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Tag: funding

A drug to make your dog live longer?

antiaging

Two University of Washington scientists think it might be possible to slow the aging process in canines and are launching a pilot study with 30 dogs to see if the drug rapamycin significantly extends their lifespans.

The researchers, using $200,000 in seed money from the University of Washington, plan to use pets, not laboratory animals, for the initial study, and recruit volunteer dogs — or at least dogs whose owners volunteer them — for larger scale studies in the future.

Daniel Promislow, an evolutionary geneticist, and Matthew Kaeberlein, a molecular biologist, say the study is aimed at determining whether rapamycin could lead to longer lives for dogs — as studies have shown is the case when it’s used on yeast, fruit flies, worms and mice.

“We’re not talking about doubling the healthy life spans of pets,” said Kaeberlein. “But at a minimum I would predict that you would get a 10 to 15 percent increase in average life span, and I think bigger effects are possible.”

In the pilot study, 30 large, middle-aged dogs will be involved — half receiving low doses of rapamycin, half receiving placebos.

The researchers say that subsequent studies will seek to enroll pet dogs from across the country.

Kaeberlein and Promislow hosted a meeting in Seattle last week where experts from across the country discussed the drug rapamycin and its possible effects on the health and longevity of dogs, the Seattle Times reported.

Currently used along with other medications to prevent rejection in organ-transplant patients, rapamycin has been called a promising anti-aging drug — though there have been no studies involving humans.

But almost 50 laboratory studies have shown that the compound can delay the onset of some diseases and degenerative processes and restore vigor to elderly animals, extending life spans by 9 to 40 percent.

Rapamycin functions, in part, by inactivating a protein that promotes cell growth. As a result, cells grow more slowly, which retards the spread of cancer.

Promislow, who has two elderly dogs of his own, noted that even if the drug doesn’t increase the life span of dogs, it could serve to keep them healthy longer. “We’re trying to understand why some dogs age better than others, and help all dogs age in a better way,” he said.

The drug has been shown to have serious side effects, including poor wound healing and an increased risk of diabetes, when used at the high doses required for organ transplant patients.

But the low doses used in anti-aging research with mice and other lab animals cause few side effects.

There have been no large-scale human trials. Studying how the drug affects dogs — who suffer many of the same old-age ailments as their masters — makes it possible to explore the possible benefits of rapamycin both more quickly and at a lesser cost.

If it does turn out to be a sort of  fountain of youth — for dogs, humans, or both — the potential profits would be enormous.

“I think it’s worth a go, not just from what it can teach us about humans, but for the sake of the animals themselves,” said University of Alabama Biology Department Chairman Steven Austad, an expert in aging research who is not involved in the project. “It may not work in dogs, but if it did, boy, it’s going to be huge.”

According to the Seattle Times article, drug companies aren’t very interested in rapamycin because it’s no longer under patent.

But the researchers are hoping dog lovers, dog-food companies and some foundations might be willing to contribute to further research.

They’ve set up a website, dogagingproject.com,where people can donate and sign their dogs up to take part in the research.

“Given how I feel about my pets, I see this as a unique project where there’s a real potential for citizen science,” Kaeberlein said. “I think it would be great if pet owners who are really interested in improving the health of their animals would help fund this work.”

(Photos: UW scientists Matt Kaeberlein, with his dog Dobby, and Dan Promislow, with his dog Frisbee; by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Dogs eaten after dying in Oklahoma shelter

 
Two dogs at a small town animal shelter in Oklahoma were partially eaten by other dogs being held there.

Town officials said two sick dogs were placed with healthy dogs in the shelter in Wewoka and  died before a veterinarian was able to visit. After they died, they were partially consumed by other dogs, KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City reported.

Mark Mosley, Wewoka City Manager said the dogs in the shelter are well cared for, but admits the city made a mistake when it mixed the sick and healthy dogs.

“We run the shelter like it’s supposed to be run and some of the moments that we might have a slip up is the ones that really kinda tend to bite us back,” he said. “We believe that we feed and water the dogs daily and treat them right.”

Mosley said the shelter will segregate sick dogs from now on, and also plans other improvements, including additional dog runs and an automatic watering system.

“We’d already planned on making changes before hand, but because of the stories and because of the negative light that it did put us in, we kind of rearranged some of our budget,” said Mosley.

The city is seeking grant money to help fund the shelter, which takes in 10 to 12 dogs per week.

Maryland SPCA announces major expansion

A major expansion of the adoption center at the Maryland SPCA was announced last week.

“We need facilities to reflect the changes that have enabled us to adopt out every healthy pet in our adoption program for the last two-and-a-half years,” Mary-Ann Pinkard, board president, said at the March 11 reception where the announcement was made.

The expansion will include creation of the Morton Gorn Center for Animal Adoption, a new area for adoption interviews, a waiting area, office space and two “animal showcases” for dog and cat housing of “long-timers” to promote their adoption.

A new animal intake center, separate from the adoption area, is also planned, including spaces to  assess animal behavior and a dog exam room.

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, and work is expected to be completed within six months.

Other projects announced will be an expanded cat room, fire safety improvements, and improved accessibility.

The new adoption center is being named in memory of Morton Gorn, a real estate developer who cherished his dogs and his horses. The gift to name the center in his memory was made by his widow, Arlene Gorn, who was introduced to the Maryland SPCA by her daughter, Karen Colvin.

“Mrs. Gorn and the Colvins motivated and inspired us to move forward with this project at a time when many people were pulling back because of the economy,” said Aileen Gabbey, SPCA executive director. “Their generosity was an important cornerstone to making this project happen.”

The project is estimated to cost $1.8 million.

Pit bulls and parolees on Animal Planet

tiatorresandfriend1What do you get when you bring together 225 pit bulls, 204 volunteers, the woman to your left in the flowing white dress and six recent prison parolees on a ranch in the canyons of southern California?

A reality show, of course.

Tia Maria Torres, 49, started Villalobos Rescue Center – the largest pit bull rescue in the United States – 14 years ago. Three years ago, she began taking in ex-cons, including her prison pen pal Aren Marcus Jackson, a tattoo artist who would become her second husband.

According to an Associated Press report, the rescue has tried some novel fund-raising approaches in the past, including opening a brothel — a legal, Nevada one –  but it burned down. Now Torres, it seems, is turning to an even shadier source for funding — the reality show.

Animal Planet’s “Pit Bulls and Parolees” will debut next month.

Producer Michael “MikeyD” Dinco was a student in a pit bull class Torres taught years ago. Intrigued by the combination of pit bulls and parolees, he decided to pitch the reality show idea to the network. 

Torres said the show will help cover the $20,000 in monthly bills, including a ton of dog food a week, as well as its $25,000 vet tab. The rescue is located on 17 acres of rugged terrain in Canyon Country.

The television show will focus on the interaction of the dogs and men. “The dogs bring out the best in these guys,” Torres said. 

Torres grew up a in an a upper-middle class family, but fell into the gang life. That led to six years in the Army, followed by work as a youth counselor in Los Angeles. After 13 years in social services, she started training animals for the film industry before opening the shelter.

Website offers $25,000 to dog rescue groups

A dog training website says it plans to award $500 each to 500 dog rescue organizations to help them cope during the recession.

Trainpetdog.com will distribute a total of $25,000 to rescues, with donations in the form of cash or dog supplies, depending on each organization’s needs.

“Our world has a serious dog overpopulation problem,” said Nipa Roy, spokesperson for TrainPetDog.com. “There are tons of rescues out there, making a noble effort to save and re-home dogs, but every day they struggle to get enough funding to stay open another day. Donations are an absolute necessity for these rescues.”

“With the current economy, many dog rescues are struggling to survive even if they were doing okay before,” Roy added. “Fewer families can afford to care for their dogs, so more dogs are being surrendered and fewer are being adopted out.”

TrainPetDog.com will select 500 of the neediest dog rescues to receive donations. To be considered for the donation, a rescue must fill out the online form on TrainPetDog.com’s web site. The form requests contact information for the rescue, allows the rescue to choose whether they want the donation in cash or goods, and asks questions such as what dog breeds they rescue and why they should be chosen as one of the 500 to receive a donation.

With more than 875,000 subscribers to their free dog training mini courses, TrainPetDog.com provides breed specific information for owners who want to learn more about dog and puppy training. Rescues can link to the website to provide foster and adoptive owners with the information they need to train their dogs.

What’s that Wayne Pacelle really up to?

pacelleThe Humane Society of the United States does not run or regularly fund the nation’s 3,500 animal shelters.

HSUS President and CEO admitted that yesterday on his blog, “A Humane Nation.” 

Of course he would have told you that a month or year ago as well, because, despite an “investigative report” out of Atlanta, later retracted, and despite the criticism from a group called the Center for Consumer Freedom, HSUS has not become the mammoth non-profit that it is by proclaiming it provides shelter for America’s homeless pets.

It has implied that it cares about animals, and that it works to improve their lives. It has tugged at your heartstrings in its fundraising spots, and it has made the most of publicizing its work. It has done some things I wouldn’t agree with and failed to do some things I wish it would have. To disagree with its priorities, or some of its policies, is one thing. But to say its an organization built on deception — that it has tried to lead Americans to believe it’s tucking shelter dogs in at night — is off the mark, and overlooks the work the organization does.

“If anyone reads my daily blog, looks at our website, reads our magazines, or scans our email and direct mail letters, you’ll find no claims that we run America’s 3,500 animal shelters, or serve as a granting agency for them—or that any one organization serves this function,” Pacelle wrote on his blog yesterday. “Their accusation is a fiction.”

“CCF and our opponents would love it if we just gave money to shelters. That way, the corporations that fund CCF would have much clearer sailing in conducting their animal exploitation activities …  Right now, we’re their worst nightmare, and we are not going away.”

opinion-sig1Some critics say HSUS has a secret “vegan agenda” — that it wants to take our steaks away. As a meat lover, and a smoker, and a person who likes smoked meats, I say, even if that were the case, so what? The animals I eat deserve a spokesperson.

“It would be a terrible dereliction of duty if we did not address the other problems of animals in society,” Pacelle wrote. “There are 10 billion animals raised for food, principally on factory farms, in America every year — and that’s nearly 30 million a day. There are tens of millions of animals used in laboratory experiments. More than 100 million killed for sport. Tens of millions killed in the fur trade, and tens of millions killed worldwide in cockfights and dogfights.

While most animal lovers have a pet issue, Pacelle notes, HSUS is trying to look at the big picture, and the roots of what it sees as the biggest problems.

“We have to be there for as many animals as we can, and use our finite resources in a highly strategic way to achieve the biggest impacts,” he wrote.

“While we help many thousands of animals in distress … our primary strategy is to strike at the root of the problem, rather than to address the symptoms. Whether it’s in the field, in the courts, in legislatures, in influencing public opinion, conducting undercover investigations, or by some other lawful and mainstream means, there’s no group that is a greater agent of change or brings the arsenal of tools we do to the fight for animals.”

(Photo: vegdaily.com)

Baltimore man leaves $1 million for dogs

Kenneth Munzert, a wealthy Baltimore man who died last year, left what could turn out to be more than a million dollars to animal welfare organizations — much of it in memory of his loyal German shepherd, Beauregard.

According to a will filed in Baltimore last month, Munzert left an estimated $990,228 – three-quarters of which is directed to animal protection groups. That amount doesn’t include his house in Federal Hill, overlooking the Inner Harbor.

The house, which appears in the Al Pacino movie, “And Justice for All,” will be auctioned March 31, with proceeds going to the SPCA of Richmond, Va., an organization that had agreed to care for Beauregard if Munzert preceded him in death.

Munzert — a private and eccentric man who sometimes slept with his dog on the floor — died last year at 88, with no close family. A story about Munzert and his bequest appears in today’s Baltimore Sun.

On the Richmond SPCA website, CEO Robin Starr Starr explains how she came to know Munzert.

“I came to know Ken a number of years ago when his attorney contacted me because Ken was deeply concerned that he might predecease his beloved dog, Beauregard, and he had no friends or family who could give Beau a good home for the remainder of his life.

“The attorney asked me if I would consider accepting responsibility for Beau, with a promise not to euthanize him unless medically necessary for the remainder of his life. I had not made a practice of accepting responsibility for people’s pets after their death but, after I spoke with Ken, I agreed to do so for Beau.

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