Jun 1, 2015 - Animal Science    No Comments

Man’s Best Friend Might Be Older Than We Thought…

Could dogs have been around a lot longer than we thought?

A group of researchers discovered an ancient wolf bone and say its DNA suggests dogs diverged from wolves 27,000 to 40,000 years ago — not 11,000 to 16,000 years ago, as previous research has suggested.

This is an interesting finding — not just because we love dogs and are fascinated by them (though that certainly helps), but the earlier date suggests dogs lived with humans during hunter-gatherer times, rather than after the advent of agriculture. Very cool read!

Cool Wolf

Did dogs diverge from wolves earlier than we thought?


Read the report here: Ancient Wolf Genome Reveals an Early Divergence of Domestic Dog Ancestors and Admixture into High-Latitude Breeds.

May 19, 2015 - Animals and Culture    No Comments

Dining with the Dogs

Big win for dog owners who want to dine with their furry (or not-so-furry) companions in New York recently:

By a 60-0 vote on Wednesday, the State senate approved a bill that lets food service establishments indulge four-legged guests, by allowing restaurants to welcome dogs (if accompanied by a diner) into their outdoor eating areas. The State Assembly is not reviewing its version of the same bill, and its sponsor is confident it will pass.

More and more dining establishments are becoming dog-friendly, and it is great seeing New York get on board this train. With the average American work week creeping back up to 47 hours, forcing people to spend more time away from their homes and their pets, dog-friendly dining establishments offer a welcome opportunity to go out and “have a life” without leaving Fido behind.

There are always concerns about dogs begging, getting into fights with each other, even jumping up on servers carrying heavy trays… but to that, we say: socializing and training your dog to be a polite companion is an investment of time and love every responsible pet owner will make. Furthermore, no responsible pet owner is going to foist an ill-mannered or aggressive dog on a restaurant (that wouldn’t exactly be responsible, now would it?). So when this bill passes, celebrate by going out and have a meal with your dog as an ambassador for the best in pet ownership!

Probably not what the restaurant meant when it said dogs were "welcome."

Probably not what the restaurant meant when it said “dogs are welcome.”


This is more like it.

May 18, 2015 - Shelter & Rescue    3 Comments

A Humane Society Calls out the “Retail Rescuers”

Last week, we read some heavy straight-talk from Charlene Marchand and Ron Perez of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA regarding the irresponsible and cynical importation of rescue animals, and the effect it has on the chances of local dogs. Given how often we report on this issue, it was tempting to leave this alone in favor of other stories, but we kept coming back to it. In the end, their story was too important for us not to share.

This zinger, illustrating the frustration when progress in animal welfare meets cynical opportunism, is worth the price of admission:

Didi Kline, founder of CGHS/SPCA, would have never dreamed that dogs 10 years or older would be finding second homes. And even the once loved, frequently ignored and often feared “pitbulls” (a loose term referring to bulldog and bull terrier types and mixes) were being adopted — and the owners found them to be incredible companions. Then, everything changed again when “rescues” in the northeast started importing dogs from the southeast, Puerto Rico, Mexico and even Russia! Why? There were still dogs here in the northeast that needed homes. The answer is: money! I once said that if there was money to be made in animal welfare, there’d be a shelter on every corner. Well, now there is.

First off, it takes guts to call it as you see it. It really does, especially when it comes to animal welfare and rescue issues, where even the slightest of disagreements can lead to a lifetime of name-calling and ostracism. This is an issue we have covered regularly for more than a decade, and we know all too well how some people perceive the criticism of certain bad practices as an indictment of all rescue — the responses can be downright vicious. Secondly: bravo! What a breath of fresh air. We share their frustration and couldn’t agree more with the sentiment.

What a great piece. The only thing we’d add is that when helping other regions of the US, efforts must also be made at the source of the population surplus: education and “changing the culture,” accessible low-cost spay/neuter options, enforceable roaming/leash laws, etc. Without those efforts — which have worked wonders in many parts of the country — animal rescuers are put in a position of perpetually exporting one region’s problems into another. As always, the end goal should be finding permanent, caring homes for every healthy and safe pet, until we reach a point where private rescues and shelters are no longer necessary.


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.


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.



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    134 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    2 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.