All posts by cvp

By Brian Miller

It is fair to admit that prior to working a Liverpool Animal Health Center, I had never really thought about the bond that people shared with their pets. I owned a dog and a cat at the time, and while I considered them to be part of my family, I had never pondered how animals affected the lives of others. Within the first few hours of my very first shift, and every day since, I have marveled at the devotion and love exhibited by owners and pets alike.

From my vantage point behind the front desk at LAHC, I have witnessed an endless array of different relationships that exist between humans and their four-legged friends. While each is interesting in their own regard, there is one union that may be the most unique and intriguing of them all.

At Liverpool Animal Health Center, we have the privilege and honor of caring for a number of government agency dogs. Officers from the New York State Police, City of Oswego, and the United States Border Patrol utilize LAHC for their veterinary needs. Like most people, I had seen K9 officers on patrol and featured on television, but that is where my familiarity ended. Now, I fully understand and appreciate what these officers mean to their handlers and their community.

Recently, I spoke with Sergeant Jeffrey Cicora of the New York State Police about his initial decision to bring one of his partner’s to LAHC, and the dynamic of working with a K9 partner. His responses were enlightening, honest, and insightful, and provided an intimate look at an incredible bond.

SgtCicoraDevittHow long have you been a K9 handler for the police department, and what are some of the duties expected?
I am a New York State Trooper and I was stationed out of the Baldwinsville barracks near Radisson for over 20 years. In June of 2001, I was chosen to be 1 of 2 canine handlers in Onondaga County. I completed a rigorous 20-week K9 basic training school in Cooperstown, NY with my first K9 partner (“Devitt”) who was trained in explosives detection as well as handler protection and tracking. There was never a question as to what veterinarian I would use to take care of my partner. We were always treated like family at LAHC, and if Devitt ever had a medical problem the staff and doctors took immediate action and treated the problem. We certainly didn’t request or demand special treatment, but the doctors always seemed to take a special interest in us. They seemed to know the importance of the job and duties that we performed on a daily basis and did everything they could to make Devitt comfortable and get him back into service as soon as possible. Devitt wasn’t just a dog, and he wasn’t just a partner. He was my boy! He kept me safe, and in turn, I kept him safe. We were a team! We spent nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together, but when times arose that I had to leave him, I knew he would be well taken care of at LAHC. I trusted that the doctors, technicians, and animal caretakers would protect him like I protected him. I never had any reservations about his care.

Immediately following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Devitt and I received orders to deploy to JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York City. Devitt and I spent nearly 6 months searching planes, luggage, motorcades, and airplane terminals for explosives. In the winter of 2002, we were once again deployed to NYC to scour the subway systems in Manhattan for an Elevated Orange Alert. We were tasked with searching the subway terminals and trains in an attempt to deter terrorists. Devitt was also credited with tracking and apprehending numerous felony and misdemeanor suspects during his career. Sadly, I lost Devitt in August of 2010. My friends at LAHC were very compassionate, and I’m sure his passing was a loss to them as well. In exchange for all the years of great service, I presented them with a framed photo of Devitt, which hangs proudly in the main hallway. I am sad, yet proud to see him every time that I go in.

In February of 2010 I trained my second explosives detection partner, “McGinn”. We graduated from K9 basic training school in May of 2010 and patrolled the northern part of Onondaga County. One of our first orders of business was to meet and greet our friends at LAHC. Like my other dogs, McGinn was welcomed into the LAHC family. Although McGinn’s career was cut short by my promotion to Sergeant, he is still treated like the trooper he is. To McGinn’s credit he was honored for his part in apprehending murder suspect David Renz on March, 14 2013. McGinn is now retired and belongs to me, thanks to the generosity of the New York State Police. His duties are much different now but he continues to meet me at the back door as I get ready to leave for work each day.

When did you first start using Liverpool Animal Health Center for your veterinary needs?
In 2005, my wife Valerie and I moved to the Baldwinsville area from Syracuse. We had Devitt at the time, as well as a cocker spaniel named “Brandy”. We did not have a local McGinnAndDevittveterinarian, so we tried several different practices in the area. When we finally tried LAHC, we were pleasantly surprised at the friendly service provided by the staff and doctors. Despite our hectic schedules, we were able to get in for appointments at just about any time. If it was really busy, the awesome receptionists would go above and beyond to find a way to fit us in. When we got in to see the doctors, we were treated with respect and given medical information in a way that we could easily understand. The doctors were always very professional and never tried to oversell their services. We found ourselves in the office quite frequently over the years for a myriad of reasons, and built a great rapport with the staff and doctors. I am proud to say that I consider the staff at LAHC to be a part of our family.

Why is it so important to have a veterinarian office you can trust?
Our K9 partner’s health is very important and it is essential to always feel comfortable knowing that your dog is getting the best treatment available. You should be able to trust your vet just as much as you trust your dog. Police work is inherently dangerous and you must be able to trust that your vet is trained and prepared for the worst-case scenario if your dog goes down. In all of the years that I have been going to LAHC with my K9 partners, I have never questioned their ability to give my dogs the very best care available.

Can you describe the relationship that is shared between a K9 officer and their handler?
When you work with a K9 partner 24/7 you develop a bond that is nearly unbreakable. They become part of your family. At times, you learn to trust them even more than your own instincts. You put their health and safety before your own, which is not how it’s supposed to be in police work, but at the end of the day, that’s how it is! Their love for you is unconditional, as is yours for them.
“No damn dog will ever sleep in my bed!” I once said. How wrong I was!
“They’re just a tool, a piece of equipment!” I once declared. How wrong I was!
“I won’t get attached to this smelly dog!” I vowed. How wrong I was!
“I don’t remember the last time I cried and sobbed like a small child” is a statement that I could once proclaim as the truth. But now, I’ll never forget. It was the day I lost my K9 partner.

Pets, Cars & Heat

Brutus, Duke, Coco, Lola and Jake…sure, they’re fairly common pet names, but they’re also the names of just a few of the pets that died last year because they were left in cars on warm (and not necessarily hot) days while their owners were shopping, visiting friends or family, or running errands. What’s so tragic is that these beloved pets were simply the victims of bad judgment.Want numbers? An independent study showed that the interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96° F rose steadily as time increased. (And cracking the windows doesn’t help).

To learn more, go to:

By Brian Miller

With spring finally here, it means that here in Central New York, we can finally put away our boots and coats, and tuck the mittens away for another few months. Though we’ll all be happy to get outdoors to enjoy the few fleeting weeks of beautiful weather, if you are pet owner, it is important to be cognizant that flea and tick season is upon us. I spoke with Dr. Maghan Wormuth to discuss some of the key things to be mindful of over the course of the ensuing months.

Why is so important for pet owners to be aware of flea and tick season?
It is important to realize that aside from being an annoyance, these parasites can cause health issues for your pet. Ticks have the potential to carry Lyme disease, which has become prevalent in this region. Ticks can also carry Ehrlichia and anaplasmosis which are two other diseases that can afflict your dog.

As far as fleas are concerned, many dogs and cats suffer from flea allergies. These allergies may cause your pet to scratch and itch a lot, and as a result, they can suffer from dermatitis. For these reasons, it is important for your pet to remain on a flea and tick preventative year round.

shutterstock_31893043What are some of the common misconceptions about fleas and ticks?
Some people believe that fleas and ticks are only a problem in the summertime, when in actuality, they are a year-round concern. Any time temperatures rise above freezing, ticks will be out. We have seen dogs come in with ticks attached to them in January. Though fleas seem to be a huge concern in the spring and the summer, the time of year we see them the most is in the fall. Regardless of the time of year, once fleas have infested your home, it can take months to get them out. Again, this is why we stress the importance of year-round preventative.

You briefly mentioned it in one of your prior answers, but can you speak a little more about some of the major concerns associated with fleas?
We see a lot of pets who suffer from dermatitis due to having an allergy to the fleas, and this can lead to infection. Additionally, fleas can carry parasites. Many times, we see cats who are not on a preventative come in with tapeworms because they are grooming themselves constantly, and they are ingesting the parasitic fleas. We see this in dogs as well, but it is not as common.

We find that many people believe that if their cat stays strictly indoors, that they will never get fleas. Fleas can enter the home on your clothing, or on your shoes, or if you are visiting someone who has fleas in their home. Cats are so meticulous about grooming, that many times, owners are unaware their pet has fleas until they begin showing signs and symptoms. 80% of all skin problems we see in cats are the direct result of fleas. Because of this, it is very important to remember that each and every pet in your home should be on a year-round preventative. It only takes one unprotected animal to cause a flea infestation in the home, whether they go outside or not. If you have an exotic pet such as a ferret or guinea pig, you should speak to your doctor about protecting them as well.

What do you recommend for flea and tick control?
Like all medications, it depends on the animal. Whichever preventative an owner decides to try, it is important to use something that your veterinarian recommends, and to avoid over-the-counter products unless specified by a doctor. Here at Liverpool Animal Health Center, we are recommending Bravecto, which is a new oral preventative for dogs. The great thing about this product is that one tablet provides protection for 12 weeks. It is very convenient to administer, and because it is not applied directly to the skin, there is no concern that it can be washed off.

For cats we generally recommend using Revolution. This is a topical medication that not only protects cats against fleas, but provides heartworm prevention, and does intestinal parasite deworming. Unless your cat goes outdoors and has a problem contracting ticks, Revolution is what I generally recommend. If ticks become an issue, then I typically advise the client to try using Frontline Plus. Though ticks do not generally pass diseases to your cat, these parasites certainly can carry diseases that be contracted by their owners.

Why some dogs bite children

Teaching children how to approach dogs slowly and carefully as well as how to recognize warning signs are critical components of dog bite prevention. Remember, not all dogs are friendly and not all dogs want to be touched. Children are often at eye level, and may stare directly into dogs’ eyes. They also run and move suddenly, appearing like prey. Any dog may bite, even your family pet. Adults should always supervise children when they play with any dog, and they should teach children the best ways to approach and treat animals to avoid being bitten.

To read more, go to:

The arrival of spring means that there are a number of stinging insects in the environment that can prove to be harmful to your pet. For this reason, according to Dr. Jason Hutt, there are a few things to keep in mind if you believe your dog or cat has been stung by a bee. Depending on what type of bee it is, whether it be a wasp, yellow jacket, or a honeybee, you may want to remove the stinger if it is still present. You want to look for signs of an allergic reaction because pets, like people, can have severe allergies.

If your pet shows any signs of hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, severe lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should seek medical attention immediately. Bee stings can be just as dangerous for your pet as they are for you, so if your regular veterinarian office is closed and your pet is exhibiting any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should take them to an emergency clinic for treatment. For pets who do not show any of signs of an allergic or anaphylactic reaction, there is not necessarily any medical treatment needed (other than to remove the stinger). Even if they show signs of mild discomfort, never give any aspirin or any other over-the-counter drugs without specific instructions from your veterinarian.

Still want to know more? Take a look at this Bee Stings 101 article.

Dog Bite Prevention (for more info, go to:

Dog Bite Facts:
  • Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.

There are many things you can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing your pet to educating your children on how – or if – they should approach a dog. Information and education are the best solutions for this public health crisis.

By Brian Miller

While it may be hard for us in Central New York to believe it, spring is finally here!  As we shake off the winter blues and head outside to enjoy the milder temperatures, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the health and safety of your pets.  I sat down with Dr. Jason Hutt to discuss some of the most important things for owners to remember with the dissipation of the snow, and the emergence of the sorely missed sunshine.

What are some of the most common problems cats and dogs face this time of year?
Some of the most common problems are due in large part to the changing weather. Pets will be spending more time outdoors, and as the snow melts, different hazards may become more apparent than they were when the snow was thick and deep. These hazards include animal feces, garbage, and foreign objects that dogs may choose to ingest. It is a good idea to take a look around your backyard, and see if there is anything out there that may seem enticing for your pet to eat, or if there are any other objects that they may injure themselves on. Melting ice can be sharp and may cut the feet of your pet as they step through it.

Are there other hazards that owners should be aware of when heading outside with their pet in the spring?
A thing to keep in mind is that flea infestations that may have lain dormant in the winter are likely to become active again in spring. With “wet” weather becoming more prevalent, you do want to be aware of diseases such as leptospirosis which is often associated with shutterstock_189871142wildlife. So, if you camp or hike, or your dog has potential exposure to wildlife, you want to make sure that your dog is up-to-date on their leptospirosis vaccination. This particular vaccine is not one of the core vaccinations, so be sure to discuss leptospirosis with your veterinarian if you believe your dog may be at risk. Lyme disease is also a big concern for all dogs that are going outside. It only takes a couple of days above freezing for ticks to come back out. We highly recommend that all dogs get vaccinated for Lyme, so that they are protected all year round, even if they are on a flea and tick preventative.

Have you seen Lyme disease become more prevalent in this area?
Absolutely. We have seen a marked increase in incidents of Lyme disease over the course of the past 5 or 6 years. According to the statistics we received from our reference laboratory, between 7% and 9% of dogs tested in Onondaga County were positive for Lyme in 2014. This is in stark contrast to 10 years ago, when only 2% to 4% tested positive for the disease. Starting in 2011, we began recommending that all dogs who go outside receive the Lyme vaccination. Some owners are still unaware of the dangers of this emerging disease, so here at Liverpool Animal Health Center, we take every opportunity to educate our clients. Despite some common misconceptions, it is vital to remember that your dog doesn’t have to be in the woods to contract the disease because ticks are in the yard, on the sidewalk, and can be found in cities and towns alike.

If a dog has been cooped up inside because of the harsh winter, is there anything to remember before letting them back outside?
Dogs, like people, are athletes in a lot of ways. If they have been athletic all winter long, they can continue to enjoy that same amount of high level activity. On the other hand, many dogs have a prolonged period of decreased activity in the winter, and as the weather changes, you need to be cognizant of their physical fitness and the amount of exercise that they can handle in order to avoid injury. You should increase the amount of exercise gradually to improve conditioning. Another thing to be mindful of is rising temperatures. Many people don’t realize that even relatively mild temperatures in the 70’s can cause overheating when pets aren’t yet acclimated to the climate change.

Is there anything owners should know before letting their cat outside?
The most important thing to remember when letting your cat outdoors, is that not only do they need to be spayed or neutered, but that they also need to be up-to-date on all of their routine tests and inoculations. In addition, be sure that they are on an excellent flea and intestinal parasitic control to ensure that they are not picking up any preventable diseases.

What are your thoughts on bringing a dog to a community dog park?
Socialization is as important to dogs as it is to humans, and when you are congregating with a large number of people and pets, it’s really no different than sending your child to school; you want to make sure that they have all the appropriate requisite vaccines to avoid preventable diseases. You also want to be aware of opportunistic diseases such as parasites. It is very easy for a dog who is carrying a parasitic disease to infect others if they are not protected. You are never going to be able to control how other people are caring for their pets, but if you are taking preventative measures with flea & tick preventative, and a heartworm preventative (which also gives them intestinal parasite control), you are doing everything you can to halt opportunistic parasites from infecting your pet. Having said all of that, socializing your dog in a positive environment far outweighs the relatively low risk of possible contamination as long as your dog is being treated properly with the recommended preventatives.