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HOME Living in North Georgia

April | 2018

Pleasing our pets Importance of a veterinarian

Acupuncture for your pet Get your groom on


Rescue groups help area animals

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April 2018 The Pet Issue Time for a spa day


8 Why a grooming schedule is so important

Michelle Boaen Jameson

Save The Horses

10 Volunteer group in Cumming strives to rescue ailing

General Manager

Norman Baggs

and starving horses for rehabilitation.

Staying home

Advertising Sales

Leah Nelson

18 Hiring a pet sitter

can help ease your stress

HOME Magazine, a division of:

Hitting the road

The Times Gainesville, GA

20 AAA offers several

A Morris Multimedia Inc. property

tips on taking the family pet on vacation.

Chinese medicine 22 Gainesville vet talks

about the benefits of pet acupuncture.

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Talking to the vet

345 Green St. | Gainesville, GA 30501 | 770-532-1234 July| August 2015

Hall County Animal Shelter


32 Humane Society of

Northeast Georgia helps thousands of animals


Living in North Georgia

October | 2017

Little Big Town’s Kim Schlapman

Yummy treats

Cornelia’s country star shares her new cookbook and fondest memories

36 Pet Pleasers offers

speciality goodies.

Education issue: Learning for a lifetime

School leaders discuss classroom goals

On the Cover Therapy pets offer companionship and love, but they also help heal those in emotional and physical pain. PAGE 14

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ASK THE DOCTOR Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy

By Pamela A. Keene Some pets love going to the veterinarian because it means a ride in the car. But other pets, not so much. Whether they’re visiting for a regular check-up or for an illness or injury, pets and their owners respond better to a positive environment. “Pets and their owners both do better when they’re not stressed,” says Jennifer West, DVM with Murrayville Veterinary Clinic in Hall County, who has worked with the clinic for almost two years. “In fact, that’s one of the best ways to choose a veterinarian — find a practice and doctor where you as the owner are comfortable and your pet is comfortable as well. It’s very important in the continuing care of your pet.” Gainesville native Jane White, DVM, began her veterinary practice in 1980 to serve Murrayville and Northeast Georgia. Nine years later as her practice grew, she purchased land and designed the current clinic to look like a home. The yellow house on Thompson Bridge Road has a red roof and a gingerbreadtrimmed front porch. It’s nestled beneath shady hardwoods. The check-in process is smooth; appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are seen as well. For pets, health check-ups can be compared to those of humans. Some people go to the doctor only if there’s an issue, such as an illness or injury, but Jennifer says that preventive care and regular checkups can help extend the health of your pet. “We like to see our patients twice a year for wellness checks, just to keep an eye on them and monitor their health, 6 | HOME | April 2018

Murrayville Veterinary Clinic’s Jennifer West D.V.M examines Copper recently as the dog continues to recover from a broken leg. Big Boy the cat gets a routine examination recently. West recommends regular check-ups for pets. Photos by Scott Rogers. weight and other factors,” she says. “Rabies vaccinations are required annually, plus there are other vaccines your pets should keep current. We can also help you and your pet adapt to life-stage changes.” West explains that bringing your pet in for regular check-ups can also help with early detection of issues. “We may pick up on clues that you may not notice because you are with your pet all the time,” she says. “For instance, a significant weight loss or weight gain over time can indicate health issues that need to be addressed.” Veterinary practices regularly treat dogs and cats, but some see other animals as well, such as horses. Services can include preventive health care, wellness pet examinations, vaccines, parasite prevention and treatment, dentistry, nutrition and skin care, microchipping, boarding and grooming. They can also provide X-rays, blood testing and even the latest treatments for osteoarthritis in dogs. The office has a surgical facility for neutering and spaying, C-sections when needed, and to address trauma-induced injuries. “We also refer patients to trusted specialists or to the University of Georgia for care,” she says. Murrayville Veterinary Clinic provides after-hours care to stabilize injuries and coordinates with Animal Emergency of Gainesville when further emergency care is

needed. Preventive care and wellness is essential for pets, just like as with humans. “Regular exercise for any pet is important, whether it’s taking them for regular walks or playing with them,” West says. “As they age, they may not be as inclined to be active, but you can encourage them and help them stay healthy.” Periodic baths and grooming by a

of pet health care,” she says. “At Murrayville Veterinary Clinic, we offer a program called ‘Care Credit,’ an option that works like a credit card and allows payments over time.” She suggests that owners check with their veterinarians about such programs. Veterinarians have tough jobs. First, their patients can’t talk with them, so vets need to be somewhat intuitive and rely on their experience to diagnose issues. Technology and testing certainly helps. Second, veterinarians really have two patients to consider — the pets themselves and their owners. Owners, of course, are their pets’ key advocates and can provide essential information to maintain their pet’s overall health and wellness. “It’s important to have a good working relationship with your pet’s veterinarian, and to be able to address any pet-related issues candidly with them,” West says. “Your veterinarian should not only be able to care for your pet, but they should also be able to set your mind at ease yet be honest about your pet’s health and care. “We’d love it if every pet came into the office wagging their tails or purring,” Jennifer says. “Our goal is to provide you with the best care and a good experience with minimal stress for both you and your pet.”

“We may pick up on clues that you may not notice because you are with your pet all the time.” professional may be needed. “If your pet is not grooming herself regularly, this may indicate health problems, such as a skin condition or other ailment,” she says. “Talk with your veterinarian about dry skin, fur mats, excessive scratching or a lack of self-grooming. You can also help by brushing or combing your pet often to minimize skin discomfort and hair mats. As with human health care, technology has advanced. But with increased technology, costs have risen as well. In recent years, various forms of pet health insurance and payment options have become more available. “These policies can cover various aspects

April 2018 | HOME | 7

Polished pups Pet grooming is an important part of ownership Photos courtesy Nacoochee Poochie In addition to food, shelter and medical care, pets require grooming to keep them healthy. Small animals, such as hamsters and gerbils, may groom themselves to keep clean, but large pets often require more than tongue baths can offer. Grooming is an important process that keeps pets' coats, nails, skin and ears clean and healthy. Regular grooming sessions also offer other benefits, such as providing one-on-one socialization with an owner or professional groomer. Routinely handling a pet will help him or her become more acclimated to people and close contact, while also familiarizing pet owners with their pets' bodies, which can help them notice any abnormalities that much sooner. How frequently pet owners should have their pets groomed depends on the disposition of the animal as well as its coat type and level of activity. For example, dogs that spend a good deal of time indoors may not become as dirty as

8 | HOME | April 2018

those that go on frequent jaunts through muddy yards. Cats handle a lot of their own grooming, but may benefit from periodic brushing and other care. Once pet owners see how fur grows and when paws need tending, they can develop a routine that works. At Nacoochee Poochie in Cleveland, the typical stay at the shop is 2-3 hours for small to medium-sized dogs and 3-4 hours for larger breeds with heavier under coats, according the groomer’s website, Nacoochee Poochie notes that dogs are “calmer and better behaved for grooming when the owner is not present; think about how your kids act when you’re there versus when you’re away. When the owner is present, the dog is so focused on the owner that it disrupts the grooming process. It simply is harder on the dog and the groomer. We need the dogs’ full attention.” Calculating cost includes many factors according to Nacoochee Poochie: The cost is based on the breed of the dog, what you want done, the condition of the coat and the dog’s behavior. All dogs are different.



The Animal Humane Society recommends bathing dogs only every two to four months unless the dog has gotten into something dirty or very smelly. Cats do not need to be bathed very often, and even then only if they get into a sticky mess or smell bad.


Brushing is a grooming technique that can be done much more often. One or two brushings per week with help keep cats' healthy glows, as brushing removes dirt, grease and dead hair. Cats that tolerate grooming well may enjoy more frequent brushings. Regular brushing of dogs' coats helps to slough off dead skin and distribute natural oils. Brush a dog's coat every few days, regardless of fur length. Look for brushes that are designed for particular coat types. A few different types of brushes may be necessary.

Foot care

A variety of tasks are involved in pet foot care. Nails are one area that need to be addressed. Long nails on dogs can be cumbersome and even painful if left unattended. Many groomers and vets recommend trimming nails when they've become so long they click on the ground when the dog walks. Pet owners will soon learn to gauge the length of time between trimming, but a good rule of thumb is every two weeks. The Humane Society of the United States says that trimming cats' claws helps prevent deep scratches when people play with cats. Trimming also protects furniture and other household items. Trim claws every few weeks. Other foot care involves trimming fur from between the pads of feet and inspecting feet to ensure there are no cuts or other foot injuries.


Dogs and cats may need some help keeping their ears clean. Keeping the inside of pets' ears clean will make pets feel good and can prevent ear infections. Discharges or unusual smells emanating from an ear or ears should be addressed by a veterinarian. Grooming pets can help ensure their long-term health and comfort.

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Cumming group helps equines one rescue at a time

By J.K. Devine Photos courtesy Save The Horses After her “most special horse,” Colors, died more than four years, Mellisa Cotton needed a way to handle the loss. So the Cumming woman considered volunteering at the rescue facility, Save The Horses, in Forsyth County. “I needed a place to volunteer and be around horses,” Cotton said. “I love taking care of the older ones and the sick ones. My true love is helping blind horses.” Cotton originally signed up for an equine massage class at the facility’s main campus at 1840 Antioch Road in Cumming. The experience transformed her. “I fell in love with it,” Cotton said, admitting she returned for the organization’s next orientation. “I was hooked. And since then, I’ve adopted three horses who have been blind.” Cotton’s story is not unique for Save the Horses, which is a horse rescue, relief and retirement facility. Many people who visit the facility for fundraisers, events, open houses or pony parties tend to be touched by the experience. They then return to offer a voluntary hand to the nonprofit. Those experiences are key, because Save the Horses is run by more than 100 volunteers. Its philosophy of maintaining the facility with only volunteers works in its favor. “It’s all done out of the goodness of their hearts,” Cotton said. “You know you have good volunteers when they’ll repair fencing, muck out stalls and build barns. It’s hard physical labor.” Other physical tasks include releasing the horses into the pasture or bringing them in from the field. These tasks are not done alone or in an all-day scenario. Cotton explained about three to five people work a single shift, which is divided into mornings or afternoons. An average shift lasts about three hours. “But not everybody can spend the same amount of time,” Cotton said, adding the volunteers work at their own pace. “If you have an hour a week, we want you to fall in love with the animals. It’s what keeps people coming back.” Of course, not all volunteers spend time with the animals. Cotton explained some work behind the scenes organizing fundraisers, 10 | HOME | April 2018

A volunteer feeds a large rescued mule.

Save the Horses

What: A 110-acre farm dedicated to providing rehabilitation and adoption services for abused, neglected, abandoned and unwanted horses. The nonprofit is volunteer run that serves 130 horses and other animals. Mailing address: P.O. Box 1123, Ball Ground, Ga., 30107 Main farm physical address: 1768 Newt Green Road, Cumming, Ga., 30028 Antioch farm address: 1840 Antioch Road, Cumming, Ga., 30040 Phone: 770-886-5419 Email: or antioch@ Website: ​​ assisting with birthday parties, adopting horses and helping with other vital operations of Save The Horses. For example, Cella Nelson conducts the marketing for the organization and oversees the website design. Whether it is a friend or special niche, volunteers find reasons to return. Cotton’s reason was two fold. She found her best friend and a love of treating ailing, injured and blind horses. “I hit the jackpot,” she said. “I couldn’t be any luckier.” Her soon-to-be best friend conducted her volunteer orientation, which is the second Saturday of the month. But the organization’s standout star, a blind horse named Trudy, caught Cotton’s attention.

According to the Save The Horses website, Trudy came to the rescue in 1996. She developed squamous cell cancer in her left eye, which had to be removed and left her partially blind. She then developed tumors in her right eye. It pushed her pupil down, leaving her totally blind and causing her to be stall-bound and dependent on humans. Trudy was taken for walks during the day by special, dedicated

volunteers, but knew the safety of her stall. However, she loved visitors, especially children. “Trudy would get very nervous and walk in circles around the stall, but she loved children,” Cotton said. “One day I had a troop of Girl Scouts, who were just a bunch of excited girls. Trudy heard them, stopped circling and walked over to them.” This single incident had an impact. “One of girls came back a year or two later and donated her birthday to the rescue,” Cotton said. “And that’s the kind of seed we like to plant.” Unfortunately, Trudy died March 7, 2018. But she has left a legacy. The organization started a fund for blind horses and those with eye trauma." Volunteers work on Raising money for this single cause and the hooves of a large Save The Horses is how the organization rescued mule. operates as a nonprofit. Cheryl Flanagan, who founded the organization in 1998, does not take a salary, Cotton said. “Her mission is to rescue abused and abandoned horses,” Cotton said. “She is the one who has the heart for the animals. It is her love and passion and drive that started the rescue and keeps it going. There would be no Save the Horses without Cheryl.” Flanagan, a 4H and US Pony Club leader in the 1980s, first started taking horses from the Tampa Bay Downs Racetrack. People then

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started calling her to donate horses that they were unable to care for. “I worked with local law enforcement with abandoned and neglected horses and it just kept on growing,” she said in a statement on her website. “It has continued to grow into an amazing organization thanks to all of our supporters and volunteers who are dedicated to the efforts of saving horses and other animals in need.” Rescued animals include off-track thoroughbreds, blind horses, horses from animal control, those who the owners can no longer care for, and horses at death’s door. “We are lucky to have great veterinarians in our area who really care about horses and work with us, advise us, and even recommend us to take horses from clients for various reasons,” she said. Save The Horses funds its operations by relying on volunteers and donations. The organization also hosts fundraisers throughout the year, such as its Charity Horse Show in June and annual Hay Day in October. Save The Horse’s second annual Charity Horse Show will begin at 9 a.m. June 10 at Wills Park Equestrian Center in Alpharetta. It is open to all riders of different ages, levels and experience. “Last year was our first one, and we got a big response from the community,” Cotton said. “Every service we needed from horse trailering to our printing was donated to us, allowing up to keep all profits for the

rescue.” Riders will show from the English and Western classes for a small fee. Spectators may watch for free. In October, the rescue will host its biggest fundraiser, Hay Day. Money raised pays for hay in the fall and winter. And in December, Save The Horses has a “Deck the Stalls.” Santa even stops by to visit the horses. Save The Horses does not limit fun days to fundraising. On April 28, it will host its “Help A Horse Day” from noon to 4 p.m. It will have clinics such as horse care and grooming to pony rides.

Above: All of the volunteers at Save the Horses pose for a photo at the stables. Left: A group of kids pet Trudy a blind horse, during a tour of the stables. Trudy died March 7 of old age.

Rescued animals include off-track thoroughbreds, blind horses, horses from animal control, those who the owners can no longer care for, and horses at death’s door. 12 | HOME | April 2018



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The power to heal

Therapy pets offer more than just hugs By Pamela A. Keene Photos courtesy Happy Tails A visit by a pet can change the life of a nursing home resident, a child with special needs or a hospital patient. A gentle pat on the head or the sound of a cat purring contentedly can make the difference in the well-being of a patient. “The power of connection is amazing and hard to describe,” says Christy Morrison with Happy Tails Pet Therapy, an Atlanta-based organization that brings pet-owner volunteers and their pets together to give emotional, physical and social support to people of all ages. “An elderly patient who won’t be verbal with a nurse or family member is more likely to open up to a dog or cat. Or they may be more willing to get out of bed and walk if they can take a dog with them. It’s incredible to watch how a person will light up when our Happy Tails volunteers 14 | HOME | April 2018

and their pets come into the room.” Happy Tails volunteer teams of pet owners and their pets visit with special-needs children, hospital patients, nursing home residents and schools to bring unconditional love and a chance to connect. Research shows that dogs and cats can be a great stress reliever during doctors’

visits, medical procedures, hospital stays or for students during exams at school. “Dogs are great stress relief in all kinds of settings,” says Morrison. “Pets are non-judgmental and give their love and attention unconditionally. They can provide company for a patient or be a pleasant distraction from the fear of a medical test or procedure.” Happy Tails volunteers and their pets have visited area elementary schools to interact with special needs children. Morrison tells the story of one such visit when her A Happy Tails volunteer holds Snoop, a Happy Tails dog Georgia Kaye, therapy dog. Right: Therapy dogs visit seniors a golden retriever, possibly saved a at a nursing home. child’s life. “Georgia was the most obedient dog ever, but as we prepared to go, she sat down next to a youngster and refused to leave,” she says. “Even after I called to her several times, she still remained by the child’s side. Within minutes the child experienced a full-blown seizure and Georgia was able to help keep the child safe by leaning into him and keeping him calm. Georgia had never been trained as a medical alert dog, but she instinctively knew what to do.” For Morrison, who works in career services at the University of North Georgia and also is a dog trainer, one of the biggest problems for Happy Tails is having enough volunteers and their pets to respond to the number of requests for visits.


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“We have many more requests for visits than we have volunteers and pets to fulfill these requests,” she says. “We’re always looking for more volunteers.” The challenge, however, is that in Northeast Georgia, we really need more people and their pets to be part of our organization.” Pet owners who are interested in being volunteers must attend a one-hour volunteer orientation and have a veterinarian provide a medical evaluation of the dog, cat or rabbit. Happy Tails then conducts a pet/handler evaluation before completing a two-hour handler training session and a one-hour observation visit with their pet. All participants must agree to uphold the Happy Tails Code of Conduct. “The human-animal bond is so amazing,” Morrison says. “We just need more people and their pets to volunteer with us to bring a positive influence into the lives of people who need it.” For more information or to join Happy Tails Pet Therapy, visit or call Christy at 706-983-2420.

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Pets of patients at Northeast Georgia Medical Center can visit their owners at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in a new outdoor pet-patient visitation area, the ChristianDavid Family Pet Park. It’s a way to help ease the stress of a hospital visit and separation from a family pet. “Northeast Georgia’s Medical Center’s care teams encourage pet visits knowing the results often reduce stress and tremendously life a patient’s spirits,” says Nancy Colston, president and chief development officer for The Medical Center Foundation. The Christian-David Family Pet Park, a 3,200-square-foot garden-like fenced visitation area, is located near the inpatient rehabilitation unit outside the South Tower. Families can arrange for visitations with their pets during daylight hours. The visits, for one family at a time, are limited to 30 minutes. Pets must be current on their vaccinations and preventive care. Pet visitations can be coordinated through the hospital’s guest services department. For more information, contact 770-219-2998.

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Creature comforts Sitters help ease the stress for your pets

By Pamela A. Keene When you’re going to be away, you have options about how your pet will be taken care of. You can board Fido with your veterinarian, you can consider making a reservation at a local pet hotel, or you can ask a friend or family member to check on your pet periodically. There’s another choice and it’s becoming popular across the nation — hire a pet sitter. “A pet sitter can care for your pet right in your own home, so that the pet stays in a familiar environment,” says Beth Fasnach, owner of Pet Watch Professional Pet Sitting Service, based in Cumming. Beth is also the founder of the Georgia Network of Professional Pet Sitter, a registry of pet sitters. “Pet sitters can do much more than just make sure your pet has food, water and is walked regularly or her litter is regularly changed or cleaned,” she says. “Some pet sitting services will open and close your blinds, rotate your lighting, bring in the newspapers and mail, and even water plants.” It all depends on the pet sitting service and what the pet owner wants. “Different people expect different care for their pets,” she says. “When you’re looking for a pet sitter, ask questions about their experience with your type of pet and how they will care for your pet while you’re away. You’ll want to tell the sitter about any special issues with your pet and any specific requests.”

18 | HOME | April 2018

Fasnach began her pet sitting business, Pet Watch, in 1995 to allow time and flexibility to care for her family. She also realized that with the 1996 Summer Games coming to Atlanta, many residents would be going away, and most likely they would need care for their pets. To benefit both pet owners and pet sitters, she created the Georgia Network of Professional Pet Sitters to help match clients with pet sitters. Today, the organization provides referrals and offers a common organization for pet sitters. She is also active with the Pet Sitters International,, a membership organization that offers business support and insurance services for pet sitters, as well as information for the public. “It is an excellent resource for both sitters and pet owners,” she says. “The group hosts annual educational conferences and expos to help pet sitters keep up to date on pet first aid, pet care and even ways to grow their businesses.” Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that pet owners face is connecting with a pet sitter, chiefly because there so much room for growth in the business. “We are always looking for more sitters to help fill the need,” she says. “Hours are flexible and if you love pets and have the right temperament, it’s a great job.” Pet Watch requires a written application, a background check, a face-to-face interview, then a 3- to 4-hour orientation for each candidate. Fasnach goes over Pet Watch policies and procedures and offers initial hands-on support as sitters become established. Pet Watch can even take care of administrative tasks, billing and other paperwork. “Many pet sitters work part-time, either because they are retired or they want to supplement their regular income,” Fasnach says. “We look for people who are responsible, level-headed, have the availability to spend time with the pets they care for and love pets.” Pet sitting is a shared responsibility between the sitters and the pet owners. “The service provided are discussed between the pet owner and the sitter, but we also ask pet owners to prepare,” Fasnach says. “Making sure there’s enough food, treats, kitty litter for the time you’ll be away is understood, but also please leave your contact information, the contact information for your veterinarian and any details about care or medications. Let your vet know the name of the person who will be caring for your pet when you’re gone. “It’s also important to tell the sitter where your pet’s leash and their carrier is located,” she says. “We always recommend that sitters use a leash, because even though the pet may stay close to the owner, a pet may try to run free with a sitter. Be sure to put ID tags on your pet and update your chip registration information before you leave.” For more information about pet sitters and Pet Watch, visit www. or call 770-887-7930.

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Pack up the Pets: It’s Time for Vacation By Pamela A. Keene Fido and Kitty now have a reason to go on vacation with the family. More than ever, hotels, airlines and even restaurants are becoming pet-friendly. A recently survey by AAA showed that three out of four pet owners enjoying bringing their pets for a car ride. Now, when you research the number of pet-friendly lodging, dining and travel options, there’s really a good case for taking the family pet along on vacation. “Do your research before you go, checking out hotels that will allow pets and learning about the guidelines,” says Garrett Townsend, Georgia representative for AAA. “You’ll be surprised at the number of lodging options you have. And don’t overlook taking your pet camping or hiking. Local, state and national parks often allow leashed dogs on hikes. And if you’re staying overnight, bring along his crate.” Lanier Islands adopted a petfriendly policy several years ago, offering

accommodations at Legacy Lodge, the LakeHouses at Legacy and campgrounds at Shoal Creek and Blue Ridge. Pets are allowed on hiking trails and you can even take them on the rental pontoons. Complete pet policies and guidelines are listed on the website at georgia-pet-friendly-resorts. The Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau,, addresses places that are pet-friendly around Lake Lanier, including parks that do and don’t allow pets. Laurel Park now has a Bark Park. Restaurants that feature outdoor dining may be pet-friendly as well. Pig Tails at Aqualand promotes being amenable for pets and their owners. Traveling away from home In addition to researching pet-friendly hotels and restaurants for your vacation destination, here are some things to consider:

As much as Fido likes the wind in his fur, AAA recommends keeping pets inside the car at all times.

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• Make sure your pet is current on her vaccinations and get a health certificate from your veterinarian. • As your veterinarian about potential health threats to your pet at your planned destination. • If your pet is on medication, make sure to have a few days of extra medication in case of an unexpected extended stay. • Pack a pet first-aid kit. • “Some owners think that sedating their animal makes traveling easier, but that’s not the case,” Townsend says. “Tranquilizing a pet can be more stressful. Also, never give a pet human medicine. Consult your veterinarian for the best practices for your pet.” • Take along a good supply of fresh drinking water, both for your pet and for yourself, and bring plenty of your pet’s regular food. Travel can be hard on your pet’s routine, so avoid changes in diet. • If you’re traveling by car, make regular stops for you and your pet to have bathroom breaks and stretch. Be sure to clean up after your pet. • Leash your pet before opening your car door, always. This will avoid the chance of the pet darting into traffic or the need for you to chase him down at the rest stop. He may be accustomed to being off leash at home, but in new surroundings a leash provides extra security. About that car ride The same AAA survey reveals a troubling statistic. “In Georgia, 44 percent of pet owners never use a pet restraint devise when they take their pet in the car,” Townsend says. “Using a crate or a specially designed seat restraint is not only safer for your pet, it can help protect passengers as well. An unrestrained 10-pound dog involved in 30-mile-per-hour car crash is like a 300-pound projectile, endangering the pet and passengers.” Townsend also discourages pet owners from allowing their pets to stick their heads outside of open car windows. “A pet can be hit by debris flying up from the road or items, and they run a greater risk of injury if the vehicle stops suddenly or is involved in a collision,” Townsend says. “Your pet may like the feel of the wind on his face, but please be a responsible pet owner and consider the safety of your pet.”

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Point well taken Pet acupuncture gains popularity Story by Layne Saliba Photos by David Barnes

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Lance Animal Hospital Vet Tech Alexis Jimenez strokes Simon the cat as he goes through acupuncture treatment at the veterinary hospital.

April 2018 | HOME | 23

Simon, a five-year-old cat, gets acupuncture treatment for his eyes at Lance Animal Hospital as he suffers from feline herpes.


eople have long treated their animals like family. It’s become natural to have them ride in the car, sleep in the bed and be a part of all the big moments in life. So why not treat them the same way when it comes to medicine? That’s becoming the case more often as people are turning to nontraditional medicine, specifically Chinese medicine, to treat their pets, part of which includes veterinary acupuncture. “I got tired of doing everything conventionally that you need to do, and having to have that conversation with owners that that’s all I can do,” said Dr. Marie Lance, a veterinarian at Lance Animal Hospital in Gainesville. “I just thought there was more that I could do.” Lance said she believes her office is the only place in Hall County that offers this type of treatment option for pets. She was trained in Chinese medicine at the Chi Institute and has been practicing it since 2012. She's been practicing traditional

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medicine since the 90s. “Acupuncture is to move energy through the body and make sure there’s even flow,” Lance said. “Because without energy being able to freely flow through the body, then disease happens, and imbalance happens.” She said acupuncture for animals is “sort of like a recipe.” There are different spots along an animal's body, much like humans, that react and release endorphins that can correct imbalances in the animal. Once she learned those spots, she was able to create a “prescription” for what is needed. Through acupuncture, Lance puts small needles of different lengths and gauges, into certain spots, depending on the treatment needed, to restore balance within the animal’s body. “Acupuncture is just one part of Chinese medicine,” Lance said. “The needles are just the icing on the cake, because needles can be helpful, but it doesn’t last. So to get the effect to last, you have to build it from the bottom.”

Jenna the spaniel gets a needle in her paw during acupuncture therapy at Lance Animal Hospital. Acupuncture an can benefit all life stages and a variety of conditions.

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Jenna, a 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, waits patiently on the examination table at Lance Animal Hospital for acupuncture therapy. She takes the treatment as it helps with its back pain and stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and antiinflammatory substances.

That means treating the animals with food therapy, herbal medicine and massage therapy. By using the proper food, Lance said she’s able to prevent imbalances in the animals she treats. That, along with herbal medicines to target any disease and massage to help circulation, she’s able to help animals that are struggling. “I treat a lot of cancer patients that are either on chemo, or decided not to do chemo, that are looking for quality of life,” Lance said. She doesn’t take Chinese medicine lightly, though. Instead of just doing a physical and prescribing medicine which sometimes happens in traditional medicine, she takes time to sit down with the owner and ask specific questions about the pet and look at what its everyday life is like. “Western medicine, if you’ve got a rash, you go to the dermatologist, they put something on the rash and your done,” Lance said. “In Chinese medicine, we have an interview, they have a take-home questionnaire that goes over the dog's personality, because all those things affect your health. We're finding out that emotional stress affects people’s health and it’s the same thing with animals.” She said veterinary acupuncture isn’t for everybody. While it’s not especially expensive, the thought of having needles put in their pet is sometimes

“I treat a lot of cancer patients that are either on chemo, or decided not to do chemo, that are looking for quality of life.” 26 | HOME | April 2018

Dr. Marie Lance feels along the spine of Jenna as she inserts the acupuncture needles along the spaniel’s back. The goal of acupuncture is to promote the body to heal itself.

unsettling to owners. But Lance said the majority of animals don’t even know it’s happening. They’re too focused on the plate of peanut butter they're getting. “Normally, a lot of people come to me as a Hail Mary

pass,” Lance said. “Which I would rather them not. I’d rather see the patients sooner. But for people who have exhausted conventional medicine, they often, just like with their own health, turn to alternative medicine.”

From left, Mike Ledford, animal control director at the Hall County Animal Shelter, Carol Hyder, a volunteer at the shelter for five years, and Caryl Hammock, a volunteer at the shelter for three years, prepare cats to be sent to their new homes in Gainesville.

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Hall County Animal Shelter takes in wide array of animals By Layne Saliba Photos by David Barnes The sounds of dog barks and cat purrs 28 | HOME | April 2018

escape the Hall County Animal Shelter every day of the week. There’s even the sound of a cow’s moo every so often.

“If you can name it, we've had it here,” said Mike Ledford, the shelter’s director. The animal shelter at 1688 Barber Road

A volunteer plays with a dog outside of the Hall County Animal Shelter.

in Gainesville takes in every animal that comes through its doors, no matter what. The animal shelter is also the home of Hall County Animal Control, which brings in animals the shelter has to house as well. And without it, Ledford said he doesn’t know what the community would do. “We’ve got a great staff,” Ledford said. “They do it with passion, and obviously they care about the animals or they wouldn't be in this business. From March through September, which is our busy time, we can

have as many as 80-90 animals a day coming into this facility.” As an open-admittance shelter, Ledford and his staff aren’t able to be selective with the animals that come to the shelter like some other shelters. As long as the person dropping the animal off has a valid Hall County driver’s license, or Animal Control picks it up within the county’s borders, it has to be accepted — even if the animal shelter knows it won’t be able to find someone to adopt it. Ledford said that’s why animal shelters

sometimes get a bad reputation — euthanasia numbers. He said they never want to euthanize at the Hall County Animal Shelter, but a lot of the time, the numbers look bad because of the amount of animals the shelter sees each day, or the condition a lot of animals are in. “When numbers are higher in intake, euthanasia numbers are going to be higher because a lot of those intake numbers are hurt animals, sick animals or have a temperament to where they can't be adopted April 2018 | HOME | 29

Veterinarians and county employees work with volunteers to ensure the animals receive the best care possible in hopes they will be adopted out.

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“If they've been walked, they've been socialized, they've been around people, it kind of trains them a little bit ... it allows them the ability to be around people and petted and walked and outside and not be quite so hyper in that cage.” anyway,” Ledford said. “When you take those out of the equation, our euthanasia rates have been less than 15 percent for the last three years.” But for the ones that can be adopted, Ledford said the staff does everything they can to make them happy. There’s a full time veterinarian at the shelter with two veterinary technicians that help with spaying and neutering each animal to reduce overpopulation before it leaves. They also do some other surgeries when needed, but Ledford said they’re limited because they don't have access to all the equipment they need. A kennel staff takes care of feeding, walking and bathing the animals. Some of the most important people that come through, though, are the volunteers. They’re able to take the dogs outside, play with them and get them around other dogs and people so they have a better chance of being adopted. “If they've been walked, they've been socialized, they've been around people, it kind of trains them a little bit,” Ledford said. “It allows them the ability to be around people and petted and walked and outside and not be quite so hyper in that cage.” Not all animals are open to the public for adoption. Ledford said the shelter’s livestock program is probably the biggest in the state. Sometimes cows, horses or goats get loose and Animal Control has to bring them in. Other times, owners simply leave them when they move to a new place. There’s plenty of room for them at the shelter, though. And Ledford said they have a pretty good network of people they contact when an animal like that comes in. “There's farms everywhere,” Ledford said. “They'll take them and normally there's no adoption fee on them. Sometimes, if we've had them for an extended amount of time, they'll donate to the shelter to cover the cost of feed or hay.” Ledford said he just wants to see all the animals get adopted. He said the Hall County Animal Shelter adoption numbers are growing every year since the community is starting to realize the shelter is an option for pets. It’s only $85 to adopt, which Ledford said covers spaying or neutering, the pet’s first set of shots, including rabies shots, and a microchip. But adoption isn’t for everybody, though. Even if it means keeping the animals just a little longer to find the right home, Ledford and his staff never try to push adoption on anybody. “Adoption is not an impulse buy. It shouldn't be,” Ledford said. “You can't force somebody or guilt someone into taking it, because we're just going to end up right back with it when it doesn't work out at home. So it's a process to make sure it's a ‘forever home’ and not just a ‘for now’ home.”

Adorable & Adoptable! Humane Society of Northeast Georgia helps pets find forever homes By Michelle Boaen Jameson Photos courtesy HSNEGA

Last year, more than 1,500 companion animals including dogs, cats, birds and small mammals, came through the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. Kyra Phelps, the HSNEGA marketing and communications coordinator, said that is an increase of 16.7 percent from the previous year, or more than 170 animals. “As the sole selective admission facility (the Humane Society only euthanizes for untreatable illnesses as a humane end-oflife option) in Northeast Georgia, animals

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Numerous volunteers and employees devote time to rescued animals.


rescued by HSNEGA stay with us until adopted,” she said. “Our rescues come from owner surrenders and other animal welfare facilities which euthanize.” Because it is a private animal welfare facility, Phelps said HSNEGA is legally unable to take in stray animals. With the addition of a full-time veterinarian a few years ago, HSNEGA has expanded its ability to serve more "hard case" rescues, including participating in a 400-plus animal neglect/abuse case in 2017 from which it rescued 56 dogs. The local Humane Society was founded in 1913 by Hall County school teacher Bessie Bickers and is one of the oldest animal welfare facilities in Georgia. “Bessie Bickers, or Miss Bessie to friends and students, bought 5 acres of land and a house with $5,000 earned from her retirement fund,” Phelps said. “She built kennels and runs, and arranged for a young couple to live there rent-free to take care of the animals. The three were often seen before dawn or after dark saving the homeless animals of Hall County.” After her death, Bickers’ family transferred the land at 845 West Ridge Road to the Humane Society of Hall County, which remains the present location and is now the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. “Today, we try to carry on her humane message of creating a caring community for animals,” Phelps said. “Some things have changed but the basic policies and framework on which Miss Bessie built the Society remain.” The HSNEGA official mission statement is “to establish a community recognized for responsible pet ownership and humane treatment of animals by offering basic pet wellness and spay-neuter services, public education, and rescue/placement of companion animals.” Unofficially, Phelps said, HSNEGA works tirelessly to be a leader in creating a community known where animals are not abused or abandoned and where no healthy, treatable companion animal will be euthanized for lack of space or other resources. Currently, the group has 27 team members and about 240 active volunteers, which includes two full-time veterinarians who provide affordable healthy pet and spay/neuter services to the community. HSNEGA's Spay/Neuter Center provides low-cost, high-quality surgery for all pet owners with no residency restrictions. Since opening

If you’re thinking about adopting, you are probably a responsible and caring person, but before you make the decision to bring a furry friend into your life, consider the following questions: • Why do you want a pet? It’s amazing how many people fail to ask themselves this simple question. Be sure it’s a thoughtful decision. Remember pets may be with you 10, 15, even 20 years. • Do you have time for a pet? Animals cannot be ignored because you’re tired or busy. They require food, water, exercise, care and companionship every day. Many animals are homeless simply because their owners didn’t realize how much time it took to care for them. • Can you afford a pet? The costs of pet ownership can be quite high. Veterinary care, grooming, toys, food, litter and other expenses add up quickly. • Are you prepared to deal with special problems a pet can cause? Flea infestations, scratched-up furniture, accidents from animals who aren’t yet housetrained and unexpected medical emergencies are unfortunate but common aspects of pet ownership. • Can you have a pet where you live? Many rental communities don’t allow pets or have restrictions. Make sure you know what they are before you consider adopting. • Is it a good time for you to adopt a pet? If you have kids under the age of 6, for instance, you might consider waiting a few years before you adopt a companion. Likewise, If you’re a student, in the military or travel frequently as part of your work, waiting until you settle down is wise. • Are your living arrangements suitable for the pet you have in mind? Animal size is not the only variable to consider. Energy level and age also are factors. Before adopting, do some research to ensure you choose an animal who will fit into your lifestyle and living arrangements. • Do you know who will care for your pet if you are unable? You’ll need either reliable friends and neighbors or money to pay for a boarding kennel or pet-sitting service. April 2018 | HOME | 33

in 2005, it has performed 70,000 surgeries for both owned, public animals and rescued animals from animal welfare organizations. In addition, the Healthy Pet Clinic has offered services to pets and their people since 2010 and annually serves more than 8,000 pets with the basic care they need to live healthy, happy lives. Phelps said the vast majority of animal shelter organizations across the country are funded at least in part by public funding with tax dollars through their local, county or state governments. However, HSNEGA is selffunded through donations, grants and service fees and receives no public funding or funds from national humane organizations. The organization has rescued many types of pets from birds to rodents to reptiles. “We’ve had people bring us chickens that have fallen off chicken trucks,” she said. “Unfortunately, we cannot keep or adopt livestock so we had to surrender them to the county animal control.” Phelps said sharing your home with a four-legged friend can be one of life’s greatest joys. Pets give us unconditional loyalty and acceptance, provide constant companionship and even help relieve stress after a hard day’s work. Adopting a pet, though, is a big decision. Pets require time and money as well as a long-term commitment. Pet ownership can be rewarding, but only if you think through your decision before you adopt a companion. When you adopt a pet, you are making a commitment

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to care for the animal for its lifetime, so think before you adopt. Sharing your life with a companion animal can bring incredible rewards, but only if you’re willing to make the necessary commitments of time, money, responsibility and love. So how can you help out? “Donations of money or in-kind items are always welcome and needed to support our rescue efforts,” Phelps said. “We have many options for donations including our Animal Care Fund (help fund medical needs for special cases), Adoption Angel Program (sponsor a rescue), Food Bowl Fund (help pay for food for rescues) as well as general donations.” Sharing, liking and commenting on its social media also helps get the word out in the community about both services and adoptable animals. “We are active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat,” Phelps said. “You also can sign up for our e-newsletter on our website ( for the latest news about our needs and how your gifts are helping rescues.”



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Tricks for Treats: Check out Fresh-baked Pet Snacks By Pamela A. Keene Oatmeal soft bite cookies, bacon cheese twists and chicken stars. These sound like great snacks for people, but Pet Pleasers Bakery in Gainesville makes these fresh-baked goodies daily for dogs, cats, rabbits and even horses. Located at 660 Dawsonville Highway, Pet Pleasers is owned by Ina Griffin, who purchased the store 10 years ago because of her love of pets and her desire to ensure that cats, dogs and other pets had healthy food and treats. “We all love pets and want them to have healthy alternatives for food and snacks,” says Tabitha Charlton, Ina’s granddaughter. “From gluten free, soy free, dairy free, our snacks can provide healthy treats for animals with almost any kind of food issue.” Pet Pleasers Bakery offers a variety of specialty pet foods, sells natural shampoos, dental items and pet accessories and toys. The store recently added self-service bathing for pets; the cost is $10 and includes a raised tub, choice of shampoo, plus towels and use of a dryer. One of the most popular snack items is Pet Pleasers’ liver brownies for both dogs and cats. But the bakery also sells decorated pet birthday cakes that can be customized with the pet’s name, age or other messages. The store even carries party supplies for pet birthday parties. “People often come here every year for cakes for their pets,” Charlton says. “Or they will stop by for holiday or seasonal items. For St. Patrick’s Day, we had decorated shamrock-shaped treats. They were a big hit with owners and their pets.” For more information, visit or call the store at 770-534-3843.

Above: An assortment of pet treats made by Pet Pleasers Bakery.

Above: Liver brownies for dogs and cats. Left: A doggie birthday cake.

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April Strathmore Presentation. 5-7 p.m. April 3. Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St. NE, Gainesville. 770-5362575, paula.lindner@quinlanartscenter. org. Free. Another Op’nin’, Another Show: The Golden Age of Broadway and Beyond. 7:30-9 p.m. April 5-6. University of North Georgia, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega. 678-717-3930, connie. Free. Cancer Prevention Cooking School. 1-3 p.m. April 5. Good News Clinics, 810 Pine St., Gainesville. 770-535-8293, Free. Latin Film Festival. 7-9 p.m. April 5. University of North Georgia, Dahlonega Campus, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega. 706-864-1547, Free. Hall County Master Gardeners Spring Garden Expo. 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 6 and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 7. Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center,

1855 Calvary Church Road, Gainesville. 770-535-8293, mastergardener@ “Fuente Ovejuna.” Presented by Gainesville Theater Alliance. 7:30 p.m. April 6-9. Brenau’s Theatre on the Square, 301 Main St. SE, Gainesville. 678-717-3721, Free. Sweep the Hooch. Clean-up of the Chattahoochee River. 9 a.m. to noon. April 7. Hardman Farm Historic Site, 146 Ga. 17, Sautee Nacoochee. 706878-1077, hardmanfarm.park@dnr. Free. “The Odyssey.” Presented by Gainesville Theater Alliance. 7:30-10 p.m. April 10-14 and 17-21 and 2:30-5 p.m. April 15 and 21. Ed Cabell Theatre, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood. 678-717-3721, $12-20. Meet Wyatt Earp. Author talk with book signing. Noon to 1 p.m. April 13. Hall County Library System, Gainesville Branch, 127 Main St. NW, Gainesville. 770-532-3311, ext. 114, gkoecher@ Free. Sitting up with the Dead. 5 p.m. April 13. Hall County Library System, Gainesville Branch, 127 Main St. NW, Gainesville. 770-532-3311, ext. 116. $11. March for Babies 5K Run. 7-9 a.m. April 21. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. The Longstreet Clinic, 725 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville. 770-5487988, $25-30. Bear on the Square Mountain Festival. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 21 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 22. Historic Public Square, Main St., Dahlonega. Free. Kentucky Derby “Run for the Roses.” Benefits Good News Clinics. 6-9 p.m. April 28. The Arts Council Smithgall Arts Center, 331 Spring St. SW, Gainesville. 770-297-5040, ext. 320, $75. Re-Hatched Artist Market. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 28. Downtown square, Gainesville. 678-897-9614, Free.

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Home Living in North Georgia  

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April 2018