19 February 2018 Pet Product News International
BY LIZE TT BOND
California’s reputation for seasons of earthquakes, mudslides and fires is well de- served. The fall fire season of 2017 was particularly brutal, and in early December, Southern California erupted into a late-season series of wind-driven conflagrations. One of them, the Thomas fire, most notable for its ferocity and size, howled up the
coastal canyons of the state through the middle of December, and bears the distinction
of being largest fire in state history, according to reports.
Evacuations in numerous fire zones, both mandatory and voluntary, were quickly
set in motion. As two-legged residents fled with pets and livestock in tow, animal
rescue organizations and evacuation centers sprang into action, opening their doors to
embrace displaced and abandoned animals. The efforts found these endeavors scrambling for food, water, bedding and veterinary supplies.
Many watched breathlessly as the television news presented fire scenes from across
the region. Panicked horses bolted in terror and confusion ahead of meteoric flames,
while more fortunate equines were loaded into trailers and hauled to safety. Transfixed,
the nation glimpsed pets cradled in the arms of sprinting owners or heroic firefighters.
A video of a terrified jackrabbit, saved from flames by a passerby, went viral.
As the Thomas inferno roared northward from its inception near Santa Paula, Calif.,
the morning of Dec. 4 found it bearing down on the isolated burg of Ojai, Calif., and
surrounding communities. Residents prepared to run.
At the time the fire broke out, The Humane Society of Ventura County, a private,
nonprofit shelter located in Ojai that serves people and animals in all of Ventura Coun-
ty, housed 91 dogs, cats and horses on its 4.4-acre premises. By day’s end, the 85-year-
old “compassionate care shelter” was bursting at the seams with an additional 300
dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, snakes, alpacas and exotic birds seeking temporary
refuge from the still-growing blaze.
“The shelter is actually in a very safe location in the valley, and we weren’t worried
about having to evacuate,” said Greg Cooper, director of community outreach. “Air
quality is certainly a different issue, and our vets, vet techs and kennel staff are moni-
toring for symptoms that are respiratory in nature.”
The shelter remained open 24/7 for those in need during the emergency, and the
community rallied to ensure all of the animals were cared for.
“People began bringing in food and supplies before we even asked,” Cooper said.
Throughout the numerous fire areas, similar stories emerged. The power of community was evident, with many of these safe havens reporting storehouses full of necessities—for now. However, shelters throughout the state are looking down the road
at the rebuilding process.
“We are encouraging people to help with our long-term goals. It could be months
How a California
before some of these animals are ready to go home because some of their families have
lost homes,” Cooper said. “We have a real need at this time for monetary donations
through our Thomas Fire relief fund. Donations of this sort will be most effective going
To make a donation, visit hsvc.org/thomasfire.
Responded to the
6 Pet-Tech Products
Showcased at CES
Mike, a 3-year-old cattle
dog, was brought to
the Humane Society of
Ventura County for safety
and treatment following
injuries from the wildfires
in Ojai, Calif.
BY LINDSEY WOJCIK
Pet activity trackers, “smart” pet beds and robotic pet sitters were among several new products that pet product companies launched at CES, a global
technology show, which was held in Las Vegas Jan. 9-12.
An estimated 170,000-plus attendees, including industry leaders from the tech ecosystem and other business
sectors from 150 countries, plus more than 7,000 members
of the media, walked the show floor to learn about the
latest consumer technology products and services.
The show featured 3,900-plus exhibitors from all facets
of the technology sector, including audio, vehicle technology, wireless, drones, augmented and virtual reality,
3-D printing, sensor tech and more—and a handful of pet
product manufacturers were hoping to make a splash at
the show. Here’s a look at six pet product companies that
CES attendees discovered:
Litter-Robot, based in Auburn Hills, Mich., introduced its
Litter-Robot III Open Air with Connect, a Wi-Fi-enabled,
automatic self-cleaning litterbox for cats. The Litter-Robot app lets cat owners control their settings from a device and receive notifications when it’s time to empty the
After a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017, Pebby
introduced its smart robotic pet sitter system to CES attendees. The systems allows pet owners to monitor, interact with and entertain their furry loved ones anytime,
anywhere in the world. The product will start shipping
late Q1 2018 and has a suggested retail price of $249.
At CES, Pebby officials highlighted updates to the
product and talked about its plans for introducing a complete pet care ecosystem in the coming year.
The Pebby ball, which can be remotely controlled via
the Pebby companion app (for iOS and Android), houses
a 1080p wide-angle video camera and four powerful lith-ium-ion batteries to empower pet owners to watch, interact with and capture their pet’s cutest, candid moments in
real-time (live footage streams to the Pebby app).
Via its accurate 3-D control systems and dual independent suspension, the Pebby ball remains stabilized at all
times. Made in a pet-friendly size (80mm in diameter),