Welcome to the Agenda’s First Issue devoted to fins, feathers and fur. On second thought, maybe we have covered those before, but these fins, feathers and fur belong to our pets. Pets are our family, our surrogate children and our best friends. Our animals are here to perch on a finger and meet us nose to nose, to head to the beach and play in the surf, to insist on a scratch when we’re deep in a book, to greet us at the door like we’ve been gone for years, to carry the rings on our wedding days, to bark, meow, chirp, splash and squawk to communicate their affection.
My love for animals has been deep since I could walk. My first pet was a duck, Anne B, named after my mother. I was a toddler so it was easy for Anne B to imprint himself on me and together we spent our days roaming the backyard until a family move forced us to give him a new home in a city pond with fellow fowl. Snakes, hamsters, hermit crabs, love birds, Sun Conures, mutts, chameleons, Dobermans, Great Pyrenees, Chihuahuas, Domestic Shorthairs, turtles, frogs, Yorkies, Morkies, and canaries have all been part of my family.
When we moved to Florida, our friend Craig showed us his home in Victoria Park with custom-built aviaries filled with finches, love birds, green parrots and cockatiels. The home had giant salt water fish tanks filled with urchins and corral. There was an outdoor pond with foot-long orange and white koi and fancy goldfish. I was inspired on what could be done and lucky that Ilene was patient and let me bring home all the critters I could find. After a couple years of lost lovebirds and canaries, we decided dogs were our best bet. We have three, Happy (2) from Diamonds and Doggies, Minnelli (7), given to us at a Stars of the Rainbow Event, and Garland (13) rescued from Broward Animal Shelter during Hurricane Charlie in 2004.
Pet ownership has long been part of the gay lifestyle. According to Nielsen 2014 survey LGBT households spend 32% more than non LGBT households in pet supply stores. According to a study by the ASPCA 71% of LGBT people own pets compared to 63 percent of non-LGBT people. Americans spent over 60 billion dollars in 2015 on their pets. Not surprising to the LGBT consumer who, no matter the income level, makes pampering a priority.
In this issue, we are fortunate to have many new writers in the community sharing stories and information. Local Chiropractic Physician Dr. Donna Watson begins her column in this issue. Dr. Donna is the Founder of Dr. Donna’s Pet Foundation, a leading organization working with Broward Animal control on creative solutions to over population and pet rescue. My pal Claudia Lebel shares her Doodle Biscuits in our Secret Recipe section. Even our Tropical Gardener Chuck Nichols provides do’s and don’ts in the yard for healthy pets.
Also included is a comprehensive listing of veterinarians, boarding facilities and pets parks–a nice list to keep on hand for a resource. Our team at Agenda shares their pet photos along with critters costumed for Pride.
South Florida is very pet friendly. Many restaurants, apartment buildings, parks and shopping areas welcome them. Upcoming events include: Woof and Wine August 4th Colohatchee Dog Park in Wilton Manors, Doggy Fun Fest November 19th in Oakland Park and the Miami Fort Lauderdale Pet Expo at War Memorial on November 5 & 6. Enjoy the issue and continue to engage with us on offerings for the animals. We want your stories, photos and ideas. Drop us notes and pics of you and your brood.