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Tag: health

Dog of Ebola victim in Dallas moved to “undisclosed location”

pham

Bentley, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel that belongs to Ebola-stricken nurse Nina Pham, won’t be euthanized, according to Dallas officials.

Unlike in Spain, where that country’s first Ebola victim saw her dog killed and incinerated — despite no confirmation that the pet was carrying the virus, despite pleas from his owner, and despite an international outcry — officials in Dallas say they will go to great lengths to ensure that Bentley lives on.

“If that dog has to be the boy in a plastic bubble  … We are going to take good care of that dog,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

Pham, the first American to contract Ebola while in the U.S., was part of the team that cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian citizen who died of Ebola after traveling to Dallas.

Pham, 26, was reported in stable condition Monday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she works.

Dallas officials haven’t outlined specific plans for her dog, but they’ve confirmed he has been removed from Pham’s apartment and is being kept in isolation at an undisclosed location.

Pham, 26, graduated from Texas Christian University’s nursing program in 2010.

Bentley remained alone in Pham’s apartment through the weekend, and was brought food and water.

On Monday, Dallas Animal Services confirmed that Bentley was safe and posted images on its Facebook page of the operation to move the dog from Pham’s home, NBC reported.

But where Bentley will reside; how much, if any, contact he’ll have with humans and other dogs; and how long his isolation might last are questions public health officials aren’t answering — primarily because they don’t have those answers.

“This was a new twist,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told USA TODAY. He said the dog will be cared for until his owner recovers. “The dog’s very important to the patient and we want it to be safe,” he said.

While there are no documented cases of Ebola spreading to people from dogs, at least one study suggests dogs can get the disease without showing symptoms. Experts say they are uncertain what risk that poses to humans.

Richard Hill, spokesperson for the Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management, said the dog  would be held in isolation from other dogs and people and will likely be monitored for signs of the virus for 21 days, the same period used for people who may have come into contact with the virus.

“Wherever Bentley ends up, whatever [sort of facility] he’ll be in, he’ll be by himself,” he said.

In Spain last week, the Madrid regional government, facing its first case of Ebola, euthanized Excalibur, the mixed breed dog of a nursing assistant diagnosed with the virus.

(Photo: Pham and Bentley, provided by family)

Authorities in Spain destroy dog that belonged to Ebola-infected nurse

excalibur

Excalibur, a 12-year-old dog who belonged to an Ebola-infected nurse in Madrid, was destroyed Wednesday, despite uncertainties over whether he had the virus, and whether dogs can transmit it.

The nurse’s husband pleaded with authorities to spare the dog, and protesters and animal rights activists surrounded the couple’s home in opposition to the decision to put the dog down.

Some chanted, “Assassins!” and scuffled with police.

Madrid’s regional health agency said in a statement that  Excalibur’s corpse was “put into a sealed biosecurity device and transferred for incineration at an authorized disposal facility.”

In the United States, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that studies had shown that dogs can have an immune response to Ebola, meaning that they can become infected.

But there have been no reports of dogs or cats developing Ebola symptoms or passing the disease to other animals or to people, he added.

Spokesman Thomas Skinner told the New York Times that the centers were recommending that Ebola patients with dogs or cats at home “evaluate the animal’s risk of exposure” — how likely it is that the animal has ingested bodily fluids like blood, vomit and feces from the patient.

Skinner said the CDC was working with the American Veterinary Medical Association to develop guidelines for the pets of Ebola victims in the United States.

ramosThe nurse’s husband had pleaded publicly with officials in Madrid to spare the dog. He told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that there was no indication that Excalibur had been infected with Ebola. The nurse, identified as María Teresa Romero Ramo, was the first person to become infected outside West Africa.

She was diagnosed on Monday with the virus, believed to have been contracted when she treated a victim who came from Sierra Leone.

More than 390,000 people signed an online petition to save the dog’s life — more than twice the number of people who have signed a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track research on a potential vaccine and treatment for Ebola.

Nearly 4,000 people in West Africa have died during the current Ebola epidemic. The only case diagnosed in the United States has been that of a Liberian man who had traveled to Dallas. He died Wednesday.

In a 2005 study of dogs in Gabon after an Ebola outbreak in 2001-02, researchers found that dogs can be infected with the virus, but that they show no symptoms.

(Top photo by  Andres Kudacki / AP; photo of Ramos and Excalibur from Reuters)

Shut up and pet me: Study says dogs prefer petting over anything you might have to say

SONY DSCLess talk, more petting — that’s what your dog wants, according to a new study.

Based on tests with dozens of dogs — some from homes, some from shelters — researchers found that, when it comes to interacting with humans, dogs seems to prefer physical contact to anything you might have to say, praise included.

One possible exception — verbal pronouncements that dinner, or treats, are about to be served.

Two scientists from the University of Florida, who in a previous study determined dogs prefer eating food to being petted, have published the results of another research project, showing dogs prefer physical contact over verbal praise.

Neither conclusion seems that surprising to me, but one has to bear in mind that scientists prefer having their work published to having their bellies rubbed, dinner at a five-star restaurant or even verbal praise: “Good scientist. Yes! Yes! You’re a very good scientist.”

“I spend half my day talking to my dog,” study co-author Dr. Clive Wynne, who is now professor and director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, told The Huffington Post. “She always looks like it’s valuable to her. It’s quite a shock to discover that what we say to dogs doesn’t seem to be rewarding to them after all.”

For one part of the study researchers observed 42 dogs as they interacted one at a time with two people in a room. One person petted the dog, while the other praised the dog verbally. The researchers measured how much time the dog chose to spend interacting with each person.

Next,  72 dogs were, one at a time, placed in a room with just one person and their behavior was observed as the person spent time petting or praising the dog, or not interacting at all.

Dogs showed the most interest in people who were petting them, while they seemed to show no more interest in spoken praise than in having no interaction with the human at all, according to the study, published in the journal Behavioural Processes.

“I was surprised that when only one alternative was available, dogs still did not engage with the human for vocal praise,” said study co-author Dr. Erica Feuerbacher, now assistant professor of anthrozoology at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. She conducted the research while earning her doctorate degree at the University of Florida.

The scientists say dogs never seem to tire of getting petted, and they note that previous studies have shown a dog being stroked, like the human who is stroking him, reaps some health benefits, including a lowering of heart rate and blood pressure.

We won’t go so far as to suggest dogs realize that petting is a more honest form of interaction; that words can be less sincere, or even deceptive; or that words can even be annoying — like when they go on too long, are ridiculously repetitious, or they’re uttered in that high-pitched baby talk tone some of us use when talking to our pets.

But we won’t rule it out, either.

For his part, researcher Wynne says that, even if his own dog doesn’t fully appreciate all he verbally passes on to her, he’ll probably keep talking to her anyway.  ”I just recognize better that I’m doing it more for my benefit than for hers,” he said.

(Photo: Ace seeking some physical contact in Kanab, Utah / by John Woestendiek) 

How not to find a pet sitter

fluffyIt would be easy to blame the disappearance of Fluffy on Craigslist. Too easy.

Fluffy’s owner deserves some of the blame — for leaving her four-year-old shih tzu-Maltese mix with a woman who responded to her Craigslist ad for a pet sitter, without ever visiting the home her dog was going to be staying in.

But the real culprit, police in Florida say, is the woman they are now looking for — the one who identified herself as Keyana Morales when she responded to the pet owner’s ad, and who was hired after meeting  with Fluffy and her owner a couple of times in a local park.

Fluffy’s owner hired Morales to care for Fluffy while she and her family were on vacation out of the country. When she returned from vacation, Fluffy — and Morales — were nowhere to be found.

Her phone calls and emails went unanswered, and the address the pet sitter gave her turned out to be a vacant house, Local10 reports.

Police in Boynton Beach say Morales’ name was phony as well. They are now seeking the woman they believe absconded with the dog after posing as a pet sitter – Shamari Patrick, 23.

Police say Patrick lives out of her car, a burgundy Grand Marquis. (Anyone with information about Patrick or Fluffy is asked to call police at 561-742-6135 or Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 800-458-TIPS.)

patrick

Police say they believe stealing Fluffy was Patrick’s intent from the start, which, unless she was paid up front, doesn’t make much sense, and doesn’t explain why Patrick, as Morales, stayed in touch with the pet owner during her trip, and emailed her photos of Fluffy.

We don’t know if police are jumping to conclusions, but Fluffy’s owner sure did before leaving on vacation in July when she decided to hire a pet sitter without exercising hardly any of the diligence that was due.

Maybe that’s why she’s seeking not to be identified by name. News reports refer to her as Fluffy’s owner, or “the victim.” Perhaps she’s a little embarassed about having done so little homework before entrusting her dog to a stranger.

Craigslist, and the Internet, make everything seem so quick and easy that we no longer see them as what they truly are — crapshoots, unreliable and dangerous, in large part because they make us think answers and solutions are just a click away.

Craigslist, and all the rest of the Internet, should be seen as a starting point, from which to move on to further research. Otherwise they can lead to endings  that, as could be the case for Fluffy, are not at all happy.

Recipients say agency’s diabetic alert dogs aren’t performing as promised

Three North Texas families say the diabetic alert dogs they received from a Virginia-based nonprofit aren’t alerting them to anything, and have turned out to be nothing more than expensive house pets.

The three families are among 30 that have filed complaints against Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, according to NBC 5 in Dallas.

Each of the three paid up to $20,000 for what they were told were specialized service dogs trained to alert them to spikes and drops in blood sugar and help them manage Type 1 diabetes.

Mindy Guidry said the dog she received to help her daughter manage her diabetes has failed to detect any blood sugar spirals. On top of that, the dog is afraid to go out in public.

“I cannot take her out in public at all. Even in our own household she’s scared,” Guidry said.

Krista Middleton told NBC 5 that her dog doesn’t alert her when her blood sugar is dropping dangerously low.

“And then I’m passing out. I’m going into comas. My kids are finding me in seizures,” said Middleton. “It gets to the point where, as a mom, I wanted to make sure my kids weren’t the ones to find me convulsing.”

Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers says it offers a one- to two-year training program with initial in-home sessions of up to five days, long-distance training and education and up to seven more multi-day visits.

Middleton and Guidry both failed to complete the training program, a spokeswoman for the agency said, and both still owe the agency money.

Middleton said when she informed the non-profit her dog wasn’t working, she got no response.

But Warren Retrievers spokeswoman Jennifer Bulotti told NBC 5 when a dog isn’t working “instant intervention and training is provided.”

Dan Warren, founder and president of the nonprofit, was convicted of passing forged documents in 2008, before he started his service dog agency. While working at a car dealership, he had someone prepare phony tax returns to help customers get loans for cars, NBC 5 reported. He was sentenced to five years’ probation

Tax records from 2012 list his salary from the service dog agency as $157,411.

The Virginia Attorney General’s office has received 30 complaints against Warren Retrievers, but declined to discuss the details of any of them.

Providers of service dogs operate relatively free of government regulation or required standards, and some think it’s time for that to change.

“This is an industry that’s fraught with fraud,” said Brent Brooks, president of The Diabetes Alert Dog Alliance (DADA). “It angers me to have to say it but you have to be skeptical.”

Skunked dog to spend 6 months in isolation

A North Carolina couple has lost their dog for six months — apparently because he got sprayed by a skunk.

Even though he didn’t get bitten, or come in contact with the skunk, the dog has been placed in quarantine for six months by county animal control officials who say the precaution is necessary because the dog’s rabies shot had lapsed.

Something about that stinks.

Michael and April McQueen aren’t coming right out and saying that, but they are politely questioning the decision.

“He didn’t come in contact with the skunk. He never touched the skunk,” said April McQueen, of Kernersville, whose 11-year-old dog, Simon, is now being quarantined by a private veterinarian. “The skunk never touched him. He wasn’t bitten. There was no yelp, and there was no scuffle.”

Given that, the county’s reaction — scary as rabies is —  seems to be an over-reaction.

Skunks can’t pass along rabies through their spray. That seems to be pretty much accepted by health and wildlife organizations. One almost always has to be bitten to get rabies.

Maybe animal control officials are trying to send a message to the public about the importance of keeping rabies vaccinations up to date. But unless they simply don’t believe the family’s claim that the dog wasn’t bitten, and have proof otherwise, Simon should be sent home, in my view.

April says she was walking Simon Thursday night when a skunk sprayed him. As a precaution she took the dog to a veterinarian and learned he was three weeks late on renewing his rabies booster.

“That’s when I was told they were going to have to contact animal control because his rabies shot had lapsed,” she told Fox 8. “The next morning I get a call from animal control, and they’re saying they want to quarantine our dog for six months or euthanize him.”

North Carolina law requires pets exposed to animals prone to carry rabies like skunks, foxes, coyotes, bats and raccoons be either euthanized or quarantined, at the owners expense, for six months if their rabies vaccination isn’t up to date.

But getting sprayed doesn’t constitute exposure — at least that’s what the Arkansas Department of Health says on its website.

Simon’s incarceration is “due to the fact that rabies can take up to six months before a pet shows signs of the virus,” said Tim Jennings with the Forsyth County Animal Control. “It’s why we stress the importance of keeping pets up to date on their vaccinations.”

“Obviously they want to protect the health of the community,” said April’s husband, Michael McQueen, who plans to appeal the decision, based on the lack of contact between skunk and dog, and based as well on the thought of his dog in solitary.

“You think about a 11-year-old dog, used to living inside with us all these years and is just tossed in a cement 4×6 cage with no contact,” he said.

If the McQueen’s appeal is denied Simon would have to remain in isolation, without any human or animal contact, until Dec. 6. That’s going to cost the McQueens about $3,000.

“We just don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said April. “Life can be busy but make sure your animals are vaccinated and up-to-date.”

(Update: Simon has been returned to his family. Details here.)

PetSmart and Petco to pull China-made jerky treats off their shelves — finally

Chinesjerky

After thousands of reported illnesses and 1,000 dog deaths, PetSmart and Petco have announced they will stop selling all dog and cat treats made in China.

What took the retailers so long to reach the decision, and why it will take them seven to ten months more to purge store shelves of such items, remain questions worth asking.

So too is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has been investigating the treats for years — without determining what about them is making dogs sick — can’t tell us much more than “CAUTION,” with an exclamation point.

PetSmart said it will pull from the shelves all of the China-made treat it sells by March 2015.

Petco said it will accomplish that by the end of this year.

Both retailers have about 1,300 stores nationwide.

The two national pet retailers’ decisions came after seven years of complaints to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about jerky treats from China making pets sick, or worse.

“We know some pet parents are wary of dog and cat treats made in China, especially chicken jerky products, and we’ve heard their concerns,” said Jim Myers, Petco CEO, in a statement.

A PetSmart spokesperson, meanwhile, told USA Today it has been working toward this goal “for some time, and feel it’s the right thing to do for pets and our customers.”

Taking questionable Chinese-made treats off the shelves strikes us as a pretty simple task, as opposed to “a goal to work toward.” You just pick them up and put them in the garbage. And while “hearing customer concerns” is commendable, it shouldn’t take three or four years for them to sink in.

The move comes as sales of Chinese made jerky treats diminish, amid increasing public concerns about them.

Five years ago, 90% of the pet industry’s jerky treats were made in China, said Lisa Stark, spokeswoman for Petco. Currently, about 50% of the jerky treats sold by Petco are from China.

Since 2007, the FDA says it has received about 4,800 reports of pet illnesses, and 1,000 dog deaths, possibly related to the consumption of jerky treats. The FDA, while issuing warnings, says it has yet to establish any direct link between the pet illnesses and the China-made treats.

Most of the complaints involved chicken jerky, but others included duck, sweet potato and chicken, according to the FDA.

Let us return to Puget Sound, Sound and from the inbox to be connected by wire, but you could sit by ones fire and ate her breakfast, breakfast.
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