Animals

Photo from Kent Animal Shelter

Willy, a 1½-year-old gray and white kitty was brought to Kent Animal Shelter to be neutered by a woman who was feeding him as a stray.  One of Willy’s eyes was damaged from an infection that went untreated while he was living outside and had to be removed. He’s all healed now and is ready for the next chapter in his life. He loves to play and is an all around awesome cat! Won’t you open your heart to this very special guy?

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Willy and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

Stock photo

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

Dr. Matthew Kearns

This second of a two-part series continues to discuss if vaccines are necessary for your pet and, if so, how often. The first article, from June 18, gave a brief overview of the immune system and how vaccines work. In this article I hope to more specifically address which vaccines are necessary and why. 

There are certain core vaccines that are recommended or required. Core vaccines protect against diseases that are so prevalent in the environment that your pet is at risk for exposure even if they do not go outside or are legally required by the county and state. Noncore, or “at risk,” vaccines vary from pet to pet depending on where they go and interactions with other pets or wildlife. 

We also take into account multipet households where some pets venture outside and are in contact with indoor-only pets. Certain vaccines are required on a regular basis by boarding facilities, groomers, doggy day care and group obedience classes. Be sure to let your veterinarian know if your pet participates in any of these activities. 

Can too many vaccines hurt your pet? The answer to that question is, “Not if not given all at once.” Two large studies (one involved over a million dogs and the other involved almost 500,000 cats) focused on what are termed vaccine-associated adverse events (VAAE). VAAE refers to serious, even life-threatening vaccine reactions. 

VAAEs are rare (less than 1 percent) and neither the number of vaccines a pet receives throughout its life nor any particular type of vaccine increases that risk. What the study did find was the risk of a VAAE increased significantly in patients under 22 pounds when they were given multiple vaccines at the same visit. The take home of these studies was we can vaccinate our pets for whatever they are at risk for as long as we don’t treat a Chihuahua like a Great Dane. Stagger the vaccines by a week to a few weeks in smaller patients. 

Is your pet ever too old for vaccines? Age never plays a role in vaccinating but underlying disease does. If your pet has developed any organ dysfunction, glandular diseases or cancer, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations. Vaccinating pets with underlying disease is contraindicated (a no-no). Not only won’t these pets use the vaccines to their advantage, but this is also an added stress they do not need. However, if you have a healthy, older pet, they should receive any vaccines against any infections they are still at risk for exposure to regardless of age.  

Are there alternatives to vaccinating annually? There are certain vaccines that need to be given annually to be effective. For other vaccines, yes, there are alternatives. One alternative is to ask your veterinarian to run antibody titers instead. As discussed in the first article there are blood tests to measure the effectiveness of one component of the immune system, the humoral component. 

The other alternative is to use vaccines that are approved for longer than one year. Just remember that Suffolk County does not recognize the difference between a one-year versus a multiyear approved vaccine when it comes to boarding.

I hope this opens the door to a healthy discussion with your veterinarian at your next visit.  

One last thing: Even if you do not vaccinate your pet every year, I still recommend an annual checkup or exam. It is true that one human year equals about seven dog years and about five and a half to six cat years.  

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine. Have a question for the vet? Email it to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com to see his answer in an upcoming column.

Blossom needs a home. Photo from Town of Smithtown

By Leah Chiappino

Blossom, who earned her name through a collar that she wore featuring a bright flower that stood against her silky white coat, is a playful 5-year-old pitbull mix. She arrived at Smithtown Animal Shelter on June 5, after a tumultuous journey. She was found whimpering in a park at wee hours in the morning by an off-duty police officer, essentially left for dead. She had likely been there for hours. 

Despite this, shelter workers say her sweet demeanor comes through immediately. She is very quick to warm up to people and incredibly affectionate. She would do best in a home with children older than 12 due to her size. As her history is unknown, it would be best to place her in a home without dogs or cats, as her behavior around them has not been observed. However, this is not to say her adopter could not adopt another dog, if the proper introductions were put in place. 

She is spayed, up to date on vaccines and ready to be adopted as soon as possible.

Blossom is one of 10 dogs in need of a home at Smithtown Animal Shelter, 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information or to arrange a visit call 631-360-7575.

Pond

MEET POND!

This adorable 4-month-old orange and white kitten named Pond is just one of many beautiful kittens now available for adoption at Kent Animal Shelter, some as young as 8 weeks old. All are spayed or neutered, up to date with vaccines, have tested negative for feline AIDS and leukemia and are microchipped with an adoption fee of $100. Come by and meet them!

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Pond and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

Update: Pond has been adopted!

Alan F. Poole

Four Harbors Audubon Society will present a summer lecture titled “Osprey 2019: The Revival of a Global Raptor” at Avalon Park and Preserve’s Barn on Shep Jones Lane in Stony Brook on Saturday, July 13 at 6:30 p.m. Guest speaker Alan F. Poole, who has been studying ospreys for over 35 years, will speak about the extraordinary resurgence in osprey numbers globally and bring participants up-to-date on the current state of one of our best-loved birds of prey. Free and open to all. Reservations are required by emailing fourharborsheron@gmail.com.

MEET WILMA!

This week’s shelter pet is Wilma, a 5-month-old terrier mix rescued from a high kill shelter in South Carolina. This beautiful girl is as sweet as pie, and thinks she is a lap dog! At this time she weighs approximately 15 to 20 pounds. She adores people, is fine with other dogs and would do great in any loving home.

Wilma comes spayed, microchipped and is up to date on all her vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Wilma and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

THE MOON AND NEST

Jay Gao of Stony Brook captured this incredible image at West Meadow Beach with a Nikon D750 on May 16. He writes, ‘It was in the late afternoon, and  a full moon was rising  while the sun was  setting on the Sound.  I was amazed to notice that the moon was sitting on the top of the osprey nest like a huge egg.  In no time, the raptor came back to the nest and I took the shot.’

Send your Photo of the Week to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com

Stock photo

By Ken Taub

One could easily be forgiven for not knowing certain things. 

While strolling along the moonlit shores of Riverhead’s Peconic Estuary or, closer to my home, at tiny Cordwood Park, on the back side of Stony Brook Harbor, you might come upon a prehistoric carousel of love. Yet watching the late spring mating circles of horseshoe crabs — at once peculiar and comical — an observer might never know how very significant these odd creatures are. One might not know, as I did not for many a year, that they have been on this Earth for so long that they survived five mass extinctions, an impressive feat for any earthling.  

One might also be wholly unaware that people in surgery, those who receive stents or joint replacements, or the large numbers of us who get flu vaccines, take insulin or receive intravenously delivered chemotherapies or antibiotics are safer, free of dangerous endotoxins, thanks to the coppery blue blood of horseshoe crabs.

Really, who knew that one of our saving angels has not feathery wings but leathery hard carapaces, seven pairs of legs and a pointy tail with eyes on its underside. Tooling around the seashores, ocean shallows and estuaries for nearly 450 million years, and unchanged for over 300 million, they have been largely cancer-free and carefree — until recently.

Growing up on Long Island, one saw larger groupings of horseshoe crabs seemingly everywhere. But then their harvesting as bait had dropped measurably in the 1950s and ’60s, and their use as fertilizer had stopped decades before that. And while their local harvest has gone down significantly from the late 1990s, their numbers on Long Island and the waterways of the greater New York region show a continuing decline, according to both the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  

However, in other parts of the East Coast, specifically the rich Delaware Bay region, the overall stock remains stable, while in the Southeast (North Carolina through Florida), indications are the numbers of horseshoe crabs have actually increased.

So, what has happened in our neck of the woods, and what can we do to ensure steady populations of these ancient arthropods whose abundant eggs are a great, life-saving food source for migrating birds, and whose special blood, once extracted, saves us? How, in short, do we return the favor?

The reasons for regional differences in stock abundance are many and depend as much on natural cycles as harvesting by fisherman and drug manufacturers (the majority of horseshoe crabs, once their blood has been extracted to produce limulus amoebocyte lysate, or LAL, are kept alive and returned to the waters).  

One reason for our local decline is that other states — Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — have not harvested any horseshoe crabs since 2007. Yet there have been very few harvest moratoriums here in New York, and they are small and temporary.  Horseshoe crabs are preferred by our local fishing fleets as bait for whelk, eel and conch. Apparently, neighboring moratoriums have made our crusty old co-inhabitants more valuable as a bait source here.

What can be done to keep their numbers steady? Increasingly, concerned citizens are encouraging the use of nylon and other mesh bait bags, which require only a tenth of the regular portion of horseshoe crab bait. It’s efficient, and it needs only further promotion. Others are looking to test alternative bait sources. 

Scientists at the University of Delaware have developed such an alternative, and some individuals and groups, like Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead, want to do a two-year test in our local waters. Some are considering breeding season moratoriums during the spring, while allowing the horseshoe crabs to be harvested come summer and fall, in prime fishing season. Others are calling for a full, multiyear halt on bait harvesting. Reporting pilferage of large numbers of horseshoe crabs — sometimes flatbed or small pickup truck-fulls— to the NY DEC can be helpful, as they will give out stiff fines to those who are caught.

Then there is this: Spreading the word in articles, classrooms, at eco-fairs, among fishing clubs and at town hall meetings in shore towns that these very old animals are very valuable; to us, in certain medicines and medical procedures. To the migrating wildlife and fish who feast on their larvae. To our local fishermen, a vital industry on Long Island for over 150 years. And, of course, for the horseshoe crabs themselves; their eons-long survival a testimony to adaptation, endurance and whatever spirit resides in such strange and remarkable beings.

Ken Taub, a longtime resident of St. James, now a volunteer with the Long Island Sierra Club Group, is a copywriter, marketing consultant, online journalist and editor and author. 

Victoria Glass demonstrates with ease to county and town officials how slip leads work with an intrigued dog from Smithtown Animal Shelter. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

By Leah Chiappino

Victoria Glass demonstrates with ease to county and town officials how slip leads work with an intrigued dog from Smithtown Animal Shelter. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

It came as quite a surprise to her: Suffolk County police do not routinely carry leashes. So, 13-year-old Girl Scout Victoria Glass sprang into action. For the last two months she’s been collecting leads that officers can use when responding to calls about loose animals. The slip leads work as leashes and collars, and are made to fit any size animal. 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart accepted Victoria’s donation of more than 150 leads at a press conference at Smithtown Animal Shelter June 18. Glass placed the first lead in a patrol vehicle, as shelter workers demonstrated how the lead works on Blossom and Sammy, two stray dogs that were brought to the shelter.

The project will help Victoria earn the Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest award for a Girl Scout Cadette, after identifying an issue and making a difference with a solution. 

“It’s been awesome to see the widespread effects of what I did.”

MEET KING LEONIDAS!

If you’re looking for a new companion, consider King Leonidas, available for adoption at Smithtown Animal Shelter.

A small, 5-year-old male domestic short hair, King Leonidas came to the shelter in a group of feral kittens. He’s extremely shy but gets along with the other cats and likes eating treats. He is neutered, microchipped and up to date on his vaccines.

The Smithtown Animal Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road in Smithtown. For more information on adoptable cats and dogs at the shelter, call 631-360-7575.

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