November Is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Sure you can, but really, why would you want to? Old dogs (and cats) are perfect just the way they are.

November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. It’s a sad fact that older animals have the hardest time finding homes and are often the first to be killed at city and county shelters. But there are so many reasons that older animals make ideal companions. Here are just a few:

Older pets are typically calmer than curious puppies and kittens and are quite content with a more relaxing day-to to-day routine. The mellow nature of older pets makes them a great fit for households with children too. Before ending up in shelters, senior pets often come from some sort of family life which makes adjusting to a new home environment much easier than it could be for puppies or kittens.

Senior dogs and cats are often already trained (and potty trained) and may even be pros at performing basic commands. The great news is that even if they’re not, they are much easier to train than younger animals. Their experience around humans, along with more established physical and mental abilities, allow them to better understand the requested commands and pick up new tasks much faster than puppies or kittens.

Senior animals don’t require the constant attention required young ones. Of course, they still love to play and go for walks, they just don’t require as much of your focus and energy. All they really want is a warm and comfortable place to sleep, fresh food and water, and a companion to love and one who will love them back. If you want an animal friend who can fit right in the moment he or she comes home, a senior dog or cat might be just what you’re looking for.

Last, but far from least, by adopting a senior pet or any animal – you are giving the gift of life. Animals, old and young, are dumped at city and county shelters every day, and, sadly, many will never leave alive. Doesn’t every animal deserve a chance at a loving and caring home?

Thinking about adding an animal companion to your household? Adopt and save a life – and why not adopt a grateful and loving older animal?

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

Tips for an Animal-Friendly Halloween

Just before Halloween in 1969, “Peanuts” director Bill Melendez accompanied me and a photographer to a pumpkin stand on Pico Boulevard. “Let’s see a beautiful smile, my Lucy,” Melendez said, “for the Great Pumpkin.” The photo was used to promote the upcoming release of the movie “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”


Halloween can be a treat but keeping animals safe doesn’t have to be tricky. Here are some tips for making your Halloween fun and animal-friendly.

Keep candy out of reach of animals

The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not animals. Lots of common Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats, and sugar-free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol can cause serious problems in pets. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian immediately.

Better yet, have a vegan Halloween

Vegan Halloween treats aren’t hard to come by. There are plenty of plant-based, cruelty-free options available right in the middle of the candy aisle of your local supermarket. The following candy brands are all vegan and widely available in grocery or convenience stores, making them ideal for hungry trick-or-treaters. While these brands are vegan, be sure to double check the ingredients before purchasing. Do the same with any special Halloween versions of these products, as this sometimes means a change in the standard recipe.

Vegan candies: Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers, Cracker Jack, Gummi Bears, Swedish Fish, Skittles, Mamba Fruit Chews, Sour Patch Kids, Dots, Smarties, Sweet Tarts.

When shopping for vegan Halloween candy, avoid the following ingredients associated with animal cruelty:

Dairy: Found mostly in chocolate and caramel products, this can also be described as milkfat, whey, or caesin.

Gelatin: A common ingredient in gummy candies, gelatin is made from animal tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Shellac: Also known as “confectioner’s glaze,” this glossy product is created using the excretions of certain insects.

Carmine: Usually found in bright red products, carmine is a pigment made by crushing the shell of a female cochineal insect.

Eggs: Obviously not plant-based!

Of course, an even healthier alternative would be sweet and delicious dried fruits, like raisins, berries, and plantain chips, also readily available in every supermarket.

Watch the decorations and keep wires out of reach

While a carved jack-o-lantern may be festive, pets can accidentally knock over a lit pumpkin and start a fire. Curious puppies and kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or singed by candle flame. Decorative Halloween plants like gourds and multi-colored corn are considered relatively nontoxic but can produce stomach discomfort in your animal companions who nibble on them.

Skip the costumes for your animal companions

For many dogs and cats, wearing a costume can cause undue stress and discomfort. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume; consider limiting his or her “costume” to a safely-tied, colorful bandana. If you insist on dressing an animal for Halloween, make sure the costume does not restrict his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Know, too, that ill-fitting outfits can get caught on things, leading to injury.

Keep pets calm and easily identifiable

Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and too many strangers can often be scary and stressful for your pets. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog or cat doesn’t dart outside. And always make sure he or she is wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost animal friend. Make sure the collar is fitted properly, too. Too tight, and breathing is restricted; too loose, and curious animals who explore tight places head-first can get caught and strangle. If you can slip two fingers easily between the collar and your pet’s neck, that’s just right.

Recycle your pumpkins for homeless animals

Stop! Don’t throw away that carved pumpkin when Halloween is over! Hollowed-out pumpkins make safe, warm, and edible housing for small animals. I leave mine in the woods. Check back days later, and you’ll often find a chipmunk or other small animal has moved in. Squirrels, rabbits, and other animals may make a holiday feast of your discarded pumpkin, too.

Peace to all the animals with whom we share the planet!


Thinking of Giving a Companion Animal to Someone You Love This Christmas? Do It Right!

Once you’ve decided that you and your family have the time, the patience, the financial means, and the compassion to bring a companion animal into your home, go to your local city or county animal shelter to adopt. You will be amazed at how many wonderful cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens are desperately waiting for someone to come in and save them from imminent death. Did you know that over five million healthy, adoptable companion animals are killed every year in shelters and pounds for no other reason but the lack of people to adopt them? Most animal shelters not only have cuddly cats and doggies waiting for loving homes, but also rabbits, chickens, pigs, etc., all of whom are homeless and longing to be a companion to someone special.

Many local rescue organizations hold adoption days at pet supply outlets such as Petco and PetSmart, etc. If you’re looking online, go to, where you can search more than 4,000 shelters across the country by breed, size, location and other categories for wonderful animals to adopt.

Irresponsible people who don’t spay or neuter their pets, dump boxes of newborns at city and county shelters. It’s a terrible way to start out life, unwanted and abandoned. Personally, though, I have always adopted older doggies. They’re every bit as loveable as a puppy or kitten, but typically more mellow, and they don’t need to be potty-trained! Remember, too, that older animals are the first to be killed at shelters.

There are other great reasons for adopting an animal from a shelter or pound. The cost is low, and there are often discounts on spaying and neutering; most shelters spay or neuter your new best friend for you.

Never, ever buy from a breeder or pet shop. Adopt your next best friend and know that you are saving not one, but two lives – the precious animal you are adopting, and, by opening up shelter space, another animal who now has a chance to be rescued.

When you’ve done it right, your child or loved one will receive the gift of a longtime friend and companion. Those who share their home with an animal find the experience one of the most magnificent of their lives.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!