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Archive for December, 2008

Wherefore art thou, Romeo?

Firefighters in Plum, Pennsylvania said they used an industrial-strength vacuum to pull a Shih Tzu puppy — a family’s Christmas gift — from the bottom of an abandoned well.

The pup, named Romeo, fell into the well — actually a narrow drainage pipe — during the weekend.

After three hours trying to rescue him, firefighters hooked up an industrial-strength vacuum, latched on to Romeo’s leg and hoisted him out, Pittsburgh television station WPXI reported. You can see a video here.

“It was a miracle,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jim Scuffle.

The pup wasn’t breathing when it came came out of the well, but firefighters performed mouth-to-snout resuscitation on the way to veterinarian and Romeo awakened and started to breath on its own.

The veterinarian gave the puppy a clean bill of health.

Prepare your dog for a not so silent night

Whether you plan to revel or spend a quiet (yeah, right) evening at home, don’t forget that there are some steps you can take to help your dog get through tonight’s fireworks.

New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July always see a surge in lost animals, many of whom run off because they are so stressed by the noise. (Some say the smell of fireworks — their noses, like their ears, being far more sensitve than ours — bothers dogs as well.)

Some last-minute tips:

  • Unless your dog has been gradually desensitized to the point that he can handle fireworks — and maybe even if he has — it’s best to leave him at home. Don’t take him to fireworks displays, or even outside during periods of peak boomage.
  • Make sure — right now — that your dog is wearing his collar, and that his ID tags are on it.
  • Find a quiet, secure place for him to hang out indoors. If your dog has a crate, make sure he has access to it, and to some toys that can occupy his attention. Close the curtains, turn up the radio or TV.
  • Don’t leave your dog outside — even in a fenced yard. Fireworks could stress him out to the point that he might leap over or tunnel under what he normally wouldn’t. Remember that, even inside, the noise may lead to uncharacteristic behavior.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in a car, especially tonight.
  • If you’re going out, make sure there’s nothing he can get into, tear up, or hurt himself on. 
  • If you’re staying home, fight the temptation to cuddle your frightened dog for the duration, as it only reinforces wimpy behavior. It’s OK to pet him, but it’s better to distract him with a physical activity than to spend hours cooing poor baby to him on your lap.
  • Don’t scold him for his nervous reaction, as that will only confuse him. It helps if you act unbothered by the noise.

OK, now you can revel.

(Image courtesy of North Shore Animal League)

Baltimore’s “Vick dog” lands on SI cover

Jasmine — the pit bull who went from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation to life with a young family of four in suburban Baltimore — graces the cover of this month’s Sports Illustrated.

One of three Vick dogs turned over to the Baltimore rescue organization Recycled Love for rehabilitation, Jasmine ended up in the home of Catalina Stirling, a 35-year-old artist and Recycled Love volunteer who, upon first meeting Jasmine, crawled into the cage where the dog cowered beneath a blanket.

The Sports Illustrated article looks at what has become of the 51 dogs seized from Vick’s Virginia estate — dogs that even some animal welfare organizations were saying had been so brutalized that euthanasia, not rehabilitation, was the only solution.

Jasmine was likely born at Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels and, because of her youth, was a “bait dog,” used to provide practice matches for the fighting dogs, spending the rest of the time chained to a car axle in the nearby woods.

During evaluations of the Vick dogs, Jasmine was being considered for sanctuary with Best Friends in Utah, where the most severely traumatized dogs were sent, when Recycled Love volunteers went to see her and the other dogs being held at the Washington (DC) Animal Rescue League.

Stirling, seeing the dog under the blanket, crawled into the cage and began massaging and whispering to her, and Jasmine seemed to respond. The dog was turned over to Recycled Love, then sent to live with Stirling, her husband, two young children, two other dogs and a cat.

For months, Jasmine sat in her cage in Stirling’s house and refused to come out. “I had to pick her up and carry her outside so she could go to the bathroom,” Stirling says. “She wouldn’t even stand up until I had walked away. There’s a little hole in the yard, and once she was done, she would go lie in the hole.”

It was almost four months before Jasmine would get out of the cage by herself. Visits from another Vick dog living in Maryland, Sweet Pea, helped draw Jasmine out of her shell — enough so that after six months Stirling could finally take both dogs for a walk in a park near her house.

Jasmine is still fearful, the article says. She almost always walks with her head and tail down. She won’t let anyone approach her from behind, and she still spends most of the day in her pen, sitting there quietly, even thought the door is open.

In the end, 47 of the 51 Vick dogs were saved. Two died while in the shelters. One was destroyed because it was too violent; and another was euthanized for medical reasons. Twenty-two dogs went to Best Friends. The other 25 have been spread around the country. Ten went to California with BAD RAP. Fourteen of the 25 have been placed in permanent homes, and the rest are in foster care.

(To  learn more about the Vick dogs, you can check out ohmidog!’s earlier incarnation, Mutts.)

New therapy treats dogs with their stem cells

A German shepherd named Schultz has been having his own fat cells removed, shipped to San Diego to have the stem cells extracted, then having those injected back into his hips to treat dysplasia.

The experimental therapy, being tested by several veterinarians in western Pennsylvania, is promising, but expensive: Depending on how many joints need injections, the cost ranges from $2,400 to $3,000.

But, as veterinarian Mike Hutchinson, owner of Animal General, points out in a recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article, that’s still less than half the cost of hip replacement surgery.

“Basically, we make an incision behind the dog’s shoulder and take out a couple teaspoons of fat,” Hutchinson said  “We pack it up and ship it to Vet-Stem, they separate out the stem cells, send them back to us and we inject the cells back into the dog, where he needs them.”

Read more »

European ban on dog fur takes effect

(Warning: This video contains graphic and disturbing images)

A total ban on dog and cat fur goes into effect tomorrow across Europe.

The ban, endorsed by European Union governments in 2007, prohibits trading in dog and cat fur in the 27 EU countries from the start of 2009. (Five countries have already unilaterally banned the trade – Italy, Denmark, France, Belgium and Greece.)

“The ban comes just in time as I understand there is something of a revival in fur in the fashion world,” said Struan Stevenson, who campaigned for the ban for nine years. “The onus is now on retailers and others to ensure that such demand doesn’t encourage unscrupulous fur dealers to search for ways to break the law.”

Stevenson said the ban would save the lives of millions of animals slaughtered every year in Asia – mostly in China – to serve a European market. But he warned it was now up to importers and retailers to stay vigilant against a “vile” trade in which cats and dogs are rounded up and often skinned alive.

Humane Society International first exposed the trade nearly a decade ago, revealing evidence of a thriving cat and dog fur market in many European countries including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.

The proposed ban was supported by Heather Mills and her former husband Sir Paul McCartney. Mills collected more than 250,000 signatures in an on-line petition on her web page demanding an EU ban. More celebrity support came from Dennis Erdman, the director of television show “Sex And The City,” who persuaded Hollywood celebrities to write to the European Commission supporting a ban.

The ban follows similar legislation in America and Australia. China continues trading cat and dog fur.

Rapper DMX pleads guilty to animal cruelty

Earl Simmons, better know as rapper DMX, faces at least 90 days in jail after pleading guilty on Tuesday to drug, theft and animal cruelty charges, Arizona prosecutors said.

The Baltimore-born Simmons, 38, pleaded to three felony charges and one misdemeanor count in Maricopa County Superior Court under a deal to settle three criminal cases against him. He also agreed not to own any animals or posses firearms.

His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30.

“I am pleased that this defendant will be held accountable for both his drug and animal cruelty offenses,” said County Attorney Andrew Thomas, in a statement.

The rapper turned actor has been battling legal woes during the past year in Arizona, according to Reuters. In May, he was arrested on drug and animal cruelty charges after sheriff’s deputies raided his home in Phoenix. Authorities found dog carcasses and malnourished pit bulls at the residence.

(Photo: DMX’s album “Year of the Dog… Again”)

Dreadlocked: A prisoner of his own fur

The New Jersey homeowner who found this creature might not have been sure what species had taken refuge in his garage.

It’s fur was so badly matted it could barely move.

The case was reported to the Associated Humane Societies in northern New Jersey, which dispatched an ambulance and brought the neglected dog to its medical facility in Newark.

After some careful shearing, a male poodle emerged.

The dog had been a virtual prisoner in his own fur — barely able to move and see, according to an archived report on the AHS website.

The shearing also revealed an old injury to a rear leg but it didn’t seem to be a problem for the dog, who was named Milton, after the street on which he was found. In March, AHS reported Milton had been adopted.

Founded in 1906, AHS is the largest animal sheltering system in New Jersey, comprising three shelters located in Newark, Forked River, and Tinton Falls. The Forked River facility also includes Popcorn Park Zoo, a sanctuary for abandoned, injured, ill, exploited, abused or elderly wildlife, exotic and farm animals, and birds.

Its website is the latest addition to our blogroll (below the tags on our right side rail). Welcome AHS, and keep up the good work.

(Photos from AHS website)