Jan 11, 2018 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Veterinarian Speaks Out About Dangerous Adoption Practices

After speaking out over conditions at the Muskingum County Dog Warden & Adoption Center with county commissioners, Dr. Brian Williams is hopeful that positive changes will occur.

At the core of the veterinarian’s frustration is the issue of adopting out dogs that are known to be aggressive:

“It was supposed to be my decision if an animal was adopted,” Williams said. “The warden continues to adopt dogs out after I have flagged them as bite dogs,” he continued.

Some of these dogs were adopted and returned more than once because they proved to be aggressive, according to Williams.

“One dog was brought into my clinic by the owner to be euthanized. It had already been returned by two previous owners and she didn’t want it to be adopted a fourth time knowing how aggressive it was.”

This carelessness is obviously an immediate risk to public safety (there are, unfortunately, numerous examples to choose from), but as a trend, it also threatens the mission of rescue as a whole. Adopting out aggressive dogs because one desires to be more “humane” or to increase live release rates accomplishes neither goal. As family members, including pets, are harmed, word inevitably gets out, and every incident that occurs tarnishes the reputation of rescue among prospective adopters. And when people opt out of adoption because they are concerned about dogs with dangerous behavioral issues, it harms rescues’ goal of finding homes for all healthy, adoptable pets. We hope Dr. Williams’ concerns are taken seriously and addressed.

 

 

Jan 8, 2018 - Animal Research    No Comments

Myotubular Myopathy Clinical Trials Showing Early Success in Children

Early human clinical trials treating myotubular myopathy are showing great promise, and have even exceeded expectations. This heartbreaking disease causes muscle weakness, difficulty breathing and eating, and abnormal bone development. Its victims, almost exclusively male, rarely live past early childhood.


Over the last two years, we had the privilege of seeing presentations by Drs. David Mack and Casey Childers, who had success in combating this disease in dogs with gene therapy (work made possible in large part by the efforts Alison Rockett Frase). The results were dramatic, and we all hoped for similar results in the human children who are affected, too. We are so incredibly proud of their work, and optimistic for future success!

Click here to see Dr. Mack’s presentation at the 2016 NAIA conference.

 

Congrats, Kate!

Congratulations to Kate Eldredge, dog writer extraordinaire and contributor to NAIA’s Discover Animals, for winning the AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Public Service Award with her article The First 24 Hours with Your New Dog. Not only is her piece a great little read, it is full of helpful advice that lays the groundwork for a happy, lifelong bond with your dog. Hard to beat that combo!

Way to go, Kate, and to all of the Dog Writers Association of America nominees and winners.

 

 

 

 

Rabid Kitten in New Jersey

It’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t love kittens, and the desire to help a defenseless stray is perfectly natural and noble — but as the following story illustrates, once you bring diseases into the equation, especially ones of the zoonotic (and fatal!) variety, it puts all of your animal and human friends at risk.

Rabid kitten traveled within 3 counties, N.J. health department says

The owner found the kitten in Edison on Nov. 12. The owner grew attached so quickly, that the feline accompanied its new master on errands throughout central New Jersey over the next 11 days.

[…]

There were no signs the kitten was infected with the potentially deadly virus until Nov. 23, when it stopped eating and became fatigued. Paralysis in the back limbs set in the next day.

During these 11 days, the kitten was taken to a career center, hospital, and Thanksgiving party, potentially exposing as many as 12 people to rabies. Thankfully, while rabies is a fatal disease, postexposure treatment is virtually 100% effective if administered promptly. Stories like this highlight the reasons NAIA is so focused on proper medical care and vaccinations, transparency, and common sense when it comes to transporting companion animals — especially ones without a known background.

Stray Kitten

Sep 20, 2017 - Animal Policy    No Comments

The California Legislature and Governor Brown need to read this…

The State veterinarian in Rhode Island knows what is going on and has the integrity to write about it publicly. We sure hope the state veterinarian in California will be as candid in informing governor Brown, before signing on to AB 485 – a bill that is bound to set animal welfare back 50 years in California.

People will go to extraordinary lengths to bring home a puppy, even exchanging cash on the side of the road in the middle of the night when legitimate or affordable options are not available. Shady dealers, often posing as legitimate rescues, are more than happy to fill that market, which leads to suffering dogs and dog owners.

Although many pet lovers believe the problems with puppy mills have been largely solved by closing the pet stores that sold puppies, in reality, the problem’s become worse, he said. At least the brick and mortar stores could be inspected and regulated. They had to be licensed. They had to keep medical records, and their transporters could be inspected. It was not a perfect system admittedly, he said. But now it’s all being done underground behind a virtual curtain

To quote the title of a talk in our upcoming conference: to be kind, you need to know what is true. Having a good heart and desire to reduce suffering is great… but to truly solve social problems, you need an understanding of people, markets, and consequences.

Sep 18, 2017 - Animal Science    No Comments

New Findings May Push Origin of Dog Breeding Back Thousands of Years

Ask the average Jane or Joe about dog breeding, and their most distant point of reference probably goes back 17 years to the mockumentary film Best in Show. If they have a friend or relative who breeds dogs, add another 20 years on to that total. And if they’re history buffs, they might be able to go back to the late Victorian era.

But people have been purposefully breeding dogs for a lot longer than that. Thousands of years, in fact — and new findings are pointing all the way back to the hunter-gatherers of Zhokhov Island 9,000 years ago

Now it appears these ancient Arctic dwellers did something even more remarkable: They may have been among the first humans to breed dogs for a particular purpose. An analysis of canine bones from Zhokhov suggests the dogs there were bred to pull sleds, making this the first evidence—by thousands of years—for dog breeding in the archaeological record.

As these findings indicate, the length and depth of the human-dog bond is truly astounding.

NAIA at NCSL

For more than a decade, we have maintained a presence at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). NAIA board members attend to the booth, conversations are had, connections are made, and perceptions are changed. This year, the event was held in Boston, Massachusetts.

From left: NAIA Board members Patte Klecan, Dr. Cindy Buckmaster, Nancy Fisk.

Why is this event important? Because the entire conversation surrounding human-animal interaction — policy positions, philosophical perspectives, even the language we use — has long been dominated by the ideology of the animal rights movement. Those of us who live, love, and work with animals who have hands-on experience and more mainstream positions on animal welfare and conservation issues are often drowned out. So this event gives us an opportunity to share our perspective and let legislators know that there are organizations out there who not only care deeply about animals, but also the human-animal bond, and positive outcomes that are driven by data. If you work with animals, we are here for you.

Even after all these years, it never ceases to amuse us how curious passersby will breathe a sigh of relief after a conversation or reading a brochure. “Oh, sorry. I was worried you were one of those groups.”

No. No we are not.


 

Oh, and speaking of making new friends…

 

Jun 9, 2017 - Animal Rights    No Comments

PeTA’s new formula: the old formula.

It is always great to see PeTA taking heat for their dishonesty, but we take issue with the idea that this is some sort of new formula for them.

An ends-justify-the-means attitude toward deception has been the name of their game from the start, and they have engaged in numerous “fact free zone” campaigns over the years. A deceptive video featuring a CGI cat seems rather par for the course.

That being said, while their methods for getting attention are not tethered to facts, we can appreciate that Ingrid Newkirk and others associated with PETA have no problem saying exactly where they are coming from, unlike some of the other animal rights-oriented groups that prefer to maintain a mainstream façade.

 

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Jun 7, 2017 - Animal Science    No Comments

Remember that time scientists and cat owners teamed up to save millions of lives?

This fascinating and inspiring read from Tufts was shared with us yesterday: Curiosity Saved the Cats.

AbyssinianCatBlog
From the perspectives of science, animal welfare, and human health alone it is very much worth reading. Animal science is an invaluable discipline that improves and saves countless human and animal lives, as illustrated clearly here. But there are several other facets to this story we found interesting as well, and it is worth approaching this article with those in mind:

  • Scientists and pet owners working together. This is stated plainly in the article itself, but think for a moment about the level of trust and cooperation required to carry out the research. How impressive is that? It also raises an important question: do we still have that level of trust today, and if not, what can we do to regain it?
  • It is hard not to cringe when you read about a house with more than 100 cats, regardless of the condition the cats are being kept in. Yet, these crowded conditions are what led to the isolation and treatment of HIV in humans. This is the kind of historical tidbit that really forces you to hold more than one thought in your head at a time.
  • The hostility faced by these scientists, who were approaching this issue with a then-controversial belief that viruses could cause cancer, is astounding. Ridicule, denial, rejection. It really speaks to the human condition: beware challenging established and comforting beliefs. Thank goodness these scientists were not deterred. It is simply amazing what just a few years can do for our understanding of disease and treatments.
  • And speaking of pushing on bravely: note how they were not sure at the time whether FeLV was transmissible to humans or not (today, people are more concerned about Toxoplasma gondii); it’s no big deal today, but it took some guts to do their research. It can be frustrating seeing lazy portrayals of scientists in popular media, especially scientists who work with animals. Finding examples of socially awkward, aloof or perhaps even sadistic scientists on your television screen is easy (and this is completely ignoring the “mad scientist” archetype), while right here in real life, we have scientists like these who are passionate about finding answers that save lives!
  • Finally, tying up both our “cooperation” and “understanding” threads — the huge contribution of veterinarians and animal shelters who joined the battle against FeLV, changing protocols, testing and vaccinating, ultimately saving the lives of millions of cats. These are the kind of things we can accomplish when we all work together.

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