Category Archives: General Information

National Pet Fire Safety Day

With July being the heart of the summer, outdoor dry conditions sparking wildfires, and much of the country in the midst of summer heat it is a good time to reflect upon fire safety for our pets as well. July 15th also marked the celebration of National Pet Fire Safety Day and we received a most informative and useful resource from Emma Bailey that she posted on Security Systems Houston’s web site.  As a writer and a pet parent, Emma put together a big list of pet fire safety tips and information that we all can all benefit from. As Emma remarked, “Considering summer’s heightened risk for fire hazards, I thought this resource would be a very helpful addition to your site,” and indeed it is!

An adorable 8 month old baby girl is bundled up in a sweater and wearing a winter earflap hat looking lovinlgy at her pet German Shepherd dog as they sit and laugh ouside on a cold fall day.

For the seventh year running, the United States is set to observe National Pet Fire Safety Day on the 15th of July. This commemorative event was started by the American Kennel Club to help protect beloved furry family members from dangerous fire-related incidences.

Active, curious pets can cause trouble for you and your family (and themselves too) if they aren’t supervised. Just a few smart precautions can make a world of difference in terms of potential safety hazards. This year, we’ve highlighted the most important tips and tricks you can use as a pet owner to make sure your four-legged family members stay far away from smoke and fire.

Check, Check and Double-Check

  • Check up on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year to ensure they are working properly. Place smoke detectors outside every room in the home. Curious pets can accidentally start fires on their own, so consider installing monitored smoke detectors to help firefighters quickly respond to a house fire even if you’re not there.
  • Check around your home for fire hazards like loose wires and stove knobs, discarded paper products, and other flammable junk. Outside, clear dry brush away from the house and keep pet pens away from any dry leaves or vegetation that could easily become fuel in a fire.
  • If your pet can stand up tall enough to reach the counter, place kitchen appliances up high and remove stove knobs whenever you leave home. If your animal can get to cords and electrical wires easily, they may be tempted to give them a good chew – make sure those are out of sight and out of mind too.

When In Doubt, Put It Out!

  • Cats and dogs are attracted to light and motion – including open flames from candles and fireplaces. Make sure to keep an eye out on your pets whenever there is an open flame in the room and extinguish it when you leave. If you must leave the flame on without your supervision, get your pets to a different room and make sure they can’t get to it.
  • Use flameless candles whenever possible. They may be less romantic and aromatic than regular candles, but they are battery-operated and therefore less likely to start a fire if knocked over onto carpet or fabric.

Protect Youngsters and Outdoor Pets

  • Small pets and puppies and kittens can get through very tiny openings, so make sure your pet is in a secure place if you are unable to keep your eye on them at all times. Young pets are notorious troublemakers – keeping them in a crate or pen will reduce the likelihood of their setting the house ablaze while you’re away running errands.
  • Outdoor pets should be given special attention too. If they run away from your yard during a fire, it’s important that they have some form of identification, either in the form of a collar or a microchip.

Shop for Fire-Stoppers

  • Purchase a pet alert window cling from a pet store or get a free one online from the ASPCA. These stickers tell firefighters how many pets are inside the home, and help remind them to make sure everyone has made it out okay.
  • Already popular with some pet lovers, a home security “pet cam” allows you to monitor your animals while you’re gone at work or on a brief vacation. Pet monitoring systems are becoming more and more sophisticated, and can now alert the proper authorities if a fire starts.

Emergency Rescue Plans

  • Your family evacuation plan should include instructions for the animals as well. Decide in advance who will be responsible for each pet if a fire breaks out. One handy tip is to store your pets’ leashes, treats, extra toys and some food inside a washtub near an exit. This keeps it all handy in one place and, if you have to evacuate because of fire, you won’t be caught empty-handed for Fluffy or Fido. Always evacuate your pets on a leash or in a carrier. They will likely panic at the smell of smoke and loud noises, and if they take off without you they may be impossible to find.
  • If your pet is kenneled while you’re away, make sure that the kennel is in an easy to find location in the home. Know your pet’s preferred hiding spots, they may run and hide there if your home has caught fire. Put their cubbyholes on a map of your own escape route.

According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, approximately half a million pets each year are affected by fires in the home. Do your part as a pet parent to protect your beloved animals from the dangers of smoke inhalation and flames!

Celebrate National Pet Fire Safety Day this year on July 15th, and visit the ASPCA websitefor more information about how to keep your pets safe all year round.

Life Unleashed Interviewed by CNN

CNNLife Unleashed is pleased to announce that is was selected by CNN’s London news bureau to be interviewed for our pet travel expertise. We were interviewed for the story covering the Johnny Depp incident with his pets and not properly following Australia’s importation protocol for pets. Here is a link to the article in which Life Unleashed contributed – Johnny Depp’s dogs: Pirate chose wrong island to stash Pistol  By Susannah Cullinane, CNN.

(CNN) Johnny Depp may have been a success as swashbuckling Capt. Jack Sparrow but any potential smuggling career of his own has hit a large rock in the shape of Australia. Officials there are showing no mercy after Depp allegedly breached bio-security regulations by flying his two dogs into their country on his private jet, without proper documentation. Yorkshire terriers Boo and Pistol must be taken out of Australia by Saturday morning — or risk being euthanized.

Australia tells Johnny Depp: It’s time your dogs buggered off

It’s all about the planning — as any pirate worth his salt should know — and landing on this particular island requires more than just a map showing where it is. Pet travel experts say that Australia is known for having some of the most stringent biosecurity regulations in the world. The strict laws are to prevent the spread of non-native diseases such as rabies, ehrlichia, leishmania, leptospirosis and internal and external parasites.

Wrong place to smuggle little Treasure

“Australia is definitely the most complicated and strictest place to get a pet to,” Emeleye Bunny manager of UK-based PBS Pet Travel told CNN.

“You have two things that are the first to be done, a rabies injection, a month’s wait after then a blood test to ensure it has been effective,” she said, with the date of the blood sample for pets in the UK needing to be 180 days before travel.

Closer to the travel date, cats and dogs need to have internal and external parasite treatments, blood tests and a government export certificate from Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). In addition to that, she said, pets needed an import permit from Australia and then 10 days quarantine on arrival.

According to Australia’s Department of Agriculture website, the same conditions apply for pets from the United States.

Tasman Sea neighbor New Zealand shares similarly strict regulations meaning pets can travel between both countries without having to be quarantined. But coming from the United States, Pistol and Boo would have fared little better there.

Between friends

In Europe, it is also easy to move dogs and cats between neighbors, Bunny said.

Citizens of member states can apply for a “pet passport,” used by cats and dogs — and ferrets. Pets must be microchipped to match them to their passport (or in some cases — pirates take note — have a tattoo). They must also have been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel.

The United States is a common destination and easy to reach for Britons traveling with pets, Bunny said.

“We have regular customers traveling back and forth and then people who are relocating permanently. It’s so straightforward — so it’s something that happens a lot and very regularly,” she said. “When you start getting outside of Europe and the U.S.A. — places like South Africa, Dubai and Hong Hong — you start needing blood tests, vaccinations etc.”

And it seems Depp could just as easily have been caught out in the waters better known to his alter ego Capt. Sparrow.

“Challenging countries are New Zealand, Australia, Japan and some of the Caribbean islands — most of the places that are rabies-free,” Kathleen Gallagher of Life Unleashed pet moving company told CNN.

Life Unleashed offer a chaperone service for pets, but many countries require that animals only enter their territory as manifested cargo — meaning they need to travel with a commercial carrier, she said.

“Even with my fly buddy service there are certain countries you cannot bring a pet into unless it’s manifested cargo,” Gallagher said. “It doesn’t affect just air. Yachts run into that problem too. You can’t just take your dogs off a boat in the Bahamas without proper protocol.”

Good looks don’t cut it

The presence of Depp’s dogs in Australia came to light when the grooming company he took them to posted photos online, but canine good looks and breeding are not enough to circumvent the rules.

The secretary of Britain’s Kennel Club, Caroline Kisko, told CNN there were quite a number of British show dog owners who took them overseas to compete but they tended remain within Europe — often driving in the undersea tunnel between the UK and France known as the “Chunnel”.

“People showing in the UK will show on the continent because it’s simple and straight forward. I think there are very, very few people who would fly their dogs to North America, she said. “Certainly not Australia.”

And flying a pet anywhere abroad is not as straightforward as simply stowing a dachshund under the seat in front for take-off.

While pets tend to travel on normal passenger planes — with or without their owners — they can only do so in a specific cargo area of the aircraft.

“Not all aircraft are suitable,” Bunny said. “The aircraft has to have a specific area that is temperature-controlled and pressurized.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is responsible for regulations governing pet transport, for example the specifications of travel boxes particular breeds needed to be transported in.

Airlines in Britain have agencies to handle cargo at airports, Bunny said. “Trained members of staff ensure everything meets requirements before it’s accepted in for travel.”

Because everything is checked prior to departure, she said the chances of a pet being turned away on arrival are slim.

“When you travel with the airlines you have to meet the country of export’s requirements, country of import’s requirements and the airline’s requirements,” Gallagher said. “[Depp] would have wanted to contact the government before he went, work with a commercial airline — perhaps one of Australia’s airlines — and sent them cargo.”

So had Johnny Depp flown with a commercial airline — or merely tried to send his canine friends off on an unaccompanied seafaring adventure on commercial ship — they would likely have avoided the life and death scenario they face now.

But — alas poor pooches — Capt. Sparrow arrived by private jet.

As the famous Pirate of the Caribbean once said: “The only rules that really matter are these: What a man can do and what a man can’t do.”

Capt. Sparrow just learned what a man can’t do Down Under.

Flying High With the Wings of Rescue

On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, California I was fortunate enough to encounter some great animal rescue groups and facilities. Introduced to Wings of Rescue, I was in awe of their ability and with their mission in all that they do for animals. I learned that Wings of Rescue and Dawg announced the very first Santa Barbara Airlift of 72 dogs from California shelters from the Santa Barbara Airport a few months ago. It turned out that two generous Santa Barbara residents volunteered their flying time and their planes with two other private jets from “Wings of Rescue” to fly these dogs to Idaho, Oregon and Montana where eager adopters awaited their arrival. The flight was a joint effort of DAWG (Dog Adoption Welfare Group), Santa Barbara and Ventura counties shelters.

wingsofrescueWings of Rescue is a nonprofit 501c3 organization that is dedicated to providing the rescue community with efficient air transportation for dogs (and cats too) that would otherwise not be saved in this overly saturated and populated area. They are a network of 20 volunteer pilots that fly these rescued pets to Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and western Canada. On occasion, they also fly to the upper Midwest. Once the animals are pulled from the shelters by local rescue groups, they are flown to designated rescue groups in other states. Wings of Rescue helps give them a second chance at finding a forever home. Impressively, In 3 short years we have helped save 9428 animals from likely death.

In my line of work, so often the use of airlines is solely associated with pet relocation for people with the monetary ability to care for and fly their pets all over the world. However, not all animals are as lucky. That is why this organization provides such a wonderful and meaningful new spin on the concept of relocation. “We fly them home” is their motto. Wings of Rescue is run by pilots, who know how to organize and coordinate each mission. Their expertise helps to understand the factors and details that go into planning a safe, successful flight and use our network of ground volunteers to make loading and delivery as easy as possible for the pilot.

You can watch Wings of Rescue in action. This video highlights the Riverside County Animal Services, Animal Samaritans SPCA and Wings of Rescue as they coordinate the air rescue of more than 50 county shelter dogs from the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms, California.

Kennel Requirements for Your Pet’s Travel

When it comes to travel, your pet’s crate is the most important component to ensuring a safe and comfortable transportation experience. Our shipping parter United Airlines offers some helpful tips and suggestions when it comes to selecting your pet’s kennel.

One of the most important steps you can take to ease the stress of travel for your pet is to make sure it becomes familiar and acclimated to its crate. Purchase the kennel as far in advance as possible. Veterinarians recommend leaving the kennel door open in the house with treats or a familiar object inside so that your pet may spend time near the kennel and perhaps venture inside on its own. Familiarization with the kennel will allow your pet to feel a sense of security and comfort when traveling alone in an unfamiliar environment. You want your pet to view the crate as a positive experience.

Life Unleashed and United Airlines provides the following advice to all pet guardians preparing their pet to travel and in selection of the crate:

  • Each kennel should contain no more than one adult dog or cat, or no more than two puppies or kittens younger than six months, of comparable size, and under 20 pounds (9 kg) each.
  • Dogs and cats cannot travel together in the same container.
  • The kennel must be constructed of rigid plastic, wood or metal. The roof must be solid with no doors or ventilation openings.
  • The kennel must have ventilation on three sides for travel within the 50 United States and Puerto Rico. The kennel must have ventilation on four sides for travel to and from all other destinations and for snub nosed breeds traveling to any destination.
  • The kennel must be large enough for your pet to freely sit and stand with its head erect, turn around and lie down in a normal position.
  • Your pet’s head or ear tips, whichever is higher, must not touch the top of the crate. If your pet’s kennel does not provide enough room for your pet to stand and sit, without the head touching the top of the container, you will need to purchase a larger kennel before your pet can fly.
  • Many airlines require an additional 3 inches of height clearance when transporting your pet to and from any destination outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Short-nosed dogs require a kennel one size larger.
  • The kennel door must be made of metal. Plastic and Fiberglas™ doors, including side plastic latches, are prohibited because they are not strong enough to protect animals during normal handling.
  • All kennel hardware must be secure and in good working condition. A metal nut and bolt must be secured in each hole that is in place to connect the top and bottom of the kennel. Please note that it’s common for kennels to have nuts and bolts that are metal and covered with a plastic coating on the outside, and those are acceptable.
  • Snap-sided kennels or kennels with plastic side latches will not be accepted, unless the shipper drills holes and adds metal nuts and bolts to secure the snap or latch closures.
  • Two dishes (one for food and one for water) must be attached to the inside of the kennel but also be accessible from the outside of the kennel so they can be filled from outside the kennel without opening the door.
  • The door must close securely. In accordance with federal regulations, animals must be accessible in the event of an emergency.
  • Regulations require that any wheels must be locked or otherwise rendered inoperable. Kennel wheels must be either removed or taped to prevent the kennel from rolling in transit.
  • The floor must be solid and leakproof and contain absorbent material, such as shredded black-and-white printed newspaper.

For more in-depth information on kennels and a chart showing the best way to measure your pet please visit the United Airlines web site directly at

Photo Courtesy of United Airlines Web Site

American Airlines + US Airways Merge

We just received word from American Airlines that American Airlines cargo, US Airways cargo officially combine under a single air waybill. This directly impacts animals that are shipped as cargo. As of today Live Animals can be accepted across the combined network except on embargoed fleet types. Embargoed fleet types affect certain aircraft types with heating limitations. Tropical fish, lobsters, and other “aquatics” are accepted across the entire fleet.


FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines and US Airways have reached a significant milestone in their merger today as the Cargo divisions combine under a single air waybill.  The new entity brings in more than $800 million each year and moves more than one billion pounds of freight and mail annually. The Cargo teams have successfully combined 154 facilities and harmonized products since December 2013, making it the first operations division at the airline to be fully integrated.

“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work by our Cargo employees,” said Jim Butler, president of American Airlines Cargo. “We have brought together the expertise and solutions that customers have come to rely on and the teams that are focused on restoring American Airlines as the greatest airline in the world.

As of today, all booking channels are open and cargo customers have access to flights across the combined network of the world’s largest airline.” “Becoming one cargo organization less than a year after we legally closed our merger is a tremendous achievement,” said Robert Isom, chief operating officer of American Airlines. “Today’s announcement provides great momentum in our efforts to provide our customers a seamless experience as we continue to integrate our passenger systems, route network, and loyalty programs.”

About: American Airlines Cargo American Airlines Cargo is a division of American Airlines Group, the holding company for American Airlines and US Airways. American provides one of the largest cargo networks in the world with cargo terminals and interline connections across the globe.



Life Unleashed Partners with Bags VIP

Like many of the major airlines, cruise lines, and resorts, Life Unleashed Pet Movers today announces that it has joined forces with Bags VIP Luggage Delivery Service to enhance the travel experience for our clients. As pet relocation specialists, first hand we see how hectic and overwhelming it can be just to get your pet taken care of and dropped off or picked up from the airline cargo facility. Life Unleashed decided to take it a step further and make the overall travel or relocation experience that much easier by partnering with Bags VIP. Bags VIP luggage delivery agents will retrieve your checked luggage same-day and deliver it within 100 miles of your accommodations or home so you can get started in on your vacation or begin acclimating to a new home with your pet. Bags VIP luggage delivery allows you to bypass baggage claim and gives you more time to focus on yourself and your pet without the added frustration, time, or hassle of waiting.



Bags VIP luggage delivery is available for all domestic flights arriving at an airport included on the Bags VIP list of airports served.

In general, Bags VIP luggage delivery is not available for passengers arriving on international flights because of U.S. Customs and Border Protection policies. However, if the service is available at the destination airport, Bags VIP luggage delivery is available for international travelers arriving in the U.S. from airports with Pre-Clearance, from U.S. Territories, or when an international traveler clears Customs and Border Protection at a U.S. airport prior to boarding a domestic connecting flight to a destination where Bags VIP is offered.

Bags VIP is offered on international flights ORIGINATING from the following pre-clearance airports:


  • Calgary International Airport (YYC) – Calgary, Alberta
  • Canada Edmonton International Airport (YEG) – Edmonton, Alberta
  • Canada Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport (YHZ) – Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Canada Montreal Trudeau International Airport (YUL) – Montreal, Quebec
  • Canada Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW) – Ottawa, Ontario
  • Canada Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) – Toronto, Ontario
  • Canada Vancouver International Airport (YVR) – Vancouver, BC
  • Canada Winnipeg International Airport (YWG) – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


  • Bahamas, Freeport (FPO) Bahamas
  • Nassau (NAS)
  • Bermuda (BDA) – St. George, Bermuda
  • Aruba (AUA)


  • Shannon Airport (SNN) – Shannon, County Clare
  • Ireland Dublin Airport (DUB) – Dublin, Ireland



Some Great Work


Yesterday, Life Unleashed staffers got to partake as volunteers in a wonderful non-profit event Dance for the Rescues held at the Custom House Plaza, State Historic Park, Monterey, California. This event was established in early 2010 to support the critical work of animal rescue groups committed to making a difference in the lives of at-risk animals and their caretakers. The dance event benefits for non-profit animal rescue organizations. Beneficiaries of the event are Animal Friends Rescue Project (AFRP) and Peace of Mind Dog Rescue (POMDR) – raising more than $87,000 for the two organizations in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. It also features and supports other animal rescue groups committed to making a difference to animals in need.


We also learned of other organizations doing wonderful things to help promote the care and well-being, and awareness of animals. The first group we encountered with a booth at Dance for the Rescues was Operation Freedom Paws. Operation Freedom Paws empowers veterans and others with disabilities to live a quality life by teaching them to train their own dogs, and certifying them as service dog teams. The dogs, usually from rescue organizations or shelters, are carefully evaluated. Each is then matched to a specific client’s physical and psychological needs.


Another California based non-profit we learned about is Red Rover based in Sacramento. This organization offers three great programs. According to the Red Rover web site, the first program is Red Rover Responders which shelters and cares for animals displaced by natural disasters and other crises, such as criminal seizures and hoarding cases, in the United States and Canada. The second program, RedRover Readers offers a unique community-based literacy program that helps children explore the bond between people and animals through stories and discussion. Thirdly, RedRover Relief Provides financial and emotional support to Good Samaritans, animal rescuers and pet owners to help them care for animals in life-threatening situations and resources to help victims of domestic violence escape abusive environments with their pets. Fortunately, you need not be California based in order to volunteer and help spread the word of Red Rover’s mission.  Volunteers live throughout the United States and Canada, and stay connected to RedRover through email newsletters and by working directly with RedRover staff and fellow volunteers. As a volunteer-driven organization, volunteers play an essential role in RedRover’s work.


This amazing organization Pets of the Homeless is based in Nevada yet provides services throughout the United States. According to information provided on the Pets of the Homeless web site and from statistics given by the National Coalition for the Homeless their estimates indicated that 3.5 million people in America are homeless and between 5% to 10% of homeless have dogs and/or cats. In some areas of the country, the rate is as high as 24%. Most people who experience homelessness are homeless for a short period of time and usually need help to find housing or a rent subsidy. Unfortunately for those with pets it becomes more difficult. Many are forced to choose between their pet or a roof over their head. Surprisingly, most choose to stay on the streets with their pets because pets are nonjudgmental; provide comfort and an emotional bond of loyalty. In some cases, they provide the homeless with protection and keep them warm.

Pets of the Homeless has three types of programs:

  1. Providing Pet Food to homeless and less fortunate across the country
  2. Veterinary Care for Pets of the Homeless – Funding to veterinarians that go to where the homeless congregate and provide veterinary care such as vaccines, spay/neuter and other needed treatments.
  3. Pet Sleeping Arrangements at Homeless Shelters – Many homeless with pets do not have access to the necessary resources to move out of a state of homelessness because there are no accommodations for homeless with pets. We recognize the need for homeless services to fill a gap left by not allowing pets into shelters. Due to the homeless’ commitment to their animal companions many rarely seek services that could truly help. Free crates are awarded to homeless shelters looking for ways that allow pets sanctuary with their owners.


Unleash Your Dog’s Star Power

It is quite an exciting time of year for dog breeders and handlers. Congratulations to Sadie! Sadie, a Scottish Terrier was awarded Best in Show at the 134th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Tuesday evening. As for Sadie, she’s the eighth Scottie to win at Westminster. Sadie will undoubtedly now enter into a busy media schedule full of appearances, pawtographs, and interviews.

It is also interesting to note that three new dog breeds were introduced at Westminster this year. Below is an overview of the breeds according to the official Westminster web site.

New addition to the Herding Group -NORWEGIAN BUHUND

“Once the cherished companion of Vikings, the Norwegian Buhund is a versatile farm dog from Norway that herds livestock, guards property, and has been used for hunting game. The name means farm-dog –“Bu” in Norwegian means homestead or farm and “hund” means dog. The Buhund is a double-coated, squarely-built spitz, a little under medium size, with mobile prick ears, a tightly-curled tail carried over the center of its back, and dark, almond-shaped eyes with an intelligent, friendly expression. This working breed has a lot of energy, strength, and stamina, but is also known to be independent,” according to the Westminster Kennel Club (

New addition to the Sporting Group – The Irish Red and White Setter

The Westminster Kennel Club claims, “Despite its name, the Irish Red and White Setter is a distinct breed, not just a different colored version of the Irish Setter. Bred primarily for the field, they should be strong, powerful and athletic, with a keen and intelligent attitude. The coat’s base color is white with solid red patches. Known in Ireland since the 17th century, the Red and White is thought to be the older of the two Irish Setters. However, it was nearly extinct by the end of the 19th century. During the 1920s, efforts were made to revive the Irish Red and White Setter and by the 1940s, the breed began to reemerge in Ireland.” (

The PYRENEAN SHEPHERD joins the Herding Group
This new addition according to the Westminster Kennel Club is, “The Pyrenean Shepherd which is also known by its French name, Berger des Pyrénées, but fanciers of the breed in America often shorten his name to “pyr shep.” Herding has been and remains the mainstay of the economy of the High Pyrenees, and the Pyrenean Shepherd is the traditional working companion of the larger dog, the Great Pyrenees. Together they aid the shepherd in his everyday workings with his herd of sheep or other livestock. Outside his homeland of France the breed is rare, but in France his popularity as a wonderfully devoted family companion has grown considerably since the early 1970s. Although small in stature and weight, it is said, “pound for pound, he has few equals in both herding or guarding.” (

For Those Howlywood Bound

If Best in Show is not your dog’s strong suit maybe your dog will enjoy the Puparazzi? You may find your dog has star power of his own. With Hollywood Paws you start your talented pet off with a career at the Animal Career Academy.

Dog.umentaries are fully customized short films and e-cards starring your precious pooch produced by videovampires,inc. Create one-of-a kind tail wagging tribute for your furry friend online and on DVD.  Visit for more information.

Established in 1940, American Humane’s Film & Television Unit is the leading authority on the safe use of animals in film. They are the only animal welfare organization in the world with on-set jurisdiction from the Screen Actors Guild to supervise the use of animals. You can visit the web site Animal Humane Film & TV Unit to see how it all works.

For all you know your dog could be starring in commercials, movies, or become the next Lassie!

Four Legged Vancouever Olympians

With the excitement generated by last night’s opening Winter Olympic Ceremonies we find it interesting to discover the role of  the four-legged Olympians. Dogs have been in training to take on their Olympian tasks since 2005. Police dogs will be an integral part of the team helping to maintain security at the 2010 Winter Games.

Dogs from existing squads are being trained for the job as well as some specifically reared for the 2010 team. In addition to Canada’s security dogs, the United States’ Squaw Valley Ski Patrol and Avalanche Rescue Dogs will travel to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to assist with security. Squaw Valley is no stranger to Olympic operations having hosted its own Olympic Winter Games in 1960. (

The dogs will patrol all the Olympic venues around the clock throughout the 2010 Games, and many have already been familiarized with the locations during venue construction. Because of their keen sense of smell, said to be 1,000 times more sensitive than a human’s, the dogs are being specifically trained to recognize materials associated with explosives.

“If we do receive a threat during the Games, dogs will be a part of the investigating team,” said Cpl. Gursharn Bernier of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit. They will also be mobilized if there’s a specific threat made against the Olympics.

Dogs will be sporting their own Olympic wear. All security dogs at the Games will be wearing versions of the K9 Storm Vest (, protective and functional gear for service dogs made in Canada by retired Winnipeg Police Service canine unit member Jim Slater.

So what makes for the ideal security or rescue dog? According to Squaw Valley trainers, the handlers look for a puppy that unafraid of loud noises, high energy, and playful. As the dogs matures, the handler will start doing simple training exercises where he runs and hides behind a tree. This process is also referred as “runaways”.  Dogs progress to “open coffin” runaways, being covered in snow, and eventually, live burials. We learned that Squaw Valley tests all of its dogs against the CARDA standards, which means any dog on the team is capable of finding a scented piece of clothing buried under 70 centimeters of snow over night in an area 100 meters square.

Four Legged Foreclosure and Real Estate Agents Lend a Paw

Moving is often an exciting process but that is not the case for people forced to move from their homes. Being in the pet relocation business during this economy, we cannot help but be concerned about the growing problem of homeowners with pets facing foreclosure. The impact of the current economic crisis and the rise in home foreclosures has led to an increase in abandoned pets left on the streets and doorsteps of shelters across the country. Currently the exact number of foreclosure pets is unknown.

This new wave of “foreclosure pets,” is most likely to impact cats, who are often viewed as more disposable than dogs according to sources. In some extreme cases pets are found in the home, long after the owners have left, left to survive in extreme conditions. Cats are often just left behind to fend for themselves to find food and shelter.

I recently came across two great organizations committed to making a difference for pets left behind and to help assist pet parents in crisis situations. Pets are more than animals; they are family members. When financial hardships force a family into foreclosure, pets are affected by the situation too. The first organization is Realtors for ( founded by Gina Carr.

As Gina remarks,

“Right now, our furry friends need us more than ever as they are increasingly being left behind in the foreclosure wave that is sweeping across America. People are losing their homes. Landlords aren’t allowing pets. The shelters are over-run. The end result is that wonderful, adoptable dogs and cats, puppies and kittens are being destroyed simply because there are not enough homes.”

Real estate professionals are often the first to know that a pet is at risk of being abandoned or turned into a shelter. Their web site links to a feature with Kristen Butler, Executive Director of, and Jack, the sweetest little puppy in the world that was rescued by after being abandoned and left in a trap with no food or water for FOUR DAYS!”

Another such organization is the program started by the Chicago Association of Realtors – REALTORS® to the RESCUE which is a not-for-profit who are joining forces to bring to bear the power of the strong network of Chicago Association of Realtors®  members in the city of Chicago to impact the issue of homeless animals.

Suzy Thomas, founding chairperson focuses on utilizing the large association membership and is dedicated to saving the lives of homeless animals by, promoting the adoption of homeless animals, providing and recruiting volunteer support for shelters and providing numerous existing homeless animal shelters across the city support and cooperation to enhance their organizations’ outreach, missions, goals and objectives.

“If you must move into a situation where you will not be able to take your pet, please do the best thing for your devoted animal and make arrangements for him/her. Never abandon your companion animal or turn it loose; there are always other options, ” advises Realtors to the Rescue. (

Congratulations to them for receiving the 2009 Community Service Award granted by the Chicago Association of REALTORS®.