Mar 28, 2012 - Education    1 Comment

Taking Back the Conversation

NAIA is home to some of the top animal health, husbandry, welfare and performance experts in the United States. As experts, we view it as our responsibility to challenge popular, but incorrect information about animals that is presented by the media or stakeholder groups, including the many animal rights fundraising groups who dominate the conversation in popular culture today.

False notions are difficult to counter. Because of their appeal to our empathy, intuition, or personal prejudice, they are easily accepted as true and made part of a larger worldview. And with modern media, they can catch fire, spreading far and wide within seconds.

So how do most people determine the veracity of what they are hearing? In the absence of  contrary evidence and critical thinking, they don’t.

But at NAIA when we recognize that so-called “designer dogs” are being hyped as genetically healthier than pure-bred dogs without supporting evidence, we don’t turn to our neighbor, hairdresser, astrologer, or Oprah, but to the leading experts for additional information to put the subject in perspective. We reach out to top breeders, veterinarians, animal geneticists, and trainers – people with subject matter knowledge gained through formal education and hands-on experience – to see what they have to say.

Shelter Project Kitty is thankful vegan cat food has yet to catch on

Once investigated, it often becomes clear that the story isn’t complete at all – and it always ends up being more nuanced and complex than an email forward or Facebook feed. In the end, we may not prove any particular point, but that’s okay. Our goal is simply to provide better sources of information than we started with, information that lays the foundation for improved policies and practices.

This is what we do. In the end, you may not like our conclusions, but whenever an animal issue is clouded by hype or propaganda – be it views on animal husbandrypet overpopulationconformation policies, shelter dynamics, or contentious practices – you can be sure we will seek out the experts before setting our own policies.

If you’re not yet familiar with us yet, please check out our website, and if you like what you see, please support our efforts.  We’re here for you and need your help to fulfill our mission!

Mar 1, 2012 - Animal Policy    3 Comments

Cooler Heads Prevailing in Wausau?

James and Melissa Lecker moved to Wausau, Wisconsin with their four dogs, unaware of the fact that they had two more pets than the city allowed. In late January, the young family learned that to come into compliance, they faced a stark choice: give up two of their dogs — family members, really — or pay a $114 daily fine.

An agonizing choice for any pet owner, it led to weeks of stress and sleepless nights for Melissa Lecker, and an eventual decision to move (at a loss of $15,000) if the situation continued. Money wasn’t the primary issue, it was the principle at stake, keeping her family together:

“Material things — money and a house — don’t mean anything compared to a living and breathing animal with feelings”

But that was before Tuesday, when Lecker took her issue straight to the Public Health and Safety Chairwoman. Today, it is looking like common sense and cooler heads may be prevailing in Wausau:

But Tipple said city leaders should consider adding an exception clause to the ordinance that could involve permits, for example, or allow residents to keep more than two dogs until a complaint is filed.

Could this be… progress? We are hopeful. Lecker, for her part, is committed to the cause — not just for her own family (they may still end up moving), but the entire community. And for that, we applaud her. Sometimes all it takes for big changes to occur is the passion of a committed individual.

Stray Dogs, Project Potcake, and Low-Cost Spay/Neuter

It may be hard to imagine, especially if you are living in a world with leash laws, animal control, and a culture that spays and neuters its pets, but stray dogs — not just one or two or a small pack, but thousands upon thousands – are a very real problem in many parts of the world. This is something we’ve been documenting for quite some time, an oft-neglected issue with major implications from both an animal welfare and public health and safety standpoint. Read more »

Purina Takes over for Pedigree at Westminster

Purina Takes over for Pedigree at Westminster

If you tune in to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show tonight, be prepared for a change of tone in the advertisements. Gone will be the usual ads focused on homeless dogs, sad and desperate for adoption, in will be commercials portraying happy, vibrant dogs at work and play — all types of dogs: show dogs, working dogs, rescue dogs, purebreds, mutts, therapy dogs, you name it. Read more »

Feb 2, 2012 - Animal Rights    2 Comments

Up for an Animal Rights Studies Minor?

Students: would you be interested in taking a minor like this if you were in college?

“The Animal Studies minor is for students interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of the diverse ways in which the lives of animals and humans intersect,” says McEachern. “The interdisciplinary nature of the minor allows students to consider historical and contemporary interactions between humans and animals from a range of perspectives.” Read more »

Jan 28, 2012 - Animal Policy    No Comments

Breed Specific Legislation Killing Dogs… and People

After a condo’s tough restrictions against pit bulls and harassment by neighbors and management left actor Nick Santino feeling that he had no choice but to put his dog Rocco down, the guilt-ridden owner took his own life as well.

His suicide note bares the anguish of the decision:

Today I betrayed my best friend and put down my best friend.

[...]

Rocco trusted me and I failed him. He didn’t deserve this.

No dog or dog owner deserves to go through this. What a tragic reminder of the pain and suffering wrought by breed specific prejudice. Would this man and his dog be dead right now if Rocco hadn’t been a pit bull mix? If Rocco hadn’t faced restrictions and harassment because of his breed? You don’t need a Magic 8-Ball to answer that one; it’s a safe bet that management didn’t require Yorkie owners to enter and exit the building through the back door.

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