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Tag: american veterinary medical association

Your dog, too, might be “worthless”

monyaks

It’s bad enough that Barking Hound Village — an upscale day care and boarding facility with locations around Atlanta — is defending itself in Georgia’s Supreme Court by arguing, in part, that a dog that died after being in its care was “worthless.”

What’s even scarier, and more hypocritical, are the organizations that are agreeing with that.

When the case went before the state’s highest court yesterday among the documentation the judges had to consider was a friend of the court brief, filed by the American Kennel Club, the Cat Fanciers’ Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association — all agreeing pets are mere “property” and that courts should award no more than “market value” in cases involving their deaths.

Yes, Barking Hound Village, at least on its website, professes to love your dog — and clearly has no problem charging you $60 a night for said dog to stay in its “presidential suite.”

And yes, veterinarians have no problem with you spending tens of thousands of dollars on your sick dog.

And, for sure, the American Kennel Club is only too happy to see the price of dogs go up, up, up — at least the provably purebred ones whose owners have registered them with the organization.

But your average, paperless pet, in the view of all those “pet-loving” organizations, is worth nothing — at least according to the friend of the court brief.

lolaThe case centers around a dachshund mix named Lola, who was 8 years old when she died of renal failure after her stay at the kennel.

Lola’s owners allege Lola was given medication she wasn’t supposed to receive, and it ultimately led to her death.

Barking Hound Village denies that it is responsible for Lola’s death. And even if it were, its lawyer argue, Lola’s owners should not recover anything more than the dog’s market value — in Lola’s case, since she was adopted from a rescue, exactly zero dollars.

“Their position is that a dog is like a toaster — when you break it, you throw it away and get a new one,” Elizabeth Monyak told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A dog is indeed property under the law, but it’s a different kind of property.”

She and husband Bob Monyak spent $67,000 on veterinary expenses, including regular dialysis treatments for Lola.

Neither are strangers to the courtroom. She works for the state attorney general’s office. He’s also a lawyer, specializing in defending medical malpractice and product liability lawsuits. He argued Lola’s case before the justices on Tuesday.

Both sides have their supporters.

In the brief filed by the AVMA and AKC, the groups argued that considering a pet’s emotional value will lead to exorbitant amounts being awarded to pet owners in wrongful death lawsuits. And that, they all but threaten, would lead to bad things.

“Concerns over expanded liability may cause some services, such as free clinics for spaying and neutering, to close,” the groups said. “Shelters, rescues and other services may no longer afford to take in dogs and other pets … Fewer people will get pets, leaving more pets abandoned in shelters to die.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a brief in support of the Monyaks. It cited industry studies showing U.S. pet owners spent $58 billion on their animals in 2014, including $4.8 billion on pet grooming and boarding.

“It is hypocritical for these businesses, including (Barking Hound Village), to exploit the value of the human-companion bond, while simultaneously arguing that the same should be unrecoverable when that bond is wrongfully — and even intentionally — severed,” the ALDF said.

The Monyaks boarded Lola and their other dog, Callie, at Barking Hound Village in 2012. At that time, Callie had been prescribed Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory for arthritis. The Monyaks contend the kennel incorrectly gave the Rimadyl to Lola.

They further allege that Barking Hound Village knew that a medication error had occurred during Lola’s stay, and the kennel covered it up by destroying evidence and withholding critical information.

They seek to recover expenses for Lola’s veterinary treatment as well as for the value Lola had to their family.

Barking Hound Village denies any wrongdoing. It says both dogs were fine when they left the kennel. And attorneys for the kennel said this in court filings:

“The purchase price of the dachshund was zero dollars, the rescue dog never generated revenue and nothing occurred during the Monyaks’ ownership of the dog that would have increased her market value. The mixed-breed dachshund had no special training or unique characteristics other than that of ‘family dog.'”

We hope the Georgia Supreme Court uses the case of Lola to send a message to those who see dogs as mere “property.”

And we’d love to see an answer to this question, from the kennel, from the AVMA and from the AKC:

If our dogs are so “worthless,” how do you explain the fact that you are getting so rich off of them?

(Photos: Top photo by Branden Camp, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; photo of Lola provided by Monyak family)

Postal service wants to stamp out dog bites

Happy National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

Once again, the U.S. Postal Service — 2,863 of whose letter carriers were bitten last year — is launching its annual dog bite prevention campaign.

And that’s just part of a larger effort aimed at reducing the 4.7 million dog bites that occur each year,  mostly with youngsters as the victims.

Half of all U.S. children will be bitten by a dog by the time they’re high school seniors, says pediatrician Alison Tothy, chairwoman of the committee on injury and poison prevention of the American Academy of Pediatrics Illinois chapter.

The academy, postal service, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and several other groups have joined in the National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 16 – 22) campaign, according to UPI.

Here are the tips the Postal Service provides on avoiding dog bites.

— Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch prey.

— If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.

— Don’t approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.

— If you believe a dog is about to attack, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.

Dog owners, meanwhile, are encouraged to keep dogs inside and away from the door when the postal carrier comes, and to not let children take mail from the carrier in the presence of a dog.

(Photo: Minnesota Historical Society)

New York Times looks at debarking

What do some Westminster show dogs have in common with some drug dealers’ attack dogs?

They’ve been debarked.

The surgical procedure, which critics label outdated and inhumane, has been around for decades, but continues to fall out of favor, especially among younger veterinarians and animal-rights advocates, the New York Times reported this week.

There are no reliable figures on how many dogs have had their vocal cords cut, but veterinarians and other animal experts say that dogs with no bark can  be found in private homes, on the show-dog circuit, and even on the turf of drug dealers, who are said to prefer their attack dogs silent.

David Frei, the longtime co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, acknowledged that some show dogs have  the operation. “There is no question we have some debarked dogs among our entries,” he said.

Many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery on ethical grounds, and some states have banned it, except for therapeutic reasons, including New Jersey. Similar legislation is pending in Massachusetts.

In the surgery, vets anesthetize the dog before cutting its vocal cords, either through the mouth or through an incision in the larynx. Dogs generally recover quickly, veterinarians say, and while they usually can still make sounds, their barks become muffled and raspy.

But Dr. Gary W. Ellison, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida, said the procedure can lead to complications, such as excess scar tissue building up in the throat of dogs, making it difficult to breathe.

Ellison said the procedure is no longer taught at the University of Florida’s veterinary school.

Banfield, the Pet Hospital, with more than 750 veterinary practices across the country, formally banned the surgery last summer.

“Debarking is not a medically necessary procedure,” said Jeffrey S. Klausner, the hospital’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. “We think it’s not humane to the dogs to put them through the surgery and the pain. We just do not think that it should be performed.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that the surgery only be done “after behavioral modification efforts to correct excessive vocalization have failed.”

Norfolk SPCA offers cut rate dog flu vaccine

Concerned that cases of a highly contagious dog flu might be on the rise in Virginia, the Norfolk SPCA has vaccinated its shelter residents and is offering the two-shot vaccine series to local dogs for $45.

The H3N8 influenza virus is fatal to about 5 percent of dogs that catch it, the SPCA said in a news release. Symptoms include persistent sneezing and sniffling, coughing with a yellow discharge, and unusual fatigue.

The SPCA said suspected cases have been reported in Williamsburg and at the Norfolk Animal Care Center, the city’s animal shelter.

“If a dog sneezes and another dog walks by, he can catch it – that’s how contagious it is,” said Michelle Williams, SPCA director of donor and community relations.

All 70 dogs housed at the SPCA’s shelter have been given the vaccine, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Barbara Hays, manager of the Animal Care Center, told the newspaper that tests haven’t come back yet on a dog in its care that died after being adopted. Although no other dogs have gotten sick, the shelter limited contact with outside dogs for about a week but isn’t vaccinating dogs, she said.

H3N8 is a type A influenza that is suspected to have started at a Florida greyhound track and has spread to 30 states. As of last year, 1,079 cases had been confirmed, Tampa Bay Online recently reported.

Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, though only about 80 percent will develop symptoms, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The AVMA recommends that people who work with dogs in shelters, kennels and dog day care centers wash their hands when they arrive, and before and after handing any dogs.

For an AVMA fact sheet about canine influenza, click here.

Banfield ceases docking, cropping, debarking

DSC03408Banfield, the largest network of animal hospitals in the nation, has announced it will no longer do tail docking, ear cropping or devocalization on dogs — unless medically necessary.

The announcement drew praise from the Humane Society of the United States, and other animal welfare groups.

Headquartered in Portland, Ore., Banfield is the nation’s largest general veterinary practice, with more than 730 hospitals and 2,000 veterinarians nationwide.

Tail docking and ear cropping have become increasingly controversial over the past few years, and last year the American Veterinary Medical Association passed a resolution opposing the procedures when done solely for  cosmetic purposes.

Banfield came out strongly against the procedures, according to USA Today.

“After thoughtful consideration and reviewing medical research, we have determined it is in the best interest of the pets we treat, as well as the overall practice, to discontinue performing these unnecessary cosmetic procedures,” said Karen Faunt, vice president for medical quality advancement. “It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether.”

There have been numerous attempts in several states — opposed by the American Kennel Club — to outlaw the practices.

The AKC says that “as prescribed in certain breed standards, (they) are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health and preventing injuries,” and that “any inference that these procedures are cosmetic and unnecessary is a severe mischaracterization that connotes a lack of respect and knowledge of history and the function of purebred dogs.”

Tail docking involves cutting off the majority of a dog’s tail, generally within days of birth. It’s mostly done on terriers and hunting dogs. Ear cropping involves cutting a notch out of a floppy ear and bandaging it so that it heals in a more upright, “alert” position. It’s done on more than 50 breeds, including boxers, great Danes, schnauzers, Doberman pinchers and terriers.

You can read the full Banfield press release here.

Canine disarming: One family’s experience

One family’s experience with “canine disarming” — a controversial last resort for dogs who haven’t been able to lick the biting habit — was the subject of a first person account in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times.

Dog owner Diane R. Krieger wrote about her dog, Cotton, a six-year-old American Eskimo dog who even “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan couldn’t help,

“I had tried everything. Puppy classes and basic-training at the neighborhood PetSmart. A library of self-help books and videos. Even a pricey dog-aggression expert whose Israeli accent made me want to stand at attention. He ordered counter-conditioning and desensitization drills, supplemented by a low-protein diet and a doggie herbal remedy akin to St. John’s Wort…

“I tried clicker training, high-pitched electronic tones, pepper spray, throwing soda cans filled with rocks. I considered an electric shock collar but worried that in the hands of an amateur … it might do more harm than good.

“Finally, I appealed to the fabled Dog Whisperer.”

Krieger writes that Cotton became calm and submissive — until Millan left.

Running out of options, she considered surrendering the dog, and even euthanasia.

Then she saw an Animal Planet program featuring Dr. David Nielsen, a veterinary dentist based in Manhattan Beach, talking about a miracle fix: “canine disarming.”

Instead of extracting the four canine teeth, Nielsen cuts away 4 millimeters of tooth, then blunts the extra set of pointy incisors. Nielsen says he has “disarmed” some 300 animals in the last dozen years, not all of them dogs.

Kireger notes that Nielsen may be something of a maverick. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that disarming dogs, once fairly common, fell out of favor several years ago as behavioral modification techniques improved. The association is opposed to either tooth removal or disarming.

The American Veterinary Dental College agrees that disarming is controversial, but in a position statement adopted in 2005 it endorsed the procedure in “selected cases.”

Cotton’s reconfigured choppers cost Krieger $1,600, and led to no lasting physical side effects.

Nielsen told Krieger canine disarming does have psychological effects, though. “You can see it in their eyes almost the moment they wake up from the anesthesia. It’s like they’re wondering, ‘who took away my knives?'”

Cotton still bites, Krieger wrote, but inflicts little damage.

Week aims to take a bite out of bites

What do children, the elderly and postal workers have in common?

They are the most frequent victims of the estimated 4.7 million dog bites that occur a year — about  386,000 of which require a trip to the emergency room, and 16 of which prove fatal.

If you haven’t already figured it out, it’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week — time to roll out the sobering statistics, and make the point that, with nothing more than education and common sense, those numbers could be reduced dramatically.

Perhaps the most effective way to do so is by educating children — or educating parents to educate their children — on how to behave around dogs.

“Approximately half of the 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites each year are children. And when a dog bites a child, the victim’s small size makes the bite more likely to result in a severe injury,” says Dr. James O. Cook, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Statistically, children ages 5 to 9 years old are at the highest risk of being bitten followed by adult males.

While many people are under the impression that certain breeds are more likely to bite, the American Veterinary Medical Association says there’s little scientific evidence to support that claim.

Here are some tips on preventing dog bites, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog and scream.
  • Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.