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Volume 7•Issue 4

Winter 2016/17

Stop the Torture! Compassion in the Classroom Estate Planning for Pets



“Pearl” is seeking a forever home. She is available for adoption through the Richmond Boxer Rescue (RBR). (details on Page 46)

“When I die, I want to die knowing that I was the best person I could possibly be. That I reached out. That I did what I could. That with the hands I have and my time here, that I breathed life into those that could not breathe for themselves.” – Marc Ching

Visit us 7 days a week! Hours: 11 AM – 7 PM 4340 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 818.317.5863

DOG MEAT TRADE Millions of dogs will be tortured this year for their meat. Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Your donations save actual lives that would suffer a fate so dark that death itself would be a welcomed escape. These dogs need our help. Please join the movement and be a part of the mission to eradicate this gruesome practice. instagram @animalhopeandwellness

contents Volume 7

Issue 4

Winter 2016/17

departments 8

Weekend Getaway:



On the Cover…

Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats

“Pearl” is seeking a forever home. She is available through Richmond Boxer Rescue (RBR). See Page 46 for Details.




Ask A Neurovet:


Metro Mutt:


Ask Dr. Katy:

Santa Claws is Coming to Town

Photo by: Amie P. Photography,

Mini-Goals Lead to Big Dog Training Gains

With Dr. Lauren Talarico

features 20

 state Planning for Pets: E Ensuring the Future Care of Animals


 nchanting and Enriching: E Keeping Active in a Winter Wonderland


 oing Into the Cloud: G How One Vet is Changing Pet Medication Information

Compassion in the Classroom

With Dr. Katy Nelson

46 Seeking A Forever Home

special feature 14

Stop the Torture!

Winter 2016/17 |


{ contributors }

contributors Katy Nelson, DVM

Stephanie Clarke As a writer and editor who resides in Clermont, Florida, with over twelve years of experience within the writing and editing industry, Stephanie has had the opportunity to contribute to a multitude of online blogs and publications. Originally a writer within the field of mental health stemming from her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she has expanded to various subjects of interest over the years. Stephanie also provides ghostwriting and editing to other authors who require her services.

Krisi Erwin, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVPP Dr. Erwin, a life-long Loudoun County native, owns a house call practice called Wholistic Paws Veterinary Services that focuses on offering in-home acupuncture, rehabilitation, pet hospice, and euthanasia for her clients. Dr. Erwin is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist and a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist.

Dr. Katy Nelson is a veterinarian and the host of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8—the show airs at 11am on Saturday mornings. An ardent advocate for pet rescue, Dr. Nelson works with numerous local and national rescue organizations to promote pet adoption. Dr. Nelson is known as “Dr. Pawz” on Washington DC’s All News Radio Station WTOP live on air every two weeks. You can also catch her on her online radio show called “Pawsitive Talk with Dr. Katy” on the all positive radio network HealthyLife. Net. Dr. Nelson is a Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ), accredited by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ). Catch her every Friday morning on News Channel 8’s “Let’s Talk Live,” and you can even find her reporting on animal health topics every week on WJLA ABC7 News. A prolific writer, you can follow her on The Pet Show’s blog the-pet-show and find back episodes of The Pet Show there, as well.

Lauren R. Talarico, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology/Neurosurgery) Michael I. Gordon, Esquire Michael I. Gordon, Esq. is a partner at Wright, Constable Skeen in its Estate & Trusts Practice Group. Michael resides in Pikesville, Maryland with wife Sandra, 4-year old tabby Gabby and the baby of the family, Ozzie, a 3-year old, miniature Schnauzer. Michael can be reached at or 410.659.1306.

Dr. Talarico is a board certified neurosurgeon at VCA SouthPaws in Fairfax, VA. She graduated with honors from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, completed an internship at the University of Georgia and neurosurgical residency at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. Dr. Talarico conducts research projects involving Chiari-like malformations through the pediatric neurosurgery team at Children’s National Hospital in DC. She has also been published in several veterinary journals and textbooks. Dr. Talarico specializes in brain and spinal surgery, reconstruction procedures and treatment of medical neurologic diseases.

Alix John Alix John is the Communications and Digital Media Specialist for the Humane Rescue Alliance. A longtime animal lover and adoption advocate, she now spends her days surrounded by the thing she loves most: animals and those who love them. When she’s not tweeting, blogging, and campaigning for the animals of the District, she’s probably hiking or napping with her rescue dog, Hank.

Bonnie Lefbom, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology) Dr. Bonnie Lefbom is passionate about cardiology for pets. Her vast experience allows her to remain focused on the emotional and financial needs of owners while achieving optimal treatment for each pet. Dr. Lefbom’s home life is joy-filled with 3 teenagers, 2 spoiled dogs, and 1 very friendly cat.

Beverly Snowden Beverly E. Snowden grew up in a Navy family, attending Langley High in McLean, VA. Her childhood years were filled with every possible critter and furry friend. After college, her love of animals continued and today, she fills her free time with fostering, transporting and volunteering for rescues in NC. The mother of two adult children (she is also a new grandma), Beverly serves as the Director of Communications for a NC school district.

Ginger Warder Ginger Warder, the author of Fido’s Virginia and Fido’s Florida, is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, specializing in luxury travel and travel with pets. Her current canine research assistants are her German Shepherd, Tipsy, and her Daschund, Max.

Laurie Luck, M.A., KPA CTP Dog lover and professional trainer, Laurie knows the joy that dogs bring to our lives. Smart Dog University specializes in dog-friendly, positive training. From pups to dogs, Laurie makes training fun for both ends of the leash!


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{ department }

Publisher/Editor in Chief Pamela Wahl Director of Operations Gene Wahl

{ publishers note }

a note

from our publisher

Art Director Kim Dow, Kalico Design Graphic Designer Leigh Caulfield, Kalico Design Social Media Cami O’Connell Kristin Carlson Senior Editor Kimberly Holmes Photographer Amie P. Photography Copy Editor Matt Neufeld Advertising Director Pamela Wahl Production Coordinator Diane Weller Business Manager Cathy Wahl Contributing Writers: Stephanie Clarke Krisi Erwin, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVPP Michael Gordon, Esquire Alix John Bonnie Lefbom, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology) Laurie Luck, M.A., KPA-CTP Katy Nelson, DVM Beverly Snowden Lauren Talarico, DVM, DACVIM Ginger Warder The Virginia-Maryland-Washington, DC Dog Magazine 200 West Main Street Middletown, MD 21769 Tel: (301) 514-2804 Fax: (301) 694-9799 ©2016 No part of this publication may be reproduced without expressed written permission of the publisher. No part may be transmitted in any form by any means, including electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Publisher accepts no liability for solicited or unsolicited materials that are damaged or lost. Views expressed by editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.


“One of the most enduring friendships in history—dogs and their people, people and their dogs” – Terry Kay This edition of The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog is dedicated to the many individuals, and rescues, whom have made such a significant difference in the lives of animals. Our Special Feature article is a heart-wrenching story about an extraordinary individual by the name of Marc Ching, who founded the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation with a mission to expose the very dark, barbaric and brutal practice of torturing and killing thousands and thousands of dogs for meat. It is Marc’s hope to enact change, and force the government to create laws to protect the precious animals from the unfounded and cruel tradition of the dog meat trade. Marc has on many occasions risked his own life, and he continues to do so, in order to remove dogs from the hands of those who torture and kill them out of the misguided belief that tortured dog meat tastes better or can provide health benefits. We will warn you that this article and its accompanying images are very heartbreaking— and, at times, a graphic read. But this is a story that must be told. Many people are unaware of the existence of such practices. We at VAMDDC Dog are looking forward to further assisting and working with Marc in effort to put a stop to this unspeakable situation. We hope that during this time of giving, that you will consider providing the many rescues and animal-related organizations like Marc’s with a monetary donation, a donation of your time, and/or much needed supplies necessary for the operation of these facilities. Many of these organizations have wish lists and volunteer needs at their websites and social media pages. Happy Holidays! Pamela Wahl Owner/Publisher The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog Magazine

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Sit, Sit, Sit! A to a Co Quick Solutio n mmon Problem Dogs & Conge nital Dis ease

{ weekend getaway }

Shopping at the Dog Krazy Barkery Photo courtesy of


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

{ weekend getaway }

Santa Claws Is Coming To Town Grab your best buddy and head out for a holiday shopping getaway

I love everything about the holiday season‌the decorating, the baking and especially

By Ginger Warder

the shopping! Why should your best friend miss out on all the festive preparations? Dress your pooch in his (or her) festive jingle bell collar, holiday sweater or reindeer antlers and head out together to sniff out some special gifts for your four-legged and two-legged friends. Or even better, take a short road trip to one of my favorite Virginia spots to visit at this time of year!

Winter 2016/17 |


{ weekend getaway }

Dog-themed Wines available at Chateau Morrisette Photo courtesy of


Fredericksburg The holiday decorations in this charming Colonial town’s 40-block historic district filled with 18th-and 19th-century buildings reflect the period and are featured on the town’s annual candlelight homes tour in early December. Eminently walkable, the town is also loaded with boutiques, antique shops and specialty stores, as well as an eclectic selection of small cafés and restaurants. Your pooch will love Dog Krazy on Caroline Street, where the “barkery” counter will have him drooling. The shop has a great selection of accessories and gifts for both canines and animal lovers. If you want to stay for the night, the historic Richard Johnston Inn—also on Caroline Street—has two pet friendly rooms that open onto its courtyard. And if you want to stock up on holiday cheer, one of Virginia’s oldest wineries, Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, is an easy day trip from Fredericksburg and welcomes four-legged visitors.

The lighted star on the top of Mill Mountain that earned Roanoke the nickname “Star City of the South” was originally installed in 1949 as a holiday decoration. Maybe that’s why this is one of the most festive cities in the state during the holidays. On the first three Fridays in December, Roanoke celebrates its “Dickens of a Christmas” with parades and special activities in the downtown area, including a pet costume contest. Market Square offers a wide array of gourmet food shops, boutiques and unique stores like Chocolate Paper, where you can pick up a sweet version of the town’s signature star. The Sheraton Roanoke welcomes four-legged guests, as does the Holiday Inn Valley View, and the town is filled with parks, trails and greenways for long walks in the crisp winter air. You can even hike with your pal up to the mountain star and take a selfie on the live StarCam to share with friends and family. For a holiday toast, take a side trip to Chateau Morrisette Winery to visit their incredible pet friendly tasting room and gift shop: pick up some wine emblazoned with their signature black Labrador Retrievers and find unique gifts for pets and their parents.

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{ health }

Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats By Bonnie Lefbom, DVM, Diplomate, ACVIM (Cardiology) Photos courtesy of CVCA

There are really board certified cardiologists for pets? Heart disease is a common problem in dogs and cats. Two out of three small breed dogs and 15% of cats will develop heart problems in their lifetime. Large breed dogs, particularly Boxers, Dobermans, and the Giant breeds are susceptible to rhythm problems and a weak heart muscle while smaller dogs acquire valve problems. Cats primarily develop heart muscle disease, with the most aggressive cases developing at a very young age.

How would I know if my pet has a heart problem? Frequent wellness and preventative health visits with your primary care veterinarian is the key to giving your pet a long and healthy life.


In most cases of pets with heart problems, your veterinarian will hear an abnormal heart sound during the veterinary physical examination. They may describe hearing a murmur or a rhythm problem well before the pet shows any outward signs. For cats, there is a new blood test (NT ProBNP) that has been life-saving to find disease in cats not yet showing symptoms. Once the abnormal sound is identified or the blood test result is positive, an evaluation with a board-certified veterinary cardiologist provides the best care for your pet! Because dogs and cats both hide outward signs of heart disease, they usually are not noticeably sick until the pets are in a crisis situation. Emergency visits with pets in crisis can be scary and expensive so the “wait and see� approach is not recommended for dogs or cats with heart murmurs.

The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

{ health }

What can I do if my pet develops a heart problem? The ideal way to figure out the severity and treatment options for any pet with heart disease is to see a board certified veterinary cardiologist in person. Board-certified specialists have four additional years of advanced training after veterinary school and pass two consecutive years of Board testing with the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Taking your pet to a cardiologist allows a hands on, thorough cardiac examination of your pet along with the expert themselves performing an echocardiogram; a noninvasive ultrasound based test that is done with the family present. The board certified veterinary cardiologist will explain the results to you during the course of your one-hour visit.

Based on their findings, the cardiologist will determine exactly what type of therapy will best treat your pet. Treatment is almost always via pills available at your local pharmacy and pets take heart medications very well. If there are negative effects of the medications, the cardiologist would immediately change the treatment plan. At CVCA, our cardiologists are available to assist owners and primary care veterinarians with adjusting medications to avoid side effects and maximize treatment.

Winter 2016/17 |



CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets has provided veterinary cardiology since 1987. The company’s board- certified veterinary cardiologists see more than 13,000 patients per year. For more information:; Facebook: /CVCAVETS.


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Stop the Torture! Stop the Torture! Stop the Torture! “Tell me in the end it will be worth it.” – Marc Ching By Beverly E. Snowden Photos courtesy of Marc Ching


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Note from the writer: I discovered scenes from China’s Yulin Dog Meat Festival through online research last spring, 2016. Videos emerged and I was not prepared for the horrific footage. I vividly recall the shocking images of someone’s stolen pet, a beautiful Golden Retriever, tortured alive—screaming in pain as her legs were cut off. Another image haunts my days of a seven year-old boy taught to beat and blow-torch a dog. Approximately 10,000–20,000 dogs are tortured and killed for the festival each June with 50 million dogs tortured across Asia—annually. This is the culture and the intent of the Asian meat market. Torture, as believed by those in the trade, enhances the quality of the meat. While very few people have stepped up (and only a small percentage of people across the globe are aware of this ghastly tradition), I am thankful for brave souls, like Marc Ching, who place their lives on the line to stop the torture. The cruelty and torture can only stop through enforced law. I hope that you will join Marc Ching’s battle to save the lives of our furry companions—worldwide. Please be aware of the disturbing photos in this article and graphic scenes included in the mentioned videos/embedded links. Thank you for actively supporting this fight to stop the torture. –Beverly

The compelling force to torture other living, innocent creatures has happened for centuries, says Marc Ching, founder of Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit, based in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Dog meat consumption centers on the slaughtering methods employed. While fully alive, the dogs are blow-torched, legs cut off, eyes cut out, hung and beaten, nailed to walls, and with legs bound…thrown into boiling water for the later removal of fur.

“This history has become a bridge to teach us how not to be,” he said.

Every breed is cashed in on during the horrendous commercial dog meat market: Poodles, Labradors, Retrievers and more. A mix of dogs are raised on meat farms (puppies and smaller breeds, like Shih Tzus and Terriers, are tortured for spices and soups); strays, stolen pets, and pets surrendered for cash. Slaughtered dogs have been seen wearing collars.

“Sadly, the horrific means to torture is active in multiple cultures worldwide. In the United States, we have witnessed cultures to include the lynching and beating of humans until death. But we have laws against these crimes and education in place to help erase the cultural destruction of life. It is our responsibility, as humans, as a society, to change these gruesome cultural traditions,” said Ching. “The same goes for international cultures and views on the welfare of dogs and other animals. While not easy, cultures can be changed,” says Ching. “Centuries of practicing violent actions based on mythical and medicinal beliefs are difficult to break through. With education and support from the governments, we have a greater hope.” In the United States, South Dakota became the last state to enact a felony provision for animal cruelty in March, 2014. However, the battle continues nationwide to eradicate dog fighting and animal abuse—carried out in obscure settings and some settings most likely well-known by local community members. In Asia, the governments turn a blind eye to the torture of dogs with more than 50 million dogs brutally killed every year, according to Ching. The barbaric and torturous death of dogs is part of the dog meat market—fueled by belief that torture makes for a “tasty” meat that will rid the body of disease. The dog meat trade is heightened with the competitive price tag, particularly a healthy family pet—for example, a Cocker Spaniel or a Golden Retriever. There are no regulations requiring the humane slaughter of dogs for meat. Pregnant dogs are burned to death while their unborn pups futilely struggle to survive.

Spread throughout Asia, the dog meat slaughterhouses can be found in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, among other countries. But it was China’s Yulin Dog Meat Festival that first got the attention of Marc Ching. “In April 2015, I read of the torture and the slaughterhouses. I had to learn if this was truly fact or fiction. The only way I could discern the truth was to visit for myself. I had to face the severe reality in China,” said Ching. At 37 and a native of Hawaii, Ching is the owner of PetStaurant, an established resource for pets (and their owners) in Los Angeles. His studies in nutrition and business at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) prepared him to work with humans—but his natural gift to work with animals took priority. “My father was a stockbroker and I attempted to intern in the same field, but hated it. With a passion for healthcare passed down for generations, I ventured into the health business developing healthy diets for animals to improve issues with skin, liver, and enhance overall health with supplements designed to help cure, maintain and remedy,” said Ching. Through the income of his business, which supports his family, Ching pulled funds to finance 80 percent of his first trip to China in September, 2015. Donations rounded out the balance. Carrying only a backpack and flight tickets, Ching embarked on a journey that would change the course of his life.

Winter 2016/17 |


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“I arrived at the airport in China and didn’t even know where to go,” said Ching. “I eventually found a cab and went to a bar that evening, openly asking people, ‘Where do I find some dog meat around here?’ They knew I was a tourist and must have thought I was there to see the Great Wall of China. No one responded to my inquiry. But in the building next door, I met a man named Wang. He knew everything. He was my answer. Since meeting Wang, I’ve made eight more trips and will soon return for my tenth trip.” Ching has a successful history of rescuing dogs from violent abuse in Los Angeles: gang-related abused dogs, dogs with stapled eyelids, burns, broken bones and torn bodies. He frequently distributed flyers in gang neighborhoods offering $500 for leads to the whereabouts of abused dogs in order to pull them from the violence and transport to safety. His passion in fighting to free these dogs and provide them a quality, loving life, is an adjacent part of his nutrition business. But now the fight has intensified. It’s an international battle. “My work has evolved from single dogs to going undercover for dogs in a foreign country,” said Ching. Wang helped to get Ching into the slaughterhouses although these places are generally not open to the public. Taking video and attempting to save as many lives as possible resulted in Ching being shot, beaten, and hospitalized. That was nothing. Even with his eyes closed, Ching could only see the nightmarish images of his first encounter witnessing the torture of the innocent dogs—their screams, their horrific pain, and the pro-longed, cruel death. “The culture of these countries has not changed for hundreds of years,” said Ching. “This isn’t about raising a food source for the poor; this is about the tradition of torture in their culture. They are ‘manufacturing’ dogs on their dog farms and stealing pets—torturing, burning and boiling them alive.


The government protects people’s private property— all based on cultural traditions,” he said. “Asian people as a whole, from countries including Korea, Cambodia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam—have mythical beliefs—like sleeping with feet turned away from doors. The mysticism of the dog meat is no different,” said Ching. “The dog meat is not a poor man’s food. It’s considered high-end. Even a small piece of dog is used for soup. If the dog is tortured alive and endures terror— these people believe it will cure cancer and contribute to healing other physical ailments,” said Ching. “This is a humanity rights issue; we cannot undo what happened 500 years ago. China has not changed. Even though we want the trade meat stopped, the trade is based on the tortured dogs and the misconception of medicinal uses,” said Ching. “We must go after the torture. That’s the priority of this mission.” Now preparing for his tenth trip to China, the strategy has changed since his first arrival carrying just a backpack. Ching has a team of local Chinese (interpreter, veterinarian, former military…) who assist him with his undercover entrance into the slaughterhouses, negotiating as a wealthy businessman, a dog meat trade investor. They discreetly capture video and photography. Appearing to be calm while in the midst of the horror is mind-boggling—yet, Ching knows this is the only way to make a difference. Placing his life at risk, his every move is cautiously positioned to capture evidence and if fortunate, to (falsely) convince the slaughterhouse crew that he desires to purchase some of the live dogs for his own “torture taste-test.” “Since that first trip, I’ve pulled 1,000 animals from the slaughterhouses. Mostly dogs, but also a few cats, goats and sheep,” said Ching.

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Many of the dogs he successfully pulled were already tortured—with feet cut-off, eyes cut out and bodies burned beyond belief. Not all of the rescued dogs survived. The trauma was too severe. Millions left behind remain to be tortured and killed, a daily ritual of horror. “Until the Prime Minister of China and leaders of Asian countries see these actions as inhumane, they see it as torture, the derailing of life, the sadness, the destruction… this dog meat trade, and the accompanying annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, will continue,” said Ching. While traveling in Asia, Ching met up with John Dalley at Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand. A different organization (not affiliated with Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation), Soi Dog works to help spay and neuter street dogs, providing a safe orphanage. “John is doing great work but even he had to admit: ‘If you are brave enough to venture into the darkness, if you can capture the videos and images—that will be the way to end it.’” After his visit at the Soi Dog Foundation, Ching wrote in his journal: “Tomorrow, my journey in Asia continues. I will leave Thailand at 10 am, and travel to the outskirts of Phnom Penh Cambodia, to a series of gang operated slaughterhouses. Then on Sunday, to the largest dog slaughtering operation in the region. They cut their feet off alive here. Gouge out their eyes. Bind their mouths so they cannot whimper or cry. I will try to turn someone to my side, to gain an inside man to bring about an end to their destruction. Tomorrow, I will feel with my heart, and think with my eyes. I will save who I can. I will document. Stand with me. Journey into that hell with me. Hold my hand as they beat me. In the darkness, be my voice when I cannot hear the reasoning. And when

I come back dying, wrap my hands and whisper to me. Tell me in the end, that the sacrifice I made was worth it. I leave to the valley of death in the morning. To the world of inhumanity and lawlessness. God prepare my soul for eternity. Let me spend one more day with my children.” When asked where Marc Ching finds his inner strength, he replied, “I’m not strong; I’m an emotional wreck. But once you see this going on, it’s hard not to help. There’s no turning back,” he said. Home in the United States with his family, his business, his friends, and familiar surroundings, the daily calendar reveals no breaks. Ching devotes hours upon hours, seven days a week, to rehabilitate the rescued dogs. The journey is a long one demanding patience and constant love. There’s hope for trust…in time. The Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation works with volunteer foster families in California and across the nation to help provide a safe-house for the rescues from the dog meat market of Asia. Assisted by “Pilots N Paws,” a non-profit organization that includes volunteer pilots and plane owners, the animals are transported with freedom flights to multiple states where they will be received with loving arms and provided a safe environment for the remainder of their lives. “I appreciate the support efforts provided by the volunteer pilots and staff of Pilots N Paws—who help to make this happen,” said Ching. “These dogs that I save, they mean so much to me. Each soul that I pull from death and misery, I remember that part of who I used to be,” said Ching. “Those nights that I peeled darkness off the walls surrounding me, and while I was not beat—I beat myself up.


{ feature } While I was not tortured—I tormented my own heart. I made my own hell on Earth, and had to live through real consequences.”

trade. Much of the footage shot in China and other Asian countries is available online; however, be warned that the footage is graphic and difficult to watch.

Ching states the only way to make the change and rid the torture in Asian countries is to work through the governments. So he is starting with his own government—working closely with United States Congressman Alcee L. Hastings from Florida. Congressman Hastings sent a letter to the Honorable Cui Tiankai, Ambassador, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, addressing the grotesque Yulin Dog Meat Festival, and the dog meat trade.

Celebrity participation in the video includes Matt Damon, Rooney Mara, Minnie Driver, Kate Mara, Bill Maher, Pamela Anderson, Alicia Silverstone, Sia, Joaquin Phoenix, and others. In the video, the participants confront the ritualistic killings and the belief that torture improves both the taste and health benefits of the meat, spliced with disturbing clips from the festival.

The letter from Congressman Hastings includes the following words: “My bipartisan resolution condemns the Yulin Dog Meat Festival and respectively calls on your government to end the festival and, more generally, the dog meat trade. As you know, this year’s Dog Meat Festival took place in June. In order to save thousands of innocent dogs from being grossly mistreated and slaughtered, I once again implore you to do all that you can to see to it that all future Dog Meat Festivals are banned. It is notable that the Yulin city government has itself withdrawn as a sponsor of the festival. Disappointingly, however, city government officials have not yet taken meaningful action to enforce China’s already well established laws regulating animal disease control, food safety, trans-provincial dog transport, or youth protection, all of which are violated by the dog meat trade and by many of those taking part in the Dog Meat Festival. I believe that with your leadership, and the leadership of President Xi, city officials in Yulin can be convinced that their best course of action is to fulfill their respective duties to see to it that Chinese law is followed thereby saving thousands of dogs from a certain and tortuous death.” To view the House Resolution Bill 752 (Condemning the Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China, and urging China to end the dog meat trade) visit the following link: As a business owner, Ching also remains committed to serving as an herbalist and holistic nutritionist. He continues to build relationships with a steady stream of customers, many whom have stepped up to support Ching with his international endeavors to stop the torture of dogs and other animals. Customers from PetStaurant and other supporters helped to create a Public Service Announcement video (The Compassion Project) in support of Ching’s efforts. The video targets the Yulin Dog Meat Festival which started in June 2010 as an effort to spur the dog meat


“It’s about being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves,” says Matt Damon (on the PSA video). “We are here asking you to stop the cruelty. Together, we can do this.” Warning: The video is graphic with extremely difficult images. The video is not for children. To watch the video, visit the following link: The international battle has just begun. Read Marc Ching’s personal echoes of the combat to save lives: “At times when I sit alone at night, I find the lives I could not save, and feel them bleed through my skin. It’s in these moments I become desperate, feeling what I do and who I am—that it is never enough.

Until you breathe that blood in through your mouth, you could never understand what it is like watching a screaming life being tortured. The way you die in every breath. The way when you see their blood explode into the world, your heart explodes in that same fiery. I am just a regular guy. I am not famous. I am not brave. I am just a person who sees something in the world that he cannot understand, and has to fight to change it. Stand with me. Die with me. Bleed into the Earth with me. Tell me that the tears I push through my skin—that in the end it will be worth it.”

To join Marc Ching’s fight to save the animals from torture in Asian countries and to help shut down the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, consider making a donation through visiting his website: Please stand up against the cruelty to dogs in Asia. Write your congressional representatives.

“I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” -- Mahatma Gandhi

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Estate Planning for Pets: Ensuring the Future Care of Animals

By Michael Gordon, Esquire

People love their pets, of course, but while states classify pets as property, to most pet owners, they are certainly not that. Pet owners view their pets as members of the family. And pets need to be provided for while they are here and people are able to take care of them—and when people are not here. Estate planning for pets does not have to be difficult. Headlines about large estates being left to pets, like the huge bequest that Leona Helmsley left to her Maltese, Trouble, and the future inheritance contemplated in Oprah Winfrey’s will, with $30 million bequeathed for the care of her dogs, can give a wrong impression. While those amounts are huge, the concept is prudent and applies to all who own and love their pets. It is essential for pet owners to make provisions for their pets’ care in case of death or disability, and the inability of people to properly care for their pets. There are four basic ways people provide for the future care of their pets. These are described below, in ascending order, in terms of effort, cost and level of assurance. The first two take no advantage of the law; the second two use the tools the law provides.

1. Leave It to Chance The first way, which ignores the law, is to simply assume that as pets typically have shorter lives than their human caretakers, there is no need to make plans. The problem is that real-life incidents happen. If a person becomes disabled or dies without a will, and no plans have been made, the future of the pet is uncertain. There may be no one who will take responsibility for the pet, or if someone does step up, he or she may not be well suited. Factors such as time and space limitations, housing restrictions, allergies, temperament, other pets and people in the home who are not so pet-friendly can create issues.

2. Verbal Agreements The second way to attempt to ensure the future care of the pet is through a verbal agreement. This method is certainly better than the first, and, if the agreement is with a family member or friend who the pet owner completely trusts to keep his or her word and provide the desired standard of care, a simple verbal agreement may be enough.


The problem with this method is that situations can change. What may be acceptable today may be unacceptable or even impossible months or years later. Much can depend on factors beyond the control of either party. Sadly, shelters are full of beloved pets whose owners assumed or were promised that family members or friends would adopt their pets or find good homes for them. Statistics show that the majority of animals in shelters do not find new homes, and pets used to loving homes, and especially senior pets, fare especially poorly in shelters. Tacit or verbal agreements, despite the best intentions, often do not hold up when the time comes and a good home is needed. Methods three and four use the law to secure the future wellbeing of a pet. There are pros and cons associated with each method, but either is better than relying solely on assumptions or verbal agreements.

3. The Will A will is a legal document that disperses property. Provisions can therefore be made in a will for the future care of a pet. This can

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be done in two ways: a) Simply inserting language to the effect that “I leave my dog Fluffy to my son Tim and funds in the amount of $____ for Fluffy’s care” or b) creating a trust, which is called a “testamentary” trust. More on testamentary trust is included under Method number four below. A trust, whether created within a will or outside of it, will provide more protection than a simple bequest as it puts in place a trustee who is legally bound to oversee the implementation of the plan, initially and ongoing. It therefore provides more assurance that plans will be followed, but does incur more cost than a simple bequest. In calculating the amount to be left for the care of the pet, such items as food, medical, routine and exceptional, boarding, grooming and the expected life span should be taken into account. It is wise also to include precatory words, which are suggestive but not binding, about how the pet owner would like their pet cared for after the owner dies. It is important to take the time to calculate carefully. Just because you can leave a huge amount for the care of the pet does not mean you should. If the amount left is unreasonably large, this can trigger an action by heirs and other beneficiaries to contest the will or a reduction by the court. Prudence dictates taking the time to list all costs, current and projected, including perhaps compensation for the caregiver, and leave enough to adequately cover these and unexpected expenses but not enough to invite litigation and family feuds. It is a good idea to name at least one, preferably two or three, alternate caregivers in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to take ownership. As an extra precaution, it is prudent to name a person or group of people who would be tasked with finding a home in the event that the first, second or third choices cannot accept responsibility. Finally, a sanctuary might be named as your choice of last resort. In choosing a caregiver, some of the key considerations might be the ability to provide a stable home,

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willingness to assume responsibility and existence of a harmonious relationship between the family members or a third party and the pet. It is a good practice also to provide a separate document for the intended recipient to include as specifically as possible a list of conditions, foods and diet, daily routines, toys, veterinarians and medical schedule, pet friends, groomer and other vendors along with contact information, favorite and least favorite things, daily routine allergies and anything else you can think of that would help ease the transition for the new owners and pets. The biggest drawback of a will is also the biggest misconception. People think that if something is in a will, it will happen. This is not necessarily the case. A bequest in a will states your wishes; it cannot enforce them. The person you have designated as the new owner, the benefactor, is given the pet and the funds. Once he or she receives this property, he can care for, or not care for, the pet as he or she wishes. There is no legally binding requirement that the new owner use the dollars for the purpose for which they were intended or even keep the pet. Also, the provisions of a will are not put into force immediately. There is always a waiting period between the time of death and implementation of the will. This period varies by state, but it is seldom immediate. There should be provisions made for this interim period. Who owns and cares for the pet before the will is probated? Where will the pet be held and who will pay for the care? That said, a will is a good tool for future planning for pets. While simple language in a will carries no legal force that desires be met concerning the future care of the pet and the funds bequeathed for that purpose, simply inserting this language often carries great weight and acts as a formal directive to the executor and future caregivers. The language can be particularly effective if the wishes have been discussed with relatives and friends ahead of time. A testamentary trust provides more accountability than a simple bequest, but either way, using a will is infinitely superior in terms of ensuring your pet’s future well-being than methods that rely solely on arrangements expressed or understood without the benefit of the law.


4. The Pet Trust A pet trust is the most secure way currently available to ensure that a pet will enjoy the life style that the owner wishes, and that funds are used as the pet owner intended. A trust creates a trustee who is legally bound to make sure directives are followed, providing a layer of accountability and oversight that a bequest in a will does not. The trustee can disperse funds all at once, or during the pet’s lifetime, and can have discretion when extra funds beyond monthly maintenance will be given. The trustee or his designee can make regular visits to ensure the pet is being well cared for. This also ensures that a pet is not inhumanely being kept alive to keep the funds flowing. This level of accountability and oversight is not available with a simple bequest. There are two kinds of trusts: testamentary, which is created in a will, and inter vivos or living trust, which is created outside the will. The latter is commonly what people mean when they talk about a pet trust. Both work the same way, with a settlor giving the pet and funds, and appointing a trustee to oversee the administration. The big difference is that the living trust can activate during the person’s lifetime, whereas the testamentary activates only upon death. Thus, if a person has a stroke or in some other way becomes incapacitated, the living trust can activate, enabling the person to stay with his or her pet. So why doesn’t everyone use a living trust? The best costs more. Rates can run from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Before discounting this method, however, it makes sense to look into the costs and perhaps get quotations from several qualified attorneys, as costs vary among states and practitioners. Traditional trusts are available in every state except Minnesota, where the State Legislature is considering the issue at this time. The same caveat applies here as with bequests in a will. It is wise to leave reasonable amounts for the care of the pets to avoid the likelihood of a contest from heirs or a reduction by the court. It is essential to do the math and fund adequate, even generous but not unreasonably excessive, amounts. A trust must be funded and there are many sources for doing that, including insurance proceeds, cash and investments. The trustee can be an individual or a corporation. A family member or friend may be chosen and he or she may be willing to take on these responsibilities at little or no cost. This is the most common practice. If a large sum is involved, it may however be a better choice to select a professional trustee who has expe-

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rience in managing trusts even though a fee will need to be paid. As is true with the naming of caretakers, it is wise to name at least one alternative trustee, and preferably two or three, in case the first choice is unable or unwilling to serve. Specifically, a Trust provides the following protections that a bequest does not: A simple bequest in a will does not allow disbursement over a pet‘s lifetime; pet trusts do, whether created by will or during a person’s lifetime. A bequest gives the pet and the funds but cannot enforce compliance; a trust ensures compliance through a trustee or trust protector, legally bound to oversee that directives are met. The trustee or a designee can even visit the home periodically to ensure compliance with directives of the trust. A living trust provides the above plus these additional protections: A trust in a will disperses property at the time of authorized distribution; a living trust disperses funds as needed. This is important as the person can use the funds if disabled and if the pet is given to a new caregiver, funds can be dispersed as needed, not all at the beginning, thus providing another layer of protection. Often, a sum is given on a regular basis for maintenance with extra dollars provided as needed. This also provides assurance that a pet will not be kept alive inhumanely to keep the dollars flowing. Pet trusts can help preempt problems with substantial and involved estates. Living pet trusts are particularly useful if the clients expect a contest of the estate. Pet trusts allow for an investment authorizer. A trust protector, who is separate from the pet guardian or trustee, can be appointed to also invest funds with a view toward growth of principal and future use on behalf of the pet and a charity. Responsible pet parents owe it to their pets, their families and to themselves to do some estate planning for pets. There are pros and cons to every strategy, and which is best depends on each person’s situation. However, it is fair to say that strategies that make use of the tools of the law are generally more secure than those that do not. A simple bequest in a will or a trust are far better ways to make sure that pet owners’ wishes for their pets are met than assuming the need will either not arise or if it does, someone will rise to the occasion and provide a good home.

Michael Gordon is a partner at Wright, Constable Skeen in its Estate & Trusts Practice Group

Winter 2016/17 |

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Enchanting and Enriching: Keeping Active in a Winter Wonderland

 By Krisi Erwin


The cold, icy days of winter are upon us, and it can be hard to exercise a dog during this time of year, especially if he is elderly or recovering from surgery or injury. Take heart, though—there are many ways to keep your pup exercising despite the weather. The following tips should be able to take the doldrums out of the winter blues. 


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Dogs love to sniff things out. Nosework is a great activity for dogs of any fitness ability and can easily be done inside.

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Get online

Dog owners with a garage or an open area in their basement can create a doggy gym. If a homeowner doesn’t have a large open space available, the pet owner can still use other areas of their house, such as stairs and hallways, to create an exercise circuit. Using non-slip flooring is a must.

Some trainers offer online tricks courses that can be super helpful when the weather is bad. Check with your local training centers to see if they offer any online classes. The Trick Star series offered by Mica Dog Training ( is a great online option that offers advancing levels as your dog learns new tricks! 

Companies such as Fitpaws ( make excellent exercise equipment for dogs. Pet owners can also use some common household items. Broom handles or swimming pool noodles can make quick and easy cavalettis. Large objects such as two-liter soda bottles or boxes can be used as weave cones. Couch cushions or an air mattress on the floor can provide uneven surfaces for an obstacle course. A few rounds of fetch can be added into any obstacle course for added fun. Pet owners should not forget to put their dog’s body to work as well. Incorporating basic skills such as a series of three-to-five repetitions of sitting to standing, laying to sitting or standing, shaking hands, walking backward all help to burn energy and build strength. If a pet is recovering from an injury or has mobility issues, make sure to check with the veterinarian or with a rehabilitation specialist to learn what skills are safe for the dog. 

Put that nose to work
 Dogs love to sniff things out. Nosework is a great activity for dogs of any fitness ability and can easily be done inside. This exercise entails hiding treats or marking hidden objects with specific scents and encouraging the dog to hunt them out. Nosework is especially beneficial as it also helps to exercise the brain--it can be exhausting! Check out to learn more. 

Watch those calories
 Dog owners use treats as rewards during training, many times. However, dogs can pack on the pounds during the winter months, just as their human counterparts can. Make sure to use lower calorie treats such as baby carrots, Cheerios, rice cakes, or other healthy items, or a portion of your dog’s daily food allowance, as rewards to help prevent weight gain during the winter months. Keeping moving through the winter is important for promoting good health and fitness. Remember, the most important ingredient in all of this is to keep it fun. Happy holidays everyone— to pet owners and their dogs! 

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Feeling puzzled
 Puzzle toys are a great way to keep homebound pups from going stir crazy. Slo-bowls by Outward Hound are great to use as general feeding bowls to encourage your dog work his noodle while eating his meal. Busy Buddies and Kong toys can also be deployed for pets that are mobile. Snufflemats ( may be a better option for dogs that are recovering from an injury or have other mobility challenges. 


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By Laurie Luck, KPA-CTP Photos courtesy of Laurie Luck

Mini-Goals Lead to Big Dog Training Gains Sometimes, a dog owner’s problems may seem too large to tackle. Many impossible behavior problems, however, can be solved in a few steps with a fairly simple plan. It’s easy to make progress when the problem is broken down into small, achievable bits. For dog owners, even the largest problems can be simplified if the focus is on achievable goals for each day, week, and month. The main point is for the dog owner to set goals high enough to stay motivated, but not so high that he stresses out if he falls short. By setting daily, weekly and monthly goals, the dog owner can stay focused and on-track to achieving his goals. 

Every Day Pick a single behavior to work on. Maybe it’s loose leash walking, maybe it’s sit before going out the door. Pick one—just one—and work on that behavior only, ignoring the other problems for the moment.

End on a high note. Find something—anything the dog did well, and end with something the dog loves. Maybe it’s running a little bit, tossing a ball, or delivering a fabulous treat. The goal is to find something the dog did well and focus on that as the session is ending.  

Every Week Have three formal training sessions each week. Three training sessions, even as little as fifteen minutes each day, should keep the owner’s training plan on track and moving forward. Don’t worry about blocking out fifteen-minute sessions--training for three minutes five times each day is just as good, or possibly even better, than one fifteenminute session. 

Have specific goals. Instead of working on just loose leash walking, for instance, the owner can work on loose leash

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walking with distractions. Adding specificity to the training sessions can improve the overall compliance and success of the dog’s behavior.  

Every Month Reach a new goal. Go for more! If the dog has a ten-second sit-stay at the beginning of the month, the dog owner can go for fifteen or twenty seconds. Reaching for more each month is empowering for both the dog and the owner.  

Try something new. There’s nothing better than teaching or learning something new. It’s fun for the dog and the owner. Pick something fun like tricks, or something practical, and still fun, like down-stays or come-when-called.

So what does this look like in real life? Here’s what a dog owner might do for each of these categories:

Every Day Pick a single behavior:


Monday: Focus on sit before going out the door. Tuesday: Work on wait at the food bowl. Wednesday: Concentrate on voluntary check-ins. Thursday: Work on come-when-called. Friday: Focus on settle-on-mat while people eat meals. Saturday: Concentrate on polite greetings. Sunday: Day off! Have fun!  

End on a high note. To end on a high note, the dog owner should start by making a list of the things his dog loves to do. Not just enjoys, but loves! That list will come in handy for this portion of the plan. It’s much easier to end on a high note if there’s been thought put into the end product. 

There’s nothing better than teaching or learning something new. It’s fun for the dog and the owner.


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Every Week

Have three formal training sessions each week. It’s fairly easy to work in three fifteen-minute training sessions in, for example, while a bagel is toasting, while waiting for the coffee maker, when an egg is frying, boiling or cooking, while packing lunches for the day, while loading or unloading the dishwasher, or when waiting for someone to call or arrive. Pick one behavior to work on for the week-for all three training sessions. The consistency of working on one behavior per week in formal training sessions will speed progress.  

Have specific goals. If loose leash walking is the goal for the week, pick an aspect of loose leash walking: maybe the goal is to walk further on a loose leash; or perhaps the goal is to walk closer to more distractions. If the owner is working on down-stay, perhaps the goal for the week is to extend the duration from five seconds to fifteen seconds; or to move away five feet. A specific goal will help the owner stay on track and make progress toward the ultimate goals.

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Measure the progress made during the month. Create the next goal based on the progress made each month. Try something new. Pick a new goal! Find something fun or useful. Sometimes a little structure is exactly what a training program needs to go from so-so to terrific. Hopefully, with this structure, each dog owner can make great strides and at the same time enjoy training a little bit more! 


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Dr. Teresa Koogler & her dog “Honey”


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Going into the Cloud: How One Vet is Changing Pet Medication Information For as long as she could remember, Dr. Teresa Koogler wanted to be a veterinarian.

By Stephanie Clarke

This may have had something to do with growing up on a small beef farm. One of

Photos courtesy of Dr. Teresa Koogler

her fondest memories of that time was helping a vet treat a sick calf. Teresa’s job was to give it its medicine regularly. Seeing the calf respond to her care cemented her love of animals and of helping them. At just six years old, she had her life plan. Unlike some, who spend their childhood going back and forth between being a firefighter or an astronaut, Teresa knew she was destined to be a vet. Her love of animals continued through her childhood, and after graduating from high school, she enrolled at the University of Maryland College Park with the goal of becoming a vet. In 1994, she graduated with her DVM from Virginia Tech. Teresa’s background laid the foundation for VPR Cloud, a system she has created in order to provide vets and their customers information about animal medication. The idea already exists in pharmacies— any time a human is given a new prescription from their doctor, they receive an information sheet that lists how the drug works, its ingredients, and any potential side effects. Why, Teresa wondered, were pet owners not given something similar? The VPR in VPR Cloud stands for Veterinary Pharmacy Reference. It’s a tool for vets to use to look up information on the medication they are prescribing to their animal patients. It’s quick and easy to find information about each drug, plus the software includes a dosage calculator and a drug interaction search that will tell vets if the medication will interact with anything the animal is currently on. Once the vet has finished compiling this information, it can be printed and sent home with the pet owner.

Teresa was inspired to start VPR Cloud during her time in veterinary school. “I got a puppy, Kate, who was like a child to me,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine doing something to try and help her that ended up causing her harm. Rimadyl was new to the market then and was being used to treat arthritis in dogs, but it was also causing significant liver disease and had some pretty serious, though fairly rare, side effects.” Teresa discovered that many vets were not informing their clients about these side effects. Many who thought they were helping their aged companions deal with joint pain found themselves at the vet again, this time for much more serious issues. Seeing these pet owners dealing with a disease they inadvertently caused due to a lack of information made Teresa decide then and there that her clients would always be educated. It became her passion to provide pet owners with all of the information they needed to make an informed choice for their pets because, just like she viewed Kate, she knew many saw their pets as their children.

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Today, VPR Cloud is the result of that passion. Teresa has expanded on her promise of educating her own clients with the project, which will help vets around the world provide their clients with information about the medications they will be giving their pets. She started VPR Cloud in 2000, and has worked with different practice management software companies to keep it up to date. The software was originally a stand-alone


Teresa urges new pet owners to ask their vets if they make use of VPR and, if they don’t, to learn about the system.


database, but Teresa oversaw its conversion to a cloud-based system in January of 2016. Now she’s working to make it compatible with the many different practice management software titles that vets use, in addition to online veterinary pharmacies. Before her software, Teresa explains, the only way to look up this information was in a book. “The books are updated every few years, meaning that as soon as it goes to print, it’s outdated,” she pointed out. VPR Cloud makes use of cloud-based software and a database of drug information that can be updated at any time, so vets always have the most up-to-date information available. Vets can then pass on this updated information to their clients so that they always know what side effects to look for. For example, rather than wondering why their dog is vomiting, they can look at the information provided and see that it’s a side effect.

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They know what’s happening and what to tell their vet rather than simply continue the medication, which can lead to more serious side effects. “I think the most important job for us as veterinarians is to properly educate our clients about the benefits and risks of treating a particular disease,” Teresa stated. “If they understand the disease and the reason we are prescribing this treatment, they’re more likely to be compliant and help their pet. VPR helps accomplish that goal.” Like launching any new service, getting VPR Cloud up and running has been a long process. The original software, which Teresa called the legacy version, took seven or eight years to become successful. Once it did, Teresa realized the limitations. When she launched the software, the idea of using the cloud on a daily basis was unheard of. There really weren’t even cloud servers at the time. As technology improved, she saw how to harness it and make her own product better. It still isn’t without challenge, though. Teresa explains, “It is time consuming to get those companies to convert their software to the cloud so that we can integrate.” Teresa urges new pet owners to ask their vets if they make use of VPR and, if they don’t, to learn about the system. They can take a 14-day free trial of the software to learn how it works and to see how it can benefit their practice by visiting Also, she stresses, always ask about the side effects of any medication the vet prescribes. “Always be proactive,” Teresa stresses. “Ask questions about your pet’s disease, diagnosis, and treatment. Ask if the medication your vet is getting ready to prescribe will have any interactions with drugs your animal may already be taking.”

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Ask A Neurovet Dr. Lauren Talarico

By Lauren R. Talarico, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology/Neurosurgery) Photo Courtesy Dr. Lauren Talarico

Dear Dr. T, I have a 13-year-old mixed breed dog that recently developed these strange eye movements. Specifically, her eyes are ticking back and forth and occasionally up and down. Do you have any idea what could be going on? —Doug, Washington DC

Dear Doug,

The term for your dog’s strange eye movements is nystagmus. Nystagmus occurs when there is a disturbance with the vestibular system, or the balance apparatus in your dog’s brain or inner ear. It is not a primary ocular problem. Nystagmus is characterized by the direction of rhythmic motion. For example a nystagmus can be horizontal, vertical, rotary or changing. It can be further characterized by the direction of the fast phase (i.e. fast phase right). This becomes important when trying to pinpoint where exactly in the primary problem is located within the nervous system. A nystagmus can occur as a primary disease entity, however it is usually seen in conjunction with other neurologic deficits such as a wobbly or off balance gait, dragging of the paws on one side, a subtle tilting of the head, wide based stance etc. Taken together, these signs all point towards a problem with the vestibular system. As I mentioned above, the vestibular system can be diseased at the level of the inner ear (i.e. an ear infection) or at the level of the brain. Old dog vestibular disease or geriatric vestibular disease is also a common cause of nystagmus and other vestibular signs in older patients.

Do you have questions for the Neurovet? You can follow Dr. Lauren Talarico on Twitter @neurovet3 or contact her through her blog at


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I recommend having your dog evaluated by a veterinary neurologist to determine if other neurologic deficits are present and the appropriate diagnostic tests needed.

well with pain medications, low doses of steroids and physical therapy. However, some dogs do require surgical decompression to alleviate discomfort and to improve their hind limb mobility.

Dear Dr. T,

Dear Dr. T,

Over the past couple of months our 9 year old Labrador, Bosco has developed difficulty jumping into and out of the car and he can’t hold himself up when posturing to defecate like he used to. Recently he stopped jumping into our bed and has developed a somewhat bow-legged stance in his hind limbs. The muscle mass in his hind limbs is also starting to look very atrophied. He was evaluated by a veterinary orthopedic specialist and they determined his problem is neurologic. Can you help me understand what is happening to our beloved Bosco? —Carol, Bethesda MD

I have an 11-year-old German Shepherd that has been diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy based on his normal MRI and spinal tap. I have read online about several supplements that can potentially cure his disease and help him walk better. We have tried steroids recently with no improvement. Do you think it is safe to try a supplement specifically designed for dogs with degenerative myelopathy? —Mark, Great Falls VA

Dear Carol and Bosco,

Let me just start off by saying I have a soft spot for older Labradors! Based on the signs you described, I suspect Bosco is suffering from lumbosacral syndrome or LS disease. LS disease commonly affects older large breed dogs such as Labradors, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and many others. Bosco’s neurologic signs are caused by compression of the nerves that control the hamstring and to some extend the quadriceps muscles needed to maintain muscle tone and stand up properly. In many cases, these nerves are compressed by a bulging or herniated disc with or without concurrent boney compression from the surrounding vertebral bodies. Much less commonly, tumors can affect the nerves in this area as well and cause similar signs. As you can imagine, compression of the nerves can be a chronically painful condition for your dog. Even though he may not seem painful, it is likely he has a chronically aching back and is frustrated that he cannot cuddle with you on the couch like he used to. Good news! LS disease is very treatable. The first step for Bosco is to get imaging done of his thoacolumbar spinal cord. I would recommend an MRI of his spine with or without a dynamic CT scan to determine if there is instability at the lumbosacral joint. After the diagnosis is made, we can determine if Bosco can be treated medically or surgically for his LS disease. Many dogs do

Dear Mark,

This is a very common question that I get from owners of dogs with degenerative myelopathy. Unfortunately, there is no medical cure for this disease. There are several supplements and homeopathic remedies on the market for degenerative myelopathy, however none of them have proven efficacy for this disease. The only proven treatment to extend the lifespan and delay disease progression in dogs with degenerative myelopathy is a formal physical therapy program. The idea behind a strong physical therapy regime is to keep your dog’s hind limb muscle mass as strong as possible in the face of this progressive degenerative spinal cord disease. I strongly recommend that you contact a veterinary physical therapy specialist and get your dog enrolled in a formal program. You can also extend physical therapy sessions at home and encourage your dog to use his hind limbs in every aspect of daily life. For example, when feeding a meal of kibble, I recommend having your dog do “sit to stand” exercises for each morsel of food. I know this is a time consuming way to feed, however asking your dog to repetitively sit and stand with these “doggie squats” encourages muscle memory and promotes tone. A certified veterinary physical therapist will use several props such as cavaletti rails, physioball exercises and underwater treadmill swimming to maintain muscle mass.

Winter 2016/17 |


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Compassion in the Classroom By Alix John

Photos courtesy of HRA

After an animal-oriented education program was held for some elementary school students in Washington, D.C., some student participants in the program had some insightful responses about what they had learned. “I learned that dogs (and cats) have feelings like us,” wrote Sergio, a fifth-grader at the Center City Public Charter School. His classmate, Hector, emphasized the importance of meeting an animal’s needs. “I learned to never leave your pet without food, water, and toys.”


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

{ metro mutt }

Established in 1987, the humane education program of the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA, formerly the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League), is an essential component of the HRA mission to educate the public about the needs of companion animals and to inspire people of all ages to treat all living beings with care, compassion, and respect. This particular program involves several visits to Washington, D.C.-area elementary schools each year to encourage students to speak up for animals, rather than accept the role of passive observers. Sometimes, these visits include a special guest--it’s not uncommon to see a dog heading up the school’s front stairs or an Animal Care and Control Officer in full gear entering the classroom. Students and their teachers also visit the Oglethorpe Adoption Center on several occasions, where they meet the adoptable animals, tour the on-site Medical Center, and often participate in a training demonstration. The program introduces HRA as a community resource that provides safety and well-being to the animals of the District. Throughout the year, students keep a response journal, role-play, gather information, and solve problems together. The goal is to promote kindness, compassion, and social action through their curriculum, all while exciting kids about animals. If years of letters written by rising fifth-graders at West Education Campus to the next year’s participants are any indication, the goal is being achieved. “The shelter is a place where they take care of animals who had a sad past,” said Alexandra, a student at West Education Campus. “I learned that all the people in the world need to take care of every animal. You are going to love the program and have fun.” Reading groups are popular with educators and the elementary and middle school participants. Books of stories, poems, and essays featuring companion animals are employed as vehicles to discuss care, responsibility, and future actions, and to explore attitudes and values related to the humane treatment of all living things.

Many of these students have witnessed animal abuse and neglect, which research has shown to be a part of a potentially lethal cycle of violence. Letting go of the guilt of witnessing past abuses and adopting strategies to properly intervene in the future empowers kids to become more thoughtful, empathetic, and civic-minded citizens. This is a win-win situation for the youngsters and the animals. HRA has recently modified these educational efforts to accommodate the growing popularity of intensive one-week programs, such as those at Sidwell Friends School. Teacher Susanne Saunders summarized the goals of the program partnership like this, “For fifth and sixth graders, the plight of local animals is the perfect introduction to wider global issues. Your ability to engage students and lead them toward compassionate stances that will hopefully last a lifetime is an extension of all the work we do as a Quaker school.” Although measuring the effectiveness of humane education programming can be a challenge, feedback from teachers and students suggest that the goal of influencing children to become future adopters and animal welfare activists is working. “Thank you for what you have taught us and for telling us the things that we need to know to take care of the animals,” wrote Bryan, a fourth-grader at Powell Elementary School. “I learned if you get a cat or dog, you should be responsible and get her spayed, play with her, and give her healthy food.” HRA has protected and served animals in the community for more than 145 years. The group works with more than 60,000 animals every year. The range of programs offered include rescue and adoption, humane law enforcement, low-cost veterinary services, animal care and control, behavior and training, spay-neuter services and humane education. The organization is dedicated to ensuring the safety and welfare of all animals, bringing people and animals together, and working with all communities to support these relationships.

Winter 2016/17 |




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{ ask dr. katy }


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With Katy Nelson, DVM

Dr. Katy

Dear Dr. Katy: As my dog ages I am discovering more and more lumps and bumps throughout various places on her body. During semiannual visits to my vet for up-dates on vaccinations and senior wellness exams, my vet has confirmed that the existing lumps and bumps are nothing to worry about. However, as she continues to age she is developing more of them. Some of them are of a soft consistency, while others seem more solid. Is there any rule of thumb based on the consistency in defining what would constitute me taking her to the vet as each new lump or bump develops? —Debi C., Mt. Airy, MD

Dear Debi,

The only rule of thumb that I have as a veterinarian with over

15 years of experience is that there are no rules of thumb when it comes to our pets. ANY new lump or bump, or any changes in OLD lumps and bumps, should be seen by a veterinarian and should be tested. I’ve seen gnarly looking masses come back as simple infections. Conversely, I’ve seen benign looking “skin tags” come back as aggressive, cancerous tumors, so I don’t take these lightly in any case. A Fine Needle Aspirate (FNA) is a great place to start with new or changing masses. This process is done by inserting a needle into the center of the mass and drawing out some cells to be microscopically examined. If there is cause for concern seen on an FNA, then a punch biopsy or an excisional biopsy should be scheduled to determine if the lesion is cancerous, and what further treatments should be recommended.

Dear Dr. Katy:


Less than a year ago I adopted a Lab from a local rescue. Because he travels with me quite frequently and I therefore like to

Do you have questions for Dr. Katy?

You can follow her on Twitter @drkatynelson, on Facebook or send her an e-mail at


The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

{ ask dr. katy }




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Our family recently adopted a puppy from our local shelter. With four children and two adults in the house I just know that

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Dear Dr. Katy:


For the majority of strains of “human” flu viruses that we experience, our pets should be safe. However, there have been documented cases of the H1N1 virus, also known as the Swine Flu, that have passed from humans to pets. Talk with your veterinarian about any specific concerns you may have for your pup so you can protect him in the best way possible. If your family is very active outdoors, you may consider the Leptospirosis and/or Lyme Vaccines. If your family travels, you may consider the Canine Influenza vaccine. If your pet is social or gets groomed frequently, consider the Bordatella vaccine. And always, keep your pup current on your flea, tick and heartworm preventives year round to protect them against the deadly diseases and parasites carried by these bugs.


Weekly baths are typically unnecessary unless you just have an exceptionally stinky companion, which, let’s admit it, some of them just are…I’m looking at YOU Bassett Hounds and Westies. =) In all seriousness, I do worry with this much bathing that that you may be stripping off the protective oil layer on the skin, which could lead to dry, itchy skin, a broken hair coat, or worse - with this much bathing, there’s no way your topical flea and tick preventives can remain effective. These medications live in that oil layer on the skin, and when that is stripped off by a shampoo, they will wash off, leaving your pet unprotected against dangerous, diseasecarrying parasites. An alternative plan is a quick rinse with warm water and a crème rinse to help with any odor, while conditioning the skin. Also, waterless shampoos, like you mentioned, can definitely help to keep your boy fresh and clean without the overall drying effects of regular soaps. By using these at times of need, you may be able to keep your baths on a monthly plan rather than weekly. If this doesn’t work, and bathing is indeed required this frequently, check into moisturizing shampoos and crème rinses, and talk with your veterinarian about alternatives for flea and tick prevention. After all, I’d rather have an odiferous canine, than one with Lyme disease.

Dear Jamie,

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Dear Jesse,

—Jamie S., Lexington, VA


—Jesse K., Fairfax, VA

there is bound to be an outbreak of the flu within our household. I am concerned as to whether or not our new puppy is susceptible to any of the human strains of the flu?


keep him clean, I typically give him a bath once a week. This being the first winter that I will have him I was wondering if the weekly baths would be of detriment to his skin? I have seen a lot of advertisements for the so-called waterless shampoos and was wondering if this would be a better alternative during the winter months.

Winter 2016/17 |


GRANT RECIPIENTS  INCLUDE:   Middleburg  Humane  FoundaWon   Fauquier  SPCA   Friends  of  Homeless  Animals   Paws  for  Seniors   MuV  Love  Rescue   Clarke  County  Animal  Shelter   VA  German  Shepherd  Rescue   Culpeper  Felines  &  Friends   Meow  Stories   WAAAG   Wildlife  Vet  Care   Southside  VA  Wildlife  Center   Blue  Ridge  Wildlife  Center   Save  The  Tails   RappCats   Pets  Bring  Joy   A  Cat’s  Friend   Appalachian  Great  Pyrenees  Rescue   Gray  Face  Acres   Fairfax  County  Humane  Society   Caroline  County  Humane  Society   Helping  Homeless  Felines   For  The  Cat’s  Sake   DC  Area  Weimaraner  Rescue    


ARF  BOARD  MEMBERS:   Ursula  Landsrath    President   Catherine  Boswell   Katherine  Durand   Mary  Johnson   Karlane  Kosjer   Sandal  LaRose   Manisha  Morris   Laura  Neischel   Wendy  Smith   Angelic  Webber   Rhonda  Wilkins      



Mrs. Jacqueline  B.  Mars   Manuel  &  Mary  Johnson   Michael  &  Wendy  Smith   Polly  Gault  &  Ben  Cooper   Zohar  &  Lisa  Ben-­‐Dov   Greg  &  Candy  Fazakerley   Ron  &  Danielle  Bradley   Ken  &  Ursula  Rietz   The  Middleburg  Eccentric   Marshall  Vet  Clinic   Wiseman  &  Assoc.  Wealth  Mgmt.   Updegrove  Combs  &  McDaniel,  PLC   Holtzman  Vogel  Josefiak,  AVorneys  at  Law  

“Helping those who help animals in need” ARF’S MISSION  STATEMENT  

The ANIMAL  RESCUE  FUND  (ARF)  is  an  all-­‐  volunteer  charity,  organized  under     IRC  SS  501  (c)  (3)  to  raise  funds  to  help  exisWng,  Virginia  based  shelters  and     animal  rescue  services  receiving  liVle  or  no  government  support.   ARF  recognizes  that  fund  raising  is  Wme  consuming  and  distracWng  for  these     OrganizaWons  whose  primary  mission  is  the  care  of  animals  in  need.   ARF  independently  raises  funds  through  events  and  contribuWons.  ARF  then     makes  GRANTS  to  eligible  animal  organizaWons  that  have  applied  for    specific  programs  or  needs.  

The  ANIMAL  RESCUE  FUND  (  ARF  )  is  an  all-­‐volunteer,  501  (c)  (3)  charitable  organizaWon  supporWng  those    

who help  animals  in  need.  For  more  informaWon  please  visit:    or    call  540  364  9123  

The Best Care For Your Best Friend

Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Serving Frederick & Carroll Counties | 240.397.9446

Learn to become a dog trainer/animal trainer and behavior counselor. We are accepting applications for the fall 2016 class. Work with dogs, cats, horses, alpaca, parrots and more for a very well rounded experience.


{ seeking a forever home }

Seeking A

Forever Home


Pearl was picked up as a stray in an apartment complex parking lot in North Carolina. She had obviously given birth recently (and many times previously), but no puppies were found. Pearl was in rough condition, emaciated, filthy and deaf. She didn’t have much chance of being adopted. Since being placed in foster care approximately one year ago through the Richmond Boxer Rescue, Pearl has come a long way. She is healthy and playful and knows some hand commands. She is the master of cuddles and can be very vocal at times. Pearl loves other dogs. The Richmond Boxer Rescue would like to see her go to a home with at least one other dog. She is also fantastic with children. Breed/Mix:




Approximate Weight:

60 lbs.

Approximate Age:

3–4 months

Activeness:  Moderate to High Energy

Photo by Amie P. Photography

Richmond Boxer Rescue (RBR) For adoption inquiries, fostering, and other information regarding RBR:


Good w/Other Dogs:


Good w/Children:




Medical Issues:


Feeding Issues:


Special Needs:


Fun Facts: Pearl is a very playful dog, but also knows how to relax and cuddle like no other! She is also deaf, but loves learning hand commands and will do just about anything for a treat! She has the cutest ears that flop to one side, which get her a lot of attention! She is looking for a home in Virginia or Maryland with a loving and active family.

Richmond Boxer Rescue: Founded in 2007, Richmond Boxer Rescue (RBR) has successfully placed approximately 300 dogs into loving homes. RBR is a small rescue organization located in Richmond, Virginia dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating Boxers and Boxer mixes. But, often take in other breeds as well. RBR prides itself on taking in dogs that no one else will take, including senior dogs, dogs with heartworms, demodex and/or other health issues. RBR is willing to help any dog in need. As a result there are often young, healthy dogs available for adoption. They do not have a shelter facility. Therefore, they are only able to house the amount of dogs that they have foster homes available for.

The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog

your pet

is our priority At Veterinary Surgical Centers, we are committed to providing world-class surgery and physical rehabilitation for pets and families facing injury, illness, and more. We work to ease the stress and fears of surgery and treatment by putting you and your furry family member at the center of all we do. Our board-certified surgeons and certified rehabilitation practitioners specialize in: • Orthopedic surgery

• Plastic & reconstructive surgery

• Soft tissue procedures

• Physical rehabilitation & pain management

• Minimally invasive surgery

• Conditioning & weight loss

Let’s work together to restore your pet’s health and quality of life. Contact us today for more information or to request an appointment. Vienna (703) 242-6000 / Leesburg (703) 771-2100 / Winchester (540) 450-0177 /

The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog Magazine Winter 2016-17  

The Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog is provided as a quarterly print magazine, as well as an extensively designed website www.vamddcdog....