Archive from November, 2022

Veterans Day and Equine Therapy

Have you ever wondered about the animals who work for our military veterans? No better time to ask this question than Veterans Day! There are, of course, dogs – therapy dogs and service dogs, most often – but there are also cats, birds, reptiles, and, in the case of this story, horses.

For some veterans suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), spending time brushing, leading, and riding horses is a fantastic way to clear their heads while reducing anxiety and depression. A horse (like many domestic animals) can also help alleviate feelings of isolation. It is no exaggeration to say that for some people, this is the activity they most look forward to each week (the horses get treated pretty nicely, too). It was seeing reports of successful horse therapy programs throughout the country that inspired Virginia’s Copper Crest Farm to start a therapy program for veterans. And so far, it has been a tremendous help for those who have taken part in it.

The horse therapy program described in this article charges only a small fee, but its service is invaluable. It is also just one of many throughout the country – there may be one near you!

Resources
★     Equine therapy and other equine programs for military veterans & families
★     What Is Equine Therapy and Equine-Assisted Therapy?

Rescues and Humane Orgs Still Buying Dogs from Commercial Breeders

A few years ago, it seemed like we were standing at the precipice of a major scandal after the Washington Post revealed that rescues were buying and reselling dogs from their avowed mortal enemies: commercial breeders. Yikes, can you imagine that? But this practice had been going on for some time, and by 2018, the shadow market it created had become so large, some breeders claimed to be breeding more dogs specifically for the “rescue market!” For rescue, whose goal is (or at least was) to do such a great job of emptying the shelters that they put themselves out of business, buying puppies from commercial breeders is a curiously sustainable business model.

But here we are in 2022, and as you can see by this news story, not only did the above scandal cause little more than a ripple of public outrage, this practice has actually been normalized by large humane organizations, and is even celebrated as “lifesaving.”

Of course, no matter how noble and humane a veneer you place on it, rescues buying and reselling “overstock” (or even deliberately bred) dogs from breeders or importing unvetted street dogs from overseas are not engaged in the business of solving problems. Taking and rehoming individual pets brings good feelings and is great marketing, but relying on this model means that substandard breeding operations remain in operation (or even grow), and dogs and cats in foreign countries continue to reproduce unchecked. You can look at this from a compartmentalized perspective and celebrate the individual animal rehomed, as well as taking action for action’s sake (and many people do), but again, this simply allows the underlying issues to persist. Practices like these are short-sighted at best, and cynical at worst.

To quote our own peer-reviewed dog study on the outdated perceptions that shape today’s dog marketplace:  “As Rhode Island state veterinarian Dr. Scott Marshall put it, ‘…There’s some evidence that the rescue groups are a new model for the pet shop industry.'”


Resources
★     (2018) Dog Fight: Dog rescuers, flush with donations, buy animals from the breeders they scorn
★     (2018) USDA says individuals and groups may need license if buying dogs for rescue at auction
★     (2019) NAIA: How outdated perceptions have reshaped the dog marketplace

US Fish and Wildlife Service Sued Over Captive-Bred Parrot Moratorium

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is being sued by the Organization of Professional Aviculturists Inc. and the Lineolated Parakeet Society. They allege that USFWS is not allowing for the importation of captive-bred parrots under the rules of the Wild Exotic Bird Conservation Act (WBCA).

Signed into law in 1992, the WBCA is meant to protect bird species bred in human care from having their wild populations affected by the wildlife trade. It also established the Exotic Bird Conservation fund for in situ conservation efforts. There is an approved list of birds from CITES that can be imported.

The plaintiffs state in the lawsuit that FWS denied their application to import birds already on the approved list, and that it is the duty of FWS, as per the act, to publish notice of list changes and invite public comment. It has been 30 years since that last happened. It will be interesting to see what happens with this lawsuit, as FWS has been remiss in their duties to not only revise the lists over time, but to implement key parts of the act.


Resources
★     Wild Bird Conservation Act
★     Red List update: parrots of the Americas in peril