Animals

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Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter 

MEET KATHERINE!

Patiently waiting for a new home at Kent Animal Shelter, Katherine is a 4-year-old hound mix who was rescued from South Carolina after the recent hurricane. She’s a sweet girl who deserves a family of her own. Come in and meet her today. You won’t be disappointed!

Katherine comes spayed, microchipped and as up to date as possible on vaccines.

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

 

The origins of the advantages of grain-free diets seem to be driven by the pet food industry itself. Stock photo

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

I recently had a pet owner come in and ask me if grain-free diets were dangerous. I knew there were risks of bacterial and parasitic contamination in raw diets but had not heard anything about grain-free diets. Time to investigate.  

The origins of the advantages of grain-free diets seem to be driven by the pet food industry itself. There are advantages to using other vegetables (peas, potatoes, chick peas, etc.) as a carbohydrate source if your pet has a documented case of allergies to grains. 

However, the complex carbohydrates and fiber in grains (corn, rice, wheat, barley, etc.) are much better nutritionally and overall digestive health. More recently a new problem has arisen from grain-free diets: HEART DISEASE!!!!

I need to start with a disclaimer that there is no current evidence to link grain-free diets and heart disease but here’s what we know so far: New studies have found that some dogs on grain-free diets are more at risk for a heart condition called dilatory cardiomyopathy (DCM). 

DCM is a heart condition where the heart muscle becomes thin and the heart dilates, or the chambers of the heart expand. Unfortunately, as the heart dilates, the heart becomes an inefficient pump and the patient goes into heart failure. The lung and abdomen then fill with fluid, making it impossible to breathe and, without treatment, is fatal. Even with treatment the patient’s life span is reduced dramatically. Why would grain-free diets cause this? The link seems to be taurine.

A study led by Dr. Joshua Stern (a veterinary cardiologist at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine) found a higher number of DCM in golden retrievers. Stern also discovered that many of these patients were on a grain-free diet and had abnormally low taurine levels. 

Taurine is an amino acid, or building block of protein, that is essential for normal heart function. It is found in higher concentrations in muscle of animals including red meats, poultry and seafood. Plants contain very little to no taurine. The lowest concentrations of taurine are found in legumes (peas, chick peas), potatoes and other plants. Some dog foods are supplemented with taurine and some are not.

What to do right now? If your dog is healthy and not showing any symptoms of heart disease (coughing, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing), you can do a few things: (1) check the taurine content on your particular diet and, if not supplemented, change to a diet that is supplemented, (2) change to a diet supplemented with taurine without checking, or (3) have your dog’s taurine levels tested through your veterinarian’s office and only change the diet or supplement if the levels are low.

Research is ongoing and I will update everyone as soon as I have more information.  

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.

A popular Sound Beach event for a good cause took place Sept. 22, but this year it was renamed to honor a late friend and participant.

For the sixth time, the Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its pet adopt-a-thon in the parking lot of the Hartlin Inn on New York Avenue, during which representatives from local animal groups and shelters set up shop and push for the adoption of dogs, cats and more looking for permanent homes. During adopt-a-thons past, Sound Beach father-daughter duo Sal and Gina Mingoia provided the musical accompaniment to the event, singing and playing instruments throughout the day. This year, Gina had to perform without her dad, who died after a battle with cancer in 2017. This year and going forward, the event will be known as The Sal Mingoia Pet Adopt-A-Thon.

“Sal loved animals, and everybody loved Sal,” said Bea Ruberto, Sound Beach Civic Association president and organizer of the event. “So we checked with the family to see if it was OK with them. They said great, they loved it, so that’s why we changed the name. And that’s what it’s going to be named from now on.”

Sal Mingoia was described as a gentle, caring soul by civic association member and Sound Beach resident Ernestine Franco.

“Although he’s gone, Sal’s kindness and generosity are not forgotten,” she said.

The event always leads to the adoption of quite a few animals, according to Ruberto, who said this year four cats, three dogs and a guinea pig were adopted, though applications are pending for the adoption of eight more cats and six other dogs. More than $1,100 was raised through donations and auction items, as well as from the sale of digital pet caricatures done on-site at the event by 19-year-old Sound Beach resident Brianna Florio using a drawing tablet. Funds raised were distributed to the animal organizations in attendance.

Ruberto credited volunteers and civic members for helping to set up and execute the event and gave special thanks to Boy Scout Troop 244 for helping to set up. A local band called Random Notes even showed up unexpectedly and offered to take turns with Gina providing music for the event, Ruberto said.

“Over the time that I’ve been involved with this event, I’ve never had to really go looking for people to step up and help — they just show up and offer their time and talent,” Ruberto said.

Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

MEET ADAM!

Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

Patiently waiting for a new home at Kent Animal Shelter, Adam is a 6-year-old Lab mix who seems to get overlooked because he’s not a puppy. But he’s young in spirit and at heart, so we hope you’ll consider adding him to your family! Adam comes neutered, microchipped and as up to date as possible on vaccines.

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

 

Civic association event renamed to honor animal lover and friend

Gina Mingoia will be performing in concert at this year’s Pet Adopt-A-Thon in honor of her father, Sal, who passed away in 2017.

By Ernestine Franco

In 2012, the Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its first pet adopt-a-thon. Fast forward six years and the event is still going strong, fulfilling its goal of encouraging responsible pet ownership and providing a venue for local rescue groups to get animals adopted. The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Hartlin Inn parking lot, 30 New York Ave., Sound Beach, across from the Post Office.

Mela, Fuji and Dooly will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

For five years two people made this event special — Sal and Gina Mingoia, a father-daughter team who donated their time and musical talents. In 2015 Sal was diagnosed with cancer. In 2016, although often in pain, when he heard the event was on, he said he and Gina would be there. In 2017 Sal passed away. A gentle, caring soul loved by all, the many people whose lives he touched could be seen in long lines along the roadway the day of the funeral holding their hands over their hearts. Although he’s gone, Sal’s kindness and generosity are not forgotten. 

To honor his life as well as his great love for animals, the civic is proud to announce a change in the name of its annual pet adoption event to The Sal Mingoia Pet Adopt-A-Thon. Gina will be performing this year without her dad. She said, “it was my dad’s and my favorite gig,” and she wouldn’t miss it. 

The animal welfare groups participating in this event take unwanted, abandoned, abused or stray animals and care for them until loving homes can be found. Some will bring adoptable pets, others will have information on adoptable pets as well as responsible pet care. Taking part this year will be The Adoption Center, Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter, Grateful Greyhounds, Last Chance Animal Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, Long Island Rabbit Rescue, North Fork Country Kids, Paws Unite People, Save-A-Pet, STAR Foundation, Strong Island Animal Rescue Group and Suffolk County SPCA. 

Romeo will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

There will be lots of great raffle auction prizes — donations still being accepted — and a 50/50, with all proceeds going to the participating animal welfare groups. Bring your children for face painting and making pet ear bands with Marissa Renee. Bring your pet and have Brianna draw a digital caricature of your “furever” friend. And, of course, come and meet your new best friend. A shelter cat or dog is waiting for you.

Pictured are a trio of siblings at Last Chance Animal Rescue that know they’re adorable! They love to be held and cuddled and love dogs and kids. Stop by and help Mela, Fuji and Dooly find a happy ending!

Meet Penny and Polo, two 7+-year-old poodles at Save-A-Pet waiting for their forever home. Their elderly owner is ill and can no longer care for them. If you’re looking for a sweet, gentle dog consider adopting either one or both. All they need is love.

Also pictured is Romeo, a fun and affectionate boy at the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter. If you’re looking for a partner who will play ball with you for hours and enjoy going for long walks with you, Romeo is your boy. He is about 9 years young and is vaccinated, neutered, microchipped and heartworm negative. Also at the town shelter is Brownie — what a cutie he is!

Lance will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

Four melt-in-your-arms kittens with Strong Island are currently in a foster home but desperately need forever homes. They have all been spayed/neutered and vaccinated, are FIV/FeLV negative and are dewormed. They love people and are looking for families of their own. 

Meet Lance and Jackson at The Adoption Center. Lance is a 3-month-old blue heeler mix and Jackson is a 2-year-old Australian shepherd mix. Anyone would be lucky to call either of these cuties their furever friend.

Whether you’re looking to adopt, would like to support the great work of animal welfare groups or just want to have a family-friendly fun day in Sound Beach, stop by.

Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information call 631-744-6952 and remember, Save A Life — Adopt A Pet.

Honey

MEET HONEY!

Honey is an adorable 2-year-old Catahoula mix currently waiting at Kent Animal Shelter for a new home. She was rescued in Texas where she faced an uncertain fate. All she needs now is a loving family to make her one of their own. Is that you? Honey comes spayed, microchipped and as up to date as possible on vaccines.

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

A Port Jefferson firefighter emerges from the drain with Holmes the kitten in tow. Photo from Fred Leute

The idea of firefighters rescuing a kitten in distress is so overdone from movies to fictional novels it’s almost cliché, but in Port Jeff Village, life imitated art Aug. 31.

Strong Island Animal Rescue League Erica Kutzing and Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant with kitten Holmes. Photo from Strong Island’s Facebook page

Brennan Holmes, chief of Port Jefferson Fire Department, said he was driving near the intersection of Winston Drive and Ronald Court Friday night when a resident walking a dog flagged him down saying a kitten appeared to have fallen down a storm drain. Holmes got out of his car to take a look. The kitten was at the bottom of the drain about 12 feet down. The chief said firefighters were out doing driver training at that time, so he radioed them to come provide assistance. When they arrived, the firefighters lifted the drain’s enclosure and sent a member down a ladder to retrieve the meowing feline.

Fred Leute, acting chief of the village’s Code Enforcement, said he got a call from Mayor Margot Garant as the rescue was unfolding and hustled to the scene to offer his assistance. When he arrived, Holmes said he jokingly told Leute it was his responsibility to find the cat a home. Leute said he already had that taken care of — Garant offered to adopt the kitten. She named her new friend Holmes in honor of the fire chief.

“Not a typical day at all — I’ve been taking some ribbing at the firehouse about it,” the fire chief said. “It’s kind of cool — it shows the village and fire department are close and work together.”

A Port Jefferson firefighter emerges from the drain with Holmes the kitten in tow. Photo from Fred Leute

Holmes, the cat, spent a night at the mayor’s home, where its road to recovery began. Unfortunately, the next day it was determined Holmes required additional medical attention as her fur was riddled with quite a few ticks. These health concerns precipitated a transfer of residence to Strong Island Animal Rescue League for the time being. The organization posted a video on its Facebook page updating the public on Holmes’ recovery a few days later, indicating she was doing much better.

“This was a lot of fun actually,” Leute said.

He said once Holmes was out of the drain he grabbed a box from his patrol car, added some holes and placed her on the floor of the car on the passenger side as the responders wrapped up their job. After a little while, someone alerted the code enforcement officer that Holmes was walking around on the car’s dashboard.

“We got an escape artist,” he said.

Leute said he stopped at the grocery store on his way to Garant’s house to grab some water and food for Holmes — a salmon pate.

Chief Holmes commended the firefighters who responded to his call and came to help out, saying they did a great job.

“That was pretty cool,” he said. “We’re always happy to help out in any way that we can.”

Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

MEET AVA!

The stories Ava could tell if she could talk. At only 1 year old this sweet but shy girl has had a rough start to life. Rescued from South Carolina, she’s now safe at Kent Animal Shelter looking for a home and family with lots of love and patience to help her come out of her shell. Could that be with you? Ava has beautiful brown eyes, a light and dark brown coat and a brown nose. She is spayed, microchipped and up to date on vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. For more information on Ava and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731. 

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

This time of year (actually throughout the summer and fall) we have an uptick in ear infections. To call every dog or cat that comes in with itchy ears an ear infection is misleading. Otitis externa means “inflammation” (not infection) of the external ear canal. The bacteria and yeast we treat with medications fall into the category of “normal flora,” or organisms found in low numbers in healthy ear canals. 

Usually some other trigger is involved and the normal flora overgrow. Parasitic infections (ear mites), pets that swim a lot/get water in their ears, or ear trauma (plucking hair, etc.) are triggers for acute, or nonrecurring problems that are easy to treat. 

Chronic, recurrent infections are almost always secondary to allergies. I actually consulted with a veterinary dermatologist and she estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of all recurrent otitis externa in dogs is related to allergies.    

The anatomy of the ear plays a role in predisposing patients to ear infections. The normal canine and feline external ear canal have and “L” shape, with both a vertical and horizontal component to it leading to a greater distance from the opening of the ear canal to the ear drum. Additionally, clearing the healthy ear canal occurs through a slow process called migration. 

The ear canal contains epithelial cells (those similar to skin), ceruminous cells and apocrine cells (cells that produce earwax). Epithelial cells will turn over, or be replaced every few days and, along with a small amount of earwax, migrate toward the entrance of the canal. Once at the entrance a good shake of the head sends it out to the world. If the lining of the ear canal becomes inflamed, it narrows due to swelling (most likely due to some sort of food or environmental/seasonal allergy) and excessive ear wax is produced. This combination not only overwhelms the ear’s ability to clear the wax, it also leads to a warm, dark and moist environment and allows the normal bacteria and yeast to go crazy.

Certain breeds such as Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, shar-peis and mixed breeds of this type have predisposing factors such as hair in the ears, floppy ears, narrow ear canals or a combination. 

Now, this does not mean that every member of these breeds is guaranteed to have chronic ear infections, rather it means that if you have a member of these breeds and they have even low-grade allergies, the ears can spiral out of control quickly. We are also starting to encounter antibiotic strains of bacteria (such as Staphylococcus) in chronic recurrent otitis in veterinary medicine.  

The main point of all of this is if your pet has chronic, recurrent ear infections, it is important to look for an underlying allergy and treat the allergy. Sometimes it can be a veterinary-approved prescription diet or sometimes the newer, safer allergy medications. Remember to discuss this with your veterinarian.

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.

RENAISSANCE DOG Long Island Museum educators, from left, Lisa Unander, Emma Backfish, Beth Chiarelli, Kristin Cuomo and Jessica Pastore, pose with artist and star of the day, Dagger II, aka DogVinci, at the Stony Brook museum’s Summer Thursday event on Aug. 16. Dagger painted a work of art and then attendees created their own masterpieces to take home. Join the museum for its final Summer Thursday event of the year, a free outdoor screening of “Back to the Future,” on Sept. 6. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

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