Q: Our veterinarian has always been wonderful with our cats, so we want to give her a gift on Valentine's Day. Chocolate seems wrong since it's toxic to pets. Do you have better suggestions?
A: What a lovely thought! I'm sure your veterinarian will enjoy whatever gift you choose.
My first suggestions recognize that everyone at the practice has contributed to the positive experiences you've enjoyed. You might thank them with a Valentine's Day delivery of morning coffee and donuts or lunchtime sandwiches, salad and fruit.
Write an online review describing what's special about the practice.
If you like to sew, choose some fun animal prints and make scrubs or scrub tops in various sizes for your veterinarian and her staff. Find a print with cats that look like yours, or choose your vet's favorite dog or cat breed.
Notice what your veterinarian enjoys. My clients often mention my animal earrings, and many give more as gifts, which I love.
Consider making a donation in your veterinarian's name to a cause important to her. Choose a group she volunteers for, a local shelter or cat rescue, or a national animal welfare organization.
Another idea is a gift card to a favorite restaurant so she can enjoy romantic time with her significant other.
Most veterinarians agree, though, that the best gift of all is when clients express their appreciation during a visit and send an occasional card of thanks.
Q: My friend's dog was stolen from his backyard. He contacted the police and put up posters with photos, but he still hasn't heard anything. What else can he do?
A: Last Chance for Animals, which estimates that 2 million U.S. pets are stolen every year, established Feb. 14 as Pet Theft Awareness Day. It's a good time to think about what we're doing to prevent the pets we love from being taken and how we can help if this tragedy strikes a friend.
Dogs are stolen so they can be sold, bred, used in research or exploited as bait dogs by dog fight promoters. To thwart thieves, take these precautions:
— If you don't plan to breed your pets, have your veterinarian spay or neuter them. Sterilized pets are less likely to stray from home, and dogs that can't be bred aren't marketable to puppy mill breeders.
— Since collars can be removed, it's important to permanently identify each of your pets with a microchip. Be sure to update your contact information at the microchip registry whenever it changes.
— Keep photos of each of your pets, including some taken with you to help prove ownership.
— Walk your dog on a leash, and lock your backyard gates. Keep your cats indoors.
— Don't leave your pet alone in the car or tied outside a store while you dash inside.
In addition to the steps your friend has already taken to find his dog, he should notify local animal shelters, rescue groups and animal hospitals; ensure that his contact information is correct at the microchip registry; and monitor social media and newspaper ads to see if anyone finds his dog.
If someone calls your friend claiming to have found his dog but demanding a reward before delivery, he should get detailed information to be sure the caller is legitimate. If your friend suspects the caller is the thief or a scammer, he should contact the police.
Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at https://askthevet.pet.
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