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Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Michael Vick makes plea deal

In Animal News on November 25, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has pleaded guilty to one count of promoting dogfighting, possibly commuting his prison sentence and smoothing his return to the NFL in the process. Under the plea deal, a count of cruelty to animals was dropped, to which Vick pleaded not guilty. Each felony count entailed a prison sentence of up to five years.

Vick is currently serving a 23-month sentence in Leavenworth, KS, for funding a dogfighting ring at his home in Virginia. His release from prison is scheduled for July 20, 2009. At the Tues., Nov. 25 hearing, he was handed a three-year suspended sentence. He has also admitted to participating in the killing of several underperforming dogs.

The significance of the plea deal lies in the fact that it resolves the remaining charges against Vick, allowing him to move from prison into a halfway house, designed to transition his return to society.

Although expressionless for most of the hearing, Vick did issue an apology, telling the judge, ”I want to apologize to the court, my family, and to all the kids who looked up to me as a role model.”

And if you’ll excuse a bit of editorializing …

Being thoroughly unacquainted with the finer points of our legal system, I have no idea what a halfway house actually entails or, for that matter, how the employees of such an institution help a person at the helm of our celebrity-obsessed society transition back into it, adoring public and all. I am not quite cynical enough to presume that Michael Vick was less than sincere when he uttered his apology in court today. I am cynical enough, however, to fear that his crimes may tend to (perversely) elevate his celebrity status once he reemerges on the football field, particularly among his less humane-minded fans.

I confess to being all but oblivious to what happens in the NFL, so the game’s brutality is at least as striking to me personally as its strategy. Which leaves me with that unsettling bit of cyncism—and mistrust—that Michael Vick fans will be all too easily mollified by his spartan apology. And I’m not ripping on forgiveness here. It’s the forgetting part that makes me uneasy. The crime was too heinous for us to forget, and I’m sorry, but sorry doesn’t begin to cover it.


HSUS investigation links national chain Petland to puppy mills

In Animal News, Help the Animals on November 21, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Petland, Inc., the country’s largest chain of puppy-selling pet stores, supports puppy mills, according to The Humane Society of the United States. The organization revealed the results of an 8-month-long investigation in which they claim to have found that Petland stores obtain their animals from puppy mills while telling customers the dogs come only from good breeders.

This marks the largest-ever puppy mill investigation; HSUS investigators visited 21 Petland stores and 35 breeders and brokers who sold puppies to Petland stores. Investigators also reviewed interstate import records of an additional 322 breeders, USDA reports, and more than 17,000 individual puppies linked to Petland stores. There are approximately 140 Petland stores in the U.S., selling tens of thousands of puppies each year.

According to the HSUS, the investigation revealed:

  • Despite assurances by Petland staff and on their corporate website that the company knows its breeders and deals only with those who have “the highest standards of pet care,” many Petland puppies come from massive commercial breeders in Missouri and other Midwestern states, where hundreds of breeding dogs are packed into cramped, barren cages—often for their entire lives, with no socialization, exercise, or human interaction.
  • When HSUS investigators visited 35 of the large-scale breeding operations linked to Petland stores, they witnessed puppy mills where puppies are factory farmed in large numbers. At many, investigators saw appalling conditions: puppies living in filthy, barren cages reeking of urine, with inadequate care and socialization.
  • Many of Petland’s puppies are not supplied directly by breeders, but are purchased from a “middle man”—large-scale “pet distributors,” otherwise known as brokers—showing that the company may not even know who the breeders are or what their standards of care may be like. The investigation revealed that some of Petland’s brokers are also buying from puppy mills.
  • Some of Petland’s puppies are ordered online using a pet auction website called the Pet Board of Trade, demonstrating that many Petland stores are not screening breeders as its website claims. In fact, in some cases they may not even know the breeder’s name until after purchase.
  • One of the most common sales pitches made by Petland staff is that they use “USDA licensed” breeders. However, investigators reviewed publicly available state and USDA inspection reports for more than 100 Petland breeders and found more than 60 percent of the reports listed serious violations of basic animal care regulations. Many USDA breeders exhibit a long history of substandard care and yet remained licensed. While USDA regulations are minimal, some of the Petland breeders are not even complying with these basic animal welfare standards.
  • Documented USDA violations at some of Petland’s breeders and suppliers included dirty, unkempt enclosures; inadequate shelter from the cold; dogs kept in too-small cages; and inadequate veterinary care. Some of the breeders were found with sick or dead dogs in their cages.

Click here for more information and to take action.


In Just for Fun on November 20, 2008 at 4:11 pm

I used to have a pet rat, Max. He was a great little guy, a grey and white fancy rat with a love for kisses (both giving and receiving) and peas. Unfortunately, Max is no longer with us and I am too allergic to rodents to adopt another long-tailed friend. But, if I were able to get one, I’d want one of these:


I introduce to you the African giant pouched rat. These adorable guys can live up to 7 years and weigh around 3.5-4 pounds…of solid muscle (according to the Rat and Mouse Club of America). They are currently being bred and trained in Africa to sniff out landmines (visit herorat.org for more information). OK, so they aren’t really meant to be pets, as they are not domesticated like their Max-like cousins, but the idea of having a 2 foot-long rat snorgle in my lap makes me giddy with joy. Properly bred (and rescued!) rats make fabulous pets. Never underestimate the power of rat-love. —Jill Brodsky

Image courtesy of thepetshrink.info

A Thanksgiving Warning

In Health and Safety on November 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm

My two Miniature Dachshunds (better known in our house as mini weenies or teeny weenies) are quite the beggars. If a human has food, Bill and Bailey should have some, too. Dogs are royalty, after all. Bill loves peanut butter, cheese, and almonds. Bailey will tremble for peanut butter, cheese, and Cheerios.

Bailey is pretty good about self-regulating her food intake. If she’s not hungry, she won’t eat. Unless you have peanut butter, cheese, or Cheerios, she may not even beg for your food. She’s dainty and eats slowly, piece by piece. Her little mouth can only handle so much scrumptiousness at one time.

Bill is an obnoxious beggar. He’ll jump, scratch, and talk. Bill loves food. Bill snarfs his treats after barely chewing them. This inhalation process contributes to foul smelling problems—we’ll just say his rear end is a bit out of tune. Then there are the “pukies” every once in awhile.

At least neither of them will eat what they don’t like.

You probably wonder why I’m indulging you in the wonders of my precious pooches’ digestive activities. Well, in light of my family’s love for slipping table scraps to the faces with eyes-bigger-than-the-head-oh-so-cute! and the approach of the table-scrap holiday, I find it only fit to extend the warning to all families with food-loving animals.

Do not feed the animals.

Nursing your own overstuffed, stretched out belly will be enough for one night, the last thing you’ll need to do is nurse a heaving hound as well. Let the dog nurse you back to health (or cat, or guinea pig, or whatever pet with which you live…).

Not to mention, there are herbs and spices used in our Thanksgiving cooking that are not approved for pet consumption (according to the ASPCA, sage can upset a dog’s stomach and mess with its nervous system).

I’m thinking of sticking notes on the backs of the weenies reading “Do Not Feed Me, My Slobber is Toxic”.

So, proceed with caution and have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Jill Brodsky

Pet Pic of the Day

In Pet Pic of the Day on November 14, 2008 at 8:35 pm


“Honey Snow” by flickr user pchorsedoc

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

ASPCA makes appointments to initiatives group

In Animal News on November 13, 2008 at 9:44 pm

The ASPCA has given two top appointments in the Anti-Cruelty Initiatives Group that will become effective December 1, 2008. Laura Maloney will become Senior Vice President, managing the efforts of the Anti-Cruelty Group. Stacy Wolf has been named Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for the Humane Law Enforcement division, focusing on criminal cases in NYC. Both Maloney and Wolf have rich backgrounds with animals and communication. They are well qualified and ready to take on animal cruelty.

For more information, visit APSCA.org

Search the web, help rescue pets

In Help the Animals on November 13, 2008 at 7:39 pm

With Dogpile, some of the revenue from every search is donated to the ASPCA and added to their goal of $1 million by the end of 2009.

So go ahead and spread the word. It’s Dogpile time! Visit Dogpile.com.

Equine Emergency

In Animal News on November 13, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Early this week Richmond, Indiana faced a unique challenge; how do you get a horse out of a swimming pool? After wandering off it’s pasture, a local horse walked onto a swimming pool cover and inadvertently fell inside the pool. Struggling by itself, the horse could not escape. The property owners called 911 for help, which came in the form of deputies, a mounted patrol officer, and a veterinarian. After more than an hour, the crew finally got the horse free, saving its life. Reports say the horse is doing fine after being transported to a heated barn and given a shot to treat shock.

-Jill Brodsky

Spin for Spot

In Animal News, Help the Animals, Just for Fun on November 13, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Tune in to the all American game show the week of Dec. 8! Wheel of Fortune will be celebrating Pet Lovers Week Dec. 8-12. Contestants will be show in pictures with their pets all week long. They will also have a chance to help the Petco Foundation donate money to various animal charities by landing the wheel on the Petco gift tag. Each time the wheel lands on the Petco Gift tag, $1000 will be donated to a group such as Heart of Texas Greyhound Adoption in San Antonio; Humane Animal Rescue Team (HART) in Los Angeles; Mutts-n-Stuff in St. Louis, MO; Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, FL; and Merrimack River Feline Rescue in Salisbury, MA. To top off the excitement, animal activist and actress Betty White will make an appearance. For more information and photographic pleasure visit WheelOfFortune.com. —Jill Brodsky

Reader’s Tail: In case you needed another reason to adopt instead of shop

In Readers Tails on November 11, 2008 at 4:04 pm

One of our readers from Rocky Mountain Cattle Dog Rescue wrote to us about how one of the rescue’s dogs saved his new mom. The dog, Elwood, was removed from an abusive situation and went to live with his new mom in Idaho a couple months ago. Here is what she wrote to the rescue:

“I have no doubt in my mind that I would be dead at this moment if were not for adopting Elwood. This morning I stepped out on my front porch to see what Elwood was barking at and low and behold there was a young cougar not but three feet away from me ready to pounce. Elwood charged the cougar and scared him away from me. He sent that cougar running with his tail between his legs. I know in my heart that if we had decided to adopt a puppy instead of Elwood I would have been a cougars breakfast. I really do thank you for all the hard work you and your volunteers do to help place these wonderful dogs. I owe Elwood my life and in a way you and his foster parents as well.”