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.

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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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Run For Research Awareness!

Run For Research Awareness!

Registration is now OPEN to anyone, anywhere! Visit the link below to sign-up for the Homes for Animal Heroes Virtual 5K and become a Fundraiser as a Team Captain, join an existing team, or make a donation!

Homes for Animal Heroes Virtual 5k

5k

Virtually every treatment, cure, vaccine, diagnostic and surgical procedure available today has been made possible through research involving animals. If you have ever taken cold or allergy medicine, used an asthma inhaler, had an x-ray, been treated for cancer, received insulin, taken antibiotics (just to name a few), YOU have directly benefited from research involving animals.

Homes for Animal Heroes (HAH) is a national network that works with the research community to rehome former research dogs into their forever homes, and share the TRUTH about biomedical research! We need your support in order to expand the HAH network and rehome animal heroes in every US state!

Click here to JOIN the RACE to Rehome Animal Heroes & Raise Awareness for Research!

Also: don’t forget to visit the Homes for Animal Heroes website and to like the Homes for Animal Heroes Facebook page!

May 1, 2017 - Animal Law    3 Comments

Major Victory in New Jersey!

It has been an incredibly long and arduous fight, but we are proud to announce that the bill formerly known as New Jersey SB 63 pertaining to dog breeding and sourcing has finally been conditionally vetoed! Kudos and huge thanks to NAIA Board Members Barbara Reichman and Julian Prager for their hard work and incredible commitment to this fight, combined with all of YOU who took the time to make your voices heard. Thanks to Governor Chris Christie and his staff for listening to our concerns and doing the research necessary to understand the complexity of the issues and make the appropriate changes. As of May 1, Governor Christie has returned the bill to the legislature with the changes we and the rest of the stakeholders had requested.

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New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie

The bill has taken a long and winding road with many twists and turns, beginning as legislation to force pet stores to source only from shelters and rescues then dropping that requirement (thanks in large part to our input) and morphing into a bill that would treat hobby breeders as commercial breeders. The bill has gone through several different forms and bill numbers, the last version that was presented to the Governor being S3041. It was a much better version than what we started with but was still damaging and would still treat small hobby breeders as pet dealers and all the unrealistic requirements that would entail.

We at NAIA Trust have been working hard to unravel the confusion and keep you abreast to help you efficiently take action. NAIA Board Members Barbara Reichman and Julian Prager have worked directly with legislators throughout this entire process, right up to the Governor’s office. They have devoted countless hours drafting proposed amendments and positions, developing relationships, and communicating our concerns to protect breeders and owners. Between their work and the flood of calls to the Governor’s desk, we have finally succeeded!

Gov. Christie agreed with us in his conditional veto of the bill; he stated that while he commended the efforts to protect New Jersey pet purchasers, aspects of the bill went too far. “The bill would also have the unintended consequence of restricting consumer access to pets, even from responsible breeders,” stated Gov. Christie in his veto. He is definitely a friend to responsible dog breeders; he GETS it. He also made sure to get rid of all of the awful animal rights propaganda that was included in the recitals and findings to the bill. Some of the important changes he has made include:

  • Both the definition of “breeder” and “pet dealer” were changed to only apply to USDA licensed breeders, so in essence pet shops would be required to purchase from USDA licensed breeders (as they are now), and small at-home breeders are left out of the unrealistic requirements as we wanted.
  • The attempt to regulate out of state pet sellers has been removed.
  • The inclusion of anyone selling more than 10 dogs or cats in the state of New Jersey has been removed from the definition of pet dealers.
  • The bill previously prohibited pet shops from obtaining animals from breeders that had three or more USDA citations; this was replaced with “3 or more separate, final, and conclusive orders for violations.”

So, what happens next?

While this conditional veto represents a major battle won, the war is not over yet. The veto still has to go back to the legislature. The legislature can either accept the veto, do nothing (which means it will die), or they can attempt to override it. An override would require 27 votes in the Senate, and that never happened under 8 years of Gov. Christie.

Because the conditional veto will go back to the legislature, we will still need your support and help to ensure that Gov. Christie’s partial veto is accepted. Simply make sure you are signed up to follow NAIA Trust and will receive our alerts. Following NAIA Trust is easy and will keep you up-to-date on legislative issues like this one that affect you and your animals. If you haven’t signed up for NAIA Trust yet, you are missing out. We have made many improvements to our site to make it easier to understand the issues and taking action is as easy is clicking a button if you make sure to check “remember me” when you sign up for our alerts. Sign up here with NAIA Trust today to be a part of future victories like this momentous one in New Jersey!

 

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Congratulations to USARK!

NAIA  and NAIA Trust are proud to announce a HUGE legal victory by one of our friends in the fight for animal owners’ rights. On April 7, 2017, the US Court of Appeals, DC District, ruled in favor of United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) over the US Fish and Wildlife Service, HSUS, and the Center for Biological Diversity. HSUS intervened in the case filed by USARK, thinking they could crush the little guy and got much more than they bargained for.

USARK advocates for the practice of responsible herpetoculture: the husbandry of reptiles & amphibians for conservation projects, zoos, museums, research facilities, education, and pets. The members practice conservation through captive breeding and work hard to preserve the right to do so.

Interpretation of a Federal law called the Lacey Act was the main dispute in this case. In 2013, USARK challenged a 2012 rule by the US Fish and Wildlife Service that designated 4 species of snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act. Four more species were added by a rule change in 2015, including the reticulated python and the green anaconda, and USARK amended their case. HSUS and Center for Biological Diversity began as only filing amicus briefs, which is basically interjecting an opinion but not actually participating as a party to the case. They later became intervening parties in 2015.

Green Anaconda

Green Anaconda

The Lacey Act is a longstanding Federal law that was enacted in 1900, with the principal “object and purpose” to “regulate the introduction of American or foreign birds or animals into localities where they have not heretofore existed.” The Act created a criminal prohibition against importation into the US of certain species, and the empowerment to declare species injurious and add them to regulation as needed. In 1960, the criminalization section was codified and clarified, but as too often happens in the law, was unintentionally made clear as mud.

The precise wording in the code prohibits “any shipment between the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any possession of the United States.” This small sentence and its interpretation was the entire issue here. FWS recently decided to interpret the sentence to bar shipments not only from other countries into the listed locales and between the listed locales, but also between the 49 continental US states. HSUS and CBD supported this interpretation, USARK disagreed.

Injunctive relief was awarded by the D.C. District Court to USARK and its members in May 2015, which FWS, HSUS and CBD then challenged through appeal. The Federal Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court decision.

The Court used a plain language interpretation to come to their decision. The Court found that the use of the word “between” introduced the list with a one-to-one relationship between the listed items. It does not speak to the relationships within any listed objects, but prohibits one-to-one within the list. The court gave the example of there being no games between the NFL teams, MLB teams, and NBA teams. While there will not be football v baseball games or baseball v basketball games, there will be games between football teams themselves and so on.

The same goes for shipment under the Lacey Act—it does not speak to shipment WITHIN one of the listed jurisdictions but BETWEEN only the listed jurisdictions, such as between Hawaii and the continental US states. If there had been intent for the law to mean interstate, there would have been no need to reference Hawaii separate from the continental US. Not only did the court interpret the plain language, but looked to the history of the Lacey Act overall and found that to also be consistent with the plain language interpretation as well. The Lacey Act originally addressed only foreign species but as the country and travel evolved, limited it by land space further: barring shipments from other countries and between islands to the continental US.

Although this ruling has withheld entry of final judgment while the time lapses for the FWS, HSUS, and/or CBD to file an appeal, the likelihood of one being granted to even hear the case much less win on the merits is quite low. There are some side issues to be clarified still under this preliminary injunction, but bottom line is that this was a major victory for USARK. The Court (consisting of a three-judge panel) ruled unanimously in their favor. The years of hard work, perseverance, and let’s be honest, the funding it takes to fight a case of this magnitude for this long, has been well worth it. We congratulate USARK on a very hard earned and momentous victory!

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Hope for Humans and Dogs with Genetic Disorders

X-linked myotubular myopathy is a particularly nasty genetic disorder. It affects boys who seem healthy at birth, only to have their muscles waste away until they can’t support their bodies anymore — or even breathe — over the course of a few years. Humans are not the only animal with the mutation that causes this disorder. Puppies (also male) suffer and ultimately die from it, as well. But from tragedy, scientists are now bringing us hope: if these affected puppies can teach us how to treat x-linked myotubular myopathy, both species will ultimately benefit:

Gene Therapy Saves Puppies From A Fatal Disease—And Maybe Us Next

The dogs who were given a treatment that repaired their defective myotubularin gene avoided the crippling muscle degeneration that killed the placebo-treated dogs by week 17. And by the ninth month of study, the saved puppies’ muscle and neurological function continued to match readings from healthy dogs, particularly for those that got the highest doses.

The findings, building on an earlier proof-of-concept study of dogs and mice by the researchers, signal that a scaled-up treatment could save the lives of boys with the same sort of genetic flaw.

X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy Affects both young

X-linked myotubular myopathy affects young boys, both human and canine. We would love to see a world where neither have to suffer from it.

Animal science working at the genetic level to improve the welfare and lives of multiple species — this is just some fantastic work!

PS. if you were at our annual conference last November and this sounds familiar, you aren’t imagining it — there was an inspiring (and tear-jerking) presentation about the animal-based research that is bringing us closer to a cure for x-linked myotubular myopathy. This would be a good time to remind you to plan for the 2017 NAIA conference, Oct 2-4 in Washington DC!

 

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