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HOLIDAY PET HEALTH TIP: NO SWEETS FOR THE SWEET!
For many people, overindulging in holiday goodies may result in a few extra pounds--but the consequences for our animal companions are much greater if they accidentally ingest cookies, candy or baked goods containing chocolate. In any form ranging from one-ounce baking squares to brownies, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylxanthines that can cause stimulation of the central nervous system, an increase in heart rate and tremors. Clinical signs--vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity, and increased thirst, urination and heart rate--can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports an increase in calls involving chocolate toxicosis during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. Just after the Thanksgiving holiday last year, APCC staffers handled a case involving Sophie, an 18-pound cocker spaniel who'd eaten an 18-ounce box of milk chocolate truffles. The canine ingested a dangerous level of chocolate, had already vomited several times and was drinking large amounts of water. APCC staff worked in conjunction with Sophie's veterinarian to provide emergency treatment, which included activated charcoal, intravenous fluids and medication for her elevated heart rate. Sophie recovered by morning, but spent the day in doggie day care, where she would be under observation to make sure she didn't have further problems.

Although chocolate toxicosis is more common in dogs, who have been known to eat candy and trays of brownies and fudge accidentally left out, it is a potential problem with any species. Take care this holiday season to keep all candy out of your pets' reach--and don't let them in the kitchen unsupervised when you're baking. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian or the APCC's emergency hotline--1-888-4-ANI-HELP--for round-the-clock telephone assistance. For more information on poison prevention, visit the APCC online.

ASPCA HONORS ILLINOIS HUMANITARIAN
Dr. David Bromwell, Chief Veterinarian of the Illinois Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Welfare and the man responsible for the majority of humane laws now on the books in Illinois, received a lifetime achievement award from the ASPCA last week. "Doc's goal has always been to protect animals," says Ledy VanKavage, ASPCA's Midwest State Government Affairs and Public Policy Office. "Through his leadership, Illinois has some of the strongest animal protection laws in the nation."

Bromwell, who is retiring from the Department of Agriculture after serving for more than 30 years, authored the original Humane Care for Animals Act in the 1970s. Last session he helped spearhead a drive to get important new amendments passed in Illinois, including an increase in the penalties for committing animal cruelty and torture. "His stewardship will be greatly missed at the Department," adds VanKavage. "I hope I can still convince him to come up to the capitol to testify on humane matters from time to time. He's simply the best."

PETFINDER HAPPY TAIL OF THE WEEK: A WONDERFUL WOOFER NAMED OZ
Mourning the death of their 15-year-old cocker spaniel, Minnesota's Tammy and Doug Schluender knew there would come a time when they'd be ready to adopt again. And one day Tammy logged onto Petfinder.com, the ASPCA's online partner and largest virtual animal shelter, just to see who was out there. "It couldn't hurt to look, right?" she remembers thinking.

Tammy used the "Save This Query" feature on Petfinder, which sent her automatic e-mails whenever a shelter or rescue group added a pet matching her search criteria to the database. "I anxiously waited for updates on adoptable cockers in our area," she says. "One Saturday in June we happened to be having lunch near a PETCO that was having an adoption day for Adopt-A-Pet, one of the shelters on Petfinder. We were interested in a cocker spaniel they had, so we stopped in to take a look. I was heartbroken to find I had misread the information and the event was going to take place the next day. Suddenly it seemed like a nice day for a drive."

Rather than wait until the next day, the Schluenders drove directly to the Adopt-A-Pet shelter to meet the dog--and, as it turned out, take him home with them. "The little cocker called Jingles was perfect," says Tammy. "We have since renamed him Ozzie, and he has had a significant impact on our once quiet and sedentary household."

For one thing, Tammy and a friend now volunteer for Adopt-A-Pet, helping the shelter update their Petfinder listings of available animals. Says Tammy, "Every one of these little guys deserves a home like Ozzie's!"

WE'RE ON THE AIR: CATCH THE ASPCA ON ANIMAL RADIO NETWORK THIS SATURDAY
Tune in to the nationally syndicated Animal Radio Network this Saturday, December 21, for a special segment on selecting a family pet hosted by Jacque Schultz, Special Projects Director for the ASPCA's Animal Sciences department. "It is important to think through this decision," says Schultz, "by choosing an animal who meshes well with your likes for grooming, exercising, etc." For a list of stations that will air the program, visit Animal Radio Network online.

COMING UP IN NEW YORK CITY: FERAL CAT WORKSHOP, JANUARY 11
Want to help the feral kitties in your community? We'll be hosting a workshop on how to manage a feral cat colony, presented by Neighborhood Cats, Inc., at the ASPCA's Manhattan headquarters at 424 East 92nd St. on Saturday, January 11. The 1 PM to 4 PM session will cover setting up a managed colony, feeding, building shelters, vet care and community relations. The workshop is open to the public, and a $15 donation is suggested to cover the cost of materials. Reservations are required; please RSVP as soon as possible to Neighborhood Cats at (212) 662-5761 or [email protected].

ENDANGERED SPECIES ALERT: HELPING THE TURTLE CROSS THE ROAD
Why would a turtle cross the road? In the United States, home to a diverse 55 species, turtles wander across highways and country roads in search of food, suitable places to lay eggs and to escape climate extremes such as drought and freezing temperatures. But recent studies by James Gibbs, Associate Professor of Conservation Biology at the State University of New York in Syracuse, suggest that collisions with trucks and cars are partly to blame for the staggering decline of turtles in our environment--and in many areas of the country, more than five percent of turtles are likely to die while attempting their cross-highway journeys. "Daily traffic volumes typical of many major and arterial highways suggest that such roads are essentially impenetrable to any wandering turtle," say Gibbs and colleague Gregory Shriver in the December issue of Conservation Biology. In order to protect these reptiles, Gibbs recommends that communities establish buffer zones around aquatic habitats where pond turtles live. Special road crossings can be constructed to prevent further decreases in land turtle populations.

ASPCA News Alert readers, you can lend a hand, too, should you find a turtle crossing the road. Gibbs advocates removing the animal from harm whenever possible--with two caveats. "First, roads are extremely dangerous. Altering traffic flow or stopping and walking can be extremely hazardous. But if there is little traffic around, then by all means help the turtle." And the reptiles themselves can be dangerous. Snapping turtles, frequently encountered by motorists, are particularly difficult to handle. Explains Gibbs, "They are better herded off or even pushed with a large stick if you are uncomfortable picking them up authoritatively by the hind portion of the carapace [the part of the shell covering the turtle's back] and lifting them away from your body while carrying them to safety. In all cases, use your judgment!"

To learn more about efforts to build a permanent road crossing on the Florida highway with the highest rate of road-killed turtles in North America, please visit Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance online.

GOOD DEED FOR THE DAY--PLEASE FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER TO ONE PERSON!
Know someone who cares about animals as much as you do? Please forward this issue of ASPCA News Alert to them. Anyone with an e-mail address can register directly at our website. And please tell teachers, humane educators and the children in your life about Animaland, the ASPCA's website for kids.
 
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