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February is Responsible Dog Owners Month-Whole Dog Journal Tips and Rescouces

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Being a responsible pet owner is not an easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort to make sure your furry family members are well taken care of and happy. We’d like to share some of our favorite tips for keeping your dog save and healthy:
• ID at All Times – The one certain thing in life is unpredictability. Hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, power outages, sudden illness, car crashes – any number of things can separate you from your beloved pal. Make sure he’s always wearing ID (with current contact numbers) and is microchipped. And regularly check the ring or rivets fastening the tag to his collar. For more on collars and leashes, purchase Whole Dog Journal’s ebook Guide to Collars and Leashes.
• Train Every Day (If Only For a Minute) – Dogs are hardwired to live in an orderly and cooperative “pack” environment. You can easily and peacefully underline your role – and your dog’s role – in the household by asking him to perform a few simple behaviors (sit, come, down), and rewarding him when he complies. This daily exercise reminds him that you are the leader. For more on training your dog in a positive way, purchase Whole Dog Journal’s ebook Positive Training Basics.
• Keep Them Slim, Keep Them Moving – There’s no doubt about it: Fat dogs are more prone to injury, illness, and mobility issues than their slimmer compatriots. Studies have shown that, on average, dogs who are slightly underweight live longer than overweight dogs. More food is not more love, no matter what your dog says. If you really love him, you will keep him slender. For more on weight control and fitness, purchase Whole Dog Journal’s ebook Weight and Fitness Handbook.

Pets also get deliveries from Meals on Wheels

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Meals on WheelsMeals on Wheels programs in several states have expanded their offerings to include donated pet food for clients’ companion animals, said Jenny Bertolette of the Meals on Wheels Association of America. Volunteers for the program, which provides meals to the disabled, poor and elderly, began seeking donations from shelters and pet organizations after noticing clients were sharing food with their pets. Participating groups solicit and deliver pet food to Meals on Wheels as well as to senior centers and nursing homes. Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.)/The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – If Meals on Wheels didn’t deliver donated dog food, Sherry Scott of San Diego says her golden retriever Tootie would be eating the pasta, riblets and veggie wraps meant for her. But thanks to partnerships between the program for low-income seniors and pet groups across the country, fewer people and pets are going hungry.

After Meals on Wheels volunteers noticed a growing number of clients giving their food away to their furry friends, they started working with shelters and other pet groups to add free pet food to their meal deliveries. Those programs, relying on donations and volunteers, have continued to grow in popularity as seniors began eating better, staying healthier and worrying less about feeding their pets, one group said.

Meals on Wheels is just one organization serving people who are poor, disabled or elderly, but it has a vast reach. It has teamed up with independently run pet partners in several states, but how many isn’t known, said Jenny Bertolette, spokeswoman for Meals on Wheels Association of America in Alexandria, Va.

Partner pet groups will solicit, pick up, pack and get the animal chow to Meals on Wheels or another agency that donates food, volunteers said. Agencies also take pet food to nursing homes, senior centers or community centers.

Those who qualify for Meals on Wheels or similar programs are almost always eligible for a free pet food program.

Diabetes alert dog brings comfort, relief to boy and his family

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Diabetic Alert DogsKermit, a 2-year-old service dog trained to detect fluctuations in human blood sugar levels, helps 9-year-old Kiernan Sullivan monitor his type 1 diabetes, giving Kiernan’s parents some extra relief. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to problems such as neuropathy, limb loss and even blindness, so specially trained dogs, along with tools such as glucose monitors that help keep blood sugar levels within the normal range, can improve the quality of diabetes patients’ lives, said physician Andrew Ahmann. The Oregonian (Portland)

When 9-year-old Kiernan Sullivan started school this month, he attends each class in the company of his new best friend – a 2-year-old service dog named Kermit.

“It’s fun but hard,” Kiernan says of his new charge. “You have to feed him, take him out to bathroom and take him out for walks.”

Kiernan has Type 1 diabetes, which usually affects children and young adults and accounts for about 5 percent of all diabetes cases. It occurs when the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert starches, sugars and other food into energy.

Kiernan, who was diagnosed when he was six, experienced a grand mal seizure in November. The experience was scary, but his parents thought they could manage Kiernan’s disease with careful meal planning and regular insulin shots.

Then one Saturday morning in March, Kiernan’s mom, Michelle Sullivan, awoke to a horrifying scene.

Her husband, Stuart, had left early that morning to go grocery shopping so the family could do something together. He kissed her goodbye and closed the bedroom door so she could sleep in a bit.

She awoke to her husband’s terrified screams as he came home to find their son lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. Kiernan had wandered into the kitchen to find some sugary food to bolster his blood sugar but found only sugar-free licorice. Bright red licorice was still smeared on his face when his parents found him.

The Sullivans realized they needed help. Thanks to the help of a staff member at Kiernan’s school, City View Charter School in Hillsboro, they found out about Dogs Assisting Diabetics.

About Dogs Assisting Diabetics

The Forest Grove-based nonprofit was founded by dog trainer Kristin Tarnowski and Darlene LaRose Cain, a former national chair for the American Diabetes Association.

Since the organization launched in 2009, Tarnowski has trained more than 35 dogs to be service-alert dogs.

The dogs initially came from breeders, but Tarnowski recently started her own breeding program with registered Labrador retrievers so she can start training them as puppies.

(Kermit came from the Guide Dogs for the Blind breeding program but failed his final test).

The training process can take at least six months to one year.

To train the dogs, Tarnowski places a swab of sweat collected from a diabetic person whose glucose levels are high or low and puts it in a sealed vial.

When the dog approaches the vial and reacts to it, she rewards them with treats and affection.

“We’re getting the dog to think of it as a game and have fun of it,” Tarnowski says. “The dog gets excited and wants to keep looking for it.”

The dogs can smell a metabolic change that takes place when someone’s blood sugar changes, although researchers still aren’t sure exactly what the dogs detect.

The dogs cost $15,000 and are in high demand. Each year, Dogs Assisting Diabetics receives about 200 requests from people all over the world.

Priority goes to people who have a high medical need for the dog, such as those whose blood-sugar levels are high enough to require dialysis.

How it works

When Kiernan’s blood sugar levels veer away from normal levels – below 80 or above 180 milligrams per deciliter – Kermit alerts him in one of three ways.

The dog will paw at the boy’s leg or chew on an orange strip on his leash called a “brain cell.”

Kermit continues to alert until Kiernan acknowledges him with a treat. Then he can check his blood-sugar levels and treat them accordingly.

Because Kiernan’s blood sugar levels fluctuate so frequently, the family decided against a Continuous Glucose Monitor that alerts during changes in glucose levels, Michelle Sullivan says.

The monitor’s frequent sensors can become a nuisance for someone like Kiernan, who can drop from a normal blood sugar level down to 50 mg/dL after walking just a few blocks.

Properly trained service dogs can offer great value to people with diabetes, says Dr. Andrew Ahmann, director of the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at Oregon Health & Science University.

“I have no doubt that they can alert individuals who have low blood sugar at a time when the person themselves does not recognize the problem,” he says.

Since Kermit alerts Kiernan as soon as his blood sugar changes, he’ll know to check the levels sooner. He has less risk of reaching the dangerous highs or lows that can send him into a seizure.

Over time, that careful monitoring can help bring three-month blood sugar averages, called A1Cs, closer to normal range.

“That’s adding time to their life,” Tarnowski says. “High blood sugars contribute to blindness, limb loss or neuropathy.”

According to one study, one in 20 children will die in their sleep from low blood sugar levels.

Yet Ahmann cautions that little research is available that proves the dogs’ effectiveness in preventing severe hypoglycemia or in improving overall glucose control.

The dogs should never replace the use of blood sugar testing meters that provide accurate readings, he says.

“I don’t think the use of diabetic assistance dogs is a replacement for continue glucose monitoring or intermittent glucose monitoring,” Ahmann says, “but the dogs do provide another layer of security that is very important to kids and their families.”

For Kiernan’s mom, that furry security blanket is priceless.

“I know that Kermit isn’t 100 percent, but he’s at least given me an extra level, just an extra step of assurance,” she says. “I hope that Kiernan doesn’t have another seizure, but Kermit is just an extra layer of protection.”

If you want to help: The Sullivan family is struggling to pay for Kermit, who costs $15,000. So far, the family has paid $5,000 and is on a payment plan for the remaining amount.

The family has established a fundraising page on Youcaring.com called “Help Kiernan Bring Kermit home” that allows people to donate to his cause.

You can also donate to Dogs Assisting Diabetics at dogsassistingdiabetics.com.

Amy Leveque and Pet Partner Annie

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Amy and Annie

Heathrow Animal Reception Centre handles traveling animals great and small

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Every year, London’s Heathrow Animal Reception Centre handles 37 million animals traveling to or through the London area, working to ensure the animals are comfortable while traveling, properly vaccinated and microchipped. The center encounters all manner of species from elephants and poisonous snakes to dogs, cats and even four cheetahs in need of a microchip check. The Guardian (London)/Shortcuts Blog

Whether it’s pets, elephants or cheetahs being flown in legally, or dangerous wild animals being smuggled, the animal centre at London’s major airport must deal with them.

A confiscated dwarf crocodile at the Animal Reception Centre, Heathrow.<br />
A confiscated dwarf crocodile at the Animal Reception Centre, Heathrow. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

On an industrial estate less than a mile from Heathrow, an anonymous yellow-walled building echoes with barks, mewls and shrieks. The Heathrow Animal Reception Centre (HARC) is the first stop for every one of the 37 million animals that pass through the airport every year, whether it is an elephant moving between zoos, or an impulsively purchased gift someone has tried to sneak through customs.

“We’ve had a couple of tortoises down a man’s pants,” says the centre’s deputy manager Susie Pritchard, “and some turtles in someone’s bra.”

Turtles, it turns out, are particularly prevalent. Animal welfare officer Chris Sampson explains that snapping turtles, such as the one lurking beneath a log in one of HARC’s rooms, are often abandoned when they become too difficult to look after. Next door is a cayman, seized by police from an owner without a licence to keep dangerous wild animals. Both the cayman and his neighbour are now used as part of the centre’s hazardous animals training programme.

HARC houses around 20 dangerous reptiles. Alongside an innocuous-looking chameleon and a pair of monitor lizards, two huge pythons lie curled in the corners of their tanks. One was discovered roaming around Heathrow’s car park, and the other was given up by an owner who found it too aggressive. Exotic pets are increasingly popular in the UK – the RSPCA dealt with 7,073 calls about 32,426 exotic animals in 2011 – and for the authorities who have to deal with them, HARC is an invaluable training resource: “It’s about explaining to people what you need to do if you go into someone’s house and there’s a room full of rattlesnakes,” says Pritchard.

A confiscated Yemen chameleon. A confiscated Yemen chameleon. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Most of HARC’s visitors enter the UK legally, and the centre reunites 17,000 cats and dogs with their anxious owners every year. “It’s like arrivals at terminal four,” says Pritchard. “People react like they’ve not seen their pets in a decade.” In reality, they are normally only in the centre a few hours, long enough for staff to scan the animals’ microchips and confirm rabies vaccinations (both legal requirements for pets entering the UK), and in the case of long-haul flights, let them get some exercise. Regulations governing animal transit are strict – unlike budget-airline passengers, dogs and cats need to be able to sit, stand and turn around – and the City of London, which operates HARC, is responsible for ensuring airlines meet those welfare guidelines.

The glass-walled reception has seen its share of famous faces, and a signed headshot above the door marks out Orlando Bloom’s dog Sidi as a frequent visitor. “That always gets the girls quite excited,” says Pritchard. “You’ll get staff appearing on shift who aren’t on the rota.” But for Pritchard, Hollywood stars are far less interesting than some of HARC’s more highly strung arrivals: “I got a call last Christmas asking if I might chip-read four cheetahs. That was a bit of a handful.”

Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Dedication

Monday, September 9th, 2013

On August 17th, the city of San Juan Capistrano dedicated their new dog park in honor of beloved local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cortese, also know as “Dr. Fleas”Dr. Joe Cortese.The dog park welcomes small and large dogs and features picnic tables, benches, and an access ramp for people with disabilities. Enjoy the beautiful mature oak, avocado, and Valencia orange trees that are being preserved as part of this wonderful new park. The area will include drinking fountains for both people and pooches.

Dr. Cortese was a past president and member of the Animal Health Foundation’s Board of Trustees.  He passed away suddenly in 2008 while visiting friends in New Mexico with his wife, Goldee.

The AHF is proud to have made a donation to the park to honor such a dedicated and loved individual.

Troops reunited with dogs they cared for in Afghanistan

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Sheba and pupsA litter of puppies and their mother, Sheba, who befriended U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan, have been transported to the U.S. The puppies will be adopted by the service members, while Sheba may be trained as a service dog and placed with a veteran in need. Staff Sgt. Edwin Caba and others were elated to see the dogs again. “We just built a bond you can’t even describe,” he said. CBS News/The Associated Press

For the story, pictures and video, CLICK HERE

 

 

Newly discovered mammal is first species in Americas to join Carnivora in 35 years

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY

 

Goats groom airport grounds while helping endangered species

Monday, July 15th, 2013
goatFor the past five years, San Francisco International Airport has brought in goats to clear brush near a runway to prevent fires and protect nearby homes. It’s an eco-friendly plan not only because machinery is not needed, but also because it allows the clearing to proceed without disturbing two endangered species. Goats R Us supplies some 400 goats as well as a herder and a border collie to keep them in line, and the crew takes about two weeks to clear the area. The Huffington Post/The Associated Press (7/5)

Passengers flying out of San Francisco International Airport recently might have caught a glimpse of something bizarre: goats munching away at overgrown weeds.Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice and nearly 400 other goats were chomping on brush as part of the airport’s unique – and environmentally friendly – approach to fire prevention.Airports are mini cities, often with their own firefighters, baristas, doctors and even priests.But goat herders?Brush in a remote corner of the airport property needs to be cleared each spring to protect nearby homes from potential fires. But machines or humans can’t be used because two endangered species – the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog – live there.So for the past five years, the airport has turned to Goats R Us, which charged $14,900 for the service this year.”When passengers takeoff and fly over the goats, I’m sure that’s a thrill,” said Terri Oyarzun, who owns and runs the goat-powered brush removal company with her husband Egon and their son Zephyr.The goats travel 30 miles each spring from their home in Orinda, Calif. to the airport in a 16-wheel truck that Oyarzun calls her “livestock limo.” With the help of a goat herder and a Border Collie named Toddy Lynn, the goats spend two weeks cutting away a 20-foot firebreak on the west side of the airport.When Oyarzun’s goats aren’t clearing brush at the airport, they are busy doing similar work on the side of California’s freeways, at state parks, under long-distance electric lines and anywhere else with overgrown vegetation. The family has about 4,000 total active goats.Working at an airport does come with its own set of challenges, namely loud, frightening jets constantly taking off.”There was an adjustment period,” Oyarzun said. “But they have a lot of confidence in their herder.”At least one other airport has taken note. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has requested bids for goats to clear brush in a remote area of the airport’s 7,000-acre property and expects a here to be at the airport sometime this summer.When goats become too old to work, they are typically sold for meat. But fear not, Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice won’t end up at the slaughterhouse. The Oyarzun family lets its goats peacefully retire at its farm.At least one part of air travel is still humane.

Many animals may be smarter than they get credit for, studies show

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

white chickensChickens can plan ahead and may have better spatial skills than young children; sheep can recognize colors and shapes; pigs and monkeys can use mirrors to find hidden food; and even flies can remember their destinations and get there despite distractions, according to a variety of studies from the past few decades. “Finding sophisticated learning and awareness in animals can alter the way people think about the species and may result in better welfare in the long run,” said researcher Donald Broom. The Guardian (London)/Shortcuts Blog (6/19)

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the animals we think of as being the most stupid – pigs, chickens, sheep – are also the ones we don’t always treat too well. However, humans might be the ones who have to rethink the definitions of “bird-brain” and “pig ignorance”.

According to a new report, chickens appear to be much more intelligent than previously thought, with better numeracy and spacial awareness skills than young children. “The domesticated chicken is something of a phenomenon,” Christine Nicol, professor of animal welfare at Bristol University, told the Times. “Studies over the past 20 years have revealed their finely honed sensory capacities, their ability to think, draw inferences, apply logic and plan ahead.”

When we underestimate the intelligence of animals we already consider clever – for instance, last year, researchers at the University of Manchester who had been studying orangutans in Indonesia found the apes built complex nests in trees, using a wide variety of specially chosen materials – it is hardly surprising that those considered to be at the low end of the smart scale can surprise us.

We know that flies can remember their destination, even when a distraction is put in their path. Researchers have found that fish can be trained to associate a sound with feeding times, and even remember this when released into the wild; an earlier study suggested the idea that a goldfish had a three-second memory was unfounded – goldfish could learn to press a lever for food, something they would be able to recall months later.

Sheep have been found to be far more intelligent than their unfair reputations suggest. In a series of tests involving learning how to get food from differently coloured buckets and recognising different shapes, carried out by researchers at Cambridge University, sheep performed as well as monkeys, and better than rodents. Sheep have also been found to recognise and remember the faces of 50 individual fellow sheep, as well as human faces.

It is only relatively recently that pigs have become more widely regarded as highly intelligent, following a number of studies. One, published by researchers at Cambridge in 2009, found pigs could use a mirror to find a bowl of food that had been hidden (something monkeys can also do). “Finding sophisticated learning and awareness in animals can alter the way people think about the species,” Professor Donald Broom told Wired magazine, “and may result in better welfare in the long run.”