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Tag: alert

Miracle or not, Gem emerges from the rough

gem

Given this dog’s situation — dumped inside a plastic bag at a recycling plant that processes 400 tons of debris a day, loaded by bulldozer onto a large conveyor belt, and on her way to a chute that would have dropped her 20 feet into a landfill — you  might think nothing short of a miracle would save her.

While there may have been some of that involved, the three-month-old, five-pound poodle puppy has some alert workers to thank as well.

Just yards from the chute, one recycling worker noticed the bag moving. He slammed on the conveyer belt’s emergency brake as another worker climbed onto the belt to remove the dog.

Since named Gem, the dog, rescued — and we do mean rescued — the Friday before Christmas, is recovering from her injuries.

“It’s difficult to imagine how the dog survived this ordeal,” said Robert Reed, a spokesman for Recology, a recycling program in San Francisco that sorts through heavy debris from construction projects, such as concrete, metal and lumber. ”Nothing like this has happened before.”

Reed said the dog was likely thrown, inside the bag, into a bin for construction material, picked up by a garbage truck and hauled to the dump. Once in the dump, the dog likely had large amounts of debris dumped atop her, only to be later scooped up by a bulldozer and end up on the conveyor belt.

While riding along the conveyor belt, Gem went through a shaking process, aimed at removing excess dirt from the debris, and she was yards from passing into the chute when workers stationed along the conveyor belt noticed her.

“I was on the line working on the conveyor belt and there was a black trash bag coming down the line,” Gregory Foster told ABC News. “It had a hole in it and I could see it moving.”

After he activated the belt’s emergency brake, another co-worker climbed up on the belt and pulled the dog — wet, bloody and shaking – out of the bag.

gem1Another worker, Arturo Pena, found a box and blanket, wrapped the dog up and fed her some spare ribs, fried rice and pizza.

The San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control was called, and Gem is now in its care.

“We’re getting a lot of people calling, wanting to adopt her, foster, and offer donations for her care,” a spokesperson said. The agency received more than 100 telephone calls inquiring about the dog in three hours.

Many remain mystified how the dog survived what she did.

“It’s a miracle, it’s a Christmas miracle. That’s what it is,” Pena said.

But we’d give some of the credit to assembly line workers who managed, amid the monotony of their jobs, to stay alert.

And we’d give at least an equal amount to Gem, one plucky little dog.

(Top photo, CBS News; bottom photo, Arturo Pena)

What do marijuana-sniffing dogs and newspaper reporters have in common?

phelan

What’s a working dog to do? You learn your trade, hone your skills, toil away, only to find out that the world around you has evolved to a point where those skills are no longer much appreciated.

It’s why you can’t find a blacksmith too easily nowadays. It’s what happened to the elevator operator, the milkman, and, at least from my biased and disgruntled point of view, the newspaper reporter.

Such too was the case with Phelan, a marijuana-detecting Labrador retriever in the employ of the police department in Lakewood, Colorado.

With the passage by Colorado voters of Initiative 502 — legalizing the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana — the skill Phelan was best known for is no longer much in demand there.

In fact, his  biggest asset has become a liability, the News Tribune reports.

Phelan was handed his pink slip this week and sold to the state Department of Corrections, where, in his new job, his inability to distinguish between marijuana and other drugs won’t be a problem — all drugs being illegal behind bars.

The same story is playing out in Washington state,  where voters also legalized marijuana use, and where police departments are figuring out whether to cease training new dogs in marijuana detection, put their existing dogs through ”pot desensitization” training or just retire them and send them out to pasture, according to the Associated Press.

Take it from me, pasture sucks. Dogs and people, I think, prefer having a mission.

But Phelan’s mission, at least in the two states where moderate amounts of marijuana are now permitted, no longer much needs to be accomplished. Worse yet, alerting to small amounts of marijuana could mess up prosecutions in cases involving other, still illegal, drugs.

Say Phelan alerted to drugs in the trunk of a car. Phelan’s inability to distinguish between heroin and marijuana — or at least specify to his handler to which he is alerting — means any subsequent search by officers could have been based on Phelan detecting an entirely legal drug, in an entirely legal amount.

That means the “probable cause” the search was based on might not have really existed, and that means any evidence of illegal drugs subsequently found in the search would likely be tossed out.

Thus Phelan, unless he were to be retrained to drop marijuana-detecting from his repertoire — not easily accomplished — has ended up going from cutting edge law enforcement tool to an old school has been.

Drug detecting dogs — traditionally trained to alert to the smell of marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and cocaine –  can’t specify what they’re smelling, much less the quantity it might be in.

In Washington, the new law decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of the drug for individuals over 21, and barred the growth and distribution of marijuana outside the state-approved system.

Dog trainer Fred Helfers, of the Pacific Northwest Detection Dog Association, said abandoning pot training is a “knee-jerk” reaction: “What about trafficking? What about people who have more than an ounce?” Still, he’s helping departments who want to put their dogs through ”extinction training” to change what substances dogs alert to. That takes about 30 days, followed by a prolonged period of reinforcement.

The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission removed detecting marijuana from its canine team certification standards this year, and no longer requires dogs be trained to detect it, but some others say, given large amounts of pot are still illegal, it can still be a useful skill for a dog to have.

In Pierce County, prosecutor Mark Lindquist believes new dogs are the answer — dogs trained in sniffing out the other drugs, but not marijuana. He’s not convinced dogs can be re-trained. “We’ll need new dogs to alert on substances that are illegal,” he told the Associated Press.

Other police departments, like Tacoma’s, aren’t making any changes.

“The dog doesn’t make the arrest, the officer does,” said spokesperson Loretta Cool. “A canine alert is just one piece of evidence an officer considers when determining whether a crime has been committed.”

Phelan was one of two drug-sniffing dogs on the police force in Lakewood, Colorado. He’ll be replaced by Kira, a Belgian Malinois  who was trained not to alert when she smells marijuana. Duke, a Labrador retriever mix with the old-school training, will remain on the force for now.

Phelan, though, will be moving on, and I sympathize with the crime-fighting Lab.

His new gig in the slammer is clearly a step down the career ladder — not unlike going from being a newspaper reporter detecting corruption and injustice to an unpaid blogger who mostly (but not entirely) regurgitates material already written.

And, for Phelan, there’s the added insult of being sold for the lowly sum of one dollar.

Surely — old school as his talents may be – he was worth more than that.

Pig ears recalled amid Salmonella fears

 Jones Natural Chews Co of Rockford, Illinois,  is recalling 2,705 boxes of pig ears after random tests found some of the product contaminated with Salmonella, the Food and Drug Administration reports.

The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by Washington State Department of Agriculture which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria.

No illnesses have been reported.

The pig ears in question — also sold under the Blain’s Farm and Fleet and Country Butcher brands — were distributed in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. They were shipped to distributors and retailers between September 15, 2010 and November 2, 2010

Consumers who have purchased any of these pig ears are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-481-2663

Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If your pet consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

To see a full list of the recalled lots, keep reading. Read more »

Hartz recalls Beef Treats

Hartz Mountain Corp. has issued a voluntary recall of nearly 75,000 bags of dog treats because of concerns about salmonella.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration detected the presence of salmonella organisms in one or more 8-ounce bags of Hartz Naturals Real Beef Treats during random testing.

The company, based in Secaucus, New Jersey, has not received any reports of animals or people becoming ill as a result of contact with the treats, and is investigating the source of the contamination.

The affected treats are stamped with the lot code BZ0969101E, according to the FDA.

Dog owners who have purchased the recalled treats should immediately throw them away, and the FDA advises dog owners whose pets are exhibiting fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea to seek veterinary assistance.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall should contact Hartz at 1-800-275-1414. You can read the company’s press release about the recall here.

Merrick expands dog treat recall

Merrick Pet Care Inc. of Amarillo, Texas, has expanded its dog treats recall to include all lots of the two products – Beef Filet Squares for Dogs and Texas Hold’ems treats.

The treats come in 10-ounce packages and were shipped to distributors and retailers throughout the United States, according to Merrick.

While the expanded recall is based on salmonella concerns, no illnesses related to the product have been reported.

Merrick issued limited recalls of its Beef Filet Squares and Texas Hold’ems treats in July and August after samples turned up positive for salmonella.

Pets with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans, according to the company.

Dog owners are urged to contact their veterinarian if their pet has consumed the recalled product and is exhibiting symptoms.

Consumers who have purchased 10-ounce packages of Beef Filet Squares for Dogs and Texas Hold’ems are urged to return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 800-664-7387, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT.

More warnings required on flea, tick products

promerisAmid an increasing number of reports of deaths and seizures, the Environmental Protection Agency is requiring beefed up labeling for flea and tick products used on dogs and cats.

The EPA wants companies to make instructions on the products’ labels more clear so people don’t give their pets too much of the pesticides, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The announcement affects most flea and tick products that are applied directly to a pets’ skin.

The products include those made by Merck & Co., Bayer AG and Pfizer Inc. under the names Frontline Top Spot for Dogs, Promeris Canine Flea Control and Enforcer Flea Drops for Cats.frontline

The EPA said the number of reports of pets suffering from these products continues to rise. In 2008, the EPA received 44,000 reports of adverse events from these products, a 53% increase from the year before.

Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, said the labels are to blame, not consumers. “I don’t know how you would blame the victim in this case when the label isn’t clear,” he said.

Owens said in some instances, people don’t realize they need to regulate the dose based on their pet’s weight. He said the EPA will require more precise dosing on the product labels.

Companies that don’t voluntarily update the labels will be forced to, Owens said.

Dogs recognized for their acts of valor

dogs_of_valor_finalist_kenaiThe Humane Society of the United States has announced the Valor Dog of the Year” – Kenai, a Bernese mountain dog mix from Erie, Colo.,who awakened her owner to alert him to a carbon monoxide leak in the vacation home where he, six other adults, two children, and three dogs were sleeping.

The awards celebrate the human-animal bond by honoring dogs who have exhibited an extraordinary sense of courage or resolve by heroically helping a person in need.

“Dogs are our friends, but they can also be our saviors,” said HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle, “and the list of 100 nominees provides plenty of support for that proposition.”

The Valor Dog of the Year was chosen by a panel of celebrities including: film and television actor Kristin Bell, from the TV show “Heroes;” Sally Pressman, whose character on Lifetime’s “Army Wives” adopted a stray dog who saved a soldier’s life in Iraq; and Jay Kopelman, a retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel who brought a puppy back from Iraq and wrote “From Bagdad With Love” recalling the experience.

First runner up and winner of the “People’s Hero” award, chosen by online voting, went to Calamity Jane, a golden retriever mix from Aledo, Texas who scared away intruders by barking and growling outside a home where a family and their guests had been held at gunpoint for nearly an hour.

Benson, a golden retriever from Binghamton, N.Y. was named Second Runner Up for barking and alerting his owners to a fire across the street, giving them time to run to their neighbor’s and awaken the family before the house was consumed by flames.

The winners will receive prizes from Bella Tocca Tags, Custom Glass Etching, and The HSUS’ online store, Humane Domain.

To read the complete stories of this year’s Dogs of Valor, visit: humanesociety.org/dogsofvalor.

FDA reviewing complaints about dog treats

boneReal Ham Bone for Dogs — dog treats made in Missouri from the femurs of pigs — are under review by the Food and Drug Administration after complaints of them causing serious injury and death in dogs.

If warranted, an FDA spokesman said, the FDA will take appropriate action and notify the public, the Associated Press reported.

The product — a smoked pig femur sold as a dog treat or chew bone — is distributed nationally under the Dynamic Pet Products label of Frick’s Quality Meats in Washington, Mo.

The company said Thursday it was saddened to learn of the illnesses and deaths of customers’ pets, and that quality and safety remain priorities. The packaging contains a warning about the product not being for all dogs, and the possibility that it could splinter.”

“That is why every package contains a label that provides detailed instructions to owners on how they can help their pets best enjoy our products,” the company said in a statement. “We strongly encourage owners to supervise their pets with any treats or snacks.”

The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis said consumers have complained about the bones splintering, and pieces  obstructing dogs’ intestines. Consumers reported their dogs had become lethargic or were vomiting. One man came home to find his dog dead, bleeding from the mouth.

Best wiener in a supporting roll: Jojo

jojo

 
A persistent dachschund saved a Washington family from a potentially damaging fire in their mobile home Sunday.

A 3-year-old dachshund named JoJo — who the family took home after finding him as a stray — is being credited for trying to shove 11-year-old Kalen Huntley out of her bed and alerting her parents to an electrical fire smoldering behind an outlet on her bedroom wall.

“Our dog saved our house,” Diane Urquhart, who lives in a mobile home park in Kennewick with her husband, Colt, and four of their five children, told the Tri-City Herald.

The couple and three of the kids were home early Sunday when JoJo, who normally sleeps in their daughter Kalen’s room, began repeatedly coming out the room and approaching the adults.

“He came out to see us four times, then kept going back into our daughter’s room,” Mrs. Urquhart said. On top of that, his ears weren’t in their happy position, she said.

“These ears we did not recognize,” she said. “And his face, if a dog can look worried, he looked worried.”

When she went into her daughter’s room, she smelled burning rubber and saw the dog nudging her sleeping daughter with his nose.

They called 911, and got everybody out of the house, taking their two cats and JoJo.

Urquhart said the wall at the head of her daughter’s bed was hot. Firefighters told the family the outlet, which had a lamp and alarm clock plugged into it, was minutes away from catching fire. When the family removed the outlet the next day, one side of it was scorched.

(Click here for all of the Wiener Awards.)

(Photo: Courtesy of Tri-City Herald)

FDA issues warning on Merrick beef treats

merrickThe U. S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use Merrick Beef Filet Squares for dogs because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The product was distributed nationwide through retail stores and Internet sales by Merrick Pet Care and they are stamped with a package date of “Best By 11/19/11.”

Although no illnesses associated with these products have been reported, the FDA is advising consumers not to handle or feed them to their pets.

The affected Merrick Beef Filet Squares were packaged in a 10-ounce green, red and tan re-sealable plastic bag. The “best by” date is imprinted on the top portion of the bag, which is torn off when the bag is opened. The FDA recommends that consumers who are unable to determine the “best by” date discontinue use of the product.

In December 2009, the FDA conducted routine testing of Merrick Beef Filet Squares and detected a positive finding for Salmonella. A follow-up inspection found deficiencies in the packaging and manufacturing processes.

Salmonella can affect both humans and animals. People handling dry pet treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the treats or any surfaces exposed to these products.