Stopping Predatory Behavior

Dogs were originally domesticated to take advantage of their hunting ability. The hunting instinct is not uniform among individuals of any given breed; rather, it is usually seen as a range of behavioral tendencies. The most obvious disadvantage of predatory behavior by domestic dogs is the unnecessary injury or death of other animals, including wildlife and other pets.

It also can take on a more sinister form when directed against family members, particularly if these are children and infants. Predatory instincts are most likely to be redirected toward children when an infant begins to crawl and walk. Never leave a child unattended with even the most trusted pet during this critical time.

Several methods have been recommended to control predatory behavior in dogs. Of these, the only method that is effective incorporates two simple approaches:

1. Deny your dog the opportunity to hunt.

  • Prevent opportunities to roam unrestricted or unsupervised outdoors.
  • Construct a fence around your yard if hunting occurs beyond your property. Alternatively, place a pen within your yard, restricting access to prey on your property.
  • Consider attaching your dog’s collar to a long lead (anchored to the ground), as long as the dog is not left there during bad weather or for long periods without supervision.

2. Minimize your dog’s desire to roam and hunt by providing alternative activities.

  • Discourage wild and undisciplined behavior so that your dog is less likely to follow its primitive instincts.
  • Every dog should be walked on a leash at least twice a day.
  • Practice obedience skills daily. This reinforces appropriate and desirable behavior.
  • Set aside time each day to play with your pet, engaging in games that apply obedience skills such as retrieval of objects. More playful interaction of this kind also increases your dog’s intellectual and physical activity.

Source: "Canine and Feline Behavior Problems," Stefanie Schwartz

Get Home Ready for Puppy

maggie_23384Bringing home a new puppy is truly one of life's joys.  Thoughtful pre-puppy preparations and a well-planned first 24 hours can give your fuzzy bundle of  promise a head-start and make your dreams of the perfect family dog come true.

Before the Big Day

Once household discussions have established that everyone wants a dog of a certain age and breed, where to get the pup — from a shelter or reputable breeder — is more or less determined. Now, family meetings should cover scheduling:
Who will take the pup to the papers or backyard and when?
Who will be in charge of feedings three to four times a day?
Who will make veterinary appointments for vaccinations and deworming?

Read more: Get Home Ready for Puppy

Hamster Care



Hamsters were living in relative obscurity until just 70 years ago when a zoologist discovered a family of these rodents in the Syrian Desert. Today, hamsters' friendly nature and adaptability have placed them among America's most popular small pet.

Read more: Hamster Care

"From the Couch" Articles

wibs_couch_smallFROM THE COUCH
By WIBS, shelter mascot

Dear WIBS,

I regretfully had to give up my 5-year-old cat. I brought her to the shelter, but I'm worried that older cats are harder to find new homes for. Is that true? Do you think she will find a good home despite her age?

-Miss My Kitty

Dear Miss My Kitty,

While it is true kittens are more popular than adult cats, there are also people who would prefer a more mature cat like you and me. To give older cats more of an advantage when competing for homes with those crazy kittens, we have a new promotion running: Cats 3 and older for $23. That means people can come adopt a cat 3-years-old and older already spayed and neutered for only $23. Personally, I think the older and wiser felines are more valuable, but the promotion seems to be helping and that's what counts.

(From February 2009 Newsletter)

Dear WIBS,

When I purchase dog buscuits for my Fluffy at Coborns, I get a “pet points” coupon along with my receipt. Do you collect these? How do they work?

-Fluffy’s Mom

Dear Fluffy’s Mom,

Yes, we collect Coborn’s pet points and use them to purchase supplies for the shelter. Pet Points are coupons given at Coborn's when you buy pet food. When you have enough points, you can convert the points into cash. 150 pet points = $10.00 that can be used to purchase anything at Coborn's. We also take Labels for Learning Points.

Dear WIBS,

Is it true that you host birthday parties? I love animals and my birthday is coming up next month. I'd love to spend it with the animals at the shelter and learn as much as I can about helping them. I'm sure my friends would too.

-Almost 9

Dear Almost 9,

Party with us at the Tri-County Humane Society! If you don't catch me during my 17 hours of daily nap time, I may actually greet you when you come, but with or without me, you're guaranteed to have a great time! Not only will you have fun seeing and interacting with many of my friends available for adoption, but you will also learn about how you can help homeless animals. Plus, your birthday fee will go directly towards helping us care for the thousands of homeless animals we receive each year. For only $25, you can reserve a date (call for availability), and then it's $5 per guest on the day of the party.

Here's what's included:

  • Printable invitations for your guests.
  • Use of party room and kitchen (bring your own cake and snacks if you like, and some catnip for me please!)
  • Name displayed on outdoor marquee sign.
  • Naming rights to one of the shelter pets.
  • Party hats (puppy or kitty ear headbands.)
  • Educational tour of shelter.
  • Interaction with a variety of adoptable pets.
  • Service learning project (optional)--usually consists of bathing/grooming puppies and/or dogs, but you could sit and brush me too if you prefer!
  • Animal-themed craft project.
  • Clean up.

Dear WIBS,

I'm bored!

-Not-so-rich cat in Boreville

To be the best cat owner, your people need to be aware of how to provide for your mental well-being. Since we are both social creatures and predators, we must have opportunities to express our natural behaviors.

There are various ways to enrich your environment and, of course, any interaction you have with your person is a form of enrichment.

Self-play toys are especially good for those who are left alone while their people are away. Most self-play toys dispense food, which certainly motivates me to play with the toy!

Interactive toys help strengthen the bond between you and your person by letting you share fun and positive experiences. Both of you can have a great time playing with wand-type toys with attached feathers (my personal favorite), laser pointers, balls, and even a wadded up ball of paper or tin foil.

To "virtually" let you spend time outside, have them place perches or resting areas by windows. Something as easy as clearing off the back of a couch by the window can expand your horizons. I enjoy taunting the birds, but watch your nose—ouch!

You know, we cats can be taught any number of tricks, from "sit" to "down" to "wave." To be successful, they must use positive reinforcement methods, because we will not be forced to do something we don't want to do! Am I right?

Whatever types of enrichment they choose for you, make sure to also suggest having bags of treats in every room readily available for whenever you demand them! (Not likely or smart, but it's worth a try.) Good Luck!

Dear WIBS,

   I’d like to host an event and raise money for the animals at your shelter. Can I do this?          Felicia ‘Fundraiser’      

Dear Felicia,

Absolutely! Every year the animals are helped by motivated and hard-working people like you who organize and run a fundraising event for the shelter.

While we may be able to provide some support and assistance, we are unable to run your event for you. Contact us before your event, and we may be able to assist you where necessary to make your event an outstanding success.

We suggest all event organizers be realistic about the scope of their event, and run something that they have the means to organize successfully. Consider whether your event will be a large scale or small scale event. Will it be internal, within your school, business, or organization, or open to the community? Here are some ideas of events you could host:

Car wash, Raffle, Garage Sale, Bake Sale, Lemonade Stand, Casual Fridays, Wedding Reception Donations, Concert/Music Event, Sport/Golf Tournament, Charity Dinner/Dance, Auction, Read-A-Thon, Penny Carnival, Birthday/Christmas Gift Donations.

Remember: You can also become a volunteer and help us at our current fundraisers.

Our special events coordinator can be reached by phone at 320-252-0896 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Dear WIBS,

Christmas is my favorite time of year. There are so many new toys that come out...a big tree of my very own to climb, never-ending cords of flashing lights to chew on, shiny pieces of string to eat, and beautiful colored balls to bat around. But it seems my owners (the people I let live in this house with me) do not appreciate all of these wonderful things, because when I frolic in these things they get mad at me. My toy basket is full of balls and toys that I play with year round, and they don’t get mad at me when I play with them. Why?                                       Sincerely, Tinkerbell

Dear Tinkerbell,

Yes, the holidays can be fun for cats but I do have some words of warning for you. The never-ending cords of flashing lights have electricity running through them, one bite and your hair will never be the same. And the shiny pieces of string, they may look hypnotizingly fun but if you swallow one it could give you a horrible stomach ache, and that means a trip to the Vet. And the colored balls, well I love them too but they easily break into sharp pieces that can cut your mouth or paws. So its not worth it. And one more thing, stay away from the pretty red flowers they call Poinsettias, they are not as appetizing as they look. As far as the big tree goes, I’m as puzzled as you are. My advice is to climb it at night when they’re sleeping.  

P.S. I have enclosed a Christmas song that you may enjoy.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas my kitten gave to me…

12 minutes purring

11 broken knick-knacks

10 well-chewed ribbons

9 furry hairballs

8 midnight frolics

7 soggy cat toys

6 piles of cat puke


4 shredded chairs

3 feathers

2 vet bills

and 1 toppled over Christmas tree


Dear WIBS,

A friend of mine recently adopted a cat and her children were allergic to it so she had to return it to the shelter.

I am expecting a baby soon and I currently have two cats. Is there anything I can do to make sure the baby does not develop allergies to my cats?


Dear Soon-to-be-mother-of-three,

Funny you should ask. Just the other day I was lounging on an Animal Sheltering magazine, their September/October 2000 issue. Right under my paw was an article about recent studies that find early exposure to pets may prevent allergies in later life.

Allergists and animal lovers have often been at odds over the issues of indoor pets, but recent studies suggest that exposure to furry friends at an early age may actually keep the sniffles at bay.

In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology last march, researchers from the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan and the Medical College of Georgia concluded that children who live with an indoor dog or cat during the first year of life may be less likely to contract pet-related allergies in later childhood.

Researchers worked with 724 children and their mothers, collecting data before the children were born, at birth, and at regular intervals until the children were six to seven years old. Children who had been exposed early to cats and dogs displayed a significantly lower IgE than those children who had not been exposed; they were also less likely to show any outward signs of allergies. IgE is a class of antibody normally present a low levels in humans; it is found in larger quantities in people with allergies and is believed to be the antibody responsible for classic allergic reactions.

Results were particularly striking in first-born children, for whom pet exposure was found to be “strongly protective” against the development of cat-specific and dog-specific antibodies.

So, you may not need to worry at all, your unborn child may be building antibodies as we speak.


Dear WIBS,

I just adopted a new kitten from the shelter. Do you have any tips on how to “kitten-proof” my home?

First time kitten owner

Dear first time kitten owner,

Kittens are curious creatures capable of jumping onto high surfaces or squeezing into the smallest of spaces. To protect your kitten in his/her new environment, and to safeguard your belongings, take note of the following:

1.Keep trash cans covered or inside a latched cabinet.

2.Check for and block any small spaces, nooks, or holes inside cabinetry or behind washer/dryer units.

3.Move dangling wires from lamps, televisions, phones, etc. out of reach.

4.Move house plants—which can be poisonous—out of reach, including hanging plants that can be jumped to from nearby surfaces.

5.Make sure all heating/air vents have a cover.

6.Keep any medications, lotions, or cosmetics off accessible surfaces.

7.Put away all sewing and craft supplies, especially thread and yarn.

8.Make sure your kitten hasn’t jumped into the dryer before you turn it on. I’ve heard some horrible stories of such incidents that would make you shudder.


Dear WIBS,

Wow, did I have a bad experience over the holidays. My people put a basket of funny smelling sticks and stuff on the table so naturally I thought I should taste it. What a mistake! All of a sudden my mouth felt funny and I couldn’t stop drooling. Then I felt really sick and they rushed me to the vet. I overheard them say I was being treated for poisoning. Do you think my people are trying to get rid of me?


Dear Paranoid,

Silly kitty—if they were trying to get rid of you they wouldn’t have rushed you to the vet. My guess is that you ate out of a basket of potpourri, which was not smart. Potpourri contains essential oils and some products also contain cationic detergents. Some of the oils can cause vomiting, stomach upset, diarrhea and even liver damage. The cationic detergents can burn the mouth and tongue. Hopefully your people will learn from your unfortunate experience. And you, my furry friend, should stick to eating only what’s in your food dish!

Kitten Socialization

BelleHiRes WEBA cat’s personality is mostly formed within its first eight months. Here are some suggestions to help ensure your kitten develops into a confident, well-behaved cat:

  • Start even before they’re born. If you have a pregnant cat, make sure you’re providing her with proper nutrition. Momma will lose weight while nursing, so she should have some extra calories to bulk up. Some cat owners put their pregnant cats on kitten food for those extra calories. Malnourished momma cats are more likely to be crabby with their kittens and not provide as much mothering. This could lead to developmental delays in the kittens that will affect them later on.
  • For your cat nursery, don’t just put a cardboard box in an empty room. A more-complex environment provides sensory stimulation. (Try leaving a radio or a television in the room for part of the time.) Flooring can consistent of newspapers, old towels, carpet squares or tiles. A small cardboard box for the kittens to crawl on with a hole in the side can be a den once the kitties get more mobile. (Do not use produce boxes; they may have been sprayed with pesticides.)
  • Handle the kitties with care as soon as possible. When the kittens are 2 to 3 weeks old, expand the handlers to include three or four people daily to help ensure the kittens become trusting of a variety of people.
  • Keep adult male cats out of the nursery. It will just stress Momma Cat out, and she doesn’t need that.
  • Keep the litter with Momma Cat until the kittens are at least 8 weeks old. That’s typically around the end of weaning. Through their experience with her, the kittens will learn to use the litter box, how to hunt, what foods are safe to eat and who is an appropriate friend. Momma Cat also helps them learn how to cope with stress and frustration through sometimes not letting them feed until they’re satiated.
  • Keep the litter together until 8 to 10 weeks of age. The littermates teach each other important life skills through their play – including how to control their clawing and biting.
  • Orphans who are separated from their mother before 8 weeks old can have a litany of behavior-related issues or health problems. If you have an orphan kitty, add him or her to another litter or foster him/her in a home with other cats as role models.

Source: Adapted from information by Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

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