Mindy Norton

Host: Speaking of Pets

Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.

She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from UAB. She got her first real pet at the age of 9 when her family adopted a mixed Boston Terrier pup they named “Scamp”. As an adult, a friend invited her to help with a humane society event, and that was the beginning of her involvement with group efforts to help animals. Since then, she has been on the boards of directors of three animal welfare organizations, serving as president of two of them.

For seven years, Mindy wrote and recorded a weekday spot called “Pet Patrol” for Birmingham’s WBHM Public Radio, for which she won an Obelisk Award in 1979. After she and her husband (and three cats) moved to Tuscaloosa, she talked the station manager at the time into giving her two minutes every Saturday morning to talk about pets and pet care.

Since 2006, “Speaking of Pets” has been available as a podcast, consistently one of APR’s most popular offerings. (In fact, staff members have referred to her as the “podcast queen”!) That’s no surprise to Mindy who believes the reason for its popularity is the subject matter. “After all,” she says, “I get to talk about our best friends every week!”

Her APR spot about the link between animal abuse and cruelty toward humans has been featured on the American Humane Association’s website.  As a volunteer, Mindy feels she is so blessed to have a soap box with a microphone in front of it – plus, she gets to help two causes at the same time, animal welfare and Alabama Public Radio.

fineapps2013 (Werner Reischel) [Flickr]

Most of the foods we enjoy at Thanksgiving are not good for our pets, but pumpkin is pet-friendly and healthy!  Make sure you feed your furry friend only the meat of the pumpkin (not the skin, stem or leaves), and use only fresh or pure canned pumpkin.


Greencolander (Michelle Tribe) [Flickr]

This is a time of year when there are fewer puppies and kittens available to adopt.  But shelters still have lots of great adult animals and even some older (senior) pets who need good homes and loving owners!


T3l Erick (Erick Pleitez) [Flickr]

If you have a great animal shelter in your community, let them know you appreciate the work they do.  If your shelter is not so great, maybe you can help to make it better, not just for the animals but for everyone.


Facebook - HarleyFreightTrainTaylor

No animal should have to endure what Harley went through for ten years in a puppy mill.  Despite the harsh treatment he received, he is a happy, friendly and loving dog.   And now he has been recognized as a hero!

Halloween Costumes

Oct 24, 2015
istolethetv [Flickr]

People with pets love to share the Halloween fun with their furry friends, but some do not realize their pets may not enjoy it so much.  Keep your pet's comfort and safety in mind, especially on Halloween!


American Humane Association - Facebook

From around the country, the American Humane Association along with other national, regional and local organizations and volunteers joined forces in South Carolina to help animals in distress and their owners.  When we work together, we can make a difference.


National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America

As the NAVTA website says, veterinary technicians (vet techs) find themselves caring for a wide variety of animals, some with fur, some with feathers, even some with scales.  They are the nurses of the veterinary world, and can help make sure your pet gets the best possible health care.  So, hug a vet tech this week!


NatalieMaynor [Flickr]

If you take your pet to a local Blessing of the Animals ceremony, make sure you have it either on a leash or in a cage or carrier.  That way, everyone can be focused on enjoying the special event!


World Rabies Day 2015

Sep 26, 2015
Harlequeen (Neil McIntosh) [Flickr]

The animals that are most likely to carry rabies in your neighborhood are raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks.  Do not try to handle these animals and teach your children to stay away from them.


christopdesoto [Flickr]

Can you spot the pets in this house?  Without help, neither can a firefighter.  Knowing where to look and how many animals to find makes it more likely firefighters can rescue pets from a house fire.


Bubba the School Cat

Sep 12, 2015
Facebook - BubbatheSchoolCat

Bubba the School Cat has been with the same group of students through middle school and now into high school.  In 2017, will Bubba graduate with the rest of his class? 


Working Animals

Sep 5, 2015
American Humane Association

Bretagne epitomizes the relationship between humans and working animals.  Trained for search and rescue, her first assignment was the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Not only was she very good at her job she also took on the role of comforter for firefighters and other first responders, nuzzling close and letting them hold her and pet her.  She was trained to search, but her love for people made her special.


Troy Snow - Hurricane Katrina Dogs [Facebook]

During the evacuation for Hurricane Katrina, a police officer confiscated a small boy's white dog, named Snowball.  The boy was inconsolable, and Snowball's story became a symbol of much that went wrong for pets and their owners in that disaster.


American Humane Association

The 2015 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs.

    A Guide Dog is trained to lead, follow commands, ignore distractions, and even disobey a command that would put its human partner in danger. The human also must be trained on how to handle the dog and how to be a good leader of the team. A Hearing Dog is specially trained to alert its deaf owner to sounds we all take for granted. Unlike a Guide Dog that must be of a certain body size in order to lead a person, a Hearing Dog can be large or small, pure-bred or mixed breed. Many are shelter animals who are determined to have the intelligence and temperament to serve as a Hearing Dog. It is a perfect blending of needs - deaf individuals have the opportunity to live an independent life, and dogs who may literally die for lack of homes are given a purpose and owners that will love and care for them. Guide dogs and hearing dogs are living examples of the trust bond between human and animal.

In the world of Search and Rescue operations, dogs have a very special place.  Their keen sense of smell, excellent night vision, extremely sensitive hearing and endurance have made them crucial in efforts to locate people or animals who are missing or trapped.


American Humane Association

The  Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs. 

Interacting with an animal can be very theraputic for humans. While other animals, such as horses and cats can be great therapy animals, dogs really excel in helping humans who are going through a difficult or troubling time. A certified Therapy Dog can make a significant contribution to many treatment programs.

Dogs began helping our military forces as early as World War I, but it wasn't until World War II that the Army established its first K-9 Corps. They serve as scouts, detection specialists for explosives, and assist on guard duty to protect US service men and women around the world. Nowadays, dogs have their own military service records and can be awarded commendations for outstanding service. It is not possible to count the number of lives military dogs have saved, sometimes at the extreme cost of their own. The Military Dog category seeks to recognize the dedication and valor of these extraordinary animals.


American Humane Association

The 2015 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways.  Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories:  Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement Dogs, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs. 

The Law Enforcement Dog category includes what we often think of as police dogs, animals specially trained to patrol, search buildings, track criminals, and to detect drugs, narcotics and explosive devices. 

The Arson Dog category includes animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire.  Every year hundreds of lives (and billions of dollars in property) are lost as a result of fires that were set intentionally.  The dog works with a handler who is a law enforcement officer trained to investigate fire scenes.


American Humane Association

The 2015 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of eight categories: Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement Dogs, Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, and Guide/Hearing Dogs.

The Service Dog category includes animals that assist people with disabilities other than sight and hearing. Most have received special training.

The Emerging Hero category honors the partnership that often develops between human and dog. Some of these animals are trained in such areas as detection of diseases such as cancer,  others are just pets who, without any special training, instinctively assist their human companions, and some are overcomers who have triumphed over adversity in an extraordinary way.



Red Star Rescue Team

Jul 25, 2015
American Humane Association - Facebook

In 1916 the American Humane Association was asked by the US War Department to rescue thousands of horses injured in Europe during World War I.  That effort became Red Star Rescue.  Ninety-nine years later, they are still rescuing animals in all types of situations, from natural disasters to human neglect and cruelty.


Dog in a Hot Car

Jul 18, 2015
Donald Lee Pardue [Flickr]

You would never put your pet in an oven, but that's essentially what you are doing if you leave an animal in a closed car on a warm day.  Either leave a person with your pet or leave your pet at home.


The Bucket List

Jul 11, 2015
Chester's Final Journey [Facebook]

When a woman decided to adopt a dying dog, it was an act of compassion.  But her decision to create a bucket list for Chester, and document it all on social media, has captured the imagination of pet lovers everywhere.  Her love and compassion for an animal that may have only weeks to live has focused attention on hospice care for pets.


1RN2GSD (Christine K) [Flickr]

The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate America, but it's important to remember that the safety of our family is the most important consideration.  If your family includes a pet, it's up to you to keep them safe to enjoy all the family celebrations for years to come.


melanie_ko [Flickr]

Animals touch us in ways we can't explain or even understand.  Who would think that naming a Calico cat as stationmaster of a Japanese train station would draw not just attention but so many visitors?  Now Tama's likeness adorns souvenirs and even trains!


Naming Your Cat

Jun 20, 2015
aturkus (Alan Turkus) [Flickr]

Finding the right name for your new feline friend might be easy, or it could be a challenge.  You want something you like, something easy to remember - and nothing too embarrassing if you are calling for it in the unlikely (we hope) event it should it accidentally get out!


Hemingway Cats

Jun 13, 2015
brownpau [Flickr]

Polydactyl cats have extra toes on one or more paws.  They are often called Hemingway cats.


Adopt a Cat Month

Jun 6, 2015
Clara S. [Flickr]

A cat is a relatively easy pet to keep in the house, and one that will be a good companion.  Cats are playful and funny and make great snuggle-buddies!


Rob Bixby Photography

Keeping your best friend safe in a disaster is easier if you plan ahead.  Put together a kit with all the important supplies, then make sure you take your four-footed companion and get out of harm's way in plenty of time to keep you both safe.


Beverly & Pack [Flickr]

This puppy looks cute and sweet, and not at all vicious.  He is an American Bull Terrier, often called a "Pit Bull".  If he is raised with love and gentleness he will be a great family pet.  If he is taught to be mean and aggressive, people will be afraid of him.  Part of preventing dog bites is in how the animals are raised and trained.


What the Dog Ate

May 16, 2015
mt-sign (Marc-Andre Trage) [Flickr]

Limiting your dog's access to harmful items may not be easy, especially if your dog is intelligent or crafty.  But it's worth the effort if it keeps your best friend safe and healthy. 


Pet Moms

May 9, 2015
firepile (Robin Zebrowski) {Flickr]

Nowadays, we can buy pet costumes for Halloween, take our dog or cat out in a pet stroller, board them at pet daycare, even buy veterinary health insurance for them.  We can even adopt (as opposed to "buy") them from our local animal shelter.  Legally they may be considered property, but humans are treating their furry companions as part of the family!


American Humane Association

Be Kind to Animals Week is a great time to celebrate the unique bond between humans and animals.  Whether you focus on taking proper care of pets, or compassion for the plight of animals in need, or simply the enjoyment of the beauty animals add to our world, our lives are enriched - especially so by the ones we call our best friends!