. Having a secured backyard for your dogs is not only responsible, it’s the law. In the event that your pet were to escape and actually hurt someone it could not only cost thousands of dollars in fines and court costs, but even the life of your dog depending on the severity of the situation.

Something else that goes along with backyards is mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes carry heartworm larvae that can infect your pets it is important to take precautions to prevent insect bites. This year, pest control companies are saying we will have a worse problem with them because we had such a mild winter.

To help protect your pets, make sure you are diligent with heartworm and flea control medications. Mark them on your calendar and make sure you re-apply every 30 days. When you apply flea treatments, wait 48 hours before giving pets a bath or submerging them in water to ensure effectiveness. If you have indoor-only cats but an indoor/outdoor dog, the cats need to be protected as well.

Have your yard sprayed all summer for mosquitoes. Jameson Pest Control offers these treatments for your yard all summer to help combat the issue. They have developed a way to microencapsulate the insecticide to make it last 28-30 days. The cost is $35-$50 depending on the size of your yard.

Jameson is offering half off your first mosquito treatment when you mention this story in the LampLighter. Reach them at 452-1505.

May is a great time to really brush up on all the things that are available to our pets. Remember, they are members of our family and deserve all of the attention they can get when it comes to safety.

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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