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!

Apr 24, 2015 - Animals and Culture    No Comments

If You Want to Improve Animal Care, Offering a Hand Is Better than Pointing Fingers

Upon seeing an animal that appears neglected or abused, the first impulse for many people — and frankly, a natural one — is to lash out at the owner. Pointing fingers and calling the owners horrible people, demanding that they be thrown in the stocks and their animals confiscated, or worse. I’m sure you have heard it all many times before.

But lashing out in anger, while cathartic, does nothing to address any underlying issues that may be affecting the owner. Very few people are truly cold-hearted or abusive when it comes to animals, especially the ones they personally know and care for. But there are lots of situations where life gets out of control… and when that happens, animal care is sadly one of the first areas to suffer.

Here is BC SPCA senior investigator Kent Kokoska explaining that issues of animal neglect and abuse can be a lot more complicated than they appear from the outside:

“It might a mental health issue, there might be a physical injury or compromise to the animal owner, or it might be a financial compromise,” Kokoska told Daybreak Kamloops’ Shelley Joyce.

[…]

“One or any combination of those can cause a situation to slide for an animal’s care.”

Kokoska said most of the complaints involve neglecting the animal — and sometimes education can make the difference in the animal’s welfare. Part of the education effort is marking Animal Abuse Prevention in B.C. on April 23 each year.

“A lot of people aren’t aware and bringing that awareness to people and some options, that’s the first step to making a positive change.”

 

Many animal owners take proper care of their animals, and there is an unfortunate (but thankfully small) percentage of people who simply shouldn’t be allowed around animals at all. For everybody else, working to gain an understanding of the situation, offering education, options for improvement, and a chance to be a good owner should always be the first step.

 

Apr 23, 2015 - Animal Policy    31 Comments

Irresponsible Dog Importation and Illness: an Expert Speaks Out

In the wake of the Midwest canine flu outbreak that has sickened more than 1,100 dogs, we are getting the straight talk we need about dog importation from a canine influenza expert:

“We have absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, proof that a foreign animal disease has been imported into the U.S.,” Dr. Ed Dubovi said. “I don’t think anyone can look at this situation and say we’re protecting our animal population the best we can.”

[…]

“My concern all along was that someday this virus might make its way here,” he said. “We don’t know how it happened, but it certainly could have come from a dog or a cat. There are multiple international groups who are rescuing dogs from the meat market in Korea and shipping them into the U.S., and we have sketchy quarantine requirements if any at all. Restrictions on the movements of companion animals across borders are somewhat nonexistent.”

Irresponsible importation is an issue we have been concerned about for years. For those who have dismissed or downplayed this threat, the statements from Dr. Dubovi should serve as a wake-up call.

Now the question is: how can these words translate into action?

Saving the lives of dogs is a noble goal, nobody will argue with that. But when good intentions lead to illness and even death, you’re doing it wrong. Try telling somebody who lost their beloved pet that “it’s the thought that counts.”

Humane rescue operation importing large numbers of dogs from the Middle East, 2006. Photo courtesy of Sheryl Shapiro, CDC New York Quarantine Station.

Humane rescue operation importing large numbers of dogs from the Middle East, 2006. Photo courtesy of Sheryl Shapiro, CDC New York Quarantine Station.

Apr 21, 2015 - Animal Law    No Comments

Uber accused of refusing to transport service animals

A federal judge told the ridesharing company Uber that it must defend against a discrimination lawsuit after its drivers were accused of refusing to transport service animals.

Some of the accusations paint an extremely troubling picture:

In one instance, the lawsuit states, two blind passengers with service animals were met with cursing and shouts of “no dogs” from an Uber driver who refused to admit them. Another time, a driver allegedly stashed a blind woman’s dog in the trunk then ignored her pleas to pull over once she’d realized what had happened.

Talk about callous disregard…  if allegations are proven true, it will take a long time to remove those stains from the company.

Uber has 14 days to respond. The Justice Department has already weighed in on this issue, and stated:

“The ADA applies to private entities that are primarily engaged in providing transportation services,” even if a company is not a public accommodation, said the filing by Justice Department lawyers and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s office.

We strongly support service animals and the people who need them at NAIA, and will be keeping a close eye on this case.

Apr 20, 2015 - Animal Rights    5 Comments

When animal rightists speak… and remove all doubt

Animal rights activists co-opted Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, and it provided a window into the warped psyche of those who subscribe to the “rat is a pig is a dog is a boy” philosophy:

Co-opting Holocaust Remembrance Day in the name of animal rights is an offensive game of equivalency, and these moral comparisons have always been soundly — rightfully — rejected outside of the small circle of animal rights true believers (remember the reception to PETA’s “Holocaust On Your Plate” exhibit?).

But while the words and behavior are outrageous, hurtful, and anti-human, you have to admit: every time the animal rightists open their mouths and articulate what they really think, it serves as an important reminder of how twisted this seemingly warm and fuzzy movement truly is. It also brings to mind a helpful proverb of questionable attribution:

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

So while we condemn the animal rights message, we also say “Please — do keep talking. Let the people know what you’re really about.”

 

Is your canine an URBAN good citizen?

Earlier this week, the American Kennel Club announced its new Urban Canine Good Citizen Test. This was announced without a ton of fanfare, so we will forgive you if you missed it, but it is definitely worth checking out! Like the original Canine Good Citizen program, the urban version recognizes responsible pet owners and their polite, well-trained dogs, with a focus on the challenges of an urban environment:

“City dogs require a very special set of skills, including waiting to cross a street, ignoring food tossed on a sidewalk, behaving in building lobbies and riding elevators,” said Mary Burch, Ph.D., Director of the Canine Good Citizen program.  [also: former NAIA board member and writer!] “Urban CGC reinforces practical, everyday skills for the millions of dogs living in urban areas today, creating safer, more responsible communities.”

Lifestyles and culture are always changing. 100 years ago, it was not uncommon for dogs to live outdoors most, if not all of their lives, and dog ownership was primarily for the very rural or the very wealthy. Today, those dogs are sleeping on their owner’s beds, and dogs being walked down a busy city street is a regular occurrence. What a great time for a program like the Urban Canine Good Citizen — and a great chance for dog owners to become ambassadors for responsible pet ownership!

You don’t need to be interested in having a “title” for your dog, you don’t even need to live in a big city. Simply having a well-behaved dog that is not frightened or distracted by their environment, that can safely and confidently walk past both human and dog on a busy sidewalk is a big win for everybody. For your dog, for you, and for your entire community!

There can be a lot of distractions and challenges for a little dog in a big city!

There can be a lot of distractions and challenges for a little dog in a big city!

 

 

Apr 16, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Arson Threats for Putting Down a Dangerous Dog

In Wisconsin, police have stepped up patrols near the Elmbrook Humane Society, after it began receiving threats for euthanizing a dog.

The dog was a large, handsome fellow named Jim. Expressive eyes, gentle and well-behaved behind the camera, but he began exhibiting signs of aggression after being adopted out. He had several biting incidents, was declared a “vicious dog,” returned to the shelter and adopted out again, and eventually hurt somebody to the point stitches were required.

Now, should Jim have been adopted out in the first place? Or the second? Possibly not the first time, probably not the second, but that is a whole ‘nother blog, and we don’t have enough details for anything other than a general statement on that. But what we can say for sure is that in the end, the shelter was forced to make a hard, but responsible choice with Jim… for which they received threats.

jimPic

Jim (Photo: Elmbrook Humane Society on Facebook)

What is wrong with this picture? Nobody (with the possible exception of PeTAwants to euthanize animals. The Elmbrook Humane Society prides itself on its live release rate, and really went to the mat for Jim. When you have done your best for a dog that has bitten on multiple occasions — finally to the point where medical attention is required — you have to put the interest of future adopters, of the public first. As heartbreaking as it can be for an otherwise healthy dog to be put down, there are many, many other animals who can be safely and responsibly adopted out, who would just love a new forever home.

Yet instead of accepting that sometimes painful decisions need to be made, instead of inquiring about those other non-bitey animals, there are now people threatening to burn the shelter down. Whether or not the threats are credible, whether or not the shelter is actually in any danger, this is just nuts, folks.