Want to be in style? Get yourself a mutt.

Today, it's more fashionable to have a mixed breed dog than a perfect Afghan hound or Yorkshire terrier. The well-heeled are strolling with them on city streets, and movie stars are proud of them. Short-haired, shaggy, tall, or small, no two are alike says fashion maven Isaac Mizrahi. He has a golden retriever-border collie mix he adopted from a New York shelter in 2000.

Lovable and healthy mixed breeds are fetching more attention. Bert Hawkins of the Lexington, Ky., Humane Society, quoted in USA Today, says people are deciding that a dog's personality and level of need are as worthy as pedigrees.

Adoption fairs featuring mixed-breed dogs are showing up in some high-class places such as the Los Angeles' Super Adoption Festivals. They are "wildly successful," according to Best Friends, the host organization.

They're not only lovable, they generally healthier. Veterinarians note that many purebreds have a propensity for medical problems, such as tumors, dysplasia, and allergies.

The American Kennel Club says purebred registrations have dropped mostly because of high registration fees and DNA requirements. But part of the reason is that more people are choosing mixed-breed mutts or "hybrid" combos such as the cockapoo, a cocker spaniel/poodle mix, or Pugles, a pug/beagle mix.

In growing Basin, loose pets no longer safe

By Michelle Willey / Hi-Desert Star Wednesday, December 14, 2005 12:39 AM PST

With the Morongo Basin growing quickly, the chances that a dog who is allowed to roam free will return home safely are becoming very low.

Yucca Valley's animal control officers have noticed an increase in pets killed by automobiles while the animals were allowed to run loose.

In the last two weeks, at least 10 dogs have been killed by vehicles in the Town of Yucca Valley alone, said animal control officer Kim Casey.

None of those dogs had any identification on them, so their owners may never know what happened to their dogs, Casey added.

With no identification, there is no way to locate a dog's owner - and that's bad news for an injured pet found on the streets.

If animal control officers pick up a dog that needs serious medical treatment and they find no identification on the dog, the animal will be considered stray and will be euthanized, said Casey.

If the dog has only minor injuries, officers will take the dog to the veterinarian and attempt to find the owner.

However, if your dog is properly identified and needs medical treatment, officers are required by state law to take your animal to a veterinarian to be stabilized and are required to contact you, said Casey.

Proper identification on a dog includes a dog tag on a collar bearing the dog owner's information, a rabies tag or a collar with the dog's name and the owner's contact number or address inscribed on it, said Casey.

A collar alone is not proper identification because there is no way to track down the owner or prove the dog has an owner, added Casey.

With the Morongo Basin becoming less rural every day, said Casey, loose dogs can no longer be considered safe.

“You should never have the idea that they are going to run around and come back,” said Casey.

Casey offered some tips to help people whose dogs are getting loose.

Dog owners should check their fenced yards for holes where the dog can get out.

If your dog is jumping the fence, consider putting an electric line around the top and bottom of your fence line, suggested Casey.

Some dogs who consistently escape their yards may not being getting the attention or playtime they need at home, so they get out to search for attention and fun, added Casey.

She recommends dog owners make sure their pets are getting the attention they need. Throw a tennis ball around your yard for your dog to chase, or take your dog on a walk. Make sure they are getting the exercise they need, added Casey.

Casey said the animal control department would be more than happy to help dog owners come up with ideas to help keep their dogs in the yard.

She would much rather help owners keep their dogs fenced than have to pick up dead dogs on the roadway and give the owners the bad news.

People who aren't dog owners can help loose dogs, too.

Anyone who sees a dog running loose is asked to contact animal control and report it, said Casey.

“People are sometimes reluctant to call and report a loose dog, thinking it's not a danger,” she said.

On the contrary, Casey claimed, calling in a loose dog report can save a dog's or a person's life.

A dog running loose can endanger not only itself but also the driver who hits the animal or tries to avoid hitting it, added Casey.

She noted the impact of a big dog and a vehicle can cause damage to the vehicle and injury to the person driving it.

Many times people swerve or slam on their brakes to avoid hitting a dog, which can cause the driver to lose control and result in an accident, added Casey.

If your dog is running loose and causes an accident, you could be responsible for the damage, warned Casey.

If you hit a dog with your vehicle, you are required by law to report it, she added.

You must report hitting the dog, she added, although you aren't required to stop to help the dog because in some cases you could endanger yourself - for example if the dog is in the middle of the highway or if fear or pain is making it aggressive.

Casey remembered a case where three people who were trying to help a dog that was hit by a vehicle were bitten.

She said the best way to keep your dog from becoming a victim is to keep your dog from running loose.

“The most important thing is to confine your dog,” said Casey.

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