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Tag: appeal

Without some diversity, English bulldogs could become a breed of the past

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Due to centuries of selective breeding, and the efforts of breeders to keep the breed “pure,” the English bulldog has become so inbred it cannot be returned to health without an infusion of new bloodlines, a genetic study says.

The study, appearing in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, reached the stark conclusion that health issues created by human manipulation of the breed could lead to its doom.

“We tried not to be judgmental in our paper. We just said there’s a problem here, and if you are going to decide to do something about it, this is what you’ve got to work with, said co-author Niels Pedersen of the University of California, Davis.

“If you want to re-build the breed, these are the building blocks you have, but they’re very few. So if you’re using the same old bricks, you’re not going to be able to build a new house.” told the BBC.

Pedersen and colleagues from the Center for Companion Animal Health at UC Davis examined the DNA of 102 registered English Bulldogs and found an alarmingly low level of diversity.

That, they say, is the result of a small initial pool of founding dogs, and “bottlenecks” caused by breeding for “desirable” traits like a big head and a short snout.

Those traits have led to many of the breed’s health problems — difficulty breathing, poor mobility and reproductive issues among them.

The researchers say efforts to return the breed to health by using existing bloodlines alone are “questionable.”

Introducing new bloodlines, from outside the breed, are likely the only solution, but many breeders are resistant to that idea.

“The fastest way to get genetic diversity is to outcross to a breed that looks similar but is genetically distinct… Trying to manipulate diversity from within a breed if it doesn’t have much anyway is really very difficult,” Pedersen said. “If all your dogs are highly related to one another, which ones are you going to pick?”

One possibility suggested by the researchers is the Olde English Bulldogge, a 1970s attempt by an American breeder to recreate the healthier working bulldog that existed in England during the early 1800s.

“The English bulldog has reached the point where popularity can no longer excuse the health problems that the average bulldog endures,” Pedersen said in a statement.

The features of today’s English bulldog are the result of hundreds of years of breeding, but changes to the breed’s traits — flatter face, shorter nose, stubbier legs, more skin folds — have become particularly rapid in recent decades, Pedersen said.

It’s official: Dogs are chick magnets

chick magnetA new study has confirmed what many of us guys already knew, or at least suspected — having a dog can make us more appealing to women.

The study goes a step beyond stating the obvious, though, looking at why that is, and why using a dog as date bait — unfair as it may be — works better for men than women.

Titled “The Roles of Pet Dogs and Cats in Human Courtship and Dating,” the study was published this month in the quarterly research journal Anthrozoos.

It surveyed random Match.com users in the United States who included pet information in their dating profiles. More than 1,200 individuals took part.

The study found women put far more stock in a potential mate’s associations with pets — and particularly dogs —  than men did.

Women were more than twice as likely as men to say they were attracted to someone because he had a dog. They were also twice as likely to judge a date based on how he interacted with his dog.

Why? The researchers hypothesized that it’s probably based on evolutionary instincts. Women tend to seek a partner who they think will make a responsible parent, while men are more likely to look for … well, we all know what they are looking for.

“Put in terms of evolutionary and life-history theory, females allocate a higher proportion of their reproductive effort to parenting while males expend more energy on mating,” the researchers said.

In other words, a man with a dog is seen as a more nurturing and responsible member of his gender and therefore, the line of thinking goes, will make a better daddy.

While dogs may help draw women to a man, the reverse isn’t quite as true, the researchers found.

When women see a guy with a dog, they see a man who is responsible and wants to settle down, and they are charmed. When men see a woman with a dog, they too see a person who is responsible and wants to settle down, and they — or at least the less evolved among them — get scared. Or so the researchers’ theory goes.

As the study noted, men have caught on to the fact that a dog can improve their odds with the opposite sex. Twice as many men as women admitted they’ve used their dog to lure a potential date.

So who’s to know whether that guy in the park playing with his puppy is a nurturing soul, or simply a con man posing as a nurturing soul, using his dog in the same way he might use Axe for men?

Women. That’s who. And I wish them luck.

(Bulldog wearing the Zelda Chick Magnet Halloween costume, from Baxterboo.com)

You won’t be seeing this one at Westminster

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The Federal Trade Commission ruled last week that a “raccoon dog” is not a dog.

More commonly known as the “Asiatic Raccoon,” members of the fox-like species (Nyctereutes procyonoides) are raised and skinned by fur farmers in China, Finland and other countries.

The creature, native to East Asia, is technically a member of the Canidae family, which includes wolves, foxes, coyotes and the domestic dog.

But the FTC, in a 59-page ruling, rejected a bid from animal welfare advocates to have it renamed “Raccoon Dog,” a move aimed at slowing the importation and sales of its fur, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The fur ends up in clothing sold in the U.S., where the Humane Society of the United States has been waging a campaign for years to ban or relabel the product — under the thinking even a cold-hearted wearer of fur wouldn’t wear dog fur.

“To our knowledge, no single furbearing animal has ever before been so mistreated and completely misrepresented to the public,” the HSUS said in a statement in 2008: “Raccoon dogs are not raccoons (Procyon lotor) — they merely have facial markings that resemble raccoons.”

In an update of fur labeling rules, the Federal Trade Commission rejected that argument: “It has rings around its eyes and it climbs trees.” the document said. “The name ‘Asiatic Raccoon’ best identifies this animal for fur consumers.”

Industry leaders praised the decision, saying the anti-fur campaign “relied on confusion, misinformation and the sympathies it created to disparage the fur trade and convince consumers that the fur industry was trading in products made of domestic dog.” The Humane Society, as you’d expect, was less than pleased.

“Here’s an example of the FTC bending over backwards to accept an industry name made up out of whole cloth, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence and common English usage,” chief program and policy officer Michael Markarian wrote.

“A raccoon dog isn’t a raccoon, just as a kangaroo rat isn’t a kangaroo — and the FTC should know the difference.”

(Photo: Zumapress.com via the Wall Street Journal)

Fired firefighter walks out of appeal hearing

An Ohio firefighter who was fired for executing his two dogs walked out of an appeal hearing yesterday in which he was seeking to get his job back.

As a result, the Civil Service Commission dismissed David Santuomo’s appeal of his firing, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Santuomo, 43, was waiting for the hearing to begin, but left after a television news crew set up a camera in the commission’s hearing room.

“He came here with the intention of going forward but changed his mind,” said Barbara McGrath, the commission’s executive director. The commission had agreed to postpone the original hearing in the fall and informed Santuomo that his appeal would be dismissed if he didn’t attend today’s hearing.

Santuomo was fired in July after being convicted of two counts of animal cruelty and one count of possession of a criminal tool. Prosecutors say Santuomo tied his two mixed-breed dogs to a pipe in his basement and shot them so he wouldn’t have to put them in a kennel while he went on a vacation cruise with his girlfriend. He dumped the bodies in a trash bin behind his fire station

He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and fined $4,500.

Autistic student’s right to service dog upheld

An autistic student’s right to bring his service dog to school was upheld by an Illinois appeals court last week.

The appeals court upheld a Monroe County court ruling that permitted Carter Kalbfleisch to bring his autism service dog, Corbin, to school. The Columbia School District had appealed the lower court decision.

Instead of following the lower court’s ruling, the district decided it could not meet Carter’s educational needs and sent him to the Illinois Center for Autism, agreeing to pay for his education there, but refusing to pay the cost of trasnporting Carter and the dog to school, according to the Belleville News-Democrat in Illinois.

 “We’re happy that it went our way,” said Chris Kalbfleisch, Carter’s father. “Hopefully the school will change their direction with this. … Hopefully we can move forward and get our son back in school.”

“We hope they come to the realization that the law is the law and they have to follow it,” said Kalbfleisch’s attorney, Clay St. Clair. “Just because you don’t like a law doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow the law. We hope they do what they are supposed to do.”

School and district officials argued the dog would be disruptive, and possibly cause allergic reactions in other students.

The school district has the option of accepting the appellate court’s decision, or appealing the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Councilman’s seized dog stolen from pound

There’s some irony in here somewhere:

In June, Sioux City Councilman Aaron Rochester had his dog seized by authorities after the dog bit a man and was deemed vicious. Under the local dangerous dog ordinance, the dog has to be euthanized.

The councilman appealed Animal Control’s decision twice, and has until Aug. 16 to appeal again. But he said he has no plan to do that, according to an Associated Press story.

Many others came forward to try and save the dog, including someone who came forward with wire cutters, broke into an outdoor kennel at Sioux City Animal Control, and stole the councilman’s dog. No other dogs in adjacent pens were taken — only Jake, the councilman’s 3-year-old yellow Labrador.

Police say there are no suspects, and Rochester was adamant that he didn’t take his dog and has no idea who did.

To top it all off, Rochester is the councilman who led a successful effort last year to ban pit bull terriers from Sioux City, Iowa, saying they were too dangerous.

Violating the dog limit, she finds loophole

Margaret Bucher, the Wheeling, Illinois woman who was instructed to get rid of one of her five dogs because she was over the local dog limit, has wheedled her way out of the requirement.

A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled Monday that she can keep her fifth dog, the suburban Chicago Daily Herald reports.

We first told you about Bucher back in early April, when she appeared before the village board, trying to get an exemption from the rule by bringing a letter of support from her mail carrier, and a letter ”written” by her dogs: “Please let us stay in our home. We are house dogs and live in a clean home. We have to depend on our owner to fight for us. She loves us very, very much.”

The emotional plea fell flat, so Bucher found a technicality.

Bucher was issued two citations, after the meeting, for violating the village’s four-pets-only rule and for not registering all of her dogs. She was facing daily fines of between $50 and $500.

Appearing in court for that, and representing herself, Bucher argued the village ordinance did not specify four pets per household, but instead four pets per person. In that case, she said, since she lives with her 43-year-old daughter, they should be able to keep all five dogs – a Pomeranian, two Maltese, a Shih Tzu, and a Maltese/shih tzu mix — or, for that matter, as many as eight.

After 35 minutes of hearing arguments from both sides, the judge sided with Bucher and advised village officials to rewrite the ordinance if it wants to limit households to four pets.

Bucher, 63, broke out into tears at the ruling. “I just screamed and I just ran and hugged everybody I could find to hug.”

Village officials, meanwhile are considering an appeal, or a rewrite. They’re also considering lowering the limit on pets to three per home in multifamily residential complexes, meaning it would impose a different standard on those who dwell in apartments, condominiums or townhouses.

A relieved Bucher was on her way Monday afternoon to to register her fifth dog, Gizmo, in her daughter’s name. “Gizzy is going to be so excited,” Bucher said. “We’re going to order a pizza. My dogs love cheese pizza.”