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Thinking of a New Pet? Why Pet Adoption Should be Your First Option

By: Laura Sesana

WASHINGTON, September 4, 2012- I grew up with dogs at home and naturally, when I moved out to college, I wanted a dog of my own. I wanted a perfect puppy and bought a Miniature Schnauzer at a pet store on Lexington Avenue in New York City, kind of on impulse. Luckily, we were a good fit, and she was my best friend and companion for 14 wonderful years.

However, after learning about the practices of pet stores and puppy mills, I wished I had done a little research and checked out my local shelter or the Internet first. Today, my husband and I have two dogs, both rescues from Petfinder.com. They fit our lifestyle perfectly, and our family wouldn’t be the same without them.

If you are thinking about getting a pet, there are several reasons to consider adoption before contacting a breeder or heading out to a pet store.

1. Save a life. Be a hero! By adopting a pet, you will be saving a life. Petfinder.com estimates that six to eight million pets got to a shelter every year. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), three to four million pets are euthanized every year because shelters are overcrowded and not every pet can find a home. By adopting a pet from a shelter, humane society, breed rescue group, or animal control agency, you will be saving the life of a very grateful animal.

2. Avoid supporting puppy mills and pet stores. By adopting a pet, you will not be supporting pet stores and puppy mills. Pet stores, online sellers, and people who sell their animals through classified advertisements in the newspaper often get their animals from puppy mills and are willing to sell them to anyone willing to pay, no questions asked. Puppy mills and pet stores are part of a very cruel industry where animals are kept in shockingly brutal conditions with little medical care. Breeding dogs in puppy mills are locked in small cages for years without human companionship or attention. After a heartbreaking life spent in a cage, these animals are then killed, abandoned, or sold at auction.

Pet stores will also sell an animal to anybody, without making sure that the animal will go to a good home, will be safe, and the new owners understand the responsibilities of pet ownership. Many of these animals usually end up in shelters- if they are lucky.

3. Find the right pet for you and your family. Bringing a pet into your life is a serious decision that must not be taken lightly. Before bringing a pet home, owners need to be aware that it is the beginning of a relationship that may last 10 to 20 years, and that a pet needs constant care, supervision, and companionship.

Even though pet stores are likely to have the cutest puppies you’ve ever seen, the cute factor is not everything. Taking a pet home based solely on its appearance can be a recipe for disaster and yet another reason why so many pets end up in shelters.

Whether a pet fits your lifestyle is much more important than what it looks like. A pet carefully chosen to fit your lifestyle is more likely to result in a lasting home for the pet and a happy life for the owner. “Some people think yellow labs are adorable as puppies and beautiful dogs. But a person who lives a sedentary lifestyle and does not like to go running or exercising should not have a lab,” Gail Buchwald, vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), told Parents.com.

You are more likely to find a greater variety of animals and a better fit for any lifestyle at a shelter or through adoption websites like Petfinder.com. Unlike pet stores, which are only interested in making a profit and moving their “merchandise,” shelters are more concerned with matching a person or family with a pet of the right breed and temperament for their lifestyle. Shelters have also spent time caring for the animals, know their disposition, and what type of owner they would be a good fit for. With so many pets entering shelters every day, you are very likely to find exactly the right pet for you.

Our dog, Emma- half gremlin, half hyena

Adoption is the way to go if you want a purebred animal or a one-of-a-kind. According to HSUS, about 25% of dogs and cats in shelters are purebreds. There are also a number of breed-specific rescue groups that have purebred adults and puppies for adoption.

Other people see the attraction in a unique mix. Some mixes have the positive characteristics of several breeds. Our dog Paco is a lab-collie mix, and he has the great qualities of both. He has a sweet disposition, is very calm, fantastic with kids, and can be trusted all the time. Our little one, Emma, is more of a mystery. When we adopted her at 9 months old, we were told she was a Chihuahua- Jack Russell mix, but I think she has some Cairn Terrier in her. My husband says that she is more like half gremlin and half hyena. To us, she is beautiful. She is lively and energetic, always getting into trouble. Both are unique, and we love them for it.

4. Shelter pets may have “baggage,” but this is not necessarily a bad thing! Many people think that a pet that is in a shelter is there because of some kind of behavioral problem. The truth is that there are many reasons that people have to give up their pets, most having nothing to do with the pet. These include moving to a place that does not allow pets, not having time for the pet, not being able to afford the pet, allergies, etc. Petfinder.com has a sheet on the reasons pets are surrendered to shelters, which explains that most of the time the reason for surrender comes from the owner and not the pet.

On the other hand, adopting a pet, which has had a previous owner, may already be toilet trained and have other positive characteristics. (See # 9, the case for adopting an older pet)

5. Shelter pets are healthy. Even though some pets may enter a shelter without being neutered or having proper medical care, most if not all shelters give the pet a thorough medical screening and will not clear the pet for adoption until it has a clean bill of health. Most shelters also spay or neuter the pet before adoption.

6. Adopting is much less expensive. While adopting a pet is usually not free, the adoption fee will usually cover spaying or neutering, distemper vaccination, rabies vaccination, heartworm test, and flea/tick treatment. These services can cost up to $2000 at a regular vet, but adoption fees usually range from $100 to $300. On the other hand, a puppy at a pet store can cost over $700 and these services are usually not included.

7. Time. Adoption usually focuses on whether the pet will be a good match for a potential owner. Shelters are more likely to help you find your ideal buddy because shelters don’t expect and don’t want you to walk out with a new pet in 20 minutes or less, the way pet stores do. Shelters understand that finding the right fit takes time and a few visits. Shelters also allow you to interact with a pet and spend some time together before you take them home. Moreover, most shelters will allow you to take the animal home on a trail basis and take the animal back if things do not work out.

8. Set a good example. Parents.com lists “setting a good example” as one of the reasons to adopt a pet. I don’t have children, so I can’t really speak to this point from personal experience, but I agree that adopting a pet can teach a child “how to care about those that others may view as castoffs.” Adopting a pet can also teach children that they can make a difference by saving an animal’s life.

9. The case for adopting an older pet. For certain people and families, adopting an older pet may be the best choice. There are several benefits to adopting an older pet. For one thing, there are fewer surprises when you adopt an older pet. From the outset, you will know its full-grown size; temperament; and food, grooming, and exercise requirements. Older pets are also easier to train because they are calmer and have more experience interacting with people. An older pet also requires less attention, is usually toilet trained, and settles into new environments more quickly than a younger pet.

Another wonderful thing about adopting an older animal it that it has experienced living in a home as well as being surrendered, and is ready to forge an instant bond with its new owner. Finally, as mentioned above, adopting an animal may represent a 10 to 20-year commitment that many people are not ready to undertake. People with certain plans for their long-term future as well as very elderly people would be good candidates to adopt an older pet. According to the ASPCA, even though the commitment level is the same, it is for a shorter period of time.

10. Not all breeders are bad. If you have looked into adoption and cannot find the right pet, the American Humane Society has a very informative page on how to identify a responsible breeder.

Connect to the Human Society here

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com.


Luxury pet hotel opens in Chelsea Manhattan

Luxury pet hotel opens in Chelsea Manhattan

Travelers Today | By  Katie McFadden
Updated: Aug 22, 2012 01:48 PM EDT

A luxury dog hotel is set to open in New York  City.(Photo : Reuters)

A new luxury hotel with double beds and flat-screen televisions is coming to  New York City. However, it’s just for dogs.

D Pet Hotels is coming to West 27th  street in Chelsea this month. The 10,000 square feet luxury dog hotel will offer  rooms with full-size beds and flat-screen TV’s with DVD players. The hotel will  also have a doggie gym with treadmills, a lounge, a spa, a retail boutique, and  even chauffeur services to drive dogs around in Lamborghinis and Porsches.

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The boutique will sell products such as organic dog food, treats, luxury pet  beds, bowls and carrying bags. The spa offers services such as “pawdicures” and  oil treatments for dry coats. There is also a fitness service that comes with a  personal trainer and a special meal prepared by a chef that includes brown rice  with vegetables, lamb or chicken.

D Pet Hotels offers day care services as well as rooms for boarding that  range from standard suites to “ubersuites,” which have queen-size beds, 19-foot  ceilings and 42-inch TV’s for $200 a night. There are 40 standard rooms that  start at $79 a night. The luxury suites, which include TV’s and DVD players,  cost $110 a night. Pets can watch titles such as “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and  “Fox and the Hound” on the TV’s.

A walk around the neighborhood costs $60 an hour and gourmet meals go for  $9.

“As a New Yorker, when you go on vacation, and you stay in a fabulous  hotel with fabulous services, your dog is staying in a fabulous hotel with  fabulous services,” Investor Shawn Hassanzadeh explained to Digital  Spy.

Another D Pet Hotel opened in Scottsdale, Arizona on August 15.

The company opened its first property in Hollywood and it turned out to be  very successful.

Pet hotels are becoming increasingly popular and are getting even more  ridiculous. A five-star luxury Pooch hotel, which offers dog massages,  pedicures, facials, and teeth cleaning, opened in Dallas on Aug. 18.

An eight-story pet sex hotel is coming to the Brazilian city of Bello  Horizonte. The rooms include heart-shaped mirrors, red cushions and dimmed  lighting to set the mood for doggie love.


Cancer doesn’t have to mean the end for your dog

Cancer.  For decades this one word has struck fear into the heart of anyone who has been given this diagnosis.  Many believed death to be the certain outcome.
Nowadays this isn’t necessarily the case. We forget that with all of the incredible breakthroughs in science and medicine, cancer needn’t be the end.  Even though they cannot speak and tell us when something is wrong, cancer can be detected and treated in dogs, and in many cases it can be cured. The success of treatment will depend on the type of cancer, the treatment used and on how early the tumour is found. The sooner treatment begins, the greater the chances of success. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your dog is to keep a close eye on them for signs of the disease.
There are doctors who specialise in field oncology, such as the world renowned dog cancer expert Dr Demian Dressler, whose research into the subject has brought immense comfort and hope to dog lovers the world over who have received the upsetting news about their beloved pets.  His comprehensive book, “The Dog Cancer Survival Guide” covers an array of issues surrounding cancer in dogs, such as the various treatments available, the correct diet for a dog that has been diagnosed with cancer, even how to manage your emotions during your difficult time.  So rest assured that a lot can be done to save the life of your pet.
So, how do you know if your dog has cancer?  First of all it would be a good idea to start by taking a look at the breed of your dog.  Did you know that certain breeds have a higher rate of cancers than others?
In my research I discovered the following:
Highest incidence breeds which also develop cancer at an earlier age than other dogs.
• Boxer.
• Golden Retriever
• Rottweiller
• Bernese Mountain Dog

High incidence breeds
• Boston Terrier
• English Bulldog
• Scottish Terrier
• Cocker Spaniel

Average incidence breeds:
• Irish Setter
• Schnauzer
• Labrador
• Mongrels

Relatively low incidence breeds:
• Beagle
• Poodle
• Collie
• Dachshund

It isn’t a sure-fire guarantee that these breed of dogs will develop cancer; it is just to make you aware that there is a higher probability that these breeds may develop the illness.

This isn’t an exhaustive list and there may be some variables from one breed to the next, but these are the signs that indicate your dog might have cancer:

1. Abnormal swellings or lumps that don’t reduce in size or continue to grow
2. Sores that do not heal
3. Loss of appetite
4. Weight loss
5. Bleeding or discharge from openings on/in the body
6. Difficulty eating or swallowing
7. Emitting foul odours (not just breaking wind)
8. Apathy, lack of interest in exercise; reluctance to move around much
9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

If your dog has any of these symptoms take them over to your vet as soon as possible.  Don’t immediately fear the worst as these symptoms may be signs of other illnesses too.

If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, however, it still isn’t the end of the world. The vet will discuss your various options, but remember that it is important that you do your research to satisfy yourself that the best course of action for your dog is being taken.  They should know of all the specialist cancer clinics that treat dogs and so they should be able to recommend one to you if they are not able to offer treatment for the type of cancer that your dog has.  Typically the treatments offered are, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery but there are other options available, such as cryotherapy.  Check out our page for the addresses of some of the best veterinary practices in New York.

The key is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as you possibly can so that, should the worst happen, you are able to make informed decisions about the best treatment for your beloved friend.

Pet Chauffeur can handle all your pet transportation needs.If you need a pet taxi for your pet travels, try Petride.com

Client Testimonials

    Testimonial from Roberta Flack
I have depended on Pet Chauffeur for ten (10) years to help me get my pets to life saving situations. Whether the trip is long or short, my animals are always looked after with the greatest care.  It’s good to know this kind of assistance is available and on time.  Thank you David and crew for being in my life.  Even if my concerts and public appearances take me from home, I can trust Pet Chauffeur to look after the travel needs of all of the dogs and cats, who are a part of my family.  BIG THANKS!
” Testimonial from another happy client”
   About seven years ago, in late November, my dog needed major surgery at Animal Medical Center in the far E 60s, a pretty far walk from my UWS apartment. My dog was small, but never learned to ride in a bag; she was a rescue and freaked out when she was put in the bag, so I worried that she had had some kind of trauma about being shut up in places and didn’t push it.AMC called me on Thanksgiving night to let me know that she could be picked up if I wanted to come get her. I didn’t want her to have to spend one more minute there than necessary so I walked over there in a mix of light snow and rain; I thought I needed to save all the money I could for a cab ride home and didn’t even want to buy a  Metrocard. I worried about getting a cab, though. Cabs often pass people, even with small dogs, and I didn’t see many as I walked over.My dog had had a giant tumor removed from her side. She had been shaved and was stapled up from end to end like some kind of Frankenstein dog. I wrapped her in a blanket and headed out, apologizing for the weather and hoping I’d be able to get a cab somehow.Then outside the exit to the hospital I saw an orange and blue van labeled “Pet Chauffeur.” I walked up and asked the driver if he was waiting for someone. No, he had just dropped someone off. I asked how much it would cost to take me and my dog back to my apartment and it turned out I had just enough money with me. The driver took us home in the bad weather, without my dog ever having to wait in the cold rain and snow at all.I don’t have any business advice to offer Mr. Lang. I just wanted to say how much I appreciated that van being there that night and I sincerely hope he makes it through this recession storm. Good luck–

The importance of spaying/neutering your pets

It may surprise you to know that as many as 3 million dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States each year because there simply are not enough homes or shelters to house them all.  The estimated number of homeless animals across America in shelters is approximately 6-8 million. The explosion in the number of cats and dogs produced each year means that even pure bred dogs are being destroyed as the supply is greatly outweighing the demand. The same issue also affects other animals such as rabbits and birds.

In order to prevent this tragedy, it is highly recommended that your pets are either spayed (female) or neutered (male).

Why should you do this?

I can imagine that a number of animal lovers would balk at the suggestion of preventing animal reproduction, but unless you are a licensed breeder producing and housing pure bred animals yourself, the addition of another animal to the already over populated market is unwise.  And even if you are a licensed breeder, there are limitations as to how many generations you can breed for and other stipulations that may vary from one state to another.  Spaying or neutering is the most humane, and the most responsible, thing to do.

What is involved?

With spaying, the ovaries, uterus, oviducts and cervix are removed and with neutering, the testicles, epididymis and spermatic cord are removed.  Both surgeries are performed regularly and are very safe in the hands of qualified veterinarians. While these surgeries can be performed as early as 8 weeks of age, they can be done safely at any age taking the animal’s health into consideration. Spaying and neutering can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. During the procedure the cat or dog is completely anesthetized and recovery time is very quick.

Health benefits

There are many benefits to an early spaying/neutering.  A female pet that is spayed before her first heat has a greatly reduced risk of developing ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer, the second most common malignancy in pets. Spaying this early will also prevent her from bleeding which can stain your carpet and furniture.  In addition, she will never develop pyometra (an infection of the uterus). Pyometra can become life-threatening and require an emergency spay operation. These infections very commonly occur in older, unspayed females.

As with spaying, neutering is best done on your pet whilst young. This also greatly reduces the risk of them developing prostate, perianal, and testicular tumors and cancers.

Behavioural benefits

The most noticeable change will occur with your pet’s sexual behaviours.  Sexually related behaviors of male dogs can include mounting human legs, climbing up on people, and even knocking children down and climbing on top of them. This is especially frightening and dangerous if a dog is large.

Neutering/spaying your pets will result in them becoming less aggressive, especially when they are in heat and looking for a mate.  Males who have not been neutered can become especially belligerent whilst defending either a female or a territory that he believes is his. With regards to territory, this can extend for miles.  Over protectiveness of family members may manifest itself by growling or nipping at visitors in your home.

If you are looking to have your animal spayed/neutered, Pet Chauffeur has a list of trusted veterinarians and animal hospitals that we have worked closely with over the years, who can give you all the help and advice you need when decided the best treatment for your pet.

If expense is a concern for you, most communities have humane shelters
and low-cost spay/neuter clinics that offer affordable services. Contact
your veterinarian or one on our list, your local shelter, or a PETsMART near you.

Pet Transportation by Pet Chauffeur of NYC is the best Pet Taxi service in the NYC metro area.

United Airlines policy bans transport of certain dog breeds

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Military pet owners no longer are able to transport several popular dog breeds on United Airlines when changing duty stations thanks to recent amendments to the airline’s pet policy, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.

English bulldogs, pit bulls and American Staffordshire terriers are among the 10 breeds banned by the carrier, according to United’s website.

The policy change was enacted when United merged with Continental Airlines on March 3 and adopted Continental’s PetSafe program.

United’s adoption of the PetSafe program caused quite a stir last month when it was determined that military families would be forced to pay much higher fees to transport their pets on the federally contracted carrier. Following thousands of complaints, United waived the fees for military members.

However, there will be no waiver to the breed restrictions, United spokeswoman Mary Ryan said.

“United does not accept certain breeds of dogs based on previous transport-related situations … Additionally, United reserves the right to refuse any animal that displays aggression or viciousness at the time of tender,” she wrote in an email.

The restriction is troubling for servicemembers and their families because those traveling on official duty are often booked to fly United at a reduced cost to the military. They are then responsible to pay to transport their pets. Prices for pet shipping companies in Japan vary depending on pet size, weight and destination but can reach upward of $4,000 for a large dog that is banned under the policy.

Pit bulls are a popular breed of dog among servicemembers.


Tiffany Jackson of the Okinawan American Rescue Society said she has personally rescued about 20 pit bulls in the past three years that were abandoned on the island. Now because of this policy change, she fears there with be more, she said.

Jackson owns two pit bulls. She said the dogs she sees come through, even after abuse, are loyal, loving, and are good with children. She has traveled from Okinawa to Germany and back on official orders with her dogs with no problems.

“That’s ridiculous,” she said when she heard about the restriction. “It’s sad what’s done to them.”

Mary Seward-Yamada, who runs Camp Canine Okinawa, a service that arranges pet transportation for troops, said pets left behind by their American owners in Japan are usually euthanized quickly unless they are rescued.

“Pit bulls get bad press,” she said, calling United’s policy discriminatory.

Seward-Yamada said these breeds have been singled out by airlines before. Delta has a similar restrictive policy, according to its website.

Experts say there are options for servicemembers.

Patriot Express flights — while often inconvenient and unreliable — charge anywhere from $110 to $336 to fly a pet from Europe and the Pacific. And Seward-Yamada said she recommends Japanese commercial carriers to the States because they have the best service.

Servicemembers and their families are not the only ones affected by the restrictions, however. A petition was started on Change.org about a month ago to overturn the breed restrictions and has more than 34,000 signatories to date.

“Dangerous dog policies should be implemented with reference to each individual dog’s behavior, not their ‘breed,’ ” wrote one signee. “These breed-based policies have been shown over and over again to be ineffective.”

Ryan said that determination of breed, age, weight, and other specifications of the pet in question is confirmed by the pet’s health certificate, which must be done within 10 days of travel.

More information is available on the United Airlines website.

Stars and Stripes reporters Travis J. Tritten and Charlie Reed contributed to this report.

By Matthew M. Burke

Stars and Stripes
Published: March 22, 2012

Cities Will Talk to the Animals by Going Orange

By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY
April 10th, 2011   The color orange will infuse landmarks Tuesday from New York and Philadelphia to San Francisco.
Manhattan’s Empire State Building, Chicago’s Sears Tower, San Francisco’s City Hall and Philly’s quaint quarter-mile span called Boathouse Row will be lit in orange; the famous Wall Street charging bull sculpture will be decorated in the color; and the Louisiana Boardwalk fountain in Bossier City, La., will look to be spraying orange water.

It’s the 141st birthday of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and people and groups nationwide are donning and draping the ASPCA’s signature color to “celebrate the special human-animal bond,” says Jo Sullivan, the organization’s vice president of development and communication.

School teachers and librarians will offer special-educational programs, shelters are holding special animal events, and animal-friendly businesses have devised ways to trumpet support of the day. Pet Chauffeur in Manhattan the premier pet taxi service ,will tie large orange bows on its cars,pet transportation is a big service in NYC. Petride.com 212-696-9744 is open 365 days a year.  Also Jack London Square in Oakland will display ASPCA posters.


• New York – A celebration at Union Square from 4 to 8 p.m. will feature Animal Planet personalities, a costume party and an adoption fair.

• Bossier City, La. – Louisiana Boardwalk merchants will dress themselves and their establishments in orange, eateries are concocting orange drinks, and their will be a pet costume party.

• The L.A. Coliseum – “Go Orange for ASPCA Day” will streak across the Jumbe\otron.

• Austin – The Round Rock Express minor league baseball team will make an announcement during the game, and employees will wear orange wristbands.

The efforts are an outgrowth of a Manhattan celebration last year of the New York-based ASPCA’s 140th birthday. Response to the event extended far beyond New York as supporters from all over the country e-mailed goofy costumed-pet pictures to support the day.
“It was to have been a one-time event,” Sullivan says, but organizers realized that they had “tapped into something.”

Three decades ago, valuing animals “was not on the radar” of most Americans, ASPCA president Ed Sayres says. But society has become a more animal-conscious place, he says.

More than 50,000 ASPCA orange wristbands are expected to be ordered online for the celebration (1 million are in circulation already). The ASPCA has created 10 animal e-greetings that website visitors can send to friends and family, and the group is posting several “go orange” ideas.

Dogs Sniff Out Lung Cancer

Specially trained dogs can identify most patients with lung cancer by smelling their breath, researchers said.

Sniffing 100 breath samples from patients with biopsy-confirmed lung cancer, the dogs failed to flag only 29, reported Thorsten Walles, MD, of Schillerhoehe Hospital in Gerlingen, Germany, and colleagues online in the European Respiratory Journal.

Among 400 other samples from individuals without lung cancer, the canine sniff test gave false positives for just 28, the researchers found.

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  • Explain that specially trained dogs could identify most patients with lung cancer by smelling their breath.
  • Point out that the findings may be more important for confirming that human exhalations contain markers for lung cancer, which eventually may be detectable by more conventional means.

However, Walles and colleagues suggested that the findings were most important for confirming that human exhalations contain markers for lung cancer, which eventually may be detectable by more conventional means.

“This is a big step forward in the diagnosis of lung cancer, but we still need to precisely identify the compounds observed in the exhaled breath of patients,” said Walles in a press release.

Several earlier studies have found that dogs, with their keen sense of smell, can identify patients with various forms of cancer, including tumors of the breast, colon, and lung merely by sniffing. The proposition originated in 1989 with a case report of a man whose melanoma was diagnosed because his dog kept sniffing the lesion.

The dogs used in the current study were young family pets  —  two German shepherds, one Labrador retriever, and one Australian shepherd. Using test tubes containing exhalations from 35 lung cancer patients and 60 healthy controls, a professional dog trainer taught the animals to lie down in front of tubes with samples from the patients.

During both the training and the subsequent testing phase, each sample was given to the dogs only once so that they would not simply learn to recognize individual participants’ characteristic odors.

The testing involved 50 healthy people, 25 patients with histologically confirmed lung cancer, and 50 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). These were different individuals than those providing samples for the training phase.

In the cancer patient group, one patient had stage I disease, two each at IIa and IIb tumors, four were staged IIIa, five had IIIb disease, and 11 were at stage IV.

Blinded observers watched the dogs as they each sniffed at five tubes per session. If a dog appeared to hesitate in front of a tube, it was automatically recorded as an incorrect result. The investigators also took a variety of steps to keep from subtly influencing the dogs.

The testing was conducted in three phases. First, the dogs were presented with samples from healthy controls and lung cancer patients. Next, samples from lung cancer and COPD patients were presented. Finally, the dogs evaluated samples from all three groups.

Somewhat surprisingly, the dogs had the most difficulty in the first test, discriminating the lung cancer patient samples from those of healthy people. The total number of correct results from the four dogs was 22 versus 18 false results.

Accuracy was much better in the second phase, with the dogs correctly identifying 32 samples from the COPD and lung cancer patients against eight false results.

Results were better still in the third test, with 19 correct results and only one incorrect.

Overall, the sensitivity for detecting lung cancer was 71% overall (95% CI not reported). There was little difference in accuracy according to disease stage, the researchers indicated: All samples from the sole stage I patient had positive results in the sniff test. Accuracy rates for other disease stages were:

  • 75% for stage IIa
  • 75% for stage IIb
  • 94% for IIIa
  • 75% for stage IIIb
  • 63% for stage IV

The dogs varied somewhat in their ability to sniff out cancer accurately, with one dog scoring 68% of samples correctly while another had 84% correct results (kappa statistic 0.436).

Specificity overall was 93% (95% CI not reported).

Walles and colleagues also calculated “corporate dog decision” accuracy by counting as accurate only those results on which three of the four dogs gave the same result. Sensitivity of these group decisions was 72% (95% CI 51% to 88%), with specificity of 94% (95% CI 87% to 98%).

The researchers determined as well that the dogs were as accurate in classifying smokers versus nonsmokers, indicating that the animals were not simply responding to tobacco-related breath components.

Because their study ruled out a role in the results for smoking and certain other potential confounders, the current study is an advance over previous research on dog sniff tests for cancer.

It “confirms the existence of a stable marker (or scent pattern) that is strongly associated with lung cancer and independent of COPD,” Walles and colleagues wrote, “reliably discriminated from tobacco smoke, food odors and (potential) drug metabolites.”

Whether dogs will ultimately be better than machines for breath analysis remains to be determined, they indicated.

“Electronic nose technologies” are not yet practical because of their complicated sampling procedures and vulnerability interference, the researchers commented.

Dogs, on the other hand, are “virtually on the verge of respectability” for disease detection. Yet without better understanding of what they are responding to, it will be impossible to develop a reliable screening test for lung cancer based on their abilities, Walles and colleagues suggested.

“Unfortunately, dogs cannot communicate the biochemistry of the scent of cancer,” they lamented.

By John  Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today
Published: August 18, 2011

Pet Chauffeur Tries to Adapt to Tough Economy

The recession has not been kind to the pet industry. While their finances are in flux, pet owners are less likely to splurge on toys or grooming, and fewer vacations spell empty kennels at the boarding house. In fact, prospective owners are less likely to take on the financial burden of a new dog or cat to begin with.

As you can see in the video above, David Lang, owner of a Manhattan business called Pet Chauffeur, is keenly aware of these challenges. Fifteen years ago, Mr. Lang noticed that the subway system’s vast ridership included few dogs. Passengers can bring small pets on board in carrying cases, but owners of larger dogs cannot travel with their pets by subway, bus or taxi. Sensing he could fill a void, he founded Pet Chauffeur, a taxi service for animals, in 1996.

From his home office on East 36th Street, Mr. Lang coordinates a fleet of four orange-and-blue minivans and a staff of 12 dispatchers and drivers. Customers have the option of riding along with their pets, but many choose not to, leaving the drivers to learn their dogs’ idiosyncrasies first-hand. And dogs are not the only animals getting a lift: Pet Chauffeur has transported everything from leopards to bulk shipments of lab rats. But dogs are the most frequent riders, and Mr. Lang says the most popular destinations are veterinary clinics, grooming salons and boarding kennels.

The bulk of Pet Chauffeur’s $1 million annual revenue comes from its business in New York City, but its vans have traveled as far as Florida, and the company also coordinates the shipping of animals by air. Because many of his customers live in Manhattan’s tonier neighborhoods, Mr. Lang hopes to sell ad space on his vans to luxury retailers. “I got vans running up and down Fifth Avenue all day long,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want their perfume on top of a Pet Chauffeur?”

Despite these plans, Mr. Lang is wary of expansion. He used to run a boarding service and a pet supply retail Web site, both of which failed to weather the recent recession. He now concentrates all of his effort on transportation and has adapted his company to the new economic context in two ways: first, he targets high-end customers. In 2008, he came to the conclusion, “now’s the time to get rid of the people who don’t want to pay for our service anyway, and up the price, and go with the high-end people that want our service.”

Pet Chauffeur’s other post-recession adaptation is to collaborate with competitors. If Mr. Lang is unable to arrange a pick-up for a customer, he will refer that person to companies like Pet Taxi or Tony’s Canine Cab. Because the pet taxi industry represents such a niche service, Mr. Lang said, he’d “rather see someone go with the other guy than not go at all.” Mr. Lang added: “Anyway, we’ve got the best service, so they’ll come back to us in the end.”

Does your city need a Pet transportaion service?

              Fifteen years ago, Mr. Lang noticed that the subway system’s vast ridership included few dogs. Passengers can bring small pets on board in carrying cases, but owners of larger dogs cannot travel with their pets by subway, bus or taxi. Sensing he could fill a void, he founded Pet Chauffeur, a taxi service for animals, in 1996.

From his home office on East 36th Street, Mr. Lang coordinates a fleet of four orange-and-blue minivans and a staff of 12 dispatchers and drivers. Customers have the option of riding along with their pets, but many choose not to, leaving the drivers to learn their dogs’ idiosyncrasies first-hand. And dogs are not the only animals getting a lift: Pet Chauffeur has transported everything from leopards to bulk shipments of lab rats. But dogs are the most frequent riders, and Mr. Lang says the most popular destinations are veterinary clinics, grooming salons and boarding kennels.

by Dane Carlson