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Introducing The American Red Cross Pet First Aid App!

Pawmetto Lifeline believes in treating pets with compassionate care and treating your dogs and cats like they are family members. To be sure you get the best care for your pet in an emergency situation, Pawmetto Lifeline is partnering with The American Red Cross to promote the new Pet First Aid App for your smartphones.

To find out more about the app, we interviewed Stephen Hudson, Regional Communications Officer for The American Red Cross,  about the new Pet First Aid App:

What was the driving force behind the Red Cross wanting to create an app like this?
We know pets are a part of the family, and experience with natural disasters also shows us people often times will not evacuate because they don’t want to leave their pets behind. If it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for your pet. With this app, you can find pet friendly places that are safe for both your family AND your pet. You can also use the life-saving tools in the app to care for your pet in an emergency situation.

How does this type of app help both pets and their owners?
This app is full of information to keep your pet safe. Pet owners learn about signs of a healthy dog or cat so they can recognize health problems early.  Catching potential illness or injury early can make a huge difference in successful treatment. The app gives users instant access to information including step-by-step instructions, videos, and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations for dogs and cats. App users will learn how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies. Information about administering medication, and behavioral and nutritional information is also included. Additional topics include burns, car accidents, falls and what to do for cold or heat-related emergencies.

Where did the life-saving information for this app come from? (Is there an agency similar to the Red Cross dedicated to animal care or did the information come from veterinary resources?) The Red Cross partnered with the veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania to develop this app. They guided the American Red Cross through the process of developing the information and the tools available. The Red Cross also consulted with the American Veterinarian Hospital Association to identify vet hospitals across the country.

In your opinion, what are the best features of the app? Personally I like how the app allows people to set up a profile for their pet and upload pertinent information. I’ve seen firsthand when there is a disaster, or people have to evacuate quickly, many times they grab just a cell phone. If a lot of their pet’s information (such as medication, a photo, and tag identification number) is stored on the app then it makes things simpler. It’s also one less stressor people have to deal with during a disaster, whether that’s a single family house fire or a large scale disaster, such as a Hurricane Katrina. I’ve downloaded it and already started adding in my dog’s photo and her vet’s office information. I have been very impressed with how easy the app is to use.

Is this app compatible with all smart phones? Anyone with an iPhone or Android can download the app for just  .99 cents at the Apple App Store or through Google Play Store for Android.  Or they can go to to learn more about this app and any of the other apps available for download from the American Red Cross.

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Pretty Flowers Can Be Pretty Dangerous to our Pets

Spring is in the air! Bees are buzzing, the sun is shining, and flowers are in full bloom. You’ve probably already begun snipping fresh flowers to decorate for the season. Although beautiful, some flowers are better left outdoors. If you have a pet, please reconsider bringing Easter lilies into your home this holiday.

Lilies are some of the most poisonous plants for pets, especially for cats. Even a small bite of a lily can cause a cat to vomit, feel lethargic, and lose her appetite. Exposure has also been known to cause seizures and disorientation. The scariest part is that if lily ingestion is left untreated, your cat can die from kidney failure in less than two days.

Easter Lily

If your cat has been exposed to Easter lilies and shows any symptoms, take her to the veterinarian right away. You will save her life! Dogs should avoid lily exposure, too, as it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. To avoid all risks, use faux lilies this Easter.

There are a few other flowers to keep in mind as well. A small ingestion of cyclamen can cause vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea for your pets, and a large dose can cause seizures, heartbeat abnormalities, and even death.


Amaryllis, another holiday flower, can cause vomiting, drooling, abdominal pain, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.


Not all dangers stem from real flowers. Watch out for “Easter grass,” the filling you may use for your Easter baskets. Your pet cannot digest this material, so it will get stuck in and damage her intestines. Keep this fake grass away from your pets, or consider using real grass in your baskets.

You can prevent your pet from experiencing these unwelcome health issues this Easter. Avoid these pretty but deadly blossoms. And keep that Easter candy out of reach, too!

by: Allie Papajohn, Senior Intern, Pawmetto Lifeline

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A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who came out to Bark to the Park on Saturday, April 5th! We had a record breaking turn out and are so happy to have so many animal advocates come out to support this event, including volunteers, sponsors, participants, and of course, our four legged friends! Here are some highlights!

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Teddy’s Journey

Meet Teddy! This handsome boy has been on quite the journey since we first met him at a local municipal shelter in October 2013. He had been picked up as a stray, and his future looked bleak.

Less than a third of the animals who end up at a municipal shelter get out alive, and with only five days to find safety, Teddy’s outlook was grim. Luckily, he was charming, and the shelter extended his hold time until Pawmetto Lifeline had space to save him.

Once he got here, he really opened up. He had been sweet but terrified at the municipal shelter, and now that he knew he was safe, it was amazing to see his personality blossom. He was kind, funny, and goofy, with a big grin on his face. We had no doubt that he would find his forever home quickly.

But months went by, and the stress of living in a shelter environment, even with all the attention he was getting from staff and volunteers, started to wear on him. During tours of adoption row, Teddy would bark and growl. He wasn’t a ferocious dog, but his fear got worse as time went on, and the only way he knew to “protect” himself was to seem bigger and scarier than we knew him to be.

We moved him to foster homes, hoping the stability of a family, even a temporary one, would quell his fears, and our sweet boy would shine through. But again, his fear made him act in ways that we knew weren’t his true personality, and he came back to the adoption center. He continued to regress, so we moved him to a quieter run, and his smile started to come back. He has started basic obedience training with our staff, and is even getting to go on play dates with friends like Murphy, pictured with Teddy below.

We know that Teddy can be a wonderful and cherished member of the right family, and we need your help to find that home! He needs a strong leader who can show him he is safe and loved, and who will teach him how to be his best self.

For more information on our adoption process, please email, or call 803-465-9150.

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Overview of Bark to the Park

Bark to the Park really is a “walk for animals”, because it’s the dogs walking who receive the attention at this event. And they walk for FREE (it’s their master walking with them that pays a minimum $30 to experience this fun-raising event!)

Animal advocates interested in helping take the next steps in making the Midlands a “No-kill” community pull together fellow animal lovers to form teams, raise money from friends and family, and add their voices to the collective advocacy of ending the senseless killing of companion pets, simply for the reason that they are homeless. Teams are asked to set goals, as well as personal goals for their fundraising. Interested people can also register as independent walkers and those that can’t participate on the day of the event (April 5th) can be virtual walkers and still raise money for the cause!

On the day of Bark to the Park, it is truly an awesome experience to be among a very large gathering of over 1,000 dogs plus their people. Here, you can see pups of all sizes, colors, breeds, and demeanors. It’s even more fascinating to see a walk team that is full of one breed of dog, like an all dachshund team! You realize that while they have commons features, they are each individual in their special way.

This year the 1.5 mile walk at Finlay Park will start in a different location than it has been in previous years. Along with check-in/registration, walkers will gather at the upper part on Laurel Street between the 800 – 900 block near the corner of Lincoln Street. The Palm FM will be on hand to provide lively music, EarthFare will be distributing bottled waters and natural dog treats. To get your walking muscles warmed up, our Zumba instructors will be on hand to get you moving and grooving!

Leading the walk at 10:30 am this year will be our Chair Dog, “Charlie” (who is a very special rescue of ours), along with the Columbia Police Department K9 Unit. The scenic route – which will have water bowls along the way – will pass the Governor’s Mansion along with the historic Lace House and gardens, then heads around the back of the Mansion (on Gadsden Street), passing Finlay Park and Memorial Park (featuring the Vietnam War Memorial) all the way to the Vista onto Lady Street. Lady Street take you to Lincoln and the walk heads to Finlay Park via the “Vista Greenway” – a 100-year old railroad tunnel that stretches 400 feet under Lincoln Street. Once out of the tunnel, walkers cross Taylor Street and head to enjoy the After-Party.

Cooling pools for the dogs – and cold refreshments for their masters – await walkers who return to Finlay Park to enjoy the “After-Party”. K9’s in Flight will present two 20-minutes frisbee shows with a variety of dogs performing “dare-devil” skills catching those flying discs. Along with the cold beverages, a food vendor will also be selling delicious  food items to enjoy while learning who our top money-raising walk teams are. There are also pet contests for you and your dog to participate in, a photo booth to document the fun, and a wide variety of sponsors sharing promotional goodies for you and your pet!

The event winds down by 1:00 pm, and by that time, both pups and their people should be ready for a Saturday nap! We hope that you are able to join us. You can sign up for Bark to the Park here!

by: Karen Deas, Special Events Coordinator, Pawmetto Lifeline

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Spring is Coming!

The bugs are back, and with them, the worrying thought of heartworms. Heartworms are a constant threat, especially in warm climates. In South Carolina, we have one of the highest numbers of reported cases of heartworm infection in the country. Dogs and cats need to be on prevention year round, even pets that stay inside! We all have that one mosquito that somehow makes it into the house to taunt us for weeks!

What is a heartworm, and how does an animal catch it?

Heartworms are passed to dogs and cats from mosquitos. The microfilariae (heartworm babies) are picked up from an infected host by a mosquito taking a blood meal from that animal. The microfilariae mature in the mosquito for about two weeks. When the mosquito then takes a blood meal from your dog or cat, it will inject the infective larvae through its bite wound. Adult heartworms will be fatal to an animal if left untreated. Treatment for an infective dog can be very costly and time consuming.

What can I do to protect my pet?

Prevention is the way to go. You can prevent heartworms in your pet with a once monthly pill or topical. Prevention is a safe, cost effective, and easy way to make sure you and your pet never have to go through the pain of heartworm treatment. Heartworms take about 6 months to develop into adult worms, so it is important to start puppies and kittens on prevention before they reach the age of 6 months. If you have an adult dog, you can have him tested for heartworms, a simple test where a small blood sample is taken and tested for the presence of heartworms.  A heartworm test can be nerve-wracking especially if your pet has not been on prevention. The test takes about 10 minutes to run, long enough to get nervous about the results! Cats don’t need to have a test before they start on prevention. You can also get a combination prevention that will take care of fleas, hookworms, roundworms, AND heartworms. There are multiple options for heartworm prevention for your pets, so you can find one that best suits your needs.

What if my pet is already heartworm positive?

While a positive test result is not good, it is not a death sentence. The sooner you know your pet has a heartworm infection, the sooner you can get rid of them. The longer a dog or cat has one or more adult heartworms, the more damage they will do. If your pet does come up positive, you need to seek treatment advice from a full service veterinarian ASAP. There are different options for treatment, so be sure you discuss all the benefits and risks with your veterinarian. Make sure to ask questions so that you can understand what your pet will be going through.

Prevention is the best “cure” for heartworms

All it takes is one bite from an infected mosquito and unlike hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whip-worms, you are unlikely to notice your pet has been infected until it is a major problem. Have your dog tested annually, and make sure all your pets are up to date on their heartworm prevention.

Visit our Care-A-Van Website!
Check out our Clinic!

by Ashley Konon, Director of Care-A-Van, Pawmetto Lifeline

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Letting Go

There’s nothing better than adopting a new animal. Getting to take them home, getting to know them, learning their personalities and quirks, their likes and dislikes, all so distinct — it’s like falling in love every day. It’s what we think about when we think about adoption.

Some days, it is easy to focus on how great a new pet can be, and how much love you have for them. It is harder as the years go by to realize that your animal may not be with you much longer. But as adopters, it is our responsibility to be there for the entire span of our pets’ lives, not just when they are young and spry. And sometimes, even when they are young and spry, you have to let them go.

As many of you may remember, Pawmetto Lifeline helped with a hoarding case in July 2010. A woman called and needed help vaccinating her animals, and when staff arrived, they were shocked to find more than seventy cats crammed into a 1200 square foot condo. Through dedication, hard work, and more hours than you could imagine, all the cats were processed, treated if they could be saved, and placed.

One such cat was Simon, a six year old Siamese I adopted. He was the oldest available for traditional adoption, and we thought he would have the hardest time finding a new home. My husband and I have the bad habit of going for the saddest story when given a choice.

We took Simon home, tried to give him time and space, but he just couldn’t trust us. Not yet. It took a month before we were allowed to pet him, and months before he would come to us for love. But we were patient, and the reward for that patience was his gratitude and more affection than we thought possible. He loved us and our other animals deeply, and developed an amazing bond with our other “senior” girl, Roulette, a ten-year old Tortie who was his constant companion, and tolerated our younger cat, Cash, with the patience of a saint.

We knew that Simon had been through more than any cat should have had to endure, and we knew it had taken its toll. He would never be a “normal” cat, but we loved him all the same.

Then one morning after we had had him about a year and a half, he couldn’t walk. Just like that, our playful boy was failing, and we couldn’t stop it. His years of neglect and abuse had finally caught up to him, and when we took him to the vet that afternoon, she confirmed that his organs were shutting down, and all we could do was make him comfortable as he left this world. Our vet asked if I wanted to stay with him, and as much as I wanted to run away, I knew that I had to be with him until the very end. We had worked so hard to get him to trust us, and to love us, and to leave him now just wasn’t an option.

It was one of the hardest days of my life, watching him fade away, but I wouldn’t take back a moment of it. I don’t regret adopting him; I don’t regret loving him; and I don’t regret seeing him over the rainbow bridge. He deserved nothing less.

And that’s why it breaks my heart when we see elderly or sick animals dumped by their families when they need them the most. How unfair to take an animal’s good times, their youth and vitality, but turn away when they start to age or become ill. Animals are for life. Not just your life, but theirs too, and the best way you can honor the love they so selflessly give you is by being there, even when – especially when – it is hard.

Click here for information on our Pet Loss Support Group.

by Amanda Hamilton, Pawmetto Lifeline IT Manager

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A Tribute to Mr. Ronald Clements

A Tribute to a Dear Friend

Pawmetto Lifeline staff, volunteers, and supporters are mourning the loss of a dear friend this month, Mr. Ronald Clements.  Ron passed away after a long battle with cancer.   He touched the lives of many people and their pets in our community, and he will be dearly missed.

Ron was the driving force behind Columbia’s only pet food pantry program, Pet Soup, which originated as a program of the Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals over six years ago.  As one of the original program’s volunteers, Ron was instrumental in implementing this vital program in the community.  When Pawmetto Lifeline assumed responsibility for the program, he continued as the volunteer leader of the program.  Ron never missed a week of picking up food donations from local businesses (and often times, he drove to more remote locations to procure food) and leading volunteers as they prepared these donations for monthly distribution to over 100 families and their pets.  Ron’s commitment, organization, and leadership has made it possible for hundreds of families to continue receiving assistance with pet food every month.

In addition to his integral role in the Pet Soup program,  Ron was well known at Pawmetto Lifeline events, and never missed the opportunity to lend a helping hand to benefit the animals.  He was always willing to take on any task, be it grilling hot dogs at Bark to the Park or playing Santa Claus and posing for pictures with shelter pets.  Ron and his wife, Lisa, worked tirelessly in their neighborhood to make sure feral cats were spayed or neutered, and placed their kittens in loving adoptive homes.

Ron always had a smile, a hug, and often a quirky joke for everyone he met.  I feel grateful that I had the pleasure to know Ron for the brief time that I did.  His memory will live on through the countless lives he has touched and the commitment to homeless pets that he has inspired.

by Elisa Strickler, Director of Volunteer Services, Pawmetto Lifeline

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Keeping Pets Indoors

Last week, something unbelievable happened – it snowed in Columbia, South Carolina! Many people, anticipating freezing temperatures, brought their outside-only animals in, maybe for the first time. These animals were likely overjoyed at their new status as indoor pets, even if it was just for a few days.

At Pawmetto Lifeline, we believe that all companion animals should be indoor family members, not just when the weather makes it a necessity.  There are many dangers to animals left unattended, even if adequate enclosures are provided. In just the last week, there were two separate incidents of dogs being stolen out of padlocked fences, families devastated with no leads on who may have taken their pets and to what end.

But this extreme example is only one reason to keep your companion animals inside with you. Indoor animals have much longer lifespans when inside and free from weather, safe from other animals coming into their territory, and safe from exposure to parasites, disease, more that thrive outside.

Need more reasons to keep your pet inside? Check out our top five:

1. Save on your electricity bill! Dogs and cats love to snuggle close and generate lots of heat, so lower that thermostat and enjoy the savings!

2. Lower your stress! Studies have shown that frequent interaction with animals has a positive effect on stress levels and can even lower blood pressure.

3. Spend less time washing dishes! Cats and dogs are more than happy to pre-wash those dirty dinner plates before they go in the dishwasher. You’ve never seen your dishes so clean!

4. You don’t need a doorbell. Most dogs and some cats know before someone even knocks that you have company! And they can be brilliant at greeting friends and helpful at dissuading strangers.

5. When your pet feels like family, they can be incredibly well adjusted, well behaved, and truly entertaining to have in your life!

If you are concerned about leaving your pet in your home for long periods of time, there are some solutions and resources that we can help you with.

  • Pawmetto Lifeline provides Doggy Daycare and Boarding that allows your pet to get necessary exercise and socialization with other pups. They are also cared for by our trained Animal Care Specialists. We can provide grooming, training, etc. for your pet while they are here with us.
  • You can also work with trainers recommended by Pawmetto Lifeline to train your pet to stay in one area of your home, with water and food readily available, of course. They will know what they can and can’t touch in this space and will entertain themselves with engaging toys you can leave with them, including toys with frozen peanut butter inside (one of my pup’s favorite).

We hope that these tips help you feel more comfortable about keeping your pet indoors. This is a great way to ensure you don’t ever have to worry about them being stolen by individuals that do not have their best interests at heart. You can always contact Pawmetto Lifeline at 465-9150 for more information about the services we have detailed above!

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How to Avoid Dog Bites: Training Your Dog AND Your Child

Having a pet is an incredibly fulfilling experience that provides many health and social benefits for children. Research shows that growing up with a pet can actually boost children’s immune systems, lessen risk of developing common allergies and asthma, and reduce stress and anxiety. Pets also provide a source of exercise and companionship for children, and can even help them learn valuable lessons in respect and responsibility by caring for a pet. But no parent wants their child to be physically injured by their pet. So how can parents protect their children from dog bites? With proper training and socialization – for not only their pet, but for their child, too. It is the parent’s responsibility to make sure that both children and pets learn to behave appropriately with one another so they can enjoy the wonderful benefits that having the other really is!

Train your dog from the get-go that hands are not toys, and train your child from the get-go that dogs’ mouths are off limits. Do not allow children to put their hands in the dog’s mouth or use their hands in place of toys with the dog. Allowing this sort of play teaches the dog that to some degree it is okay to bite a human. Even an innocent playful nibble can escalate into an accidental bite. Teach your child that it is never okay to touch or play with a dog’s mouth or to take something out of a dog’s mouth. It is a good idea to have separate toys for children and pets and to keep them in separate areas of the home. Encourage each not to use the others. If the dog get’s one of the child’s toys, the adult should always take it out of the pet’s mouth. Remind children to ask an adult for help if this happens.

Teach your pet to respect your children by correcting any growling, nipping, or jumping behavior at the time of the incident and be consistent. Remember that respect is a two-way street. Just as the pet is learning how to respect the family, teach your child how to respect your pet and its needs, too. If the pet is sleeping, allow it to sleep. If it is eating allow it to eat. Train your child not to touch, lay on, or surprise a sleeping pet. Many accidental bites happen this way. Having a crate or private area for your dog to retreat to when it needs a break from children is a good idea. If you have both dogs and children in your household, it is also recommended to feed the dog its meals in a separate room away from any children where it can have privacy to eat.

When it comes to interacting with pets outside of the home, teaching your children pet etiquette is incredibly valuable. The biggest rule of thumb is, when interacting with a new or strange pet, to always ask an adult before petting it, and if allowed to pet it, always introduce yourself to the pet. Luckily, you have a dog you and your children can practice this with! Consider requiring any other children who enter the home or interact with your pet to practice this as well. It is excellent socialization for the dog (and for the other children, too!). The first step is to allow the pet to sniff the child’s hand. Second, take a moment to assess the dog while it assesses you. Third, approach the pet slowly and proceed to pet it. Many people forget or skip the second part, but it is very important. As a parent, be mindful of the pet’s body language toward your children, and teach your children this skill, too. If you hear growling or snarling, slowly step away. If you notice fur rising on the nape of the dog’s neck, slowly step away. Remind children to never scream, make sudden movements, or run away from a dog. Screaming or sudden movements may frighten or alarm the dog while running away may instigate the dog to chase the child. Both scenarios put children at risk for a biting incident.

Remember, both pets and children require proper training and socialization to behave appropriately with one another, and it is the parent’s responsibility to promote a safe and positive relationship between them.

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