Archive for September, 2013

AHF Pet Partner Orientation – October 12, 2013

Friday, September 20th, 2013

This Orientation is a mandatory step in the process of becoming an AHF Caring Creatures Pet Partners Team. AND it is the last one of the 2013 calendar year.

In order to attend this meeting, you must have successfully completed the Pet Partners Handlers Online Course at

In addition, pre-registration for this meeting is required.

For more information, contact



Veterinary Specialists of the Valley helps Opie

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Opie Ferguson Picture

The Veterinary Specialists of the Valley turned to the Angel Fund to help save the Ferguson’s family pet, Opie.

Veterinarians skeptical canine circovirus alone is sickening dogs

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

September 10, 2013
By: Jennifer Fiala For The VIN News Service

Photos courtesy of Dr. Melania Butera

Dr. Melanie Butera, a practitioner in Canal Fulton, Ohio, recently treated a Shar-Pei mix named Lexi for vasculitis, which caused the skin on her back to slough off. After the tissue was kept moist and sterile for approximately 30 days, the dog’s skin regrew. Butera removed Lexi’s sutures on Sept. 7. The photos shows Lexi’s wound at day one (top left), day 10 (top right) and nearly healed (above).

It might look like circovirus and act like circovirus … and still not be circovirus.

That’s what scientists investigating the mysterious illness that’s sickening and killing dogs in Ohio and elsewhere say after diagnostic tests of some infected samples came back positive for Dog Circovirus, or DogCV.

Dr. Patricia Pesavento is an associate professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. In the wake of reports that dogs in Ohio were dying of a mysterious toxicant or virus, she received samples from three of the infected animals, only one of which tested positive for DogCV.

The dogs’ clinical signs included bloody diarrhea and vomiting, extreme lethargy, neurological problems and lack of appetite. Severe hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and vasculitis are associated with DogCV. Treatment guidelines do not exist apart from supportive care.

“Understanding the pathogenesis of DogCV is in its infancy,” Pesavento explained by email. Pointing to previous research she conducted on DogCV, Pesavento said, “We have identified 10 animals retrospectively that are infected with DogCV and that have vascular-based disease, but there is a large burden of proof for causality.”

By phone, she added: “My bottom line: Circovirus is part of this; we don’t know if it’s the same agent killing all of these animals.”

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, which is organizing the investigation, is asking veterinarians to consult the agency’s Division of Animal Health at (614) 728-6220 if they see suspected cases. Concerned pet owners are encouraged to talk to their veterinarians.

Researchers at The Ohio State University (OSU) also are testing samples from sickened dogs. Melissa Weber, director of communications for the veterinary college, confirmed that one dog was sent to OSU for necropsy.

She stated that OSU does not have the ability to test for DogCV. “Everything else they’ve tested for has come back negative,” she said. “Circovirus is interesting, but that doesn’t mean it’s causing these deaths.”

Even so, mainstream media have run with the idea that dogs are dying after contracting circovirus. “It’s a scary new disease that can kill your dog,” an Ohio news agency reported.

A press release issued last week by State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey is less definitive.

“The laboratory confirmation is important because the virus is newly isolated, however we are not prepared at this time to confirm that canine circovirus is the cause of the dog illnesses,” he said. “Because the symptoms being exhibited can also be linked to other known illnesses, additional analysis and information is needed to determine if this virus is alone or in co-infection.”

DogCV is newly isolated and there is very little information available about the virus, where it came from and how it spreads, the Ohio Department of Agriculture press release stated. “The limited research available shows that canine circovirus can cause vasculitis and hemorrhaging in infected dogs.”

Porcine Circovirus, the only other known mammalian circovirus, can cause vasculitis in swine.

Dr. Melanie Butera in Canal Fulton, 18 miles south of Akron, is one of a handful of practitioners in Ohio who’ve treated dogs infected with the novel virus. “I had two dogs come in on the same day with these odd and very severe signs,” said Butera of the first of her patients that presented with signs of the disease on Aug. 24. “These dogs had been sick such a short period of time with normal blood work. I immediately thought there was no way this was a virus. It worked too quickly for the viral diseases we are used to seeing.”

One of the two dogs died. It was then that Butera learned several dogs recently had become ill and three died after visiting a boarding facility in Norwood, north of Cincinnati.

Despite extensive testing of the facility, no bacterial agent or toxicant was found to have caused the cases, which sounded a lot like what Butera was seeing in her own practice. Butera turned to the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), an online community for the profession, where she consulted colleagues about what she was witnessing.

“What has really stood out to me in these cases is the acute profound lethargy/weakness/depression, and the sinus tachycardia,” she wrote in a VIN discussion. By phone, she added: “The big thing was how sick these dogs were in such a short time period. They had fluid coming out of their gums. They weren’t passing bloody diarrhea, they were passing blood and clear fluid.”

Another dog Butera treated with similar clinical signs is on the mend after vasculitis caused the skin on its back to slough off. She’s now collecting reports from veterinarians in the area who’ve seen patients with similar conditions and has warned her clients about what she says are “sporadic cases.”

“It was one of my patients that tested positive for circovirus,” Butera said. “But I’ve said this repeatedly: Just because they found the virus does not mean it caused the disease.”

Amy Leveque and Pet Partner Annie

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Amy and Annie

Susan Kelsey and Pet Partner Scamp

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Susan Kelsey and Scamp

Nancy Fernandez and Pet Partner Lucy

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Nancy Fernandez and Lucy


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.”

Rare bird hatched from surrogate egg

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

hatching_egg.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleA team of scientists in Dubai hatched a rare bird from a chicken egg, a potentially groundbreaking conservation advancement. The method involved the transfer of fertilized yolk from the houbara bustard, a threatened desert bird in the Middle East, into the white of the chicken egg. TreeHugger (8/28)

Researchers from the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai say that have just successfully hatched a rare bird species from the egg of a chicken.

In a development being heralded as a major advancement for conservation, a team of scientists have proven that embryonic transfer from one bird species’ egg can successfully develop in that of another. Fertilized yolk from a houbara bustard, a threatened desert bird native to the Middle East, was placed into the ‘white’ of a surrogate chicken egg.

And sure enough, the transferred bustard chick embryos continued to grow and hatch normally, despite the unnatural setting of their development.

While the technique still has some refining, scientists are optimistic that the use of surrogate eggs to hatch unrelated bird types will be a boon to conservation efforts. For a rare species like the houbara bustard, which has declined by over 60 percent in recent decades, this method would give embryos in cracked or damaged eggs collected from the wild a renewed chance of survival.

Over the long term, embryonic transfer into surrogate eggs holds the potential to hatch birds from genetic material alone — pushing science one step closer to reviving extinct species once thought lost to the ages.

Dangerous breed debate fueled by recent media stories on dog attacks

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Pit BullPit bull attacks on humans are often news-grabbing events, but they don’t represent the disposition of all dogs included in this breed category, according to the National Canine Research Council’s Don Cleary. A 2012 AVMA report on dog bite incidents concluded that no single breed is inherently more dangerous than another, Cleary said. Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

By Tom Barnidge

Contra Costa Times Columnist

Pit bulls are in the news, and that’s rarely a good thing.

A 10-year-old boy mauled in Antioch this month had to undergo skin graft surgery and have his right ear reattached.

A Concord man, whose pit bulls fatally attacked his 2-year-old step-grandson three years ago, is standing trial for manslaughter and child endangerment.

A 6-year-old Union City boy died two months ago after being bitten while playing with a family pit bull that was described as “good with kids.”

Before the National Association of Pit Bull Huggers pickets in my front yard, let’s make one thing clear: Not all pit bulls are alike, and they don’t all attack children.

“I can safely say there are many more pit bulls that are wonderful, loving companion animals than there are pit bulls that have caused damage,” said Rick Golphin, deputy director of Contra Costa County Animal Service. “We adopt out a lot of pit bulls.”

One of the problems with trying to generalize about the breed is … well, pit bull isn’t a breed.

“The term is applied over a very broad range of dogs that aren’t defined by pedigree,” said Don Cleary of the National Canine Research Council. Pit bulls can be bull terriers, Staffordshire terriers, cane corsos or a mixture of those breeds and more. What matters more than the definition is the image the term conveys — a ticking time bomb with powerful jaws and sharp teeth that can turn savage in an instant.

Those who love the dogs point to the findings of the American Temperament Test Society, which I hadn’t heard of until two days ago. It subjects all breeds to pass-fail exams that measure their ability to interact with humans and their environment. You may be surprised to learn that pit bull terriers (86.8 percent) score higher than Dalmatians (82.7), beagles (80.0) and dachshunds (68.8), although that won’t comfort a 10-year-old whose ear has been ripped off.

Opponents point to the hundreds of cities nationwide that have outlawed ownership of such dogs, beginning with Denver in 1989. Even in anything-goes San Francisco, an ordinance passed in 2005 requires “pit bulls” — the legal definition spans 99 words — be spayed or neutered to curtail aggressiveness.

One thing all can agree on is the important role owners play. A dog’s behavior generally is a product of the training and treatment it receives. Find a neglectful pit bull owner, and you’ll find an ill-behaved dog at the end of his leash.

“Socialization is important with any companion animal,” Golphin said, “especially with one that has the potential for causing as much damage as large canines can.”

Cleary believes too many factors affect a dog’s disposition to blame the breed or pass sweeping laws. He cited a 2012 report by the American Veterinary Medical Association that surveyed 40 years of dog-bite studies in Europe and North America: “They reported there is no breed or kind of dog that we should consider disproportionately dangerous.”

He thinks the media focus excessive attention on sporadic attacks. (You know how the media is.) Circumstance and environment shapes a dog’s temperament, not genetics. You’re just as likely to get bitten by a Yorkshire terrier as a pit bull.

Maybe that’s so. But the results of those bites can be terrifyingly different. That’s why the pit bull debate won’t go soon away.

Contact Tom Barnidge at

Protecting dogs from Lyme disease starts with your veterinarian

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

ticksLyme disease in humans is garnering attention lately because it’s often misdiagnosed, but veterinarian Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer at Animal Medical Center in New York, reminds dog owners that canines are also susceptible to the disease. Protection begins with a conversation with a veterinarian, and a preventive vaccine is available. Dale’s Pet World blog

Lyme Disease is getting more pub – how it’s being underdiagnosed in people. Dr. Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer of Animal Medical Center in New York City notes we can do more to protect our dogs than we can to protect ourselves. From my national radio show Steve Dale’s Pet World, listen HERE to Dr. Goldstien explain that Lyme isn’t any longer only associated with New England, it’s spreaded West and South and it continues to spread – even to places like in downtown Chicago!

The key is for veterinarians to screen for Lyme, for starters. Protection depends on where you are, but don’t guess at what you should do (you may guess wrong), ask your veterinarian. A vaccine is also available.

Lyme is most often transmitted to dogs in the fall – so it’s certainly not too late in the year to think about protection. Learn more through this website about dogs and ticks and tick disease.