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freetimes | bites&sights freetimes

Spring 2011 |




6 12 Rescue Groups Pet Lovers, Unite 13 Gone to the Dogs 14 Fish Quest 16

Be the Pack Leader

Do Your Homework Before Bringing Home a New Pet

A Calendar of Pet-Friendly Events Dog Parks Give Pets, Owners Chance to Socialize What You Need to Know Before Diving Into Fish-Keeping



freetimes | 1534 Main St. Columbia, SC 29201 | 803.765.0707 Published by Portico Publications, LTD.

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Be the Pack Leader Do Your Homework Before Bringing Home a New Pet by Kristine Hartvigsen


atti O’Rourke is the proud “parent” of seven dogs, two cats and a horse. Her dogs range in size from a diminutive 10 pounds up to a robust 78 pounds. The menagerie grew after she began fostering homeless animals for SQ Rescue, a local dog rescue group, where she recently took on the role of vice president.

Patti O’Rourke, vice president of SQ Rescue, with two of her rescued dogs, Molly and Piper. Photo by Kristine Hartvigsen.



“I fostered my first dog and ended up adopting her because I couldn’t let her go,” O’Rourke says. “You might say I’m a ‘failed foster.’” Fortunately, hers is a family of animal lovers. “A couple of dogs ago, my husband said ‘no more,’” O’Rourke continues. “But then we lost our 16-year-old cocker spaniel in February. Two weeks later, we fostered Piper (a dachshund-spaniel mix). My husband and daughter were the ones who said, ‘Let’s keep her!’ We just fell in love with her. But seven is definitely the max.” O’Rourke is intimately acquainted with the demands and sacrifices of pet ownership and hopes people will think long and hard about the commitment involved before buying or adopting an animal. It’s important to consider your lifestyle, finances and personality before acquiring a pet — and to understand the responsibility extends across the lifetime of that pet. When owners don’t understand what they’re getting into, pets too often pay the ultimate price when they are abandoned or surrendered to shelters. Even pets that have been with families for years have been left

behind in a move, turned loose on the street or returned to shelters. Sometimes the reasons are economic. Other times, only the owners know their motivations. “You wouldn’t believe how much that happens, all the time. It’s crazy,” O’Rourke says. “I don’t know how they do it. Sometimes people fall on hard times and can’t take care of them anymore.” The length of your commitment is over the animal’s life span. On average, domesticated dogs and cats live between 10 and 14 years. Rabbits and guinea pigs live up to eight years. Horses live between 20 and 25 years. A parrot can live beyond 30 years. Like a marriage, your commitment to your pet should be “until death do you part.” However, the “better or worse” can be worked out in advance by doing your homework before choosing an animal. Must Love Jeopardy Know Your Lifestyle — And Your Budget Feeding your pet, particularly if you care about quality nutrition, will run about $30 per month, or $360 per year. This doesn’t include treats, snacks, toys or other extras many pet owners buy their animals.

Laudenslager of Pets Inc. insists that quality kibble pays for itself in the long run in keeping your pet healthy and saving on veterinary bills. Pets Inc. operates a pet supply store at its adoption center and offers only pet foods that are natural and use only real meat protein. “When we talk to adopters, we stress the importance of keeping a dog or cat on a high-quality food,” she says. “A lot of folks don’t realize that a lot of pet foods that they buy and entrust the health of their animals with are recalled on a month-to-month basis.” Pets Inc. posts the FDA’s pet food recall list on its website at The number of well-known name brands on list is staggering. In addition, pets that receive high-quality food actually will eat less and eliminate less because their bodies are getting the nutrients they need. “Look at the first ingredients listed in the food label,” Laudenslager says. “If it says corn or wheat or some other byproduct, it’s not the best nutrition. Those are fillers. Dogs and cats cannot digest corn,” Laudenslager says. “First

ingredients should be meat of some sort and brown rice.” Exercise is an essential part of the formula for maintaining a happy, healthy pet, especially for dogs. Prospective dog owners should budget at least 45 minutes a day to walk their dog, either on a leash or off-leash in a fenced dog park. If walking is not an option, keep a dog active by playing fetch outside in a fenced area. If not able to release pent-up energy, dogs can develop anxiety and unwanted behaviors, including chewing. Some will even gnaw on themselves, causing unsightly and unhealthy skin lesions and bald spots. Many people have heard of crate training, a strategy Pets Inc. discourages in favor of penning puppies into a small indoor space with a baby gate to give them more room to move around. Crates tend to cause more problems than they solve, especially when pet owners rely on crates as a default containment tool for their animal. “We rehabilitate animals where the crate has not been used as it was intended,” Laudenslager explains, adding that a crate will not teach a puppy to hold its bladder,

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Mother and daughter Linda and Sara Suber contemplate adopting these pups during a recent visit to Pets Inc. Photo Photo by Kristine Hartvigsen.

because puppies don’t have that kind of physical control until they reach 4-5 months of age. If crated, they will foul themselves and be trapped in their own waste until released from the crate. Then unpleasant issues such as cleaning the crate sometimes lead owners to return animals to shelters or abandon them. Furthermore, confining dogs and puppies to a crate for long periods of time can impede their muscle and bone development,

animal, because a differential licensing structure serves is an incentive to reduce animal overpopulation. In Richland County, licensing a spayed or neutered dog or cat costs $4 per pet. Alternately, licensing for fertile animals is $20 each. Failure to do so comes with a fine of $500. Lexington County has no such licensing fee. City of Columbia residents must pay $5 for sterilized pets and $25 for nonsterilized pets for licensing. City residents need not “double license”

It’s important to consider your lifestyle, finances and personality before acquiring a pet — and to understand the responsibility extends across the lifetime of that pet. essentially crippling them. “We rehab them every day, and we see what can happen,” she says. “It’s really easy to sacrifice your animals for your own comfort and convenience.” Legal Beagles Don’t Forget to License Your Pet Although it’s quite modest, another cost is licensing your pet. In Richland County, pet owners are required by law to license their dogs or cats. It’s to your advantage to have a spayed or neutered



their dogs in the city and county; they should comply with the city ordinance only. Neither Richland nor Lexington counties limits the number of dogs you may own. However, the City of Columbia’s pet ordinance limits residents to just two dogs. If someone owns more, they must either re-home one or apply for a kennel license. License applications are available from your veterinarian or city or county offices. They can also be found online and must be renewed every year. “They can get the application

Brandi Batchelder gets acquainted with a kitten at Pets Inc. Photo by Kristine

Bobby Boyer with puppy he rescued from the landfill. Photo by Kristine Hartvigsen.


through the mail or can come to the office and pick it up,” says Jessica Anderson with Richland County Animal Control. “They also can download and print out the application online, but they cannot apply online. They must complete the application and mail it in.” Be advised that license applications require proof of rabies vaccination and spay or neuter. It’s also wise to invest in personalized tags for your dog’s collar that clearly provide the dog’s name and a phone number in the event that your dog or cat is lost. That and microchipping ($25 to $50) are the best insurance that you will be happily reunited with your lost pet. Unconditional Love Pets Take Work — And They’re Worth It There is much to consider with the prospect of pet ownership, but ask any pet owner, and they’ll tell you the rewards are priceless. A pet can improve your health by lowering your blood pressure and providing both companionship and security. Make no mistake, though. They are full-time dependents. It’s a responsibility not to be taken lightly. “It takes a lot of consistency,” Laudenslager notes. “I think that today, with so many people having such busy lifestyles, they can’t be so consistent. To me, it’s like having

a small child in the home.” Mary Escue, co-founder with her husband, Bill, of SQ Rescue, at one time had 13 dogs. Now she owns five — all rescues. “These animals have been discarded,” Escue says. “You cannot believe these pure breeds like the silky terrier we found in The Summit neighborhood. They are putting these dogs out, I think, in nice areas,” she says. “I am just passionate about picking animals up off the side of the road and helping when I can. The advantage of getting a rescue dog is that you have saved them from euthanasia in the kill shelters.” “We have a small kennel that we have had for years, but most of our dogs are in foster care,” Escue adds. “We need foster homes terribly.” In fact, nearly all of the no-kill adoption centers in the Midlands need more foster homes and volunteers. They also depend on donations all year long. “People usually just want to dump these animals on us,” says O’Rourke, Escue’s colleague. “They need to step up by contributing something. A donation, even a little one, would be better than nothing.” Let us know what you think: Email



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Hi I’m Charlie & I’m a two year old Great Dane. So I’d say Im kind of big around here (well in our neighborhood anyway) through, there’s a St. Bernard in town that I wouldn’t mess with. I have many friends both big and small, human and non-human and when we get together my family needs a vehicle that will fit us all. You should have seen my face when my family pulled up in an all new 2011 Subaru Forester. With my paws stuck to the window of our home, I could not wait to hang my head out of that window and feel the wind on my face. (though I only do this for a couple of seconds for fear of messing up my hair, it’s well worth it) I knew that since all Subarus come with standard All Wheel Drive, that we could make more road trips, in any weather. Grand Canyon here we come! With state of the art safety features including child saftey locks, an extensive airbag system and rollover sensors, our Forester is perfect for keeping our family safe on the road. Plus with standard 8 cup holders in every Forster, my pals and I will never have to stop for refreshments.

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Rescue Groups


housands of animals in the Midlands need new homes. Before contacting a breeder, consider adopting a pet from a local shelter or rescue organization. As an added bonus, most adopted pets come microchipped and spayed or neutered. While the most common animals in need of rescue are dogs and cats, there are also a couple of local horse-rescue groups. Before you adopt any animal, though, make sure you are ready for the commitment. See “Be a Pack Leader” on page 6 for details. For help on where to start, consider asking other pet owners about their experiences with local groups, or, if you already own another pet, ask your veterinarian.

Cullen’s Archangel Rescue 803-622-9813

LEARN Horse Rescue (843) 991-4879

Danny & Ron’s Rescue (Camden) (803) 243-0700

Long Road Home Pit Bull Rescue (Sumter) html

Fairfield County Animal Adoption Center (Winnsboro) (803) 635-9444 F.I.D.O. www hishouse02@aol.coms Greyhound Lifesavers (803) 429-4209 Greyhound Pets of America, SC Chapter

Boston Terrier Rescue 803-279-8069 Carolina Cats of SC html Carolina Cockers • (803) 807-1830 City of Columbia Animal Shelter html (803) 776-7387 • animal@columbiasc. net

The Heartworm Project (803) 394-7470 Homeward Bound Pet Rescue 803-454-9094 Howlmore Animal Sanctuary • (803) 609-3888 Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals • (803) 783-1267

Maqwas Paw Print Husky Rescue (Chapin) html (864) 423-7565 Midlands Golden Retriever Rescue 803-735-0499 Newberry County Animal Care and Control (Newberry) (803) 321-2185 Noble Shepherd Rescue Pawmetto Lifeline (803) 407-0991 PETS, Inc Adopt-A-Pal • (803) 739-9333

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Pet Lovers, Unite

We Are the Chomp-ions!

A Calendar of Pet-Friendly Events

We Are Chomp-ions! Enjoy thethe Football Season.

By Mary Ellen Cheatham nimal lovers, unite! Here’s a brief look at a year’s worth of pet-centric events in Columbia. New events are being organized all the time, so check with local organizations throughout the year to find out what’s coming up. Christmas in July (July 26) Pets and their humans can get a head start on their Christmas shopping and Christmas card photos from 5 to 8 p.m. at Pupcakes (2732 Devine St., 461-0236). There will also be Christmas-themed ideas and treats. Visit for more information. Doggone Days of Summer Day Camp (Aug. 8-12) This camp is a program for children with physical disabilities or developmental challenges to learn about training a service dog and to meet other children with special needs. There are beginner and advanced sessions. Visit for more information. 2011 Fur Ball (Oct. 15) Cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres and dancing fill the evening along with live and silent auctions, live music and plenty of entertainment.

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This event is for humans only but supports the efforts of Pawmetto Lifeline. Poochapalooza 5K and Dog Walk Festival (Oct. 29) A day filled with activities and entertainment for dogs and their owners. Proceeds benefit PAALS and the Heartworm Project. Visit paals. org for more information.



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Bark to the Park (April 14, 2012) Finlay Park is full of activities for families and their dogs while helping support shelter animals across the Midlands at Bark to the Park. The day starts with a one-mile fun walk for you and your four-legged friend. Visit for more information.




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Cinco de Meow-O (May 5, 2012) Pawmetto Lifeline will collect donations for its kitties: cat litter, toys, scratching posts, cat trees, metal litter pans, kitty condos, jungle gyms and of course donations for our feline care. Location TBD. Visit pawmettolifeline. org for more information.

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Gone to the Dogs Dog Parks Give Pets, Owners Chance to Socialize By Mary Ellen Cheatham ryan Hall and his wife take their two dogs to the North Main (NOMA) Bark Park about five evenings a week. Their hound mix, Pally, loves to tumble around with other dogs and play chase or watch squirrels scamper through the trees. Their lovable 140-pound Leonberger, Cy, prefers people. He’ll roam around letting other dog owners pet him, or he’ll simply trot alongside joggers on a track there. The park, located at Earlewood Park on North Main Street, has been a good find for the Halls. Cy is healthier. He’s shed 15 pounds. And both dogs are better behaved. “Before we started coming to the park on a regular basis, our dogs would get very amped up anytime



they saw another dog,” says Bryan Hall, conservation manager with the South Carolina National Guard. “Now they remain much calmer and can approach other dogs without excess excitement.” Dog parks across the Columbia area are attracting all kinds of canines, as well as their owners, a diverse group of people — from college students to middle-aged professionals to grandmas — who are craving open space for their pets. The parks provide plenty of land to roam around and run. There may be balls to chase, or small swimming pools to splash in. The dogs might play with their other furry friends, and then take a rest under a shade. All the while, they’re reaping the health benefits of exercise.

Healthier Dogs Are Happier Dogs But the dogs are also learning to socialize with each other, making them happier and better behaved, say animal experts. Staying in a house alone all day can cause boredom, which in turn can cause scratching, nipping and barking. Giving a dog free time to play can reduce those problems. “A lot of people believe that they can take a dog for a walk around the block and they’re exercised, but they’re not,” says Tina Heckman, who manages the Doggie Park at Shop Road and U.S. Interstate 77. The park, which she founded 13 years ago, has more than 100 members. That’s where the socialization comes in. The dogs, in fact, may even learn appropriate behavior from each other, Heckman says. “If you have a dog that’s never been around other dogs, they may think nipping everybody’s OK and another dog comes along and appropriately correct them. They could nudge them and go up to them lean over them, doing the dominant thing and get the information to them that this is inappropriate.”

And while the dogs are socializing, so are their humans. “Folks meet neighbors they didn’t know they had,” says Rebecca Haynes, chair of the NOMA Bark Park committee and a founding member. “They share recommendations on veterinarians, pet sitting and boarding.” Haynes, whose day job is in river conservation, says she’s also found herself doing a little professional networking there at times. Building a Better Neighborhood Making friends has always been an important hallmark of dog parks. But it’s especially important in Earlewood, a big part of downtown Columbia’s revitalization. Haynes says the Bark Park has helped what used to be problems with crime near the park since dog owners are there from dawn to dusk. It’s also attracting people to the North Main Street area who wouldn’t necessarily come there otherwise. Greg Hilton and his girlfriend are planning to move to Earlewood, partly because of the park as well as the neighborhood’s revitalization. There’s no dog park in their current neighborhood near Interstate 26, so

Lake Carolina Dog Park. Photo by Kristine Hartvigsen.

Local Dog Parks Barking Lot Dog Park This park is located at the Saluda Shoals Park at 5605 Bush River Rd.

they drive Mako, a high-energy Jack Russell terrier, and Dora, a scrappy mixed breed, to Earlewood a couple times a month. “We also enjoy dog park culture and interacting with other dog owners at the park. In addition, these kinds of things are so important for creating vibrant downtown communities,” says Hilton, who works in economic development. “It is incredibly important that people have everything they need downtown and within walking distance.” And that includes friends, be they four-legged or two. Says Bryan Hall, “It is a great way to get out and meet a diverse and interesting group of people with whom you share a common interest, our dogs.” Dog parks provide a contained and controlled area for dogs to play and for their owners to network. The parks in the Columbia area are typically open only to members who have filled out a formal application and have paid a yearly membership fee. The parks also require dogs to be spayed or neutered and to be current on vaccinations, and they may also require a city pet license. Some parks require dogs to pass a simple behavioral evaluation beforehand to prevent aggressive dogs from entering the park. In neighborhoods where there’s no dog park, neighbors sometimes gather informally in an open space to let their dogs run and play together. For instance, Shandon residents typically gather a few early mornings each week in the Emily Douglas Park amphitheater. Check with your neighborhood association to see if there is a similar gathering where you live.

Doggie Park Humane Lane Dog Park Shop Road off I-77 This three-acre park is the longest-operating Columbia dog park. The park has an in-ground pool for dogs to wade in, which is especially needed in these hot summer months. There are also balls to play with. Tina Heckman, the park’s manager, evaluates each dog’s behavior to ensure that he will be a good fit for the park. Call Heckman at (803) 608-0577 for more information about the park. Lake Carolina Dog Park 971 Lake Carolina Boulevard Open to Lake Carolina residents only. NOMA Bark Park The one and a half acre-park opened in January and at Earlewood Park between River Drive and North Main Street. The park has a separate area for small dogs, although the little ones can also play in the main part with the bigger dogs. There are water fountains for both dogs and people. Although a neighborhood association in Earlewood operates the park, membership is open to anyone. Sesqui Dog Par park-finder/state-park/469.aspx This two-acre area is located inside Sesquicentennial State Park, at 9564 Two Notch Rd. Dogs also have access to the rest of the park’s outdoor areas.



Fish Quest

What You Need to Know Before Diving Into Fish-Keeping By Katie Alice Walker Photos BY THOMAS HAMMOND ou’ll find a dog in nearly 47 million American households, and a cat in nearly 39 million, according to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Association, but what about other, more exotic animals? Fish don’t wag their tails or snuggle up while you’re watching television, but almost 13 million American households have saltwater or freshwater fish. “It’s such a relaxing hobby, and it gives back as much as you put into it,” says Chuck Maier, an owner of Fishy Business here in Columbia. Open for 25 years, Fishy Business (652 Bush River Road, 731-4004) helps fish owners select



and care for everything from a small freshwater bowl to custom-built, 600-gallon saltwater tanks. To ensure that fish-keeping is relaxing rather than stressful, Maier recommends a few things worth thinking about before getting your first fish tank and filling it up. First, think about the amount of space you have. If you live in a rental with roommates, for example, a large tank might not make sense, for example. “Then think about your budget constraints,” Maier says. It’s helpful to not only consider the initial investments — such as the fish, reefs and aquarium — but also your

ongoing monthly costs. “You can put a Betta fish in a bowl on your desk, and care can cost as little as a dollar a month, or you can spend $200 a month on a reef tank,” Maier says. “It can cost as little or as much as you’d like.” Next, it’s important to understand the differences between saltwater and freshwater aquariums. Saltwater fish and aquariums tend to be more expensive, because they often require more equipment. Corals for saltwater tanks are expensive and regulating the salinity levels in saltwater tanks takes time and attention — but reef aquariums also provide unmatched color. There are costs associated with the maintenance of freshwater tanks, too, but overall they are easier to care for and require less equipment than saltwater tanks, which can make freshwater fish a good fit for first-time fish owners. Once you’ve done a little research on freshwater and saltwater tanks, it’s time to go to check out fish. There are more than 2,000 types of fish available for home aquarists. And to help decide

which fish are for you, Maier, who says his first tank was a high-end saltwater aquarium, recommends just walking around an aquatic store with a wide variety of fish seeing what you like. “If someone buys fish they like, they’ll take care of them,” he says. Maier says there are several advantages that independent aquatic stores have over some larger pet supply stores. One is wide selection. Another is staff knowledge; Maier says the primary mistake new fish owners make is not going to a specialty fish store — where the staff can really answer questions — and then purchasing fish that they can’t care for. “After you’ve picked a few fish you like, we’ll find out how involved you want to be with the fish and where the tank will go in your house,” Maier says. Fishy Business then walks customers through the ins and outs of freshwater and saltwater tanks, and even different kinds of specialty freshwater and saltwater tanks. They’ll also be sure that the fish you choose will work well together and fit in the size tank you’ve chosen. | Spring 2011

| freetimes 17 bites&sightsfreetimes


“There’s a perfect size tank for everyone, and different levels of care. Whether you’re older or younger,” says Maier, there’s a fish tank, live or plastic plants, filters, heaters and lights that will suit your lifestyle. Though someone who is gone for days at a time on a regular basis might not be an ideal candidate for keeping fish, Maier says electronic, programmable fish-feeding systems are available. Because many fish fans find looking at their aquariums calming, camera systems are also available so that you can monitor your fish tank remotely from your computer. Maier says Fishy Business has longtime customers who have owned fish for all 25 years the business has been open, but he also sees customers give up on maintaining a tank for a while, only to return a few years later to start again. Fish-keeping is also a hobby you can develop over time, adding

new fish and coral to your tank from time to time, getting a new tank, adding fish, or even trading in fish you’ve had for a while for something different. Fish have a long lifespan, and some fish keepers have well-caredfor goldfish, a familiar freshwater fish, that have lived for four decades. More commonly, though, a goldfish might live 10, 15 or even 20 years. Maier has seen saltwater clownfish that are 18 years old. It’s no surprise that fish keepers could become attached to fish they’ve had for years, and Maier lists koi, a large fish commonly found in outdoor decorative ponds, as one fish that owners frequently become attached to. Though fish don’t react to your voice or touch like some pets, that’s what makes fish keeping relaxing and, for some people, more rewarding than caring for any dog or cat.

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Pet Life  

Guide to pet ownership in Columbia, South Carolina.

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