Pawmetto Lifeline - Formerly Project Pet

Pawmetto Lifeline

Giving Pets a New Leash on Life

Contact UsPawmetto BlogFeatured Pets

Separation Anxiety: 10 Tips to Help Your Dog

Separation anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, fear, or panic that develops when a dog is unable to be in contact with his or her caregivers.

Symptoms of established separation anxiety include:

  • Barking, whining, or howling when left alone
  • Destructive behaviors (e.g., chewing and clawing at objects in the home)
  • Escape attempts through or around doors and windows, crates, or fences

Tip #1: Give your dog at least 30 minutes of activity every day. Exercising your dog regularly encourages him/her to relax and rest while you are away

Tip #2: Provide food puzzle toys that are only given to your dog when he/she will be alone. You can use a Kong stuffed with peanut butter, cream cheese, or yogurt to keep your pet mentally busy which will help them to remain calm.

Tip #3: Enroll in a reward-based training class to increase your dog’s mental activity and provide a “job” for your pet, which will help them feel more confident.

Tip #4: If your dog barks when you leave, you can leave a radio or television on for background noise so that your dog will not feel alone.

Tip #5: Don’t get emotional when leaving your dog and overexcited when you come back. By paying too much attention to your departure and return, you risk reinforcing the dog’s fear of your absence. Calmly say goodbye and leave. When you come back, quietly say hello and don’t get too affectionate until your dog has calmed down.

Tip #6: Keep greetings and departures calm. Separation anxiety in dogs increases when they sense that you’re nervous about leaving, too. If your dog is hysterical when you come home, ensure that you don’t give attention until your dog is calm and able to sit quietly. Similarly, if your dog knows your “leaving the house ritual” too well, desensitize the dog to the various steps. For example, try putting on your coat and grabbing your car keys—and then watch TV for 20 minutes.

Tip #7: Gradually lengthen periods of your absence – Stage several short departures/arrivals throughout the day, gradually lengthening each absence as your dog adjusts.

Tip #8: Take your dog to doggy daycare for socialization with other dogs, which will also physically and mentally exercise your dog for encouraged relaxation at home.

Tip #9: Create your dog a safe space in their crate. This should include giving them a Kong or puzzle toy in the crate with the door open while you are home. By establishing the crate as a haven, your dog will feel more comfortable spending time in the crate.

Tip #10: For more severe cases of separation anxiety, you should consult your veterinarian for information regarding medications or supplements to help calm your dog.

*You should NEVER punish your dog for behaviors related to separation anxiety as you will only further his/her anxiety of you leaving.

For more information on medications or supplements, please contact our Wellness clinic at (803) 465-9196 or For more information to enroll your dog in our Doggy Daycare program, please contact Alexa Sparkman at (803) 465-9178 or

Posted in Education | Comments Off on Separation Anxiety: 10 Tips to Help Your Dog

Lio: A Tail of an Amazing, Adoptable, Misunderstood Dog Part 3 — So, What’s a Catahoula Dog Anyway?

Our guy Lio’s intake paperwork from 2014 indicates that his breed is “Catahoula Leopard Dog.” We as a rescue organization that accepted Lio into our care without say, official AKC paperwork, cannot determine for 100% sure that this is indeed Lio’s true breed. Most of our adoptable dogs and cats come to us with zero history, so breed is vet’s best guess. For Lio, many physical and personality traits point to Catahoula Leopard Dog, so we’ll stick with it. We’ll unquestionably go into what a Catahoula Leopard Dog is, but as a disclaimer, our blog series on and attitude towards Lio shall focus on him as an individual. This principle is applicable to all dogs and cats, although the guessed or known breed’s history and personality is to be considered and is relevant in many cases.

A Catahoula Leopard Dog, as shown on the American Kennel Club website

The Catahoula Leopard Dog (also known as the Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Hound, or Catahoula Hog Dog) originated in the land of Mardi Gras, crawfish, and jazz: the southern state of Louisiana. They are loyal, driven, intuitive, highly intelligent, and they’re really clowns at heart. They need strong leadership, consistent exercise, and a balance of bonding time with their human and independence. The name “Catahoula” is of Choctaw origin and means “sacred lake.” (Whoa, fancy!) They’re in hardly any sense of the word “lazy,” having been developed to catch and drive wild hogs and cattle to market. So Catahoula Leopard Dogs are technically in the herding group.  When “off duty” they’re protective yet affectionate in the home.

Photo credit: Vet Street Incorporated

If you’ve seen a Catahoula Leopard Dog before, he or she might’ve donned a merle coat. Merle is not a color, but rather a “marble” pattern of a dog’s coat, with darker patches and spots of the specified color (blue, red, etc.). See also: many Australian Shepherds, some Dachshunds, some Great Danes, etc. Some Catahoulas are single-colored or even spotted or brindled. The hair is normally short to medium length. The gene causing merle can also impact eye color. These dogs might have icy blue, mysterious green, chocolately brown, striking amber, or even two-colored “cracked” eyes.

Catahoula Leopard Dogs have a strong build, and are in the large breed category. The lifespan is generally 10-12 years. They, like any dog, should be seen by a vet regularly and be examined for potential signs of hip dysplasia or sight or hearing issues. Let it be known that Lio has been a markedly healthy dog compared to some his age, fortunately. He’s on Galliprant (NSAID) for management of some joint discomfort, but he is heartworm negative, he has no special diet, his vision is exceptional, his hearing is top-notch, he has teeth that are in great condition, and his weight is where it should be. As of about a year ago, he takes a medication to help anxiety, but this also has been curbed immensely since he’s been in a foster home (and not confined to a kennel). Lio’s mobility is also incredible! Seriously, he’s no stranger to a big leap straight into the water hose stream.

Well, do you know more about the Catahoula Leopard Dog breed than you did before? The name’s certainly thought-provoking. Catahoula? Ah, Native American origin. Leopard? Oh, got it, like spots or patches of a leopard.

Lio? One in a milLIOn.

— Lio’s Foster Mom

Lio is now 7.5-years-old and still in search of a permanent furever home.

Check out all of Lio’s special blog posts in his series:

Check out Lio’s very own Facebook album:

Posted in Adoptions, Education, Lio's Adventures, Rescue | Comments Off on Lio: A Tail of an Amazing, Adoptable, Misunderstood Dog Part 3 — So, What’s a Catahoula Dog Anyway?

State of Emergency: Protect the Breed

“Cowardly people fight to ban us; Courageous people fight to protect us.”

3 pitbulls

60 years ago, the Pitbull type dog was known for its loving demeanor and had a reputation as the ultimate family dog. Pitbulls were used in marketing campaigns as “America’s Dog” as a symbol of patriotism and were also known as the “nanny dog” because of their gentle nature and watchful eye over the children of the family. Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of illegal dog fighting caused a shift in the public’s perception from the ultimate family dog to the ultimate bad dog.

puppy puppy 2

A Pitbull is defined in legislation of many states as any dog that is an American PitBull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or any dog that exhibits physical characteristics which mostly conform to the breed standards of the AKC, such as blocky head, square muzzle, bulky, muscular body-type, almond-shaped eyes, etc.  Their owners find that their pets are discriminated on by landlords, homeowners associations, as well as city, county, and state laws.


With 33 states having Breed-Specific Legislation, and the majority including Pitbull-type dogs, this breed has a difficult time finding their forever home. Mandatory spay/neuter programs are a necessary way to protect the breed as it will limit ownership from those who seek to do the breed harm, prevent over-population of the breed that has a high chance of ending up in a shelter when owned for the wrong reasons. Animal lovers, specifically Pitbull lovers, cry out loudly on behalf of the breed, desperately seeking a solution to the Pitbull being one of the most euthanized breeds in municipal shelters nationwide.

tongue out

Stay tuned next week as we take you inside a day in the life of a shelter pitbull.

Posted in Bully Breed Crisis | Comments Off on State of Emergency: Protect the Breed

Lio: A Tail of an Amazing, Adoptable, Misunderstood Dog Part 2 — More Than Meets The Eye

In our first and most recent Lio blog post, we introduced you to the big boy, a 7-year-old Catahoula Leopard Dog mix, Lio, who’s been in Pawmetto Lifeline’s care starting in 2014. (Sure, we may be stating the obvious, but that’s more than one half of his life.) Lio has been in one foster-to-adopt for two months, a first foster home for six months, one adoptive home for one month, and back to a second foster home from July scheduled until November. The question you are undoubtedly asking yourself is, “why?” What has been keeping him from staying in an adoptive home permanently? What has taken him so long?

Well, sure, he’s a larger dog (about 85 lbs. of love!), and sure, he has more exercise needs than, say, a 5 lb. chihuahua, but there’s a tad more to it all:

So let’s get right to it. Dogs need and thrive with structure. Lio didn’t have the necessary structure starting off in life; he had been enabled to exhibit behaviors that were ultimately inappropriate (although many were, in actuality, normal) but that could have been reversed or lessened. What his owners’ thought the best solution—or what they thought might be the only solution—to his behaviors (whether he was heavily irritated by other dogs in his face and showed this by growling or growing defensive, or scarfed down a meal in fear that it’d be his last) was that of negative reinforcement training with use of a shock collar.

One of the most significant behaviors Lio has shown is that of resource guarding. To the surprise of many, resource guarding is a natural behavior in dogs, and it is characterized by dogs doing just that: guarding what’s important to them or vital for them to stay alive. Resource guarding in dogs equates to protecting food, space, toys, people, other dogs, or even what they perceive to be intensely  “high value” treats (from frozen soup bones to peanut butter-filled Kongs, or from a sacred tissue to a juicy piece of chicken that has fallen on the floor amidst a human’s cooking session). Resource guarding doesn’t mean a “dominant” or “pushy personality” in a dog. In fact, it many times stems from insecurity—the “unknown” of where and when their next meal is coming from. The anxiety of a person taking away their food if they misbehave. The uncertainty of how to adapt in a certain social situation.

The shock collar was the solution to Lio guarding food, which in turn made him even more tense. The problems were then cyclical.

When Lio’s original owners decided that they should surrender him, and when he transitioned to getting the love and attention from Pawmetto Lifeline staff that included changes like positive reinforcement training, things got better. In foster care, they continued to get even more positive.

Foster Mom Rebecca first proved it was possible for people to follow very important yet simple “Lio Life Rules” we’d like to outline:

1) Be Lio’s confident, committed leader in life, and he’ll in turn show you his best smile and signature adorable scoopy tail wag. Basically, he’ll love you.

2) Please, give Lio space when he eats (because we humans know at least one person who will try to snag a fry from our plate. Not fun!) Rebecca introduced the slow feeder bowl to Lio, and it has done wonders. Before, Lio ate out of a standard metal bowl and devoured his food in less than 20 seconds. Now—and trust us, we have timed it—it takes 3 or 4 minutes.

3) Provide Lio with a solid routine! He craves structure, much like he craves the treats he gets for ALL the commands he knows. There’s a time Lio wakes up, eats, potties, plays, etc., but there are also boundaries. For example, no couch for this guy—and that is okay.  Clarity and consistency is a good thing. Lio on the couch psychologically puts him on the same level as his leader, and him having the same freedom can do damage. With guarding tendencies, couch time is not condoned. It does NOT mean you don’t care about him or want him to have comfort, but rather you do care about him not being the one in charge which could lead to regression, so it’s important that distinction be made.

To explain his returns from what we thought might be his furever homes, the Lio Life Rules were not followed. The adopters or to-be adopters may have been overly confident, didn’t believe us when we stated that he had a true insecurity about food being handled, or just plain weren’t ready for a dog with his needs. The search continues. Lio being in foster care has proven to be tremendously eye-opening.

Until Friday,

Lio’s Foster Mom

Check out all of Lio’s special blog posts in his series:

Check out Lio’s very own Facebook album:

Posted in Adoptions, Education, Fosters, Lio's Adventures, Rescue | Comments Off on Lio: A Tail of an Amazing, Adoptable, Misunderstood Dog Part 2 — More Than Meets The Eye

Lio: A Tail of an Amazing, Adoptable, Misunderstood Dog Part 1 — An Introdogtion

Lio. You might recognize the name. You might recognize the face. Maybe you saw him once or twice on a Subaru billboard ad while driving by the zoo exit over the past 3 years. There’s a chance you saw him in a Paws & Tails magazine issue, or in Midlands Anchor. You might have seen him on national Facebook pet organization pages. Perhaps you glance at his profile photo every time you scroll through photos of the adoptable pets on the Pawmetto Lifeline website. Every. Single. Time. Maybe you saw him on Tinder (oh yes, we went there). Or you’ve simply stumbled upon this article and are just as excited as we are to zoom in on the life of a (still) adoptable dog who has long needed a furever home—a true furever home.

Lio is a beautiful 7-year-old dog who first entered the care of Pawmetto Lifeline in March of 2014.  His background is one of maltreatment, one of chaos, and one of ceaseless misunderstanding of who he was and what his needs were. Behaviors that could have been addressed positively were addressed negatively, insomuch that an electric shock collar was used in intervals more excruciatingly frequent than we’d like to think at a training facility with practically zero owner involvement. We’ll elaborate a little in later posts because of the inevitable contrast of “then versus now” you’re bound to drop your jaw about, but it’s important to note that to date, however, Lio is the smartest, goofiest, most sensitive, and most patient canine we’ve had the pleasure of having in our care.  Lio is an amazing dog, an adoptable dog, and he’s a misunderstood dog; until this guy finds his true furever home, we’re going to be showing you precisely why. In the words of Pawmetto Lifeline Medical Director, Mike Kokernak, “Lio’s story is a perfect example of how an extremely mistreated and misunderstood dog can blossom into a sweet, loyal companion.” We’ll show you who he is, how much he’s grown, and just how wonderfully he’ll flourish in the right home.

Every Tuesday and Friday, we’ll illustrate Lio’s adventures and provide updates through this series. We ask that you please share it with everyone you know. Spread the word. Share the love. Share Lio. Along the way, you’ll get to feast your eyes on his strikingly handsome smiles, virtually feel his charasmatic personality, his charm, his smarts, appreciate his infatuation with the water hose, and just what exactly he needs in an adopter. Along the way to what, you ask? Along the way to a furever home. We’ll go from “misunderstood” to “mister understood.” Stay tuned.

— Lio’s Foster Mom

Check out all of Lio’s special blog posts in his series:

Check out Lio’s very own Facebook album:

Posted in Adoptions, Education, Fosters, Lio's Adventures, Rescue | Comments Off on Lio: A Tail of an Amazing, Adoptable, Misunderstood Dog Part 1 — An Introdogtion

State of Emergency: The Bully Breed Crisis in South Carolina – Part 1

“ The only inherently dangerous thing about Bully Breeds is an uneducated opinion which is the result of an under-socialized, untrained bully breed that has improper ownership.” 

cute pibble

Once a bully breed enters one of our municipal shelters in South Carolina, they have a 1 in 600 chance of leaving the shelter alive. Until the attitude toward the bully breed changes, their situation will remain grim.


The bully breeds are the most victimized group amongst canines, especially amongst dog fighters, backyard breeders, and criminals. They are forced to serve as guard dogs, have litter after litter, and are thrown away when they are no longer profitable to their owner.

As a community, we have to urge our leaders to take action and respond to this crisis with solutions that will encourage everyone to be part of the answer the bully breeds so desperately need.

pit on chain

Programs that provide medical services, spay/neuter surgeries, food, and assistance in finding bully breed friendly housing are only a portion of the solution. There needs to be a shift in thought amongst our society that eradication is not a means to an end.

Stay tuned each week as we take you behind-the-scenes of the plight of the bully breed. This multi-part series will uncover the myths behind the breed, the negative stigma surrounding bully breeds, and ways that you can help.

sad dog

Join us in becoming part of the solution by supporting forthcoming legislation to PROTECT the bully breed from further wrongful persecution!


Posted in Bully Breed Crisis | Comments Off on State of Emergency: The Bully Breed Crisis in South Carolina – Part 1

I found a kitten. What do I do?!?

If the kittens are in a safe spot, leave them so the mother can come back for them.  If the mother is not available, and you decide to keep them – realize you are taking on a huge responsibility.  Be prepared for sleepless nights, some frustrations and of course, some happy and grateful kittens.


If you are unsure of the mother’s location, you can leave the kittens where they are (as long as they are not in imminent danger) and place a ring of flour or baby powder around them. Check on the kittens every few hours and watch for footprints of the mother. If you are near, the mother WILL NOT return to her kittens. If the mother has not returned in 24 hours, the kittens will need to be cared for.


You will need the following:  Make sure you wash your hands often with babies.

  • Mother’s milk (available from any pet store or Wal-Mart), plain yogurt, can be added to the formula, to aid digestion.  To start you may want to use the formula you need to mix, it will save the formula from spoiling before you can use it.
  • Mineral oil
  • Kitten baby bottles, (nipple should just drip milk when held upside down), eye droppers, or syringes, dishes for food and water, kitty litter, kitten food –pate` (wet food), and dry for when they are older.
  • Heating Pad, (one can be made by using a sock filled with rice heated in the microwave for 30 – 40 seconds watch carefully you don’t want to burn the babies.)
  • Towels, washcloths, small blankets, cotton balls, Q-tips, flea comb, soft brush
  • Crate or container to keep kittens safe and warm (inside), small litter box (if they are 3 or more weeks old.) Just make sure they can’t crawl out or get caught in the bars.


Always feed kitten while they are on their stomach you can roll up a towel and place them on that.  You may have to encourage them to lap or suck on the bottle of milk to begin with, just be gentle and persistent, they will learn quickly. They may only drink a small amount (1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon) of formula to begin with and you will need to increase the amount as they get older.  Don’t forget to burp the baby. Patting their backs or rubbing their stomachs will help.

baby kitty

You may want to clean them with a washcloth (such as the mother would after eating).  Make sure you dry them thoroughly.  You will want to wipe the genital and anal area to encourage elimination. If they seem constipated you can add a few drops of mineral oil with an eye dropper at each feeding.

If the kitten’s eyes are runny or looking infected, you can wipe eyes with a cotton ball soaked in strong tea.  This is not in lieu of seeking veterinary advice for the kitten; it is just to make their eyes feel better.

Keep the kittens in a quiet area; they will sleep most of the time.  There are many websites to find in-depth information on baby kittens.  Keep the handling of the kittens to a minimum to start with.

This is just designed to give you some hints on baby kittens; it is in no way designed to take the place of veterinary care for the animal. 

For veterinary care for your kitten(s), you can contact Pawmetto Lifeline’s Wellness Clinic at (803) 465-9196. Once the kittens are 6 weeks old and are friendly, you can contact our intake department for information on placing them up for adoption at


Posted in Education | Tagged , , | Comments Off on I found a kitten. What do I do?!?