Tag: best friends
For journalists, animal welfare activists and all Americans, accessing information that can help protect animals just got a lot harder.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday abruptly removed inspection reports and other information from its website that keeps tabs on the treatment of animals at research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said court rulings and privacy laws were responsible for the decision, though many suspect President Trump or members of his transition team are behind it.
APHIS said the removed documents, which included records of enforcement actions against violators of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, would now be accessible only through Freedom of Information Act requests.
Those can take up to a year or more to be approved.
The records that had been available were frequently used by animal welfare advocates to monitor government regulation of animal treatment at circuses, research laboratories, zoos and puppy mills.
“The USDA action cloaks even the worst puppy mills in secrecy and allows abusers of Tennessee walking horses, zoo animals and lab animals to hide even the worst track records in animal welfare,” said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
“This move makes it IMPOSSIBLE to find out where animals are located, their treatment and any violations, essentially giving carte blanche to anyone to hide animal violations, and violate animal welfare laws, among other things,” the Beagle Freedom Project said in a statement on Facebook.
The lack of immediately accessible inspection reports is expected to cause problems in seven states that currently require pet stores to source puppies from breeders with clean USDA inspection reports. No longer will they have a quick way to check on that.
In a statement, Kathy Guillermo, the senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, called it “a shameful attempt to keep the public from knowing when and which laws and regulations have been violated. Many federally registered and licensed facilities have long histories of violations that have caused terrible suffering.”
Whether President Trump is directly responsible for the website purging isn’t clear, but one member of his USDA transition team, Brian Klippenstein, has a long history of fighting animal welfare organizations.
Klippenstein is executive director of Protect the Harvest, a group that, among other things, has opposed legislation to regulate puppy mills. The group was started by Forrest Lucas, an oil magnate, cattle rancher and arch nemesis of the Humane Society of the United States.
The change came two days after U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, a California Republican, introduced a bill calling for more transparency and a reduction in testing on animals at government research labs.
The bill is backed by an advocacy group, the White Coat Waste Project, which has been using the USDA-APHIS database to gather much of its information on animal testing at hundreds of federal laboratories.
“There was already a troubling lack of transparency about what happens in government-funded labs,” said Justin Goodman, the group’s vice president for advocacy and policy. “This was a very important resource for us, and for every animal organization, in terms of tracking patterns of animal use and compliance, whether it’s in labs or other settings.”
The USDA web page where the information was located now brings up the announcement about its removal.
The Humane Society of the United States has threatened to sue the Agriculture Department if the decision to block Internet access to the database isn’t reversed.
“We intend to sue them unless they take remedial action here,” Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle told TIME. “The clock starts ticking immediately.”
Up until late last week, the site also allowed dog buyers to look up specific breeders by license number and see any possible violations under the breeder’s name before buying the animal.
“I’m very concerned that there will be no incentive for breeders or research labs or any of these facilities to comply because the public won’t know,” said Elizabeth Oreck, national manager of puppy mill initiatives for Best Friends Animal Society.
“It’s going to impact every species of animals,” she added. “There shouldn’t be any reason to hide inspection reports for a dog breeding facility or a research lab. There shouldn’t be any need to keep from the public how many animals you have [in] your facility or whether or not you’re complying with care standards. That alone is a big red flag for everybody.”
“The posting of these documents has been an invaluable tool in rooting out some of the worst abuses that are occurring,” HSUS CEO Pacelle said. “Essentially, this is now going to give a bit of a get-out-of-jail card to horse soring, puppy mills, delinquent roadside zoos and animals research labs that are flouting the law.”
The Humane Society says the Agriculture Department is required to make its inspection records at animal research facilities public under a court order.
HSUS sued the government in 2005 over public access to the reports and won a settlement in 2009 that directed the Agriculture Department to post certain data on its website related to research on animals. That information, the Humane Society said, was among the data that was just purged from government website.
The USDA did not comment on the Humane Society’s threat of legal action.
In a statement explaining the change late last week, APHIS cited a year-long “comprehensive review” of public information on its website.
“Based on our commitment to being transparent, remaining responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals, APHIS is implementing actions to remove documents it posts on APHIS’ website involving the Horse Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act that contain personal information,” the statement said.
“Going forward, APHIS will remove from its website inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication,” the statement added.
“In 2016, well before the change of Administration, APHIS decided to make adjustments to the posting of regulatory records. In addition, APHIS is currently involved in litigation concerning, among other issues, information posted on the agency’s website. While the agency is vigorously defending against this litigation, in an abundance of caution, the agency is taking additional measures to protect individual privacy. These decisions are not final. Adjustments may be made regarding information appropriate for release and posting.”
Criticism of the change has not been limited to animal welfare activists.
Speaking of Research, an international organization that supports laboratory use of research animals, said in a blog post:
“When information is hidden … the public wonders what is being hidden and why, and researchers must devote even more resources to combating the public perception that they are not transparent.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 8th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: access, administration, agriculture department, animal welfare, animals, aphis, best friends, blocked, breeders, circus, compliance, database, dogs, federal, government, hsus, humane society of the united states, information, investigations, laboratories, monitoring, peta, pets, privacy, protecting, protection, puppy mills, purged, removed, research, searchable, team, transition, transparency, Trump, usda, web page, website, zoos
In case you’re needing to see some sort of silver lining behind those snow clouds that socked the eastern seaboard and paralyzed the northeast this weekend, we offer this.
Kago and Kumbali — a dog and cheetah who have become best friends at the Metro Richmond Zoo — got to play in the snow for the first time during winter storm Jonas.
The zoo was closed Saturday, but a zookeeper let the popular duo run and play in the 7-inch deep snow in a large fenced field.
Kumbali was two weeks old when caretakers at the zoo noticed he was losing weight. The runt of a litter born to zoo cheetahs Khari (the mom) and Hatari (the dad), Kumbali was bottle fed and grew healthier, but having been removed from his litter he needed some companionship.
So the zoo got him a dog.
Kago, a 10-week old Lab mix, had been pulled from a high kill shelter in Alabama by The Art of Paws, an animal rescue group in Florida.
Zoo officials report the two have become inseparable.
Kumbali and Kago can be seen at the zoo Monday to Thursday from 12 to 1 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 12 to 1 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. And you can find their full story here.
Here’s a look at their first meeting, and their younger (snowless) days:
(Photos and videos courtesy of the Metro Richmond Zoo)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: best friends, cheetah, cheetah and dog, companionship, dog, dog and cheetah, first, friends, jonas, kago, kago and kumbali, kumbali, kumbali and kago, metro richmond zoo, play, richmond, richmond zoo, snow, storm, videos, winter, zoo
An orphaned young emu has found a friend at a bird rehabilitation center in Australia.
Edward, the emu, was just a few days old when he was found by a truck driver in a ditch near the West Australian rural town of Nannup.
The truck driver bundled the bird in a flannel shirt and rushed him to the Jamarri bird sanctuary in the town of Jalbarragup.
“He was pretty much comatose when I got him,” Dee Paterson, who operates the sanctuary, told ABC.net. “But he slowly came back, and soon enough he was well enough to sleep outside in a nice warm box.”
This is where Paterson’s dog, Rocky, took a special interest in Edward.
The center primarily rehabilitates black cockatoos, so Rocky was no stranger to birds. For some reason, though, he decided to take Edward under his wing, and the frail bird began taking walks with the little dog.
Before long, Edward began cuddling up next to Rocky for naps.
“They are a great pair and Rocky seems to have taken on the role of dad,” Paterson said. “They do everything together and Edward never lets Rocky out of his sight.”
While Edward is free to leave the property, he so far seems to have no interest in doing so.
“They just seem happy to be in each other’s company,” Paterson said.
(Photos by Anthony Pancia, ABC.net)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 6th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: australia, best friends, bird sanctuary, birds, dee paterson, dog, dog and emu, edward, emu, emu and dog, friends, jamarri, rehabilitation, rocky
A dog belonging to a misunderstood breed has helped a boy with a misunderstood disorder show a previously unseen side of himself, and his mother couldn’t be happier.
Amanda Granados says her son Joey was diagnosed at age 7 with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that contributed to his getting suspended from school six times — all while in kindergarten.
Joey couldn’t sit still. He sometimes struck himself. And he hated being touched by others. His mother says he had never let her hug and kiss him.
While he was a whiz at math and had a near photographic memory, Joey always had difficulty making friends.
“He has a hard time reading social cues or facial expressions, and there’s awkwardness around making friends, said Granados, a 36-year-old single mother of three boys.
Then, a few months ago, the family adopted a pit bull named Roxy from a Los Angeles shelter — and Joey suddenly had the kind of friend you don’t have to make.
As Joey, now 14, explains it, “I didn’t have too many friends growing up, but then we got Roxy and I’ve been able to make friends ever since. At home, I’ve been able to hold my mom’s hand, kiss her, hug her and do a lot of things that I hadn’t been able to do growing up. She’s opened up my heart.”
“I get emotional thinking about it,” his mother said. “For all those years, he wouldn’t hold my hand, he wouldn’t hug me — it was all part of the autism — but this dog has taught him how to give and show affection. He holds my hand now. He hugs me. The first time I got a kiss on the cheek was when Roxy came home.”
A photo on the Internet led Joey to his new best friend. Joey had been asking his mom for a dog, and she saw that the Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles was planning an event where a shelter dog could be adopted for $10.
“We were looking through pictures online, and Roxy’s picture made us fall in love with her,” Granados told Today.com.
“As soon as Roxy met Joey, she totally ignored me and his mother,” said adoptions specialist Denise Landaverde. (That’s her, Roxy and Joey in the photo to the left.) “Amanda was happily surprised to see Roxy go straight to Joey and watch them play together. It just sealed the deal for her.”
Granados said she initially had some qualms due to the bad things she has heard about pit bulls, but seeing her son and Roxy together made those concerns disappear.
“She is literally his best friend,” Granados said. “He can be in the foulest mood, and she comes along and it’s like a light. She doesn’t care about his differences — there’s no judgment with her — she just loves him.”
Joey agreed. “If I’ve been having a bad day, Roxy can hear a tone in my voice,” he said. “She runs up to me to give me a giant hug and lick me to death and do almost anything she can to make me happy.”
Studies have shown that dogs can give children with autism much-needed companionship and help them learn compassion, responsibility and even social skills, such as making eye contact.
What has happened between Joey and Roxy speaks louder than any of those studies, though — or at least it does to Amanda Granados.
Roxy, she agrees, seems to have opened her son’s heart, and she thinks part of it may be because of what they have in common.
“Kids with autism are looked at differently and misunderstood, and so are pit bulls,” Granados said. “I think that’s why they’ve bonded.”
(Top photo courtesy of Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center; photo of Joey and Roxy courtesy of Amanda Granados)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 1st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, amanda granados, animals, aspergers, autism, best friends, Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center, dog, dogs, joey granados, los angeles, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, roxy, shelter
Gracie, one of more than 50 dogs rescued seven years ago from NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dog fighting compound, has died.
The black pit bull spent her final years in an adoptive household in suburban Richmond.
She died Monday morning, according to Amy McCracken, executive director of the Richmond Animal League.
“This morning, little, old, bow-legged Gracie passed away and got her angel wings. Any words we write here could never begin to express the profound, positive and lasting impact that this little, black pit bull had on so many people who encountered her or heard the story of her suffering and triumph,” said a post on the animal’s league’s “Gracie’s Guardians” Facebook page.
“We are and will be forever grateful for this little, broken black dog and everything she personified.”
The dog arrived at the Richmond in 2007 and was adopted by the group’s board president, Sharon Cornett.
“Gracie was very, very friendly,” McCracken told CNN. Gracie had been used as a breeding dog, as opposed to a fighter, in Vick’s operation, she said. “She loved people and was never aggressive to other dogs.”
With her new owner, Gracie attended conferences and meetings about animal welfare and visited schools to show people they have nothing to fear from most pit bulls.
Gracie was one of about 50 pit bulls seized by authorities in April 2007 when Vick, then a quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, was charged with operating an illegal dog-fighting ring, called Bad Newz Kennels, on his Virginia property.
Twenty-two of the dogs were sent for rehabilitation and long-term care at Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, while others went to Bad Rap, a San Francisco pet shelter, and a handful of other shelters and sanctuaries,
Created by the Richmond animal shelter, Gracie’s Guardians is an initiative dedicated to the welfare of pit bulls. The group chose Gracie as their namesake “in tribute to her perseverance and that of countless other pit bulls who have suffered or continue to suffer at the hands of people, yet whose spirits and love for humans remains untarnished.”
(Photo: from the Facebook page of Gracie’s Guardians)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 8th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bad newz, bad rap, best friends, dead, death, died, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, gracie, gracie's guardians, michael vick, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rehabilitation, rescue, richmond, vick, vick dogs, victory, virginia
Roo, a Chihuahua, was found freezing in a ditch, where he’d apparently been discarded after being born with no front legs.
Penny is a silky chicken who was once used for experiments at an area veterinary school.
The dog, believed to have been abandoned by a backyard breeder when he was just seven weeks old, was found on Christmas day, 2013, under some leaves in a ditch.
The chicken, once the undisclosed experiments she was part of were completed, was likely going to be put down, but an offer was made to adopt her.
Officially, both now belong to an employee at the animal hospital in Gwinnett, Alicia Williams, who brings Roo and Penny with work to her most days.
Williams, the client services receptionist at Duluth Animal Hospital, told Channel 2 Action News the dog and chicken became friends immediately, and some clients schedule appointments for their pets when they know the two will be there.
They’re gaining popularity nationwide, too, through the animal hospital’s Facebook page, and a video (above) recently posted on YouTube.
Roo manages to get around on just his hind legs, but he’s also been outfitted with a special wheelchair.
(Photo: On an outing during the recent Georgia snowfall, Penny and Roo left some interesting tracks / Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 20th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animals, best friends, chicken and chihuahua, chihuahua and chicken, dog and chicken, duluth animal hospital, experiments, friends, friendship, inter-species, interspecies, penny, pets, rescue, rescued, roo, silky, two-legged, unlikely friends, veterinary, video, wheelchair
A pit bull who was seized from a notorious dogfighting operation in Virginia, rehabilitated in Utah, and adopted by a couple in Texas helped make the case for a new law in Nevada that prohibits local governments from enacting and enforcing regulations that deem a dog dangerous based solely on its breed.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the anti-breed discrimination law this week, and it takes effect Oct. 1, 2013.
Assembly Bill 110, which was sponsored by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall and spearheaded Best Friends Animal Society, also got a push from our friend Mel, the former Michael Vick dog who now lives in Dallas. Richard Hunter, Mel’s new owner, testified before the Nevada Senate to show support.
“Best Friends is proud that Nevada has taken steps to prevent breed discrimination,” said Ledy VanKavage said, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends. “Every American who follows the right safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog they choose.”
Nevada is the the 14th state to pass a law preventing breed discrimination, Best Friends said.
“Assembly Bill 110 bans breed discriminatory laws from being enacted anywhere in Nevada,” said Assemblyman Ohrenschall.
He added, “I’m confident that this law will benefit dogs, dog owners and animal lovers throughout our great state. It has always been bad public policy to enact ordinances that target a certain breed of dog without considering that individual dog’s actions. I’m proud of sponsoring this legislation because it will help keep our innocent friends from being killed needlessly and senselessly.”
Best Friends received and rehabilitated most of the dogs seized from the dogfighting operation at Michael Vick’s former estate in Virginia, including Mel, who was believed to have been used as a bait dog.
“Our fundamental goal is to achieve safe and humane communities. We want our communities to be protected against dangerous dogs – and we want abused dogs to be protected from irresponsible owners,” VanKavage said. “Because everyone benefits from a safe society – both people and pets.”
Studies done in countries with breed-discriminatory laws, such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, found that these laws didn’t reduce the number of dog bites or improve public safety. Based on these studies, and concerns about due process and property rights infringement, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Control Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association don’t support breed discrimination, Best Friends said in a press release.
“They support laws that go after the real problem–the behavior of the individual dog and the behavior of the reckless owner.”
Through its national pit bull initiatives, Best Friends Animal Society encourages state and municipal governments to adopt breed-neutral “dangerous dog” laws that focus on the key causes of dog aggression—owners’ failure to spay or neuter, train and socialize dogs regardless of breed, or because they abuse or neglect dogs or force them to live on chains.
(Photo: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bait dog, best friends, breed discrimination, breed specific legislation, breeds, bsl, dangerous dogs, dogfighting, dogs, enact, enforce, governor, James Ohrenschall, law, legislation, mel, michael vick, nevada, owners, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, prohibits, rehabilitation, responsibility, richard hunter, seized, signed