Console & Hollawell Blog

Do You Know Your Consumer Rights?

By Richard Console on March 5, 2015 - Comments off

What if the food you served your family was infected with bacteria that made you so ill that you had to be hospitalized? What if a medication a doctor prescribed had such serious side effects that a loved one died from them? What if that toy you gave your child contained toxic lead, mercury, or even gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a chemical better known as the “date rape drug”?

Do you know your legal rights as a consumer?

Generic medicationDid you know that opting for cheaper generic medications can cost you your rights? Patients injured by generic pharmaceuticals can’t sue either the generic or the name-brand manufacturer – both are protected, while consumers are not. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

We’re all consumers. We purchase food, prescription and over-the-counter medications, furniture and appliances for our homes, toys for our children, and vehicles to use for transportation. Though we come into contact with an array of these items literally every moment of our lives, too many consumers remain unaware of their rights and the restrictions on those rights – not to mention the dangers a defective product can pose. While many groups are promoting ways to avoid scams in observance of National Consumer Protection Week 2015 (March 1-7), we’re doing things a little differently here at Console & Hollawell.

Here’s your crash course on understanding your consumer rights when it comes to dangerous consumer products – because you can’t afford not to know what you’re entitled to if an injury occurs.

Product Liability Claims

In the world of personal injury law, we call cases involving defective consumer goods “product liability claims.” In cases where a product caused an accident or serious injuries, you have the right to hold manufacturers responsible. Companies can’t just shrug off injuries as part of the adage “buyer beware.” They have a legal responsibility not to put unsafe products that could unexpectedly harm the public on the market.

Unsafe or dangerously defective products can take many forms, and they can harm people of all ages. Medical devices like metal hip implants can wear down and shed metal debris inside the body, damaging muscle tissue and requiring doctors to redo the hip replacement surgery. Magnetic toys can rip through children’s intestines if swallowed, causing fatal internal injuries. Long-term use of denture creams can lead to such extensive zinc poisoning that victims can wind up in wheelchairs, no longer able to walk. Furnaces can cause severe burns. Defects in car ignition systems or airbags can result in deadly collisions.

What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt

Don’t expect to get the settlement you deserve from the manufacturer of a hazardous product without a fight. It’s not as simple as writing a letter and getting a check in the mail.

You’ll need an attorney on your side to gather evidence and build a compelling case that shows that the consumer product in question was dangerous and caused your injuries. Because companies aren’t eager to hand out money – in fact, cutting corners in product design and assembly is sometimes the reason the danger exists in the first place – you’ll also need a lawyer willing to stand up to the company’s insurers and legal team to make sure you get all the money you deserve.

Don’t Depend on the Recall Process to Keep You Safe

When you purchase a car, you must register it with the Motor Vehicle Commission. If you make a large purchase, like a household appliance, you might keep the paperwork and register the item with the manufacturer so that if you experience any problems, you can take advantage of the warranty.

What about small, everyday purchases – things like a bag of lettuce at the grocery store, a ceiling fan, a new toy for your child, or a bottle of over-the-counter painkillers? You probably didn’t even save the receipt for very long, and you certainly can’t expect to get a recall notice in the mail.

Yet these small items can have big consequences. Produce infected with E.coli can send you to the hospital. In defective ceiling fans, blades can separate from the fixture and fall, striking bystanders. Children have died from ingesting toxic chemicals or heavy-duty magnets from toys, and they have lost fingertips to nibbling dolls. Certain batches of over-the-counter medications have been recalled when it came to light that chemicals that could cause nausea and vomiting had found their way into the pills.

These are all pretty serious dangers. Yet if you had these unexpectedly dangerous products in your home, the only way you would have known about the risk they posed was if you happened to see them mentioned in a news story. Sheer luck isn’t enough to protect our families – there must be a better way.

Consumers Have Limited Options – Until An Injury Happens

What’s sad is that close calls are often not enough to get dangerous products off of the market. Often, someone needs to get hurt first – and sometimes, several people.

Besides the problem of consumers actually learning about recalls that affect them – and learning about the severity of the risk – another problem with the recall process is how long it takes a company to recall a dangerous product. Companies are often reluctant to spend the money to recall a product, even after they know it could be dangerous. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s a question of numbers. On average, the cost of issuing a recall is twice the payout of the average product litigation settlement – so for companies, it comes down to a simple gamble: are there likely to be three or more large lawsuits over injuries caused by the item? If not, they may decide that it’s cheaper to let people get hurt than to recall the dangerous product.

Unfortunately, there’s only so much we consumers can do to protect ourselves and prevent a serious mishap with a dangerous product. We can trust our gut instincts if we ever think that a food, household, or electronic item seems less than safe, and stop using that product immediately. We can try to avoid generic medications, though that’s not always an easy thing to do in the current healthcare system. We can keep tabs on the latest recalls by visiting http://www.recalls.gov. When it comes to accidents that we can’t prevent, knowing that we have the right to hold manufacturers accountable for the harm their products cause, and knowing the first, necessary steps to doing so, could mean the difference between continuing to suffer alone and getting the justice and compensation your family deserves. Knowledge is power, even if you hope you never need to use this particular knowledge.

 

Badiali Supreme Court Decision Brings Two Big Wins

By Richard Console on March 4, 2015 - Comments off

Partner, Richard J. Hollawell appeared before the New Jersey Supreme Court on September 9, 2014, to argue the case of Augustine W. Badiali v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group, and on February 18, 2015, New Jersey’s highest court issued its opinion. We knew that this case wasn’t just about our client, Mr. Badiali, but also about big-picture changes that could affect all future policyholders who find themselves in the all-too-common situation of having to sue their own insurance company just to get the benefits they’ve paid a significant premium for the insurance company to provide at the most vulnerable times.  

New Jersey Supreme CourtThe New Jersey Supreme Court meets at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Badiali v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group (NJM)

This particular case started with a car crash in 2006 in which Mr. Badiali was caused to be injured by an uninsured motorist. Because Mr. Badiali was working at the time of the collision, he was covered under two separate auto insurance policies, his personal policy through New Jersey Manufacturers (NJM) and his employer’s policy through Harleysville Insurance Company.  Thus, each company shared 50% legal responsibility for Mr. Badiali’s total damages.

Years ago, a panel of arbitrators decided that each insurance company should pay $14,574 for a total of $29,148 to compensate Mr. Badiali for his injuries. Instead of paying its half share of the total arbitration award, the $14,574.00, NJM argued that it didn’t have to pay the money because the company’s policy allowed it to reject arbitration “awards” of $15,000 or more. Even though the insurance company itself owed less than $15,000, it decided to spend literally twice that much and years of litigation to try to avoid paying its share of the arbitration award on the premise that the total arbitration award was more than $15,000. Mr. Badiali had no choice but to sue NJM for breach of contract and bad faith, and this legal battle led all the way to the state Supreme Court. Mr. Hollawell stood side by side with Mr. Badiali and through years of battles forced NJM to pay Mr. Badiali. Part of the case over subsequent counsel fees and for bad faith went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Win #1: No More Rejections Based on What Others Owe

When NJM attempted to reject the arbitration award based on the total amount of the gross award rather than its own share, we knew that the company’s actions weren’t in keeping with the spirit of the law. Now, the New Jersey Supreme Court has finally stated that this can never be done in the future.

“Any reference in a policy of insurance to the statutory $15,000 policy limit as the basis for rejecting an arbitration award applies only to the amount that the insurance company is required to pay, not to the total amount of the award,” the Justices wrote.

In other words, NJM and other insurance companies can no longer exploit technicalities like this to get out of paying what they owe to their policyholders. This decision will prevent another policyholder from ever having to face the years of delay and extra costs like that of Mr. Badiali.

Win #2: Rule Change Recommended Regarding Attorney’s Fees

In New Jersey, unfortunately, the current rules do not allow policyholders that have to sue their insurance companies in a direct first party insurance claim to obtain their insurance benefit under the policy (i.e. homeowners, disability, or health benefits) from recouping the attorney’s fees that had to be incurred. The fees involved could be as much as the claim in many cases, and for the last 20 years, a policyholder had no ability to be paid back for the attorney’s fees he or she had to accumulate to obtain the benefit under the insurance policy.

Suppose your homeowner’s insurance company tries to get out of paying for your damaged roof, even though you’ve paid your premiums and your contract doesn’t exclude the damage. You would have to weigh two equally unappealing options: forget about the coverage you have already purchased and pay for the damage yourself, or spend your own money hiring an attorney to sue the insurance company for you. The cost of the repairs could be thousands of dollars, but if you have to shell out the cost of hiring an attorney, you’re already cutting into the money you might receive. There’s no question that the current laws discourage New Jersey policyholders from suing their insurance companies, even when those companies are breaching their contracts.

The Supreme Court Justices, through the Badiali case, recognized that there is a big problem with the current rule. They recommended the Civil Practice Committee, which makes and amends court rules, to propose a change to rule 4:42-9 to consider allowance for the reimbursement of counsel fees for policyholders that are forced to litigate their claims brought under their own policies. The Badiali case has set the court rule change process in motion which will absolutely help level the playing field for policyholders when they have to fight their insurance company for an insurance benefit.

The case of Badiali v. NJM was certainly about Mr. Badiali’s personal dispute but it was also a bellwether case to demonstrate current inequities as the current claims system presently exists and to effectuate change that will benefit all policyholders in the future. We are now balancing the playing field.

 

Kicking off Education for Brain Injury Awareness Month

By Richard Console on March 2, 2015 - Comments off

On this first Monday of the month, we’re not just kicking off March – we’re also beginning an important observance: Brain Injury Awareness Month.

TBI awareness matters

Beyond the Statistics

About 1,700,000 new victims suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) each year in the United States, but the statistics don’t tell the full story. These life-changing injuries affect a countless number of people: the victims’ family and friends, their coworkers and neighbors, and all of the members of their communities. Right now, there are more than 5,300,000 brain injury survivors living in America. For many of them, adjusting to life with a brain injury is a daily struggle. Their world has changed in unexpected ways. Some have difficulty communicating. Many suffer from memory problems. They’ve been through physical and cognitive changes that can alter everything from their personalities to the skills they have cultivated over their lifetimes.

Simply put, the numbers may be alarming, but what’s truly significant is the lives – lives lost or irrevocably changed– that those numbers represent.

In observance of Brain Injury Awareness Month and in honor of TBI victims everywhere, we’ll be sharing information ranging from risk factors to symptoms and from survivors’ success stories to the difficulties of living with an “invisible” illness.

To get you started:

Check back with us for more brain injury news all month long.

 

8 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe around Dogs

By Richard Console on February 25, 2015 - Comments off

Is “man’s best friend” a kid’s best friend, too?

For many children, a dog is a favorite playmate and even a part of the family. While pets can add immense value to a child’s life, the reality is that they also pose a serious risk. An estimated 4,500,000 people suffer dog bites every year – and half of those victims are children.

Little boy with his dogLittle boys ages five to nine have the highest rates of dog bites, and their injuries are more likely to be severe enough to require medical care than those of adults. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

As a parent myself – not to mention a lawyer and safety advocate – I’ve always been torn on the subject of raising kids around dogs. I like dogs. My family has a dog. I know that children and dogs share great experiences together, and they make the kind of memories that kids cherish for life. Yet, maybe because I work in an industry where I see the worst that could happen, I’ve always been concerned about the disaster that results when the interaction between children and canines goes horribly wrong – like a case I once handled, where friend’s pet Akita bit off part of a little girl’s lip, or the tragic news story that emerged earlier this month when a four-year-old boy lost his leg to his father’s police dog.

I know that you have to watch your children around dogs (and for that matter, your dogs around children), but, like most parents, I’m not an expert on how to go about teaching, training, and supervising kids and dogs to prevent dog bites. That’s why I’ve collected the best safety tips from the most credible sources out there – so that all of us can keep our kids safe and our dogs under control, even if we don’t know everything there is to know about dog training.

1. Choose your (children’s) dogs wisely.

PuppiesWhen selecting a dog for your family, don’t let those sad eyes tempt you into what amounts to an impulse buy. Make an informed decision. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

  • First, do your homework on breed sizes and tendencies so that you can determine what type of dog is right for your family and situation – and so there aren’t any unwanted surprises if the tiny puppy quickly turns into an 80-pound dog. Have realistic expectations of what your dog will need, including how much physical space, exercise, attention, and grooming you will have to provide.
  • When you choose your dog, though, don’t just go off of breed characteristics. Spend some time with the individual dog before you commit to an adoption or purchase – and if you have kids, they should meet the dog before you bring him or her home, too.
  • Be aware that children who are not yet old enough to go to school might also not be old enough to understand a dog’s behavior – which makes it even more important that you are there to control the situation.

2. Never leave young children alone with dogs.

Girl walking a dogDon’t let a young child walk a dog alone. If the dog pulls on the leash, the child could fall down and get hurt or the dog could get loose, putting its safety at risk. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

The most important thing you can do as a parent to prevent dog bites is to supervise interactions between kids and dogs.

  • You’ve got to watch your kids, because they might not be able to interpret a dog’s behavior and body language to know that play is getting out of hand or that the dog doesn’t want to be bothered.
  • Supervision is especially important when it comes to children under five, who are often smaller than or the same size as the dog and could be scratched or knocked down accidentally, even if the dog isn’t acting aggressive.
  • Don’t keep the importance of supervision a secret. Let your children know that they should only ever play with a dog – any dog – if you or another responsible adult is present.

3. Train your dog.

Puppy playingFrom the time you first bring your new pet home, begin training and setting boundaries. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

As a species, dogs don’t naturally know how to respond to children – and often, that’s the reason bites occur. Dogs need training and socialization to interact safely with others.

  • Take the dog to obedience classes or a professional trainer to learn basic commands, such as sit, stay, and down – and don’t hesitate to involve older children in the training, with your supervision, of course. If your dog starts showing aggressive tendencies at any time, get help from a professional trainer or veterinarian.
  • Train your dog to drop their toys (or any other object) on command to minimize the risk of the dog fighting a child for a toy.
  • Get your dog used to close handling so that he or she is less likely to become upset if a child gets too close.
  • Socialize your dog by safely exposing him or her to other people, animals, and experiences. Teach your dog to greet others politely by sitting calmly.
  • Don’t wrestle or otherwise play aggressively with the dog. It may be “just play” to you, but this play could reinforce to the dog that the behavior is acceptable – or even desired.

4. Teach your kids safe ways to interact with dogs.

Dog chasing kidsNo matter how much you make them a part of your family, dogs still have an animal’s instincts, including chasing prey and protecting themselves and their territory. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Training your children on how to safely play with dogs is just as important as training the dog itself.

  • Dogs prefer calm behavior and could interpret running, screaming, and other behaviors that kids often engage in as a threat – or as the frightened behavior of prey. Teach your kids not to run or to make sudden movements or loud noises that could startle the dog.
  • Dogs will protect themselves and what’s theirs, so make sure your children know to leave the dog alone when he or she is eating, sleeping, taking care of puppies, or preoccupied with a toy or treat.
  • No pulling tails, poking ears, or doing anything else that could hurt the dog and lead to aggressive behavior. Treating a real animal like a stuffed animal can be dangerous.
  • Teach your children not to get in the dog’s face. Not only do many dogs not appreciate hugs and kisses, but getting too close puts your child’s face in the danger zone if the dog is startled and reacts by biting. Dogs often don’t like to be touched on the tops of their heads, either, and some may perceive the motion as a threat. Instead, show your children to pet or scratch the dog on its back, neck, side, or chest or under the chin.

5. Teach your kids what to do around unfamiliar dogs.

Unfamiliar dogMaybe your kid gets along great with your dog – but what about the rest of the dogs out there? Not every dog is as tolerant or as patient as yours is, and not every dog is friendly to strangers. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Make sure your child knows to use caution around unfamiliar dogs.

  • Don’t approach dog you don’t know – but if one approaches you, stay calm and motionless until the dog loses interest and walks away. Running or screaming will only scare the dog or encourage a chase.
  • If the unfamiliar dog has an owner present, you can approach slowly and ask to pet the dog. If the answer is yes, first let the dog come to you and sniff your hand before you touch it.
  • Avoid staring the dog in the eyes. This could come off as threatening behavior to a dog.
  • If a dog seems scared or upset, is chained or fenced, or growls at you, never approach it.

6. Some separation is healthy.

Dog in a crateMaybe your child and your dog are inseparable, but everyone needs their own space sometimes – even pets. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

  • Make sure your dog has a place to call its own, whether that place is a crate or a bed. This place can act as your dog’s “room,” somewhere your pet can go to be alone or get away from a stressful situation. Make sure your child recognizes that the dog doesn’t want to be disturbed when in this spot.
  • The best way to keep your dog securely restrained outdoors is in a well-maintained fence. Don’t chain dogs for extended periods of time, because tethered dogs can become anxious, territorial, and aggressive.

7. Know the warning signs. 

Snarling dogTeach children to notice the warning signs and to get away from the dog when necessary. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

Be able to recognize when a dog is startled, stressed, scared, or otherwise exhibiting aggressive behavior – and remove children from the situation before it escalates any further.

  • Pay attention to the dog’s sounds, especially barking, snarling, and growling.
  • Visual cues that a dog is acting aggressively include a tense body, raised hair along the back of the neck, and bared teeth.
  • Monitor your dog’s health. Sick and hurt dogs may have less patience than they would if they were healthy, which means they could turn aggressive more quickly.
  • If your dog is reluctant to visit with anyone – even your own children – don’t force the dog to be friendly. Your pet may need some space and some time alone.

8. Plan for the worst-case scenario.

Dog AttackYou don’t want to traumatize your kids, but you can teach them what to do – and what not to do – in case they ever are attacked by a dog. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

Just like kids learn to “stop, drop, and roll” in case of a fire, they can also learn how to handle a potentially aggressive dog.

  • Don’t make eye contact, which could seem like a threat or a challenge.
  • Don’t run. Instead, slowly, calmly, and quietly back away from the dog.
  • If a dog knocks you down, curl into a ball with your hands behind your neck.

Following these eight tips could prevent a devastating accident and help you make sure that all of your kids’ dog-related memories are good ones. For more information, visit:

Posted in: Personal Injury

 

We Love Good Dogs (and Good Owners)

By Richard Console on February 20, 2015 - Comments off

Just in time for Love Your Pet Day, we have a project that’s sure to make you smile. Earlier this month, we launched our “Good Dog” Campaign in honor of Responsible Pet Ownership Month. We know that the right care is what makes the difference between friendly dogs and aggressive dogs, so we asked our friends and followers throughout the community – and beyond – to send us pictures of their favorite canine companions. They shared dozens of dog photos, some from as far away as Vermont and North Carolina and many from right here in the South Jersey area.

Love Your Pet Day

Love Your Pet Day collage

#goddogcampaign

#goddogcampaign

C|H fans sent in pictures of their dogs and their dog's favorite things to promote responsible pet ownership this month!

Teddy

Teddy

Teddy loves going for rides in the kayak with his mom, Jackie, and cuddling with his cat friend, Peanut.

Ava Kingston Colada and Emmy

Ava Kingston Colada and Emmy

Ava, Kingston, Colada, and little Emmy in the front. They are all rescues from NY to Mississippi, and their favorite things are peanut butter and of course, play time!!!!

Scout

Scout

This is Scout. He loves, loves, loves to snuggle and love and loves to play with his dolly a vermont chew man toy.

Carly and Zeus

Carly and Zeus

This is Carly and Zeus, they love to play together and cuddle!

Sheba and Henry

Sheba and Henry

Sheba and Henry love to play tug with a toy, and do zoomies in the yard!

Mickey

Mickey

This is Mickey and his favorite deflated basketball!

Maxwell

Maxwell

Maxwell. His favorite things to do are hang out with his best friend a german sheppard named Cruiser and eat carrots with peanut butter.

Jase and Cara

Jase and Cara

These are my fur babies! On the left we have Jase, and his favorite thing is his human mom- Erin! On the right wearing pink is Cara, and her favorite things are belly rubs, treats and giving kisses

Reese

Reese

7 month old Reese is a stunning blue brindle beauty! She loves to play with her foster brothers and sister. Human and dogs! Available for adoption with Balanced Buddies Res-Q

Cassidy

Cassidy

Cassidy is 6 months old currently lives with cats, dogs and kids. This high energy little lady loves to play, give kisses and car rides! Available for adoption with Balanced Buddies Res-Q

Mugsy

Mugsy

Mugsy is 20 months old, super cuddle and loves to go for walks. Available for adoption with Balanced Buddies Res-Q

Keaira

Keaira

Keaira loves to cuddle and play to play with the kids (7,5,4,2 kids ages)

Astro

Astro

Hi, I'm Astro and I LOVE tennis balls! I'm also available for adoption through Balanced Buddies Rescue!

Molly

Molly

This is Molly, she loves looking for snacks!

Frankie

Frankie

This is foster dog Frankie. He just loves to wiggle. He wiggles all the time.

Zippy

Zippy

This is Zippy, he just loves to go for walks and give kisses.

Peanut

Peanut

This is Peanut. She loves to play.

Tiger

Tiger

This is Tiger. He is 41/2 lbs of fury. His lifelong mission is to change the perception of pitbulls. Tiger feels very strongly that you should look at the individual dog not the breed. To make his point, he barks and bites everyone he meets. When they look shocked because he's so cute he feels he's done his job.

GiGi

GiGi

This is GiGi. She's an extremely well loved foster dog. Her favorite things are snuggling and getting her back scratched.

Monkey

Monkey

This is Monkey. He's a very loved little guy with heart problems. He loves riding in the car and going to the drive thru at the bank. He watches the tellers and makes cute faces in exchange for treats. He has convinced his mom this isn't begging.

Sora

Sora

This is Sora, she's a very loved Shepard mix. She loves going on car rides and to appointments with foster brothers and sisters. She's quiet and well behaved and she helps them to fell safe so they are quiet and well behaved as well.

Eli and Axel

Eli and Axel

Eli and Axel. One rescued from TN, the other from Brooklyn. Their favorite thing is FOOD. They will eat almost anything!

Axel

Axel

Rescued from a kill shelter in TN, Axel's favorite thing is FOOD. He will eat anything!

Zelda

Zelda

Zelda's favorite thing is to run and snuggle with her family members.

Love Your Pet DayC|H fans sent in pictures of their dogs and their dog's favorite things to promote responsible pet ownership this month!Teddy loves going for rides in the kayak with his mom, Jackie, and cuddling with his cat friend, Peanut.Ava, Kingston, Colada, and little Emmy in the front. They are all rescues from NY to Mississippi, and their favorite things are peanut butter and of course, play time!!!!This is Scout. He loves, loves, loves to snuggle and love and loves to play with his dolly a vermont chew man toy.This is Carly and Zeus, they love to play together and cuddle!Sheba and Henry love to play tug with a toy, and do zoomies in the yard!This is Mickey and his favorite deflated basketball!Maxwell. His favorite things to do are hang out with his best friend a german sheppard named Cruiser and eat carrots with peanut butter.These are my fur babies! 
On the left we have Jase, and his favorite thing is his human mom- Erin! 
On the right wearing pink is Cara, and her favorite things are belly rubs, treats and giving kisses7 month old Reese is a stunning blue brindle beauty! She loves to play with her foster brothers and sister. Human and dogs! Available for adoption with Balanced Buddies Res-QCassidy is 6 months old currently lives with cats, dogs and kids. This high energy little lady loves to play, give kisses and car rides!
Available for adoption with Balanced Buddies Res-QMugsy is 20 months old, super cuddle and loves to go for walks. Available for adoption with Balanced Buddies Res-QKeaira loves to cuddle and play to play with the kids (7,5,4,2 kids ages)Hi, I'm Astro and I LOVE tennis balls! I'm also available for adoption through Balanced Buddies Rescue!This is Molly, she loves looking for snacks!This is foster dog Frankie. He just loves to wiggle. He wiggles all the time.This is Zippy, he just loves to go for walks and give kisses.This is Peanut. She loves to play.This is Tiger. He is 41/2 lbs of fury. His lifelong mission is to change the perception of pitbulls. Tiger feels very strongly that you should look at the individual dog not the breed. To make his point, he barks and bites everyone he meets. When they look shocked because he's so cute he feels he's done his job.This is GiGi. She's an extremely well loved foster dog. Her favorite things are snuggling and getting her back scratched.This is Monkey. He's a very loved little guy with heart problems. He loves riding in the car and going to the drive thru at the bank. He watches the tellers and makes cute faces in exchange for treats. He has convinced his mom this isn't begging.This is Sora, she's a very loved Shepard mix. She loves going on car rides and to appointments with foster brothers and sisters. She's quiet and well behaved and she helps them to fell safe so they are quiet and well behaved as well.Eli and Axel. One rescued from TN, the other from Brooklyn. Their favorite thing is FOOD. They will eat almost anything!Rescued from a kill shelter in TN, Axel's favorite thing is FOOD. He will eat anything!Zelda's favorite thing is to run and snuggle with her family members.

 


These well-loved dogs – and, of course, their devoted pet parents – represent everything responsible pet ownership stands for. But we didn’t just collect photos – education was a key part of our “Good Dog” Campaign.

Every day, responsible owners make choices that benefit their pets and their communities. They decide to socialize their pets, to provide them with the exercise they need, and to show the right affection to encourage good behavior – and those decisions go a long way toward preventing dog bites and attacks. For that, they deserve to be recognized. We believe that every dog has the potential to be a “good dog,” which is why we celebrate responsible pet owners.

 

5 Tips for Happy, Healthy Pets

By Richard Console on February 19, 2015 - Comments off

You love your dog – or your cat, ferret, snake, or whatever pet you have. You consider it part of the family. The best way to show your love is to not only give it what it wants – a toy, a treat, a belly rub – but also what it needs.

“Education is key,” Elisa Lafont, our own resident animal expert here at Console & Hollawell, is fond of saying. Elisa, a paralegal in our office and a lifelong animal enthusiast, is a co-founder of the rescue organization Balanced Buddies Res-Q. She and co-founder Melissa work tirelessly to help dogs in the South Jersey area and beyond. With the aid of volunteers and foster families, Balanced Buddies Res-Q places homeless dogs – all kinds of dogs, but particularly pit bulls and bully breeds – in loving foster homes where they can receive proper training, nutrition, and socialization. Working with the dogs in foster homes prior to adoption means that once these dogs are adopted, they won’t bounce around from owner to owner or, worse, shelter to shelter. Instead, they’ll be happy, healthy, and comfortable in their forever homes.

Rescue founders Elisa and Melissa with dog Pete

In honor of Responsible Pet Ownership Month, Elisa and Melissa have shared with us their top five tips for making your pets happier and healthier. We’re thrilled to share them with you, too!

 1. Exercise

Did you think that only the biggest, most energetic dogs need exercise? Actually, physical and mental exercise is crucial for all pets.

“Whether you own a dog, cat, hamster, or lizard, a domesticated pet needs some kind of stimulation,” Elisa and Melissa advise. “Imagine sitting on your couch for a week with no TV, computer, phone, or reading materials, just sitting or lying there. Sure, the first day it would be nice, napping and relaxing. But by the second day, you would be crazy, looking for just about anything to stimulate your mind.” Like us, animals get bored – and boredom can turn into troublesome behavior, like unwanted chewing, scratching, barking, and digging.

Walking a dogFor dogs, Elisa and Melissa recommend a good walk every day. No time? Hire a service like Melissa’s The Unmistakable Dog to walk your pet when you can’t so your dog can still explore new sights and smells. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

For pets of all kinds, from cats to hamsters, toys can provide entertainment and both physical and intellectual stimulation even when you’re away. That intellectual stimulation is essential. As little as 15 minutes of training to learn a new trick is more tiring for the average dog than a three mile walk.

2. Quality Nutrition

Pet nutrition has historically been “a very taboo topic,” but it’s time to talk about it. What you feed your pet matters, and making the wrong choice can bring about obesity, behavior problems and long-term health changes that can shorten your beloved pet’s lifespan. Elisa and Melissa recommend seeking out dog and cat food that’s free of corn, wheat, soy, and by-products, and choosing the best quality food that you can afford. In the long run, higher quality food saves you unnecessary vet visits (and bills) and could give your pet a longer life.

Dog eating like a human“Remember, Supermarkets are for people,” Elisa and Melissa advise. “If you buy your kibble where you can buy people food, the likelihood is that it’s not what is best for your pet.” Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

3. Appropriate Affection

Every pet owner knows that one of the greatest joys of pet parenthood is cuddling with your furry friend (or, for reptile enthusiasts, your not-so-furry friend). While pets enjoy a good belly rub or a scratch under the collar, “the greatest gift you can give them is to teach your pet what makes you happy,” Elisa and Melissa say. Reinforcing positive behaviors, the ones that you approve of, is a great way to show your pet some love.

Giving appropriate affection doesn’t have to be difficult. When Elisa and Melissa’s dogs chew on their bones rather than their owners’ furniture, they’re told what good dogs they are. With praise, treats, and affection, Elisa and Melissa reward their pets for playing with their own toys rather than their owners’ possessions and for sitting quietly in kennels and social situations.

Well-behaved dogElisa and Melissa call this game “caught you doing good.” Play it with your pet today! Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

They also don’t reinforce unwanted behavior. Elisa and Melissa give treats to their dogs for quietly behaving in their crates, but they won’t give a treat to stop whining or other needy behavior. It can be emotionally hard not to comfort an anxious pet during a thunderstorm, but remember, your attention reinforces your pet’s anxieties – and that’s not good for you or your pet. “Domesticated pets look for approval from their pet parents in many ways,” Elisa and Melissa say. “Finding ways to let them know when they are being well-behaved ensures that the behavior will occur again.”

4. Socialization

Socializing your pet is a key factor not only in their happiness, but in their safety and the safety of others around them. Lack of socialization is a big part of why chaining a dog can be so destructive, and it contributes too often to aggression and dog bites. However, not every reason to socialize your pet is to avoid a negative. Just think how much easier it is to take your dog to the vet when they enjoy car rides and meeting other dogs, or how much more enjoyable a trip to the pet store is when you can bring your dog along and make an event out of it.

Socializing dogs in a pet store“The unknown is scary for your pet,” Elisa and Melissa warn. “Let your pet explore the store, find new things, and maybe even get a treat.” Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

The best way to take away fear of the unknown is to confront it in a welcoming, safe environment. Then your pet will associate going places and meeting new people and other animals with good things, instead of fear.

5. Pet Advocacy

Throughout the ownership experience, pet parents confront an array of challenges. They need to know how to train their pets, what to feed them, how to meet their medical needs, and everything in between – and just as with matters of human wellbeing, guidelines for making the “right” choices are constantly changing as new research emerges.

Dog and ownerEven the most respected professionals can’t give expert, definitive advice on every single aspect of pet care. It’s up to you, the owner, to be your pet’s best advocate and to make your pet’s life the best it can be. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

  • When it comes to medical conditions, find a balance between traditional medicine like veterinary care and holistic approaches that can help prevent or mitigate health problems.
  • Training your pet is important, but so is how you train your pet. “Training techniques have evolved dramatically in the last 5 years,” Elisa and Melissa say. “It’s important to do your research and ask questions of any trainer or dog walker you hire.” Understand what training methods and tools the trainer will use, and check references and online reviews to make sure the trainer is the right choice for you and your pet.
  • Plan for a possibility that you hope will never happen: becoming separated from your pet. While I.D. tags on collars are certainly important, they’re not enough. Tags can come loose and collars can get destroyed. “Micro chipping is the best line of defense in getting your pet back,” Elisa and Melissa advise. Just make sure to update your contact information regularly. The best way to remember? Make it a priority to check your pet’s microchip information every year on your pet’s birthday.

When we talk about responsible pet ownership, too often we focus on the benefits for humankind: things like making animals less aggressive, better behaved, quieter, less destructive, and essentially less of a nuisance to others. In reality, though, the ones who most directly benefit from responsible ownership are the pets themselves. They feel more secure when they understand their world, and that includes recognizing what behaviors their humans approve of and knowing that new experiences and people don’t pose a threat.

 

The Fastest Way to Shovel Your Driveway

By Richard Console on February 18, 2015 - Comments off

The fastest way to shovel your driveway

When it comes to snow removal, most of us just want to get it done. We’re not strategizing the best way to go about it – but maybe we should be. Having a sound shoveling strategy will mean you’re not wasting time and energy moving the same snow twice or moving it farther than you need to.

Take It Step by Step

  1. Start at the front of your driveway. At the midpoint between the two edges, shovel a single strip of snow from the front of the driveway to the end.
  2. Choose one side of the driveway to work on first. Push snow from the line you cleared to the edge of the driveway. Repeat all the way up the driveway until you’re back at the front.
  3. Now shovel the other side, again pushing the snow out from the line you cleared toward the edge of the driveway.
  4. Once you’ve cleared both sides of the driveway, use your favorite ice melt solution to prevent an icy buildup that could leave your driveway slippery.

How You Shovel Matters

Too often, in the rush to finish the job, we grab a shovel and start pushing snow without thinking through the process. In fact, while this method of snow shoveling works well for most situations, the “best” way to shovel snow remains a matter of contentious debate. The ideal solution depends on a variety of factors, CBS News reported, including the type of shovel used, the amount and weight of the snow, the strength of the shovel operator, whether the operator pushes or tosses the snow, the dimensions of the driveway, and how much the snow sticks to the driveway. No matter their preferred solution, snow removal strategists agree on the most important points.

  • Don’t shovel the same snow twice. Decide before you begin shoveling where to pile the snow you move, and make sure it’s out of the way so you won’t find yourself shoveling the same snow again.
  • Work smarter, not harder. The farther you move the snow, the more energy you’re using, and the more time the process takes. That’s why shoveling a relatively small amount, from the center stripe to the outer edge of the driveway, wastes the smallest amount of energy in most cases.

 

Our Creepy Friday the 13th Roundup

By Richard Console on February 13, 2015 - Comments off

It’s here again, that most unfortunate of days: Friday the 13th. There’s no single aspect of Friday the 13th that makes it unlucky – the date’s supposed bad luck is famous around the world, found in biblical tradition, ancient Norse mythology, history, and numerology. The day’s ominous history goes back centuries, but even today, many people are so convinced that the date is bad luck that they won’t do business, travel, or make major purchases because of it.

Whether or not you’re superstitious, liven up your Friday the 13th with our creepy roundup.

Our Friday the 13th Roundup

Lists to Get You in the Spirit

Black CatDo you believe crossing paths with a black cat is unlucky? What about breaking a mirror or walking underneath a ladder? Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

The Scariest Driving Urban Legends

You won’t want to drive alone after reading these stories!

Scariest Driving Urban LegendsDon’t say we didn’t warn you! Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Is Friday the 13th Really Unlucky?

Plenty of people fear Friday the 13th – so many, in fact, that there are names for the phobia of this date: paraskevidekatriaphobia or, alternatively, friggatriskaidekaphobia.

If you’re the skeptical type, though, you might wonder if Friday the 13th is really as unlucky as it’s cracked up to be. The truth is… it depends who you ask. There’s been a surprising amount of debate over the true extent of bad luck (or lack thereof) on the date. British medical researchers reported in the 1990s that the number of traffic accidents in the region studied increased by more than 50 percent on Friday the 13th, and researchers in Sweden noted an increase, as well. On the other side of the debate is the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics, which actually found that fewer unlucky things – car crashes, fires, thefts – happened on the date.

Is one of the studies flawed? Are more people staying off the roads on Friday the 13th or consciously being more careful?

What is certain is that regardless of the statistics, many people still fear the date enough to avoid making stock decisions, purchasing a new home, or flying. Every Friday the 13th costs the United States $800,000,000 to $900,000,000 in lost business, National Geographic reported.

Whether you find Friday the 13th truly frightening or just another day, we hope you have a good one. Stay safe!

Posted in: Personal Injury

 

Chained Dogs Turn into Mean Dogs

By Richard Console on February 12, 2015 - Comments off

How many times have you passed by a chained dog in your neighborhood? Sometimes the sight is simply sad, as the dog lies there hopelessly, looking defeated. Other times, the neglected pup becomes mean – it might lunge toward passersby, snarling, with only the chain keeping it from attacking an innocent person.

Angry chained dogA dog constantly chained is more than a sad instance of neglect – it’s a danger. Neglect can contribute to aggression, transforming formerly mild-tempered pets into vicious animals. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

This week (February 7-14) is Have a Heart for a Chained Dog Week. It’s the perfect time to talk about how neglect and abuse contributes to the serious problem of dog bites – and how responsible pet ownership can help reduce the number of attacks and injuries.

The Link between Chaining and Aggression

While it’s necessary to for owners to keep their dogs restrained in some form or another – and out of the street, where they could hurt someone else or themselves, even unintentionally – constant chaining and tethering is never the way to do it. Both the Humane Society of the United States and the U. S. Department of Agriculture have called the practice “inhumane.”

What makes continuous chaining so bad? For one thing, dogs, like humans, are vulnerable to extreme weather. If it’s too cold or too hot for the owner to spend time outside, then the weather is too bad for the dog to be left out, too. If the dog has no shelter, it shouldn’t be left outside on a chain in the rain or snow. Dogs can suffer heatstroke and hypothermia. They can get cold and sick. As long as the weather isn’t suitable for humans to be out in it, dogs shouldn’t be left chained outside either. Some chained dogs are even left to fend for themselves in natural disasters.

Then there are the other forms of neglect that too often go hand-in-hand with constant chaining. When owners don’t see their dogs every day, it’s easy for them to forget feeding times and miss doses of medications. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Chained dogs may lack regular feedings and watering. If their owners forget to medicate them, they might be left vulnerable to preventable diseases like heartworm, especially since they spend all of their time outside, exposed to mosquitos. They could develop an uncomfortable flea infestation, making their already unpleasant life even more unbearable. If owners forget even basic preventive care, like rabies shots, these animals could be at risk of developing the deadly virus – and then spreading it to other animals or even humans when the disease causes them to turn violent and bite.

Unfortunately, even without a factor like rabies, dogs that are consistently tethered may become aggressive. Dogs are naturally social animals, and isolating them causes substantial psychological damage. If the dog has little room to move, it might perceive any approach as a threat that it is unable to run from and must meet with violence. “An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive,” the Humane Society reported.

Sad chained dogIsolating a dog outside on a chain means that it’s not being socialized to interact with either humans or other animals. It can get lonely, bored, territorial – and aggressive. Photo Credit: Flickr.

Lack of knowledge is a big part of the problem. “Many people aren’t being intentionally cruel to their animals,” the director of the organization Alabama Chained Dogs told the Alabama Media Group. These owners simply don’t know about the many repercussions of keeping a dog tethered round-the-clock. Fortunately, the problem’s solution is clear – educate owners.

Taking Action for Chained Dogs

So far, more than 100 communities spread across more than 30 states have laws in place that restrict continuous chaining and tethering of dogs. Only two such communities outlaw chaining and tethering entirely, but many limit the length of time, time of day, or weather conditions that under which it’s acceptable for owners to leave their dogs chained.

Of course, it’s not just the legal system that’s working to change the fate of chained dogs. A Virginia-based national animal rescue and advocacy organization is at the forefront of the movement to get dogs off of their chains. Every February, Dogs Deserve Better sends valentines – many of them handmade by children – to the owners of chained dogs, urging them to bring their dog inside and love them like part of the family. You can help by making your own valentines cards for the organization, submitting addresses of chained dogs in your neighborhood, or donating to the organization’s mailing costs.

You can also take action in other ways year-round. The site Unchain Your Dog lists 20 ways anyone can help make a chained dog’s life better, ranging from small acts of kindness to large projects. If you’re more interested in a big-picture change than helping an individual dog, use The Humane Society’s guide to educate your community and push for laws against dog tethering.

Responsible pet ownership matters, not only for the quality of life of the dog but also for the safety of the community. Have a heart for a chained dog this week and all year long. Every dog deserves the chance to be a loved and “good” dog, and every one of us deserves to be safe from unnecessary animal aggression.

 

Skip the Lines with Our DIY Ice Melt Solutions

By Richard Console on February 11, 2015 - Comments off

DIY ice melts

Every winter, the demand for rock salt and other ice melt chemicals is as limitless as the potential for snowfall. Whether you don’t have the time to get to the store before the next storm or the shelves at your local store are already empty, it’s time for a DIY solution.

Chemical Ice Melt Solutions

Table Salt

You don’t have to buy giant canisters or heavy bags of rock salt to melt ice – just raid your kitchen. Granted, table salt isn’t as effective as the more heavy-duty types of salt sold expressly for melting ice, but in a pinch, it’ll work.

Before a snowfall, you can also mix one part of any kind of salt with one part hot water to make a liquid brine solution. While the snow will still pile up, a solution like this can prevent ice from forming.

Dish Soap and Rubbing Alcohol

An easy DIY solution is a mix of dish soap (about three drops), rubbing alcohol (one ounce), and lukewarm water (about one quart). It melts ice quickly, and it also works for freezing rain. Another plus – it’s billed as being pet-safe.

Fertilizer

If you’re a gardening enthusiast, you might still have some fertilizer left over from the warmer seasons. Dig it out – believe it or not, many fertilizers, especially those that include urea in their formula, can melt ice.

Slip-Reducing Spreads

While salting parking lots and roadways is common, chemicals aren’t the only solution for preventing winter weather-related slips and falls. You can also spread these materials to add traction to icy surfaces – and again, they’re items you probably already have lying around your home:

  • Bird seed
  • Kitty litter
  • Sand
  • Sawdust
  • Wood ash (like that from a fireplace)
  • Wood shavings

Remember that every storm is different, and not every snow melt or slip-reducing strategy will work equally well in every storm. Is the temperature 31 degrees, or 3 degrees? Is the snow light and powdery, or heavy and wet? Also remember that every chemical or spread used on ice and snow has a downside, whether it’s chemically toxic, contributes to air pollution, eats away concrete, or just makes a mess. Whatever method you use, make sure you use only what you need.

 

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