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Web sites on pets are the cat's pajamas

January 31, 1996
Web posted at: 1:00 a.m. EST

From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman

(CNN) -- People with pets, whether they deliberately chose their pets or vice versa, have one thing in common: They all share a blind willingness to accept their pets' foibles far past the point that any rational, non-pet owning human being would find reasonable.

(And I say this as the owner of two cats. They shed, they abuse the sofa, but they chase bugs on their hind legs. I can't help it, I think they're cute.)

It's almost like having children, but without the looming burden of someday paying for their college tuition, and without the hope that they will someday learn to take care of themselves. Like children, pets sometimes need medical attention. They need to be taught manners. And they are an endless source of stories we feel compelled to tell our friends (whether they have pets or not). If you ever needed someone to talk to about your darling Spot or Fluffy, there's a Web site for you.


Raising Arizona, and animal awareness

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the country's foremost animal protection group, has a Web site, and from the simple perspective of learning how to better care for your pets, it's awesome. If you ever had a question about how to handle any sort of situation with your cat or dog, the answer is most likely here in the site's Pet Care pages -- detailed info is available on everything from bringing a new animal into the home to helping an aging pet decline gracefully.

The site is also good from an animal advocacy perspective, although its focus here leans less toward providing information on the site than toward promoting its educational brochures and getting prospective volunteers to attend training seminars. A lengthy, quarterly newsletter includes information on pet care, animal rights, ASPCA news, and reviews of animal-related books. You can find out why kitten/puppy mills are roundly condemned by animal rights advocates, or that neutered or spayed cats and dogs live longer than their reproductively enabled counterparts.

Birds, mice, lizards, iguanas ...

Dogs and cats may be among the most popular pets, but for many people, especially apartment-dwellers, they simply aren't an option. Others simply don't find them interesting. The PetStation can help you learn more about breaking the traditional pet boundaries.

The site is broken down into seven different "realms," covering birds, cats, dogs, horses, fish, reptiles and amphibians, and small mammals (hamsters, gerbils, etc.). In each realm, you can read about the category's monthly featured pet, check out some pictures, find a list of related clubs and organizations, and post questions to the site's pet experts. (The advice tends to be practical and pragmatic, rather than condescending: A 16-year-old posting to the Herp Hacienda was advised against adopting a python, not because his parents might object, but because he'd be going off to college soon and wouldn't be able to provide the snake with a stable environment.)

Other sections, also alliterative, include the "Bird Barn" and "Horse Heaven." And, outside of the different pet realms, there are sections for children and teen-agers to talk about their pets, and post their own web pages (space is available on PetStation's servers, or the site can link to your child's page on your own host).


In a similar vein, the Web site for provides encyclopedic information on a range of pet candidates. Because the site is still not completed, I'm not giving it an unqualified "thumbs-up" yet, but if the content can live up to the slick design, it should be a solid and very useful site. Right now, the cat and dog sections each have a listing of pedigreed breeds, including pictures and a brief description; a pet care section; and a glossary. The two sections share a bulletin board, where traffic is still relatively slow despite its being in existence and available since July.

Lost and found

If you've never been in this situation, you probably know somebody who has: The family dog dug a hole under the fence, or jumped out of the car, or ran off his leash during a walk, and didn't come home. Or, worse, the family's pedigreed purebred just disappeared without a trace, a possible victim of stolen animal traffickers.

Much like your local newspaper listings, Net Pet Central has a place for you to post queries regarding a lost or found pet. No matter where you live, as long as it's within the United States or Canada, you can look for your lost pet here.

Sometimes pets are left homeless through no fault of their own -- they just sat in the back yard like the obedient animals they are, and their parents drove away without them. Especially if they are purebreeds, these animals are often picked up by rescue organizations and placed in carefully screened homes. Pet Net has an extensive list of such rescue organizations, for both pure and mixed breed animals.

Puppies only a mother could love

bad dog

If you've ever told anyone a funny story about your furry (or feathered, or whatever) companion, you'll enjoy the Bad Dog Chronicles a site devoted entirely to stories of dog derring-do. The stories are interesting, at least if you like animals, and the site's overall layout and design are good.

The stories are broken up into two groups, "best of the litter" and a catalogue of all submissions, and every story lists the date it was posted, the breed of dog involved (sorry, canines only here) and, where applicable, the monetary damage he wreaked. You can read the stories, or you can submit one of your own. And if you're only interested in reading stories about, say, dachshunds, you can use the site's search engine to custom-tailor your reading selection.

From a practical perspective, I suppose this site could theoretically be used to tell which types of dogs are the most destructive, or if you're considering a specific breed, you could maybe tell how the dog is likely to act out. (Dachshunds seem to dig a lot, which makes sense, considering that's what they were bred for.) However, the site was mostly intended just for fun, which reflects in the postings -- all written in first-person narrative from the dog's perspective.


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