Tips For Fun, Safe Summer Travel With Your Dog


By Kaitlyn Manktelow @Kurgo, the dog travel experts

With the beautiful weather outside, it seems almost a crime for you and your favorite canine to stay inside, instead of enjoying the sunshine together. While it seems pretty easy to just pack up and hit the road with your furry friend, there are some hidden dangers to traveling with a dog that you may not be aware of. Here are some safety tips to ensure both parties have a safe and fun time!

Keep Arms & Legs & Paws Inside at All Times

We know your dog loves to stick his head out the window. While it may seem like an innocent and ‘cute’ thing to allow your pooch to do, it is actually incredibly unsafe.

As human beings, we have a windshield to protect our eyes from different traveling dangers. Hanging with their heads out the window, leaves our four-legged friend’s eyes vulnerable to being hit by foreign objects like rocks, twigs and other forms of debris. The cornea of a dog’s eye is very sensitive and hard to repair if damaged. It also exposes their lungs to breathing in toxic fumes which can cause pneumonia.

Even worse, an unrestrained dog with its head out the window can jump out of a moving car. If a car swerves or is involved with a collision, your pup can be thrown out the window. The severity of these injuries can be anywhere from road rash, to broken bones to even fatal injuries.

Everyone Two-legged and Four, Should Be Buckled Up

Most of us put on a seatbelt in the car without giving it a second thought. We make sure that all human passengers are strapped in, but what about our animal family members?

In addition to being injured in a crash, a loose pet can also be a possible hazard for human passengers in an accident. An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force on anything it hits, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert about 2400 pounds of force.

A loose dog can also limit a driver’s ability to steer, use the gas and brakes as well as create blind spots.

One car safety solution is to use a dog seat belt with a crash-tested dog car harness. Now your dog is safely buckled up just like you.

Click it or ticket – did you know there are laws being put into place in the United States and across the globe making it illegal to drive with a loose pet?

Bring A ‘Pet-Friendly’ Travel Kit

When humans travel, we have our go-to items like a water bottle, favorite snack or comfy sweatpants. Make your pet more comfortable on the trip by bringing them creature comforts too. Hydration is important in the summer, so be sure to throw in water for your dog and a portable dog travel bowl. Some dogs have anxiety so giving them something that smells like home such as a favorite toy or blanket can ease their fears. And of course snacks. Treats can be an easy way to coax a reluctant dog back in the car after a rest stop break.

Never, Ever Leave Your Pup Alone in the Car

A dog should never be left in an unattended car, no matter the season. However, in summer heat, it is even more important considering that on an 85 degree day, car temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees within 10 minutes even with the windows open!

For more tips, check out this Pet Travel Safety Tips Video.

About Kaitlyn Manktelow – Kaitlyn is a writer and videographer for Kurgo, a dog travel and outdoor products company. She enjoys filming, traveling, and singing way too loud with her rescue dog Samuel Jackson.

Pets Left in Vehicles Pose Deadly Combination

Kalamazoo Humane Society Educates Owners: Extreme Heat Puts Pets at Risk

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This summer’s high temperatures have sparked an explosion of calls to local law enforcement about animals being left in cars. The Kalamazoo Humane Society warns that leaving a pet alone in a vehicle for any length of time can be deadly.

“It’s not enough to leave the car running or to crack open the windows,” said Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society (KHS). “Cracking a window makes no significant difference in the internal temperature of a vehicle. Even leaving the vehicle and its air conditioning running might not be enough to keep a pet safe.”

The temperature inside a car left in the sun on a 70-degree day can reach 104 degrees in half an hour. On a 90-degree day, that temperature can reach 124 degrees that quickly.
Stephen Lawrence, Director of Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement, said KCASE is receiving up to five calls a day this summer. “As the temperatures increase, so do the number of calls we get about dogs being left in hot cars,” he said.

In many of these cases, the vehicles are either no longer there when the officers arrive or the dog is not showing signs of distress. If a dog is in distress, it is removed. According to Lawrence, so far this summer three dog owners face neglect-related charges after leaving their dogs in hot vehicles.

Even leaving a vehicle and its air conditioning running is no guarantee. In late July, 14 dogs left for two hours in a transport vehicle died after its air conditioner failed.

According to Winters, there is no magic temperature that makes it safe to leave pets in vehicles. Heat can rise to deadly temperatures inside a car even when the outside temperature is relatively cool. “The sun shining through the windows works like a greenhouse, raising the temperature substantially,” Winters said. “This can happen at any time of year.”

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety encourages citizens to dial 9-1-1 if they believe a pet in a vehicle is in distress. KPS does not condone or recommend anyone attempt to remove pets from vehicles themselves. Winters added that trying to rescue a pet from a vehicle can leave a would-be rescuer facing an aggressive animal, a runaway animal or an angry owner. “Leaving these situations to trained law enforcement is the best thing to do,” Winters said.

The Kalamazoo Humane Society has vehicle sun shades available for sale to help spread awareness for pets trapped in hot cars. These shields urge concerned citizens to call 9-1-1 if they spot a pet in distress.

Windshield Sun Shades

Windshield Sun Shades $20, available online and in our office. $10 is donated back to the Kalamazoo Humane Society!


  • Every year in the US, dogs die in cars that are running due to mechanical failures
  • A normal body temperature for a dog is 101°-102.5°; heatstroke occurs when body temps are at 108°-109° and higher.
  • A dog can experience heatstroke in as little as 15 minutes in a hot vehicle
  • All dogs are at risk for heatstroke, but certain dogs are considered to be at an even higher risk such as flat-faced dogs like bulldogs and boston terriers, very old dogs, very young dogs, dogs with existing medical conditions and dogs that are extra-active or don’t know when to  quit
  • Signs of heatstroke and respiratory distress include excessive panting and drooling, bright red tongue and/or gums or very pale gums, thick saliva, dizziness, vomiting with or without blood, diarrhea and loss of consciousness
  • Dogs are unable to sweat and release excess body heat through their paw pads and by panting
  • Owners can face charges for neglect, torture or inadequate care for dogs left to suffer in hot cars

More Info:

Be a courteous dog walker

The ground hasn’t had snow on it in days and the weather is going to be B-E-A-Utiful for at least the next few days!  People and pets will be hitting popular walking trails like the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, Celery Flats, Kleinstuck Preserve and Asylum Lake.  This is a great time of year to stretch your legs (and your dog’s legs too!) after being cooped up all winter.  It’s also the perfect time to freshen up our “Trail Etiquette” and remember how to be a courteous dog walker.

If you liked it then you shoulda put a leash on it

For so many reasons, leashing your dog is the safest, most courteous thing you can do. Years ago at Asylum Lake I was walking my two large dogs (one Rottweiler and one Lab; both friendly) on leashes.  Lots of fields and forest, and very quiet and peaceful.  Out of nowhere, two large Golden Retrievers came running up the path heading right for me.  I stopped, and I attempted to control both of my dogs who were yanking my arms out of socket to “go play”.  The Retrievers bounded over to my dogs and chaos ensued with leashes and legs being tangled, barking, sniffing, and lots of jumping up and down.  I was drowning in a combined 400+ lbs of fur and so very thankful that my dogs and these stray dogs were getting along.

By the time the owner of the Retrievers came into sight, I was dirty, scraped up, sore, and my dogs were acting like sugar-buzzed youths at a Chuck E Cheese.  It was not a good situation.  I could feel my relief as the offending dog owner ran over to me with her leashes in her hand.  I was prepared for an apology and a story about how her dogs got away from her, and I was equally prepared to get on with my day after that.  She grabbed her dogs by the collars and when she opened her mouth to speak she said “Did your Rottweiler bite my dogs?”  WHAT?  She then continues… “Are your dogs friendly?  You really shouldn’t bring dogs here that aren’t friendly.”  That was my breaking point.

The moral of the story:  LEASH YOUR DOGS!  I love animals, I love dogs, but for the sake of everyone involved please just leash your dogs.

Drop it like it’s hot, but then pick it up and throw it away, k?

Dog poop is gross.  No one likes dog poop, not even if it belongs to their own dog.  If you’re taking your dog for a walk it’s safe to assume there will be at least one stop-and-squat along the way, so bring a bag and a few extras, and be prepared to clean up after your pet.  Poop is not fun to step in, it spreads disease and worms and all other kinds of nasty stuff, and it doesn’t belong in the middle of public trail (or sidewalk, road, path, route, etc…).

Can you say “Misdemeanor”?

Believe it or not, walking with your dog off leash is a misdemeanor offense that will be added to your criminal history.  Law Enforcement and Animal Services Officers can and do issue citations on a regular basis for “Dog At Large” which basically means “Your dog was running loose and you got busted!” It doesn’t matter if your dog has been trained to respond to hand signals, a clicker, or a special language that only you and your dog know.  No matter how well behaved you believe your dog is, a leash is required.

This is a state-wide law in Michigan, so no matter where you go in the Great Lake State, make sure to use your leash if you’re bringing your dog along for the ride.

Here’s a a hilarious video from The Trail Foundation in Austin, TX highlights how irresponsible dog walkers can ruin a great day on the trail for everyone!

Enjoy this amazing weather!

KHS assists in dog fighting raid in Oshtemo Twsp

Oshtemo Township, MI, February 17, 2016– Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement has been investigating dog fighting in Kalamazoo, which has led them to 7645 W KL Avenue for the second time since August 2012. A specialized team of law enforcement and animal welfare experts from Kalamazoo County Animal Services, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department, Kalamazoo Humane Society and Humane Society of the United States converged on the property belonging to Kelvin Thomas, 55, at approximately 9:00am on Wednesday morning. The search uncovered 3 Doberman Pinschers, 7 Pit Bull Terriers and evidence of dog fighting.

Thomas was a primary suspect in the 2012 dog fighting raids led by Kalamazoo County Animal Services. At that time, 32 dogs were removed from his property as well as overwhelming evidence of dog fighting, including a bloody fighting pit. He pled guilty to two charges in December of 2012 and received a sentence of $500 and court fines, 160 hours of community service and a two-year probation where Thomas was not to own or possess animals. Thomas only spent two days in jail.

None of the dogs seized on Wednesday were registered as required by state law, and all of the dogs were kept in the same pens and dog houses as those that were removed in 2012.

“Dog fighting is a serious offense that happens everywhere; not just major cities. Thomas is just one suspect on a long list of others in the Kalamazoo area,” says Mark Vanderberg, the investigating officer from Kalamazoo County Animal Services.

Charges are expected to be filed against Thomas after the dogs and evidence have been examined. There is no statement yet on the individual condition of the dogs that were seized, however there was a veterinarian at the scene during the search and seizure operation.

If Thomas is charged as a result of this latest investigation, this will be his third time facing charges for dog fighting.

If you suspect any dog fighting activity, contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services at 269-383-8775, or the animal services department for your county.

“Dog fighting is a well-hidden crime. Without the help of concerned citizens, many dog fighters will go undetected. We know It’s scary to step up and make a report, but it’s important to do the right thing for animals and for our community.” Says Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Julie Barber at 269-743-0393 or email

Humane Society of the United States Coverage:

Did Winter catch you unprepared?

With shopping, travel and the holidays having an extended Fall season was great!  No bad hair days on Christmas morning, no white-knuckled drives to Grandma’s house, and no house-full of guests dragging in snowy boots!  All-in-all, this was a fantastic end to a year.

With the New Year came new weather; snow, ice and blustery cold winds.  This weather was inevitable, and if you procrastinated in prepping for another Michigan winter, you’ll want to make sure to catch up quickly!  Here’s our best tips for getting your home ready for whatever this winter has to bring.

Outdoor Pets

We’d love for every pet to be indoors, safe and warm and cozied up by a fire but there are a number of outdoor pets that for whatever reason aren’t brought inside during bad weather.  If you are the owner of an outdoor pet, you need to be aware that you are responsible for providing adequate shelter and provisions to keep your pet healthy during the winter months.

Dogs are required by law to have clean, dry bedding and an area free from feces and debris.  Many dog owners will use old blankets or comforters and change or wash them as they become dirty.  Many others use straw.  Whatever you choose, make sure it’s dry and can be replaced as needed.  When snow melts and the area around your dog house gets muddy, your dog will be bringing all that dampness and dirt into his shelter.  Keep up on removing any feces build-up, and keep food and water dishes away from areas where your dog will be going to the bathroom.

If you haven’t already done it, take the time to check out the structure of your dog house, rabbit hutch, or other outdoor structure.  Does it leak?  Can you see daylight from the inside?  Does the roof need patching?  Your pet will be spending a significant amount of time inside whatever you have provided, and it needs to be in a state of good repair.  Write out a list of repairs or updates that need to be made and head over to your local hardware store.  Discounted building supplies can often be found at Habitat for Humanity Re-store’s, or even online using Craigslist.

Having a structure isn’t enough.  You’ll need to make sure your dog house, hutch or shelter is well protected from the wind, snow and cold.  Placing your shelter alongside an existing building that can protect it from some of the elements is helpful, but you might also consider using tarps, plastic sheeting,  or wood panels to further block out the wind and snow.

Elevating your shelter is also an effective way to keep out dirt and debris, and hold in heat.  If you can get your shelter on a palette or other platform and insulate beneath the shelter, you reduce heat loss and moisture from seeping in.

Peeling paint and faded stains on wood surfaces will speed up the decay of your structure.  This is going to be a Spring or indoor project, but make sure you get to it as soon as possible to avoid health hazards to your pet and to extend the life of your shelter.

Your pet can also be bulked up to help withstand winter conditions!  Just like humans, animals are made up of mostly water.  Making sure your pets nutrition is ideal for building a healthy later of fat and a hair coat that is in good condition will help to retain body heat.  Check with your veterinarian about a proper winter diet.  Pets will burn an increased number of calories to produce heat and stay warm.  You’ll need to make sure the diet your pet is on has enough calories to maintain a healthy body mass.

Even if your shelter is in great shape and your pet is beefy and fluffy, there will be days that are just too cold and dangerous for any domesticated animal to remain outside.  In these cases, it’s best to bring your pet inside.  If for any reason you cannot bring the pet into the living spaces of your home, try to allow access to the basement, a laundry room, or the garage.  There are some pets that cannot withstand a typical Michigan winter, even with a good shelter due to age, health or breed related reasons.

Use your best judgement or the opinion of your veterinarian to determine if your pet can be kept comfortably outdoors.  If you’re looking to get a new pet and you have no plans to bring it inside, look closely at your reasons for wanting a pet before adding an animal to that lifestyle.  At all times, your decisions need to be made in the best interest of the people and pets in your care. If you need to make sacrifices to your pet in order to keep the people in your home healthy and safe, you may want to consider re-homing your pet where it can receive a higher standard of care.

In the event of severe weather, power outages or evacuations, make sure to have enough pet food on hand to last a week, including water for your pet.  You may also want to keep an emergency kit handy that includes supplies for first aid, enough transport carriers for your pets and dry bedding.

One year ago, on Friday, January 9th, 2015, a 193-vehicle crash on I-94 created a hazmat situation that resulted in a police-mandated evacuation of residents in a 3-mile radius of the accident.  If you were asked to evacuate your home right now, would you be prepared?  Having a “Go-Kit” prepared and a plan of where to go could mean the difference between life and death for your outdoor pet(s).

It is not illegal to have outdoor pets.  If you’re seeing an outdoor dog that appears to be without essential shelter, food, or water, contact your local animal services department right away and have them check it out.  They will be able to bring the owner up to compliance and offer tips to improve the living conditions of the dog or outdoor pet.  Animal welfare professionals cannot remove an animal without cause.  If an outdoor pet is in a state of good health and has the minimum required provisions, they will not be able to legally remove the pet or charge the owner with neglect.

If an animal is not moving and does not seem alert, call your local animal authorities right away.  Outdoor dogs, cats and rabbits do not hibernate.  Aside from sleeping and napping, they should be alert and active throughout the winter months.

Straw can be found at retail stores, farm and garden centers, and local farms.  If you need help finding straw, here is a list of places you can try:

Brown Hay & Grain (269) 628-4426
26366 M-40 Gobles 49055
Standard Bale $5.00

Family Farm & Home (269) 927-1983
1391 Cinema Way Benton Harbor 49022
Standard Bale $5.75

Family Farm & Home (269) 278-2222
1326 W Broadway Three Rivers 49093
Standard Bale $5.99

Family Farm & Home (269) 686-9309
1596 Lincoln Road Allegan 49010
Standard Bale $7.00

Farm N Garden, Inc (269) 381-0596
1003 Staples Ave Kalamazoo 49007
Standard Bale $6.95

Kalamazoo Landscape (269) 375-8000
5111 S 9th St Kalamazoo 49009
Standard Bale $5.50

Mulder Landscape (269) 345-6900
3333 Ravine Rd Kalamazoo 49006
Standard Bale $6.00

Oak Ridge Feed (269) 353-3332
7035 Stadium Dr Kalamazoo 49009
Standard Bale $6.00

Prudential Nursey (269) 649-1610
13038 S 24th St Schoolcraft 49087
Standard Bale $5.00

Romence Gardens (269) 323-8310
9660 Shaver Rd Portage 49024
Standard Bale $5.99

Southwestern MI Feed (269) 674-3720
231 S Paw Paw St Lawrence 49064
Standard Bale $5.50

The Feed Bag (269) 629-9586
8532 N 32nd St Richland 49083
Standard Bale $5.25

Tractor Supply (269) 381-0904
6285 Gull Rd Kalamazoo 49048
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 323-3199
8610 Shaver Rd Portage 49024
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 685-1001
1221 M-89 Plainwell 49080
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 979-8372
6360 B Dr North Battle Creek 49014
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 657-2107
1000 S. Kalamazoo Ave Paw Paw 49079
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Tractor Supply (269) 279-5296
301 US 131 Three Rivers 49093
50lb Compressed Bale $10.99

Wedels (269) 345-1195
5020 Texas Dr Kalamazoo 49009
Standard Bale $6.99

As always, the Kalamazoo Humane Society is happy to provide shelter and straw to pets in need.  Straw can be picked up free of charge for those that can’t afford to purchase it at our office at 4239 S. Westnedge Ave during our regular open hours.  We can also work with owners to get a dog house.  If you know of an owner struggling with food, straw or shelter for a pet, please have them call us at 269-345-1181 or visit us on Westnedge.

Dog License 101: What every dog owner needs to know

You have a dog.

You remembered to buy a leash and collar, dog food and treats, toys, cute little booties and jackets for walks in the rain and snow, a snuggly blankie and dog bed, flea prevention, 15 different sized and textured balls, a car seat if it’s a little fella’ and all of its shots are up to date.  What could possibly be missing?  The Dog License!  Which, ironically, is one of the cheapest things you need to purchase for your dog.

A dog license, much like a car registration or fishing license, is one of those things that the State of Michigan requires by law.  It isn’t optional, and the penalties can get pretty expensive if you are caught without it.

The State of Michigan wrote into law that each county is responsible for selling and maintaining record of every dog license.  These licenses are to be purchased for each dog aged 4 months or older.  While there is some variance from one county to another as to how licenses are sold, some things are the same everywhere in Michigan.

2015-12-30 12.48.58

The Purpose

Dog licenses started as a way for the state to keep better records of Rabies vaccinations at a time when Rabies was not as uncommon as it is today.  While Rabies still has no cure, thanks to preventative laws that require Rabies vaccines and dog licenses, it is extremely uncommon for domestic cats and dogs in Michigan to test positive.  There is a much higher occurrence of Rabies in bats and wildlife which can potentially be spread to domestic animals that come into direct contact.

Since this law was first passed in 1919, dog licenses are also recognized as the most basic form of ID you can put on your dog.  When dogs are found wearing a dog license, they are more likely to be returned to the owner before having to visit the stray animal shelter first.

Rabies Vaccines are Required

In order to get a dog license, your dog must currently Rabies vaccinated with at least 30 days left before that vaccine expires.  This means that if you try to buy a license today and your Rabies vaccine expires in 2 weeks, you will be denied until your dog is re-vaccinated.

If your pet cannot be vaccinated for any  medical reason, a veterinarian can give you a signed waiver on veterinary letterhead describing the reason for the inability to vaccinate, and the duration of this status (temporary issue or a lifetime condition).

Dogs that cannot be Rabies vaccinated must still be licensed.

Service Dogs Must Be Licensed

Service dogs are not exempt from licensing but may qualify for a free license.  Service dog owners are still required to Rabies vaccinate their dog and adhere to the licensing schedule just like any other dog owner.  Mental health and therapy dogs are not service dogs, with the exception of dogs prescribed for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

For more information on service animals, please get the ADA Requirements at the ADA website:

To find out how to get a license for your service dog, contact your local Animal Control or Treasurer (whoever sells the licenses in your county) and ask what requirements you must meet to get a free service dog license.

Failure to Rabies Vaccinate and Failure to Buy Dog License

It is a misdemeanor offense if you are caught without a Rabies vaccine or dog license.

It’s possible to be written a citation and have to appear in court.  There could also be late fees and court fines associated with failing to comply with the law.

While many in Kalamazoo County are used to waiting for a “fix-it ticket” to comply, in 2015 Kalamazoo County Courts determined that Animal Services & Enforcement could no longer issue the fix-it tickets, and dog owners in violation should be issued a citation to appear in court immediately.

The Cost

Dog licenses in Kalamazoo County are $10 for an altered dog or puppy under 1 year old, or $40 for a dog that is at least 1 year old and unaltered.  Fees vary from county to county, so please find out from your local authorities what your cost will be.

Where To Get A Dog License

For Kalamazoo County Residents:

Mail in your proof of Rabies and application or renewal notice to:
Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement
2500 Lake Street, Kalamazoo MI  49048

Licenses can be purchased at the following offices:

  • Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement
  • Kalamazoo County Treasurer Office
  • All township/village/city halls in Kalamazoo County
  • The following vet clinics:2015-12-30 12.47.44
    • Animal Clinic
    • Creature Comfort
    • Crestview
    • Denney
    • East Main
    • Family Pet Health
    • Friendship Animal
    • Gull Lake Animal
    • Kalamazoo Animal
    • Lakeview Animal
    • Mattawan Animal
    • Milwood Animal
    • Oakwood Animal
    • Oshtemo Vet
    • Paw Paw Vet
    • Pet Vet
    • Portage Animal
    • Red Arrow
    • Richland
    • Schoolcraft Vet
    • Shaver Road
    • Sprinkle Road
    • Texas Corners
    • Visiting Vet
    • West Main
    • Woodland

Residents outside of Kalamazoo County should check with your own licensing agent to find out more about fees and due dates.  Here’s a quick list of who to contact:

Southwest Michigan Area dog licensing agencies can be reached at the following numbers:

• Allegan County residents call the Allegan County Treasurer’s Office at 269-673-0260
• Barry County residents call the Barry County Animal Control at 269-948-4885
• Berrien County residents call the Berrien County Animal Control at 269-471-7531
• Branch County residents call the Branch County Animal Control at 517-639-3210
• Calhoun County residents call the Calhoun County Treasurer’s Office at 269-781-0807
(Residents in the Battle Creek City Limits must purchase from the Battle Creek City Offices)
• Cass County residents call the Cass County Treasurer’s Office at 269-445-4468
• Kalamazoo County residents call Kalamazoo County Animal Services at 269-383-8775
• Kent County residents call the Kent County Animal Control at 616-632-7100
• St. Joe County residents call the St. Joe County Animal Control at 269-467-6475
• Van Buren County residents call the Van Buren County Treasurer’s Office at 269-657-8228


Aaron Winters talks “Holiday Pet Hazards” on WKZO this morning

WKZO LogoPet hazards are a real danger at any time of year, but keeping an eye on Fluffy and Fido during the holiday season, and knowing what to keep an eye out for can be daunting to any pet owner.  Don’t sacrifice the safety of your pet for seasonal decorations.  Is your house pet-friendly this season?  Find out!

Shaving Your Dog in the Summer is Not Cool

Red ChowOwners of double-coated dogs (dogs with both a topcoat and an undercoat) don’t need to do anything drastic like shave your dog in the summer.  In fact, shaving your double-coated dog can have unintended negative consequences and lead to an even worse response to the warm weather.

(For a complete list of double-coated dogs, click here)

Top Coats:
The topcoat of a dog is the coat you see when you’re looking at the dog, and it gives the dog its unique and breed-specific look.  The topcoat hairs are the longest, and grow out and over any shorter undercoat hairs.  The top coat is course, glossy and straight.  Most of the color of your dog’s fur is in the top coat hairs.  These hairs protect your dog’s skin from water, UV rays, and insects among any number of other environmental debris.

Under Coats:
The undercoat is shorter, softer and may be a different color from the rest of your dog’s fur.  There are a lot more strands of undercoat than there are of topcoat.  This layer of fluffier fur serves as a natural heating and cooling system for your dog by maintaining a layer of air between your dog’s skin and the top coat.  This layer of air is what helps regulate your pet’s body temperature in cold and hot weather.  The undercoat “blows out” or sheds and regenerates several times a year, and especially during seasonal changes.  This layer may start sticking out in patches from underneath the top coat when it’s ready to blow out, and can be managed by using an appropriate dog brush to remove these soft, fine hairs.

Brushing Mountain DogWhen you shave your dog, you’re removing it’s natural defense against the heat.  You’re taking away the insulator of it’s fur and removing the layer of air that keeps your dog’s skin cooler.  You’re also exposing your pet’s skin to UV rays which can lead to severe sunburns.  Dog skin has significantly less layers than humans, which can result in more severe burning when exposed to the sun’s rays.  You’re also giving ‘skeeters, ticks and other insects direct access to your dog’s skin.  In short (no pun intended), leave the fur alone.

It’s easy to think that by shaving your dog he’ll be cooler in the summer, because after all, aren’t you cooler when you’re wearing “summer clothes”?  The problem here is that people get sweaty; dog’s don’t.  Humans release heat and control body temperature through their skin by sweating, but dogs rely on panting, the pads of their paws, and their fur to control their body temperatures.  Shaving your dog can actually speed up the over-heating process which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

Great PyreneesIt’s also not true that shaving a dog will reduce shedding.  Excessive shedding is a result of nutritional deficiencies, improper or irregular grooming, stress or another medical problem; it has nothing to do with the dog’s hair.  A shaved dog will shed just as much as an unshaved dog, with the only difference being the length of the dog hair.  It’s important to choose a breed that will fit into your lifestyle.  Choosing a double-coated breed may not be a good match for an owner with minimal time or patience for cleaning up and grooming needs.

Allergies to your dog is also not a valid reason to shave it.  If you’re allergies are a result of the dander, which are the microscopic skin flakes shed by your dog, shaving off the fur is allowing those allergens to escape the fur layer and increase your allergy.  If you have, or develop, allergies to your dog, you will find more ease in properly grooming and maintaining your dog’s skin and coat.

Shaving is different than a “summer cut”.  Giving trims here and there is acceptable as long as you aren’t actually using clippers to get down to remove undercoat.  Regular brushing will help keep your dog’s coat in optimal condition and reduce the loose hairs.  How much brushing needed depends on the breed and your dog.  Shaving your double-coated dog will do more harm than good.

Related Articles and Information:

Shelter Pet Feature: Annie the Beagle

Annie 57/88167

Annie 57/88167

Annie is a special girl that needs to be adopted or rescued from Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement.  She’s a stray that was brought in March 24th and she’s been waiting at the KCASE shelter since then for her owners to come find her.  With her owners no where to be found, she’s looking for a new home that will fall in love with her sweet personality, just like the staff at KCASE have.  If you’re in the market for a new dog or have room on the couch for just one more, consider going down and meeting Annie.

She’s passed her safety exam and her food eval, and has shown no signs of aggression.  She’s quite and not barky in the shelter environment our while the volunteers had her outside, and she knows how to sit on command (if you have treats in your hand!).  She’s calm, mature, and she’s ready to go for a walk, or curl up and snuggle whenever you are.

The Details:
Annie is a 6 year old female that has not been spayed yet.  Her adoption fee of $155.00 includes her spay surgery, Rabies vaccine, microchip with registration, Distemper booster vaccine, bordetella vaccine, heart worm test and dog license.

Annie can be found at 2500 Lake Street, Kalamazoo MI  49008, Phone:  269-383-8775
She cannot be adopted over the phone, and anyone interested will need to go to the shelter to meet her and fill out the appropriate paperwork.

Attached find her Behavior Assessment and her Cage Card from KCASE:
❱ Annie Behavior Assessment
❱ Annie Cage Card (PDF)

Know The Law: Dogs on Chains & Tethering

As long as dogs continue to have legs and free will, dog owners will need to find ways to keep dogs at home.  The most accessible and inexpensive method is tethering; the practice of securing a dog to a location with a rope or chain to prevent it from running loose.  Sounds simple enough, but there are legal requirements that must be met or this seemingly simple practice can get owners into a lot of trouble.  From collars to tether lengths to potential hazards, we’re breaking it down for you to keep you on the right side of the law.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhy are dogs tethered?

Dog at Large is a fancy way to say “Dog Running Loose”, which is bad and can be expensive if Poochie is pickup up and turned over the local animal shelter.  It can also result in fines, and the owner is held responsible for anything Poochie did while have a good time in the  neighborhood.  If Poochie isn’t the nicest dog on the block, that can cause even further issues if he bites or injures another animal or person.  The bottom line:  Poochie must stay at home! Tethering is affordable and quick.  Tethering doesn’t work for every dog, especially dogs that have a knack for escaping, but in many cases it does the trick and eliminates the need for the owner to have to remain outside with Poochie when he’s out getting his fresh air for the day.

How long can a dog be tied out for?

In relation to Michigan State Law, it doesn’t matter if a dog is tied out for 15 minutes or 24 hours a day.  As long as the legal requirements are being met, there is no legal reason why a dog cannot be tied outside.  Some local jurisdictions may have more restrictions, such as time limits.  The City of Battle Creek is one example of a city that has time restrictions for tethering a dog stating:

City of Battle Creek Ordinance 608.09 Cruelty to Animals:

7.  Confine an animal on a tether unless the tether allows the animal access to suitable shelter and:
         A.   For dogs, the tether is at least ten feet in length; the tether and collar, harness or other type of collaring device when taken together weighs not more than one-eighth of the dog’s body weight and does not, due to weight, inhibit the free movement of the dog; the manner of tethering prevents injury, strangulation, or entanglement on fences, trees or other man-made or natural obstacles or objects; the collar, harness or any other type of collaring device being used is designed for that purpose and made from material that prevents injury to the dog; the period of tethering does not exceed one continuous hour, except that tethering of the same dog may resume after an hiatus of three continuous hours; and the dog is tethered no more than a total of three hours per day.
It is the legal responsibility of every dog owner to know the laws that exist in your communities.  Some mobile home communities, apartments, sub divisions or other neighborhoods and developments may have rules about tethering, however Animal Control departments cannot enforce private rules; only laws and ordinances.  Your management company can enforce rules, and any consequence for violating those would be determined by your landlord-tenant agreements.

What kind of collar can be used?

By Michigan State Law, only a harness or nonchoke collar designed for tethering can be used.  Pinch/Prong collars, choke chains, and various other training type collars cannot be used.  Martingale collars are permitted as they do not fully constrict and are a good solution for many dogs that know how to back out of a collar.

What kind of tether can be used?

The State of Michigan doesn’t give any specific material that can or cannot be used other than to define tethering as the restraint and confinement of a dog by use of a chain, rope, or similar device.  There are length requirements however, which state the tether must be at least 3 times the length of the dog as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail.  A tether that is too short could be considered Failure to Provide Adequate Care or Neglect/Cruelty depending on the circumstances the dog was found in.  Furthermore, putting a 34 lb. chain on a 38lb. dog (this actually happened…) could be considered cruelty if the Officer or a Veterinarian would be able to prove the dog suffered as a result of the weight of the chain.  While the law doesn’t specify the material or weight of the tether, dog owners need to make sure they aren’t violating any other animal protection laws including those that determine adequate care. Like any other State Law, local jurisdictions may have stricter ordinances in place, so be sure to know what they are, if any, in your area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpecial Considerations:

  • Don’t tether a dog within reach of a fence line or other barrier.  Every year Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement responds to reports of dogs hanging over fences or porch/deck railings.  Owners can be charged with animal cruelty for allowing this to happen to a dog, whether they knew it was happening or not.
  • Dogs will often wrap themselves around a tree, dog house or debris and become immobilized when they can’t untangle themselves.  Please check on your dog periodically and untangle the tether before it becomes a problem.
  • Coated wire cables will become brittle in extreme weather, and when water gets trapped on the inside of the protective coating, it can rust and weaken the cable.  This can result in dogs breaking free.  Check your cable frequently and always use the appropriate weight as recommended on the package for the size of your dog.
  • Thin wire or ropes can get wrapped around the limbs of your dog and cause rope burns or other injuries.  Avoid materials that are abrasive, sharp or too thin.
  • Remove any debris, stumps or other potential hazards away from the area your pet is going to be tethered in.
  • Never tether two dogs within reach of each other, even if they normally get along.
  • A tethered dog must have access to shelter – If you plan to leave your dog unattended for any length of time or overnight, get a dog house.
  • Screw-in stakes and other shallow anchors do not work for strong or large dogs.  If you need to tie out a dog that is strong, or pulls, consider anchoring the tether to a permanent or firmly fixed object like a deep post or a tree.
  • Never leave an aggressive dog unattended on a tether.

Concerns about Tethering:

There are many thoughts on tethering dogs, especially “outdoor dogs” that spend most if not all of the time outside on a tether.  This article is not intended to judge or choose a side, but rather to educate all dog owners about the specific legal requirements concerning tethering.  This is not an article about the keeping of outdoor dogs.  If you plan to tether your dog, take the time to consider all available containment options, and make choices based on the well-being and health of your pet. Any dog owner in the possession of a dog kept outside because the dog is no longer wanted is strongly encouraged to try to find placement for the dog before making it live outside 24/7.  Not all outdoor dogs are neglected, but it is important for all dog owners to understand the social and emotional needs of animals even if those needs are not clearly defined or addressed in the law.

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