Oct 26, 2015 - Human-Animal Bond    1 Comment

NAIA President Wins AKC Lifetime Achievement Reward

Congratulations to NAIA President and co-founder Patti Strand for receiving a 2016 AKC Lifetime Achievement Award in the category of conformation!


A lifelong dog lover with 46 years experience breeding Dalmatians — a line known for its good health and temperaments — the recognition is a great honor, and a testament to the huge, hands-on role animals play in the lives of the people who make up NAIA!



Circa 1972


Merry-Go-Round Coachmaster, Multiple Best in Show Winner, and one of the sweetest dogs you will ever meet!


Patti Strand at an NAIA Conference

Oct 16, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Fighting Cancer with Elephants

Thanks to the recent study published by Pediatric Oncologist, Dr. Joshua Schiffman and his colleagues, the elephant’s resistance to cancer, and how it may be applied to humans has been in the news a lot recently:

Of the nearly 650 elephants analyzed, Schiffman’s team found that only about 5% died from cancer. That’s an incredible statistic, considering the cancer mortality rate in humans ranges from 11% to 25%.

This is some fascinating stuff, and what you might not know is the role the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation (CET) is playing in this exciting research. Check this out:

Instrumental to this research is elephant DNA, and Dr. Schiffman needed a diverse gene pool to effectively study to species. Because the CEC has the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere, the Feld Family felt compelled to help support this research. The incredible bond the staff has with these majestic animals, and the hands-on care provided at the Center for Elephant Conservation, allows the experts at the CEC to easily provide the blood samples Dr. Schiffman needs to further his research.

Dr. Dennis Schmitt, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Chair of Veterinary Services and Director of Research, and Dr. Wendy Kiso, Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation Research and Conservation Scientist, and other scientific collaborators on their team, have identified a key genetic link, called P53, that helps to protect both Asian and African elephants from developing cancer. The P53 gene’s job is to make sure that none of the cells in the body develop cancer. By studying the DNA in blood from elephants and the DNA in blood from patients with cancer, the team discovered that elephants have 40 copies of this P53 gene that attacks cancer while a healthy person has two copies.

Very cool findings! As humans work to preserve these majestic animals, will they in turn provide us with important keys in the battle against cancer? That would be certainly be poetic.

Oh — and by the way, Dr. Wendy Kiso will be presenting on the challenges and opportunities in saving the Asian Elephant at this year’s NAIA conference, in case you haven’t signed up already!


Oct 12, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    5 Comments

Big Business: More Dog Trafficking in the News

Humane relocation, dog trafficking, the “Puppy Pipeline” — whatever you call it, the practice is still relatively unknown outside of the organized animal community and to a lesser extent, law enforcement and media circles. In case you are scratching your head wondering what we are talking about, here’s a handy definition from the NAIA Shelter Project Glossary:

Humane relocation: Humane relocation refers to the practice of transporting un-owned pets in need of adoption (primarily dogs and cats) from areas with a surplus of homeless pets to areas with a higher demand for pets and more shelter and rescue space. When done responsibly, it is a cooperative, common-sense method of finding homes for pets that might otherwise be euthanized. When done without care, it does nothing to solve the problem of pet overpopulation at its source, and in some cases even encourages it. Worse, it can turn participating rescues and shelters into unregulated pet stores that deal in animals of unknown backgrounds – animals that may have serious behavioral problems or may be infected with parasites and diseases not endemic to a particular region (e.g. whip worm, heart worm, or rabies).

But it is appearing in the news with increasing frequency as sales of these dogs increase:

Dog sellers present the canines with heart-tugging tales of Southern kill shelters. They also describe residents of the South as uninterested in preventing unwanted puppies through regular spaying and neutering.

This is big money: at $300 per dog, a rescue operation that does not give the animals proper medical attention or humane transport conditions can make $420,000 a year for 1,400 dogs, said Raymond Connors, an animal control officer for the state.

“It’s a multimillion-dollar industry,” he said.

Industry indeed — and it’s not just dogs moving from the south to the northeast, as is most often reported, it is a multimillion-dollar national industry. Using Colorado as an example, the number of dogs imported into Colorado shelters nearly doubled between 2012 and 2014, to more than 24,000 dogs per year!


Given the unknown background, and behavioral issues of so many of these dogs and the way they are shipped, the issues of health, humane treatment, and consumer protection should be clear. The potential for this practice to impact the image of ethical rescue and pet ownership in general (e.g. avoiding rescues out of fear of health or behavioral issues, or deciding not to have pets at all) should not be discounted either.

As always, NAIA urges you to consider the source when picking your next pet: do your homework, support practices that create positive outcomes for pets and pet owners, and make an informed, ethical decision!

Oct 1, 2015 - Animal Research    No Comments

Making a Meal(worm) out of Plastic

This is pretty amazing! Researchers from Stanford raised mealworms on a diet of styrofoam. And the results?

Each worm ate about a few dozen milligrams every day, converting about half to carbon dioxide and leaving half behind as non-toxic waste.

Assuming there are no ill effects down the road for these worms or predators that eat them, the implication of this styrofoam diet are huge!

According to the EPA, Americans toss out 25,000,000,000 styrofoam cups each year, which do not break down fast or easily — and that’s just cups! But if mealworms are willing and able to lend a helping mouth (or, more accurately, the helpful bacteria in their guts that breaks down plastic), this could be a powerful solution for the world’s plastic waste.

Hungry Mealworms Photo: Yu Yang, Stanford

Hungry Mealworms
Photo: Yu Yang, Stanford


Who says worms are slimy and gross?

A well-trained dog is a happy dog!

We always try to head off for the weekend on a positive note, but it’s rare we find something that makes us smile this much

Yes, it’s a tale as old as time itself: retired farmer takes in homeless dogs, welds together wheel and barrel, ties together and fills with dogs, then pulls with tractor for a trip to the local creek.

You know — the usual!

So what are your plans when you retire?


Sep 24, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Shelter Accused of Deceiving Adopters After Dog Attack

From an Inside Edition headline: an Albuquerque, NM shelter is accused of adopting out dangerous dogs and deceiving well-meaning pet adopters. Furthermore, instead of euthanizing these dogs after the attack, the shelter allegedly handed the dogs off to private rescues:

But after one dog named Pappy killed a neighbor’s poodle and attacked its elderly owner, Animal Welfare ultimately handed over the dog to a private animal rescue group, which isn’t required to report where he is now.

Another animal, Mugsy Malone, went on to attack a three-year-old girl.

“It was horrible,” Ludwick said. “Her face was ripped up. The father had to hit the dog repeatedly with a rock trying to get the dog off of his child’s face.”

After the attack, the dog was never put down, he said.

“It was given to a rescue group,” he said. “That dog should have been euthanized.”

There are definitely some issues with this article — while the dog’s listed breed may have been altered to make it more adoptable, focusing on the breed (implying that the dog’s aggression was due to it being a pit bull, and links to two sensationalist articles on pit bulls) rather than the dog’s behavior is problematic. This, however, should not cause us to lose sight of the main — and very serious — issue of dangerous dogs being adopted out to unsuspecting families.



Sep 23, 2015 - Animal Research    No Comments

Antiviral Drug Prevents HIV Infections… And Would Not Be Available Without Animal-Based Research

With the news cycle moving as fast and furious as it does nowadays, it could be easy to miss these important findings: in two recent studies, the antiviral drug, Truvada, was 100% effective in preventing HIV infection in several hundred high risk individuals, and it reduced infection by 86% in others.

Step back for a moment to take that in. Do you remember where we were in HIV treatment 20, even 30 years ago? This promises to be an extraordinary step forward.

Now, of course this pill is not perfect (“It’s no magic bullet,” as you may have read in the Newsweek piece), and there are numerous known side effects, but overall, these are extremely promising findings that bring us a step closer to controlling, and eventually eradicating this terrible disease worldwide.

Now, why are we talking about HIV if we are all about animal issues at NAIA? Well, that is simple enough: this medication, and many like it would not be available without necessary animal-based research. This is a vital, but often glossed-over fact when new breakthroughs are achieved. So while we celebrate advances in medicine that improve the health of humans and animals alike, it is important to acknowledge the positive role that animal-based research continues to play in all of our lives.


Sep 18, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Foreign Dogs Good; U.S. Dogs Bad: Radical Dog Trafficking Continues

After feverishly working to eliminate local pet stores over their alleged inhumane sourcing of dogs, look who is importing dogs into the United States from Korea for the pet trade:

San Diego Humane Society takes custody of 29 dogs from the Korean meat trade.

Sounds like a great cause and makes for great press and fundraising opportunities — but whatever they claim as their primary motive for doing this, it certainly cannot be:

  • Protecting consumers and pets from zoonotic and infectious diseases (as you may remember, Korea was the source of a major canine influenza outbreak earlier this year)
  • Providing consumers with humanely sourced pets
  • A desire to provide the public with healthy, well-socialized dogs


So if humane societies are so hard up for dogs to adopt that they are importing from overseas, is it safe to assume we have solved all of our domestic pet problems? If so, the humane industry should quit pushing ordinances putting regulated, American sources of pets out of business.

Sep 9, 2015 - NAIA Conference    No Comments

Calling all Dog Clubs! (2015 NAIA Conference)

Hello animal lovers! Are you a member of a dog club?

If so, see if you can come as a representative of your kennel club at this year’s NAIA Conference, October 31-November 1, in Orlando, Florida!

This year’s presentations are especially valuable to dog fanciers, as we have several nationally renowned animal scientists, veterinarians, and husbandry experts speaking on the issues of breed preservation and genetic health (especially in the face of shrinking gene pools) — this is all highly useful information that can be put to practical use in breeding programs – improving the health and well-being of the dogs we all love!

This is going to be a great conference, and we hope to see your club represented!

For more conference details, including signup and lodging information, click here. And if you aren’t sure, check to see if your club is already a member of NAIA — if so, you will receive a discount, but please contact soon via email or phone to make arrangements!

Conference Information Link: naiaonline.org/get-involved/naia-annual-conference

Email: naia@naiaonline.org


Aug 31, 2015 - Agriculture    No Comments

Learning Valuable Skills Beehind Bars

So by now we all know about those neat programs where prison inmates train dogs, but I bet you didn’t know there are now 12 prisons in Washington state, part of the “Sustainability in Prisons Project,” where prisoners are trained in the art of beekeeping! Some are even considering turning these skills into a career when they are released:

Boysen plans to start his own hives and sell organic honey for a living. He’s excited about helping struggling bee populations recover their future. They’ve helped him recover a future too.

“You feel like you’re doing something not only for your own benefit, but for the rest of the world,” he said.

Now it may be tempting to laugh this off as an example of “good intentions gone kooky,” but it is a lot more than that: bees are incredibly important to agriculture. And hey, if somebody learns skills that help sustain bee populations, while at the same time gaining useful life and vocational skills, that sounds like a good deal to us!


Jens Beekeeper 2nd Visit

Jens Beekeeper 2nd Visit