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Tag: australia

Group seeks to ban shock collars in England

shockThe Dogs Trust has launched a campaign to end the use of shock collars in England.

Calling the collars “unnecessary and cruel,” the organization is working to immediately ban their sale.

It is urging members of the public to tweet their representatives in Parliament using the hashtag #ShockinglyLegal.

As part of the campaign, they also plan to hold a “reception” — how civilized! — at the House of Commons where they will ask members of Parliament to sign a letter to the secretary of state backing the proposal.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is already on board, pledging his support to bring an end to a practice he compared to caning a child, the Daily Mail reported.

The Dogs Trust said it conducted a poll that showed most members of the public knew the collars caused dogs pain. Almost a third wrongly thought that the collars, which can continuously shock a dog for 11 seconds, were already banned. Only about 13 percent said they would ever use them.

“The sad reality is that they are still readily available to buy at the click of a button, the organization said. “These torturous devices can send between 100 to 6000 volts to a dog’s neck, and have the capacity to continuously shock a dog for up to 11 terrifying seconds at a time.”

“It is both unnecessary and cruel to resort to the use of these collars on dogs,” said Rachel Casey, director of canine behavior and research at the Dogs Trust.

“This type of device is not only painful for a dog, it can have a serious negative impact on their mental and physical well-being,” she added. “A dog can’t understand when or why it’s being shocked and this can cause it immense distress, with many dogs exhibiting signs of anxiety and worsened behavior as a result.”

Wales, Quebec and parts of Australia — have banned shock collars. There’s a growing chorus of voices trying to prohibit — or at least regulate — the collars in the United States, as well. While no legislation has been passed on the state level, an ordinance in Alexandria, Va., limits their use on public property.

Ruh-roh: Scooby-Doo dog treats end up on the human cookie aisle in Australia


You’d think that — even on the cookie aisle — a mother would think twice before tossing a bag of Scooby Snacks into her grocery cart for the kids.

You’d think that the picture of the famous cartoon dog on the package, and the words “pet food only,” would have given her a clue.

You’d think that, as she loaded the bone-shaped treats into her children’s lunch boxes, she’d realize something was amiss.

But it wasn’t until the kids got home from school and told her they didn’t like the new “choc friendly carob” treats — “yuck, they are disgusting,” they said — that she gave the package a closer look.

That’s when she finally saw they were not only labeled as dog treats but that they promoted “skin and coat health.”

“On closer inspection they are DOG treats,” Tania Toomey, of Sydney, Australia, admitted on Facebook. “It does say that it is pet food only – human friendly but not recommended!”

But she added, “BE CAREFUL the store is very disorganised … Terrible and disgraceful, not to mention dangerous!” she wrote on the store’s Facebook page.

Before we pounce too hard on grocery store management — or the stoner stock boy we imagine was behind the error — consider this.

There are Scooby Snacks for dogs AND Scooby treats for humans, not too mention some other slang applications of the term to describe — Zoinks! — certain illicit drugs.

keeblerscoobygrahamKeebler, a Kellogg’s company, makes bone-shaped Scooby Doo Graham Cracker Sticks for humans, and they come in a box with Scooby pictured on the front.

Betty Crocker, a General Mills company, offers Scooby-Doo Fruit Flavored Snacks — for humans. They come in a box with a big picture of Scooby on the front.

Del Monte makes a version of its dog treat Snausages that goes under the name Scooby Snacks.

Confused? As a rule, if something is called Scooby Snacks (without the “doo”) it is probably a dog snack. If the full name of the dog is used — both the the “Scooby” and the “Doo” — it is likely a human snack, even if it is shaped like a bone and has a large picture of a dog on the box.

Still confused? Well, we all are, but do be careful when asking for Scooby Snacks, because the phrase can also apply to Valium, Vicodin, Quaaludes, and hash or marijuana brownies, according to Urban Dictionary.

Scooby Snacks, in the cartoon show, were consumed by dog and human alike. Some of the show’s cult members/fans are convinced they were actually (well, as “actually” as things can get in a cartoon) weed or hash brownies.

They seemed to be a common solution to many of the problems Scooby and the gang came across. They made everything work out — or at least kept Shaggy and Scooby on an even keel.

We should point out here that dog treats of any type aren’t generally harmful to children or other humans, and that until the makers of rat poisons start appropriating Scooby’s name and image, we are probably safe.

Since the story of the Sydney mom hit social media, many others have admitted to accidentally consuming the dog treats — in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

A father-of-two from the northern beaches in Sydney bought the dog treats for his young boys. He told news.com.au that the dog treats were incorrectly placed in the snack aisle of his local Woolworth’s and he grabbed them quickly without looking at the packet.

groceryaisleAnother posted a photo of Scooby Snacks for dogs clearly pictured next to packets of human snacks in a grocery store.

Woolworths initially stated that the pet food product was only stocked in the pet food aisle.

Then, store officials admitted that a mix-up had occurred and apologized for it.

Comments from social media users indicate that Scooby-labeled snacks have created confusion among many customers and at more than a few stores.

And in their comments, as always, they’re feeling free to pass judgment.

Some social media users have defended the mother as a victim of grocery store error.

Some have pointed out the product is clearly marked as a dog treat and say the mother should have been a little more alert.

Others have inquired as to whether her children have taken to digging in the back yard or scratching behind their ears.

Small dog makes big difference in boy’s life


A little dog has made a big difference for a five-year-old boy with dwarfism.

It was a veterinarian friend who suggested to Quaden Bayles’ mother that their family take a homeless Shih Tzu named Buddy into their home in Brisbane, Australia.

Buddy, 9, has the same condition as Quaden — achondroplasia.

“I couldn’t believe it when she said she had a rescue dog that had achondroplasia,” Quaden’s mother, Yarraka Bayles, told the Daily Mail. “I had no idea the condition affects animals too.”

For years, Quaden Bayles was teased and bullied and, despite receiving counseling, he refused to talk about his condition, or to let any one else in his family mention it, either.

“It’s affected him to the point where he needs counseling because he’s said he wishes he was dead,” his mother said.

Then a vet friend contacted her to say she had a dog she was caring for on behalf of Animal Rescue Qld (ARQ) that her son should meet.

“As soon as Quaden saw Buddy, the bond was instant,” Bayles said.

dog-dwaquadenandbuddy2“Quaden now proudly accepts that he’s got dwarfism, because Buddy’s given him that reason to think that it’s cool,” said his mother. “So he tells everyone, ‘My dog has dwarfism like me,’ and it’s the first time we’ve ever, in Quaden’s five years of life, heard him say the word, because we are not allowed to say dwarfism or achondroplasia.”

“… They really are in this journey together and I hope their story helps other people realize it’s cool to be small.”

Quaden suffers from numerous health problems and has had eight surgeries already. He is increasingly relying on a wheelchair because of his weak muscle tone and nerve damage. He is scheduled to have more surgery soon, but Bayles said the hospital has a pet area so Quaden will be able to keep Buddy close during the process.

Buddy has health issues too and the family has to give him medication every day for arthritis – a common complaint with achondroplasia sufferers.

Quaden’s mother now works to raise awareness of the condition that affects 1 in every 30,000 children born in world. She has set up a support group for families with children who have dwarfism called Stand Tall 4 Dwarfism.

Buddy serves as the group’s mascot.

(Photos courtesy of the Bayles family)

Two hearts beating as one? Study suggests, with dogs and owners, it’s almost true

Even though this may be more marketing than science, we can’t help but like the results of this experiment in Australia.

Researchers, in an experiment funded by Pedigree, found that not only do our heart rates lower when we and our pets are together (as everybody knows by now), but they begin to mirror one another.

True, only three dogs and owners were involved in the study. True, the main interest of the company that sponsored it is to sell dog food. And true, what’s new about their findings — how closely the heart rates align — is probably of more poetic than practical use.

But still … It’s good to have a little science (if it can be called that) confirm our feelings of being in sync with our dogs.

In the experiment, three Australian dog owners separated, and then reunited with their pet in a staged but homey setting to see what kind of effect they had on each other’s heart rate.

Both dogs and owners were equipped with heart monitors.

“There was a really strong coherence in the heart rate pattern of both the owner and dog. Upon being reunited within the first minute, each heart rhythm became almost directly aligned and we saw a reduction straight away,” Mia Cobb, canine scientist and demonstration co-conductor told The Huffington Post Australia.

“This project is a really good illustration of what most owners experience every night when they come home from work and are reunited with their companion,” she added.

Depp and his wife apologize to Australia

Johnny Depp’s wife totally out-acted her more famous husband, or at least came across as more sincere, in this video apologizing to the Australian government for sneaking their two Yorkshire terriers into the country without declaring them.

In what more than a few think looks like a hostage video, the couple talks about the importance of Australia’s strict biosecurity laws — aimed at preserving the islands diverse plant and animal life.

“When you disrespect Australian law, they will tell you firmly,” Depp somberly — almost sleepily — intones.

“I am truly sorry that Pistol and Boo were not declared,” says his wife, Amber Heard.

Clearly, this recorded apology was part of a deal reached between the couple’s lawyers and the Australian government. Heard was initially charged with smuggling, conviction of which can carry a 10-year prison sentence, but she pleaded guilty yesterday only to knowingly producing a false or misleading document.

In exchange for that, and the apology, she got little more than a slap on the wrist. She received a one-month “good-behavior bond,” which means she would be fined ($1,000 Australian dollars) only if she broke that bond.

The apology was posted to Facebook by Australia Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, who, after the charges were first filed, suggested that the dogs, if they weren’t “buggered off back to the United States,” might otherwise face being euthanized.

After that, during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Depp called Joyce a “weird, sweaty-pated gut man who decided two five- or six-inch teacup terriers would harm the country in some way.”

Quite a contrast with the apology video, yes?

Depp and Heard failed to filed the proper paperwork when they arrived by private jet last year in Australia, where Depp was filming “Pirates of the Caribbean 5.” Normally, arriving dogs face a quarantine period.

After photos of Depp’s dogs going to a groomer in Australia went public, the government began an investigation into how they entered the country.

Joyce told ABC News that he hopes the recorded apology serves as a warning to future travelers to Australia.

“The more widely viewed it is the more we have people who might be unaware of our biosecurity requirements and, as they come into this nation, they say this is one thing that the Australians are red hot about, biosecurity.”

Might robot dog win Australia’s Got Talent?

I would have no problem with a dog winning Australia’s Got Talent — and, no, that is not any sort of commentary on the amount or quality of talent in Australia — but a robot dog?

PerezHilton.com reports that Erik The Dog — a sassy and highly mobile four-legged hunk o’metal — might be about to win the show this season, which would mark the first time a singing and dancing robotic has won a quarter of a million dollars in a talent contest.

I’m sure at least some of that would go to his partner, Joel Salom, an Australian born circus performer, juggler and comedian.

During the semifinals, Erik joined a team of dancers and sang “I’m Too Sexy.”

PerezHilton.com says hosts Sophie Monk and Kelly Osbourne seem particularly enamored with the robot dog.

Here, in case you haven’t seen enough, is some more Erik, including some not at all exclusive behind the scenes video:

How a Australian journalist in New York became babysitter to an inmate’s dog


When a man in a dirty overcoat stops you on the streets of New York, and begins opening up that overcoat to show you something, your best bet is to walk away quickly.

After all, it could be hot watches he’s trying to unload. He might be dealing drugs. Or maybe he wants to show you something else you really don’t want to see. Guns and body parts come to mind — or at least to the mind of a cynical type.

But journalists are also curious sorts. So when a man approached Jo Jarvis as she hailed a cab, she heard him out long enough to see what was behind his overcoat — a Yorkshire terrier named Tiny.

tinyThe man explained he was about to start serving a prison sentence and that he needed to someone to care for his dog, so he was trying to sell her for $100.

(Hang on now, don’t go judging him quite yet.)

Jarvis, a freelance journalist and meditation teacher from Australia who’s living in Brooklyn, admits that some darker possibilities were the first thing that went through her mind.

“I was immediately concerned. Was he running some sort of illegal puppy farm operation, or had he stolen the dog to make some money?”

Jarvis said she gave the man her phone number — her real number (we guess she is new to New York) — and told him to call the next day if he hadn’t found a new owner.

When he called the next day, Jarvis agreed to take Tiny, but only if she were free and he delivered her to her door.

Two hours later the man, named Jose, was in her kitchen. (Gotta be new to New York.)

jojarvis“It occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t smart to allow someone about to go to jail in my place with the door closed. But strangely I felt very comfortable with Jose and I could see immediately how much he loved the little Yorkshire terrier whose name was Tiny,” Jarvis wrote in an article for News.com.au.

Jose explained to her that he was pleading guilty to a charge that would land him in Rikers Island.

He said it wouldn’t be his first visit there. But he assured her it would be his last.

Jarvis said she didn’t ask Jose what his crime had been.

“As Jose left he asked if he could ring when he got out to see if Tiny was OK. I assured him that was fine and that he could have her back at any time.

“So while Jose’s in Rikers Island, I’m Tiny’s dog sitter. Who knows if he’ll ever come for her. In the meantime, she has fallen on her little feet with her every need met in my Brooklyn loft.”

(Photos from News.com.au)