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Tag: deaths

Facing defunding, VA says it will keep closer eye on its dog research experiments

varesearch

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will tighten oversight of controversial medical experiments on dogs after an investigation found surgery failures and canine deaths in research projects at a VA facility in Virginia.

The announcement of a change in policy comes as Congress considers a bill to defund the experiments altogether.

Nationwide, invasive experiments at three VA facilities are slated to include roughly 300 dogs, and involve surgeries on their brains, spines and hearts by researchers seeking treatments for heart disease and other ailments, USA Today reported yesterday.

All the dogs will be killed when the research is complete.

Michael Fallon, the VA’s chief veterinary medical officer, said all future research projects involving dogs will have to be approved by the VA’s accrediting body.

The VA’s Office of Research Oversight found in May that researchers at the VA facility in Richmond failed to adequately document whether dogs had been treated properly, and that four dogs suffered complications in experimental surgeries.

Those findings are fueling an effort to halt VA dog experiments deemed painful for the dogs. The House passed legislation — known as the PUPPERS Act — in July that eliminated funding for such research, but the VA is hoping to persuade senators to reject the measure.

“If this legislation passes the Senate, it would stop potential VA canine research-related medical advancements that offer seriously disabled veterans the hope of a better future,” VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote in a USA Today op-ed this month.

Opponents of the dog research say much of that research hasn’t translated to humans and that the VA is relying on outdated models that don’t fully take into account scientific advances that may provide alternatives to dogs as research subjects.

“The VA is abusing its authority and fear-mongering to defend taxpayer-funded experiments on dogs that are cruel and unlikely to help veterans or anybody else,” said Justin Goodman, vice president of White Coat Waste Project, an advocacy group that wants to end funding to the agency’s dog experiments.

Only three VA facilities are conducting the type of research that would be affected by the legislation.

In Milwaukee, VA researchers looking for ways to decrease pain without slowing breathing are using dogs to study neurons that control breathing rates. In those experiments, researchers place the dogs under anesthesia and remove parts of their brains to cause a complete loss of consciousness and sensation, according to research protocol documents.

In Cleveland, VA researchers are studying ways to restore cough functions after spinal cord injury. The experiments involve placing dogs under anesthesia and then using electrodes for high-frequency stimulation at various places on their spinal cords to induce coughing. The research calls for 41 dogs, who are euthanized upon the completion of the studies.

At the Richmond VA, researchers are seeking therapies for heart disease. They are implanting pacemakers in dogs, running them on treadmills and performing various tests, including by injecting medications, inducing irregular heartbeats, creating heart attacks and blocking arteries with latex. After the research is done, the dogs are euthanized by injection or by draining their blood.

The investigation of the Richmond cardiac experiments followed a complaint to the VA inspector general’s office in March.

Investigators concluded a dog received an overdose of anesthetic during one surgery, and two dogs suffered surgical disruptions of nerves controlling digestive functions. One later died and the other was euthanized during subsequent surgeries. A fourth dog died after a surgeon accidentally cut into one of its lungs during surgery.

The VA says dogs accounted for less than 1% of the animals used in agency research last year.

Photo: Billboard in Cleveland area calls for an end to the experiments, from Cleveland.com)

Alaska teen hunters boast of their dog kill

fairbanks

Two teen hunters in Alaska were proud of “bagging a wolf” — even though the wolf was wearing a collar and turned out to be a sled dog.

Either way, they did no wrong, at least under Alaska’s animal cruelty laws, which permit the killing of dogs on public property.

Some people around Fairbanks are saying it’s time to change those laws after what was at least the second fatal shooting of a dog this year in the same community.

Back in July, an eight-month old puppy, a lab mix named Lucy, was found with a bullet through her head after wandering away from her home in the community of Goldstream Valley in Fairbanks.

When the owner called state troopers, he was told they wouldn’t even respond.

A spokeswoman told the Fairbanks News-Miner then that no crime had taken place: “Just shooting a dog and killing it is technically not against the animal cruelty statute,” she said.

In the more recent case, a 14-month-old sled dog named Padouk was killed on public land by two brothers, age 12 and 13, who were hunting together with a .22-caliber rifle.

He was shot through the heart about 30 minutes after he had escaped his owner’s yard, and the teens took his body to their great-grandfather, a taxidermist, to be mounted as a hunting trophy.

Padouk’s co-owners said they found out what happened to their dog when they were contacted by an ATVer who told them he’d come across two teenagers who were proud of themselves for bagging a “wolf” and asked for his help transporting the carcass to their grandmother’s home.

The ATVer refused to give the boys a ride, but he let them use his cellphone to call their grandmother.

“These two kids have been rabbit hunting in the area and they are continuing, people have been reporting. If you drive the road at 6 p.m., you have a good chance of meeting them,” said Helene Genet, one of Padouk’s co-owners.

“They haven’t apologized at all and they don’t have the feeling that they’ve done something wrong … and rightfully so, the law doesn’t provide for dogs not to be shot in public areas,” Genet said at a Friday meeting called to address concerns among dog owners about the shootings.

More than 50 people attended the meeting spurred by the shooting of Padouk, the Fairbanks News-Miner reported.

The two boys will face no charges because under Alaska animal cruelty laws it must be proven that a suspect was intentionally trying to cause pain and suffering.

And, as many in Alaska — and elsewhere — believe, hunters never do that.

In Alaska, hunters, as well as those who perform do-it-yourself euthanizations, are pretty much exempted from animal cruelty laws.

Padouk’s owners said they called state troopers after they got the phone number for the boys’ grandmother from the ATVer. Genet said the grandmother hung up on her three times when she requested permission to come and see if the dead “wolf” was their dog.

Padouk was co-owned by Genet, a recreational musher, and tourism kennel operator Nita Rae, of Sirius Sled Dogs.

At Friday’s meeting, participants discussed ways to stop future dog shootings, such as a rule against shooting guns on Goldstream Valley trails, or building a database of dogs killed in the valley to show leaders the extent of the problem.

Fairbanks Borough Assemblywoman Katheryn Dodge said she plans to re-introduce a borough animal cruelty law that existed until a 2013 reorganization of borough code.

Alaska Legislator David Guttenberg told the crowd they shouldn’t expect any changes in state laws.

Padouk’s owners say they doubt the boys really believed Padouk was a wolf. He only weighed 60 to 70 pounds and was wearing a blue collar.

While state troopers told the owners no charges would be filed, they did assist them in reclaiming Padouk’s body. The boys’ great grandfather, after being contacted by troopers, agreed to call off the taxidermy and let Rae and Genet have the body of their dog back.

(Photo: Fairbanks News-Miner)

Memorial service planned for 14 dogs who died at Saskatchewan boarding facility

kaliA memorial service will be held in Canada Saturday for the owners, families and friends of 14 dogs who died at a Saskatchewan kennel with a faulty heating system.

Until then, outraged owners and an outraged community will try to work through their anger — much of which is being expressed on the Facebook page of the Playful Paws Pet Centre in Saskatoon.

“You better lawyer up,” one irate owner warned. “The fact you knew that overheating occurs and have no temperature monitoring, what the **** is wrong with you. You better get a lawyer because I will make it my personal mission to shut your negligent business down. Absolutely unforgivable my dog dies under your watch. By Christ I will never forgive you.”

The kennel’s post about the deaths has drawn close to 600 comments — some from families of the victims, nearly all expressing outrage.

Despite having knowledge of a faulty heater, the kennel — which boasts of providing 24-hour supervision — left the dogs unattended in an upstairs kennel room overnight Friday.

Though a mild evening, the heater pumped hot air into the room all night and the dogs all died of suspected heat-related causes.

playful-pawsIn a statement on its Facebook page, Playful Paws said “staff and management … are devastated to acknowledge the loss of life of 14 dogs on early Saturday morning. We are incredibly saddened by this travesty of life and cannot express enough our sympathy to the families of these dogs…

“A mechanical failure on one of our roof top heating units caused it to continuously push heat into one of our upstairs kennel rooms, to the point that the dogs being kept there passed away.

ellaandkali“We love our dogs and each of our team is trying to personally cope with this terrible loss. Having said that we understand that our pain is small compared to the loss that is being experienced by our dog’s owners. Our sincerest of sympathy goes out to all of these individuals and the family and friends who loved these dogs.”

A former employee of the kennel said management was well aware of ventilation problems and other health issues.

“A proper kennel exchanges its air four to six times an hour. They did not have any type of fresh air exchange for the entire building,” dog trainer Fred Glawischnighe told CBC.

ardie-autism-service-dogAmong the 14 dogs being cared for at the kennel was an autism service dog named Ardie who belonging to 6-year-old Easton Irwin, who waited three years to get him.

Kelsey Friesen said she was informed on Saturday that her four-year-old daughter’s dog, a catahoula mix named Kali, was one of the 14 dogs that perished.

“It’s her best friend and now we have to tell her that her dog is not coming home,” she told CBC News.

Acadia McKague’s Funeral Centre will be holding a public memorial for the families Saturday.

(Photos provided by families)

Dog show goes on, despite 14 dog deaths

michiana

Thirteen golden retrievers and a Brittany spaniel scheduled to take part in an Indiana dog show over the weekend died Friday from heat related causes.

The dogs, in town for Michiana Kennel Club AKC Dog Show, were spending the night inside the back of a truck, parked in a lot at the Quality Inn in Roseland.

The truck’s air conditioning, powered by an extension cord plugged into the exterior of the hotel, shut down when a circuit breaker in the truck tripped during Friday’s heat and humidity, according to WBST in South Bend, Indiana.

A kennel operator from Ohio, who was caring for the dogs during the trip, found them dead when she went to check on them Friday night.

The dogs — three of them puppies — were supposed to be a part of the weekend show at St. Joseph County fairgrounds.

“To have something this tragic happen, it affects everybody,” said Cheryl Crompton, of the Michiana Kennel Club. “It’s been very solemn all day. I’ve cried, just at the loss of life.”

“It was an unfortunate incident, that was not in any way the fault of anybody,” she added. “It was an accident, just like a car wreck. An unfortunate car wreck, where lives are lost.”

“It appeared it was just a very tragic accident,” said Lt. William Redman of the St. Joseph County Police Department. “It was difficult, no question.”

Some of the dogs belonged to the woman caring for the dogs, Cortney Corral of Lakesyde Kennels; at least eight of them belonged to other people who entrusted her to care for them during the show.

Necropsies will be performed on some of the dogs this week as part of an investigation by the St. Joseph County Humane Society.

National officers with the American Kennel Club will also be investigating the incident, Crompton told the South Bend Tribune.

The annual dog show, which began Thursday and concluded Saturday, is hosted by three AKC clubs — Michiana, LaPorte and Berrien Springs.

(Photo: Michael Caterina / South Bend Tribune)

About 70 dogs die in Texas shelter fire

humane3

About 70 shelter dogs were killed in a fire at the Humane Society of Southeast Texas.

About 200 animals were being housed at the shelter and, according to various reports, anywhere between 67 and 74 of them died in the Tuesday night fire, all of them dogs.

Beaumont Fire Department Captain Brad Penisson told KHOU the fire was apparently sparked by malfunctioning dryer.

dryer

The Humane Society of Southeast Texas reported what happened early yesterday on its Facebook page.

“It is with heavy hearts that we must inform you of the great loss we suffered tonight. Earlier this evening our facility caught on fire. Though the fire and police department did everything in their power to save all of our animals a total of 67 dogs died in the fire.

humane1“There are no words to describe the pain we are feeling right now. Thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, veterinarians, and service men and women who came and assisted us tonight. We will be walking through the shelter in the morning to assess the damage and to make decisions on the best way to move forward.”

While foster homes have been found for the cats and the 11 dogs that survived, the society is taking names of those interested, and it is accepting donations to help in recovery efforts.

Donations of money can be made through The Humane Society of Southeast Texas website.

These scenes of the fire’s aftermath are from a Beaumont Enterprise photo gallery.

(Photos: At top, one of the surviving dogs; at center, the dryer where the fire is believed to have started; at bottom, two shelter staff members console each other; by Ryan Pelham / The Beaumont Enterprise)

Heat has killed 11 police dogs this summer

wix

If it seems you’ve seen a lot of stories about police dogs dying of heat exhaustion this summer, it’s because you have.

Since the last week of May, 11 police dogs have died from the heat, and nine of those cases stemmed from dogs left in hot police cars, according to the Weather Channel.

The 11 deaths this summer compare with four nationwide in 2014 and three in 2013, according to records kept by the Officer Down Memorial Page.

The latest death came last week in Kohler, Wisconsin, when a police dog named Wix (pictured above) died in a squad car as his handler worked at a PGA Championship event.

Wix died as the result of heat exhaustion after the air conditioning unit in the vehicle malfunctioned, and the heat alarm in the vehicle failed to go off.

Wix, a Belgian malinois, was on special assignment with his handler at the Whistling Straights golf course. His handler found him unresponsive in the vehicle when he went to check on him.

Several other police dog deaths this summer have been blamed on faulty air conditioners.

In Oklahoma, a Muldrow Police Department dog named Zeke died from heat exhaustion after the air conditioner in his handler’s patrol car malfunctioned.

His handler was inside the police station working on a case and left Zeke in the car for at least an hour. At some point the air conditioner malfunctioned and began blowing only hot air. His handler returned to the car to find him dead.

Zeke had served with the Muldrow Police Department for four years.

Two more police dogs died in the same incident in Hialeah, Florida; and in Jim Wells County, Texas, deputy Latham Roldan was fired from the department after the K-9 he left in his squad car died from the heat.

(Photo:Brown County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page)

Two police dogs die in Florida after being left in vehicle for six hours

jimmy

A Hialeah, Florida, officer has been suspended without pay pending an investigation into the deaths of two police dogs that he left in his parked vehicle for six hours or more.

The K-9s – Jimmy, 7, a bloodhound, and Hector, 4, a Belgian Malinois — were assigned to Officer Nelson Enriquez, who left them in a police SUV parked outside his home in Davie after his shift ended.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, he has worked 13 years for the department, the last seven as a K-9 officer.

At a news conference Thursday, Hialeah Police Sgt. Carl Zogby called the incident “a terrible tragedy. Every member of the Hialeah Police Department was beyond fond of Jimmy the Bloodhound and of Hector. We were in love with those dogs.”

Zogby described Enriquez as “extremely distraught … He has lost two beloved members of his family.”

jimmy2Enriquez is married with two children who were also very attached to the dogs, Zogby said.

Enriquez returned home from his shift at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

“He did not remove either dog from the cargo compartment of his marked police vehicle,” before entering his home, Zogby said. The SUV has K-9 compartments, called cradles, for each dog.

Enriquez discovered the dead animals about 5 p.m.

The bodies of the two dogs were taken to the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, which will perform necropsies.

Davie police are investigating the deaths and Hialeah police are conducting an internal affairs investigation.

Jimmy, the bloodhound, was donated to the Hialeah Police Department by the Jimmy Ryce Center, which was formed by the parents of a nine-year-old boy who was abducted, raped and murdered while walking from his school bus to his southwest Miami-Dade home in 1995.

Don and Claudine Ryce created the Center to provide free bloodhounds to police departments. The Ryces felt that if a bloodhound was used in their son’s case, he may have been recovered alive.

(Photos: At top, Jimmy fetching; lower photo, Jimmy with Enriquez, by Allison Diaz / Miami Herald)