Aug 5, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

USDA APHIS Ends “Teachable Moments”

This month, due to a congressional directive, USDA APHIS discontinued its use of “teachable moments” with licensees when enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. Teachable moments occurred when inspections found small, isolated non-compliances that didn’t affect the overall care and welfare of a licensee’s animals. These non-compliances were able to be corrected quickly with a little guidance, and they were documented for the record and future inspections. It is important to note that licensees with histories of multiple or serious non-compliance issues were not eligible for teachable moments.

Individuals with historical knowledge of USDA APHIS enforcement practices find this change incredibly unfortunate and counterproductive. Teachable moments were a valuable tool for producing honest relationships, education, and better animal welfare outcomes. Moving to an “enforcement only” model breaks a vital connection between licensees and inspectors; it creates an environment where even the best operations no longer view the USDA and its inspectors as collaborative sources of knowledge and improvement, but as adversaries to distrust and fear. This change helps no one and no animal.

Resources
★     USDA APHIS: Letter to Animal Care Stakeholders Regarding Teachable Moments
★     AKC: USDA APHIS Announces It Will No Longer Use ‘Teachable Moments’ In Working With Breeders

Jul 29, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Texas Man Arrested After His Dog Mauls Another Man to Death

Last week, a 71-year-old Texas man, Freddy Garcia, was mauled to death by seven dogs while walking to the store. This week, the owner of those dogs is being held in county jail after being charged with the state’s “Lillian Law,” which holds dog owners liable for injuries their dogs cause while running loose. The dogs’ owner could face up to 20 years in prison. “Lillian’s Law” came about because of a similar 2005 mauling of a 76-year-old woman.

Garcia’s tragic and senseless death highlights the vital importance of enforcing animal control laws (which are first and foremost about protecting public health and safety) and fostering an environment of responsible pet ownership. It is exceedingly rare that something horrible like this simply happens out of the blue. After a serious attack, you can nearly always dig up complaints about strays running in packs, residents feeling unsafe walking through their own neighborhoods – even previous reports about incidents involving the same dogs. In this case, for example, it was initially assumed the dogs were simply strays, rather than owned, which speaks to the need for more outreach and enforcement. It is good to hold individuals legally accountable when their negligence in dog ownership harms others; it is far better to keep things from ever reaching that point at all.


Resources
★     (2005, Origin of “Lillian’s Law”) Dog Pack Mauls Elderly Woman
★     Animal cruelty, dog attacks going unaddressed in Nashville
★     NAIA: Constructing successful pet friendly ordinances

Jul 23, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Support the National Service Animals Memorial Act!

In a shocking plot twist out of Washington, D.C., Congress is offering up something nearly everybody can agree on: H.R.6353 & S.3447, better known as the National Service Animals Memorial Act, which would honor service animals and their handlers with a memorial in the United States capital.

We still primarily think of seeing-eye dogs and recent history when the subject of service animals comes up, but service animals have been a loyal and beloved part of the national fabric since the foundation of this country, performing countless different tasks… and they aren’t just dogs: count horses, dolphins, and even sea lions among their number.

The National Service Animals Memorial Act is a bipartisan chance for us to show appreciation for these wonderful animals and their trainers who have given so much to others.

Contact your congress member today and let them know you’d appreciate their support of the National Service Animals Memorial Act. You can find your congress member’s contact info here and in the resource links below.

Click on the links below for more information.

Resources
★     National Service Animals Monument
★     S.3447 – National Service Animals Memorial Act
★     NAIA Trust: Find your Congress Member’s Contact Info
★     Subscribe to the NAIA Trust Mailing List!

Jul 23, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Eastern Indigo Snake: An Apex Predator Returns to Alabama

The eastern indigo snake is an eight-foot-long bluish-black, nonvenomous beauty that hasn’t been seen in the wilds of Alabama for five decades. That, hopefully, is about to change, because a few weeks ago, Zoo Atlanta released 25 eastern indigos into the Conecuh National Forest as part of an ongoing program to reestablish the snake’s original range. 200 snakes in total have been released so far.

These apex predators are the longest snake in North America, and their genus, Drymarchon, basically means “forest lord.” And that title really isn’t an exaggeration: eastern indigos make a meal out of just about anything they can fit in their mouths – including rattlesnakes! Alas, during the last half of the 20th century, they proved no match for habitat loss, cars, and human antipathy. However, vehicular collisions and ophidiophobia aside, their ability to keep other species in check is a remarkable and vital part of maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and part of why conservation projects like this are so valuable.

Resources
★     (2018, Florida) The Eastern Indigo Snake Returns
★     9 Snakes That Eat Other Snakes (Even Rattlesnakes!)

Jul 12, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

The Great Veterinary Shortage Continues

When your pet is suffering from something as alarming as a necrotic wound, you probably don’t expect that you’ll have to call 50 vets and wait for a week before it can be treated. But unfortunately, long waits and short-staffed hospitals are becoming the norm when it comes to veterinary care.

This isn’t a new problem. Staffing was an issue prior to COVID, but things have gotten much worse over the last two years. A combination of older veterinarians retiring, a switch to less efficient curbside service, new clients with “pandemic pets,” and overworked staff departing due to abuse from clients and/or competitive pay in less stressful fields has forced veterinary clinics into perpetual triage. Getting help for problems that are not life-threatening can take days or weeks longer than usual; even emergency care is not guaranteed in some areas. And alarmingly, for both veterinary hospital staff and pet owners, it is likely to be a long time before any semblance of balance between supply and demand is reached – Mars Veterinary Health predicts we will still face a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians in 2030.

Resources
★     Tackling the Veterinary Professional Shortage
★     Americans adopted millions of dogs during the pandemic. Now what do we do with them?

Jun 24, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Tough Economic Times Especially Tough for Pets and Shelters

Who could imagine looking back at 2020 and the first waves of COVID lockdowns with fondness? But for many folks who adopted “pandemic pets,” perhaps hoping to alleviate isolation, to provide a sense of routine and normalcy, or simply for some company, it was the start of a beautiful, lifetime bond. A warm, if odd, time to remember. Unfortunately, while we can point to some factors – even seemingly rough ones, like COVID-19 – as leading people into the joy of keeping pets, other well-known factors lead people into surrendering them.

One painfully common factor is simple economics, so perhaps it comes as no surprise that in the face of inflation and a looming recession, shelters and rescues across the country are reporting a dramatic uptick in surrenders. This, unfortunately, isn’t a new or unexpected phenomenon. For example, 2007-2009 saw many “foreclosure pets” dropped off at shelters across the United States. While there are support systems such as pet food banks, this isn’t always enough. The sad fact of the matter is that many people, when forced by the times they live in to tighten their budget or relocate, simply can no longer keep their pets – and we now appear to be moving into one of those times.

Resources
★     Local animal sanctuary asks public to stop throwing animals onto their property
★     The Recession And Pets: Hard Times For Snoopy (2009)

Jun 6, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

A Co-Owner Custody Dispute in Atlanta

Co-ownership nightmare in Atlanta, Georgia! A dog breeder and family signed a co-owner contract that allowed a dog, Gracie, to live with the family as an emotional support pet, while the breeder retained competition and breeding rights for Gracie.

Later, the family left Gracie with the breeder while on vacation… and upon their return, were informed via text that they couldn’t have the dog back, due to the breeder’s suspicion that the dog had been abused. During Gracie’s stay, the breeder discovered marks on the dog’s neck, which she thought were signs of an improperly used prong collar. The family says the marks were due to the dog scratching at ear infections and skin inflammation (this is documented by several pages of veterinarian treatment), that they would never abuse such a “spoiled rotten” member of their family, and that the kids are utterly distraught. As this is a civil, not criminal dispute, most likely the contract would err on the side of what the breeder believes.

You’ll need to sign here, here, and here….

It should be noted that the vast majority of co-owner contracts work out well for owners and the animals, which is why they don’t make the news. And in this era of smaller homes and properties, where fewer dogs can be kept together, co-ownership can be a powerful tool for maintaining breed health and genetic diversity. But regardless of how this particular situation is resolved (or not), it serves as a reminder that co-ownership is not without risks. It is vital to know what’s in the contract you’re signing, and, as much as possible, to have a sense of the person with whom you are signing the contract.

Resources
★     Tips For Show Dog Co-Ownership Contract Agreements
★     Pets Are Part of Our Families. Now They’re Part of Our Divorces, Too

May 24, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Dog Who Rescued Owner from Mountain Lion Making Quick Recovery

Dogs have been man’s best friend for the last 15,000 years, and perhaps twice as long as that. They don’t ask very much of their people, and in return, offer us company, entertainment, working partners, activities and hobbies, routine and stability, and near-limitless levels of acceptance. Sometimes forgotten is that one of the earliest and most important roles of dogs in their relationship with mankind was in the form of security and protection.

Fortunately, for Erin Wilson of California, her dog had no hesitation going into protection mode after seeing her owner clawed by a mountain lion. Eva, a 2½ year-old Belgian Malinois leapt into action after Wilson was attacked, attempting to fight off the aggressive and emaciated cougar. While Eva did not fare well and ended up with her head clamped in the cougar’s mouth, Wilson (now joined by another woman) struck the hungry animal with a tire iron and PVC pipe, and doused it with pepper spray until it let go of the dog and left the area. After the incident, a grateful Erin Wilson was quoted as saying “I will never be able to live up to how amazing and loyal she is to me.”

Belgian Malinois: we’re lucky she’s on our side!

It’s a great thing when a dog has your back. And even better, Eva’s owner has her back: after receiving some fantastic veterinary care, Eva should be ready to come home today!


Resources
★     Woman’s dog saves her from mountain lion attack: “She’s a fighter. Clearly”
★     Your Safety in Mountain Lion Habitat

May 10, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Owners Surrendering Pets As Rent and Inflation Creep Upward

The more rent goes up, the more pets are dropped off, according to Orange County Animal Services in Florida. Posting a 37% increase in surrendered pets compared to the same time in 2021, they report seeing family pets that owners simply cannot care for anymore as the owners are forced out of their old homes into more affordable housing (or in some cases, evicted).

One comment that is often made in these situations is “So what if a big dog makes your new place feel crowded? You should still keep them.” But the fact of the matter is, many of the smaller, less expensive units that people downsize into have size, breed, or other restrictions on pet ownership that make moving in with their pets impossible. It is a sad fact that the joy of keeping a pet can become too large a burden during hard times.

Resources
★     Animal rescues reporting more owners surrendering pets due to housing crisis, inflation
★     As evictions rise, people may have to give up their pets. Animal shelters are calling for help.

May 10, 2022 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Aggressive Dogs, and no Help from Animal Control

The most basic role of animal control is protecting public health and safety, but in Nashville, Tennessee, residents have been complaining bitterly for the last year about their needs not being met. Their complaints: aggressive dogs roaming the street, vicious bites, and people scared to step outside to walk their own dogs. Pretty serious stuff! This is compounded by a perceived lack of caring and response by animal control, as well as its dangerous request that people catch, contain, and feed aggressive animals themselves until animal control can come out and pick them up.

Enforcing leash laws is a time-worn way of making communities more pet-friendly.

For its part, animal control says it is simply beyond capacity, and can’t take in any more animals – but this doesn’t do anything to help people and pets who have suffered injuries or who are afraid for their safety right now. There are myriad issues compounding outrageous stories like this, but the good news is, all of them can be solved – and have been in the past. Hopefully, the exposé on Nashville Animal Control stirs change; stories like this feel like stepping into H.G. Wells’ time machine and setting the destination back 60 years.

Resources
★     ‘We’ve been sweating with it;’ Dog dumping continues to cause problems in Greene County
★     (NAIA) Responding to the Data: Constructing successful pet friendly ordinances

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