DR. DAVID DORN
Owner, West Liberty Animal Hospital
3055 West Liberty Avenue
BACKGROUND: Dorn and his wife, Lisa, live on Bower Hill Road. He received his VMD from the University of Pennsylvania and has been a practicing vet for 32 years. Dorn has developed a specialty in birds, exotic animals and reptiles.
HIS PETS: Celia and Max, 8½-year-old Doberman littermates. Orange cats Arancia, 14, and Butters, 4½.
ADOPTION STORY: “Our first Doberman, King, was brought in to be euthanized. He was very sick and his owner couldn’t afford to care for him. I was in the exam room talking about the situation, and he came over and gently put his head on my lap…needless to say we didn’t euthanize him. I suggested that the owner donate the dog to the hospital and that we would look into his problems and try to find him a home. King had so many chronic problems that I realized it would be difficult to find him a home, so we adopted him. He lived a long and happy life and helped numerous people overcome their fear of Dobermans as he was such a gentle, calm and loving dog… he converted us as Celia and Max are our third and fourth Dobermans.”
TIP: “We are seeing more and more overweight pets and overfeeding is the most common source of the concern. It can be hard to determine the proper amount to feed when there is no calorie information on the outside of the food bags. However you should be able to feel the ribs on the side of the pet’s chest, but not see them…. WHAT?? “After weighing their dog on the hospital scale, one client asked if the weight was in dog pounds or human pounds. I also get asked if the distemper vaccine make a dog nicer.” (The distemper vaccine for dogs is a vaccine to protect against a viral disease, not to deal with behavior problems.)
DR. MARINA SIEGERT
Bethel Park Animal Clinic
104 Broughton Road
BACKGROUND: Siegert, Vermont Avenue, received her DVM from the University of California at Davis in 1996. For 10 years, she practiced at the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, the largest small animal hospital in the western United States, focusing on emergency and critical care. “Now that I’ve switched to more of a primary care clinician, I’ve become very involved in dermatology, especially allergies, and dental disease, because these are the top two problems I see in my patients. Siegert’s husband, Kristopher, grew up in Mt. Lebanon and is a volunteer firefighter (he teaches pet CPR to other firefighters). They plan to move to the Beverly area this summer.
HER PETS: George, a 12-year-old Pit Bull mix; Jack, a 7-year-old German Shepherd. “We will be bringing home Chicken, a 2-year-old stray Bengal, and another lucky cat when we move to our new home. For now Chicken hangs out at the office with me.”
ADOPTION STORY: Both of Seigert’s dogs were slated to be euthanized. George had been brought in as a puppy with parvovirus, and Jack came in at age four weeks with a blood vessel that was wrapped over his esophagus, creating a stricture that wouldn’t allow food to pass. He needed chest surgery and multiple balloon endoscopies to stretch his esophagus back to normal. “With George, I stopped by to see how he was doing and decided that even though he had been busy shredding all the paper in his cages into little tiny pieces, he was pretty cute. Next thing I knew, he was coming home with me…I wasn’t planning on adopting Jack, but he was too young to grow up living in a cage in treatment with 50 other hospitalized patients. I took him home to foster. Seven years later, my husband still jokes that we are looking for his forever home.”
THE TRUTH ABOUT PIT BULLS “I never worry about a pit bull biting me. George is the dog that the kids climb all over and torture. Every once in a while I’ll hear a small whine from him, look over, and one of the kids is chewing on his ear. Their high tolerance for pain can make them ideal for kid-inflicted abuse. Most pit bulls are really nice dogs. They can be reactive with other dogs depending on the degree of socialization they had as puppies. As with any dog you are considering adopting, see how they react with other dogs, people and children. See how they are on and off the leash (most shelters give you a space to try this out.) They have a high play drive which makes them a really fun family pet.”
TIP #1: Puppies bought from Amish farmers are from puppy mills. Please stop driving out to the middle of nowhere in response to an ad placed on Craigslist. You’ll get there, be horrified at the deplorable conditions, but buy the puppy anyway because you don’t have the heart to leave him in such an awful place. I hear this story at least once a month.
TIP #2: The most common reasons your cat has stopped using her litter box are: because it is too dirty for her taste; it is in the basement when she likes to live on the third floor; it’s next to the washing machine that scares her during the spin cycle; it is the only litter box shared between multiple cats; it’s little and she weighs 15 pounds; and did I mention that she’d like it kept pristinely clean and not just scooped every other day?
DR. ROBERT REUTHER
Greentree Animal Clinic
BACKGROUND: Reuther, Arden Road, received his VDM from Ohio State University. He has been practicing 38 years.
HIS PET: Amy, an 8-year-old poodle mix.
ADOPTION STORY: “I adopted Amy in the spring of 2005 while working at the Animal Rescue League. She was found wandering around Homestead and had two very large cataracts, so it was assumed that she was very old. With her cataracts, Amy would have been put to sleep. As luck would have it, I was walking by her holding run and couldn’t resist going in and giving her a little scratch behind the ears. As I began to examine Amy, I discovered she was a young dog and her cataracts were congenital, so I adopted her. I had the cataracts removed to avoid complications. Even though she cannot see, she gets around great and has been a wonderful pet. My advice for dealing with a special needs animal: patience and love.”
TIP: Always check your dog for fleas. Fleas do not make a dog itchy unless they are in fairly high numbers. For a 30-pound dog it takes at least 50 fleas to start them scratching. The only exception is if a dog is allergic to flea bites.
ODDEST EMERGENCY: A dog that ate a diamond ring. “The owner said, ‘I don’t care what happens to the [expletive] dog, just get the ring out!’ Fortunately we got the dog to vomit it back up.”
BACKGROUND: Medonis, a Shady Lane resident, has been the receptionist at Greentree Animal Clinic receptionist for 17 years.
PETS: Rudy, 10-year-old Pomeranian; Buford, 16-year-old tabby; Henry James, 11-year-old tabby; Lily, 4- year-old tuxedo cat.
ADOPTION STORY: There is nothing unique or unusual about the acquisition of my pets—they came from the usual sources: friends whose life had become too complicated for a young puppy, an ordinary kitten from a kennel, a stray found wandering and a kitten from one of Pittsburgh’s shelters.
TIP: Kathy brings her Pomeranian, Rudy, to work with her daily and suggests the best way to raise a social dog is to expose the pup to as many people and situations as possible. “Take them to strip malls, obedience classes and any other venue where they will meet strangers, kids and other dogs. I have found obedience training classes the very best way to raise a well-adjusted and well-behaved dog.”
WHAT?? “I had a caller who wanted to know if we would euthanize her goldfish. I referred her to Wet Pets, a pond supply store on Route 19, and I did it without giggling or suggesting flushing it down the toilet, which I believe is the more common way to dispose of a goldfish.”
TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
Think carefully about the type of pet you are looking for and evaluate closely. Let your emotions contribute to the decision but don’t let them make the decision for you. Make sure the pet is a good fit for both you and the pet. —Dr. Dorn
Do it! We have many great shelters in our area with an overabundance of animals needing homes. Want a specific breed? There are breed rescue groups for just about any breed you can think of. Puppies are cute, but they are a lot of work. You can often adopt a young adult dog that is already spayed/neutered, vaccinated and housebroken. — Dr. Siegert
It is very important to spend the time to properly train your dog. It’s better for the dog and you and can help to prevent many behavior problems. —Dr. Dorn
Just like with kids, one of the toughest, but most important things to do is to ignore undesirable behavior. —Dr. Mann
Training a dog is much like having a toddler. Be consistent. — Dr. Siegert
As a general rule of thumb, never leave children unsupervised with any animal. They may accidentally hurt the pet, or, if the pet lashes out, get hurt themselves. Starting around age 2, children get the idea that they aren’t supposed to lie on top of the cat or yank the dog’s tail, but they don’t have great self-control. I always try to rule in favor of the animal. If my daughter is trying to hug Jack and he gets up to leave, she is not allowed to follow him. Jack is uncomfortable and is removing himself from the situation. Respect that. If you hear your dog growl at a child, don’t yell at the dog. Realize the dog is communicating a warning. If you punish the growl, you’ll end up with a dog that simply bites with no warning. Instead, remove the dog from the situation that is making them uncomfortable. Cats usually have it easier because they have more options when it comes to escaping from children. They can go to high perches or hide under furniture. The key is to let the animals have their own space. We all know what it is like to feel overwhelmed from children sometimes. So do our pets! — Dr. Siegert
Most pets do not need to wear coats, sweaters or vests. Wearing coats too often can lead to poor health and skin problems. —Dr. Mann
Fleas can be difficult to get rid of, but they are fairly easy to prevent with the newer medications (Frontline +, Advantage, Revolution and Trifexis), which are not the same as the over the counter look alike products. And, yes, there are fleas in Mt. Lebanon. —Dr. Dorn
FEEDING AND TREATS
Depending on how many treats you feed your dog, reduce the amount of dog food accordingly. —Dr. Reuther
Your pet will live longer if it is not overweight. And, as an additional bonus, it is cheaper to not overfeed your pet. See, everyone wins! — Dr. Siegert
Food allergies, while less common than other allergies, are suspicious in dogs that develop itchiness at less than a year of age or develop problems much later in life, usually at 8 years or older. If you suspect your dog has food allergies, do not reach for an over-the-counter diet as these always have ingredient contaminants, despite what the label says. Instead talk to your vet about trying a hypoallergenic food trial.
I’m a fan of food dispensing toys. These are great to entertain both dogs and cats when you are away at work all day. — Dr. Siegert
Get your pet to like the car by getting him/her to associate good things with the car—like walks and treats. —Dr. Reuther