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Archive for July, 2008|Monthly archive page

Bob Barker’s Push for Law on Spaying/Neutering

In Animal News on July 31, 2008 at 6:43 pm

When Bob Barker was the host of “The Price is Right” he would end each episode with a message that encouraged people to have cats and dogs spayed or neutered. There have been many cracks that Barker personally spayed/neutered thousands of animals which I’ll admit to finding a little humorous. Anyway, Barker was in Chicago Tuesday to lobby aldermen on a plan to require that the city’s dogs and cats be sterilized. He was was met with some unexpected opposition. The plan requires that all cats and dogs be spayed/neutered by the age of six months and alderman questioned the feasibility of that. Barker believes legislation is the only way to solve the problem of thousands upon thousands of homeless cats and dogs. He also points money-saving benefits of the plan which he says would save Chicago millions of dollars that would no longer be needed for shelters to euthanize animals that have not been adopted.

The ordinance is sponsored by Ald. Ed Burke (14th), chairman of the Finance Committee, and Ald. Ginger Rugai (19th). They pointed to dog attacks on Chicago residents and sterilized dogs as being less vicious as good support for the ordinance. Were the ordinance to be passed, those in violation of it would be given a ticket telling the person to have the pet fixed. If the person ignored the ticket, a $100 fine would be issued after 60 days. If another 60 days passed with no response, a second fine would be issues, one that could be up to $500. In addition, the city could impound and sterilize the animal. A person could only reclaim the pet after paying the fines and other related costs. Some pets would exempt: those with medical problems that make sterilization unsafe, show dogs, guard and service dogs, as well as animals belonging to federally licensed breeders, and a person could apply for a city’s breeder license (which requires a criminal background check) to become exempt.

The effort is backed by PAWS Chicago and the Humane Society of the United States. However, the Chicago and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association oppose the effort believing that the decision to sterilize should be left to the veterinarian and the pet’s guardian. One alderman, Isaac Carothers (29th) doesn’t think the ordinance would have much effect in Chicago because he doesn’t think that people would obey the law.

I’m torn on the issue. It’s terrible that a staggering number of cats and dogs are enthanized each year because homes cannot be found for them. However, I don’t know that I feel comfortable with a law telling people how to care for their animal. Perhaps, instead, there should be a law banning irresponsible people from becoming pet guardians.

-Amanda Giffi


Pet Pic of the Day

In Pet Pic of the Day on July 31, 2008 at 6:10 pm

“Maize Beach Portrait” by flickr user PhotosbyTiff.

Want your pet’s mug to be our pic of the day? Join our flickr photo group and upload your images.

Bear Stuck in Jar Shot

In Animal News on July 31, 2008 at 6:06 pm

All the stories I’ve read recently about bears seems to end in the unnecessary death of the bear. In Minnesota, a black-bear had gotten its head stuck in a 2 1/2 gallon jar, presumably while rummaging for food. For six days, wildlife officials tried to capture the bear but ended up shooting it when the bear wandered into a festival in the city of Frazee. If the bear’s mouth was covered by the jar, it probably was not as large of a threat. It seems officials dealing with black bears are often a little trigger-happy and do not reserve killing the bear just for when it is a clear threat to people. Although, in this case, the bear could not eat or drink and was likely suffering from dehydration and hunger. I still wish the jar could have been removed and for the bear to go back to its normal life.

-Amanda Giffi

“Humane Education”: How to Treat Animals Right

In Animal News, Help the Animals on July 31, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Browsing the internet for pet/animal stories, I am continuously surprised by the scope of cruelty towards animals. I am often shocked and disgusted by all the accounts of people doing horrible unthinkable things to their pets or helpless other animals. It’s true that in the U.S., many pets are lavished with love and anything their doggie or kitty hearts could desire, but we still need to make progress in alerting people to widespread animal cruelty.

This week, USA Today featured an article about how educating people about the proper treatment of animals is a growing movement. The article starts with a little bit about Rescue Ink, a New York based group of volunteers who are committed to rescuing animals from cruelty. Their spin on it comes from their appearance, tough guys clad in leather and decorated by tattoos. Rescue Ink has an intimidating image but they seek to communicate politely and effectively to those who have been mistreating animals. In their 8-months of operating, they’ve been quite successful and are planning to form chapters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Rescue Ink is an example of a small but growing movement towards educating people about humane treatment of animals. In the past, anti-cruelty messages were largely spread in the form of be-kind-to-animal posters, but those efforts have been obviously replaced by much more dedicated and serious endeavors. Some efforts are aimed at contacting animal abusers directing and others at children in hopes of preventing future cruelty towards animals. The Austin Humane Society just launched a program where kids visit the shelter to read books with compassion-to-animal themes to cats waiting to be adopted. Rescue Ink is launching a program this fall that will teach kids compassion towards animals and also how to spot and then report abuse. Four years ago, the Institute for Humane Education in Maine began offering distance-learning graduate degrees in addition to workshops (attended mostly by educators) in humane education. Children and teens are definitely the target audience of many other efforts. The ASPCA is partnering with Dosomething.org, a teens/tweens site to provide content for the animal-welfare segment. Humane Society of the United States Youth, has been focusing on educating children for 25 years, with their publication KIND News, a humane education publication that now reaches 1 million kindergartners through sixth-graders.

These humane education efforts seeks to break cycles of abuse, especially for children who live in dysfunctional families/neighborhoods and may not know what humane treatment of animals looks like. Children, however, are not the sole target for humane education. Safe Humane Chicago, an alliance of animal and community advocates aimed at reducing violence, has amassed a volunteer corps that has spent many many hours this year with children and adults from violence-ripe communities. In 1915, The American Humane Association started Be Kind to Animals Week because they believes that there’s a link between animal cruelty and other forms of violence and that developing a broader scientific knowledge base is key to devising new strategies. Humane education seeks to change the way people think about the treatment of animal, and in turn, change the way people treat animals.

-Amanda Giffi

Massachusetts Legislature bans pet rentals

In Animal News on July 30, 2008 at 7:15 pm

The Massachusetts Legislature voted to ban pet rentals. The House voted unanimously (156-0) to outlaw the practice and the Senate followed suit with a voice vote. The bill is now on the desk of Governor Deval Patrick who has 10 days to decide whether to sign, veto, or let the bill become law without action. Members of the state Legislature argued that letting people house pets for short periods of time would amount to cruelty to animals. In particular, it would confuse pets about their homes, if those were constantly changing. The Boston City Council has already passed its own ban after a pet rental company wanted to locate there.

-Amanda Giffi

Southern California Quake a Reminder

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2008 at 6:33 pm

Southern California’s 5.4 magnitude earthquake was a reminder to pet owners there and everywhere that you must include pets in your preparations for natural disasters. As the Los Angeles SPCA President Madeleine Bernstein pointed out in a statement, “Pets depend on us for their safety, food, water and more. With the earthquake that just occurred, it is important to have a disaster plan in place to ensure all members of the family are accounted for properly and it only takes a little advance preparation.”

Here are some tips on how to prepare for a natural disaster if you have pets to care for, too:
-stock extra supplies of dry or canned food, water, and medicine supplies
-ask your local fire department, animal shelter, or vet for “Pet Alert” signs to hang on doors and window that alert emergency workers to the presence of a pet or pets inside the home
-making sure dogs’ and cats’ identification tags are up-to-date
-during an emergency, making sure to reduce displays of stress and anxiety when dealing with your pets because animals are acutely aware of your distress and maybe become distressed too
-learn CPR for pets and basic first aid.

-Amanda Giffi

Pet Pic of the Day

In Pet Pic of the Day on July 30, 2008 at 6:06 pm

“What?” by flickr user TheeErin.

Want your pet’s mug to be our pic of the day? Join our flickr photo group and upload your images.

The Cause of My Cat’s Crazy, Maybe

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2008 at 5:59 pm

My cat, or shall I say the family cat, Jake, can be one crazy kitty. He was a stray who wandered into our yard and then hearts over 10 years ago so we don’t know anything about his origins or health history. As he got older, we noticed he began acting stranger; he’d stare at his tail as it began twitching and then viciously attack it as if he didn’t know he was biting himself, he’ll meow loudly at night and it sometimes sounds like a human cry, he’ll “clean” his paws in his water dish, spill the water, and then meow at that, sometimes we’ll be petting him while he purrs and suddenly he gets aggressive and starts swatting at our hands, and so on. The tail twitching and biting seems by far the oddest. His vet said he had a neurological disorder and prescribed meds but as you may know, getting a cat to swallow a pill is quite the feat.

I did some investigating about this behavior because “neurological disorder” is such a broad term. I, of course, am no professional, but when I found an article about Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS), it seemed to fit the bill. Cats affected by FHS display bizarre character changes which make them seem schizophrenic, manic, or even possessed. Clinical signs of FHS include:
-sudden bouts of bizarre hyperactivity or aggressive behavior
-frenzied grooming of the flank and tail that may lead to hair loss
-tail swishing, fixation with tail, tail chasing, and/or vicious attacks directed toward tail (this sounds very familiar!)
-large pupils and/or a strange look to the eyes
-skin rippling/rolling (sometimes known as “Rolling Skin Disease”)
-apparent hallucinations – seemingly following the movement of things that are not there or running away from some unseen adversary.
-vocalization, crying, loud meowing
-acute sensitivity to touch (this is the “hyperesthesia”) along the spine – stroking can precipitate a bout of the behavior.
-sudden mood swings such as: extremely affectionate to aggressive
-any or all of the above signs progressing to seizures
-bouts occurring almost constantly, all day, every day, or once every few days

FHS usually arises for the first time in cats which is fitting if Jake really is affected by the syndrome. No one yet knows what causes FHS but there are a few theories: the condition may arise as a result of aberrant electrical activity in areas of the brain that control emotions, grooming, and/or predatory behavior (an explanation for the seizures), it could be a form of feline Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, seizure activity that leads to obsessive-compulsive behavior, an inherited tendency of mania precipitated by stress, or possibly pathological lesions in the muscles along a cats spine (which have been reported in some cats). There is no rule for diagnosing FHS but if the cat displays the clinical symptoms to the exclusion of other medical issues, then a diagnosis is typically confirmed. A way to help a cat with FHS is to relieve stress which is thought to set off the symptoms. There are also anti-obsessional, antidepressant, and anti-convulsant drugs available, all with success differing on the particular cat.


-Amanda Giffi

44-Pound New Jersey Stray Cat

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Here’s a video of a 44-pound stray cat found in New Jersey. She had to be placed in a foster home because she could not fit in any of the shelter’s cages.

Disaster Relief Aid to Iowa Pets

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2008 at 4:43 pm

It’s no secret that pets also suffer when natural disasters strike. During the recent floods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, two animal control agencies were hit by rising water. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the AKC Companion Animal Recovery donated $10,000 to to the Kirkwood Foundation for the Friends of the Animal Shelter Fund, which is a non-profit associated with Cedar Rapids Animal Control; and $10,000 to the Friends of the Animal Center, which is a nonprofit associated with Iowa City Animal Control. Both organizations had to evacuate their facilities due to the flooding but this did not prevent them from caring for displaced cats and dogs. They also set up an emergency shelter for the 1,000 pets that were made homeless by the floods. The Cedar Rapids Animal Control and the staff at the Kirkwood facility have been able to reunite displaced dogs with their people, have been able to find adoptive homes for other dogs, and have found a place to house animals who lived in their emergency animal shelter. Pets rescued by the Iowa City Animal Control have been relocated to the agency’s temporary new home.

-Amanda Giffi