Pet and Animal Care Resources


We add articles to this area on a regular basis.  Check back often for helpful information about you and your pet, and about Stray Hearts Animal Shelter.  Many articles are in PDF format.


Pets and Car Travel Safety

Whether planning a summer vacation or a weekend road trip, people have several choices when it comes to their pets. For some, the best options are to leave them with a family member or a pet-sitter or to board them at a kennel. Another option is to take one’s furry or feathered friend along for the ride. While traveling with a pet makes for a fun family experience, there are things that must be taken into consideration when driving. Not all pets are comfortable with riding in a car, and for that reason, one must consider their animal’s disposition and ability to travel any significant distance by vehicle. Additionally, pet owners must understand what it takes to travel safely with a pet in the car.

Restraining Your Pet

Restraints are one of the most important ways to keep pets safe while traveling by car. In the event of an accident, restraints will protect animals from being thrown around or ejected from the vehicle. In addition, they also protect the driver and other passengers from the impact of an unrestrained pet during a collision. Accident prevention is another important reason for restraining pets. In an attempt at showing affection, pets may become a distraction that prevents drivers from safely operating their car. For example, a dog may want to sit in the driver’s lap while the vehicle is in motion. This may interfere with the driver’s ability to see clearly or steer properly.

There are several different types of pet restraints that are available. For dogs, options include harnesses, safety belts, and even car seats and carriers. Most felines travel well in car carriers, while travel cages are the best option when taking a road trip with a pet bird such as a cockatoo. Regardless of the type of restraint, it should be secured according to manufacturer instructions and attached to the backseat of the car or SUV. Car carriers must be large enough for one’s pet to lie down in, plus it should also have a secure latch and good ventilation.

Pet-Safe Vehicles

Almost any car that is safe for humans, features air-conditioning, and has the proper restraint systems in place can be safe for pets. When buying a newer vehicle, pet owners may find that some manufacturers offer models with additional features that add to the safety of animal passengers. The specific car models are ever-changing, but some features that make vehicles safer for pet travel may include cushioned cargo area pet beds, pet barriers that are bolted in and installed by the dealer, side-curtain airbags, anchors and tethers to secure pet safety seats and harnesses, or pre-installed pet restraints. Cars with privacy glass can help protect pets by blocking some of the heat from the sun, while available fold-down seating and in-floor storage can provide space for pets and protect them from unsecured cargo in the event of an accident. Even rearview cameras are a safety feature that can protect pets that are outside of the car when the vehicle is backing up.

Don’t Let Pets Hang Out of the Window

It may look harmless and cute, but a dog that rides with its head outside of the window risks serious injury. As a car moves at high speeds, it is hit by debris that’s carried by the wind or kicked up by other vehicles. Windshields protect car passengers, and motorcycle riders have their helmets; a pet that hangs its head out of the car window has none of these protections. Debris from the road can hit a dog in the face, causing injury. A dog may also fall from or climb out of the car, and in the event of a collision, a pet hanging out of a window risks injury or death.

Never Leave Pets in the Car

When a pet is left inside of a vehicle, it is unable to ask for help or open the door. Animals left in cars are helpless, and annually, hundreds die because they are left inside of a vehicle. These deaths are often due to heat-related problems such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke. When a car is parked, the interior temperature may rise by as much as 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise the longer it sits, even if the windows are left open or the car is parked beneath a tree. After an hour, the temperature inside of the vehicle can be roughly 40 degrees higher than the temperature outside of it. That means that on a bright yet relatively mild day, with outdoor temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, a car’s interior could reach 105 degrees or higher.

With summer in full bloom, we’ve rounded up a list of 199 common flowers and plants that are poisonous for pets, so you can be sure your furry friend is safe all season long: Click here for a list.


Spaying or Neutering Is Good for You and Your Pet     Click here to read about myths and facts.

Please see our SPAY & NEUTER section for more information and low/no-cost spay/neuter resources.


Click here for a Full Resource Library from Best Friends Animal Society



Welcoming Home a New Cat    Prevent Problems from Day One

Keeping Your Cat Healthy

Introducing a New Cat

Why Kittens Should be Adopted in Pairs

Cat Stopped Using the Litter Box?

More Info:

Declawing: The Price of Convenience

"Declawing is the amputation of each toe at the first joint. In humans, it would be equivalent to cutting off the tip of every finger at the first knuckle — very painful, indeed. People may not be aware that the surgery can cause more problems than it solves. Cats deprived of their front claws may develop an aversion to the litter box. Their paws remain sensitive from the surgery, so they avoid scratching in their litter and may begin eliminating around the house instead. Declawing leaves cats without one of their primary defense mechanisms, and impairs their balance and ability to climb. Many declawed cats suffer from joint stiffness. In certain cats, it may leave psychological scars that translate into behavioral problems." Referenced from Best Friends website.

Full Article List of Resources for Cats

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats
If you want your cat to live a long and healthy life, please keep your cat inside.
Click here to read reasons and explanations.

Keeping Your Cat Safe and Sound

Building an outdoor enclosure so your cat can safely enjoy the outside.

What is a cattery or catio?
They are outdoor enclosures for cats. Cats love to spend time in the fresh air and watch birds, bugs, and other animals. A cattery/catio provides a way for a cat to enjoy the outdoors without danger of being attacked by another animal, struck by a car, lost or stolen. They can be made with a variety of materials and constructed in a range of shapes and sizes. They can be free-standing or attached to a house or garage, inexpensive or higher end, plain or fancy, bought or built.


Example of a catio/cattery here in Taos.

Best Friends Article on Building a Catio

Reference Guide for Cat & Kitten Foster Care Volunteers - Be in the know to address most any situation that can occur while fostering Cats and Kittens!


The Truth, Facts & Myths about Pit Bull and Staffordshire Terriers

You may be very surprised when you strip away the myths.
Click here to download the PDF.

Here are some related links and positive press...

How to choose a dog

Welcoming Home a New Dog    Prevent Problems from Day One.

Introducing Dogs to Each Other

Introducing a Cat and a Dog

Preventing your Dog from Chasing the Cat

What Dogs Need to Be Happy

Full Article List of Resources for Dogs


Click Here for Resources for Other Animals



Canine Parvovirus
   What is it?

Feline FIV    What is it?

Feline FeLV   FAQs answered by Best Friends Animal Society.

Ringworm - The Most Persistant Fungus Among Us

Pets' Dental Health

Pet Home Safety Guide

Here at Stray Hearts, we are fully dedicated to the health and well-being of the animals in our care, but it doesn't stop there. We are on a mission to help educate our community at large about the proper and humane care of animals.  Read more here.

Be a Responsible Pet Owner
Love Means...


Finding a New Home for a Pet

Taos County Animal Ordinance  2015