Aug 26, 2015 - Animal Rights    1 Comment

Animal Activists Put a Halt to AVMF’s “America’s Favorite Veterinarian Contest”

A disturbing press release from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that cyber-bullying from animal activists has caused the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) to halt its “America’s Favorite Veterinarian Contest.”

Activists opposed to cat declawing “hijacked” the contest, resorting to cyber-bullying the majority of the contest finalists, those who believe that declawing cats remains a last-resort, but viable, alternative to separating pets from their owners when the animal’s behavior cannot be controlled any other way. One contestant, for example, was called “a whore, a butcher, a mutilator, a hack, an animal hater, a disgrace to the profession.” Other contestants were subjected to the circulation of fraudulent negative advertisements, negative reviews, and threatening phone calls.

Reading their press release, two thing come to mind immediately:

  • If the behavior from the activists wasn’t so shameful, it would be absurdly humorous. These contest finalists are veterinarians — people who have devoted their lives to saving animals! And these veterinarians who are being treated like “animal hating” monsters are among the best out there! Sheesh.
  • Veterinarians have been able to placate the animal activists longer than most professionals who work with animals, but it couldn’t last forever. To our many friends working day in and out to save and improve the lives of animals in the field of veterinary medicine, we say: welcome to the world of animal scientists, dog breeders, farmers, zoos, trainers, etc… but we are sorry you had to join us this way!


Aug 24, 2015 - NAIA Conference    1 Comment

NAIA 2015 Conference: One Week Left for Earlybird Admission!

Just a reminder: we’ve got a great conference coming up this year, and there is only one week left to get your tickets at earlybird prices!

Sign up here today!


Conference Brochure

Joining Forces to Save Our Animals

As our understanding of animals and how to care for them evolves, the issues facing the animals we love evolve as well, presenting us with new and ever greater challenges and opportunities:

  • Radical rescue and dog trafficking
  • How to work effectively with shrinking gene pools
  • How to reduce genetic diseases in domestic animals
  • Working wisely with science-based animal care standards
  • Dealing effectively with ideological legislation that empowers activists
  • How best to counter activist-driven campaigns that smear our communities

These are all serious issues, but they can all be overcome if we work together.

In this year’s conference, we will work to present the latest and best information on animal care, breeding and genetics, provide up to date information about the status of animal hobbies and industries, and we will also offer tools for dealing with propaganda campaigns and legislation!

Joining Forces to Save Our Animals is for people like you who are dedicated to caring for animals and learning about and utilizing new programs and tools created to assure animal wellbeing – both now and for future generations.

If you love and care for animals, show it by attending this conference. We need to work together to solve the problems we face. As Ben Franklin cautioned, “If we don’t hang together, then assuredly we shall hang separately”


Aug 21, 2015 - Animal Rights    1 Comment

Decision to Revoke Humane Society of Canada’s Charitable Registration Upheld

Meanwhile, in Canada:  the Federal Court of Appeal upheld a decision to revoke the Humane Society of Canada’s registration as a charitable organization.

What were the reasons for revoking its registration, you ask?

The Appeals Directorate cited three reasons for its decision: the humane society had failed to devote all of its resources to charitable activities; it had provided some of its income for the “personal benefit” of O’Sullivan; and it had failed to keep appropriate books and records.

Sounds like a reasonable call to us. We know you are busy and have important things to do, Canada, but while you are at it, maybe you can help out with the Humane Society of the United States (you know, the one that paid out millions of dollars to settle a RICO suit not so long ago)?


Aug 17, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    1 Comment

NAIA Perspective on No-Kill Philosophy in the News

In a Garden Island article on euthanasia and the no-kill philosophy last weekend, NAIA president Patti Strand weighed in on the consequences of focusing on numbers over real solutions:

If [the Kauai Humane Society] were pressured to “have better numbers,” Strand said it would be impossible to do so without ample funding and effort to fix the symptoms. And that’s something she said can’t be done overnight.

“What happens is the value of saving the life of the dog is valued more highly than the value of protecting an adoptive family from a dangerous dog,” Strand said. “It’s this idea that, ‘’Gee whiz, I’d like to save this dog and he’s only nipped someone once,’ that can have real consequences.”

One of the best examples comes out of New Mexico, where the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department last year permitted more than 100 dangerous dogs to be adopted by families or returned to them after they failed nationally recognized behavioral tests.

The result was tragic: Dozens of these dogs killed or injured other pets, bit children, attacked their owners or displayed otherwise aggressive behavior.
“All across the country, dangerous dogs that should not be adopted out to the public today and wouldn’t have been adopted out 10 years ago are being adopted out,” Strand said. “The reason is this idea that there are numbers every shelter should be hitting, and it’s not that black and white. Not every community is ready to be no-kill. It’s not a switch that can just be flipped.

“I’m absolutely in favor of the wholesome goal that’s attached to the no-kill label, but you have to look below the surface to see how it’s being applied.”

As always, the focus should be striving for the best possible standards of care — in home and in shelters — on cooperation, public education, and outreach; improvements in “the numbers” will flow naturally from those goals and improvements.

There are now many communities in the United States with open-admission shelters that do not kill for lack of space — this was considered “impossible” 40 years ago, and speaks to the tireless efforts of education and outreach, changing culture, and improved standards of care

Obedience Event Added to Next Year’s Westminster Dog Show

Next year’s Westminster Dog Show will be adding an obedience event, and we think this is pretty cool!  Obedience training is a great experience for dogs and their owners — and not just for the sake of competition and titles; obedience training is a fantastic positive experience for dogs and their people that brings with it lifelong benefits.

A well-trained dog is the kind of dog that other people will be as delighted to see as you are. And dogs so often live to please — all that positive energy a “good doggie” receives means so much to them! Furthermore, training provides your dog with positive activities that stimulate them mentally and physically. Dogs have a need to interact with their people and to be entertained. Like people, they can get bored. What better way to improve the bond between you and your dog than activities that will improve both of your lives!

While an obedience title takes a lot more time and effort than many owners are able to commit to (which is fine!), it’s still fun to be a spectator at obedience events, and we love that this display of such a valuable — and at its most basic level, highly practical — skillset will now be part of the highest-profile dog show in the U.S.!



Aug 11, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Cat Eyes, Sheep Eyes, Measures and Countermeasures

If you’ve ever wondered why cat’s eyes look so cool, check out this explanation that covers both predator and prey:

We found animals with vertically elongated pupils are very likely to be ambush predators which hide until they strike their prey from relatively close distance. They also tend to have eyes on the front of their heads. […]

In contrast, horizontally elongated pupils are nearly always found in grazing animals, which have eyes on the sides of their head. They are also very likely to be prey animals such as sheep and goats.

Why is this? Essentially, modeling shows that vertically elongated pupils allow a predator the ability to judge distances without moving its head, thus giving prey fewer opportunities to notice its approach. At the same time, prey with elongated horizontal pupils and eyes on the sides of their head are able to see nearly the entire area around their bodies, providing them with a keen early warning system against predators.

Pretty neat stuff — definitely worth reading about!

Vertical elongated pupils assist predators in ambushing... horizontal elongated pupils assist prey in spotting  (and hopefully escaping) ambushes!

Measures and Countermeasures



Aug 3, 2015 - Animal Science    2 Comments

The Veterinary Profession Evolves: Sterilization Dogma Reconsidered

Arnold L. Goldman DVM, MPH

“Gonadectomy in Dogs,” in other words, the sterilization of dogs by removal of testes or ovaries was the subject of a recent roundtable webinar created collaboratively by a Florida multi-specialty veterinary hospital, Coral Gables Animal Hospital, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). It can be viewed here.

The creation and intent of the webinar is to acknowledge that recent research shows that the sterilization procedures discussed are “not as innocuous” as previously believed to be, that today we recognize sterilization “reduces the risk of some cancers and medical conditions, but increases the risk of others” and that veterinarian’s thinking on this subject is “evolving.” The description of the program states: “Honest and transparent conversations must take place within the profession as well as between veterinarians and pet owners.”

In the webinar several veterinary specialists and a generalist discuss and debate some of the new information on sterilization and the new questions raised relative to what veterinarians have long advocated, sterilization for most.

The discussion centers primarily on the medical aspects of sterilization surgery, and what is most notable is just how uncertain the doctors are that the long held dogma of “sterilize everything and early” is still the right thing to tell their clients. I interpret what they say and also what they do not say as indicating that the point-of-view of these veterinarians has shifted to one of a more open-minded, wait-and-see point of view regarding elective sterilization surgery. You can almost hear some of them struggling to avoid undermining what they may still believe will be vindicated in the long term, that sterilization is good for individual animals.

If it turns out that sterilization is not in the medical interests of most individual veterinary patients after all however, no veterinarian wants to be in a position of continuing to advocate for something that harms their patients. And that is the key point: that veterinarians in individual animal practice are first obligated to their own clients and patients, and only then to any broader societal goals. We must always place our individual patients first.

That point-of-view may pose an internal ideological conflict for a shelter-employed veterinarian, who may see their individual patients, pre-adoption, mainly as elements of a larger societal enterprise, one dedicated to reducing un-owned or unwanted animals, unintended reproduction, euthanasia of healthy animals and all the forms of human irresponsibility that leads to these things.

Still, once an animal is owned and that animal is brought to a veterinarian, regardless of the animal’s origins, for that veterinarian, that owner and that patient, the patient’s interests must come ahead of any broader goals of the organization or facility from which the animal came. That is what our Oath instructs and what the public expects of us.

Veterinarian’s Oath
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

Jul 31, 2015 - Human-Animal Bond    1 Comment

A Great Pairing

Reading this NY Times article on pairing prison inmates up with bomb-sniffing dogs in training, it is hard not to be struck by the reciprocity. Everybody is getting something positive. The inmates give the dogs loads of attention and training, and show higher morale with a “virtually nonexistent” incident rate. The dogs show more maturity and greater endurance. Everybody gets something out of it, and not just on a practical level: inmates receive experience as responsible citizens, perhaps a sense of atonement, while, if you follow the M.R.I. results, the dogs perceive much of the experience — at least the learned odor portion — as one giant reward!

As inspiring as programs like this are, they are but one of the many ways humans and animals make each other stronger, happier — or just plain better every day. I know it’s the end of the week and brains are tired, but how many can you think of off the top of your head?



Project POOCH, founded in 1993, is the first program of its kind for youth offenders. Youth in corrections care for and train shelter dogs for adoption, positively transforming both in the process. This happy guy is Jet, who after months of love, attention, and hard work with his youth trainer is now a Canine Good Citizen, living in his forever home.

Jul 27, 2015 - Pet Care    No Comments

Raising Awareness of “Dog Flipping”

According to the AKC, pet theft is on the rise:

“More than 637 dogs across the country were stolen in 2014 – a 4.5 percent increase from the year before, according to AKC’s national pet theft database.

The number has drastically increased since the organization began recording the thefts in 2008, when 71 dogs were stolen.

Stealing somebody’s pet is like breaking up a family. Of particular interest is the practice of “dog flipping” (stealing somebody’s dog then reselling the dog for a profit), an uncommon but growing crime that is a devastating experience for dogs and their owners. Kudos to Tom Sharp and the AKC for raising awareness of this issue.