Congratulations Buddy Holly: Westminster Winner!

Another year, another unforgettable Westminster best in show winner! 2023’s champ is a Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen named Buddy Holly, the first of his kind to win the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen is a French scent hound known for hunting rabbits and for their vivacious personalities. Facing stiff competition from Rummie the Pekingese, Buddy raved on, told the judge “Look at me!” and would not be denied. Oh boy!

Awww! All we can say is: ooh-wee-hoo!

Big congratulations to a great dog! The success of events like Westminster and the National Dog Show are so great to see and a testament to the fact that people just love supporting dogs… even if their only way of doing so is through a screen many miles away. Here’s to many more great Westminster champs in the future (and don’t forget to check out your local dog shows and events, too)!

Buddy Holly, the petit basset griffon Vendéen, wins Westminster dog show 

★     Westminster Best in Show Winners 2008 to 2023
★     Dog Shows and Events in Your Area

Puppy Scam Costs Georgia Woman $3,646

One aspect of pet ownership that never fails to leave us in awe is how far some people will go to get the type of animal they love. Dogs, cats, fish, herps, birds – the breed or species of pet may be wildly different, but the impulse for care and companionship that drives people to keep pets is often quite similar. The human-animal bond is really kind of magic! Unfortunately, having big feelings can also open a person up to exploitation by criminals.

This is what happened to a Georgia woman who was scammed out of thousands of dollars by a man posing as an English Bulldog breeder. The man assumed the identity of an actual breeder, Lisa Dunn Miller, claiming photos of one of Miller’s puppies as his own. He listed the puppy at only $650 (a red flag in and of itself), though once he had the victim on the hook, he added an additional $200 for shipping. When that ploy worked, he upped the ante by $996 for a “shipping crate,” then, perhaps seeing just how far he could push the victim, another $1,800 for “COVID vaccines.” Yikes!

As tempting as a picture of pups might be, get to know your breeder first!

By the time the victim realized this was all a scam and reported it to the sheriff’s office, she had been fleeced to the tune of $3,646. It’s always bad when people take advantage of others like this, but it’s especially nasty when a victim’s “puppy love” is used as a weapon against them. On the bright side, scams like this are avoidable.

Remember how we mentioned that $650 for an English Bulldog puppy is a red flag? Well, it most definitely is. For a reputable breeder, $650 won’t come close to covering the cost of testing, breeding, worming and vaccines, and basic animal care that goes into rearing a purebred pup. Breeding dogs may be a labor of love, but it sure ain’t cheap! Another thing to remember is that reputable breeders will have references and be happy to communicate with you in person, or at the very least over video call. They will also have answers to your questions and be curious about you and your home, to help ensure that the puppy is going to live in a safe and loving environment. And while a good breeder costs more, the costs will be clear and upfront, and there will be a contract – no $996 “Crate Fees” sideswiping you out of nowhere!

Georgia woman loses over $3k when she tries to buy a puppy

★     “Bull” (from the actual breeder’s website)
★     AKC: How to Spot a Puppy Scam Online

Congratulations, Marty!

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.

Dr. Greer: just another day at the office!

Full Press Release

Romans May Have Bred Frenchie (Like) Dogs Before It Was Cool

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.

The excavated Roman pets were similar to French Bulldogs and Pekingese.

Despite this long history, certain popular traits in pet dogs, such as flatter faces, are often viewed as a modern conceit. However, findings from the Roman empire suggest that flat-faced dogs resembling French Bulldogs were around over 2,000 years ago. Wear and tear indicates the dogs were pampered pets, and possibly an attempt to have a dog similar to the Pekingese, which was owned by Chinese imperial families at the 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!

★     Skull of a brachycephalic dog unearthed in the ancient city of Tralleis, Türkiye
★     The French Bulldog has been named America’s No.1 Most Popular DogRomans May Have Bred Frenchie (Like) Dogs Before It Was Cool

FWC Officers Raid Reptile Facility, Kill 34 Pythons and a Pet Boa Constrictor

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.

★     USARK: FWC Officers Slaughter Pet Boa and 34 other Snakes on Holy Thursday
★     FWC: Humane Killing Methods for Nonnative Reptiles

Dog Registration Drive Reaps Success and Curiosity from Neighbors

According to local officials, a recent licensing law, coupled with a registration and vaccination drive for dogs in Plantersville, Mississippi is already reaping benefits. They have seen a reduction in roaming dogs, more lost dogs returned to their owners rather than sent to the shelter, and, of course, we don’t have to explain the benefits of rabies shots. So far, it sounds like a win-win for everyone. And in light of this success, neighboring towns are reportedly curious about enacting similar policies themselves.

Three pals, two leashes. No roamin’ – just good times.

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!

★     NAIA: Constructing Successful, Pet-Friendly Ordinances
★     NAIA Model Law: Dog Purchaser Protection Act

Mar 31, 2023 - Animal Science, Pet Care    No Comments

Do Pets Reduce Your Child’s Allergies? New Study Says “Yes! Also: No!”

The hygiene hypothesis, even if you don’t know it by name, is probably a familiar concept. The idea is that the rise in allergies observed in wealthy countries is tied to a decline in rural living, and lack of childhood exposure to various animals, infections, and allergens. This doesn’t mean children should be outside all day playing with cow pies, of course. Hygiene is important and protects us from numerous maladies. However, the idea that there is a downside to being exposed to a less diverse collection of microbes as we develop is appealing, and many researchers feel there is merit to it.

And now, more than 30 years after the hypothesis’ popularization, research from the Fukushima Medical University is providing data to back up this concept… well, kind of.

Researchers took data from 100,000 pregnancies between 2011-2014, and compared the food allergy rates of kids born into households with pets compared to those that were not. As you might expect, kids in houses that had dogs and/or cats showed less sensitivity to foods like eggs, milk, nuts, soybeans, and wheat. But don’t get smug, pet owners! As is so often the case, it’s not so simple as “keep a pet and reduce your child’s odds of suffering from a food allergy.” Dogs and cats aren’t the only animals kept as pets in Japan. Terrapins are also a common household pet, but children with terrapins showed no different rate of allergies than kids raised without pets. Further, keeping hamsters seemed to increase the rate of nut allergies for kids. Given how terrifying nut allergies can be, such findings could give expectant parents pause when it comes to raising their kids alongside hamsters!

Hamsters, and the fact that many pet-owning families in Japan live in the countryside conspired to confound this study’s findings.

Fortunately for the hamster’s reputation, these findings are still in the early stages, unclear in many cases, and easily confounded. But nevertheless, as an organization that supports pet ownership as well as rigorous science, it is exciting to see the hygiene hypothesis pursued with real data (even if the final outcome isn’t as pro-pet as we’d hoped)!

★     Associations between fetal or infancy pet exposure and food allergies: The Japan Environment and Children’s Study
★     (2013) Want to Fight Allergies? Get a Dirty Dog

Mar 24, 2023 - Shelter & Rescue    No Comments

Is the Pet Adoption Process Becoming Too Much?

Even before the pandemic, complaints from potential adopters about overly stringent, intrusive, and seemingly arbitrary – even nonsensical – adoption requirements from rescues and shelters weren’t uncommon. Now, screening in and of itself is an important tool when applied sensibly. It helps protect animals, adopters, shelters, and the public. But putting up unnecessary barriers between pets and permanent, loving homes runs counter to the spirit of rescue.

How many barriers should there be between shelter pets and prospective adopters?

And since the pandemic, for a multitude of reasons, these barriers have become all but impenetrable in some shelters. Today, we are seeing a growing number of accusations that shelters are “warehousing” adoptable pets for months, or even years on end, as well as stonewalling potential adopters and eager volunteers.

For the Humane Society of New York, a no-kill shelter, an animal rights activist raised charges of warehousing, which led to interviews and a news investigation that showed the humane society is only adopting out about one animal per week in 2023. The organization placed much of the issue on renovating their facility, but they also brought up the need for adopters presenting a “good application,” reviewing adopters before they can even meet the animals, and the importance of a “exactly the right forever home.” As a city council member pointed out with apparent frustration, the renovations are taking an unusually long time, and this is a slow pace for such a well-funded organization. Again, screening and standards are invaluable, but if we only allow “exactly the right” pet owners to have – or even come near! – adoptable animals, all that means is fewer pets in homes. If you are housing 30 dogs and cats, and 75 people have applied to adopt them, maybe that’s a good thing! And assuming these applications are generally acceptable and you are still only willing to adopt out a trickle of these animals, it certainly raises a lot of questions about the organization.

Animal rights activist raises concerns about Humane Society of New York’s pet adoption process

Why animal shelters are facing a new crisis
Animal shelter accused of neglecting 150 pets

Overcrowded, Dog-Importing Kansas Rescue Ordered to Surrender License

On Wednesday, after a string of failed health inspections, overcrowding, and substandard animal care, the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) ordered Unleashed Pet Rescue, a Kansas pet shelter, to surrender its rescue license. Many of the shelter’s failures appear tied to simple math: too many dogs = too little care. So, it’s no wonder that the city broke its partnership with Unleashed Pet Rescue last week, or that KDA ordered the shelter to stop taking in animals on Monday.

The shelter’s issues have been percolating for some time – long enough to cause a local TV station to launch an investigation last January. This is the same shelter that imported 26 dogs from Egypt in 2019 – a shipment that included a rabies-positive dog, and another dog that escaped, which led to quarantines and 44 people taking rabies postexposure prophylaxis.

Complaints about problems like terrible skin conditions are one of the issues that spurred a television investigation into Unleashed Pet Rescue.

And despite its revenue of $2.3 million in 2020, it appears that Unleashed Pet Rescue did not provide basic animal care. In any case, it sounds like the KDA made the right call here.

State agency investigates Kansas City-area animal shelter after complaints
CDC Extends Suspension of Dog Imports from Countries with High Rabies Prevalence

Heinous Anti-Dog Breeder Bill Introduced in Florida

A supremely nasty anti-dog breeder bill, SB 1492, was recently introduced in Florida. There is nothing particularly new in this bill. It assumes that breeders are cruel, unethical, money-grubbers. It also labels dogs “breeding female” on the assumption that the only reason someone wouldn’t choose to spay their dog is because they intend to breed them. Further, it has no problem saying we need to spay dogs at six months old, despite the well-known health and behavioral consequences associated with spaying and neutering dogs while they are still puppies.

Look who just turned six months old! Hope you registered your “breeding female!”

Then there are the registration fees and warrantless home inspections that, as the Canine Chronicle points out, even convicted felons, rapists, and murderers are not required to submit to. Oh, and let’s not forget the somewhat opaque conditions under which a dog can be seized, that “breeding facilities” have to post their addresses online (opening them up to criminal activity and harassment), and, of course, that anyone who has a litter is now a “breeding facility.”

That’s not everything, but you get the idea. It’s like the goal here was to make a greatest-hits compilation of every bad breeder bill ever proposed or passed. Feels like the early 2010s all over again – what a heinous mess! Ugh.

Anyhow, as you have likely surmised, we strongly oppose Florida SB 1492, and NAIA Trust will be fighting against it.

★     Florida SB 1492
★     The growing debate over spaying and neutering dogs