Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Magical People-Pet Bond or " complete me."

By Geoff Brown, November & December 2009

The rocket came in fast, maybe 900 feet per second—too fast for anyone to sound the warning siren, and much too fast for all the troops of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force to take cover. It was March 21, 2007, when the 73-millimeter insurgent-launched rocket exploded inside their base in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, right next to Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee and his canine partner, Lex. Lee, a 20-year-old Mississippi native, was gravely wounded by the blast. Lex—a German shepherd trained to sniff out hidden explosives—was also injured, his brown and black fur burned, shrapnel lodged in his back and spine.

Marines on the scene watched as the bleeding Lex climbed on top of Corporal Lee to protect him from further harm. They saw Lex try to revive his master by licking his wounds. And the Marines who rushed to their comrade's side had to peel Lex reluctantly off the young corporal so medics could try to save him. But Corporal Lee's injuries were too severe; he died at a nearby military hospital.

A few days later, two uniformed Marines arrived at the Lee family home in Quitman, Mississippi, to deliver the news of the corporal's death. "After the Marine Corps representative told us everything that happened," recalls Dustin Lee's mother, Rachel (pictured above with Lex), "my next question was—and I'll always remember it—'What about Lex?'

The Marines seemed puzzled. "We're not sure," they said. "We know he's alive. Why?"

"The more we talked, the more I wanted Lex to be at Dustin's funeral," she says. "After hearing that Lex climbed on top of Dustin as they both bled…Lex and Dustin shared a bond, and now that bond is a blood bond. Lex was the last to see my child. I wanted him there at the funeral with me."

What explains this powerful human-animal connection? What makes a wounded dog protect his dying partner—and what makes a grieving mother want that faithful canine companion at her son's funeral?

“Lex was the last to see my child. I wanted him there at the funeral with me.”
—Rachel Lee

Humans have long been fascinated by the other animals with whom we share this planet. Our distant ancestors started painting horses and the fearsome aurochs (which humans would eventually tame and breed into the contemporary cow) on cave walls tens of thousands of years ago. Animals both wild and domesticated adorned ancient pottery and jewelry, and joined our ancestors in their tombs.

Today animals still enchant us, perhaps more so than at any time in history. There are roughly twice as many pets in American households as there are children under 18. Forty years ago Americans owned about 40 million pet dogs and cats in a nation of 200 million people; today our pet population has more than quadrupled, as the human population has grown to 300 million. Sentimental books such as Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World and Marley & Me have become New York Times bestsellers. We knit for our dogs and serve lobster to our cats. And when our pets become ill, we're ever more willing to spring for veterinary care. Ailments that used to be death warrants—cancer, a broken hip, kidney failure—are now often successfully treated. "When I first went into practice [in the late 1980s], ten was pretty old for a Labrador or golden retriever," says Jeff Wells, D.V.M., the author of All My Patients Have Tales. "Now I often see those breeds at 14, 15 years old."

But even though we've benefited from the loyalty, intelligence, and labor of animals for thousands of years, humans are only beginning to understand why we feel such strong attachments to specific members of other species. Over the past ten years intriguing studies have started to reveal the evolutionary, social, and biochemical reasons that people and animals are such fast friends—and offer the rudiments of an explanation for the amazing phenomenon of animal heroism.

Winnie, domestic shorthair, 16, with the Keeslings

"The deputy sheriff told me that if Winnie had waited five more minutes to wake us up, we'd all be dead."
—Cathy Keesling

Early Spring floods in 2007 had inundated the flat neighborhoods and farms around the eastern Indiana house of the Keesling family. Their home's basement had taken on some 30,000 gallons of water, and a gasoline pump had been set up to empty it. After the family went to bed, a crack in the pump's venting system caused carbon monoxide to pour into the home's heat ducts.

Cathy Keesling had closed all the windows in the house, save one on the first floor where Winnie, the gray-and-black-striped cat the family had rescued from a barn years before, was sleeping. When deadly gas filled the house, Cathy's teenage son, Michael, fell unconscious in the hallway. Cathy and her husband, Eric, were slowly sinking into unconsciousness as well. Winnie had been breathing the clear night air, so she was the only living creature in the house that could tell something was wrong. But rather than escaping through the open window, Winnie raced over to Cathy.

"Winnie was pulling my hair and yowling in my ear," Cathy recalls of her normally mellow cat's unusual behavior. "I would wake up and pass out again. Every time I passed out, Winnie would wake me up again."

Cathy managed to rouse herself and dial 911, but the gas knocked her out before she could tell the operator what was going on. The dispatcher sent out a state trooper and sheriff's deputies, who dragged the family onto the porch and into the fresh air. A firefighter found Winnie in a closet.

Everyone recovered after many hours in the hospital, where the dire nature of their situation became clear. "The deputy sheriff told me that if Winnie had waited five more minutes to get us up, we'd all be dead," Cathy Keesling says. "I'm so proud of her.

"I guess because we saved her life, she saved ours."

In 1987 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a workshop on the health benefits of owning pets: at that time there were a few scientific papers on the subject, including a study that proved pets boosted survival rates for coronary care unit patients. By last year, when the NIH held a workshop on how pets help people, new findings had proliferated, though in many cases they simply validated what people have known about pets for centuries. One study showed that dog ownership promotes regular exercise. Another found that being near a pet lowers its owner's blood pressure (an effect that family members, no matter how beloved, can't match).

More surprising were new data on the key role of chemistry in the relationship. When a person interacts with a pet, the central nervous system releases several hormones that cause feelings of pleasure—and one hormone in particular, oxytocin, appears to play a major role in reinforcing the bond. Produced by new mammalian mothers to encourage bonding with their offspring, oxytocin creates a sense of warmth, nurturing, and calm. In 2002 two South African researchers measured oxytocin levels not only in humans petting dogs but in the dogs themselves: the dogs experienced the same chemical releases and calming effects as did the humans. Researchers are still unclear about the exact role of these chemicals, though when two different species can produce feelings of peace, closeness, and contentment in each other, it's clearly an intriguing find.

Kid, American quarterhorse, 40, with Jeremy Hardin
"The horse got depressed, really hung his head low. But after Jeremy rode him, Kid basically announced, 'I'm back in business, baby!' "
—Karen Grindler

Karen Grindler has seen firsthand the bond's healing effect—on both people and animals. Grindler runs the Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center in Columbia, Missouri, where people with disabilities gain physical mobility and massive improvements in mood simply by riding horses. Grindler is full of tales about riders who have learned to walk again, or even just smile again, after a few weeks on horseback, whether it's loops around the paddock or a leisurely clop through the countryside.

Most dramatically, she tells the story of Kid, a 40-year-old horse (one of the oldest in the country) that has lived at Cedar Creek since 1997. "I tried to retire Kid in 2006," she says. "He was 37. Kid got depressed, really hung his head low." Soon enough, a young man named Jeremy Hardin arrived at the center. Lately, his cerebral palsy had begun to require that he take frequent rest breaks during a ride, which was difficult for Grindler's younger horses. "I pulled Kid out of pasture," Grindler recalls, "because I knew he wouldn't mind stopping.

"The next day," she continues, "Kid trotted right into the feed area, spun himself around, and basically announced, 'I'm back in business, baby!' I think the horses know they're helping. I see them arc their necks and look back at the rider. I think they like their work." Jeremy doesn't speak, but his parents say he loves his time with Kid. "He's smiling all the time" as he rides, says his mother, Debbie Hardin.

Science can't yet fully explain such anecdotes, says James Serpell, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. Nor can it explain why certain animals and certain humans prefer each other. "The mechanisms [of the human-animal bond] aren't very well understood," Serpell says. "There's been so little serious research, which is surprising when you think how big a part of people's lives companion animals are. The bond is consistently under-appreciated by the powers that be," that is, the funders of experiments.

What is clear is that animals have adapted to fill a changing—but still key—role in society. Dogs that once guarded us as we slept around the fire pit now watch intently as we spend hours creating PowerPoint presentations. "That bond is there all the time," says Cesar Millan, the National Geographic Channel's Dog Whisperer. "Even when you are sitting quietly in the family room at the end of a long day, watching TV with your dog lying at your feet, that connection exists; you're still feeding it."

One canine trait that has evolved into something potentially quite significant is dogs' acute sense of smell (10,000 to 100,000 times more keen than our own cut-rate olfactory capacity), which once helped humans track down prey. Today trained dogs can detect bladder cancer just by sniffing a urine sample; humans must perform complex analyses to find the disease. And Sadie, a brown Labrador retriever in Arizona with a nose for accelerants, makes the job of arson investigators much easier. "As soon as people see the dog, they confess," a fire-department officer told The Arizona Republic in 2008. "You can't lie to the dog when she sits down in front of you, because she smells gasoline on your hands."

Service pets warn chronic seizure sufferers of an oncoming attack with a paw thump or a bark; animals can sense chemical-odor changes that humans cannot. In 2006 a three-year-old Florida beagle named Belle saw her owner collapse in a severe diabetic seizure; Belle held down the 9 on the phone with her teeth, as she'd been trained to do. The phone automatically dialed 911, and paramedics arrived in time to save her owner.

Charley, West Highland white terrier, 4, with Roy Monie

"It was a miracle" that Charley found Roy Monie, who had fallen off a ladder. "God put us there for a reason."
—Frances Gippert

But there's more to the connection than training. Four-year-old Charley, a West Highland white terrier in Atlanta, is not a search-and-rescue dog. In fact, when Charley made his lifesaving rescue last year, his owner wasn't even aware that anyone needed help. One August day the little dog began urgently pacing and barking to be let out of the house. Owner Frances Gippert clicked Charley's leash onto his collar and opened the front door. He dragged her away from their usual route and toward a yard three doors away, where Roy Monie lay semiconscious and badly bruised. Monie had fallen off a ladder and had suffered a brain hemorrhage. If Charley hadn't found him—no one knows how—so that Gippert could call 911, Monie likely would have died. Since then, Monie and his family have embraced Gippert, who had lost both parents and her sister to cancer. Last year they all celebrated Christmas together. "This whole process has been very emotionally moving for me," says Gippert, who was working from home after a difficult divorce. "It has changed my life. I just wanted to stay in my house, me and Charley," she says. "Roy didn't let that happen."

Despite being shaky from his injuries, Lex, the Marine dog, made it to Corporal Dustin Lee's funeral. He and Dustin's younger brother, Camryn, then 13, even played together for a while (the Lees also have a daughter, Madyson). Several top Marine Corps officers attended the March 2007 service in Quitman, Mississippi, and Rachel Lee had another question for them: "I would like to know how we can adopt Lex." Rachel didn't want Lex to return to service—and into harm's way.

Throughout 2007 Rachel pressed the Marines for an answer. Red tape and regulations thwarted her—as did grief. "I was in a fog," she says of that period. "I don't remember a whole lot. But my dad, my husband, my brothers, they were all pursuing it."

In December 2007 the Lees' phone rang. Rachel answered the call: Lex had been granted an early discharge. The Lees could come to Georgia and pick him up. "It took so many people trying to help," says Dustin's father, Jerome. "The amount of support we had was heartwarming."

The Lees drove seven hours to the Marine Corps base at Albany, Georgia; in a ceremony there on December 21, 2007, Lex was discharged from duty and presented to Rachel and Jerome. State police from Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi provided a rotating escort the entire way home, as did motorcycle groups such as the Christian Motorcyclists Association and the Patriot Guard Riders.

When Lex arrived in Quitman, he made himself right at home. "It was amazing how Lex became part of our family on day one," Jerome says. "Lex had that special bond with Dusty, and part of Dustin is in Lex. It's like he knows where he is and who we are. He wants to help us cope with our grief."

Today, Rachel says, "Lex walks with me everywhere. That's the bond I also feel with Dustin. I look at Lex and I learn so much about working dogs, and their importance. It encourages me to go on. That's what Dustin would have wanted. To take my hand and put it on Lex, it's a healing experience."

Geoff Brown is the author of the guidebook Moon Baltimore.
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MEMPHIS AREA! Animal shelter is being investigated for cruelty! ADOPT NOW!

There are a lot of things I read that make me sick, just sick, but this has to be one of the most disgusting reports of ALL time. People who were supposed to LOVE animals hurt them and starved them. What kind of people did Memphis hire? Don't tell me that there weren't good, kind people who applied for employment at that shelter. A city the size of Memphis should be ASHAMED, TOTALLY ASHAMED!

IF YOU LIVE IN THE TENNESSEE AREA FOR HERE TO CHECK OUT THE ANIMALS AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION.  If I wasn't two days' drive from there I would be on my way NOW to bring one of those sweethearts home with me.

Memphis Animal Services
3456 Tchulahoma Road
Memphis, TN 38118
Phone: (901) 362-5310

ASPCA Forensics Team Sent to Tennessee

posted by: Sharon Seltzer 13 hours ago

The Forensics Team and Emergency Responders from the ASPCA were sent early Tuesday morning - October 27th to assist with an investigation being conducted by law enforcement officers at the City of Memphis Animal Shelter. The request for help came after a raid was made on the shelter by the local sheriff’s department because of allegations of animal cruelty.

The ASPCA Team was called in because of their expertise in collecting forensics evidence for criminal animal abuse cases. Their team is being run by Dr. Melinda Merck, who is a leading forensics veterinarian.

The Memphis Animal Shelter

This municipal shelter which opened its doors in the mid 1950’s is responsible for housing and adopting abandoned and abused pets throughout the entire city of Memphis. Their website states that they hope for a day "... keeping animals safe from mistreatment and abuse. Promoting, motivating and enforcing responsible pet ownership is our number one goal." But ironically, the cats and dogs in this shelter have allegedly suffered severe abuse from the very people who were hired to protect them.

The Investigation

The investigation began earlier this month after District Attorney Bill Gibbons received a tip from a concerned citizen about the conditions at the facility. He ordered a search warrant and contacted the sheriff’s office to conduct the raid.

According to the search warrant, “detectives have learned that some animals have been deprived of food and water while at the Memphis Animal Shelter..” and while in the shelter’s care, “some dogs have been starved to the point of requiring euthanasia.”

The warrant further accuses shelter employees of keeping “dogs that are to be quarantined for rabies with dogs that are not required to be quarantined in the same kennel.”

The ASPCA will scour the animal shelter for possible evidence that hopefully will lead to criminal charges against the facility and its employees. They have set up their “Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit which will help them process the evidence. The unit is equipped with medical equipment that is specially designed for animal patients.

The Emergency Team will focus its responsibility on helping the animals at the shelter. They will see that each pet is examined by a veterinarian and that every animal has a safe and clean living environment. It is unclear yet, if the pets will have to be moved.

“Work like this is central to our mission, and the ASPCA is encouraged that Shelby County is raising its voice against animal cruelty,” said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres.
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ain't we sweet? Freyja PUPPins 'n Mr. Scout Holmes wish you a Happy Howl-o-weenie!

Our momma is makin' us be in a Howl-o-weenie costume contest in the digital division. We is askin' - no, we is beggin' you to please vote fur us so's she doesn't get all sad an' cry-baby on us which is a PURRty pathetic sight. So, if you will, please take the time to go here to Addies K-9 Costume Contest TO VOTE an' over to here at the Halloween Spooktacular where you will need to leave each of us a lil' comment.

Yesh, a lotsa' work but believe us - better than our momma gettin' all wacko on us - not a PURRty sight, trust us☺

Freyja PUPPins, sweet, kind an' gentle. The PURRfect nanny for any little boy or girl.
Mister Scout Holmes, just the right mixture of curiosity an' snooper-vision to get the job done!

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time To Eat The Dog: The Real Guide To Sustainable Living

I find the fact that someone took the time to do the math and then publish the results AND think that anyone would care - I find to be astonishing! This reminds me of the government study about how cow farts contribute to global warming.

Saturday October 24,2009
By Daily Express Reporter

A MEDIUM-sized dog has the same carbon impact as a Toyota Land Cruiser driven 6,000 miles a year, a new book claims.

Time To Eat The Dog: The Real Guide To Sustainable Living also suggests a cat is equivalent to running a Volkswagen Golf.

The findings are based on the amount of land needed to grow food for pets. Even a pair of hamsters do the same damage as running a plasma television, say the book’s authors Robert and Brenda Vale.

But rabbits and chickens were eco-friendly because they provide meat for their owners, while a canary or a goldfish does little harm to the planet, the authors said.

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sign Petition to Ban Canadian Imports of Dog and Cat Fur

There is a LOT of information here and I know it will take a while to read and to digest but PLEASE take the time to do it, please. And when you have read my post, please take the time to sign the online petition to stop the import of dog and cat skins into Canada. In order to stop this horrific practice we have to stop the profit from this barbaric and inhuman practice. And, no, I didn't spell wrong - this practice is INHUMAN not inhumane. There is NO humanity whatsoever in this Chinese industry. ~Mimi

Target: Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz

In an internal memo issued this week, government officials in Canada urged Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz not to ban cat and dog fur imports, arguing that such a ban would weaken Canada's position against the banning of seal products by other countries.

This sentiment goes against the vast majority of Canadians who decry the annual seal hunt and the government's effort to protect the seal fur trade. A recent poll showed that 86 percent of Canadians supported the right of the EU to ban its trade in seal products, while 79 percent opposed the use of government money to defend the commercial seal hunt.*

What's more, a large number of the estimated 2 million dog and cat skins originate in China, where regulations are virtually nonexistent and animal suffering is beyond extreme. And because Canada has no labeling requirements for fur garments, it is nearly impossible for consumers to avoid the cruelty-ridden skins.

The United States and the European Union already prohibit the import of dog and cat fur. Now it's time for Canada to follow suit! Tell Prime Minister Harper and Agriculture Minister Ritz that you do not support the import of cat and dog fur - or the commercial seal slaughter.

Go HERE to sign the petition! Let our voices be heard loud and clear! If you don't want to take the time to sign the petition - read below - if you can - if you don't get sick - if you love your dog or cat. And, if you don't sign the petition, look into your cat or dog's eyes and imagine that someone came into your home, grabbed your companion and skinned it alive.

Dogs and Cats Skinned Alive for Their Fur in China

By Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Washington, D.C. Staff

Just look at the frightened faces!
China has become the world's largest exporter of fur garments in just a few years. Many of the international fur traders, manufacturers, and fashion designers have shifted their business to China, where they can exploit China's cheap labor and the absence of restrictive animal welfare regulations.

China's new ascendance in the fur market—fur trade production and retail—comes with a heavy price for the fur-bearing animals. China apparently has no laws in place to regulate the confinement and slaughter of the raccoon dogs, foxes, minks, rabbits, and even dogs and cats, whose fur is responsible for a highly profitable industry. While conditions of fur farms in the West have been subjected to criticism by animal rights groups, Chinese fur farms and slaughter methods have been alleged to be far more shocking and brutal.

China's fur industry has developed across numerous fur farms over the last 12 years. China's farms number as many as 10,000, where 90% of the skins come from farms with fewer than 50 females, according to the China Leather Industry Association, cited in a report published by Swiss Animal Protection (SAP), Care for the Wild, and East International, (henceforth, called the "SAP report") in January 2005 and updated last month.

Fur farms tend to be concentrated in China's North East. Fur farms in Shandong province hold the highest number of animals, followed by Heilongjiang province and then Jilin province. Hebei province acts as the hub for the marketing of fur. At the Shangcun Market in Hebei province, 35 million fur skins are traded each year, which accounts for over 60% of China's pelt trade. The above information is taken from Chinese industry sources cited in the SAP report.

It was in the Shangcun Market that a 14-minute video was secretly produced in February 2005 by the Swiss Animal Protection SAP which shows the skinning of raccoon dogs, foxes and other animals that are still alive and even struggling (see WARNING: Images may be disturbing to some viewers).

An investigative reporter from the Beijing News observed conditions at the Shangcun Market two months after the video was on the Internet and the report appeared in the online version, April 5, 2005. A spokesperson from the county's Communist Party Committee propaganda department was quoted as saying that the live skinning took place seven or eight years ago but could not happen now. However, the reporter for the Beijing News confirmed that skinning alive of most animals at this largest of fur markets in China was still going on even after it had been exposed earlier.

Slaughtering the Fur Animals in China

The animals are immobilized by being stunned with repeated blows to the head, or by being slammed on the ground. The animals are injured and may convulse, tremble or attempt to crawl away, says the SAP report—this is also shown repeatedly in the video. The skinning may begin while the animal is conscious or regaining consciousness.

"Desperate and writhing in agony, animals conscious during these procedures hopelessly try to defend themselves even to the point where all the skin had been forced off …breathing, heart beat…and eyelid movements were evident for 5 to 10 minutes," describes the SAP report of the video and photos.

The International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF), of which China is a member, deplored the SAP report, arguing that it made sweeping generalizations about the conditions in all of China. "It is wrong to portray all fur farming as the same in China," said the IFTF. Some fur farms are run to western standards, said the IFTF. Conditions will improve for animal welfare in China when fur farmers come to realize that the quality of the pelts improve by employing western standards of animal welfare, and that through education, the situation will correct itself—this is the gist of the IFTF's response.

Fur Trim in Fashion

The fur garments are most commonly sold in the U.S., Europe or Japan as fur-trim on coats, gloves, purses, toys, trinkets, and even furniture. By mixing fur with silk, wool, suede and leather, and employing new manufacturing processes, such as shearing and knitting, and new fashionable colors, fur has attained a new novelty and versatility, according to sources cited in a Care for the Wild International (CWI) report.

"Overall, fur was displayed in greater numbers than in previous years, coming in all colors, shapes and sizes," commented a CNN report on fur's popularity on runways during New York's Fashion Week in February 2005. However, consumers may not have noticed the large increase of fur use in fashion today, because fur-trim is much less conspicuous than the expensive full-length fur coats worn in the past, added that most people would be too embarrassed to wear those today.

U.S. fur sales in 2003 were $1.8 billion, according to the Fur Information Council of America, cited by CWI. "China has become the leading fur garment exporter to the USA, accounting for 40% of total US imports in 2004—the equivalent of $7.9 million," according to the SAP report. However, exact import statistics are difficult to obtain because fur trimmings are not specifically declared to customs, says the SAP report.

Protests Staged in Washington and 35 Cities Worldwide

The Anti-Fur Society of Washington, D.C.—a member of the International Anti-Fur Coalition—disapproves of the cramped wire cages that leave almost no room for the animal to move about. In these cramped quarters, the animals show signs of extreme anxiety and pathological behaviors, according to a report by CWI. The Anti-Fur Society of Washington, D.C. especially objects to the slaughter methods, including the skinning of the animals alive, "which makes China's fur industry the most barbaric in the world," says their press release. Their membership find these practices highly disturbing and horrifying.

The group is also appalled at the frequent use of domestic dog and cat fur. Although against U.S. law, a loophole in customs law and mislabeling permits their use in the U.S., they say. Fur items priced at less than US$150 are not checked by Customs for truthful labeling upon entry. The group contends that unsuspecting customers are purchasing items with dog and cat fur. They claim that even Burlington Coat Factory, Macy's, JC Penny, Nordstrom, Saks and Barneys are selling dog fur as the fur from another species or even labeled as "faux fur."

A UK-based charity, Care for the Wild International (CWI), reported that on Nov 20, 2006, the E.U. banned imports of pelts of dogs and cats. The CWI stated that 5,400 dogs and cats are slaughtered every day in China. "Chinese suppliers offered us entire sheets made of dozens and dozens of cat skins—all in matching color patterns of tabby, ginger, black and white or tabby and white," says Dr Barbara Maas, CWI's Chief Executive.

To protest China's alleged inhumane methods for fur industry animals, members of the Anti-Fur Society of Washington, D.C. on February 13 carried a symbolic casket across the Taft Memorial Bridge, followed by a funeral for the animal victims of the Chinese fur trade in front of the Chinese Embassy at 2300 Connecticut Ave. This demonstration at the Chinese Embassy was one of many that occurred on the same day in over 35 cities worldwide.

The documentary of the gruesome slaughter methods in the Shangcun Market made by the Swiss Animal Protection is often mentioned by the protesters as graphic proof of the barbarity of China's fur industry.

In Switzerland and several European countries, fur farming has been banned due to considerations for the humane treatment of animals. "In their lives and their unspeakable deaths, these animals have been denied the simplest acts of kindness," writes the investigator of the SAP report on conditions of the Chinese fur farms.

The World Fur Industry

Global fur sales in 2005 totaled to $12.8 billion, which was a 9.1% increase from 2004, according to the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF). In 1999, sales were only 8.2 billion and have been rising steadily every year for the last six years.

To get some idea of China's relative place in the industry, in world trade mink production, China takes up 22.4% of the total, which places it behind first place Denmark with 30.3% of the mink production in 2005. Sandy Parker estimates 10 million mink pelts produced in China in 2006, up 25% from 2005. Also, China has become the world's leading exporter of fox and raccoon dog pelts, according to the Sandy Parker Report.

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hallow-BOW-WOW! Professional Tips for Photographing Your Pet in Costume

Courtesy Sam Allen 

It's almost October 31, and that means your pets will soon be tricked out in all their Halloween finery.

Professional animal photographer Sam Allen gives us the following tips for taking great photos of your costumed friend. Patience is key, says Allen, who spoke to from her studio in Portland, Maine. (That’s her yellow Lab, Zoey, impersonating Dracula.) "It takes time to get the photo just how you want it," she explains. Here are her best suggestions:

1. Get comfy. Your pup isn’t necessarily thrilled to wear strange attire. He might try to chew the costume or wriggle it off. So let your pooch sniff the costume, walk around, get used to it. If there are several parts to the costume, put on one at a time. Headgear goes on last.

Comfy also means taking the dog for a walk before your photo session. In the studio, "my dogs can become really antsy," says Allen. Time for a bathroom break!

2. Employ treats. Use food and toys, those major motivators, to snag your pet’s attention. Your animal will likely prick up its ears, cock its head or make its cute face. "It’s bribery, but it works," Allen says.

3. Use natural light. It's best to take photos outdoors on a slightly overcast day. Avoid direct sunlight, which will create harsh shadows. Indoors, take photos in a well-lit room or near a window with indirect light, and use your camera’s flash to further illuminate your subject if necessary.

4. Downplay the background. Position your pet in the middle of a yard or room, not against a wall. Plenty of space behind the pet makes for a softer background. Clear up nearby clutter and distractions.

5. Get the animal’s eye view. Crouch or kneel so you are at your pet's eye level. Or pose your pet on a piece of furniture. Otherwise, you will have a shot of an animal’s head looking up at you, which works only if the costume is a mask or hat.

Then, focus on the face. "Almost any picture of your pet will be good," Allen says, "if the eyes are in focus."

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Thursday, October 15, 2009

♥Farewell Mr Darcy - you were loved, you gave love, you will be missed♥

How long is long enough? How short is too short? Our world has lost a gentle soul in a giant body, Mr Darcy. This young dog - after a valiant battle with wobbler's syndrome - left us to run free in heaven. Please let Mr Darcy's family know that even though he was here for such a short time, his life had great value.

Our presence here on earth is measured in time but our impact here on earth is measured in the heart. Mr Darcy, you touched many hearts. Your impact was immense.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I ♥ a good rescue story: Rescue Dogs Hit the Stage for New '101 Dalmatians Musical' & donations to rescue made by Philadelphia Eagles

Ordinarily I am NOT in favor of any breed of dog or cat making it to Broadway or the big screen because then a bunch of noodle-heads think they want to adopt "that" cat or dog without doing proper research into the breed characteristics and temperament.

That was my first thought when I came upon this article; however, this has a different twist to it and has saved some lives. At the same time, it just may educate a few people about this wonderful breed of dog - that isn't meant for everyone and every family!

It’s been made into a Walt Disney movie and live action film starring Glenn Close, but you’ve never seen the 101 Dalmatians story told quite like this. Embarking on a nationwide tour that kicks off on Oct. 13 in Minneapolis, The 101 Dalmatians Musical is a rousing Broadway-style show featuring 15 real dalmatians who were rescued from shelters and rescue groups across the country.

Staying true to the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith, the musical tells the story — from the dogs’ perspectives — of fictional character Cruella de Vil’s nefarious quest to make a coat from the splendid spotted fur of dalmatians.

Rescue Dogs Hit the Stage for New '101 Dalmatians Musical'
Jeff Sciortino
"All the humans onstage are standing on 15-in. stilts and the set is designed to show the world from the dog’s eye view," the show's producer, Lee Marshall, tells Human actors playing Pongo and Missus, the lead dalmatian characters whose puppies are stolen by Cruella de Vil (played by Rachel York, above), are dressed in stylish, spotted outfits, while similarly dressed children portray the puppies.

"At first, when they asked me to help with the show, I said no," professional animal trainer Joel Slaven says. "When the 101 Dalmatians movie came out [in 1996], everybody saw that movie and ran out and bought a dalmatian without giving it a whole lot of thought, resulting in thousands of the dogs to end up in shelters."

Dalmatians, explains Slaven, are very high-energy dogs who are big and require lots of attention, exercise and a lifetime commitment. "My company [Joel Slaven Professional Animals] is known for taking care of our animals for their whole lives once we adopt them. We use them for a while for entertainment and they are ambassadors for animals in shelters. I’m all about saving animals and finding homes for them."

After talking to the producers and learning that Purina Dog Chow, the show's sponsor, was adamant about using rescue dogs, Slaven agreed to get involved. "We realized it was an opportunity to turn this thing around, and instead of promoting people going out and buying dalmatians for pets, we could actually educate the public on what they need to do if they’re going to get any dog for a pet," says Slaven. (A note slipped into each Playbill distributed to audience members will explain the health-related issues, as well as the time, expense and space required to care for a dalmatian.)

Beginning in January, Slaven and his team of trainers traveled the country for six months, visiting shelters and rescue groups searching for dalmatians. "We were looking for dogs who were confident, secure, social, and not shy or timid," Slaven says. They found 15 dogs with the right stuff. Some of the dogs were emaciated or obese; a few had heartworm. The youngest dalmatian, 9-month-old, Rascal, had a broken leg and was abandoned at a veterinary clinic at just 4 months old. "The owner said, 'I ain’t coming to get him,' " Slaven says. Vets fixed Rascal’s broken leg with a steel pin, and Slaven brought him to live at his training facility in Florida. "It was his personality," Slaven says of why he chose such a young dog. "He was playful and just bouncing off the walls."

For months, Slaven and his five trainers worked with the 15 dogs they had found, devoting most of their initial time to building the dogs’ confidence and bonding with them. In the second phase, trainers began teaching the dogs to perform specific tasks. In The 101 Dalmatians Musical, the dogs take to the stage at the end of Act One and for the show’s finale, in which they cavort in a choreographed set of movements. "I don’t see how this musical is not going to be a big hit," says Slaven.

The show’s lively music is written by Dennis DeYoung, a founding member of the legendary band Styx. "This is not simply a kids' show by any means," DeYoung tells "It’s a show that adults will enjoy because it touches on the idea of true family values. That’s kind of a cliché with some people, but it’s about how families need to love each other and pull together in times of crises."

As The 101 Dalmatians Musical tours the country, the dogs will be riding in style in a giant, purple, customized tour bus outfitted for the animal actors. "There’s no doubt the dogs are having fun," says Slaven, adding that the dogs will be available for adoption after the tour ends. "They’ve never had this before. They didn’t have good lives, never had good veterinary care or relationships with people. It’s nice to see their lives now."

And, if all that good news wasn't enough for you, check this out:

Eagles hand out animal welfare grants

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Months afterfacing criticism for signing convicted dogfighter Michael Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles are making good on a pledge to support animal welfare groups.

The team on Monday unveiled a program called TAWK, which stands for Treating Animals With Kindness. The initiative aims to reduce animal abuse, encourage spaying and neutering and end dogfighting through public education and awareness.

The Eagles awarded grants of $50,000 each to Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, the Humane Society of Berks County and the Humane Society of the United States.

Team spokeswoman Pamela Browner-Crawley says Vick is working with children to discourage them from dogfighting.

My feeling is that this should be a monthly contribution!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tricks 'n Treats Peanut Butter 'n Pumpkin Dog Cookies

Why should the little ones have all the fun this month? Not only are these delicious, they are packed with good things for healthy bodies, too

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix well. Dough should be very stiff. If it's too stiff you can add a little water or applesauce. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch. Cut into desired shapes. You could also make these a little thicker. But you will need to adjust the cooking time. Watch carefully!

Bake in 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes.

Store in air-tight container - that is, if they last that long!