Apr 16, 2019 - Pet Care, Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Heartworm Awareness Month: Are Your Pets Protected?

April is National Heartworm Awareness month — are your pets up on their preventative treatments?

The Companion Animal Parasite Council’s (CAPC) March report is out with a rather ominous top-10 list: the cities with the highest percentage increase in positive heartworm tests last month.

Portland, Oregon made the top 10. This is important to note, as Portland had no native cases of heartworm prior to the introduction of irresponsible dog rescue operations that relocated dogs from distant states and countries to the Northwest. The idea that living in a “heartworm free” region of the country is all one needs to keep their pets free from this parasite, is alas, no longer a safe bet.

Unfortunately, the current most common standard preventatives for heartworm are controlled poisons with known side-effects (especially ivermectin) and potential ecotoxicity issues, as well, but making sure your pet is protected is far better than the alternative. Are your pets up on theirs?

Sadly, you can’t make this stuff up (more rescue importation madness)…

As if on cue, a few minutes after we put out yesterday’s blog on imported Korean rescue dogs introducing a new strain of canine distemper into North America, our inbox was awash with this APB:

Officers looking for rescue dog in Leawood that escaped, possibly exposed to rabies

The escaped dog was in a group of 26 dogs imported from Egypt, in which one got sick and tested positive for rabies. The dog that escaped has not shown any signs of the disease itself.

Yes, by all means let’s displace our domestic dog population with pets from a part of the world where the CDC recommends rabies vaccines for anybody who might interact with the local animal population. What could possibly go wrong?

One final note: the rescue group says they followed proper protocol in importing the dogs, which if true, is a very strong argument in favor of modernizing our current importation laws, which have not been significantly updated since the 1950s. Situations like this, which threaten our animals and ourselves, shed still more light on why NAIA and the NAIA Trust are working on a federal bill to rein in irresponsible international rescue.

 

Last seen wearing purple sweater. May have been exposed to rabies.

 

Another Day, Another Strain

Here’s another example of why NAIA has been working nonstop on the issue of irresponsible dog importation for nearly 20 years:

New Imported Distemper Strain in Dogs

This is not a long read, but to summarize: 12 week-old puppy (yes, 12 weeks!) was imported into North America from Korea by a rescue. The puppy showed signs of illness 12 days after arriving, grew sicker, and had to be euthanized. Tests indicate the imported pup had a new strain of distemper.

The excerpt below captures the dangers of irresponsible rescue importation (trafficking, if you don’t want to mince words), and its wanton disregard for the domestic dog population:

While we have been most concerned with the importation of canine influenza virus from Asia to North America by improper procedures by various “rescue” groups, the importation of CDV may be more significant in that CDV once it enters an ecosystem cannot be eradicated even with effective vaccines. Once again the North American dog population is being put at risk by those who have no regard for the importation of foreign animal diseases.

The threats to public, animal, and economic health that are posed by importing unscreened livestock into the country are generally understood. The fact that we have a reasonably strict screening process for importing livestock is evidence of this. Yet for the last two decades, rescues shipping in dogs from parts of the world that have not even gotten rabies under control has rarely elicited anything stronger than “but at least their hearts were in the right place” in response. Sadly, it seems to take incidents such as the canine flu, rabid puppies, and new (or reintroduced) diseases for the public to take notice, but awareness is spreading.

Dog Food Recalls and Now a Class Action Lawsuit

Less than three months after an FDA recall of several brands of dry pet food with potentially toxic levels of vitamin D, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is now facing a class action lawsuit claiming hundreds, if not thousands of pets were sickened or even killed after being exposed to toxic levels of Vitamin D in their canned food:

“The lethal nature of Hill’s Specialty Dog Foods has been compounded by Hill’s excessive and unwarranted delay in warning consumers and regulatory agencies of the dangers posed by these products and caused untold numbers of pet owners significant emotional distress and financial loss,” noted the court filing, which detailed the cases of three bereaved dog owners.

“As early as February of 2018, dog owners began to complain that Hill’s Specialty Dog Foods were causing their pets to display symptoms consistent with vitamin D poisoning, such as ‘daily diarrhea, excessive thirst and constant food begging,'” according to the suit.

Hill’s is facing an additional, unrelated lawsuit over the issue of “fake pharmacy” prescription foods, as well.

Production issues and legal actions against companies that make the food your pets eat is obviously something we should all be aware of. We will follow this story and post updates as they occur.

Given the recent spate of dog-food related recalls and lawsuits, you can’t blame your pet for being a little wary…

 

Feb 20, 2019 - Animal Law    2 Comments

Three Cheers for the Supremes!

Here’s some good news! Supreme Court says constitutional protection against excessive fines applies to state actions:

“For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” Ginsburg wrote. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies. . . . Even absent a political motive, fines may be employed in a measure out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence.”

As a cherry on top, this was a unanimous ruling, too. But how does this relate to animal issues?

For over 30 years we have watched private nonprofit humane societies armed with state police powers seize animals – primarily dogs – under color of law, with very mixed results. There are definitely cases of horrendous neglect and abuse where animals must be removed from their current environment to protect and save their lives.

However, we have also observed animal confiscations that appeared to be little more than media events designed to provide a poster child opportunity for a humane society’s current legislative or fundraising campaign. We have seen seized animals that were portrayed by the shelter as being at death’s door when seized but made available for adoption within days of confiscation.

Decades ago, when dog overpopulation was still a problem in most parts of the country, the primary role of humane societies was to house and rehabilitate stray, neglected, owner relinquished and abused animals, and rehome them. But in the modern era, many shelters serve primarily as a major source of pets in their communities, often importing animals from different states and even foreign countries to maintain a steady supply of adoptable dogs. Confiscating pets in this environment is highly questionable and creates the perception of a serious conflict of interest. In addition, NAIA believes that nonprofit organizations should never be granted police powers, and that animal confiscations should only be carried out by duly appointed law enforcement personnel operating under proper legal justification, not by employees of a private nonprofit operating under the mission statement of their organization.

Three cheers for the Supremes and this decision. This applies to seizure of property that is used in engaging in criminal activity and, since dogs and other animals are defined as property, we expect that state legislatures will address their laws to align with this Supreme Court decision.

 

The United States Supreme Court building

 

Generations Change, Traditions Remain

The snippet below is from a fascinating, well-written article that focuses on a millennial couple who have taken on the tradition of hunting – with their own spin:

The number of hunters in the United States has been in a slow fall since 1982, when 16.7 million people had paid hunting licenses. By 2010, that had dropped to 14.4 million, according to United States Fish & Wildlife Service records.

In the past few years, the figure has begun to climb, to 15.6 million in 2018. Still, only about 5 percent of Americans 16 or older hunt, half of the number who did 50 years ago. Supporters of the sport worry about what might happen if their beloved culture fades away.

Hope, they say, might lie with a health-conscious, outdoors-loving slice of the millennial generation who were raised on grass-fed beef and nose-to-tail eating, but didn’t grow up in hunting families, where taking game is about both tradition and filling the freezer.

The difference between 16.7 and 15.6 million in and of itself may not sound like much. But once you consider that there are now 100 million more people in the United States today than in 1982 and the precipitous decline of young people involved in hunting, the decline become more dramatic.

This is why, to us, the growing interest in wild game in the 20-39 demographic is so important and exciting. There are plenty of mocking “Millennials are killing” jokes circulating about the New York Times article, but we think this is great (hunters and anglers form the backbone of wildlife conservation, after all). If we’ve already got teenage dock diving proselytizers and hipster birdwatchers, millennial hunters can’t be a surprise to anybody. While the focus and aesthetics of a tradition may change with the participation of new groups or different generations, this is also what keeps those traditions vital… and alive!

A large number of millennial hunters are women — yet another change in the demographics of hunting.

Feb 5, 2019 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Some little-known important history… and a bright future for 100 rescued dogs!

Last weekend, over 100 dogs were rescued by the Cavalier Rescue Trust:

This past weekend the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue Trust coordinated a large intake of Cavaliers from a large breeding kennel required to downsize by animal control authorities.

Photo: ACKCS

This rescue operation was an example of far too many dogs and far too little care, where the dogs needed to be surrendered to people who could heal, foster, and find homes for them. You may notice a distinct lack of sensationalism and heart-tugging buzzwords. And intriguingly, many of the people volunteering in this case don’t hate dog breeders – in fact, many of the rescuers are breeders themselves.

Yes, you read that right. Given the way in which so many conversations about dog breeders and rescues are framed, it may come as a surprise that many of the earliest rescue groups were run by or in coordination with breeders and breed groups – but that is the history. Today, while it is not highly publicized, there are still countless breeders and breed groups (every AKC parent breed club) doing that same good work. And there are good reasons for this.

Aside from fostering and rehoming dogs, breed groups have the additional benefit of knowing their community, which can help solve problems before they spin out of control. In addition, their experience with the health and behavioral quirks of their favorite breed(s) makes them exceptionally valuable in both fostering as well as finding ideal adoptive homes.

This labor of love by the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue Trust is a case study of the tight coordination and tireless volunteerism that is vital when your community is suddenly faced with 100+ dogs needing homes. We salute them!

 

Former HSUS bigwig arrested for robbing Subway restaurant twice

Over the weekend PETA and HSUS alumnus Scotlund Haisley, best known to our readers for his work in a dog breeder raid that led to the filing of a $5 million lawsuit against HSUS and inspired a movie, was arrested for holding up a Subway restaurant… twice.

This revelation, once you think about Haisley’s history of banging down doors, is hardly a surprise, and the headlines practically write themselves (“From pretend cop to real-life robber,” perhaps?). But it also occurs in the ominous shadow of Haisley’s serious health issues, which forced him to step away from his last position, and he is apparently “of no fixed address”; this is not something we revel in or would wish on anybody, even if the arrest is something that could have been predicted.

In 2009, a wrongfully obtained warrant and an animal control officer who intentionally misled the court… in 2016, a motion picture.

Jan 25, 2019 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Partial Government Shutdown Harming Rescue’s Business Model

In most regions of the United States, dog overpopulation as an issue has been solved, and there are more potential owners than there are local pet dogs available. For example, many of the dogs that arrive in Northeastern shelters and rescues come from the southern United States, Puerto Rico, and sometimes even foreign countries.

Ending the dog surplus problem in some parts of the country is a challenge, due to a lack of clear records. To solve a problem, you have to be able to define it. Who is breeding these dogs? Who is surrendering them? Who is adopting them? And more and more, we’re having to ask where they coming from.

One thing we do know, is that fewer dogs are being bred in the United States while the practice of importing dogs from foreign countries for adoption is growing — and fast. So it is little surprise that the partial government shutdown has led to complaints from a group that brings 800+ dogs a year into the U.S., because they can no longer obtain the proper importation permits. This is just one organization of hundreds that are importing dogs in the Southwestern U.S., threatening the health of American dogs and flooding the dog marketplace.

This is why NAIA and our legislative partner, NAIA Trust are working so hard to find legislative solutions to this mushrooming problem.

Jan 16, 2019 - Animal Rights    No Comments

Killing Them with Kindness

No, this isn’t about that guy with the machete, but another, somewhat less viral (but more pertinent to NAIA) story.

An Ohio man declared to police that 15 racehorses wanted to be “free,” after releasing them from their stables. Sadly, one of these poor “liberated” horses fell through the ice over Meyers Lake and drowned.

This is awful, but it also informs — because we’re not sure if you could find a more shining distillation of a specific mindset and its consequences that NAIA is fighting against. Whether someone is…

  • banning breeds or breeders rather than specific behaviors;
  • endangering the local pet and human population by importing street dogs from countries where canine rabies, flu, and/or brucellosis are endemic;
  • fighting against animal research that will benefit future generations while enjoying — or perhaps even maintaining — their lives through the countless discoveries already achieved through *drum roll please* animal research; or
  • demanding radical changes in agricultural policy and practices, despite never having set foot on a modern farm


It’s always the same story: moral certainty and the idea that “We’ve got to do something now!” coupled with limited (often non-existent) first-hand understanding of the issue at hand, which is inevitably followed by tragic, if utterly predictable consequences.

The Outcome Is Predictable

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