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Tag: claims

Where can a poop bag go to biodegrade?


Using “biodegradable” dog poop bags may ease our guilt, but the way we commonly dispose of them isn’t really doing the environment any favors.

That’s because most of them will end up in a landfill — the one place they are least likely to biodegrade.

Recognizing that, the Federal Trade Commission has warned 20 manufacturers of “biodegradable” dog waste bags that their marketing claims of being environmentally-friendly may be deceptive.

Apparently, even if a bag would biodegrade in a compost heap, or on a sidewalk, that doesn’t happen in your typical landfill — they being, after all, places intended primarily to be home to the unbiodegradable.

“Most waste bags … end up in landfills where no plastic biodegrades in anywhere close to one year, if it biodegrades at all,” the FTC said in a press release .

The warning letters were sent after examining the companies’ environmental claims on their websites and in other media, the FTC said.

“Consumers looking to buy environmentally friendly products should not have to guess whether the claims made are accurate,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It is therefore critical for the FTC to ensure that these claims are not misleading, to protect both consumers and honest competitors.”

The press release leaves two things unclear. For one, are there any dog doo bags that do, in due time, biodregrade in landfills? Or do the companies that didn’t receive the letter simply avoid calling themselves green, or otherwise qualify the claim enough to avoid scrutiny?

If some bags do work better than others, the FTC doesn’t tell us. It declines to identify the 20 companies that were sent warning letters.

Calling a product ”biodegradable,” without qualification, generally means the product will completely break down into its natural components within one year after disposal. Calling the bags “compostable” is also deceptive, and potentially unsafe, the FTC says. Dog waste is generally not safe to compost at home, and while there are some facilities that compost dog waste, they are few and far between.

The FTC advised the companies to review their marketing materials and contact agency staff to tell them how they intend to revise or remove the claims, or explain why they won’t.

“To say your product is ‘degradable’ or ‘biodegradable,’ without qualification, you need competent and reliable scientific evidence that it will degrade in most landfills within the claimed time period or, if you don’t specify a time period, within one year,” the letter says.

“For your dog waste bags, you need competent and reliable scientific evidence that the entire product will completely break down and return to nature — in other words, decompose into elements found in nature — within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal. To describe your product as biodegradable, you must have evidence that a substantial majority of consumers won’t dispose of them in a landfill or incineration facility since materials thrown away in that fashion don’t biodegrade.”

NY woman says police beat her over dog poop

A New York woman claims two Queens police officers roughed her up during a dispute over whether she failed to pick up her dog’s waste.

Anna Stanczyk, 49, insisted her terrier, Psotka (“prankster” in Polish), had only urinated, and says that the police officers punched her after handcuffing her and pushing her into their patrol car.

The police department’s Internal Affairs division has opened an investigation into her claims, the New York Daily News reports.

Stanczyk’s lawyer said the incident took place Nov. 26.

Stanczyk was confronted in Rockaway Beach by two officers from the 100th Precinct who accused her of not picking up a pile of feces left by her dog. The officers — Shaun Grossweiler, a 4-year veteran, and Richard DeMartino, a 10-year veteran — charged her with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Police, in court papers, said Stanczyk caused a ruckus by yelling at them.

Photos taken by her son — printed in yesterday’s Daily News — show Stanczyk, a housewife who emigrated from Poland, with a blackened left eye and a large bruise on her breast. She said she also suffered hand and knee injuries and needs physical therapy.

And this year’s “Hambone” goes to …

A Labrador retriever who ate a beehive – bees included – has been named winner of this year’s “Hambone Award” an insurance company’s annual tribute to the pet with the most unusual insurance claim.

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, chose 12 nominees for the honor – all selected from claims filed by clients. More than 3,000 people voted online to pick the winner.

Ellie lives in Santee, California, and the beehive was just the latest in a long line of items she has consumed in her young life – from wooden toy train tracks to laptop computer keys.

On top of the hive, and its thousands of inhabitants, Ellie also consumed pesticide – for the hive had recently been sprayed. On the plus side, that meant the bees she consumed were already dead. On the down side, the pesticide made her upset stomach even worse. She made a full recovery.

Ellie’s owners, Robert and Sandra Coe, will receive a bronze trophy in the shape of a ham as well as a gift basket full of doggie toys and treats, VPI announced this week.

The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham before someone opened the door and found the dog inside, with a mild case of hypothermia.

This year’s second place honors went to Aubie, a border collie from Birmingham, Alabama, who wanted to meet (or eat) the mailman so badly he leapt through a closed living room window. The leap shattered the glass and left Aubie with a cut front leg that required 40 stitches.

“Aubie’s never been enamored with the mailman,” said owner, Sharman Martin.

Third place went to a West Highland white terrier named Darci, who attacked her owner’s running chainsaw. The chainsaw cut two small holes into Darci’s muzzle and she underwent five hours of surgery.

Additional nominees for the 2010 VPI Hambone Award included a boxer that chased and caught a moving delivery van by biting into one of its tires, a standard poodle with a taste for dirty diapers, and a Jack Russell terrier that suffered injuries from wrestling with a lizard.

All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for their medical care.

(Photo: Courtesy of VPI)

In the case of terrier versus chainsaw

A West Highland terrier who attacked a buzzing chainsaw has recovered from her injuries and is now in the running for the Hambone Award, presented annually by Veterinary Pet Insurance.

Darci, a 2-year-old terrier, had a history of lunging at the vacuum cleaner and lawnmower, according to her owner, Barbara Abell, of Belleville, Ill. “She never actually touched them, but she would lunge at them,” Abell says.

Last month, though, Abell’s husband was using a chainsaw to cut up a fallen branch in the family’s backyard when Darci lunged and bit the running saw. Abell rushed Darci to an emergency clinic, where she received four stitches and was sent home.

“By the next day, she was back to her feisty self,” said Abell, who advised pet owners not to assume their pets will keep their distance from dangerous equipment — even if they always have.

Darci’s onwers filed a claim with VPI, their insurer. Of more than 8,000 claims received in June by VPI, Darci’s was judged the most unusual of the bunch. As a result, Darci’s in the running for the  2010 VPI Hambone Award.

Each month, VPI employees nominate the most interesting claim submitted. In August, the public will vote on line for the winner of the Hambone Award, named after a dog  that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to find him.

The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean hambone and a mild case of hypothermia. Like all dogs nominated, he recovered fully.

Tainted food leads to $24 million settlement

A federal judge in Camden, N.J. yesterday approved a $24 million settlement for owners of dogs and cats who were sickened or died after eating pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman clears the way for U.S. pet owners with claims to start receiving checks next year, the Associated Press reported. Pet owners have until Nov. 24 to file claims.

A Canadian judge has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 3 to determine whether the settlement can also apply in that nation.

The settlement is to compensate owners for the cost of the food, medical and burial expenses for their animals, the value of the animals or the cost of replacement pets, checkups for animals who ate the food but did not get sick, replacing carpets ruined by sick pets, and time the owners took off work to seek treatment for their animals.

Sherrie R. Savett, a lead lawyer for plaintiffs in the case, has said she believes that more than 1,500 animals in the U.S. died after eating the food last year.

Lawyers said that so far, more than 10,000 people have filed claims — seeking an average of $1,500 each. Money left over after all pet owners have been paid, would go to animal-welfare charities. If the fund does not cover all the claims, pet owners would receive less than 100 percent of their claimed losses.

The tainted pet food came to light in March 2007, when dogs and cats began mysteriously getting sick. The culprit was pet food produced under nearly 200 labels — much of it by Streetsville, Ontario-based Menu Foods Income Fund.

Most of the food turned out to contain Chinese-made wheat gluten laced with melamine, an industrial chemical.