Jun 29, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    1 Comment

Palm Beach Pet Importation Battle Continues

For more than a decade, NAIA has been writing on the issue of humane relocation/dog trafficking: see Humane or Insane to Disparage – Regulate – Prohibit – Monopolize, to Mission Creep. We are so pleased to see such an excellent article on this subject in a mainstream publication:

Puppy importing pits Palm Beach County versus rescue groups

Instead of bringing in “fluffy, white dogs,” rescue groups should do more for local dogs “that are really in need,” said Dianne Sauve, the county’s director of animal care and control.

“You are either dedicated to helping dogs in your community or you are dedicated to stocking your shelves with a product that sells quickly,” Sauve said.

It is great to see so-called humane relocation becoming a mainstream news story. Us “animal people” can talk about this until we are blue in the face, but until it becomes a mainstream issue that the media, lawmakers, and casual pet owners/animal lovers are aware of and concerned about, it is going to be so much more talk than action. Here is to greater awareness and change leading to smarter and more ethical practices and policies!

It is easy to sell smaller dogs and puppies shipped in from out of the area, but it does nothing to help local dogs find homes.

Selling cute, smaller dogs and puppies shipped in from out of the area is easy, but it does nothing to help local dogs find homes.

Jun 24, 2015 - Animal Rights    1 Comment

FOIA As a Tool of Lawfare

Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MPH

The National Association of Biomedical Research has released its “A Review of Animal Rights FOIA Requests FY14” report which documents animal rights efforts to gather intelligence about organizations, companies and institutions it targets for “lawfare.” Often biomedical research facilities are the target of these malicious efforts.

“FOIA” is the Freedom of Information Act, which provides the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as “the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.” Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA, unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.

“Lawfare” is the illegitimate use of laws with the intention of financially harming an ideological adversary, creating a public relations victory against an adversary, or wasting the adversary’s time in responding, so that their mission and purposes are not pursued or are pursued less successfully. The objective is not necessarily to win in court, but to use the legal process as punishment for pursuing lawful aims that the antagonist disagrees with on ideological grounds.

From the 2014 Report we learn that there were 215 instances of FOIA requests by animal rights organizations or individuals associated with them, and that more than 40% targeted biomedical research institutions.

As paraphrased from the report:

“Activists use FOIA to acquire information to facilitate their investigations, to make criminal complaints for allegations of animal cruelty and to ask for enforcement actions for alleged instances of regulatory noncompliance. A notable change in 2014 was the submission of single FOIA requests targeting multiple institutions. This change makes the number of requests appear little changed when in fact they have increased dramatically. This also serves to better hide the targeting of specific institutions from among a group of as many as 25 other named institutions.”

In addition to the intentional misuse of FOIA laws by activists, the costs incurred by the Federal government to provide this information continues to increase. In FY 2014 direct FOIA expenses approached $462 million. At APHIS and NIH, 44 full-time FOIA staff are employed at a cost exceeding $5 million. These funds are unavailable for fulfillment of the primary mission of the agencies and institutions affected.

Read the entire report here: http://www.nabr.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/FY2014-FOIA-Report.pdf

Jun 4, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Mayor Issues Challenge to Rescue Groups: Stop Importing While Local Dogs Are Still Dying

Palm Beach County wants rescue groups to stop importing animals until the county shelter can find homes for at least 90% of the dogs and cats it receives. County Mayor Shelley Vana held a press conference Tuesday, challenging rescue groups (who have ignored the request to stop importing animals) with “uncomfortable truths.”

What happens when those well-meaning rescue groups or private shelters in our own community choose instead to import dogs and puppies to Palm Beach County? What message is being sent to would-be adopters? What happens when those at-risk at animal care and control are bypassed for animals that are flown in? The truth is often uncomfortable. Importing puppies and dogs into Palm Beach County while dogs in own shelter die, means that some groups are simply stocking their shelves with those dogs that are easily adoptable at a high fee. And while these importations generate lots of publicity and revenue for local shelters [and rescues], how does it benefit those dogs that are going to die here? I am challenging each rescue group that has signed onto Count Down to Zero to stop bringing dogs in from other regions, at least until we have reached a 90% save rate here in Palm Beach county.

Very powerful statement! Huge kudos to Mayor Vana for recognizing this as a serious issue and being unafraid to speak out!

Jun 1, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Man’s Best Friend Might Be Older Than We Thought…

Could dogs have been around a lot longer than we thought?

A group of researchers discovered an ancient wolf bone and say its DNA suggests dogs diverged from wolves 27,000 to 40,000 years ago — not 11,000 to 16,000 years ago, as previous research has suggested.

This is an interesting finding — not just because we love dogs and are fascinated by them (though that certainly helps), but the earlier date suggests dogs lived with humans during hunter-gatherer times, rather than after the advent of agriculture. Very cool read!

Cool Wolf

Did dogs diverge from wolves earlier than we thought?

 

Read the report here: Ancient Wolf Genome Reveals an Early Divergence of Domestic Dog Ancestors and Admixture into High-Latitude Breeds.

May 19, 2015 - Animals and Culture    No Comments

Dining with the Dogs

Big win for dog owners who want to dine with their furry (or not-so-furry) companions in New York recently:

By a 60-0 vote on Wednesday, the State senate approved a bill that lets food service establishments indulge four-legged guests, by allowing restaurants to welcome dogs (if accompanied by a diner) into their outdoor eating areas. The State Assembly is not reviewing its version of the same bill, and its sponsor is confident it will pass.

More and more dining establishments are becoming dog-friendly, and it is great seeing New York get on board this train. With the average American work week creeping back up to 47 hours, forcing people to spend more time away from their homes and their pets, dog-friendly dining establishments offer a welcome opportunity to go out and “have a life” without leaving Fido behind.

There are always concerns about dogs begging, getting into fights with each other, even jumping up on servers carrying heavy trays… but to that, we say: socializing and training your dog to be a polite companion is an investment of time and love every responsible pet owner will make. Furthermore, no responsible pet owner is going to foist an ill-mannered or aggressive dog on a restaurant (that wouldn’t exactly be responsible, now would it?). So when this bill passes, celebrate by going out and have a meal with your dog as an ambassador for the best in pet ownership!

Probably not what the restaurant meant when it said dogs were "welcome."

Probably not what the restaurant meant when it said “dogs are welcome.”

DogAtBrunch

This is more like it.

May 18, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    2 Comments

A Humane Society Calls out the “Retail Rescuers”

Last week, we read some heavy straight-talk from Charlene Marchand and Ron Perez of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA regarding the irresponsible and cynical importation of rescue animals, and the effect it has on the chances of local dogs. Given how often we report on this issue, it was tempting to leave this alone in favor of other stories, but we kept coming back to it. In the end, their story was too important for us not to share.

This zinger, illustrating the frustration when progress in animal welfare meets cynical opportunism, is worth the price of admission:

Didi Kline, founder of CGHS/SPCA, would have never dreamed that dogs 10 years or older would be finding second homes. And even the once loved, frequently ignored and often feared “pitbulls” (a loose term referring to bulldog and bull terrier types and mixes) were being adopted — and the owners found them to be incredible companions. Then, everything changed again when “rescues” in the northeast started importing dogs from the southeast, Puerto Rico, Mexico and even Russia! Why? There were still dogs here in the northeast that needed homes. The answer is: money! I once said that if there was money to be made in animal welfare, there’d be a shelter on every corner. Well, now there is.

First off, it takes guts to call it as you see it. It really does, especially when it comes to animal welfare and rescue issues, where even the slightest of disagreements can lead to a lifetime of name-calling and ostracism. This is an issue we have covered regularly for more than a decade, and we know all too well how some people perceive the criticism of certain bad practices as an indictment of all rescue — the responses can be downright vicious. Secondly: bravo! What a breath of fresh air. We share their frustration and couldn’t agree more with the sentiment.

What a great piece. The only thing we’d add is that when helping other regions of the US, efforts must also be made at the source of the population surplus: education and “changing the culture,” accessible low-cost spay/neuter options, enforceable roaming/leash laws, etc. Without those efforts — which have worked wonders in many parts of the country — animal rescuers are put in a position of perpetually exporting one region’s problems into another. As always, the end goal should be finding permanent, caring homes for every healthy and safe pet, until we reach a point where private rescues and shelters are no longer necessary.

 

May 15, 2015 - Human-Animal Bond    No Comments

Animal-assisted therapy: a big win for kids (and the dogs like it, too!)

Here’s a little something that will be a surprise to hardly any animal lover: animal-assisted therapy (AAT) can be a big contributor to positive results in treatment for physical, social, emotional, or cognitive problems in children.

It has already been documented that adults will see a reduction of anxiety and pain severity with AAT, and there is a ton of anecdotal evidence to support the benefits of animal visitations with children suffering from physical or mental trauma, though we still have a ways to go in collecting and measuring the results.

But so far we do know that hospitalized children are more independent, have better appetites, pain reduction, and less fear of their experience/treatment. Some children with autism have shown remarkable improvement in the presence of a therapy dog, as well.

And, like many working animals, therapy dogs love their work. They couldn’t be happier around their people: the attention, the fawning, the petting — what a tough “job” to have! Talk about a mutually beneficial arrangement!

Animal-assisted therapy is an example of the human-animal bond at its finest — a growing field of study we can count on to yield even more benefits as it is further explored.

 

Girl and her ​​dog.

Kids and dogs are a natural fit — how perfect is is that dogs can help children cope with illness and the recovery process?

May 12, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Solving Problems for Animals, Providing Insight into Human Issues

Have read over this old UC Davis article about treatment for newborn horses with neonatal maladjustment syndrome several times, and wanted to talk about it. Unfortunately, we’ve been struggling with what to what to say, because they cover virtually all the angles in the article — we’d be doing little more than paraphrasing, why bother with commentary? So with that in mind, just follow the link and read it. It’s fairly substantial, but well worth it if you are interested in the issues it touches on: animal welfare, veterinary science, and even autism.

It is a fascinating, heartwarming, and inspirational piece illustrating ingenious problem solving that improves the lives of animals and those who care for them — with the potential for understanding and helping human beings down the road, as well.

MareAndFoal

Veterinary researchers have reduced the symptoms of maladjustment in foals by employing the “Madigan Foal Squeeze Procedure,” which mimics the pressure normally experienced in the birth canal. Foals are up and about, join the mare and begin nursing afterward.

 

 

Jumping in to Summer with Your Dogs

We were excited to learn this week that two more all-breed AKC dog clubs are adding dock-diving to their annual shows: Olympic Kennel Club in Enumclaw, Washington, and the Rose City Classic in Portland, Oregon!

You might think it silly to get excited over a dog sport, but for water-loving dogs and their owners, it’s hard to top the fun and excitement. Dogs of any size, breed, or mix can compete (no pedigree necessary) as long as it is safe and fun for your dog. What a celebration the human-animal bond! And much like agility, it’s an activity spectators can appreciate, too.

Here is a “how to” page from North America Diving Dogs.

DockDive

 

Cool stuff!

Apr 28, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Rescue Dogs with Brucellosis Imported into Canada from Southern US and Mexico

We hate to keep pounding the same drum, but this is such a serious and growing issue, we feel it would be irresponsible not to report it:

Canine Brucella Imported to Alberta, Canada from Southern US and Mexico Rescue Dogs

Brucellosis is a particularly nasty disease, caused by the Brucella canis bacterial organism that leads to illness and infertility in dogs. It is zoonotic, which means it can be passed along to humans, though this is rare.

Here is NAIA Board Member Marty Greer, DVM, JD, with a summary of Canine brucellosis, and what it means for dogs and dog owners:

Canine brucellosis is a serious threat to the breeding program of any dog breeder. Canine brucellosis is infrequently diagnosed in the US and Canada. The threats are two-fold. The first threat is to human health – any disease that can be spread to humans, as canine brucellosis can be, is a concern. Although it rarely is transmitted to humans, the threat is real, particularly for those with immunocompromised health. The second threat is the damage done to a breeding program. Dogs infected with Brucella canis are at the least neutered or spayed and placed on long term antibiotics. In some cases, the recommendations are to euthanize the infected animals because of the difficulty and expense associated with successful treatment. Dogs in an infected home or facility are repeatedly tested and isolated from other dogs for months at a time. Infected dogs can no longer be in a breeding program. For those breeders who have spent a lifetime developing their genetic lines of dogs, this can be devastating, emotionally and financially.

Canine brucellosis can be tested for in reference laboratories and in house in many veterinary clinics. The test used for in house testing is relatively old technology, but it is very sensitive, meaning the test is unlikely to miss a dog that is infected with Brucella canis. Consider testing all dogs in a breeding program or leaving a breeding program for B. canis prior to moving the dogs or allowing them into your home or facility to prevent this crisis.

Unlike rabies, which is the disease most often focused on when discussing the irresponsible transfer of rescue dogs, brucellosis isn’t a death sentence. But it is a very serious illness — aside from the ethical issues of irresponsibly spreading disease, it is of incredible concern to people who are trying to responsibly breed dogs, as well as those who want to bring a deliberately bred dog with predictable traits into their family!