Gus, a hairless Chinese crested canine with cancer, was given the title of World’s Ugliest Dog at the 20th annual event in Petaluma, CA on June 20. Gus was rescued from a neglectful situation and his guardian, Jeanenne Teed of St. Petersburg, FL, says the first prize will go toward the dog’s chemotherapy. Gus beat out Elwood, last year’s winner, who came out of retirement to participate in the event. Click here for more pics.
Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page
This past weekend, the WISC-TV show For The Record in Madison, Wisconsin, aired a debate among eminent scientists, ethicists, and animal advocates on primate testing. The discussion centered on the proposed expansion of a primate lab devoted principally to research on depression at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
First of all, let me say that animal testing is a complicated issue, but that my first sympathies are with the immediate victims, the voiceless animals themselves. Rather than rehash the arguments of the animal activists (many of whom are probably Tails readers already), let me provide a little background on the person behind the experimentation to try to get inside his head (pardon the pun).
Dr. Richard Davidson, laboratory director at the Lab for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, depends upon rhesus monkeys for his experiments involving treatments of depression and anxiety disorders. His extensive research, based on his experiments with primates, has led him to emphasize the plasticity of the brain; he believes that, on account of this plasticity, the cultivation of happiness and compassion are akin to developing skills such as learning to play the piano or dribble a basketball. Dr. Davidson is even––get this––pals with the Dalai Lama, and noted for conducting research on the (human) brain during states of meditation. All in all, I’d say he sounds like a reasonable, open-minded person whose controversial studies produce what I would call intuitive results.
What justifies the ethically ambiguous urgency of his research? According to Davidson, depression is the leading cause of disability for individuals aged 5 and older in the world. Yet his findings on the brain’s plasticity indicate that we can avoid depression, and engender happiness, to a remarkable degree ourselves, independent of medication (I for one didn’t need a fellow primate to die to tell me this, and I’ve had some dark days). To the extent this is true, I think Dr. Davidson has been willfully dismissive of the impact the well-being of animals has on human well-being. I’m no math wiz, but I think that more happy monkeys in the world has at least a possibility of meaning more happy humans in the world.
There is an abundance of science indicating that monkeys and apes experience not only physical, but emotional pain, much as we do. One of the cruelest of ironies in this situation is that it is primates’ extraordinarily similar neurological makeup to our own––their very intelligence, emotionally and otherwise––that makes them so “perfect” for the kind of studies Dr. Davidson is pursuing. They are just not human enough, however, just furry enough, you might say, for them to be at our mercy––and to make us have to use our emotional intelligence to decide how we should treat them.
In light of the recent floods in the Midwest, you might be wondering how ordinary citizens can help. One way is to get some training in emergency animal relief and volunteer your time and energy when disaster strikes.
Humane Society University, a program of the HSUS, is offering Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) for those interested in saving animals during an emergency situation, such as hurricanes, wildfires, or tornadoes.
During the aftermath of hurricane Katrina DART volunteers played a pivotal role in providing emergency relief for animals affected by the disaster. “There were over a thousand animals there at any given time…we worked long days—up to 20 hours, and slept in tents,” says McLane Evans, a response team member.
The goal is to reunite family members with their pets. DART prefers team members who register as National DART (N-DART) volunteers so they are available to be deployed, by Humane Society, anywhere there is an emergency in the U.S.
Three-day courses are designed to introduce participants to disaster situations. The goal is to teach them to be prepared animal relief responders. Exercises include classroom training sessions, and specialized exercises to foster role-playing and quick response given an emergency situation. All citizens are permitted to volunteer.
Some upcoming DART classes are listed below. Please visit HumaneSocietyU.org for more information, class schedules, and registration details.
Wed, July 9 – Fri, July11
Montgomery County Animal Resource Center
6790 Webster St, Dayton, OH
SAN RAMON, CA:
Fri, Aug 15 – Sun, Aug 17
San Ramon Valley Fire Station – EOC
Emergency Operations Center
1500 Bollinger Canyon Rd, San Ramon, CA
Mon, Aug 25 – Wed, Aug 27
Arizona Chapter National Safety Council
1606 West Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ
From June 27- July 7, animal advocates from around the country will be chaining themselves up to a multitude of fixed objects. The event is designed to raise awareness about the millions of dogs who spend their lives in chains. The annual Chain Off week is sponsored by nonprofit Dog’s Deserve Better.
In response to why she will be chaining herself up for 24 hours, participant Marleen Oetzel of New Castle, Delaware told the Sussex Countian, “living chained for 24 hours will be grueling, but my 24 hours of discomfort is nothing compared to the daily suffering of so many dogs who spend their entire lives at the end of a chain, living in a small patch of mud, their chains wrapped around a tree, baking in the summer sun or freezing in the cold, desperate for affection or even just a walk. Most of us can barely begin to imagine the agony and loneliness of such a life for a social, intelligent animal like a dog.’”
According to some legislators, chained-up dogs often become neurotic and obsessive, which can lead them to be aggressive; hence a common association with attacks on children. Therefore, many states have adopted new “chaining” laws because of the rise in public safety costs.
For example, California and Texas recently passed laws enforcing a time limit for dogs to be chained up. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are following suit with similar legislation.
Despite a rise in anti-animal cruelty awareness, several states have either neglected to adopt, or remained stagnant in legislation protecting dogs from the chain. Delaware, for example, has neglected to change an existing animal welfare law allowing dogs to be chained up their entire lives.
For more information about Chain Off 2008, visit DogsDeserveBetter.com.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has awarded a $12,000 grant to the Morgan County Animal Shelter in Martinsville, IN, due to recent flooding of the area.
The grant will aid more than 250 displaced animals in the area (those without families). It will also support the families who fled with their pets, providing food and medical aid.
ASPCA’s Disaster Readiness Manager Tiffany Mahaffey says “In addition to helping animals whose owners have been displaced…the ASPCA grant will help the Morgan County Animal Shelter continue to supply pet food to local Red Cross and FEMA shelters for those people who evacuated and were able to take their animals with them.”
The Morgan County Animal Shelter has transferred all of its adoptable pets to other parts of the country in order to aid the displaced, and injured, animals at home.
Morgan County received devastating amounts of rainfall earlier this month culminating in President Bush’s decision to claim it a disaster area.
The ASPCA is currently working on supplying grants to other parts of the country that have been devastated by storms.
Please visit ASPCA.org/disaster for more information about ASPCA’s disaster readiness programs.
Increased cases of canine influenza, also known as “dog flu” have been reported in Chicago, IL in the past few weeks. Dog flu has cropped up in other states since it was identified in racing Greyhounds in Florida in 2004. Illinois is now the 27th state to report outbreaks of the virus.
The virus is airborne and highly contagious. Symptoms, which can easily be mistaken for kennel cough, include: a hacking cough, runny eyes and nose, lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting phlegm, and possibly pneumonia. A canine that shows these signs should be taken to the veterinarian, who will need to perform a blood test to confirm the diagnosis of dog flu. If infected, the dog is treated with antibiotics that are used to prevent any secondary infections such as bacterial pneumonia; the dog is contagious for about 7 to 10 days, in which time it should be kept away from other dogs. It takes about 10 to 30 days for a dog to make a full recovery from the flu.
The urban environment of Chicago is a perfect breeding ground for the virus because of high dog densities especially in settings such as shelters, day-care centers, kennels, and groomers. Guardians should be cautious of dogs with a cough and can do a few simple things such as disinfecting a dog’s bedding, washing their hands and the dogs paws, keeping floor and home surfaces clean, as well as frequenting appointment-only groomers, and making sure any day-care/kennel facilities used take similar precautions to prevent the spread of the flu.
Many people are fond of camping with their pets––and I’m happy for them. Heeding the call of the wild may well be in human nature, but I have my doubts whether it’s in animal nature. On behalf of those of us for whom camping means a night-time picnic with plenty of citronella and indoor plumbing a heartbeat away, I maintain that our dogs enjoy this slightly more domesticated adventure even more than those of a rowdier sort. Doesn’t that other kind of camping expose our pooches frightfully to the elements––and aren’t there snakes (even lions and tigers and bears, oh my) and other crawly things out there that might do FiFi terrible harm? Just because I may think it’s “fun” to test my mettle by pretending I don’t live in a world offering all the comforts of civilization I could wish for, does that mean my dog finds this amusing as well? I simply don’t know, though I have my instincts (I know how she loves her cushioned doggie bed, after all). But I can’t read her mind; I’m not an animal communicator. So, as I see it, common sense dictates erring on the cautious (and comfortable) side. Let her little paw prints dance to her heart’s content on a manicured lawn rather than scorching themselves on rough-and-tumble trails. If she’s happy, I’m happy.