Category Archives: animal welfare

Dogs and taxes

It is the 15th of April – Tax Day in the United States.  The deadline that comes around all too quickly, a date when every US resident must file a federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service.  Most states also have state tax returns that must be filed today, too.

Tax the big dogs

Have you ever considered what your dog and taxes have to do with each other?

Unfortunately, unlike human dependents, our dogs are not tax-deductible.  So, please don’t try this on your tax return.

In New York state, however, officials and animal rights advocates have filed a state bill that would give anyone who adopts a pet from a New York animal shelter a tax credit of $100, or $300 for up to three animals per year.

The bill is sponsored by Kevin Parker, a state senator from Brooklyn, and would cover all domesticated animals offered for adoption.  City Councilwoman Julis­sa Ferreras, from Queens, introduced a resolution backing the bill, which would make New York the first state to grant such a credit.   In New York State alone, shelters can care for up to 8 million dogs and cats each year; about 3 million are euthanized because there is no one to adopt them.


 

In terms of deductions, as I said earlier – don’t attempt to deduct your dog as a dependent.  It will only cause you tax troubles.

But, there are some dog-related expenses that are deductible:

1.  If you need a guide dog because you are visually impaired or for hearing assistance, you can deduct the costs of buying, training and caring (food, grooming, veterinary care) for your guide dog as a medical expense.  The same holds true for dogs trained to help you with any other diagnosed physical or mental condition.

2.  If you use a dog in your business, such as for security purposes, the cost of keeping the dog healthy – as with a guide dog – can be considered a legitimate business expense that is deductible.

3.  If you have to move house, pet relocation costs are also deductible as part of your overall moving expenses.

4.  Some people earn money from their dog-related hobbies – things like competing in dog shows, for example.  If those hobbies result in an income, you have to declare it.  But, the expenses you incur for pursuing your hobby are also deductible – provided that total of these expenses exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income before deductions.

5.  If you volunteer for a pet-related charity, and the charity is a registered 501(c)(3) adoption center, you can deduct mileage you incur for working on behalf of the shelter.  If you foster a dog and costs like food are not fully reimbursed – these are deductible too.  It helps if the organisation you are working for provides you with a letter acknowledging your volunteer work on their behalf.

6.  Some owners set up pet trusts to protect and care for their pet after they pass away.  Trusts have tax advantages in terms of tax deductions.  But, it is important to have a lawyer who understands your local estate planning laws to help you with the set up of your trust.

Really, with any tax-related matter it is best to seek professional advice and remember to keep good records!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Sources:  New York Post, Bankrate

 

 

 

How scrap metal could help a dog in need

Tucker and Rejeanne Asselin, who is appealing for donations of scrap metal to help fund Tucker's surgery (photo by Fort Erie Times)

Tucker and Rejeanne Asselin, who is appealing for donations of scrap metal to help fund Tucker’s surgery (photo by Fort Erie Times)

Seven-year-old Tucker is a Blue Heeler-Boxer mix who needs surgery to remove a piece of plastic that has embedded itself in his tongue.  His owner, Rejeanne Asselin, said she needs to come up with at least $800 to pay for his medical bills.

Since Asselin lives on a disability pension, her fixed income leaves little room for spending on Tucker’s medical care.  So, she is appealing to her local community of Fort Erie, Ontario, to donate any scrap metal, copper, aluminum, pop cans and beer bottles that can be recycled and exchanged for money that will help pay the vet bills.

“It might not be much but it all adds up in the long run,” Asselin said.

“Everyone has scrap metal, or these kinds of things lying around the house. Every little bit helps.”

Asselin first noticed something was wrong with her “good companion” in January when he wasn’t eating or drinking very much.  It took her until February when she had saved enough money to take him to the vet for an exam.

At first, the veterinarian thought Tucker might have cancer. After he was given some antibiotics and pain medication, Tucker was sent home. The swelling in Tucker’s mouth eventually went down and upon further examination from the veterinarian, it became clear something was embedded in Tucker’s tongue.  It’s likely some type of plastic.

The foreign object can’t be removed until Asselin comes up with enough money to pay for Tucker’s treatment.  He is still on pain medication but is having difficulty eating and is restricted to soft food.

“He is my protector, my guardian and my family.  You can tell he’s in pain.  But, Tucker is a very sweet dog.”

Anyone with scrap metal or other items in the Fort Erie area is being urged to  call Asselin at 905-871-6005 .

Source:  Fort Erie Times

Better paws for Brutus

When Brutus was just a puppy, his breeder left the young Rottweiler outside in freezing temperatures.

The pup suffered frostbite in all four paws, and the breeder tried to salvage the puppy’s paws with an at-home amputation. But Brutus was maimed and couldn’t walk without pain.

Brutus

Brutus

Now 2 years old, Brutus is living with a new and dedicated owner in Loveland, Colorado, and has become the second dog ever known to receive four prosthetic limbs. He is learning to walk again with help from OrthoPets, an animal prosthetics developer in Denver, and pet orthopedics experts at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

“I believe prosthetics will play a big role in the future of veterinary orthopedics,” said Dr. Felix Duerr, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences who practices small animal orthopedics and sports medicine at the university’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

“Brutus shows how we can explore new technologies to find solutions, and how our partnerships with companies like OrthoPets really help.”

Brutus' paw

Brutus’ paw

Laura Aquilina, the dog’s owner, has provided a caring home for Brutus for seven months in an attempt to find “better paws” for the young rottie. She began fostering Brutus, and more recently adopted him, after he had trouble navigating hardwood floors and stairs in his first foster home, and the family couldn’t meet the disabled dog’s needs.

Aquilina and a pet rescuer in Canon City joined forces to raise nearly $12,500 for Brutus’ prosthetics and physical therapy through Go Fund Me, an online fundraising site. The crowdfunding project was aptly named “Better Paws for Brutus.”

Brutus with his prosthetics

Brutus with his prosthetics

In preparation for prosthetics, Brutus underwent corrective paw surgery with Dr. Trent Gall, a CSU veterinary alumnus working in Longmont. The procedure removed bone fragments, dew claws, and two toes left from the botched amputation.

After recovery from surgery, Brutus and Aquilina worked with Denver-based OrthoPets, the world’s largest veterinary orthotic and prosthetic company, to undergo the process of prosthetics fitting. OrthoPets adapts the same technologies used in the field of human orthotics to care for animal patients.

Martin Kaufmann, company founder, partnered with Colorado State’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital for its research and rehabilitation services.

“I don’t want to be part of a world that settles for ‘fine,’ and neither does CSU,” Kaufmann said. “There’s a common mission between CSU and OrthoPets to return animals’ lives to ‘great.’”

Since the collaboration began, CSU and OrthoPets have successfully developed techniques to treat Achilles tendon injuries in dogs and are investigating how specific injuries correlate with successful orthotic techniques and long-term prosthetic use.

Kaufmann compared the Rottweiler’s story to that of Nakio, the other dog known to live with four prosthetics. “We learned a lot from Nakio’s story and were able to apply that knowledge to Brutus’ case,” he said.

OrthoPets veterinarians learned that both of Brutus’ wrist joints had collapsed. “It’s similar to a human rolling his ankle completely to the side, left grossly unstable,” Kaufmann said, noting that the dog also has a troublesome callus that makes movement difficult.

The unique prosthetics have three purposes: to protect and make Brutus’ limbs more comfortable, to support his front collapsed legs, and to realign each leg to an equal length.

As his devices are refined, Brutus has entered a new phase of rehabilitation with physical therapy guided by Sasha Foster, CSU’s certified canine rehabilitation therapist.

“We’re working with Brutus to help him adjust to wearing his new prosthetics,” Foster said. “He’s learning how to move with them on. Once he’s mastered that, we will help him achieve higher-level functioning activities, like hiking and playing with other dogs.”

In upcoming months, Foster will use underwater treadmill therapy, balance activities, exercise balls and other neuro re-education therapies to help Brutus adjust to his new limbs.

Foster said her work is motivated by helping her patient – and the animal’s family. “When you improve the quality of life for a dog, you improve the quality life for the entire family,” Foster said.

It’s likely Brutus will need physical therapy intermittently for the rest of his life. But Aquilina is hopeful.

“You need a good team behind you, and we found that at CSU,” she said.

Follow Brutus’s recovery on Facebook and Instagram at @BetterPawsForBrutus

Source:  CSU media release

Home’s Best Friend – airing at the Oscars

More on tomorrow’s Oscar awards…

…look out for the new commercial by Coldwell Banker Real Estate.  Entitled “Home’s Best Friend,” the commercial is part of a new project partnership –  Homes for Dogs – with website Adopt-A-Pet.com to find 20,000 animals new homes in 2015.

Of course this commercial is designed to garner customers for Coldwell Banker.  But animals will also benefit…and that’s fine by me!

See also how pets will benefit from this year’s awards at And the Oscar goes to…

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

And the Oscar goes to…

On 22 February 2015, Hollywood celebrities will gather for the 87th annual Academy Awards.   Only a few talented individuals will walk away with the top prize.

But, like last year, those who do not win  in the top 5 Oscar categories (Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor) will still be given a gift – a donation of 10,000 meals to the animal rescue of their choice.  The donation is made possible by Ellen DeGeneres and her dog food company, Halo, Purely for Pets in partnership with Freekibble.com.

Oscars meal donation

The donations are part of a PR campaign called Everyone Wins at the Oscars® which is organized by a Los Angeles marketing firm specializing in product placement.  (The Academy Awards has no affiliation with these gifts – called ‘swag bags.’).

The bag contains many high-end gifts, a value of US$125,000!

Source:  News.com.au

 

 

Animals in Emergencies – book review

AnimalsinEmergenciesCover

I have just finished reading Animals in Emergencies:  Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes by Annie Potts and Donelle Gadenne.  This was a must-read book for me.  Why?  I’m in it!

Published in late 2014, this book is largely a compilation of stories about people and animals caught up in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  However, since it is also a text produced by university academics, it aims to serve a purpose as “an introduction to the specialised area of animal welfare management during emergencies.”

I found the first 90% of the book the most enjoyable.  Filled with stories of rescue, sheltering and individual owner’s tales of the earthquakes, the book serves to document – largely in the first person – the historical accounts of the days, weeks and months following the quakes.  And I like the fact that the book doesn’t just focus on companion animal dogs and cats, but also includes stories about horses, fish, hedgehogs and other species.

But the last 10% of the book is rather disappointing (and it hurts me to have to say this).  Since New Zealand is a production-based economy, this book had to focus on the fate of production animals.  But this is also where the book loses its tone and momentum.  Either the authors asked for interviews with farmers and researchers and were rejected, or they simply didn’t ask – we’ll never know.

Perhaps because of the lack of firsthand accounts, the book becomes too formal in its approach to describing the impact on farm animals and animals used in research.  The text uses citations from newspaper articles at this point and becomes ‘preachy’ in terms of animal welfare.  As someone with a personal interest in animal welfare management, the issues raised in the book are not new but the distinct ‘lessons learned from Christchurch’ is very much lost on the reader.

I’m pleased this book has been produced and I’m very honored to have my story told although I know that I’m a very small contributor to the overall efforts to assist animals following the quakes.

Animals in Emergencies has been distributed to booksellers worldwide and a paperback version is available on Amazon.com.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

An update on Kai

Kai, the dog who was abandoned at Ayr Railway Station in Scotland last month, has found a new home.  I wrote about Kai in the post  A new twist on abandonment.

Because of the worldwide coverage of Kai’s story (which reminded a lot of people of the story of Paddington Bear), there were lots of people who applied to adopt him.  Ian Russell, a self-employed hydraulic engineer, is Kai’s new owner.  Kai will get to travel all over Scotland with Russell, just as Russell’s previous dog did for almost 15 years!

Read more about Kai’s new home here:

Dog abandoned at railway station with suitcase of his belongings finds a new owner – Telegraph

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand