- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2000

Americans love their pets. More than 58 million households own dogs, cats, fish, birds, small animals and reptiles,
according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.
As the World Wide Web continues to penetrate U.S. homes, a natural progression has been to develop sites offering advice on taking care of man's many best friends.
The Pet Center, just one of many in this cyber-genre, provides an in-depth look into the experience of owning a pet, including the daily and medical care needs of dogs and cats backed by the experience of a veteran veterinarian.

Site address:

www.thepetcenter.com

Creator:

Dr. T.J. Dunn Jr., a veterinarian who lives in Rhinelander, Wis., created the Pet Center two years ago. The site was acquired nine months ago by PetFoodDirect.com in suburban Philadelphia. The Pet Center is one of a number of "content-oriented" Web sites owned by PetFoodDirect.com as a reference guide for pet owners on health care issues facing pets.

Creator quotable:

"My purpose for creating the Pet Center was to present a credible resource on pet health care information for pet caretakers [owners, veterinary technicians and veterinarians] based upon my 28 years of small-animal practice experience," Dr. Dunn says.
"Having an interest in writing, I've published a number of articles in national pet magazines, so Web site development was a natural extension of my effort to provide to a far-reaching audience of pet owners sound, sympathetic pet health care advice."

Word from the Webwise:

Owning a pet can be a rewarding, work-inducing and sometimes financially troubling experience. Being a cat inheritor (I'm not much of a feline fan, but I would like to stay married), I have experienced new levels of frustration trying to provide health care for my four-legged family members.
The Pet Center tries to help demystify the visit to the vet with a library of articles about numerous pet maladies from gunshot wounds to broken bones. Each article begins with the animal's condition and follows as the doctor makes a diagnosis and corrects the problem.
X-rays accompanying the features provide interesting viewing material and help the user to better understand conditions such as hip dysplasia.
A stop in the "Exam Room" shows visitors what to expect when a vet provides a thorough physical exam, looking for routine ailments such as fleas, cuts, sprains, ear infections, lameness and digestive problems.
Within this area users will find "Ask Dr. Dunn," a place to send questions to the site's creator. Other interesting segments of the "Exam Room" include a recent article by Dr. Dunn on annual booster vaccinations.
For new or experienced pet owners, a listing of "Health Care Tips" gives bits and pieces of advice. Topics range from safety issues, such as allowing a dog to ride in an open-bed truck, to pet dentistry. The "General Pet Care" section will help with the breeding, boarding, training and grooming of pets.
I also appreciated that the good doctor delves into the painful subject of saying goodbye to sick or dying pets in the "Euthanasia" section. Dr. Dunn demystifies the process so the owner can be better equipped to deal with a final farewell.
Finally, pet owners who like to talk about Fluffy, Spot or Fred should visit the "Waiting Room" to chat on line.

Ease of use:

The site is fairly easy to navigate, but I found it loaded a bit slowly. At the bottom of most pages, users can find a site map that will help them find other areas.

Don't miss:

As an advocate for helping control the unwanted animal population, I hope pet owners will look at the "Spay and Neuter" section. Within these pages, visitors will find photos of actual procedures on both dogs and cats.
But more importantly, the Pet Center debunks the common myths that this procedure will make an animal fat, lazy or remove its spirit. The only side effect of correct spaying and neutering is the reduction in the number of unloved animals filling the pounds.
Additionally, the article "I Should Have Had Her Spayed" gives information on pyometra, which causes an infection in the uterus. This disease usually requires surgery and can kill an animal if not diagnosed and treated early.

Overall grade: B

(The site should be called "The Dog and Cat Center" until Dr. Dunn adds more information on other critters.)
Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician. Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message to joseph@twtmail.com.

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