What a great way to head into the weekend! We are proud to announce that Dr. Marty Greer, DVM, JD, and longtime NAIA Board Chair, was named Veterinarian of the year by the Westminster Kennel Club and Trupanion this week. Marty has long been a leader in the area of theriogenology (for canine reproduction), and we’ve always been proud of the herculean amount of work, networking, and outreach she puts into animal care and welfare. It is just fantastic seeing her recognized again for her contributions. Congratulations, Marty! Click below to read the full press release from the Westminster Kennel Club and Trupanion.
People have been breeding dogs to accentuate desirable traits for thousands of years. And not just “work-related” traits like herding, guarding, or pulling sleds, but also “cute and companionable” traits that make for better pets. Dogs have been around a looooong time.
Snub-nosed dogs aren’t found in existing Roman art, which makes these findings a little surprising. However, the Romans are credited as the world’s first true dog breeders, having classes of dogs, as well as a keen understanding of physical and behavioral inheritance. Perhaps we should have expected these “proto-pug” findings!
Last week, animal owners everywhere were rattled when Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officers killed 34 privately owned pythons and a gravid boa. To better understand how this came about, it is important to have a bit of backstory. In 2021, FWC came up with and implemented a list of animals that would be banned and illegal to privately own, keep, sell, trade, or breed. These animals were originally covered by a conditional permit. The list includes tegus, green iguanas, several pythons, and other reptiles. This, too, has a backstory – those animals can live in parts of Florida’s climate and thrive, which can lead to ecosystem imbalances. There are populations of large constrictors, iguanas, and tegus living in the Everglades and elsewhere that have impacted native wildlife.
The 2021 ruling is currently being challenged as unconstitutional in a lawsuit against FWC and has yet to be formally decided and ruled upon. Owners and breeders were given 90 days to rehome their animals. That ruling turned law-abiding animal owners into criminals overnight.
Fast forward to last Thursday, when FWC officers went to Bill McAdam’s property looking for an escaped python. Chris Coffee, the owner of the pythons whose snakes were under constructive seizure, let them in to let them inspect the animal enclosures, all of which were locked. What happened after that was captured on video and linked to in the original press release from USARK FL. The officers, over a span of a few hours, killed 35 snakes, one of which was legally kept and killed by accident. The pythons were all registered, microchipped, and on documented inventory with FWC as Mr. Coffee was in full compliance with the Conditional Species Permit rules before that program was terminated by FWC for these species in 2021. That snake was a pet, raised by Mr. McAdam and was gravid with 32 offspring due in one month. 29 of the snakes killed were reticulated pythons, which are not listed as an invasive species in Florida. The remaining five were burmese pythons, which are listed as invasive species in Florida. Also troubling is the method in which the officers used to dispatch the snakes: they did not follow the FWC approved two-step process for humanely euthanizing reptiles as stipulated on their website. The officers only performed Step 1 and never completed the humane process by carrying out Step 2.
This is a truly sad situation where the welfare of animals was not taken into consideration. The snakes were born and raised in human care and kept by knowledgeable owners. We understand the dangers posed by invasive species, but also the importance of making sure animal owners operate within a framework of just and reasonable laws. We hope to see, at the very least, an investigation and compensation for the animals lost.
Now, the idea that you pass a law affecting pet owners, and suddenly the number of roaming dogs and intakes goes down might seem simple and self-evident to some people. But the truth is, there are a lot of instances where you don’t see such an obvious cause-and-effect with animal laws. Many aren’t effective at all, in fact. What happened here, is that a clear and reasonable set of rules were laid out for pet owners, accompanied with encouragement and engagement. There is nothing that felt arbitrary or punitive – just an ordinance that pet owners – the vast majority of whom are law-abiding, humane, and want the best for their animals and communities – would view as a net-positive and be happy to support. Now that is a formula for success!