Blacklisted Dogs May be Liberated

July 5, 2011 9 comments

For some homeowners, insurance had gone to the dogs…  There may now be a way to bite back.

Aggressive Dog

Akita, Boerboel, Chow, Doberman, Kyiapso, Mastiff, American Bandogge Mastiff, Neopolitan Mastiff, Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier, English Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Wolf Hybrid.

What do these breeds have in common?  As far as most insurance companies are concerned, they all typically constitute an unacceptable risk.  In 2010, dog bites accounted for over 1/3 of homeowner’s insurance liability claims, and the average dog bite claim cost over $26,000. These two factors make insuring a home with one of the above mentioned “aggressive” breeds an unappealing prospect for an insurance company.

No one can deny that many of these breeds come with a less than stellar reputation.  However, when an agent has to decline a policy because of a dog, the typical response is something along the lines of, “My dog is a great pet,” or “Not my Fluffy, she’s the nicest dog in the world.”  Unfortunately the response from the agent is usually, “I’m sorry.”  Now, however, the agent can say, “Prove it.”

Allied Insurance has recently changed its guidelines regarding the previously black listed dogs.  Owners of the above mentioned breeds now have the opportunity to have their dog evaluated for certification as an AKC Canine Good Citizen.  Once the dog has successfully passed this test, and has no other previous bite history, it is no longer considered unacceptable by Allied.  Owners of an AKC Certified Canine Good Citizen now have the opportunity to obtain a quality insurance product, without exclusion of coverage for dog bites.  (New policies are subject to all underwriting guidelines to determine acceptability, including those regarding dogs.)

Please pass this information along to those people you know who own one of the breeds listed, homeowner or not.    They likely do not have as comprehensive insurance package as they now could.  Even worse, their current insurance provider likely does not know about their dog and they are at risk of losing their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance should the dog be discovered by the insurance company.

Contact Will Lockwood at Brenk & Company Insurance, (707) 526-1195, for any questions regarding homeowner’s insurance and your dog, and contact Robyn Kesnow, Animal RN at (707) 695-2500 for any questions regarding the AKC Canine Good Citizen program.


Canine Good Citizen…my dog’s not trained, he’ll never pass

July 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Your dog may surprise you; give him a chance.

This link is to the AKC Participant’s Handbook for the CGC program.  It explains each of the 10 stations your dog will go thru during the evaluation.  There is no such thing as failing a CGC, you just don’t pass and depending on the situation, you can either repeat a station or try again another time.

Why would you want to do the Canine Good Citizen test?  The first and main reason is for your protection.  Whether you run into a home or renters insurance company that won’t cover your home or if you ever have to prove to a court or the Animal Control Agency that your dog is not vicious, the CGC certificate shows that you are a responsible guardian of your dog.  And we can never forget bragging rights, your best friend will be the talk of all his dog-park buddies with his new accomplishment under his belt.


More information about the CGC program.

Our next CGC test: July 17, 2011 at Rincon Valley Park in Santa Rosa, email: $15 advance registration, $20 day of.

Canines that pass will receive a special CGC Bandana and certificate from Animal RN

After you pass your CGC, show off your accomplishment with a special tag.

Find your missing pet by snail mail?

June 27, 2011 2 comments
I classify my mail into 4 categories and deal with them according to priority.  1-bills, payments and personal notes, 2-items that appear to be junk, but may be of interest to me, 3-catalogs, magazines and the like I want to review at my leisure and 4-obvious junk.

The appears-to-be-junk is placed in a certain box on my desk for mindless review.  I usually will go thru this type of mail when I find myself on a painfully long hold with a major telephone service provider or a human medical care provider.  This was the fate of a certain piece of mail I recently received.

The article was obviously a standard, 8.5″ by 11″ piece of paper that had been folded in half.   It was sent at full price, first class postage rate with machine generated address, return address and postage.  Sounds like junk mail, a solicitation, right?

For this special piece of mail, I was opening it thirteen days after it’s postmark.  I can’t say that’s unusual for something that was inches from the junk pile in my mind.   When I opened it, I was immediately sorry it hadn’t looked more personal to get my attention.   The note read:

Lost Dog

Zeus (2yrs) Lost 4/6/2011”

There was a photo of Zeus.   It was a blurry side profile of a dog that MAY have been tan and white and may have had some noteworthy markings on his paws and tail or they may have been from the reproduction of the flyer or poor photo quality.

The flyer then offered

Breed: Chihuahua mix

Sex: M

Color: White/Fawn

Wt: 5.7lbs

Last Seen: Starview Dr., Santa Rosa, Ca

Details: Lucia lost her dog “Zeus” on 04.16.2011. You can also view this lost pet info at


*Please photocopy and post around the area.

If you have any information please contact Lucia at


If you know me, you know, I was all over this.  I immediately called the owner to find out if the dog was still missing and if I could help, I left a message on her voicemail.  I got on the website and confirmed on their list that Zeus was still listed as a missing dog and thereby found how much “Lucia” paid to have these flyers sent out to pet businesses and or neighbors.

For me this reopened the can of worms, what is the best way to ID your pets?  Zeus didn’t have tags, a microchip or a tattoo and yet this woman found a service to help her expedite finding her pet.  Even if the service fails, just expanding your reach quickly can feel productive to someone that’s desperately searching for a pet.  I could see the appeal, but wondered about it’s effectiveness.

I’ll share what I’ve muddled thru in an effort to find the best options and the best plan B’s for the worst case scenarios for our precious pets.

In the meantime, for those that are dying to know:

• In doing this research, I found the company’s Facebook page.  While the site was not updated, the Facebook page showed that Zeus had been found and returned to Lucia on 5/12/2011.

• Lucia never returned my call.  I did leaving another message to ask her how she felt about the service and the fee she paid.

• The website still lists Zeus as missing 1.5months after the Facebook page says he’s been found. is one of many services of it’s kind.  i.e.

Lost Dog, Reward – please call

June 17, 2011 Leave a comment

What would you do if your dog or cat went missing?  Do you have any identification to help reconnect you and how well do you expect it to work?

Depending on how our dogs and cats come into our lives, many of us are warned of the possibility of them being euthanized or otherwise in danger if they get away from us and we are not able to reconnect quickly enough.  For example a local shelter has a hold of 4 days for animals found before they are evaluated for possible rehoming, transfer or euthanasia.

We’re working on a review and comparison of the various ways people attempt to identify their pets in case of an emergency.

There are 3 most common formats for identifying your pets.  We’ve been looking at the benefits and disadvantages of each of these.  We’re considering cost, effectiveness, and overall convenience.  To get us started, please vote in our poll to let us know which format(s) you have used.

We’ll be looking at:

  • The standard collar and tags
  • Microchips
  • and Tattoos

Vote today(Link) and check back here for the results of the poll and the new information that may change your mind about how you protect yourself and your pets.

Are you at risk: Workers Comp for your Dog Walker or Pet sitter?

June 2, 2011 1 comment

Does your Petsitter or dog walker put you at risk?

Recently, I’ve been asked about insurance for dog walkers and pet sitters.

  • Who should carry it?
  • Why should they carry it?
  • And who exactly is being protected by the coverage, the customer being served or the service provider?

I’ve directed these inquiries to a dear friend and trusted insurance professional Jay Zemansky of Sadler and Company, Inc.  In the meantime, Jay has shared an article to help understand what this means for pet lovers bringing professional help into their homes to care for the fur babies.  (Click the link below to view)


What does this mean for you, your dog walker or pet sitter?  The bottom line is that if they are licensed and insured appropriately, your basic home owners or renters policy is sufficient.  Trouble lies where the professionals are not licensed or insured.  If your pet care providers are not insured, you will want to follow Jay’s suggestions for adding coverage to your basic policy.  Insurance carriers can easily provide certificates of coverage and licensing agencies vary, but all offer some way to verify licensing where appropriate.


Your pet professional is licensed and insured…    You’re covered.  You’re basic homeowners or renters policy protects you from personal liability.  Check with your insurance agent to verify the details of your policy.

You don’t know if your pet professional is licensed or insured…  Ask.  It’s easy for professionals to share their insurance coverage and licensing.  Depending on the insuring and licensing agencies, it may take a couple business days to get verification.

Your pet professional is not licensed or insured…  You have few options to protect yourself.  (1) Add a rider to your current home owners or renter’s policy. (2) Appeal to your trusted pet caregiver to raise their professionalism and protect themselves as well.  (3) Seek out a professional that will meet the needs of your fur babies and operate as a business and not a hobbyist.

Protect yourself, protect your pets.

Animal RN is licensed, bonded and insured for your protection and peace of mind.

Sadler & Co can be reached at,  415.457.2400

The How- to’s of Animal Hospice Support, continued

May 31, 2011 1 comment

In an earlier post, we shared a video of Buster and her person embracing animal hospice (link.) The purpose of the post was to get you thinking about how you can support animal hospice.  The veterinary professionals are certainly an important and required part of the pet care and animal hospice support team, but what can you do if you are in one of many other roles and want to support animal hospice?

“You don’t have to be a DVM or a licensed technician to support a family in animal hospice and palliation; a compassionate volunteer or friend can help in many ways.”

After watching the video, was there anything you saw that could either be improved to help Buster immediately?

Was there anything you may be able to plan for in the future as Buster’s physical condition continues to change as she ages?

One of the first things to notice is how Buster gets up from the lying on the floor.  We can see how she moves her front versus her rear legs and notice her core strength.  Notice how she puts her head down as she works to lift her rear.  See how her rear legs are stretched further out behind her than normal (after she gets off her knees?)  Since its possible that Buster could be around and in this condition for a while, it’s important to help her.  This may seem like a simple thing, a small thing given a range of medical challenges.  It may seem like a small part of a much bigger world, but this is what it’s about.  Being very present and honoring every moment.

To compare to what this should look like on a younger, healthy dog note the video below.

It’s important to not get carried away with ourselves in trying to diagnose the issues; let’s leave that to the professionals.  Your veterinarian can help with identifying what parts of the dog’s body are the weakest and at the root of the mobility issues.  If we can see these weaknesses, we can better support Buster and dogs like her as they age.  If you haven’t gone back to watch Buster move in slower motion, try it.  I believe you’ll be able to identify where her challenges are and therefore, be able to support her accordingly.

Here are just a couple of ways to support Buster as she’s getting up and down.

  • Help ‘Em Up Harness – this harness can be especially helpful on bad days or as Buster gets weaker.  Often dogs can remain mobile for longer than expected if they can have a little support getting up from a down position.  Have you ever tried to get out of grandma’s chair, it’s tough.  Walking around is often easier than beginning the movement (think physics class.)
  • Appropriate Bedding – this can be challenging if not done with an eye for detail and strategy.  Watch for a future blog post on tips to choose the right bed for any pet, especially an aging senior.  The right bedding can offer added support when going from down to standing and can help minimize the damage done by lying still.  Older dogs move less, its important that they lie well.
  • Trim hair on the pads – Trimming the hair on the dog’s pads is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to support a dog loosing its mobility.  Pad hair is similar to nose and ear hair on old men; it never needed trimming before and one day, it’s amazing the garden of hair that’s sprouted.  Using simple moustache trimmers or grooming clippers you can shave the hair between the pads.  This will allow the dog to better utilize the natural traction  and feeling in the pads themselves.  I imagine slipping around on overgrown hair must feel like walking in oversized socks on freshly waxed linoleum floors.
  • Socks or Boots – Socks and boots are both readily available for any size dog, they are also easy to make out of other household items.  The trick with socks and boots is to know which you need and which are worth trying.  Many products are poorly made and won’t stay on, only further frustrating the poor caregiver trying to help their dog.  On the other hand the right product or make-shift solution can really make all the difference in the world.  In a future post we’ll review a few of the options and discuss when boots are preferred over socks and how to know.Dog Paw
  • Trimming Nails – So many forget that the nails that used to drive you nuts as they clicked across the hardwood floor are still there and still growing.  In fact, nails may seem to grow faster.  As mobility decreases, the nails don’t have as much friction with the ground and are not being maintained to some extend by your dogs natural movements.  It’s especially important to watch the dew claw as it may grow around and back into the skin.  A veterinarian at UC Davis once said to me that she thought walking on nails that you could hear gave the dogs a small shock and was a constant and chronic pain they deal with.  True or not, take a look at your less mobile dog’s nails often; a great time to check is during a little massage.
  • Yoga mats – In the video, did you notice how dramatically Buster’s movement changed when she got off the smooth surface and onto the rug in the hall?  Yoga mats are an animal hospice supporters best friend; they provide just a bit of tacky traction with out being too high or offering too much and causing tripping.  Yoga mats or low-pile, rubber backed rugs can be found in any color, making it easier to match any family’s decor.  When you consider you don’t have to redo the whole house, just the most common paths traveled by your old friends it’s really an easy too.  It’s worth asking at your local yoga studios if they will give you the used mats.  Many of them use some mats in-house and they “wear out” for the sport but are still great for an easy to wash dog path.
  • SwimmingThe benefits of swimming with an animal that is unable to walk or is loosing strength can be magical.  I will leave you to find the research yourself to document the great benefits of swimming.  I personally have had such great success with my own animals and those of the families Animal RN has the honor of serving.  Even if you can’t take them very often, the benefits of the water and the experience on both a physical and mental level are so great – I simply cannot say enough about it.  Even dogs you may not think would enjoy the water have done very well with a trained and experienced swim coach.  It does not need to be therapeutic (consult with your veterinarian) to be enjoyed and beneficial to the comfort and quality of life for your pets.

The effectiveness of each option will depend on Buster and her family.  Above all else respect your pets and their wishes in supporting them in hospice.

Buster’s family obviously loved her very much and supported her well in her senior years.  They used great supportive care including home cooked meals, a stroller to keep her mind engaged in the world, valued the precious time with her and loved her every moment she was with them.

“It takes only a kind ear to listen, a steady shoulder to cry on and a helpful hand to change bedding or freshen up a water bowl.”

One of the best ways to support Buster and others in animal hospice is to keep clear logs of changes in behavior, nothing should be written off as “just old age” and to communicate the log contents with your veterinary care team.  The licensed technicians and veterinarians will help to keep pain management under control and to assure absolute comfort care.  The pet sitters, friends, pet parents, massage therapists, specialists, chiropractors and so many others can all help you advocate for the most important thing, your dog.

The how-to’s of Animal Hospice support

April 25, 2011 1 comment

Animal Hospice, as it is defined and practiced for Animal RN, is a philosophy rather than a place or a strategy.  What does that mean for real life support for families?  It’s great to agree on a credo and hold lofty ideas about comfort and quality of life.  The real challenges come where the rubber meets the road and there is a family needing help and support.

You don’t have to be a DVM or a licensed technician to support a family in animal hospice and palliation; a compassionate volunteer or friend can help in many ways.  The licensed and professional roles are important and necessary for oversight and  guidance.  It takes only a kind ear to listen, a steady shoulder to cry on and a helpful hand to change bedding or freshen up a water bowl.

I recently came across a great article and video originally posted July 2010.  If you’re looking for information on the beginnings of Animal Hospice as an actual field and specialty- it’s a great start.  What I’d like to focus in on today is the brief clip of the dog, Buster in the video.

Here’s what we’ll do:

  • Take a look at the video here (the link is at the top of the article.)
  • What do you think, just from what you see in the video of Buster and her guardian, would be ways to support them via Animal Hospice?
  • Leave your comments below and we’ll share and review Animal RN’s recommendation in a followup post later this week.
For more information on Animal Hospice and to be at the fore front of developing standards of care and education around the option and how to implement care see  The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care is the first organization of it’s kind, integrating pet parents, pet care professionals and veterinary practitioners for an interdisciplinary approach to pet hospice support.
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