For Pets’ Sake

Dog vs. cat. When it comes to the most popular household pet, canines knock felines out of the ring. Yet as in every battle between the species, humans have to weigh in. In this issue, plenty have. We explore how the Internet has impacted pet rescues, how animals help people, and why some people choose pets other than cats and dogs.

Facebook to the Rescue

When it comes to finding lost pets, fliers are used less and less  By Jane McManus

Social media, websites, and new technology have become the electronic lost-and-found for missing pets and those needing new homes.

“We rely almost entirely on our Facebook page,” says Susan Gainey Odoyo, board president of It Takes a Village, an Evansville foster-based dog rescue and no-kill shelter. “It increases the willingness of people to rescue a dog.”

ITV assists Evansville-Vanderburgh Animal Care & Control and three other area shelters in placing homeless dogs. The group has 23 kennels at its 1417 N. Stockwell Road facility, but most animals are placed in 30 to 40 foster homes.

Odoyo estimates ITV had around 2,000 Facebook followers in the first six to eight months of 2010, when the organization was founded. That number has increased to nearly 7,000. In 2012, ITV helped 463 dogs find new homes and rescued more than 600 dogs.

“We’re on track to place almost 700 dogs this year,” says Odoyo. “Social media has allowed us to dramatically increase our ability to place dogs in forever homes.”

Jackie Rohner, president and founder of Another Chance for Animals, says social media is a primary source of how her organization gets people to adopt its animals.

“Anymore, that’s how you communicate with the world,” says Rohner. “We had our Facebook page up and running before we had anything.”

Rohner says her organization places about 900 animals a year and is certain the uptick in its social media followers is related to its success. “When we started, we had a few hundred followers,” says Rohner. “Now, we have almost 8,000.”

ACA, which also began in 2010, is a network of more than 100 foster homes that works exclusively with Evansville-Vanderburgh Animal Care & Control in placing animals in order to help reduce the euthanasia rate at the local animal control. That euthanasia rate has been cut dramatically, Rohner says, partly as a result of ACA.

“We had a 75 percent adoption rate last year,” Alisa Webster, the superintendent of animal control, agrees.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that roughly 3,500 animal shelters in the country take in 6-8 million cats and dogs each year. Of those numbers, between 3-4 million are adopted from shelters each year.

“They’re awesome; they work miracles,” Webster says of ACA “They don’t just take the pretty ones. They take the elderly ones, the ones with heartworm. They take everything. Animal control would be a very difficult place to work at if not for them.”

Another Chance for Animals: Back row, left to right: Gwen Umphress, Vicky Smith, Jackie Rohner, Audrey Julian (holding Rufus, a domestic short hair cat), and Brenda Huffine. Front row, left to right: Katie Wells, Tyler Wells, A.J. Rohner, Kenny Rohner, Katlyne Johnson, and Starla, a 1-year-old pit mix. Both animals were up for adoption at the time of publication. (Photo by Will Steward)

Social media is also helping find the way back home for missing animals. Evansville Lost Pets is a Facebook page started in December 2010 by Jenny Nunning and Colette Purcell that posts information and pictures about wandering cats, dogs, and other animals online.

Purcell says almost 2,400 pets have been re-united with their owners as a result of posting on the page.

“We are kind of the middle man,” says Purcell. “We help people get their animals back.”

Purcell knows first-hand the trauma of a missing pet and trying to re-locate it using the low-tech methods of flyers and word-of-mouth. Nearly three years ago, Purcell’s then 12-year-old cat, Elizabeth, wandered away with Purcell nearby.

“I went in to refill my coffee and I didn’t see her for 12 days,” says Purcell, adding the cat needed a twice-daily dose of medicine.

After putting up dozens of fliers and calling numerous veterinary offices, Purcell got a call from a 12-year-old girl who lived near North High School who recognized the cat as one that had showed up near her home.

Purcell, who lives near Bosse High School, says it is a mystery how the cat traveled about 10 miles from school to school. She now keeps Elizabeth on a small tie-out when outside.

In addition to social media, there are websites dedicated to finding homes for pets in need.

Brenda Vanderver, president of the Posey County-based PC Pound Puppies, says in addition to Facebook, her organization, and many others, use, an online database of animals in need of homes. works with nearly 14,000 adoption groups and animal shelters around the country, in Canada, and in Mexico.

“It’s made a huge difference,” says Vanderver. “You just have so many more people looking at your dogs. It used to be all you could count on was people who came to your adoption event.”

Dog tags, too, are now high-tech. Evansville-Vanderburgh Animal Care & Control, and many rescue organizations, require adopted pets to have a small microchip inserted under their skin that can identify them if they are lost or missing. The device carries a number that is plugged into a database that is linked to the name and contact information of the owner. A handheld scanner reads the radio frequency of the chip and displays the information. The pet owner must register the dog and keep the animal’s information current.

“It’s pretty much a fool-proof way to prove the dog is yours, to keep track of the dog,” says Vanderver.

Not the Dog Pound

Animal Control is seeking to change its image  By Jane McManus

Alisa Webster has been the Superintendent of Evansville Animal Control since July 2012 and has been employed by the agency since 2009. Webster owns two dogs and three cats; one dog and one cat were rescues, and another cat “adopted me,” she says.

What is the mission of Animal Control?
“Doing what we can to promote responsible pet ownership by educating the public and providing safety for animals. This is the place for them to be safe while we’re trying to find the owner. Everything we do is to protect animals and people. “We are not the dog pound anymore. We are working really hard to change the perception that people have of the animal control facility.”

How do pets end up in your facility?
“They end up here in a variety of ways. Many are strays that animal control officers pick up or someone finds. We have animals that are brought in by their owners. We also have pets here that we have to take from their homes for their own welfare. We’re taking in right about 4,500 animals a year. And that does not include wild animals; animals that people trap in live traps and are re-located.”

What is the most common breed of dog that you see in Animal Control?
“We see more pit bulls than we do any other breed. And it’s just because it’s the breed of choice right now. Most of them are great dogs. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad dog just because they’re a pit bull. We get in more Chihuahua dogs that are problem dogs than we get pit bulls that are a problem.”

What percentage of animals are reclaimed by their owners?
“I would say about 50 percent are claimed by their owners if I had to guess. And that’s dogs. Cats, even less. Last year, we had about a 75-percent live release rate, which means that 75 percent of dogs or puppies were reclaimed, adopted, or went to rescue. We work closely with rescue groups.”

Both this job and your job with VHS seem difficult. Why do this kind of work?
“I still think we can make a difference and change things. I think the people that do well in this type of work see it more as a calling than a job.”

Evansville Animal Control, 815 Uhlhorn St., 812-435-6015. Adoption hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., and until 4:45 p.m. on Saturday. Adoption fee for dogs is $100; cats are $90. Fee includes microchip, rabies, spay/neuter, and life license for City of Evansville.


Dog Dos and Don’ts

Bobbi Jo Bottomley teaches people how to think like a canine  By Victoria Grabner

New Harmony, Ind., resident Bobbi Jo Bottomley founded Tri-State K9 University in 2005. The company provides in-home instruction, private lessons, and group classes for dog training. It also offers rehabilitation training and training for service dogs. Tri-State K9 University also boards canines. She has six dogs, a snake, a fish, chickens, and two ponies.

What are some of the biggest reasons people bring their dogs to Tri-State K9 University?
“Some of the most common phone calls stem from dogs pulling on leashes, not coming when called, jumping on people, and potty training.”

How do you get a dog to listen to you?
“Packs of dogs respond to four things: Boundaries, entrances, migration, and feeding. We don’t let the dog make choices. It’s whatever the pack leader wants. It should listen to you when you tell it to ‘come here.’ For entrances, the pack leader needs to be the first one to enter any new environment. If I’m walking and change direction, the dog should naturally follow. For feeding, you want to make sure that you tell the dog to wait before they are able to eat.”

We have a dog that always jumps on visitors to our home. How can we get her to stop jumping on them?
“You need to establish the boundaries for your company. Shake the visitor’s hand first when they arrive. Welcome them in by a touch. Let the dog know that you have invited them in as pack leader. Also, put the dog on a leash and give a firm correction with the leash, or speak a firm ‘No.’ If you are pulling back on the leash, it’s a game. They will pull harder. If it’s not working, then we will have to use a training tool like treats, a harness, an electronic collar, or a head halter.”

What advice do you have for humans who have adopted abused dogs?
“The biggest misconception by humans is that because a dog has been abused, we should give it more affection. You need to establish the boundaries, entrances, migration, and feeding rules first. They need to see the affection as an award for good behavior, not just because we feel sorry for them. For fear-based dogs, it could take a week to two years to make them less afraid. It depends on what damage has been done.”

For more information about Tri-State K9 University, call 812-305-4737 or visit 

At Their Service

Amazing animals help people live better lives  By Cara Schuster

The partnership between humans and animals dates back to the Stone Age, about 9,000 years ago, when animals first were domesticated. But never have animals provided such dedicated help to humans as they do today in the form of trained service. Throughout the Tri-State, animals are helping people improve their quality of life through programs, services, and activities that promote human and animal interaction.

St. Mary’s Medical Center in Evansville offers a pet therapy program that allows dogs to visit patients, providing a comforting presence or simply breaking up the long hours of the day. Dressed up with a scarf and a name badge, the therapy dogs generally visit private rooms in the rehabilitation unit, though they will often take special requests in other areas of the hospital as long as they are in private rooms.

Man’s Best Friend: Candela is just one of the 16 pet therapy teams that visit patients at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Therapy dogs at the hospital must complete a series of behavioral and obedience tests before they are eligible to interact with patients. (Photo by Glenn Tang, Black Pixel Studios)

“They offer unconditional love to most anyone,” says St. Mary’s Manager of Volunteer and Planetree Services, Kalah Georgette-Vowels. “I’ve seen firsthand how they affect patients in the room.”

St. Mary’s pet therapy program began in 2007 through Planetree, a nonprofit membership organization that works with hospitals and healthcare institutes for patient-centered care in healing environments. Initially, the pet therapy program utilized only one dog, but today the number has grown to 16 teams. These teams consist of a dog, its owner, and an escort who assists in engaging the patients with the team, offers up hand sanitizer at the end of the visit, and keeps track of where the dogs have visited.

Kelly Lanham, a four-year veteran of and volunteer with the pet therapy program, is thrilled at the opportunity to share her three dogs with patients. “I want to bring smiles to their faces,” she says.

Chester, a whippet and the most experienced of Lanham’s therapy dogs, once visited a patient who had been unresponsive for six weeks. The whippet was one of many different methods of therapy after the patient’s surgery, and the patient responded to the dog and repeated its name.

Being a therapy dog involves some work. St. Mary’s requires potential pooches to have completed the Canine Good Citizen test — a series of behavioral and obedience tests proving they are well mannered. Dogs must know basic commands (sit, stay, and lay down), be able to ignore general distractions, and be comfortable around strangers. In the hospital environment, they also must be comfortable around wheelchairs, and they have to resist the temptation to chew the tennis balls on the legs of walkers.

Some of the most well known canines helping humans are those serving in law enforcement. The Evansville Police Department and the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office both have K-9 units. The Evansville Police Department’s K-9 Unit began in 1981 with four single purpose German Shepherds. Currently, the police department has nine K-9 teams. Six teams use German Shepherds for patrol and narcotics detection. The explosion detection team and two narcotics detection teams use Labrador Retrievers.

The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office has four dogs. Three are cross-trained, or dual-purpose, German Shepherds trained in criminal apprehension as well as narcotics detection. The fourth is a yellow Labrador that, according to Sgt. Rob Clark, the canine supervisor, is assigned to the Joint Narcotics Task Force and is strictly a narcotics detector. All the dogs are trained to understand German commands. Once they arrive here, the dogs are trained for two to three weeks with a trainer. Then the dogs and their handlers undergo six weeks of additional training.

“Once the team graduates, they are ready to work the streets, but training never ceases,” Clark says, adding that each canine team is required to attend 16 hours of monthly maintenance training.

Clark says the dogs are primarily used as locating tools. Narcotics detection dogs are used to find illegal drugs that would never be discovered without the dog or are discovered after a lengthy manual search by several officers. The dogs trained in criminal apprehension are used to find and catch an offender who normally would not be found.

“Working with a canine is very rigorous and rewarding,” Clark says. “It’s a heavy burden to arrive on the run and know that your partner is the only tool that can find that offender. It is a great feeling to find someone hiding somewhere and know that, without your partner’s skills, the suspect would have escaped capture.”

Each dog lives with his respective handler, who is responsible for maintaining the dog. This includes feeding the dog, grooming it, and taking it to the veterinarian. When a dog retires, the department gives the officer the option of keeping the dog, a choice most canine handlers make.

The Evansville Association for the Blind also is involved with trained service dogs. The EAB fully supports blind persons getting guide dogs after they have received training on how to properly use a white cane.

According to EAB mobility specialist Krysti Hughes, only about 7 to 10 people in the Tri-State use guide dogs that must be matched to their owners’ personalities, heights, and speeds. These dogs must know a number of commands, and they are trained to avoid being distracted by others. They’re taught to have a close relationship with their owners. That’s why it’s important for strangers not to interfere.

“If you see someone using a guide dog, ask before you pet the dog,” Hughes advises.

Dogs aren’t the only animals helping humans. Nonprofit organization Riding Hope offers therapeutic riding program called hippotherapy — using a horse (the Greek word for horse is hippo) as a therapy tool. Founded by Beth Tromley and Amanda Ritzert in 2004, Riding Hope provides this progressive form of therapy for special needs children at a barn in St. Phillips, Ind. Though it began as one horse and a handful of children, the group has grown to include roughly 125 children, 10 horses, two ponies, and 120 volunteers.

A typical hippotherapy session at Riding Hope lasts 20 minutes. Participants sit atop a horse on a pad instead of a saddle, which helps them develop abdominal strength and balance. Flanked by three individuals — a leader, a therapist, and a walker — riders work their muscles by reaching, throwing a ball, and passing certain objects. Tromley points out that it takes “a very special horse” to participate in hippotherapy. Horses must be very mild-mannered, even-tempered and calm, and able to tolerate a lot of activity. Riders thoroughly rely on the patience and gentle nature of these animals.


Exotic Fascination

Spiders, kangaroos, and tortoises can be pets  By Victoria Grabner

Do a favor for John Scott Foster Ph.D., and he might just name an animal after you.

That’s what he did for Lisa Rhyand (before she became Lisa Vaughan), a member of the Evansville Junior League who now shares a name with a poisonous black widow spider.

Foster, the executive director of the Wesselman Nature Society, says people often think it’s an insult to the human Lisa Rhyand that she now has a namesake with a shiny black body and a red hourglass marking on its belly. But, “she’s the one who picked the spider to be her namesake,” he chuckles. And the truth is, Lisa Rhyand the black widow is in good hands. Foster has degrees in zoology and science education and museum studies, and he is fully dedicated to connecting people with nature.

“These potentially scary, creepy, little animals can help people,” he says. As an example, scientists, he points out, are hoping a building block of proteins found in black widow venom could help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Foster has a variety of exotic pets, including a Chilean rose-haired tarantula, another black widow spider, about five millipedes, about four Madagascar hissing cockroaches, as well as 90,000 honey bees. Of that list, only the spiders have names.

“All spiders are named Matilda because it’s a name that I can remember,” he says, being careful to point out that Lisa Rhyand the black widow is the exception to the rule. He adds that when talking about his spiders, he must distinguish between Matilda the tarantula and another black widow that he also has named Matilda. He has to keep Matilda the black widow and Lisa Rhyand the black widow separate from each other; otherwise, “one would eat the other.”

Doctor Do a Lot: John Scott Foster considers his four Madagascar hissing cockroaches to be his pets, but they also serve to educate Wesselman Nature Society visitors like Hannah Theiring of Evansville. (Photo by Hannah Jay)

All the animals, except for the bees, are kept at Wesselman Nature Society, but they are essentially Foster’s pets “as much as you can consider them a pet. They are more living creatures that I take care of. They are never happy to see you come home. They aren’t going to cuddle up with you and watch TV.”

Yet it’s more than that. “I like to have these animals and to show them for people to discover how the little things are cool,” he says. Often, people like seeing the spiders, cockroaches, and millipedes because the animals are in a controlled setting.

“Tarantulas, black widows, big black honking cockroaches — there is the perceived danger, there is some fear,” Foster says. “So to have the opportunity to interact and be literally inches from this animal, but in a controlled setting, people groove on it. They’ve probably not had that opportunity before.”

Then there are the animals that aren’t so tiny. Evansville residents Misty and Larry Minar have two leopard tortoises, Cleopatra (nicknamed Cleo) and Herbie (as in the movie “Herbie the Love Bug”).

“We have had them over 12 years now, and they would fit in the palm of my hand when we got them,” Misty Minar says, adding that Cleo now weighs more than 35 pounds and Herbie is roughly 25 pounds. “They still have a lot of growing to do being that these tortoises can reach up to two feet in diameter and weigh up to 70 pounds or more.”

Minar is the horticulturist at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden. She says leopard tortoises are the fourth largest tortoises in the world and are from the grasslands and scrub areas of Africa. They can live 75 years or more in captivity.

“At this rate, it looks like they will be passed down to our sons, who adore them and help care for them,” she says.

Slowly But Surely: Eli Minar, Misty Minar, and Wil Minar have made leopard tortoises Herbie and Cleo part of their family. (Photo by Heather Gray)

Cleo and Herbie spend their summers in an enclosure in the Minars’ backyard that the family can move around the property’s five acres. Moving the enclosure gives the tortoises access to fresh grass and weeds including clover, dandelions, and plantains. In the winters, the tortoises live in a heated room in the garage.

“Feeding the tortoises in the winter is more challenging,” Minar says. “This can be quite expensive. This usually involves wiping out the greens section of the grocery store. Endive is their favorite winter greens along with other greens that are appropriate.”

The tortoises also eat a commercial tortoise pellet and occasional treats like blackberries and strawberries.

“They aren’t the kind of pet that you can snuggle with and love on like a dog or cat, but they have become an important part of our family,” she says.

Ron Young, the former director of Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden who now runs AtoZ Animal Care Specialists, has spent 50 years taking care of exotic animals. He has eight kangaroos on his Evansville property, as well as 100 turtles, 10 African Spurred Tortoises, six cockatoos, various cane toads, and lizards.

“Kangaroos are very sweet animals when they are hand raised,” Young says, adding that they can live as long as 15 to 20 years. “If they are wild raised, they are like a rabbit, and when they see you, they run.”

The kangaroos’ natural predator is the dingo dog, yet the tame kangaroos on Young’s property have become accustomed to the dogs he boards there at his kennel. They’ve also become trained to know when Young has gone to Bunny Bread on Fulton and Virginia streets. “They run to the gate with their hands out, just like children,” waiting for a slice of wheat bread, he says.

When Dogs and Cats Won’t Do

Research is key in caring for an exotic pet  By Jane McManus

Cats and dogs are only two of the creatures people keep as pets.

“We see quite a few rats,” says Dr. Laura Bakowski, one of four practicing veterinarians at Village East Animal Hospital, 1305 S. Green River Road. She graduated from Purdue University in 1997 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine and has worked at Village East for 15 years. “They’re very friendly, they rarely bite. They’re very clean so they are easy to take care of.”

Rats fall into the category of “exotic” pets, which Bakowski considers to be any pet that is not a cat or a dog.

“It could be a ferret, snake, turtle, guinea pig, or birds,” she adds. “Rabbits are what we see the most of.”

Why would anyone want a pet that creeps, crawls, or slithers?

“With regard to snakes, turtles, and lizards, I think people just find them very interesting,” says Bakowski. “They’re not cuddly like cats or dogs, and I think people are drawn to the fact they’re unusual.”

But being unusual also means exotic animals are harder to treat.

“Exams can be difficult,” she says, adding their smaller size creates challenges for veterinarians.

And it takes a veterinarian with special training to treat exotics. Bakowski did her training for exotics with a veterinarian in Indianapolis and is one of a number of veterinarians in Evansville who treat exotics. She also attends continuing education conferences.

Not all exotics make good pets, according to Bakowski. Poisonous snakes, for example, are not a good choice for the average pet owner, and Bakowski will not treat them.

“I think the big cats are also not a good choice,” she says.

Bakowski adds people cannot keep wild animals, such as injured birds or rabbits, as pets. Those animals must go to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Another downside of owning an exotic animal, according to the website, is many (like monkeys) can transmit Herpes B and monkey pox to humans. The website states 90 percent of all reptiles carry and shed salmonella in their feces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 93,000 salmonella cases a year in the U.S. are caused by exposure to reptiles. However, a plus for having an exotic animal is they can be easier to care for.

“The overall day-to-day care for the pet might be less than a dog might be,” says Bakowski.

She adds that it’s important to research the proper care of an exotic animal, such as the types of food they should eat and the proper temperature of their environment.

“Talk to a veterinarian, or go to the library,” Bakowski says. “They live a long time.”


Lasting Impact

Vanderburgh Humane Society keeps working to save animals  By Kendall Paul

A sloppy kiss from a puppy. A sweet nudge from a cat. These are the things that keep the staff and volunteers of the Vanderburgh Humane Society smiling each day. But it’s our vision of a future where no animal is euthanized for space that keeps us moving forward.

We aren’t there yet — not with the thousands of homeless animals in this community, including the nearly 3,000 animals being turned into our open admission shelter every year. Key programs in place at the VHS are finding solutions that go beyond adoption alone.

Since 1957, the VHS has been serving unwanted animals by providing quality care and finding them loving homes. In 2007, VHS launched an ambitious program geared toward reducing the number of animals in our community. The Davidson Rausch Low Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic opened in August 2007. So far, more than 34,000 animals have been fixed. Not only do all VHS dogs and cats get fixed before they go home with their new families, the VHS also collaborates with other animal welfare organizations within a 90-mile radius by fixing their agency’s animals as well. One of the best components of our clinic is that we are open to the public. Anyone, regardless of income, can use our services to get their animals fixed. Tens of thousands of unwanted litters have been prevented so far.

Sometimes as many as 50 percent of the dogs in our kennels are pit bulls — American Staffordshire Terriers. These wonderfully sweet dogs are euthanized at a higher rate in shelters based on their sheer numbers. That is where our Pit Stop program comes in. Pit Stop, a program available to residents of Vanderburgh County, offers a free spay or neuter to any pit bull in our community. Private funding is raised to cover the expenses for the families. So far, 481 pit bulls have already been fixed.

Our newest targeted spay & neuter program focuses on the staggering cat overpopulation in the area. CatSnip in your ZIP offers residents in specific ZIP codes free spay or neuter for their felines. A generous grant from PetSmart Charities is funding the pilot program to alter 1,200 cats within the 47710 ZIP code. By concentrating the effort on one area, we can make a lasting impact, ZIP code by ZIP code.

Programs like these, combined with our adoption and humane education efforts, are making a difference for these animals. But as a non-profit organization, we need the community to get involved. Volunteering or making a donation to the VHS is a great way to help us reach our vision for the animals in the Tri-State. We guarantee that supporting these programs will make you smile, just like a sloppy kiss from a puppy.

Kendall Paul is the executive director of the Vanderburgh Humane Society.

Dogged Responsibility

Animal bites that break the skin must be reported  By Nick Hebebrand

Certain laws govern local pet ownership. The Evansville-Vanderburgh Animal Care & Control Shelter helps with many of these laws and ordinances and acts as a general resource. This organization responds to roughly 600 to 1,000 phone calls in a given month concerning issues such as animal bites, loose pets, and issues between neighbors about pets.

Pet bites are a major concern. “All animal bites and scratches that break the skin must be reported, and a bite report must be done,” says Alisa Webster, the superintendent of Evansville Animal Control. “Animals that have bitten or scratched must be quarantined for 10 days. This is done to control rabies and is Indiana state law.” Individuals are also able to access an online form to submit a bite report from the city’s web page.

Though many families have a pet and are aware there are laws concerning the pets, they may not know many of the local pet ordinances that can be found on the city’s website.

“Many people don’t know that they must have a license for their dog or cat in the city,” Webster says. Rather than going through the process of obtaining a new or renewed license regularly, owners may choose to obtain a lifetime license if the pet is spayed or neutered, has a microchip, and is current on its rabies vaccine.

These licenses may be purchased at Evansville Animal Control, 815 Uhlhorn St. Another lesser-known law for those avid dog and/or cat lovers is that a resident who has more than seven dogs or cats must have an assemblage permit, which is approved by the Animal Control Commission.

According to the shelter’s mission statement, the enforcement of the pet ordinances along with proper investigation, intervention, and education work to promote citizen and pet safety, responsible pet ownership, and the reduction of animal overpopulation.

For more information on the Evansville-Vanderburgh Animal Care & Control Shelter or to file a bite report, call 812-435-6015 or visit


Get Your Pet All Set

Tri-State area offers eclectic mix of animal amenities  By Amy DeVries

Pet Food Center
What To Know: Shoppers will find a variety of pet foods, toys, and accessories for dogs, cats, fish, and more. Pet-themed novelties such as greeting cards and automobile decals are also available. Small domestic animals (rabbits, hamsters, ferrets) are sold along with reptiles and fish.

Don’t Miss: Fall Pet Portraits, Sunday, Oct. 9, at the North location only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit “Boston,” the cat-in-residence, at the West Side location. Cat and dog adoption days at the North Side location.

Caters To: The animal lover looking for a “one stop” shopping experience can find just about anything for their pet.

gabbi’s Boutique
What to Know: Located in Henderson, Ky., gabbi’s Boutique features all-natural pet supplies, unique fashions, and accessories.

Don’t Miss: Check out gabbi’s Facebook page or website for the date of the next “Yappy Hour,” a time where dogs and humans gather for food, drinks, and fun. Proceeds from the event benefit selected rescue groups.

Caters To: Spoiled cats and dogs will love the natural treats, custom-made clothing, and accessories. It even carries dog earrings.

What To Know: This national chain, located on Burkhardt Road on Evansville’s East Side, offers dog training, pet grooming, and on-site veterinary care. This is a one-stop shopping experience for pet lovers.

Don’t Miss: In-store pet adoptions are frequent at this pet store. PetSmart works with local agencies and rescue groups to arrange adoptions at its store. PetSmart Charities grants funds to such groups, in order to help offset adoption preparation expenses.

Caters To: From chinchillas to Chihuahua sweaters, PetSmart has a wide selection of small domestic animals and the supplies needed to care for them.

Human Tested, Dog Approved: They’re for your dog, but you could eat these treats, too. All Bears Bone Bakery products are made from USDA grade ingredients and are sold in pet stores in Evansville, Newburgh, and Henderson. Dog treats and desserts like mini peanut butter cookies, mini cranberry oatmeal cookies, and pretzel cheddar bites are also sold online.

Lucky Mutts Boutique
What To Know: Lucky Mutts Boutique opened in July in the same building as It Takes a Village (ITV) Canine Rescue. All proceeds from the boutique benefit ITV, a 501 (c) (3) no-kill dog rescue organization.

Don’t Miss: Mister Buck’s Genuinely Good Pet Food, produced by a former Evansville resident, is sold here. In addition, shoppers can pick up ITV logo apparel and merchandise and canine-themed jewelry created by local artists.

Caters To: All things canine can be found at Lucky Mutts.

Give A Dog A Bone
What to Know: The pet store offers all-natural foods and treats for cats and dogs. It was opened in February 2005, shortly after the death of the family’s boxer, Quiggley, who lived six years after a mast cell cancer diagnosis. His owners, Mike and Robin Aldrich, believe his all-natural diet made a difference.

Don’t Miss: Classes, such as the basics of canine massage, are offered periodically. The store also features “toys with a conscience” — purchased through a fair-trade agreement with village women in Nepal.

Caters To: Dog and cat owners are educated on what types of food, treats, and supplements are best suited for their pets.

Harp’s Exotic Fish & Pets
What To Know: This family-owned and operated business has been a Tri-State staple since 1973. Located on N. Green River Road in Evansville, this pet store sells pet supplies, puppies, and kittens in addition to small domestic animals, birds, reptiles, and fish.

Don’t Miss: Visit the website and read daily blog posts featuring pets that are available. Also, don’t miss GloFish ® fluorescent fish at Harp’s.

Caters To: Harp’s is the only store out of the six that sells puppies and kittens in addition to fish, birds, and small domestic animals


Caring for Your Pets

Local veterinarian says dental care, obesity are major concerns  By Jane McManus

Dr. Laura Bakowski, one of four practicing veterinarians at Village East Animal Hospital, 1305 S. Green River Road, is currently working toward another degree in veterinary dentistry. Bakowski lives in Newburgh, Ind. Her household includes a dog, two cats, a guinea pig, a hamster, and “we have fish.”

What should people be most concerned with in caring for their pets?
“I think that right now we focus a lot on preventive care. Trying to keep pets healthy and avoid illnesses. That includes proper vaccinations, parasite medications, proper diet, exercise, and it does also include dentistry.”

Why is dentistry important?
“If we can prevent chronic periodontal disease in the mouth, we can prevent some heart issues and some liver issues as pets age. Dental disease can be a source of chronic pain and infection that can go on for many years. If you fix all that, they can feel much better. People can have a better bond with their pet. You can see a dramatic improvement in pets who have been suffering with dental disease. Cleaning the teeth is more than just preventive. As pets develop disease in their mouth, they learn to tolerate the pain. When you fix that, it’s like a whole new animal. A lot of people say, ‘Gosh, they’re acting like a puppy again!’ It’s an area we can really truly make a big difference in.”

What are the latest developments in pet care? Where is the emphasis?
“There are two things we are focusing on here; one is dentistry. We are seeing dental disease as early as two years. Eighty percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some sort of dental disease by the age of 2. Also, I think we are doing a better job than we ever have in pain control. For pets that have arthritis, we have different types of things we can use to control their long-term pain.”

Obesity is a problem in people, but now we are seeing it in pets. What does too much weight do to animals?
“Excess weight can lead to problems with the joints. In severe cases, it can lead to problems in the heart and chest. It ages them; can shorten their life span. Overweight cats are more prone to developing diabetes. As pets age, they tend not to exercise as much as they did when they were puppies but continue to eat the same amount. I think sometimes people overfeed them accidentally or give them treats that aren’t good for them.”

The Evansville area has an abundance of mosquitoes that can carry the parasite that causes heartworm. Do you see a lot of heartworm cases in your practice?
“We do see a fair number of positive heartworm dogs every month. I think we see less now than we used to. People are doing more preventive care. Cats are also susceptible to heartworm, and we recommend a monthly preventive for them also.”

How often are you bitten by one of your furry clients?
“Minor things that don’t require treatment — probably on a weekly basis. I think every vet in their career has had a major bite that require stitches or left a scar.”

To learn more about pet care online, Dr. Bakowski recommends the website 

Growling For Love

Wilbur is a wily Chihuahua  By Janet McCormick

The Internet can be a dangerous place. A few simple clicks, and a new creature can arrive on your doorstep within 24 hours. With rescues and breeders of all types online, it’s easier than ever to realize your dreams of that “perfect and unique” pet. While I’ve had more than my share of exotic pets (tortoises, peacocks, birds, geckos, sugar gliders, and a hedgehog) the most fabulous addition to our family has been our three-pound, three-legged beast of a Chihuahua from a rescue in Chicago.

It was a cold January night and I was up late. Finished with work, and perusing the Web, I came across a story about the “world’s smallest dog.” One click led to another, and I landed on a rescue featuring a crippled little dog with a red bandanna. His ears had been frozen and damaged, his white eyes had cataracts, he had only four teeth, three legs, and a bald tail. The rescue lady didn’t know his story (dogs don’t speak English), but I knew he needed help. The closer? This dog shared the same rare name as my husband — Wilbur.  It was pure chance that rescue “assigned” him this name. The last thing we needed was another dog, but how much trouble could this tiny guy be?

Armed with the adoption fee and a soft blanket, my daughter and I headed north. We were not prepared for the emotional journey ahead of us. The transaction with rescue took about five minutes; she obviously wanted this dog out of her kennel. Expecting this fragile creature to be appreciative, I was sadly mistaken. He growled and bit us all the way home — a huge display of attitude from such a miniscule animal.

Making up for years of neglect, we have showered Wilbur with love, attention, stylish doggie outfits, and treats. He still bites — especially at night. But occasionally, he flips upside down for belly rubs. No doubt this dog is lucky, but so are the humans that are allowed to serve him.

Previous article
Next article

Related Articles

Latest Articles